By The Clicking Of Our Thumbs

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Cover photo care of Erica Beckwith of A Matter of Manners.

-By Kristi Benson

Although you won’t find this anywhere in our official literature, one of the unspoken, informal mandates of the Academy is that we should be having some fun with our lives and our careers. Dog training is a hard business to be in: the lack of regulation brings with it really trying interpersonal and professional strife both with our clients and within dog training circles; strife from many, sometimes surprising, camps. Dogs and their human family members are often annoyed, stressed, scared, or anxious, and it is our job to create harmony and joy, though changing behaviour—both canine and human—and by changing expectations and systems, too. This is no small burden, considering that dogs’ lives hang, often quite literally, in the balance. Good, caring trainers regularly burn out and leave the business, taking with them the goldmine of their experience and education. To staunch this exodus, the Academy commits some dedicated resources to self-care and plain, old-fashioned, rib-tickling fun. 

One of the ways we’ve been having fun over recent months (and partly in response to the pandemic, which has added a terrible strain to many dog training businesses) is by inviting Academy students and graduates to participate in video collaborations. These have included a “Toss It” video, a Stump The Trainer game show, a fairy tale, a Christmas poem, and most recently, a Valentine’s Day musical extravaganza, with a roaring twenties theme. Our online forum was alight with the Academy’s own brand of dog-related camaraderie as students and graduates prepared their dogs for a starring, if brief, role.

Although you won’t find this anywhere in our official literature, one of the unspoken, informal mandates of the Academy is that we should be having some fun with our lives and our careers.

Diego and Ruckus Beckwith from Erica Beckwith

This includes, of course, shopping: many of the video’s stars relied on props for the proper aesthetic, and others needed new wardrobes. Part of the joy of getting the Valentine’s day video together was seeing the screen caps of online purchases: drum kits, trumpets, flapper costumes, bow ties and even spats.

My husband walked into my office and said, “WHAT are you buying?!

-anonymous and not wholly innocent Academician

Not content to just show off our dogs and their moves, some Valentine’s day dogs were caught mooning over a (surely not unrequited) love, with photos on the old pianoforte and a glint in the eye.

Allison Lamminen of Delighted Dogs Minnesota showing her dog Ahsoka’s love interest, Gomez Wolff, whose parents Jane Wolff and Laura Witkowski run Good Wolff Dog Training.


Allison McConnell of Dog Educated with Ember (above) and Joan Forry of The Dog Abides with Gus (right). 

Wonder what’s next? Head on over to our YouTube channel and subscribe…it’s the Real McCoy. After all, if you’re reading the Academy’s blog, you’re likely a dog trainer, and you can use a few extra laughs, right along with us.

Kristi Benson
Author: Kristi Benson

Kristi is an honours graduate of, and now on staff at, the Academy for Dog Trainers. At the Academy, she is a student mentor and coach, and is in charge of the weekly webinars. Kristi is also in charge of special projects, including the Husbandry Project, which is a large co-operative veterinary care research study working with hundreds of dog owners, testing the efficiency and usefulness of a series of training plans. In her private practice, Kristi enjoys working one-on-one with dogs who need help with obedience, fearfulness, aggression, unruliness, and any number of other issues. Besides offering professional training services in the Parkland region of Manitoba and Saskatchewan, Canada; Kristi also works with clients across Canada via video chat. She also loves helping the humans in the equation, and brings her trademark combination of humour and compassion to the kitchen table when working with her clients. Kristi is one of a stable of course developers working with Lori Nanan at, offering custom-made online content to dog owners and dog pros. Kristi also enjoys reaching out to dog owners through writing. Besides her own blog, she also regularly writes for the Academy for Dog Trainers’ blog and for Dog...