Wall Climb: When To Teach The Catch

With a truly bad ass game dog…. It doesn’t matter. Hell…. You catch them as a courtesy so they can keep playing. They would happily break their legs for the toy. They don’t give a shit if you’re gonna be there or not.


But…. What about YOUR dog?

MOST dogs are limited not by how high they can jump, but by how high they think they can stick the landing from. The real trick to the catch is building the dogs faith that you WILL be there.

The problem is that in that most people wait until the dog starts to need” them to start catching. But… By then… When they go to catch it trips the dogs out and they don’t understand the sudden change. For some…. It’s actually quite aversive. You grabbing them out of no where. And it can turn them off the game all together.

So….. What do we do????

  1. During tug…. Make sure you can pick up and carry the dog without a drop. For some…It’s just a do it, and they’re fine. Others….. You have to really successively approximate. Touch their belly while holding the toy. Slowly add a little lifting pressure, until….. EVENTUALLY…. You can pick them up in celebration and carry them a bit without them interrupting the game.

  2. Introduce them to the “retrieve” game picture of Wall Climb. This can be done with Obedience. A helper. Or a Back Tie with quick release. Keep the toy low enough that the can run up to it and take it with all 4 on the floor. AFTER they take it…. Pick them up and carry them back to the line of departure. Play for a few seconds. OUT them. And either throw the toy back to the helper to re attach. Or….. Attach their harness to the back tie, or… just down them, so you can walk to the wall yourself and attach. Repeat picture as much as you want for your session.

  3. After they master that….. Progressively raise the toy until they have to stand on their back feet. Then….. Eventually…. They will have to leave the ground to get it. That is the magic trust building moment. When they leave the ground, it will change from a “pick up and celebrate” to a “CATCH and celebrate”. Ideally….. When they leave the ground… they never feel themselves land. They KNOW you’ll be there. They don’t even know what it feels like to land on their own. You… Are just part of the picture.

And THAT is how you paint the picture for a normal dog. And not a dead gamer.

Wall climb… Like ALL the games in GRC are a beautiful testament to the relationship and trust.

Now…. Go catch your dog!!!


Another Great Post From Ashley Sculac @ CRT!!!

Here’s an awesome new blog from Ashley Sculac over at canineresistancetraining.com.

Your Dog Does NOT Need A JOB

It may be a pure semantics thing here, but it's something I need to write about because I really feel like we are doing training an injustice here. STOP saying your dog needs a job, because he or she does not. Your dog needs to work; and there is a difference as far as I am concerned. A job is something that is performed in exchange for payment, that you may or may not enjoy. Work, is something that takes physical and/or mental effort through an activity that is aimed toward production or accomplishment of a task (which you may not get paid for).

Loads of people flock to CRT, competitive weight pull, herding, dock diving, protection sports, as a means to give their dog a "job". How many times a day do you hear dog owners write or call you and say, " I want to enroll (insert dog's name here) into dock diving, or start tracking, because he needs a job to do". I wouldn't have enough fingers to count for every time I hear it...... and it's super annoying. If you have taken a look at my CRT material or ever listened to Jay Jack of Next Level Dogs, talk about the Layered Stress Model---then surely you have heard about biological fulfillment. The idea that you should find activities that your dog finds rewarding and fulfilling, not what you find rewarding and fulfilling--but your dog. Those two activities might be vastly different. You may really enjoy running 15 miles a day, and by giving your dog a "job"...you assume your dog should be doing that 15 miles WITH you; afterall a "good dog is a tired dog" right?

No....and this is what I am saying. You can tell your thirteen year old child to be productive and find some work to do, for many reasons, whatever those may be (staying out of trouble, engaging his mind, etc).  He may decide he likes to paint or draw.... and spends hours painting and drawing. You gave him a job right? No.....  It's work...it's productive and fulfilling---but it's not his "job". The same concept applies to your dog.


New Apprentice SR Judge: Kim Barber

Congrats to Kim Barber in Florida! She has been working tirelessly behind the scenes with GRC getting the back end stuff up and solid enough to handle the growth of the sport. This literally couldn't happen without her. And..... In addition to taking on THAT kind of project.... She still found time to study for and pass the written exam to begin the journey to Judge. Awesome work Kim!!!!

New Certified SR Judge: Chad Mackin

Congratulations Chad Mackin!!!!!!

Even though he was heavily involved in the creation of this sport, he still pit himself through the certification seminar. He interned the first ever event. And, the first international event. And has now passed the written test to complete his official SR Judge Certification!

Now.... We expect to see Chicago's first official GRC Club!!!!

I can't wait to see an event out there!

Canine Resistance Training

So..... You're into GRC....

You've entered this world of canine athletics....

So.... without question..... Your dog needs to be pulling weight!

Notice..... I didn't say doing "weight pull". I'm being a little tricky with my language on purpose. See when I say doing weight pull... people automatically assume I mean the competitive sport of weight pull. I don't.... I mean pulling weight.


GRC competitor and trainer Ashley Sculac has developed a wpnderful program for using resistance training to develop not just better health, but performance.... REGARDLESS of sport.

In all human athletics.... Trainers [ut their athletes in teh weight room. Not just the ones competing in lifting competitions. Tennis players. Swimmers. Ice skaters... ALL do resistance work in the weight room. It is absolutely essential.

And.... If you talk to any Physical Therapist... They will tell you that MOST injuries come from imbalanced weaknesses in the structure. And how do they fix that?...... Yep.... Resistance training.

The human athletic world is usually a few years ahead of dogs. And that's what's happening here. In human athletics we have nearly universal use of loaded weight bearing resistance work.

In Canine athletics.... There's parachutes, back packs, and proprioception devices (wobbly balance). No one is doing loaded weight bearing resistance for rehab, prehab, or athletic performance. The only folks dragging weights are the people getting ready for competition.

It was like that in humans like 30 years ago too. The only dudes doing squats were meatheads getting ready for comps.

Now.... Your PT has your grandma doing them after hip replacement.

Every high school phys ed program includes it.

It's just..... Normal.

Well.... At GRC, we're partnering with Ashley's CRT and trying to change that.

Resistance work is for EVERY athlete. Regardless of sport.

Here's some awesome articles from her site to get you started.

Canine Resistance Training

Make resistance Training Great Again

And, here's some videos showing weight pull work being used for NON COMPETITIVE purposes.

Check it out:

In Defense Of The Mill


I get so tired of writing an individual defense of these amazing tools, that i decided to just write it once in a blog and I can just link it three times a week. So.... Here goes:

Slat Mills are not dog fighting machines.

Yes..... They were used by pit dog folk to get their dogs into great shape.

But.... Calculators are used by drug dealers to add up their earning. Doesn't mean every time you see a kid doing math they're selling crack.

The old pit dog people used a LOT of things that were great for the dogs. Elite nutrition. Health supplements. Amazing exercise routines. Massages. All That shit is AWESOME. And we should be incorporating ALL of that into our modern dogmanship culture.

But SOOOOO many people throw the baby out with the bathwater. And it's a damn shame.

It's one of the reasons I started GRC to take back this amazing tool. And bring it to the mainstream. So..... Here is the basic primer on the mill and..... how we can incorporate it into a wonderful program.

No Motor: Nowadays, when people hear "treadmill" they think about good ole Cesar Milan tying dogs on motorized treadmills and making them run. This is something the dog learns how to "accept" that is happening. It is acquiescence..... Not expression. It is about enduring the exercise. Not achieving a goal. Slat Mills (and their cousin the carpet mill) are FREE TURNING, NON MOTORIZED mills. If the dog doesn't go..... They don't move. When you see dogs tied to a motorized mill it's to make sure they can't escape the work. They MUST run.  When you see a dog attached to a Slat Mill.... It's to allow them to turn the belt. They pull into the harness to get the belt to move. But.... They can CHOOSE NOT TO. They may not be able to leave the mill. But... they can leave the work whenever they choose. It's not torture they endure. But, an opportunity to let it all out! Not only does the lack of motor make it more fair. But.... It makes it more fun. They can full out sprint. Most dogs will never experience that safely. The lucky ones get off leash in the woods. But... The city dwellers... The at risk population with behavioral challenges... They will never feel the freedom of a flat out sprint. This is a dream come true.

Confidence & Control: Because they are in control... they learn about confidence. Real confidence. The confidence that comes from self efficacy. Not accepting the suck. There's a magical moment on a mill where a dog experiencing it for the first time discovers their power. First.... the belt moves and they get super scared. they think it's happening TO them (welcome to the objection to motorized mills). If they're brave, it lasts a second. If their normal... they'll run a little low and nervous for a few skittering minutes and then they'll get there. On a really scared dog.... You have to stop the mill or they'll have a horrible experience. But.... You can give them these punctuated moments of letting them see THEY are in charge of the mill. They are IN CONTROL. And when they find that moment.... Dear god it's a sight. The confidence beams out of them. They prance on that mill. You can feel them saying.... "Did you see?!?!! I'm Doing it!!!" It make me cry almost every time.  This is one of the BEST confidence builders. And... afterwards.... They have not just more confidence.. But an awesome new training tool and sport!!! 

Emotional Control & Obedience Training: Now... If you just use it for drive fulfillment, that's awesome. But.... You're missing the boat on having a wonderful way to work on drive CONTROL! In GRC we teach them to run all out in Level 1. But.... In level 2 We teach them to stay on the mill WITHOUT running!! That's hard. That's like... "Balance the hot dog on your nose" level of control. Then... After their run.... They must DECELERATE to a trot on a verbal command. No contact. And then must do a stay out of motion to stop the mill. THAT.... That takes control of drive. So... Just like Tug, and Spring Pole, it becomes a source of drive expression AND control. Level 3..... Most people won't even get to. Level 3 they have to Tactical Heel into the ring. Down the dog at the mill. The dog must load up and be hooked up, and wait for the release without physical control. Must decelerate in the MIDDLE of the run, and return to a sprint. And must end the same way as Level 2. And if you can do all that.... You and your dog are highly trained team! That kind of obedience and emotional fluency...... That's something to aspire to!

Behavior Modification & Medical Use: Now.... We get into special uses.... And this is where magic happens. I can use the mill in rehab work and for medical/handling issues. BMOD- To do desensitization work the dog must be geographically controlled. There's only two ways to do that. Obedience (which may not be reliable under trigger pressure in the beginning), or restraint (which can cause serious problems in the really bad off dogs). The slat mill can alleviate that. It allows them to experience proximity to something with zero feeling of restraint. And no need to "cooperate". No "conflict". They can throw a fit into the run if they want. And... Like a child throwing a tantrum.... They eventually get it out and are left with the "nothing". It is one of the best tools for extinction training ever invented, and NO ONE uses them for that. Medical- If you look at the picture above closely.... You'll see a stethoscope and a needle in their hand. This dog had a history of very violent resistance at the vet. Muzzles, several vet techs struggling to hold him down to sedate. It was a shit show. My vet has been exposed to the mill! She uses it with my behavior clients and LOVES it.  He gets on the mill.... Runs, stops on cue. Holds a position. She does what she needs to do. And.... He sprints his head off to release the stress. No, it won't work for everything. But it works for a lot and is a miracle when it does. It is like a medical chute for farm animals but the floor allows them to move and not feel as restrained. Or... at least vent that feeling safely. I'd love to see mills in every vets office. And when they get applicable cases.... Call a trainer in to condition the dog to it and have a low impact way to handle most of their needs. 

OK.... I guess that's about it. These mills are wonderful, life altering tools. I hope you can see them for the awesome things they have the potential to be.

If you are interested in making them a meaningful and deep activity that can really be used for high level training..... Find a GRC club near you. Or Join the GRC orginozation and get on the member only forums and ask for help there.

Now.... Go run your dog!


What Are You Waiting For..... Start A Club!!!!

Yes.... YOU.... Start a club.

The determining factor that will make this vision a reality is having local clubs that are easy to find. Having local clubs is how we will:

  • Have more events.... Clubs host events. No club in your area= no comp in your area.
  • Increase the exposure. Clubs will be out in the public training. And probably posting their clubs work on social media. This will help get this out of the dark in into the public eye. The more people we reach..... the more dogs we can give this gift to.
  • Reach the at risk population. GRC can reach the people attracted to the "tough guy" stuff. We can show them a place to have a purposeful pride in their dogs toughness. One that benefits the dog. And doesn't add to the ill repute of the breeds, or sports we love. We can turn people and dogs around. IF we have a place for them to train.
  • Make a difference in the rescue world. If there's a local club.... there's a chance that we can get shelters and rescues involved. We could have a place for their staff to train their own dogs and fall in love with it. We could have their staff take on the SR standard as the benchmark. We could give new adopters a dog with some built in skills and activities. We could give new adopters a club with like minded responsible dog folk. And a supportive community that understands high drive dogs.
  • And..... so much more.

We have made the organization. We've made the structure. The rules. The regulations. We built the race car. And it's sitting in front of you idling. All you have to do is drive the damn thing, and hang on for the ride!!!

"But.... I can't... cause, I'm not a judge.....  trainer..... or very good.... etc...."

I get it.... You want to do it right. And yes.... In an ideal world, every club would have a seasoned pro as a training director. And Every club would have a judge or two. But.... Right now.... We are trying to get this bad boy going. We need passion. Grit. Not accomplishment. If there's no sport.... There's no way to get experience. To become a judge. To get "seasoned". We have to create it. We have to build it. If everyone that was sitting around wishing that GRC would grow.... WISHING their was a club in their area.... just got up and started one..... We could ALL have access. We could ALL train. We could get the experience. Get the titles. The certifications. The seasoning. But... it won't happen in a daydream. We gotta put boots on the ground!

It's not about being amazing. It's about GETTING BETTER!

And ANYONE can do that.

Find a few people that are as passionate about their training as you are.

Start a club so you can share your enthusiasm with one another.

Together.... we can accomplish so much.

But it starts with you.

You have to be the change you want to see in the world.

Awesome.... You're all pumped to start a club!

Decision time. Officially Sanctioned Club. Or Unsanctioned club?

Unsanctioned clubs are awesome. Easy to start. Just get together to train call it a club. Rad. No problem! Reach as many dogs as you can.

But.... Making your club "official" is more than just a rubber stamp and a fee. We will HELP you reach more dogs. Here are some of the benefits:

  • Sanctioned clubs can host events. Get more experience and exposure.
  • Get your club listed on the GRC website under official clubs. This will be where people go to see clubs in their area. If they look and you're not there.... They may never find you and never get into GRC.
  • Get access to the "Club Support" forum we have built to allow us to give you back the support your club gives us.
  • And the list goes on....

Don't worry it's not hard to do. All you need to start an "official" club is 3 people registered with GRC that are passionate enough about the growth of the sport, their dogs, and themselves to make a commitment to training. Contact us a grcdogsports@gmail.com and get the ball rolling. What are you waiting for?!!


The Reason Rewards Based Training Doesn’t Work


By: Jay Jack @ nldogs.com

And, that ladies and gentlemen is called click bait.

Don’t worry…. I AM going to talk about the number one reason MOST reward based training isn’t as functional once you start getting into real world pressures.


Everyone knows those crazy working dogs that will run through a woodchipper to get a ball are easy to train. And… You don’t have to use a ton of cranking. They’ll do anything, go through anything for that fucking ball. They have commitment.

But… what about those dogs that aren’t ball obsessed.

Hell…. They aren’t anything obsessed.

How do we motivate them.

Well…. there’s two schools of thought… And they’re both a little off.




Train For The Test.... Or For Life?


How to approach the SR Test?

Well.... That depends on what your goals are.

If you're just training to get the SR Title requirements met so you can get on to the drive work, you're approach may be different than if you're trying to train for life and the SR Test is an actual test of your tactical skills.

I was talking about this today at club practice with one of the new prospects.

If you are just getting the SR out of the way, then there are a few tricks from the sport world that you can use to get it done. Just make sure that you're not accidentally getting FURTHER away from your goal. 

1- Teach the "routine": If you're trying to teach tactical life skills, this is the OPPOSITE of what you want. Then you'd want a dog that could do any of the skills, in any order for any duration, in any picture. But.... in the sport world.... When you know the pattern that's expected.... You can train for the pattern. Like, in the SR. You can do the sections in the order that they are done. For the time they are required. The dog will pretty quickly realize the deal and will start to settle into the routine. Dogs trained like this can almost run the pattern on their own once you get the ball rolling. And.... That can be a great strategy if you just want to get it out of the way. But.... Like I said... If you want real world skills.... This won't be the way. Cause... The down may not always come neatly between the middle and the front. It may actually come in the middle of the walk. You know? So... Decide your goals. Train towards you desired results. Don't train for the routine if you want real world skills. And don't train for the tactical application of the skills if all you really want is a title to qualify for the games. Your training should ALWAYS reflect your point.

2- Hide the reward: What most competitors will do is warm the dog up with they reward object outside the ring and use a little sleight of hand to drop it off without the dog seeing it. Every rep the dog thinks their gonna get it. They train JUST ENOUGH variable reward schedule to have the dog survive the routine. And... in between competitions.... go back to a more constant reward schedule and rebuild the expectation. This is actually a similar strategy to doing life skills training and not just comp training. But... a little different. In ALL training you have to have a constant enough reward schedule that it creates expectation and persistence. But.... always program in enough tolerance for non reward that they can survive not getting rewarded for every single thing. But.... The real difference is in the idea of tricking the dog into believing that you actually DO have the reward on you. If you're doing rewards based training (and you should be).... You're dog should be working for the possibility of reward. Now.... the essential factor in that is that the dog BELIEVES you have a reward to give!!! In a comp, it's easy. You SHOW the dog you have it. And pass it off on the way in. They're tricked! Or.... use a training vest with the worlds stinkiest unwashed food pocket. They're tricked! Or.... smear liverwurst on your hands like perfume. They're tricked!!! Problem is in the moment where it's a tactical necessity to use your obedience you will not have had the time to trick the dog into thinking you've got the stash BEFORE the emergency arises. You can't wear your Roca training vest ALL the time. This is where training for tactical life skills needs another layer of complexity. You need to TEACH the dog that even though you 100% do NOT have the reward object.... It may still be produced!!! This is where training with indirect rewards can be a huge resource. Also.... doing what I call "Easter Egging" your walk. You set up some reward stashes, whether it's food or toys, along your walk! Then.... In what appears to be random places to your dog..... You stop and ask for a behavior. They will comply, but probably with a little apathy.... They don't think you have anything. But.... when they do.... BOOM, bones rain from the sky. Tug toys from heaven. And they learn that even when you for sure DO NOT have a reward.... you're still likely to produce one out of thin air.

Yeah.... It's sorta the same idea as the first. Convincing them that reward is possible. But.... Instead of teaching them that you HAVE the reward. You're teaching them that even when they KNOW you DON'T.... You still do!!

Anyway...... Decide what you want to accomplish. If it's just bang the SR out and never look back. Train the routine. Pretend you have the stash on you. If you need real world application (like I do) then train the skills. Put in the extra work to generalize the behaviors outside the routine. And convince them that reward is possible even if they're certain it's not ON you.

Now... either way.... Go play with your dog.


GRC: Sport Or Rehabilitation

Why does it have be one or the other?

I made a sport out of rehab!!!!

When we start a dog on the path to rehabilitation.... We start at the bottom of the layered stress model. Health and Lifestyle. If a dog has good health, and all their drives are being expressed to the fullest they tend to have far fewer behavior problems! So, in that respect..... GRC is clearly good for rehab. We not only get their urge for action out. But.... An SR titled dog is also comfortable at liberty. So.... even the drive to feel freedom is being satisfied!

Then, we move on to Clarity. A GRC dog is a clear dog. They know how to do at the MINIMUM the obedience required in the SR test. And, if they're gonna go anywhere in the sports.... They will have pretty high levels of control in drive! That..... IS.... Rehab!!! A dog with emotional control and obedience even in the highest drive!

The leash is the next layer up. And obviously.... the SR test requires a TON of leash tolerance. So... that is clearly rehab!

The last layer is Triggers. The actual "things" that set off the dogs. The thing is..... If you actually did all the back work we just talked about.... If you actually prepared for the SR and even just ONE of the sports..... The likelihood that dogs layers would be anywhere NEAR it's threshold is next to nothing. And... even IF the dog was getting triggered.... The actual skills a GRC dog develops can be used to navigate that issue. We actually picked the commands that are the most useful in actual emergencies!!!

And.... in the 1 in a million chance that the dog loses it, and we go through a less than desirable interaction.... we will have the skills and relationship in the bank to recover fast, and with as little blow-back as possible.

I literally looked at what I was doing with ALL of my rehab cases. And just called it GRC.

It is NOT just a sport. It's how we heal dogs. And their people.

It's how we give people a reason to give their dogs the attention and activities they have always deserved.

It's not just a sport.

GRC is life.