My Smart Puppy

with Dog Expert, Sarah Wilson

Testimonials

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  • In the nearly eight years I’ve been in this community, I’ve made friends that have endured even though I’ve never met most of them in person.
  • I feel like my relationship with my dog has deepened through the ideas, insight I’ve gained through the years.
  • How wonderful to have a place to go and share anecdotes, pictures, tips on just about EVERYTHING – not just pets!
  • This community has been invaluable to me and my husband as we have raised our first puppy into a wonderful family pet.
  • These board …help our members achieve whatever goals we have no matter how lofty or trivial they may be without making any of us feel that having a reasonably well-behaved family dog is an unworthy goal (even though you could probably teach our dogs to play the violin if you wanted to!).
  • The community philosophy is heavily focused on individuality: individuality of people, individuality of dogs, and individuality of situation dictates individuality of approach. This is far less common than it should be- “one size fits all, if it doesn’t work you’re doing it wrong” tends to dominate in training circles, whether what’s being trained is an animal or a human.
  • I know that no matter what I do, I will be cared about, supported and encouraged-unless I’m completely wrong in which case I will be told so-gently, kindly but honestly.
  • I’ve been with you more than 5 years and can’t imagine not having this place to come to.
  • Now, there is a lot of room for improvement with the way my dogs have been trained but at least I know what it! I have learned so much about dogs and living with dogs and I have had a glimpse of what is possible.
  • We are a great community – we share the joy of new dogs on board and morn the loss of dogs that have passed. We all understand that bond we have with our dogs.
  • I have found the forum to be made up exclusively of smart, helpful friendly people. Great place to hang out, ask questions, and even just be silly. I can’t overstate how much I love it. I have spend the last 2 years also being on another forum daily (the one for weight loss surgery) and the differences in the two, holy cow! the My Smart Puppy forum has good moderation, classy folks, and a complete lack of people who are there, for some reason, to start an argument.
  • I cannot imagine a day without checking in to the message boards.
  • I can’t imagine not being part of such a passionate, compassionate, hard-working and loving community.
  • The amazing thing about My Smart Puppy people is that I know they will always be there for me.
  • For someone who lives in a small, rural town, where the nearest dog training class is 1 ½ hours away, this community has been an invaluable resource. It is a safe place to share our fears, triumphs, joy, tragedy and the minutiae of every day life. I’m not sure where else I could post so proudly about my daughter writing a banner for my office that began “I love you like a dog, mom”, and have so many people tell me that they know exactly what she was saying.
  • MSP is where I have the privilege of learning from a community of truly remarkable and experienced dog experts and educators. It’s where I hang out with a wonderfully diverse group of long-time dog people and fellow newbies–all of us joined, in my thinking, by the desire to strengthen our relationships with our dogs.
  • This board was with me through one of the hardest times in my life, and I leaned heavily. The boards were there again when I decided to bring home a new friend. People were so excited with me, as any true friend would be. This board is helping to make my new best friend all that he can be, and is a place for me to share in my triumphs with him, vent about my struggles, and sometimes to chat about the inane. It’s a safe place where people will be honest, but kind–a highly underrated trait.
  • …My Smart Puppy is my safe place to come to for advice,support,sympathy,laughs,and, most of all, friends! I doubt there is any canine website more perfectly managed that MSP…. professional, friendly, respectful, witty and caring……..
  • Bailey was a handful when she was younger and caused quite a bit of trouble for myself but I learned from that and with your help and encouragement she’s turned into a great friend.

FULL TEXT TESTIMONIALS

A funny for your day. My kids were being dreadfully quiet and when I checked on them they were quite avidly watching My Smart Puppy – then after about 3 times watching it they got Shadow’s leash and were working with her. The times when you need the video camera…

We have an 9 week old Golden Ret. We’ve had her for a week & a half. And we’ve used My Smart Puppy from day 1. It is AMAZING what “thoughtful” training can do. Our neighbors with older Labs are amazed at our puppies self control already! 🙂 Thanks Sarah!

Came in too late for the 10th anniversary clips but wanted to extend congratulations, anyway. Almost 5 years ago we brought home two 3 month old female littermates from a shelter. That took my need to learn canine body language to a different level than just having one dog. As a result we took classes at a local shelter from a trainer who turned out to be an exceptional reader of the fine nuances of canine body language. Now I get to help with classes a couple of nights a week (and sometimes more) so I get to take my learning to yet another level. After having opportunities to hear you speak and watch you work at the Groomers’ Conference in Hershey a couple of years ago I began to visit My Smart Puppy and your forum more frequently. I really loved the video clips with trainer comments. I don’t come by your boards often but often enough to catch new clips and to eventually realize they aren’t there anymore. I especially enjoyed the clip of the mom with her puppies and her interaction with one in particular as I’m very much a mom and not a terribly confrontational person but have two pretty strong-willed dogs.

Thank you both for all you do for dogs (and their owners), shelters, and other trainers.
Happy Anniversary!
Margie Hillenbrand

Hi Sarah,
Just wanted to convey how much I appreciate having you and this coomunity available to the likes of me and Bailey. You and they have helped tremendously with me raising my girl to be a sometimes smart always fun-loving partner. As you always say Bailey is up for anything that life throws at her with a smaile on her face. She was a handful when she was younger and caused quite a bit of trouble for myself but I learned from that and with your help and encouragement she’s turned into a great friend. I was going to do a video but decided writing is my forte but then seeing. 🙂 Thanks for being available and as always for giving great advice!

It started in 2003 with a desperate call for help after being bitten by my rescued Golden, Tiger………………….and seven years later I look back on GreatPets/MSP as my safe place to come to for advice,support,sympathy,laughs,and, most of all, friends ! I doubt there is any canine website more perfectly managed that MSP………..professional,friendly, respectful, witty and caring………and that is because of you, Sarah. I so appreciate everything this board has brought to me !

Where to start?
In the nearly eight years I’ve been in this community, I’ve made friends that have endured even though I’ve never met most of them in person. I also feel like my relationship with my dog has deepened through the ideas, insight I’ve gained through the years. How wonderful to have a place to go and share anecdotes, pictures, tips on just about EVERYTHING – not just pets!
🙂
JenandSadie

Tthis community has been invaluable to me and my husband as we have raised our first puppy into a wonderful family pet. These boards, in addition to just being a great place to meet wonderful people who I now consider my friends, have been exactly the right fit. Some trainers seem very knowledgeable and excellent at what they do, but if you aren’t planning to compete in dog sports and train your dog to perfection, they’re not really interested in working with you. Others are fine at teaching the basics for dogs who are “just pets”, but don’t provide you with the skills to deepen your relationship with your dog. You and the other trainers on these board set a high bar and help our members achieve whatever goals we have no matter how lofty or trivial they may be without making any of us feel that having a reasonably well-behaved family dog is an unworthy goal (even though you could probably teach our dogs to play the violin if you wanted to!).
Thanks for your expertise with both dogs AND humans.
Epigirl

TheMy Smart Puppy boards are a big part of our lives as dog owners, but before I turn the faucet all the way to “gush” I’ll start with a story.
When my husband and I decided that it was time to add a dog of our own to our family, one of those little milestones of adult life, I went to my mother’s house and pored over her shelves where I’d kept all the books I’d had when we’d had our family dogs when I was a kid. I had mostly taken over responsibility for training when I was a girl, and I had developed my favorites; I went back to my own home with Paws to Consider and Good Owners, Great Dogs in hand. Before we came home with our puppy and for all of the first year, I left GOGD in the bathroom- a guaranteed way to make sure it would not only be read, but reviewed. We added yet more wear and tear to it, as it was our first resource when we needed a why or how answered.
I apologize to Brian for this- I’m sorry, I really am!- but for that time he was not Brian Kilcommons, but Major Nelson. Apparently the jacket photo reminded my husband of the character from I Dream Of Jeannie, and once he gives someone a nickname, it usually can’t be dislodged with any force short of a lawsuit. For the first year and a half of his life, Kodos the Akita was raised According To Major Nelson.
When we’d first brought Kodos home, I’d seen in the back of Tales From The Bark Side that Brian Kilcommons and Sarah Wilson had an internet forum. It was down when I checked it and it appeared to be an indefinite state; I was disappointed, but I nosed around for time to time to see if there was a replacement. I like using internet forums for advice and support when the community is good, and I was realizing that the one I was using at the time wasn’t for me when I was told they “never used any coercive method”. Maybe that worked for the shelties that predominated, but it was hopeless for an Akita that was starting to sprout guardian instincts and a powerful will of his own in general. Eventually, Sarah’s boards came back, and I became a happy lurker and eventual poster. Training was still largely my area of responsibility and According To Major Nelson changed to According to Sarah, or According To The Boards.
One day many years down the road after the second independent, irrepressible Akita came into our lives and roughly the thousandth “well I asked the boards and Sarah said…” regarding some point or another, Dear Husband finally wanted to know just why on earth I placed so much value on Sarah’s oracular writ.
“She writes the books we use to train. See? Sarah Wilson, on the cover. Same Sarah.”
There was a pause while wheels turned and a series of connections were made. His eyes grew wide.
“MAJOR NELSON’S WIFE KNOWS OUR DOGS?!!”
Well… yes, honey, she does. Their personalities, their histories, and mine. It’s a tremendous value, because aside from the basic underlying behavioral principles, the community philosophy is heavily focused on individuality: individuality of people, individuality of dogs, and individuality of situation dictates individuality of approach. This is far less common than it should be- “one size fits all, if it doesn’t work you’re doing it wrong” tends to dominate in training circles, whether what’s being trained is an animal or a human. What works well for a Shetland Sheepdog is not necessarily convincing to an Akita, and even what works well for Kodos will not necessarily apply to our other dog Kang, because they have radically different temperaments even despite being the same breed and from the same kennel. This attitude predominates both on the boards and in the books, and it gives a lot of strength and flexibility to the advice offered.
It also extends to the people holding the leash. I am not into dog sports, because neither my dogs nor I enjoy them; I get no particular thrill from excellent heeling, a crisp finish, a long stay, or a leap over an obstacle and neither do they. My dogs are far less precisely and intricately trained than many of the board denizens, because I have no interest in achieving that. I am interested in teaching and enforcing what will keep them, and me, safe, and for the things I want and need them to do; neither Kodos nor Kang has any idea what “roll over” mean, but they do stop barking and come inside on command when no other dog in the neighborhood does. I am not judged for not being interested in having the best trained dog, only ones that do what I want and need them to, and this is also unfortunately rare and something to treasure.
Also, I will always seriously consider the subject of dinner on Wednesdays. Can’t put a price tag on that.
Critical Cat

I come to our community when I need a break from “real” people who are driving me nuts, and I need the REAL people who know me and can laugh and cry and sympathize with me. I come to the boards when I’m worried I’m not a good enough Mom to my Boscoroni. I come to the boards to celebrate with all of you when I AM a good mom to him and I’ve met a few of you in person-and it’s been as though I’ve always known you. I know that no matter what I do, I will be cared about, supported and encouraged-unless I’m completely wrong in which case I will be told so-gently, kindly but honestly. And that I think is what makes us so special….we are so honest and yet we really do care and want to help. Sometimes I feel like I take more than I give and sometimes I revel in being able to give….thanks for that. I’ve been with you more than 5 years and can’t imagine not having this place to come to.
Susan Wojcik – scooterpiemom

Wow ten years goes fast, but I guess that’s how long it’s been since I have had Toby for 10 years this April. A friend told me about Good Owners, Great Dogs and then refered me to the chat site. It has been a great resource over the years and have gotten great advice and support from a rambucsious young guy to a guy that is now in his senior years. It’s a great board for sharing information and I have learned alot over the years. We are a great community – we share the joy of new dogs on board and morn the loss of dogs that have passed. We all understand that bond we have with our dogs. Happy Anniversery My Smart Puppy!
Dunbarrtonlass

I am 48 years old and own my very first dog ever plus two more. If it weren’t for this forum I wouldn’t know any better than those around me do: I live in a community where it isn’t uncommon to hear someone say “you let your dog sleep in the house?” or “if he puddles on the floor you should smack him with a rolled up newspaper and rub his nose in it”. UGH.
Now, there is a lot of room for improvement with the way my dogs have been trained but at least I know what it! I have learned so much about dogs and living with dogs and I have had a glimpse of what is possible. so much more than being “The Pack Leader” a la Cesar Milan.
For added gravy, I have found the forum to be made up exclusively of smart, helpful friendly people. Great place to hang out, ask questions, and even just be silly. I can’t overstate how much I love it. I have spend the last 2 years also being on another forum daily (the one for weight loss surgery) and the differences in the two, holy cow! the My Smart Puppy forum has good moderation, classy folks, and a complete lack of people who are there, for some reason, to start an argument.
I have not yet met anyone in real life but I have hopes.
Jackie Johnson,
living with a shelter mix, a pom & a toy american eskimo

MY SMART PUPPY: A LOVE STORY

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…
Enough to get in my car and drive 10 hours up to a dog show to meet somebody I only knew from the Internet. You were wearing a skirt and said, “Hi, I’m Sarah. Don’t get used to seeing me in a skirt.” I correctly identified a Sussex spaniel, and you were quite impressed.
Enough that I felt comfortable bringing Rusty’s ashes to the last Gathering and keeping them under my chair during the seminars, so that he could participate. And then we committed our beloved friends to the wind and the earth, which is a memory that sustains me to this day.
Enough that MSP is the first place I go when I have any news, good or bad, to share.
Enough to use every available scrap of vacation time I had to go on a cruise with people who, over the last 9 years, had become real-life friends and very dear to me
Enough that I cannot imagine a day without checking in to the message boards.
From mouse balls to sauerkraut balls, Neuticles to Libby’s Christmas carols, to Sarah as Xena, Greenaroo’s Hannah taking her first steps outside, births, deaths, marriages, divorces, Shonda and the Flowers, puppies acquired and retired, rescue, breeding, vet advice, training advice, life advice, and never-ending laughter – these are all the ways I love you, My Smart Puppy.
Happy 10th Anniversary and MANY more!!
Cristiana

I am so very honored and humbled to be included not only in this community, but on this team of Moderators and Administrators. Not a day goes by that I don’t jump on the boards and read with awe, happiness, and excitement. There was a time when the moderators were working double-speed answering questions, making suggestions, supporting those who needed it or figuring out as a team how to help one of our members, be it in their dog or cat’s life or the human end of the leash.
What I see now is how incredibly smart, active, giving, willing and honest our community has become. And how much we’ve learned! And how willing everyone is to share personal and often difficult things with all of us. Frequently I’ll jump on and read a question and the answers that follow, and think, “no need for me to jump in, our members have this one covered!’ Yes, how much we’ve all learned
I can’t imagine not being part of such a passionate, compassionate, hard-working and loving community. The thought of somehow losing my friends around the globe is, well, unthinkable.
The amazing thing about My Smart Puppy people is that I know they will always be there for me.
You are all a gift, and I can’t thank you enough.
Happy Anniversary My Smart Puppy!
Toni Kay-Wolff, http://www.wellmannereddog.com/

Tenth Anniversary
In 2001, in search of help or suggestions for training my two young dogs, I was reading a book or article about dog training, and found a link to a dog web site. I visited it, and never left. I was delighted to find a group of people who were knowledgeable about dogs (and cats), and warm, welcoming, kind, and humorous.
I didn’t realize that this bit of web surfing would be life altering. Spending time (often too much) on the web site, coupled with my increasing involvement in shelter work amounted to quite an education in dogs.
The My Smart Puppy board has become, increasingly, a true community. At one of the Farm gatherings, Brian said that the web site that he and Sarah had created to provide information and answer questions about dogs had become so much more than they had originally envisioned. Weddings, births, divorces, and deaths have been celebrated or mourned together. New puppies have been welcomed, and old dogs bid farewell as they “crossed the bridge.” The famous GP/MSP vibes have supported many a member or family through illness, surgery, job loss, job hunts, moving, and other life events. Members have come together for classes, gatherings at the Farm, conferences, and cruises. Cyber friends have become real life friends. Cyber parties are awesome celebrations!
While my dogs, their ages now in double digits, are far from being two of the best trained on the boards, they’re much better than they would have been if I hadn’t found GP/MSP. Many shelter dogs and cats have benefitted from what I have learned from members and moderators.
I’ve been honored to be a member and now a moderator of this group—I cannot imagine my life without it.
Carolyn Turner

Wow, the tenth anniversary of the My Smart Puppy board. My first marriage didn’t last that long! I am not sure that I can properly express what this community has meant to me. You were there for my terrifying first time in the obedience ring with Rascal. You were there when my first dog, Sasha died. I found beautiful Sheena, from Saskatchewan, through this board (thank you Nicole, aka Phoebe’s Mom). And this community has supported me in countless ways throughout the last 2 ½ years, when I got Rapper during a long-term bout of treatment resistant depression.
For someone who lives in a small, rural town, where the nearest dog training class is 1 ½ hours away, this community has been an invaluable resource. It is a safe place to share our fears, triumphs, joy, tragedy and the minutiae of every day life. I’m not sure where else I could post so proudly about my daughter writing a banner for my office that began “I love you like a dog, mom”, and have so many people tell me that they know exactly what she was saying.
Erin

The MSP community is my home for all the good things that have happened to me since becoming a dog owner in 2007.
MSP is where I have the privilege of learning from a community of truly remarkable and experienced dog experts and educators. It’s where I hang out with a wonderfully diverse group of long-time dog people and fellow newbies–all of us joined, in my thinking, by the desire to strengthen our relationships with our dogs.
MSP is where I get to enjoy the pleasures of puppy breath without having to take the puppy out at midnight. I cheer along to successes big and small. I cry with our friends when a member of our family has to leave us.
“Words We Train By” is prominently displayed in my kitchen. Thank you Sarah & Brian!
Claire

When I first logged on some nine years ago, Mandy and I were dog and master. Today we are a team because of what I have learned from this wonderful community.

Wow–10 years ….
This board has been a pivotal part of my life for the past 8 years. People in my everyday life know where I’m referring when I say I was “on the boards”, as there’s only one board that I could possibly mean. They know who I’m talking about when I start a sentence with “Sarah says…” too. 🙂
I’ve made friends here, both online and in person, but both just as meaningful to me. Sometimes it’s easier to share really personal thoughts, struggles or triumphs with friends that aren’t in the room with you–it’s comfort and connection in a different way.
This board was with me when I got my first dog 8 years ago. When I struggled with him and adolescence, it was a place to get real, concrete, practical advice. When I really struggled, Sarah emailed me personally and gave her number for me to call and chat. I was blown away.
It’s because of this board that I created the relationship with my Indy that I did. I was able to understand his motivations and needs better, and in turn become a better trainer and owner for my best friend. The connection that I felt with the people on FDI prompted me to take my first roadtrip of 10+ hours to visit and train in person with some of the people that I felt I already knew. The trip alone is something that I never thought I’d do on my own. The time that I spent in person with my online friends is one of the highlights of the time spent with my dog.
It was through one of the meet-ups and training sessions with members of this board that it was brought to my attention that my Indy was walking in a concerning manner. This in turn prompted me to seek veterinary care, and come home with a diagnosis. Members of this board helped me gather information to proceed with options of care for my dog, and were there to listen to me cry, worry, and celebrate small victories with my aging boy. They truly cared.
They continued to care when I lost my boy 9 months after diagnosis. I was heartbroken…and so were my friends who had known Indy for years through the boards. Online friends personally emailed me. The thread discussing his death received over 100 replies. An online friend took it upon herself to have a gift commissioned for me in my dog’s memory, and sent it to me. I cherish that thoughtfulness.
This board was with me through one of the hardest times in my life, and I leaned heavily. The boards were there again when I decided to bring home a new friend. People were so excited with me, as any true friend would be. This board is helping to make my new best friend all that he can be, and is a place for me to share in my triumphs with him, vent about my struggles, and sometimes to chat about the inane. It’s a safe place where people will be honest, but kind–a highly underrated trait.

COMMENTS FROM DOG PROS ON 2009 DEALING WITH DIFFICULT DOGS CONFERENCE

A million thanks for putting on such an outstanding workshop this past weekend in Longmont! There wasn’t a single boring moment — I could have gone on another week (or month, or year) just soaking up all the knowledge and expertise you have to share. There’s not a doubt that I arrived home a “new and improved” dog trainer! It was truly a privilege and an inspiration to spend time with you both.
As a relative newcomer to the industry (two years), I want to especially thank you for helping me feel supported and validated in my commitment to using and trying any and all humane methods that help the dog, based on the DOG’s input! The opposing voices can be quite loud and create a lot of self-doubt in newer trainers like myself.

Oh my gosh….. I want to thank you for the opportunity of going to the absolute best conference I have ever been to on dogs. ity. I feel so rejuvenated since your seminar. I have not been to one in ages which inspires hope in others. I am so happy to have met you.

The hands-on training was a gift, and not just the dogs. I think of myself as a positive, supportive person with my clients, and I thought that I was walking the walk of supporting all methods and trainers. I was missing a big piece and didn’t realize it. You really modeled a whole new level of positive support with the trainers who were working dogs. I found myself frustrated with one of the participants, who was apparently triggering some of my own “stuff.” My gut response to pull away from or judge that person was in direct opposition to your response, which was to find the good, praise the effort, and still be very direct with your feedback. You didn’t try to fix everything in one shot, but built some relationship and worked in manageable chunks where you could make some progress. Hmmmm. I know you mentioned that we should treat the people end of the leash like we treat the dog end of the leash, but you were serious!.

You really opened my eyes. There were many, many more, and I definitely left there a better trainer than I came in, but this one was very profound for me. My clients, colleagues and I thank you for it!

I really look forward to learning more from you, and hope that you come back soon.

First I just want to tell you what a amazing experience the whole seminar was for me. I learned so much more than I could have ever hoped… You have inspired me to want to become a better trainer. So it’s no wonder the dogs respond the way they do. So I thank you and so does Bogart and Cassie.

I wanted to send along my comments regarding the seminar. I LOVED IT. That’s pretty much it. Ha ha, no, really – I did also fill out the comment page (which is attached). 😉 I can’t wait until next year!

Sarah:
I can’t thank you enough for the dog-life changing experience. I am not gushing here, it was just an incredible relief to find a way forward and skills that I understood and could actually learn and do. Before your seminar I didn’t have a clue as to how to improve and as kindly as the local folks are I often felt (with the help of your books) that I was pretty close or just a step or two behind what they were able to teach.
I could go on and on. You have things to do so I won’t except to say again Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

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