Saturday, April 14, 2012

Animal Behavior College Mentoring

I have the pleasure to help aspiring dog trainers studying with ABC begin to make their dreams a reality by guiding them through the 18 week hands on program as their trainer, mentor and friend. These 18 weeks include 6 weeks of observing my classes, 6 weeks of training a dog of their own in my classes and finally 6 weeks of student teaching. I am fortunate that the students who come to me arrive with open minds and enthusiasm to learn and grow their understanding of animal behavior, teaching and handling skills. I have been very pleased with their willingness to embrace the power of positive reinforcement with training animals and am proud to say all of my students completing the 18 week program under my wing have graduated! Even if they are still on their journey to success I feel great to have made a difference in each and every one. Below is a most recent note from one of my students Liz.

"Sarah- I just wanted to shoot you an email to let you know I graduated today! I am so grateful to have had you as my 'mentor', I learned so much invaluable information from you. Thank you so much for your time and your great teaching. Without your mad clicker skills I would have never fully understood the importance of clicker training. Thank you again!" - Liz Buchanon

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Amy and Ramona

Always nice to share great clients' great comments about their positive experiences with positive reinforcement!

Amy Chase & "Ramona"
A few months after bringing home Ramona, our adorable and sweet Golden Retriever puppy, I began to have concerns regarding her interactions with my three children, ages 11, 9, and 2. We have had the heartbreaking experience of unknowingly adopting dogs who had extreme fear based aggression, and because of this I was a bit uncertain about what might be normal puppy behavior. Ramona was extremely mouthy, vocal, and tended to chase the children and pounce on them even while they sat calmly on the couch. We desperately wanted to raise a happy, confident, well behaved dog. All my friends with dogs recommended techniques that would force submission and compliance, none of which I felt comfortable with, knowing my goals would definitely not be realized. I did not want to damage our fragile human/canine bond in any way and the methods suggested to me would have only ensured that result. Luckily for all of us, I found Sarah’s card at my vet’s office. Since meeting and working with Sarah, both at her puppy classes and at home with her private lessons, I have been amazed at how well positive reinforcement and clicker training works with Ramona. I am more confident with her interactions with our children, especially the toddler. Ramona is more confident too, and LOVES to train. We still have issues to work on, but I am so grateful to Sarah and Whole Dog Training for teaching not only Ramona, but my family as well. We now have a better understanding of canine behavior and have the necessary tools to reach our goals. Sarah is simply amazing, you can tell she really loves her profession and as a result dogs happily respond to her. We love training with Sarah so much we plan to attend her Puppy Level 1 class at a future date!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Sarah on Fox 5 News talking about positive training

I had the chance to do two segments on Fox 5 news today.

Here is the first one- a brief discussion on the beginnings of keeping dogs and babies safe and training what you want- good habits- from the get go!

Here is the second one- on Making Training fun!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

My Submission to the Canis Film Festival!

The final videos are in! Here's mine: Horsin' Around. I spent a lot of time putting it together and can't wait for the release of Horsin' Around Part II!!

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did creating it!

Wags n Whinnies


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Paying it forward with puppy love....

Just finished teaching my puppy classes this week and had the pleasure of working with the new adopters of Sunny and Cher. Here's a photo of the two 11 week old Lab mix puppies who were found back in the fall with their ears cut off. They are actually focused and giving me attention (that's my knee!) as I reward them for calm sits and eye focus.

Both puppies will be starting off on the right paw (as well as their owners) with clicker training and attending my Saturday puppy class in Encinitas. The puppies are little love-bugs! Of course everyone will recognize them with their unique look so it's important to give them the tools to be successful out there in the world; A trusting relationship with their owners and socialization to the world around them all supported with positive reinforcement will give them the stepping stones to great success. I am looking forward to being a part of their growth!


Click the link here for the adoption story from January 4th.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Is YOUR dog a Canine Good Citizen?

We all set goals to obtain for ourselves, why not our pups!? Try out these test items with your dog. If you really want to work for it we offer sessions and a CGC training class (coming soon at to prep you and your furry friend for passing. The AKC will award you and your pup with a Certification and all sorts of items to show off your dog's new manners and accomplishments! There is even a course for puppies and we will be offering STAR Puppy classes at our new training facility too! Stay on top and check out our new digs on Oct 30th from 2-5pm in Scripps Ranch. I am a CGC Evaluator and would love to help you reach your goals! Below are the 10 test items highlighted.


(see for detailed test information)
Test 1: Accepting a friendly stranger
This test demonstrates that the dog will allow a friendly stranger to approach it and speak to the handler in a natural, everyday situation.

Test 2: Sitting politely for petting
This test demonstrates that the dog will allow a friendly stranger to touch it while it is out with its handler. With the dog sitting at the handler's side, to begin the exercise, the evaluator pets the dog on the head and body.

Test 3: Appearance and grooming
This practical test demonstrates that the dog will welcome being groomed and examined and will permit someone, such as a veterinarian, groomer or friend of the owner, to do so. It also demonstrates the owner's care, concern and sense of responsibility.

Test 4: Out for a walk (walking on a loose lead)
This test demonstrates that the handler is in control of the dog. The dog may be on either side of the handler. The dog's position should leave no doubt that the dog is attentive to the handler and is responding to the handler's movements and changes of direction.

Test 5: Walking through a crowd
This test demonstrates that the dog can move about politely in pedestrian traffic and is under control in public places. The dog and handler walk around and pass close to several people (at least three).

Test 6: Sit and down on cue and Staying in place
This test demonstrates that the dog has training, will respond to the handler's cues to sit and down and will remain in the place cued by the handler (sit or down position, whichever the handler prefers). The dog must do sit AND down on cue, then the owner chooses the position for leaving the dog in the stay. Prior to this test, the dog's leash is replaced with a line 20 feet long.

Test 7: Coming when called
This test demonstrates that the dog will come when called by the handler. The handler will walk 10 feet from the dog, turn to face the dog, and call the dog. The handler may use encouragement to get the dog to come. Handlers may choose to tell dogs to "stay" or "wait" or they may simply walk away, giving no instructions to the dog.

Test 8: Reaction to another dog
This test demonstrates that the dog can behave politely around other dogs. Two handlers and their dogs approach each other from a distance of about 20 feet, stop, shake hands and exchange pleasantries, and continue on for about 10 feet. The dogs should show no more than casual interest in each other. Neither dog should go to the other dog or its handler.

Test 9: Reaction to distraction
This test demonstrates that the dog is confident at all times when faced with common distracting situations. The evaluator will select and present two distractions. Examples of distractions include dropping a chair, rolling a crate dolly past the dog, having a jogger run in front of the dog, or dropping a crutch or cane.

Test 10: Supervised separation
This test demonstrates that a dog can be left with a trusted person, if necessary, and will maintain training and good manners. Evaluators are encouraged to say something like, "Would you like me to watch your dog?" and then take hold of the dog's leash. The owner will go out of sight for three minutes. The dog does not have to stay in position but should not continually bark, whine, or pace unnecessarily, or show anything stronger than mild agitation or nervousness.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Product review!

I recently came across the Dog Brick, a fun interactive food dispensary game for my dog and clients. The Dog Brick, distributed by Company of Animals (, is an easy to learn game for dogs of all ages and sizes. The concept is simple! Fill the hidden slots with your dog’s kibble and slide the covers over it. The center section can also be filled with additional treats and kibble which are then covered with four plastic dog bones. The dog quickly learns to remove the middle section bones and slide the outer covers to reach the hidden slots. Some use their mouth, some their paws. For small dogs, like mine, it holds his complete meal.

The game offers wonderful mental stimulation for the dog and proves to be entertaining for them! For dogs who need something to do when you leave the house this is a great choice. The bones and sliding sections of the toy work well and there are minimal pieces to clean and pick up.

This is a great interactive food game for dogs and children. Children can be a part of helping to feed the dog by filling the slots and hiding the treats in each section. They can easily carry the tray over and watch without having to encroach into the dog’s space- this keeps it fun and safe for everyone playing! I have two young children and we’ve all enjoyed watching Bosley enjoy his meal time! Not only does Bosley enjoy eating his kibble out of it each morning but my 3 1/2 year old James enjoys being a part of feeding time more so now than he did when it was just a scoop of kibble here and there into a bowl.

Remember, your dog learned how to eat their meal out of a bowl long ago. Practice offering them more ways to earn their meals. Stimulate them!