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Want more “Happy” for You and Your Dog?

December 6, 2018

Amazing!! It’s almost 2019 … where did the year go? It must be true that the older one gets, the faster time passes. And, there is current science that suggests that time IS actually going faster!

One exciting aspect of this ‘fast-moving time’ is that we can see the results of our plans and actions quicker than ever before. That, coupled with the ending of one year and the fresh beginning of a new one just around the corner, means there is no better time than now to set you and your dog up for success in the new year!

So, let me ask you:

Do you want more “Happy” in your life?  (who doesn’t)

Do you want to enjoy each day a little more?  (duh, right?)

Do you want 2019 to be the best year ever for you and your dogs? (doesn’t that sound awesome?)

I have two simple, easy things you can do right now to get that rolling for you. Everyone can do this, it takes very little time, AND your dog will remind you constantly!


Tip #1:

When you LOVE what you already have in your life, you’ll get more of the same.

It all starts with natural laws of our world:  we will attract into our experience what we are in vibrational resonance with. Simply put, everything is energy — you, your dog, your emotions, your thoughts — yep, all energy. That’s because everything is made of molecules, which are made of atoms, which are made of subatomic particles…which are pure energy.

Energy, by nature, resonates with and attracts back to it things of the same resonance, or frequency…just like a tuning fork brings a particular piano string into resonance. You’ve likely heard the expression “like attracts like”, that’s resonance. So, if your thoughts or emotions are centered around fear, anxiety, or lack (of anything)…you literally draw those things to you like a magnet.

Don’t want that now, do we?

One great way to turn that energy around, and attract more useful things to you is to feel, acknowledge and express gratitude. Expression of Heartfelt Gratitude is one of, if not “the” most powerful ways to change your life. Teaching myself to practice gratitude every single day is one of the best things I have ever done…for me and for my dogs!

And, when I think about it, I learned this lesson from my dogs. When they’re happy about something, they show it!  And, furthermore, they spend their time anticipating what great stuff is about to happen (cookies, walk, ball, play, dinner, massage) instead of lamenting about what great stuff they wish they had.

So, in it’s simplest form, all you have to do is be happy and grateful for all the great stuff you have in your life, and anticipate all the great stuff that is going to happen soon.

Pretty cool, right?

It’s pretty easy once you get started…the great feelings that flow when you practice gratitude automatically generate more great feelings that attract more things to be grateful for! Start today. Start with your dogs.

Kathy Kawalec and her border collie Luc share a loving momentFor example, TODAY:

I’m grateful that I get to nurture a partnership with my beautiful border collies.

I’m grateful that I can spend time outdoors with my dogs.

I’m grateful that my dogs are healthy and sound.

I’m grateful that if needed, I can take my dog to the vet for care.

I’m grateful that I am healthy and sound enough to work my dogs.

Im grateful that I can make the time to work my dogs.

I’m grateful that I have warm clothes and boots and rain gear that keep me comfortable when I’m outdoors with my dogs.

I’m grateful for the feel of my dogs soft hair and warm skin under my hand as I stroke their heads.

I’m grateful that my dogs and I have F-U-N when we work and play together.

I’m grateful for the honor and privilege of having such a relationship with my dog…whether we win, lose, get eliminated or have to scratch…I am grateful.


 Tip #2:

Get Ready for all the great stuff that you are anticipating!

So, how do you “Get Ready”?

The simplest way to get ready for all that great stuff you’re anticipating is to plan for it. Planning is all about getting your ducks in a row so you are ready when your great stuff shows up.

Planning helps you to get clear on what you want so that you’ll recognize it when it comes. And planning helps you to get ready in baby steps, so you don’t have to rush around like crazy when you realize that you’re not ready. Makes sense, right?

Planning also helps you to get organized with your training sessions and allows you to develop a finely tuned sense of where you are and where you want to go. You will become attuned to your dog each and every time you work/play together and that allows your dog to give you great feedback about your training and handling.

Here’s a simple way to start:

  • Begin to ask yourself useful questions before and after each session…and before and after each phase of planning. Questions like

    “What skills do I (or my dog) need to rehearse in order to become competent at the desired level?”

    “What do I need to change or improve in order to create the results I want?”

  • After each training session, ask yourself:

    “Are we better now than before the session?”

    If your answer is “no”, change what didn’t work and try again.

    If the answer is “I’m not sure”, go back and repeat the same to become sure.

    If the answer is “yes” and if your answer is usually “yes” then you are not challenging you and your dog enough.

    Those words of wisdom are passed down from trainer Bob Bailey. Wise indeed! We can’t get better if we don’t challenge ourselves, right?

To take this one step further, begin to Create Your Plan for 2019.

Start with taking inventory of the skills and the level of partnership you already have with your dog in each area. Then visualize and determine where you want to be…one area at a time. Be quite detailed. See and most importantly FEEL, what it’s like to accomplish your goals. Take in every detail and write them down.

Kathy and Sue Meeker 2012 closeNext, create a plan of action, step-by-step that will get you to your goals. You can do that by the training session, by the week, or the month. Be detailed enough that your road map will guide you well along the way, without bogging you down in too many details. Your details will come into play before and after each session. If you’re not sure, get help from your coach or instructor.

Record your training sessions…in a journal or logbook.

Write notes for each session and for each competition: What went well…what are you happy with? Be specific. Record the relevant environmental details of the session too.

Then, what would you like to change or revise for next time? What would you like to improve? What is your plan for making those changes?

It’s important to focus on a positive outcome and remember it’s so much easier to teach a dog to “DO” rather than “DON’T”.

For example, “DO keep a good shape to your flank” is easier to teach than “Don’t cut in on your flank”.

It’s so important is to nurture a positive mental attitude and engage in self-talk that helps you reach your goals.

Always speak to yourself in the present tense as if you already have the quality you want. “I am calm and confident.” Use positive phrases, (avoiding the words ‘not, won’t, can’t, should’)…such as “I am relaxed” vs “I am not tense”…or “I am focused” vs “I will not be distracted.”

Review your plan every month or quarter, compare it to your training journal, ask yourself those useful questions…make adjustments and move forward. Have fun, be happy every day, and remember tip #1.  😉

And…I’ll leave you with these thoughts to ponder …

“If you always do what you’ve always done you will always get what you always got.”

“How am I going to live today to create the tomorrow I am committed to?”


Join us for the 2019 Creative Alchemy Passion Plan program…you’ll be so happy you did!!



How Gratitude Can Accelerate Your Dog Training Goals

December 30, 2017


Gratitude accelerate your goals

In Part 1, I shared 5 tips for using gratitude to create a better relationship with your dog and reach your dreams. Now, in Part 2, I’ll share some advanced gratitude strategies to accelerate your progress!

Gratitude and Goals in Harmony …

While it seems that being grateful for who we are and what we have right now is contradictory to the idea of setting goals for a better life experience … they can indeed coexist. I believe that practicing gratitude is a simple way to accelerate the process of reaching our heartfelt goals and dreams.

Being grateful for what you are and have right now doesn’t mean you don’t want to grow and create change in your life. If you’re like me, you love to create change, learn new things and make life more brilliant for yourself and your loved-ones.

Accomplishing your goals is even more possible when you start with a foundation of gratitude. Instead of feeling frustrated, you’ll feel happy about where you are … while eagerly anticipating your adventure ahead.

Being grateful for all you have now sets the stage for realizing your goals in the future.

When we feel and express gratitude for what we have in our life, we are automatically attracting more of what we love.

Goals give us purpose and keep us focused on what’s truly important to us. Goals bring us to greater clarity about what we want … and they keep us inspired to keep taking those baby steps toward our ‘prize’ every day.

Whether you have a goal for attaining something special with your dog … or for a non-dog something that you feel inspired to bring into your life … a gratitude journal will keep us moving in the right direction.

Goal Acceleration Tips:

When you are working toward a training or trialing/showing goal with your dog, (or any goal really),  you can use your gratitude journaling to speed up your results.

Here’s how:

  1. Include 1 or 2 Goal Gratefuls in your daily practice. When we are working toward a goal that challenges us (as good goals do), we often get caught up in a cycle of ‘it’s not happening yet’ or we question ‘when is it ever going to happen?’ or ‘will it ever happen?’ and we forget to celebrate the little wins.When we can include 1 or 2 of those little baby steps we take that keep moving us toward our goal … the more we focus on the things that went right … the more we are accelerated. This practice is so reinforcing to us, and it keeps us inspired and motivated to carry on through the struggles we will likely encounter along the way.
  2. Include 1 or 2 Future Gratefuls in your daily practice. When you can include feeling grateful for what is about to come … surrounding future events with an air of expectation, like it’s already done … you will be adding that positive energy to the mix, and that will accelerate your journey even more!What you’ll want to do is to use your imagination to pretend that your goal/dream has already happened … that you are living it right now. Paint a full and vibrant picture of living your dream. Allow yourself to experience the feeling you will have living your dream.Now, simply find one or two things that you are grateful for inside of your imagined life. There you have it – goals on steroids!!  🙂

Some Examples of Gratitude Journal Entries:

Goal Grateful:
“Wow! Max actually looked at me for ‘what’s next?’ today! First time in class he offered that! I am so grateful that our partnership is finally getting there!”

Future Gratefuls:
“I am so grateful knowing that next week’s trial will be fun and we get to practice and learn together in a new place.”

“I love that by this time next year, we are going to be an amazing team, really brilliant together! My heart swells with joy and gratitude for all we will experience together.”


Comment below and tell me:

What is the #1 Goal/Dream that you would love to accelerate?

Ever grateful,
Kathy xo



Join us for the 2019 Creative Alchemy Passion Plan program…you’ll be so happy you did!!

A Simple Formula to Create A Life You Really Love (without making any icky resolutions)

December 29, 2017


Ever heard that voice inside that tells you you’re not living the life you really want, or having the success you work so hard for?

Yes? We all do! It’s a natural part of being human … to want to be better … to want to have more.

Well: whatever you do, don’t get sucked into the media hyped, failure-ensuring, confidence-robbing bandwagon of making a New Year Resolution!

What to do instead? I have a Formula for you. It works, it’s simple, and it’s a great way to get in touch with what really matters to you:

It all starts when you Follow Your Heart…

Alchemy Formula graphic


My Creative Alchemy Formula

[Dream + Plan + Action + Belief + Connection]

= OMG!! I’m Happy!



The truth is that without taking ACTION, your dreams and goals are just wishes, hopes and ‘pies in the sky’ that never happen for you …Yet:

It is incredibly hard to stay motivated unless you follow this simple formula that puts your dreams on ‘autopilot’.

1The first part of the formula is a “must do” if you are to have any chance of reaching your dreams and goals… and without it you are destined to fail:

It’s all about Following Your Heart … and it starts with getting in touch authentic, heart-felt dreams to be who you are truly meant to be…

Your best year ever starts with DREAMING BIG … getting in touch with what is really important to you, not just what you think you should set as goals…

You need to know WHY you want this and how getting this will make you feel … it’s not really about the goal … it’s about how you want to feel when you get there…

Your true and deep emotions are the most meaningful roadmap to live from your heart … this authentic YOU, and your real feelings are the strongest, most inspiring motivators possible,

When you follow Your Heart’s True Desires … staying motivated is sooooo easy!

2The next Tip is to do just enough PLANNING so that you know what to do next!

When you are an intentional creator of your life, you’ll naturally want to ask yourself “how might I get from here to there?”
And then…


3You take a tiny, baby step today and every day that builds momentum and keeps you moving consistently toward your dreams … taking consistent ACTION is key to living the life you love.
My favorite mantra is:

“Dream Big. Start Small. Keep Going.”


4The next step is so vital … you must:


That means you need to retrain your brain and recondition your mind to join up with your heart, working in harmony to make your dreams come to life…

We are hard wired to follow patterns and habits…that’s our comfort zone, so unless you:

create NEW habits and patterns that are aligned with your new vision of your life, nothing will change…
It’s easy, once you know how! And that’s what the last tip is about:

5When you STAY CONNECTED to your DREAMS, and to the way you truly want to experience your life …
Magic begins to happen, and your dreams come to life!

A dream or a vision is a curious thing. It starts out so foggy, not real. Then day dreaming sets in…you know: imagining the “what if”. Imagination is a powerful tool for creation. Unbelievably powerful.

Our conscious mind is limited to what it already knows to be true.

Our imagination, on the other hand…wow! There is NO LIMIT. Anything is possible. And that’s where it all starts: playing in the canvas we call imagination. If we spend enough time in the vision phase, the fog begins to lift, and details become more and more clear. In the world of our imagination, we can conjure up so much detail that it feels real.

That’s the process successful athletes use before their competitions. The brain doesn’t recognize the difference between ‘real’ and ‘imagined’ experiences. That means that if we can visualize our ‘perfect run’ with so much detail and depth that we feel the success, we have rehearsed that winning run (or anything else) and our body/mind now has an experience it knows to be true and can effectively execute. Wow, right?

Don’t get me wrong…you still have to do the work. Plan, prepare, train, condition, rehearse. All of it. But…even the best prepared don’t often win. They say that 95% of the winning is achieved by 5% of those attempting. I believe that those top 5% are most likely to use elements that others do not: visioning, a positive attitude, commitment to their dream, and the belief that it’s possible! They can see, feel, smell and taste it. They Believe it.

My favorite Creative Alchemy story.

This story starts quite a ways back. 2007 to be precise.

My wonderful dog Russell had already transformed my life. And young Phoenix brought me challenges that made me a better person. I was dreaming about merging these two amazing dogs, drawn to create a new generation formed from their great genetics. It would be my first border collie breeding. Exciting and a little scary.

I was torn between now or later, thinking of traveling to the spring trials with a litter, and knowing the time was getting close to separate them if I chose not to go ahead with the breeding. I had included this litter in my dream plan for the year, but wasn’t certain of the timing. As it turned out, “now” was the perfect time and in April a beautiful litter was born. OMG!!!

Phoenix was a perfect mom in all ways. And I was in love with each of the 4 puppies that blessed our life.

Luc, at one day old, wormed his way over to my hand, and declared my heart his. I was in love. He was the chosen one.

As the time grew closer to sending the puppies to their new homes, I realized that I could not part with Sue, and she became a permanent part of our family too.

But today’s story is about Luc.

Kathy Kawalec's Luc at 5 weeks.The seed of a dream was planted on that first day Luc squirmed over to my hand. Could he be the one that would follow in his sire’s great footsteps? Would he be the one that I could create an amazing working partnership with? Is is possible that he would make it to the National Finals one day?

He did indeed make it to the National Finals, in 2009, Klamath Falls, Oregon. He and Sue ran in the Nursery Finals, as their dad, Russell, competed in his last Open Finals, at 12.5 years old. It was the most amazing experience. A dream come true. I could barely believe it, and I think I had to pinch myself several times! OMG!!

Then we got to work getting Luc the necessary experience and training to be competitive in the Open. He has matured more and more each year, we worked through a few struggles and communication gaps, and we have become beautiful partners.

In 2013, I had some big dreams and goals.

Luc shows great style and athleticismOne of my goals was to have a really good run with Luc at Meeker. And we did!!  He was awesome, and handler error kept us from advancing into the finals by 4 points. Even with that, Dream realized, goal achieved. Wow and OMG!!

Another goal, and it was a B-I-G goal, one that I knew would stretch us in many ways, was to make it into the final round at the USBCHA National Sheepdog Finals in Virginia.

The first part was to get there, and we need to earn enough qualifying points during the season. That is a dream and a goal all by itself, and quite challenging cause I don’t get to many trials. I am so happy to say that we had a good trial season, and qualified to compete alongside 150 amazing teams at the Finals. That was another dream come true! OMG!!

The next part of my dream was going to be the hardest thing ever. We had to lay down an amazing run in the preliminaries, and another even better run in the more difficult semi-final round. I think I can summarize our semi-final run by relaying this message that I heard at least a dozen times from established masters that day: “you and Luc had an amazing run, it was nearly perfect and so beautiful to watch. I can’t even imagine how the judges found any points to take off your run, it was that good.”

Kathy Kawalec and her dog Luc wait for their run at the finals.It FELT incredible. It was simply amazing to experience that with my good dog Luc. We made it into the Final round. OMG!!

We drew up first on Sunday. Wow. That was not what I was envisioning. I had hoped to watch a couple of runs. We stood near the gate to the field in the rain as the day dawned dark and dreary, waiting to be called in to the post.

Finally, the sheep were brought out to their spot by the setout crew: a man, his horse and his dog. They were barely visible in the dark and rain. I sent Luc to the right and he cast out perfectly, and disappeared behind the hill on his way to gather the first set of sheep.

After a few minutes, the sheep began to move, then lift down the field, and finally I could see Luc expertly guiding his 10 sheep down the fetch line. He was confident and willing to take my whistles as he brought them through the fetch gates.

Now for the hard part, he had to leave this first set of sheep and turn back for another set that he couldn’t see. Deep breath. I told him to “Loooook”, and he smartly turned back for the second set of sheep hiding in the dark and rain.

Then, just a quickly, he turned right back onto the first set that instantly began running toward the exhaust pen as soon as they felt released. Luc worked hard and persistently all week to ensure the determined sheep did not do such a thing. He was not about to let it happen now!

Another deep breath. And several more, as Luc and I communicated about what needed to happen next. I didn’t want my dream to end here.  Finally, finally, he committed to going out to look for another set of sheep. When he cast out, the crowd cheered and I did a happy dance. OMG!!

My awesome partner brought the second set down, regathered the first set and drove his 20 charges around the course like an expert. The sheep came into the shedding ring with Luc at the rear. I flanked him around to the pressure, and stopped him there. Our eyes met in that moment, as I told him silently how much I loved him and how proud of him I was. It was the most exhilarating experience. OMG!!

Kathy Kawalec and Luc shed at the Finals

I began my work of sorting off 15 uncollared ewes, calmly and quietly. Satisfied. We timed out working the shed, and we both left the field with our feet barely touching the ground. Cloud 9. That’s where we hung out for quite some time. As a matter of fact, just recounting this story puts me right back on that cloud. OMG!!

I could go on and on (believe me!) with all the amazing things that happened…but let me finish with just one more: there is a ‘dream’ card in my Alchemy Box for ‘better partnership’ with my dogs this year, every year.

I Dream of being the best possible partner, teacher, student with and for my dogs. And getting better and better every year.

My “New Year” dreams will include some pretty amazing goals for all of us, I have no doubt.

Would you love me to help you create YOUR best year ever?

For the last 16 years, I’ve been leading my Creative Alchemy “Create Your Best Year Ever” class…sharing the things I’ve learned over the years for creating the life I love. There is a simple formula, but it’s not always easy to execute. Life happens, if you know what I mean.

That’s where the class comes in…we form a great community of folks who love dogs, animals, nature. And who want to make a better life for themselves, and for their dogs and their families. They want to be happy, they have dreams ready to come alive…just like you and me. It’s an awesome group every year, and many have joined our group every year since the beginning!

The class happens online, so you can attend from anywhere…in your jammies!


I’ve put together a great program that will support you ALL YEAR, with a really, really special price as my ‘Thank You’ to our community. I want to make it easy for everyone to come. Click here to get the details.

So…here’s the thing. I believe in you. I believe that you CAN unleash your dreams … that you can have your best year ever…just like the hundreds of women who have joined us over the years.

Let’s do this, together!

Happy dreaming!

P.S. Play the Unleash Your Dreams Game: Comment below and share:

What is Your Top “Dream” for 2019?


Are you ‘Training’ Your Way to Herding Trial Failure?

April 1, 2014

Are you training your way-

My first herding trial entry for the year was made two weeks ago. My calendar is programmed to send me beeping reminders over the next month to mail entries to all my favorite trials coming up. I know that if I miss the opening date, I won’t get in.

Lots of folks trialing these days. More entries than spaces, usually. I hear it’s the same in most dog performance sports like herding, agility, rally, tracking. We are definitely passionate about our dogs, our training and showing our hard-earned skills and teamwork to the judge of the day.

The pressure starts long before we arrive at a trial.

All that building excitement gets us to thinking about ‘getting ready’ for the launch of trial season: This is the year we want to shine. Earn those points, get those Q’s and legs, finish those titles. This year, we’re better handlers and our dogs are more solid in their training…at least we think so, right?

We count off the time: 8 weeks to get ready for the first trial of the season. Some of us are more organized: we make a list of the skills that we want to polish before then. Others of us simply decide to practice and train more frequently. Some of us hope to be carried forward on our success from last season.

Most of us will rely on some intense training sessions the week or two or three before the trial.

And that, my friends, is where it falls apart.

That last minute pressure to get ready is a killer. We push ourselves. We push our dogs. We push so hard that something breaks. Our dog is injured, our partnership teeters on the edge. We’ve basically made our dog crazy with all the pressure. Then, we have regrets: If only I would have (fill in the blank). It’s something that we know would have made such a huge difference in the outcome. Our first trial would have been a happier, more fun and more successful event…if only.

I remember doing this so many times when I first started competing in sheepdog trials. Looking back, I can’t believe Dallas stuck with me through some of it. She just kept trying and trying to please me and get it right. Getting faster and more tense by the minute. My little Reno didn’t stick with me so much. Whenever I put too much pressure on her before a trial, she would just stop working and look at me like I was an alien. Then I would be worried and frustrated because now my dog was broke, and we had a trial this weekend. Ah…the good old days. Not!!

Now, I Plan for Herding Success — it’s way better.

First, take a good, deep breath and as you exhale, push out all that anxiety or worry or pressure about getting ready. Maybe you need to do that again. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Good. Feels better already, right?

Next, Let’s look at the bigger picture. 8 weeks is a fairly short time, but a lot can be accomplished with a good plan that focuses on the areas that will most likely bring success. If you train 3-4 times per week, and you have 8 weeks to your trial, that means you have about 25 training sessions to work with. That number gives you a clear idea of what is possible in the time available.

Now, you need to be honest and ask yourself if you and your dog are close enough to having the skills needed to trial at the level you plan.

And then you need to know your purpose for entering this trial. There are lots of reasons to enter a competition. To win. To place in the top 10%. To finish the course. To get a score better than your last. To get experience. To work on your mental conditioning in a trial setting. To remain calm and connected to your dog, whether things go well or not.

Knowing the reason you are entering a herding competition will either make this a successful adventure for you and your dog…or leave you miserable and frustrated.

Once you know your reasons, assess your strengths. What do you and your dog already have in place that will make this a successful trial? Then, look at your weaknesses – where can you improve? How can you use your strengths to boost the areas that you want to improve? And, how can you chunk down those things into small bits that can be easily learned in one training session? Small, thin slices that are fun and easy. So important. Spread those chunks out over 18 of your 25 training sessions. Then spend the last 7 sessions having fun and rehearsing all the things your and your dog have learned. Now, you are ready for a successful outing at your first trial!

Maya and Kathy work at the Bluegrass ClassicSharing My Plan

This year, I plan to be a better handler…to be the best I can be. To notice every relevant detail about my dog, the sheep, and myself during our runs and to fluidly and expertly facilitate a beautiful communication circuit between me, dog and sheep.

I plan to bring that into every training session and to chunk it down. This week, I am focusing on my breathing, my posture, the sound of my voice as I bring my dogs to the starting place for our work. I am focusing on keeping my dogs fully engaged with me as we enter the work area and I will not send them to work until I sense they are with me and I am fully with them. Next week, I will be better able to focus on my breathing and posture as we work. I will notice how my breath and posture changes when my dog is working well, and when he/she is not. And I will regulate as I go, rehearsing staying fully present, focused and calmly in sync with dog and sheep.

The third week my breathing and posture will be subconsciously regulated when all is well, and I will notice quickly when it shifts out of sync and adjust. By this time, my dog and I are working nearly as one, and my dog gives me instant feedback when I am out of sync. The fourth week my breathing and posture are fully subconscious, and I can stay in this coherent state the entire working session.

Awesome awesomeness!! I love this plan already. And, I have a similar plan for each of my dogs and their skills.

So, How About You?

Have you experienced that Get Ready craziness that happens two weeks before a trial, but doesn’t work out so well in the end? I’d love to hear your story!

When is your next trial? Do you have a plan? Tell me your strategy for getting ready.

Want to Learn More About Herding Partnership?

From Beginner to Advanced, Kathy can help YOU have the herding partnership you dream of!

Click Here to Download Your Free pdf: 5 Herding Dog Partnership Secrets

Is Your Misbehaving Dog Begging for Help?

March 12, 2014

Is Your Misbehaving Dog BEGGING 600px

Remember the last time your dog ‘got distracted’, ‘blew you off’, or just  ‘didn’t listen’?

• Maybe the last time your dog broke her stay?
• How about when he left you to sniff the ground or pee on a post?
• Wasn’t that just last week that she leapt right over the A-frame contact?
• Aren’t you still smarting with embarrassment from that trial where your dog chased sheep down the field?
• How about the time when your enthusiastic greeter slapped muddy paws all over your neighbor’s dress clothes?

These training and performance challenges and others just like them are the source of frustration for so many of us. We think we’re doing a good job training and handling our dogs, and yet we are still experiencing these problems. Maybe just once in a while, or maybe a lot. Looking back at our training and trial preparation, we just don’t find the answer to where it went wrong. So we train harder, train more often. Still the problems crop up.

When we can’t ‘train away’ the problem, we might ultimately conclude that our dog ‘has her own agenda’.

And, I completely agree with you. But not for the reason you think. After 35+ years of training and showing horses and dogs, I’ve discovered that our dogs DO have their own agenda, and here it is: Dogs THRIVE when they are a contributing member of well functioning family. Dogs are social beings, like humans. We have a lot in common, and that’s one of the main reasons we get along so well. Dogs LOVE to please us, in the same way we love to please people (and animals) we care about. Like us, dogs SEEK harmony, companionship, and a way to contribute to the overall well-being of their family group. That’s their agenda.

The reason that you are having these training and performance issues is that your dog does not understand what you want.

Every time your dog ‘makes a mistake’ or ‘blows you off’ or ‘gets distracted’ or ‘doesn’t listen’: It’s FEEDBACK. Plain and simple.

Your dog is communicating to you. She’s saying: “I don’t get it.” Or: “This is really hard.” Maybe he’s saying: “Could you please be more clear?” Or: “I could really use some help with this!”

Here’s a perfect example.

Sue turns range yearlings at the BluegrassLast week, a woman and her young border collie were here at the farm for a herding lesson. They are novices, and are making great progress in their herding skills and teamwork. The lesson of the day was to learn how to handle three very flighty sheep by staying calm, focused and carefully reading the sheep. The first couple of attempts didn’t go so well because the dog was tense, fast and tight, causing the sheep to run even faster. All my student wanted was for her dog to gather the sheep, bring them to her and settle the sheep there in front of her…but instead the sheep just ran from place to place in the field. Even though we thoroughly discussed in advance what might happen and how she should respond in a helpful way, the handler got frustrated and threw up her hands, saying out loud that her dog “wasn’t listening and he wasn’t even trying to do it right”. She then declares to me in exasperation: “He’s running past balance, over-flanking and he won’t lie down when I tell him.” Whew.

My intention is to teach my students the process for understanding, problem solving and making valid choices…to help them to become great dog trainers...not only to listen to my advice, but to be effective trainers even when I’m not there with them.

So, we discussed the situation. Here is what we concluded: The handler was not closely watching her sheep, nor was she doing her part to contain the sheep in front of her when her dog did bring them to her. The dog wouldn’t lie down where she wanted, because she was asking him at the worst possible time in the worst possible place. That caused her dog to become very tense because he couldn’t do his job properly. The more tense he became, the worse things got.

The solution: The handler needed to take a deep breath and relax. Then, assess the big picture. The set up was too hard for her dog. How could this be made easier, ensuring success? We repositioned the dog, and the handler moved into a more helpful position too. We made sure that we sent the dog to gather the sheep in the direction most likely to be successful. The handler was to contain the sheep without pushing them away with rough movements. And she was to carefully watch the sheep, not asking her dog to lie down until he was at balance. (fyi: balance means the exact place that controls the sheep in the desired position)

The result: Perfection! The dog calmly brought the sheep to his favorite woman. She calmly communicated to the sheep, containing them in front of her. The dog lied himself down at balance, she didn’t even have to ask him. It was a beautiful and perfectly executed gather. They then repeated that in several places around the field, and it was perfect every time.

Summary: This dog was begging for help from his handler. All he had on his agenda was to bring her the sheep like he knows to do. He needed help, not a correction. He needed information, not an accusation.

Is your dog begging for help?

Think of the last time your dog ‘made a mistake’ or ‘blew you off’ or ‘got distracted’ or ‘didn’t listen’. Then follow my Formula for Dog Training Success. This formula applies to any type of dog training, any dog sport, any venue, any level of expertise.

Kathy’s Formula for Dog Training Success

1. Assess the big picture — what exactly is the lesson?

2. What feedback is your dog giving you, precisely?

3. How can you set up the lesson easier, ensuring success?

4. What information does your dog need from you, in order to be successful?

5. Get Help. Have your trainer/coach watch, or even a friend. A video camera is perfect! You can review, and so can your coach.

Then go ahead and try again. Make adjustments as needed…you may need to go through the steps several times until you become fluent in the process.


Click the Banner to Download Your Free Book and get on my VIP Subscriber list for the latest tips and insights:

Ebook-Promo-Banner-headingExperience Success in all you do … sports, performance and every day life.

This FREE guide will teach you 5 Core Principles that will help you:

  • Identify and Solve Your Dog Training Challenges.
  • Get the Performance Results You Want.
  • Be a Fun, Confident, Attentive Trainer that Your Dog Adores!

How to get what you really want

December 21, 2013

Kathy Kawalec's 2014 New Year workshop

My Top 3 Tips

for getting what you really want in life.

And a special invitation…

Did you know that YOU hold the key to unlocking the kind of life you really want. More freedom to do what you like. More fun in all you do. More success. More of all you love. It’s pretty simple, once you know how!

Here are my top 3 tips for getting what you want in life:

1. Get clear about what you really want.

Clarity is at the top of my list, for sure. Most of the time we only think we know what we want…but we haven’t taken the time to connect to what is really important to us. There’s a lot of should do’s, have to’s, need to’s in our life, but not enough: ‘I really, really want this’. Take some time to listen to what’s deep inside your heart, not your head. You might be surprised.

Here’s a hint: your feelings are your best guide for this. How do you want to feel in a certain situation or relationship? Loved, competent, smart, passionate, secure? Then ask yourself: what might be an easy way to feel that way in this situation? Start there and follow that path.


1. You think you want that promotion. But what you REALLY want is to feel like you are making a valuable contribution, that your work matters to the greater good somehow. So ask: how can I easily create that feeling in THIS job that I have right now? And, where might I go from there to further satisfy my true desire?

2. You think you want to train your sheep herding dog to do a better outrun. But what you REALLY want is to feel calm and confident, trusting your dog will efficiently gather sheep without upsetting them. So ask: how can I easily create this confidence and trust now, at the level my dog is today. And, how might I go from there to satisfy my true desire?


2. Chunk things down into small, do-able bits.

It’s pretty easy to become discouraged, frustrated, to give up when what we want seems impossible. Too big can be overwhelming. So, look at small steps. How can this big thing be chunked down into small, successive and progressive bits that will take you where you want to go? One step at a time, and the next thing you know, you’ve reached your destination!

Here’s a hint: think one day at a time. If you take action, no matter how small, you will get there. One pound at a time. One mile at a time. One good flank at a time. One perfect running contact at a time. One small act of kindness at a time. One choice to take a deep breath before speaking at a time. There is no greater way to be reinforced than to chunk things down like this. Just ask your dog.


1. Using our ‘promotion’ example: Today, I’m going to learn how my work has a positive influence on each of my coworkers, and imagine how their life is better because of the great job I do. Next week, I’m going to learn how my work has a positive influence on our customers. I’m going to imagine one customer, and then imagine how their life is better because of the work I do.

2. Using our herding example: Today, I’m going to help my dog ‘feel’ the bubble of the sheep close at hand, and I am going to be calm and trust that my dog wants to feel it too. Next week, we’ll work a bit farther apart, while I stay calm, help my dog develop his feel, and trust that he wants to learn this too. I’ll be sure to expand our distance mindfully, never going beyond the distance that causes me to loose my calm, confidence and trust.


3. Fill up your head and your heart with grateful.

You know that dog training concept: ‘your dog can’t jump on you at the same time she’s sitting’? It works for us too. Your mind can’t be occupied with worry, fears, anxiety, and endless ‘what if’s’ if you are in the middle of being grateful. It’s through appreciation for what we already have that we get what we want. I know, it might sound weird to you, but trust me, its a known law of the universe. It works.

Here’s a hint: start with thinking and feeling grateful for the things you love in your life every morning before you get out of bed and every evening in bed before you go to sleep. It’s an old concept called ‘count your blessings’. There’s nothing like it for changing your perspective on life and making each day a little better.


1. Today, I am grateful that I have this job, that I am healthy enough to do my work well, and that I am having a positive impact on my coworkers and our customers.

2. Today, I am grateful that I was able to be calm while I worked with my dog, and that my dog is so willing to work with me as we work towards full field gathers, one step at a time.


Your special invitation to make 2014 your Best Year Ever

and a thank you…

Devote a Day graphic

For the last 12 years, I’ve been leading a New Year Creative Alchemy workshop…sharing the things I’ve learned over the years for creating the life I love. There is a simple formula, but it’s not always easy to execute. Life happens, if you know what I mean.

That’s where the workshop comes in…we form a great community of folks who love dogs, animals, nature. And who want to make a better life for themselves, and for their dogs and their families. They want to be happy. Just like you and me. It’s an awesome group every year, and many have joined our group every year since the beginning!

The workshop happens via webcast, so you can attend from anywhere…in your jammies! It starts December 29th…a day devoted just to you and your dreams. A day of amazing and powerful creative fun! And everything will be recorded, so if you can’t make the classes, no worries, you can watch later.

I’ve put together a great program that will support you ALL YEAR, with a really, really special price as my ‘Thank You’ to my subscribers and clients. I want to make it easy for everyone to come. Save $50 for you or Save $100 when you enroll a friend until December 22nd.

I believe in you, and I believe every person is on this earth to express their hearts desire…and in doing so makes the world a better place for all of us!

If you cannot afford this low tuition, but want to join us, send me an email and we’ll work it out.

Whatever your dreams are for 2014 and beyond, this program will help make it real for you. And it will be so much fun!

I really hope you’ll join us!

Click the banner for more information and to register:

Kathy Kawalec's 2014 New Year workshop


Maya’s Journey of Transformation

April 9, 2013

Another Story of Transformation I Want to Share with You.

Kathy Kawalec's Maya captured in a painting by Bev Gross

You may know my sweet and sassy Maya…or you may know of her story. She is quite a gal, with a jaded history. 😉

She was kicked out of 3 homes, and stood on death’s door because of her impossible behavior. She was labeled ‘untrainable’, and I was her last chance.

She chased anything that moved including kids, bikes, cows, horses…anything and everything! There was not a fence or gate that could stop her.

That was before she was 6 months old. Yep. She is quite a character.

I spent 6 months working with her, creating partnership, developing self control, training basic life skills … you know … The Foundation Formula stuff.

THEN, and only then, I started her sheepdog training. It was so worth the wait.

I made a video journal of the start of her herding training, and the beginnings of her sheepdog trial career.

You might want to go watch this right now. It turned out she was a world-class champion. Who knew?

Love to you and your dogs,
Kathy xoxo



Dog Training Partnership that Rocks!

April 8, 2013

I just have a quick announcement for you today.

 A new video of me and my dogs.

As I put this quick video together today, I am reminded of how much I LOVE the partnerships I have with each of my dogs. My heart fills with gratitude and love just thinking about it.

You can have that too. Check out my video and come back here to let me know what you think.

 The Foundation Formula - Kathy Kawalec's Dogs


Happy Spring!

Kathy xoxo


One of my most painful mistakes and what I learned

April 5, 2013

If you’re anything like me and most of my students and clients, your dog is a core part of your life…and you do, or would like to do, lots of fun things with your dog.

You dream of enjoying the benefits of having a happy, friendly dog in your life…a dog that you can take anywhere!

Maybe you dream of competing in a dog sport like agility, herding, or obedience…and of being successful … bringing home ribbons and titles … or even national championships.

And for you, the process of getting that good as a team is the enjoyable part…the ribbons are a bonus to all the fun and adventure you would love to have with your dog as you train and compete.

But, like most of us, you’ve also been in that place where your dreams seem out of reach because a challenge or struggle with your dog stops you dead in your tracks.

So, You reached out for help and what you found were methods that you didn’t like and wouldn’t use…or techniques that seemed too hard or just took too long to get results.

You’ve probably tried so many things, but nothing sticks and you end up in the same or worse place than before.

It can be so frustrating. I know, I’ve been there.

For the past 15 years or so, you might know that my passion has been sheep herding. When I first set out to learn about sheep herding with my first border collie, Dallas, I already knew about positive and natural training methods and I KNEW that I needed to find someone who could help me learn this new and really challenging ‘hobby’ in a fun way.

I knew this because of a really hard lesson. Really hard. This is a story that is still hard to share, 20 years later.

Here’s my story

I brought home my beautiful sheltie, Haley, when she was about 16 weeks old. You may have already read some of Haley’s story on my blog, but there was one part I left out. It was just too painful to write about. Still is, but I’m gonna cowgirl up. <gulp>

Haley enjoying a visit at a friends farm.

Right before I officially dropped out of competitive obedience, there was an incident that blew a hole into my world as I knew it.

Sometimes ‘having great potential’ is a curse, not a blessing. It can cause us to make decisions that we later regret. We can put pressure on ourselves and our dogs that blows things up in our face.

Haley and I had a stellar obedience beginning, in spite of our many challenges. She being really shy and timid with people. Me, inexperienced, with my first ‘obedience’ dog.

Our CD came easy. Three tries, scores in the mid to high nineties. Stressful in many ways for both of us, but still fun.

“Potential: The Curse” Could be the name of my next book. Or a movie.

My obedience trainer said I “had” to put a pinch collar on Haley, my beautiful and sensitive sheltie, in order to get snappy heeling and I “had’ to pinch her ear until she cried out so that I could shove the dumbbell into her open mouth. That was the ONLY way to go on, working towards our CDX. That if I didn’t do these things, I would be a loser. Yes, they said that I might get a Q if I was lucky, but there would be no chance of winning or being really successful.

I was firm about the ear pinch. But, my friends were so convincing as they told me that the collar would not hurt Haley, but that it would provide more clear communication. One of my friends had a collar with tiny little prongs that she assured me would not even penetrate my dog’s thick fur.

So, I tried the collar once.

Up to then, Haley had only worn a plain flat buckle collar because I had refused to use a metal slip collar. (aka choke chain) Everyone I knew thought I was a freak because of my beliefs. At the time, there was NO other way, or so everyone thought.

We fitted the prong collar on her and I heeled with her up the side of the ring.

That went ok, until Haley moved a tiny bit ahead of me and the trainer said now, just give her a tiny little quick pop. I did.

Haley cried out, shocked and scared.

“She’ll be ok, it didn’t hurt her, it just scared her”, they told me. “She needs to learn how to take a correction”, they assured me.

I decided to call it a night and take Haley home, rather than continue with the class.

I went home that night, confused, frustrated, angry at myself. Not sure what to do next. We practiced with our normal buckle collar and had fun during the week.

The next week at training class, when I reached into my training bag, and Haley saw that borrowed collar, she shrank away from me with a look on her face I will never forget.

So, right then and there, I quit obedience. That was 20 years ago. I cried as I wrote this today. And I cried again when I read it for edits.

That decision changed my life. For me, for the dogs I will have the rest of my life, and for so many that I have shared my hard-earned philosophies and methods with…


The lesson that really stands out for me is this:

Positive Reinforcement isn’t an end to the evolution of dog training, it’s a beginning.

Partnership-driven training for dogs and their people is on the horizon. I’m on a mission from DOG … to make the world a better place for dogs and for people too!

Love your dogs today,

Kathy xoxo


Dogs inspire us to make the world a better place

January 21, 2013

This day seems so perfect for reflecting on how we have been influenced and inspired. By people and by our dogs and other animal companions. And, it seems perfect to share my own dream with you too.

One of the people who most inspires me with his courage, and his peaceful yet persistent and passionate approach is Dr Martin Luther King Jr. I came across this page with some of Dr King’s philosophies, and loved this quote on his legacy.


MLK Legacy


The Most Important Question.

Does my life have meaning?  Am I contributing to making the world a better place somehow?

When we ask ourselves this question at the beginning of every year…and at the beginning of every day, we will be creating a better world, just in the asking.

When we ask ourselves this question, we bring a sort of mindful awareness to how we move throughout the day, without even thinking about it.

When we ask ourselves this question, we get in touch with our most intimate self. Our heart. It’s the part of our self that knows our calling. And that urges us to follow that call.

My Dogs led me to my answer:

The love people have for their dogs and other animal companions will lead them to living a happier, more peaceful, more compassionate life. Start there.

And, so I did. That’s why I’m here. That’s why you’re here. There’s more history on this page. More about my work here.

Following your heart isn’t always an easy road. Believe me. If you are brave enough and passionate enough you will sweat, toil, dig deep, and sometimes want to give up.

Stick with it my friend. It’s so worth it.


Speak! Your community wants to hear from you. I want to hear from you.

In the comments, tell me:

1. What do you want your legacy to be? What do you want people to say about you?

2. Do your dogs and other animals inspire your life? How?

Thanks so much for reading! It is a wonderful time to be alive.  🙂

Sending love and light,