Although I grew up with dogs in my life, my first structured experience with traditional dog training came in 1980 when I raised a Black Lab puppy for Guiding Eyes for the Blind. Clay passed his guide dog training and helped a young man lead a normal life for many years.
My introduction to positive dog training began in 2007 when I attended a ClickerExpo and later hosted a Kay Laurence workshop at our farm in Missouri. I have taken many on-line classes from prominent dog trainers including Kay Laurence, Bob Bailey, Parvene Farhoody, and Susan Garrett.
I began herding in 1988 when I was given an Australian Shepherd. I soon switched over to Border Collies and have trained over a dozen through the years. I compete at the Open or highest level of USBCHA (United States Border Collie Handlers Association) trials. It was after winning my first Open trial in 2008 that I decided to learn positive dog training methods and attempt to develop a more dog-friendly approach to herding.
In 2011 I was contacted by a woman from South Africa. Sally asked me to help her train a puppy, Renn, to herd using positive reinforcement methods. Sally had taught agility and tricks with positive training but had never trained or handled a herding dog. We worked together through email, skype, and youtube for several years and Sally and Renn became an amazing team. Not only did Renn do everything that Sally needed on her small acreage but they also went on to become the South African Sheepdog Association’s National Reserve Junior Champion. That was one of the proudest days of my life!
When I got my youngest dog, Sir, in 2015 I began keeping a training journal in great detail. Over the last several years, I have used that journal as the basis for my books on positive herding, Positive Herding 101 and Positive Herding 102. These books lay out the successful step-by-step approach that Sally and I pioneered to train herding using positive reinforcement.