Scoring Big in Elite Novice!

Omg what an amazing weekend! Our first "go" at Elite Novice!

Ringo and Terra both performed their first Elite Novice routines at the Come to the Cabaret RFE Musical Freestyle Event. Terra only performed once (to be conservative about her arthritis) but our routine earned a first place with 98/100, and TWO Audience Choice Awards: "Celebrating the Bond" and "This routine made me cry". Ringo performed both days, earning his Elite Novice Title with a 2nd place 88/100 & 1st place 89/100, as well as a Judge's Choice Award for "A dog who dances with a joyful heart" in memory of Patricia Nash's Chase.

Jenn & Terra

Elite Novice Leg #1. Earned 98/100 Come to the Cabaret Musical Freestyle Event; 6/30/18

Jenn & Ringo

Elite Novice Leg #2. Earned 89/100 Come to the Cabaret Musical Freestyle Event; 7/1/18

I also felt the love with my going-away gift card and TIARA! Much love to all my freestyle friends here. I will miss you tons! I'll be finding excuses to come visit, that is for sure! ❤️❤️

Thank you to our judge Carrol Haines and to  Nancy Bartosik Marston and Lindsay Crampton who worked hard to help me put this show on! Also major thank you to Arlene Zingale and Kathy Labella for all your volunteer time helping us with music and scorekeeping. Thank you to Petra Ford and Sue Yanoff and Joe Zuckerman without whose help, I would not have been dancing with Terra at all this weekend. I'm beyond grateful for her good health!! 

I'm super excited for others' accomplishments over the weekend but I can't divulge it before they have. MAJOR CONGRATS TO EVERYONE!

Moving?! What?!

First of all thank you all SO much for the kindness and support of STCA and the dedication to your dogs over the years. You all know that I love what I do. My human and canine students always make me smile, and canine behavior never fails to inspire and fascinate me.

My journey has lead me to a teaching opportunity at Wonder Dogs in Corvallis, Oregon. I will be training there and fleshing out their current curriculum with plans to buy the business next year. I’m truly looking forward to realizing my dream of owning my own training facility.

This doesn’t come without the cost of leaving all my wonderful clientele and their amazing dogs. I will genuinely and sincerely miss every single one of you. My heart hurts just thinking about it.


I will be coming back to the east coast semi-regularly to teach at Camp Unleashed and Sea & Shore Camp.

I am setting up an Associate SassyT Trainer program that will keep you in good hands when I leave.

I am even dreaming about adding a day or two of home-visit lessons onto the beginning or the end of my camp trips.

I’d really truly love to stay in touch. 

Why your dog doesn't come when called...

Is it an attention problem or a motivation problem? 

Springtime is here and most of us respond to the warmer weather by taking our dogs out more often. If we are lucky, we get to take our dogs to places where they can run around off-leash and truly indulge in their ultimate dog-dom. Before summer hits full-swing, spring is a perfect time to spiff up your dog’s ability to come when called. But what if he doesn't come?

Do you have an attention problem or a motivation problem? 

There are two main components of a successful recall: your ability to get your dog’s attention and your dog’s interest in returning to you. We often focus on one of these components and neglect the other. These are two sides of the same coin, and to truly have the best recall, we need to strengthen both independently. 

If your dog doesn’t even turn around to look you when they hear “Come!” you have an attention problem. If your dog turns to look at you, but doesn’t move toward you, you have a motivation problem. 


 Can you get your dog to stop and look at you from 50-100 feet away? 

Can you get your dog to stop and look at you from 50-100 feet away? 

Name recognition is the first step to a solid recall. Obedience classes are full of attention exercises, only trained on a 6-foot leash, so many people think they have name recognition when they really don’t. By practicing it daily, in varying situations, and always pairing with high-value rewards, you can truly build reliability and value in name recognition in ways that will benefit a solid recall. This is important because almost all recalls happen when the dog is off-leash and more than 6 feet from you. 

Ways to practice attention for recalls:

  • Dog is stationary, 10 feet from you.
  • Dog is stationary, 20-50 feet from you.
  • Dog is stationary, 100 feet from you.
  • Dog is stationary and sniffing
  • Dog is facing away, moving slowly. 
  • Dog is facing away moving quickly. 
  • Dog is running full speed
  • Dog is engaged in play/interaction

    These are often ways that we want to practice our recalls, but it’s an important way to practice your dog’s name recognition. Calling a dog can often put a dog into conflict, since we are calling them away from something they are interested in. Focusing on rewarding name recognition before calling the dog allows us to build value in turning to look at you for more information. This behavior will ultimately benefit our recalls, and it doesn’t put the dog into conflict because you’re not asking him to leave an interesting activity. In training terms, this is called splitting criteria. We are separating the goal behavior into small attainable pieces and training those pieces individually. 

 Does your dog run to you full-tilt when they hear the word "Come" ? 

Does your dog run to you full-tilt when they hear the word "Come" ? 


So now that your dog is responding to his name in distracting situations, we need him to come running at full speed when he hears “Come!” Resolving motivation issues can drastically improve recall issues, so it’s important to know why you might have a motivation problem. Oftentimes students wait until their dog is at the dog run to practice their recalls, and this automatically puts the dog into conflict: Should I come to owner or play with friends? Starting with lots of practice in easy environments and high-value rewards will reap the most benefits, since it minimizes conflict. Also make sure to only furnish rewards after your dog has come to you, not showing them the treat or toy first. Think paycheck, not bribe. Plastic treat-baggie sounds and hands that hover near treat-pockets are bribes, and it will hurt your dog’s recall reliability if they get tuned into it before actually coming to you. 

Reasons your dog isn’t motivated:

  • Your rewards are low-value 
  • Not enough daily practice
  • Over-use & desensitization of recall word
  • Compliance leads to something dog dislikes (ie: leave dog park, come in house, give up sock)


Next time your dog doesn’t come to you, diagnose the issue by deciding if your dog had trouble with attention or motivation. This will help you focus your next training session and you’ll be well on your way to better recalls! 


Socialization Project, AKC STAR Puppy Class, May 2018


  • Toby saw a school bus!
  • Watson went to the library, a cafe, and Central Park!
  • Elsie went to the train station, skate park and tennis courts! 
  • Daisy met the gardener, kids and saw a skateboarder! 
  • Suki saw lots of things with wheels!

The average puppy needs 3-4 field trips EVERY WEEK to NEW places to become adequately socialized.

If done correctly (NOVEL situations are PAIRED W/TREATS) socializing will help the friendliness and confidence they show as a puppy last and solidify as they become adults. Wariness and avoidance are natural survival instincts that will kick in as the dog ages, potentially causing shyness, fear, and aggression. Socialization helps reduce this natural tendency! 

Your puppies need to meet an average of 25 new people every week, and an average of 8 new dogs every week. Let people know that you are there to socialize, bring your treats, and reward and praise every polite interaction your dog has. Don't take for granted a puppy's natural curiosity at this stage. It starts to fade by the time they are 14 weeks old!


  • Puppy with the most completed socialization lists: Dr Sophia Yin and Scavenger Hunt
  • Puppy who turns in the most numerous photos socializing with people
  • Puppy who turns in a photo of the most unique or interesting socializing situation

Musical Freestyle Champion!!

Ringo finished his Musical Freestyle Champion title this month during the Rally Freestyle Elements Spring Fling Video event. Ringo's drastically improved confidence in the ring this year was a direct by-product of our improved teamwork. He blasted through 4 musical freestyle titles this year, each performance earning qualifying scores, including his first high combined freestyle and high in trial awards! Ending the year with his Champion Title was just icing on the cake. We both learned so much. And we ain't afraid a no ghost!

Rally-FrEe and Musical Freestyle in Ohio!

Join Jenn and Ringo in Medina, Ohio for an entire weekend of Rally-FrEe and Musical Freestyle training! Limited spots available, register soon! June 16-17. Private lessons also available after workshop. MORE INFO

Update: Working spots are full, auditing spots still available! 

Sea and Shore Training Camp!

May 18-21 Camp Westmont, PA

Experience our all-inclusive training camp to learn new off-leash skills, strengthen your bond, and experience canine water sports in a whole new way. Stay in a cabin with your dog, hike off-leash, swim and play at the expansive and gorgeous Camp Westmont. Optional training activities will be provided throughout each day to expand your dog's skills. 


    On Camp Westmont's 100-acre private lake, beginner and advanced water training will be offered, including, but not limited to: navigation, nautical nose work, retrieve work, tow work and aquagility. Use your dog's love of the water to create a whole new world of training games to exercise his mind and body! 

    On land, camp training activities will include beginner and advanced off-leash recall work, dog parkour (dog agility using only natural obstacles), beginner and advanced tricks, Rally-FrEe, and heel and focus games. There will even be evening wine and cheese social hours, s'mores, board games, and a special guest lecture on Integrative Vet Care by Dr Sarah Urban

    To keep this camp personalized and focused on individual team training needs, we are accepting only 20 working teams. Register soon to save your spot! 

Teach your dog to trim his OWN nails!

Does your dog dislike nail trims?

Here's a great winter project for you: teach him to trim his own! This is great for easy maintenance of his front paws; it's fun for both of you! And if you're really talented, you can teach him to scratch his back ones too! 

Learn more!