As I was cleaning up and organizing my files on my computer (hard drive is full up AGAIN), I ran across an old text file simply labeled “Notes – Patty Ruzzo”.

I don’t actually remember when/where I made them. I think *probably* they are from her “Compete in Joy” book, which I do have somewhere around here. But cleaning and organizing the bookshelves is a task for another day.

Compete in Joy” is a book that I read and reread between competing with my first dog, Stormy (which didn’t go that well, but we survived), and beginning trial my second dog, Gambit (which went considerably better for many reasons). I suspect the book may be out of print and hard to come by today. But if you plan to compete in obedience, and don’t already have a copy in your library, I suggest you find, buy, or borrow a copy. It’s a small book filled with distilled, potent information.

  • Clear, concise, consistent handling is reinforcing to your dog.
  • Body Posture, facial expression, verbal tones, energy level, positive expectations and clear, recognizable signal and verbal cues all play a part.
  • Minimize extraneous motion.
  • Attention starts with the handler.  Trainers who are totally focused on their canine partner will receive reciprocal attention from that dog.
  • Handler sets him/herself up first and checks own body position for straight alignment before expecting perfection from the dog.
  • Stand tall, shoulders over hips, eyes forward.
  • Soft focus on floor in front of handler.  See dog in peripheral vision.
  • Walk, think, focus on straight lines.
  • Focus forward. Look where you are going, and go there.
  • Cue your dog BEFORE you move. 
  • Shorten stride length on all turns, halts, and curves of the figure 8.
  • Take responsibility!  The dog is exactly where you put him.
  • Smile and breathe!

As I read these bullet points, I realized how relevant they still are to me.  I thought you might find them helpful, too.