Blog Post

UN-Peeling the Onion

“UN-Peeling the Onion?” What the heck does THAT mean??  Well, it’s the easiest way I can think to describe my thoughts on LESSONS.


Lessons, training, working with your dog. Giving your dog tools along the way so you can err on the side of a successful outcome.

When we train our dogs, it’s very hard sometimes to keep things SIMPLE. Why not just add a little challenge here or a little difficulty there? “We’ve done this before so my dog knows how to work this problem already.” I see it a lot in students – I’ve done it myself! And you bet, sometimes the dog flourishes with the newer and bigger challenges. But sometimes you have to consider that there may be a reason to not jump too far ahead if you’re thinking of the bigger picture. “But did your dog see that problem in THIS environment?” “What about this time of day?” Besides, your dog REALLY DOESN’T CARE! S/he just wants to play this really fun game with you that results in earning rewards!

When I set up my K9NW online lessons for whatever topic we’re covering, I often like to work in LAYERS. (Get it? Onion. Layers.) So a “Lesson” might be made up of several different exercises, each one building on the previous or maybe giving a different option to see if that makes a difference. People are working on their own and they have to work with what they have available so adjustments need to be made. But it’s really easy to add this or that into the mix…. Wait! That’s not the exercise! Maybe I don’t explain myself well. I know what I mean but…. 🙂

So think of your training as a big onion, starting with a simple and small middle and you’re adding back those layers with each exercise and each lesson. You want it balanced so don’t forget to work on this part over here and then that part over there so you have a nice, smooth, well-rounded onion.

Or maybe Lasagna. Ok, yeah, Lasagna, adding layers of ingredients in an organized way, layer after layer to make a delicious meal. Or Baklava. I like Baklava…

Now I’m hungry.

I think it’s time to go train some dogs. 🙂

By Kimberly Buchanan

Kimberly Buchanan CNWI


  • I like the Lasagna making example… layers on top of layers. The bottom layer to the top layer…

    I have guilty at one time or another of either trying to do a short-cut or get excited and skip to the middle layers before doing the bottom (foundation) layer.

    Sometimes I think… well while I am setting this up.. I should go a head and add such and such while I’m at it… more the merrier… right? Hehehe… nope. I’ve just add stuff that is not on our level so I could be setting Taku up for a fail and if I would have just followed the simple instructions he’d (we) won 🙂 And like someone else said in one of our classes…
    KISS… keep it simple stupid. But I like… keep it simple silly.

    Good blog, Kim!

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