The Vanya Project

"Hello, everyone. My name is Casey, and I'm addicted to training blogs." Yes, it's true. Founder and card-carrying president of Behavior Blog Addicts, anonymous. I...


“Hello, everyone. My name is Casey, and I’m addicted to training blogs.”

Yes, it’s true. Founder and card-carrying president of Behavior Blog Addicts, anonymous. I just love reading about behavior and other people’s experiences training their dogs. I get dozens of newsletters and have many favorites. I plan on doing a “top 5” (ok, maybe 10 – I told you I was an addict) training blog list in the near future.

For now, I want to share with you one of my favorite blogs of all, The Vanya Project. The Vanya Project is the story of Nancy Langston, Professor of Forest and Wildlife Ecology and former pibble-phobe (person afraid of pit bull terriers). The story features one other key player, Vanya the rescued Pit Bull who stole Nancy’s heart and forever changed her perspective on a misunderstood breed.

I like Nancy because she’s a scientist and behavior is, in many ways, a science. On The Vanya Project, Nancy details her training plans, logs, and progress to work on Vanya’s attention and focus in the presence of distractions and reduce his anxiety in situations with other dogs.

You can view Nancy and Vanya’s training logs here. Nancy’s training with Vanya over the years has been successful, as indicated by his list of former triggers. Also helpful is the training blog. Not only does Nancy use the blog to celebrate her successes with Vanya, she is refreshingly honest about the fact that living with a high-arousal, mildly reactive dog is not always sunshine and rainbows – sometimes it’s hard work, sometimes it’s frustrating, sometimes you have setbacks and feel discouraged. In this, Nancy finds fans among dog readers who have been through those experiences, myself included.

As a huge fan of record-keeping to realistically evaluate and maximize training success, my favorite part of this wonderful site are the detailed training logs, Shaping Calmness in New Environments and Working on Calmness in the Presence of Other Dogs. If your dog needs work on either of these topics, Nancy and Vanya’s training logs should give you some great ideas and inspiration.

I know that I eagerly await further installments from The Vanya Project. Clicks to Nancy, for being the kind of dog owner that any trainer would love to have amongst her clients. There is no short-cut for consistent, dedicated, and compassionate training, and it is obvious that Nancy has done all three and is reaping the rewards of what she have sewn through a solid reinforcement history and the resultant strong bond with Vanya.

Nancy, if you’re reading this, click! Keep up the great work!

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