Hot Diggity Dog!
Dog Dancing & Obedience Training

Dog Lovers' e-zine from Martia Nelson & Rincon
WELCOME!                                          April 14, 2008      Issue #1
Debut Issue
Martia Nelson & Rincon photoHello, dog lovers!  Welcome to my new e-zine (or e-newsletter).  I just got the idea yesterday and thought I'd jump right in.  (I'm like a Lab at a lake -- why wait?)  You're getting my very first issue!


Being just born today, this e-zine is still very much a puppy, and I don't know exactly how it will look or what its personality will be as it matures.  We'll find out together.  My thought is that I'll share dog training tips, let you know about dog-related events that catch my fancy, answer questions, maybe ask you some questions, and chat about the wonderfulness of dogs and dog training.


Most e-zines are weekly.  Those people must be extremely organized.  This e-zine is more likely to come out every two or three weeks.  I invite you to send me your questions and suggestions for subjects.  I'm all ears (not the big floppy kind -- that's Rincon).


Most of you know Rincon from his strolls around town or his smooth dance moves, but he's also a guy with a lot to say.  In each issue you'll find his advice column "Dear Rincon, Questions Dogs Only Dare Ask to Each Other."  Have your dog write in for Rincon's candid canine answer!

Tail wags till next time,



P.S.  Forward this issue to other dog lovers!

P.P.S.  Read Rincon's bio at

Slowly but Surely

Rincon recently started seeing an animal chiropractor (Kelly MacKay, (707/887-1875 -- we love her!) for some joint problems.  She told me to shorten Rincon's walks by stopping before he shows any signs of distress to avoid aggravating the affected joints.  Good advice, and I was able to follow it for two weeks, taking walks just under a mile, twice a day. 


Then I got impatient.  Rincon seemed to be doing better, and I really missed our longer walks.  So one night I added 1/2 mile to our route.  It felt glorious at the time, but I regretted it the next morning when Rincon lagged after only a few blocks.


"That seems like a big increase all at once," Kelly said at our appointment the following day, and she reminded me of the reasons for increasing distance slowly.  I knew she was right.  I had known it all along.  Why had I rushed Rincon's progress?


The concept of "Slowly but Surely" can be a tough one for those of us who are enthusiastic or impatient.  Enthusiasm has so much momentum that it naturally moves fast.  Impatience doesn't trust that the goal will be reached over time, so it wants to skip to the desired result right now.  I had given in to both those feelings.


I see this tendency in some of my dog training students as well, and it can take the fun out of training for them.  For example, in class they'll start teaching their dog to stop pulling on the leash, which is very exciting and gives them hope.  The next week they'll look deflated and say, "He still needs a treat to walk by my side," or "She still pulls when another dog walks by." 


"Is your dog doing better than before last week's class?" I'll ask. 


"Oh, yes!" they'll say.  "Definitely."


"Then celebrate," I'll tell them.  "You're doing great.  If you're progressing at all, you're facing the right direction.  If you keep moving in that direction, just tiny bit by tiny bit, you will get where you want to go.  And it will be worth it."


Some dog problems have quick fixes, but most training is about a progression of improvements.  Speed is not the most important factor for achieving success.  In fact a slow arc of very tiny improvements is often the surest route. 


Slow, tiny improvements give both the dog's and person's minds time to understand and integrate what they're learning, and their bodies time to form neuropathways necessary for nerves and muscles to categorize and remember the new behaviors.  If you want your dog to develop a new skill or behavior as "second nature," teach it slowly, practice regularly but for short periods, and give a big reward for each tiny improvement.


And have fun.  To Rincon and me, training is a fun game.  We still train because neither of us wants to give up the game!  How can you make training your dog more fun for both of you?  Taking off the pressure that either of you has to be a fast learner can help. 


Remember, you are wonderful, and your dog is wonderful.  Your training can be wonderful, too.

Dancing for Dollars 
Jennifer Marshall's dog paintingSome of you don't know that Rincon is a therapy dog for Arts for Healing, a nonprofit that provides a free painting support group for Sonoma County residents who have or have had cancer.  (I lead the group.)  There his happy heart and cuddly nature have a healing influence.


Rincon's pet project is "Dancing for Dollars" -- he dances to raise money for Arts for Healing.  His project is greatly needed right now because the grant Arts for Healing was counting on for the year 4/1/08 - 4/1/09 fell through at the last minute.  Yikes!


Rincon loves the women in the painting support group, and they love him.  They also rely on the group as a lifeline during their time of cancer treatment and healing.  They don't want to lose it.  You can help Rincon help the group by going to -- and sending your friends there.  Rincon's two dog dancing video clips are posted on the homepage with a request that people who get a chuckle or feel their spirits lifted please make a donation to Arts for Healing.  Let's pass this link around the web and invite as many people as possible to help! 


(Dog above was painted in the support group by Jennifer Marshall. Copyright Jennifer Marshall 2007.)

Questions Dogs Only Dare to Ask Each Other 
Rincon, closeup  Dear Rincon,


  The people in my pack never set a place for me at the dinner table.

  What's up with that?


  Hungrily yours,

  Deja,  Doberman Pinscher


Dear Deja,


You've hit upon a touchy subject.  Some humans are very food possessive.  They guard their food bowls by putting them above our reach and shooing us away.  The stubborn ones can be difficult to train.  The good news is that most of them are not as neat as they think they are.  Play it cool until they leave the table, then move in and clean the floor.  That way, you get a snack, and there's still peace in the pack.


Your pal,



Editor's note: You can see Deja's photo at 

Dog readers, Send your questions to Rincon at  Be sure to include your name and breed or mix (if known).
4/24 Talk by Marta Williams, Animal Communicator

Animal communicator, Marta Williams, will be at Copperfields in Sebastopol, 7:00pm on Thursday, April 24 to talk about her new book, "Ask Your Animal: Resolving Animal Behavioral Issues Through Intuitive Communication."  I think highly of Marta Williams.  Rincon and I will be there!   Copperfields welcomes dogs who have very good indoor manners.  It is in the main block of Main Street in downtown Sebastopol, (707) 823-2816.

Do You Have Experience with This?
Rincon was recently diagnosed with mild hip dysplasia and rear knee torsion.  Have any of you had dogs with either diagnosis?  If you found something that helped by reducing pain and increasing mobility, please phone or email to tell me what it was.  (I know about glucosamine condroitin, MSM, and Rimadyl.  He doesn't need surgery.) 

I'm also interested to hear from people who put their dogs on raw meat diets (or partial raw meat diets) for either of these issues.  Did it help?


Rincon's still a young guy -- well, he'll be six next month so I guess he's more like middle age -- but he wants to keep his active lifestyle.  (And if he doesn't take me for walks, I get fat!)

That Is the Question.
If you got this e-zine because I know you, I've already subscribed you.  Just sit back, and future issues will arrive in your Inbox.  Or, it's always easy to unsubscribe at the bottom of the page by clicking the SafeUnsubscribe link. 
If someone else forwarded this e-zine to you, you are not yet subscribed, but you can remedy that.  If you don't want to miss out on the future fun and good information, go to the bottom of the page and click SUBSCRIBE!
And why not pass along the favor? Click here to forward this issue to your friends.

You are welcome to reproduce this issue of Hot Diggity Dog!, in part or in its entirety, as long as you include the paragraph and copyright immediately below.  (Also please send me a copy of the reproduction or a link to the webpage.  Thanks and Enjoy!)


Martia Nelson is a dog trainer, life coach, and author of "Coming Home: The Return to True Self."  Go to for her dog training and dog dancing classes, private lessons, phone consultations, and video clips.  Go to for her life coaching classes, private sessions, phone consultations, and CDs.


Copyright (c) 2008 Martia Nelson. All Rights Reserved.

Hot Diggity Dog!
Dog Dancing & Obedience Training
Martia Nelson & Rincon
PO Box 1932, Sebastopol, CA  95473      (707) 823-4403