Developing The Dance 

Chispa and Daisy, meeting for the first time in Bavaria

Follow my journey with Chispa, who came in to my life in May of 2016. All of the puppy training and shenanigans were documented here!






Learn a little about where chere Chispa comes from, and where this blog is headed.


Getting it right

Yesterday I sent an email out to my email list, letting people know about my plans for this particular blog series, and the response was overwhelming. So many of you, like me, wanted to make sure you “got it right this time.” There was a lot of anxiety, worry, and stress communicated. Fear that we […]

How Chispa Got To The USA (importing a puppy)

I’ve had several people ask me about the process of importing Chispa here to the USA. The Centers for Disease Control hasĀ stated HERE that in order for a dog to be imported into the USAĀ as a pet, meaning, not intended for resale or commercial purposes, the following must be true: The puppy has to have […]


The baby nose bop and a cardboard box

Not much formal training happened yesterday for Chispa, BUT, she did get to go to the vet. Hooray! Ok, not really. Tuesday evening, while playing, she smacked her head into the floor and broke one of her baby canines clear up to the gumline. Half of it remained, even more of a needle than before. […]

Look at me, look at me, look at me

The following content was originally sent out to subscribers to my email list, with the promise that it’d be reposted here for comments and discussion in the discussion forum that is available for premium subscribers. Look at me, look at me, look at me… The Developing the Dance puppy blog launched yesterday, at $9.95/month. Registration […]

Velociraptor puppy and Red Light, Green Light

This weekend the weather is HOT HOT HOT. Puppies are somewhat crepuscular by nature, meaning, they tend to be most active during morning and evening twilight. So, while that’s great for during the day when other chores and work needs to be done, it’s a little bit tricky when in the evening, you’re completely wiped […]

Chispa learns the dog door

Chispa is a very happy, adventurous, and persistent puppy. She’s definitely more interested in people than other dogs, which is wonderful, but I do want to make sure that she has ample opportunity to interact with other dogs, my dogs in particular. Her interactions have all been very appropriate – she demonstrates just the right […]

Beginning Food Bowl Manners

Chispa is a puppynado. We are slowly but surely entering the less and less sleeping throughout the day phase. She’s pretty good in her crate, placed near the desk in my office, but she’s wanting more and more activity when she’s out. She’s still at her MOST active just before she crashes for a nap; […]

Just ten treats

Some time ago, one of my students spoke to me about her plan to teach her highly athletic, high prey drive, driven standard poodle. She wrote a blog post about it around the same time, and you can read itĀ HERE. I loved the idea behind it. Of course, the idea of keeping training sessions short […]


Where’s your nose, and baby balancing

This week has been a busy one, and this weekend is going to be busy as well. My local agility club is hosting a USDAA trial, and I’m the chair. Which means that anything that goes wrong is almost certainly my doing, and anything that goes well is almost certainly the doing of all the […]

Chispa’s Weekend

OK, spoiler alert, NO major training happened this weekend with Chispa. I was Trial Chair for the local agility club’s USDAA trial, and as it was my first time in that role, I was pretty busy making sure the place didn’t burn down due to my lack of experience. I’m happy to say, it seems […]


Chispa Meets The Manners Minder

The Manners Minder has long been a staple of my training – in fact, I literally wrote the book on using it for agility training. Yep. Today was Chispa’s VERY first interaction with the Manners Minder (Treat & Train, same thing), and I must say, I’m thrilled, yet again, with how she IMMEDIATELY acted as […]

Beginning rear foot targeting and another trick

If it seems like a lot of the things I’m doing are small and simple, well….they ARE. It’s not my goal here to provide a how to all at once, for any one behavior; that’s just not how training works at the moment. I tackle a little bit of this, and a little bit of […]

Back Up

Play, play, play. I’ve never seen a puppy play so much. With me, with George, with the other dogs, by herself….play, play, play. So much playing. Chispa is very playful, super happy. Even while I’m chasing after her (yea yea I know, that’s a no no) because she’s got CAT POOP in her mouth. Don’t […]

Collar Grab

Chispa and I are in Fairbanks, Alaska this week! I’m here to teach a three day seminar, just prior to this weekend’s AWC Team Practice, and next week’s Clear Mind Agility Camp. So, the next two weeks are going to be busy, busy, busy. But, I have my phone, to shoot video, and I have […]

Chispa goes to the parade

Last weekend was the Portland Pride Parade. I wouldn’t have known about it but a good friend let me know, and, given the recent events in Orlando, and that I have a puppy who needs to see the sights and sounds, the parade was a no brainer. As usual, Chispa was amazing. This is an […]

Puppy Posture and Recalls to Heel

Today is day ONE of the third annual Clear Mind Agility Camp, and I thought I’d take a few moments to update the puppy blog. No real training is being done with Chispa this week, other than “learn to spend a lot of time in your crate”. This is a good lesson, and one she […]

The Two Toy Game – Get The Live Toy

Last week was an amazing week here at Clear Mind Agility, because it was Summer Camp Week. I’ll write more about that later, separately, at, where my ramblings on life in general reside. This is all about Chispa! No real “formal” training happened, but she did get passed around, a LOT. BetweenĀ camp duties, teaching, […]

Beginning Retrieves

Chispa eliminates one more safe space for the other dogs in the household, and the next step in the two toy game – beginning retrieves!

Slowtime Summer

Chispa goes for a swim, and some other random puppy pictures and thoughts…


The two toy game – adding motion

Before I go on with the newer behaviors that I started working on with Chispa over the weekend (at the show, ringside, because I wanted to do something other than just feed her for being cute…), I want to finish up with the Two Toy Game. Obviously I’ll continue to work on it, but this […]


Monkey See, Monkey Do: Wave & Shake

Chispa swam a little bit more today at the ponds, this time after a thrown stick. No, I don’t throw sticks for my dogs! I just tossed it out on the water so she could swim out after it. I did work on having her carry a short stick at several points on our walk […]

Puppy Shenanigans and Sleepovers

Things are getting busy around here at Clear Mind Agility. I’m trying to keep life separated from puppy training, but really, that’s a ridiculous and artificial division. Chispa didn’t do much but grow this past weekend, while I: Attended a sailboat race that my 89-year old grandfather raced in (and no, not RC sailboats, REAL […]

Four Feet in a Bowl/Box

By now, if you’re a subscriber, and able to see the premium content (ie the actual behaviors and how-to instructions) for each behavior I’ve been teaching Chispa, you’re realizing that most of what I’m doing with her is nothing special. Yep, that’s right. I don’t have a secret magic recipe for an amazing puppy. If […]

Chispa goes to camp

I’m writing this from France! More on that in a separate bunch of blog posts; this is about CHISPA! Friday was a busy day; I drove two hours north to Olympia, WA, to get Frodo’s international health certificate endorsed, and then drove back to the house, to pick up Chispa, and then drove 45 minutes […]

Reconnecting with Chispa

I got home from the European Open late Tuesday evening, so Chispa didn’t make it back to the household until Wednesday morning. She grew! And, oh, I was so happy to see her. SheĀ seemed especially happy to see me, which made me feel great, but I’m guessing she greets just about everybody with a similar […]

Slowtime Summer Sunday

I’m still recovering a bit from the European Open trip to France with Frodo. Predictably, I caught a summer cold (it was my birthday this week too, so that was a nice gift). I was planning on heading to a local AKC trial this weekend, but (luckily, as it turns out) I forgot to enter […]

Put your toys away – STEP ONE

Sunday, in addition to working on GO TO YOUR MAT with Chispa, I also started working on teaching her to pick up a toy and put it in a box. Today, I’m covering step ONE of that process. Short and sweet, here we go:

Oh, it’s THAT time…

Chispa has been growing adult teeth for the past couple of weeks. Well, I guess technically, she’s been growing them longer than that, but now they are coming THROUGH. I always wonder if it’s better or worse, cutting sharp dog teeth, or dull human teeth. I have to think that cutting SHARP teeth is better […]


Put your toys away – STEPS TWO THROUGH FOUR

Things got back on track fairly quickly with respect to Chispa coming when called. Today promises to be a scorcher, so I loaded up the dogs early, because I wanted to get a run in as well as a walk/swim. And, in preparation for working on Chispa’s recall, I left some of the more high […]

Chispa does agility – The Bang Game

Oh no, Daisy is doing agility with her 5 month old puppy! Hey everybody! Look! Nothing so exciting as all that, I’m afraid. Plus, I’ve been doing agility with Chispa since she was 8 weeks old. You know, every step we TAKE together is one of us “handling” the other. We move through time and […]

Chispa does more agility!

I’m in Hartford, CT, at the moment, with Frodo, for Agility World Championships Team USA Practice. But, I came armed with videos to post for the puppy blog series, and of course Chispa’s life continues back at home in Oregon. Apparently she misses me; she keeps finding my socks and running around the house with […]

Circling a cone

Monday I got home after being away for Agility World Championships Team USA Team Practice, and the first thing I had to do was squeeze Chispa. She’s so cute!! Of course she had other ideas, and wanted to play tug. With her bloody tug toys. As in, literally bloody, because she’s been popping out teeth […]

Tugging in public, chilling ringside, and touching stuff with feet

This past weekend Chispa came with me to a local-ish USDAA show that was outside on grass. Aaah, outside on grass. So nice. Nice to watch, nice to work, nice to hang out and get some sunshine. It seemed only natural for Chispa to hang out ringside, quietly, not showing too much interest in the […]

Chispa discovers sheep

Yesterday, I was out in the pasture, mending a hose that feeds the stock tank that waters the sheep, and Chispa discovered how to get under the fence and in to the pasture. Then, she discovered sheep poop (Raisinets, anyone?). And then…she discovered sheep. Bye bye recall. Of course, I did what any person does […]

Chispa’s first big show

This year, USDAA Cynosport Games are in Arizona, and, I’M DRIVING! Yep, it’s a long way, but I’ll have company on the drive, AND, I don’t want to pass up a chance to take Chispa along. I’m always jealous of those who have their puppies tagging along at big events, because to me, it seems […]

A conditioning checkup with Bobbie Lyons

Last week, Chispa, Frodo, and I headed downtown to pay a visit to Bobbie Lyons, who teaches K9 Conditioning all over the world and right here in the classroom. She teaches a bunch of classes, some of which are registering today as I write this post. But that’s a different topic, and if you’re interested, […]

Chispa sequencing obstacles, and, 6 month stats

Chispa is six months old now. I don’t have any current stats on her weight or height; they are what they are. I know she’s under 19.75″, because that’s how tall Jester is, and she’s shorter than he is by a wide margin. Her last recorded height was about a month ago, and that was […]

Last training before AWC with Chispa

This weekend Frodo and I will be off to Spain for the Agility World Championships. Tomorrow, Chispa heads off to stay with a friend during our absence. While I’m ok leaving the grown up dogs at the house in the care of the housesitter, puppies require more specific attention, and so, historically, puppies go to […]

Back in the saddle with Chispa

Tuesday, Frodo and I arrived home (late in the evening) from Spain, just in time to crash in bed. Wednesday, after a bit of teaching in the morning, I headed off to pick up Chispa from the babysitter. Would she remember me? Would she have grown? Well, she did seem to remember me, and pretty […]

Overdue Chispa Update

Well, getting back in to “regular” training has taken longer than I would have hoped, when it comes to Chispa. When I got her home from the puppy watcher that had her when I was in Spain, she was FAT. Roly poly puppy! I wasn’t clear enough with my feeding instructions; I shouldn’t have specified […]

Brief Chispa update

October – where is it going? It’s going to Missouri, where I am now (and where I got to work with some super fun puppy owners today), and will be til Sunday. It’s going to Singapore, where I will be headed just about 48 hours after getting home from Missouri. It’s going to California, where […]

Chispa and Running Contacts

After a long absence from Chispa (and the rest of the dogs), I got home from Missouri and Singapore, and got back to some…running contact training! When I was in Missouri, I gave a short running contact presentation, information communication mostly, and started it off by rewatching several videos from this playlist: It was good […]

Landing Side Approaches – First Steps

I’ve been thinking a lot about landing side approaches lately. You know, pushes to the takeoff sideĀ of a jump when the dog is approaching from the landing side, pulls to the same. It doesn’t have to be a jump – it could also be a tunnel, or a set of weave poles. I’m reworking my […]

Happy Thanksgiving, Chispa

Chispa is getting more excited to go train in the Agility Hall, and so there are some things we need to step back and work on…


Friday fun

Anna is still here, visiting from Germany, and so Friday, we packed up and headed for the hills, with fingers crossed that it wouldn’t pour, and some almond cookies baked by George for a snack, and with the camera (a non-mobile device camera, a “real” camera!). This weekend is the Tryouts for the European Open […]

Sit Stays!

After the Anna Hinze seminar finished yesterday, and I’d put up all the Christmas lights the cold weather and my fingers would allow, it was time for some training with Chispa! If you read through my previous post, you’ll see my thoughts on sit stays…and here is the video of what we worked on Ā last […]

What’s up with Chispa?

Running contacts, that’s what. And recalls. Chispa’s dogwalk is coming along nicely (video below, if you’re a subscriber). At this point, it’s just a bit of training daily when possible, every other day when not. We’re also working on her collection recall on the flat, as outlined in Linda Mecklenburg’s Mastering Jumping Skills book. Right […]

Chispa works through Module 1 of MJSFF

Chispa working through module 1 material for Mastering Jumping Skills: Foundation Flatwork, Module 1

Chispa works through Module 2 of MJSFF

Chispa’s progress through Module 2 of Mastering Jumping Skills: Foundation Flatwork.

Grown up girl photos

A brief update and pictures of Chispa at nearly 11 months.

Chispa update – a year!

We are now in training for weave poles, contacts, jumps, and handling. It’s a full plate, to be sure, and so I have been doing a lot of station training. Chispa is pretty smart, and PLAY is the name of the game for her. If it’s not PLAY, she’s not interested…

Chispa Training for the morning

Chispa’s training from this morning (session 1 of 3)

The Novice Cheeseburger

Someday I’m gonna look back on this and say, “aw, isn’t she cute?” – wait, that day is today, and every day…

Jump and Dogwalk training continues

A bit of our recent training. Next time in the ring is in just a couple of weeks.

Baby dog sequencing

Some sequencing with Chispa from yesterday, etc.

Labor Day Update

A video from Chispa’s first time in the ring with contacts!

Keeping it Novice

Some recent sequences Chispa and I have worked through together. Baby dog style. No need for fancy stuff yet. Crawl, then walk, then trot, then run. First things first.

Age appropriate sequencing

I’m shamelessly pleased with our pinwheels, and ecstatic with our contacts. It’s a moment in time, a rung on the ladder, a step on the journey, and we’re not settling in to or hunkering down to stay in this moment – we’re moving on the moment we’ve mastered a thing, but it sure feels good to have mastered that thing as a step toward other things.

One year later

Some running contact training with Chispa.