Sue Pearson


Sue Pearson received a Master’s degree in Education from the University of Iowa in 1983 and a beagle named Jessie in 1986. Academia and the world of dogs collided in 1987, when Sue began teaching puppy classes and dog obedience for beginners with the local obedience club.

From 1989 to 1994, Sue developed and taught classes for pet dog owners through the local community college and in 1994, created SPOT & CO. Dog Training. SPOT & CO. promotes dog-friendly training through the use of positive reinforcement, food rewards and games.

Sue is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer (CPDT) and is a charter member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT). She participated on an international task force charged with the development of humane training standards, and from 2001 - 2004, served as Treasurer for the APDT Board of Directors. During her tenure on the Board, she was involved in the creation of a separate Council for Certification and directed activities for the Scientific Task Force.

Sue is actively involved with training activities for dogs and volunteers at the local animal shelter in her community. She seeks to educate the public about positive training for dogs and provides demonstrations and seminars throughout the year for a variety of groups and organizations. Sue is a contributing author for “Animal Tracks” in The Iowa Source magazine and lives in Iowa City, IA with her beagle, Alex and her nearly beagle, Listenmissy.

Blog posts by Sue Pearson

Jessie Beagle

A Day Just Like Today

It was October 4th, twenty four years ago today, and I was cruising down Interstate 80, headed east toward the Mississippi River.  It was the kind of day that made you remember why you loved living in Iowa – trees on fire, with their crimson and gold leaves waving against a cobalt blue sky, and Hawkeye football on the radio. 

I always remember this day like it was yesterday.  The Hawks were trailing in the final minute of a cliff-hanger and they had just pulled one out of their proverbial hat -- er, helmet.  I don’t remember much more about the game, only that I eased the car off the interstate to listen to the final moments of a totally unexpected 24-21 Hawkeye football victory.


The Other Dr. Spock

Twenty years ago when I entered the profession of dog training and began teaching classes, I was hard pressed to find much variety in the methodology and literature.  There was a plethora of information about choke collars, leash jerks, scruff shakes, ear pinches, alpha rolls, and of course, alpha roles.  There were few, if any, references to the principles of behavior modification, and training with food rewards was often discouraged.


My Funny Valentine...Please Get off This Leg of Mine!

The neighborhood kids wait for their big yellow school bus, right outside my front door every morning during the week. Supervision of young beagles in the front yard during this time is a must. I discovered this a few days after I moved in, when from the front window, I watched as my young neighbor, Ruthie reached into her lunchbox, pulled out a thick, round slice of minced ham and hurled it across the yard like a Frisbee, right into the waiting mouth of my very happy beagle. A few days later, I was outside with the dogs at school bus time when Ruthie came skipping down the sidewalk, her mother not far behind. Ruthie ran into the yard, gave Jessie Beagle a hug and a pet and quickly introduced Jessie to her mother. During that introduction, I heard her say, “Jessie really likes me.

Pup white sit.jpg

Supercalifragilisticexpialidoxie (sung to the tune of Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious)

Labradors and Goldens seem like dogs of yesterday

Replaced by the designer dogs and we just have to say

We’re trainers and we’re mystified and feel we’ve lost our way

No longer do we recognize the breeds we see today!

Um diddle diddle diddle, um diddle ay!  Um diddle diddle diddle, um diddle ay!

YorkiePoo and Cockachon a Puggle Labradoodle
Mix a breed and build a name the whole kit and kaboodle
It's enough to spin your head and set you on your noodle
Yorkipoo and Cockachon and Puggle Labradoodle!
Um diddle doodle doodle, um diddle ay!  Um diddle doodle doodle, um diddle ay!

Labradinger, Cava-Malt, and Peka-Poo – Ferocious!

Some of these concocted names are simply just atrocious!

What will people think of next – they must think it’s precocious

St Bernard big head.jpg

Cold, Cold, Nose (sung to the tune of Cold, Cold, Heart)

Your eyes said take me home that day, your tail wagged just for me
It was love at first sight, you know, and everyone could see
I loved your funny ears and face, and so right from the start
You nosed your way into my world and took hold of my heart.

Perfection on four paws you are, without you I’d be blue
But there’s one thing that I wonder, and I’d like to ask of you
And though I know you are my one complete and saving grace
I wonder what it was you licked just now, before you kissed my face.

I wonder what it was you licked before, the thought is killing me
Was it road kill on the street, or some dog’s urine on a tree?
Or before your tongue was on my face, had you just cleaned up your private place?
Please tell me what it was you licked just now, before you kissed my face.

I don’t know where I’d ever find a friend as true as you


APDT Conference 2008 - We're Off and Running!

“We’re Off and Running,” was the theme for the 15th annual APDT conference held in Louisville, Kentucky last week -- and what a conference it was!!

The conference opened with a parade of adorable puppies from Kentucky Humane and was followed by a most memorable keynote address by Robert M. Miller, DVM, on “The Revolution in Horsemanship.” Miller’s video footage showed the remarkable progress made in horse training over the past thirty years, clearly demonstrating the benefits of a gentle and patient approach in achieving a long-term relationship of trust with the horse. This training approach was especially poignant in his footage of working with wild mustangs. Miller impressed upon us that in past decades, millions of horses had given their lives to protect our country and that a kinder approach to training was the least we could do for them in honor of their service and sacrifice.


Canines, Canaries and Cancer

A few weeks ago, while preparing for a shiny new group of graduate students, I did some research on the history of the Maternal Child Health Bureau and came across an article written about the infant mortality rate (IMR) in the United States at the start of the 20th century. The United States ranked 18th out of thirty countries with an IMR of 135 deaths per thousand live births. Public health leaders launched a national campaign to reduce this statistic and as part of this effort, founded the US Children’s Bureau in 1912. Other efforts included improved data collection on infant births and deaths. I can hear you asking now, “What on earth does this have to do with dogs?” Be patient – I’m getting there.


The Puppy Mill

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. I hold that, the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man." Mahatma Ghandi (1869-1948)


Best Boy

“It is a fearful thing to love what death can touch…” - Author Unknown He had a welcome home wag that pumped his tail straight up and down, before it circled around and launched into a perfect figure eight. Born in my kitchen during the spring of 1991, he was a handsome hunk of tri-colored magnificence. His sturdy legs and heavy duty paws earned him the name of Sherman Alexander, a reflection of his invincible, tank-like appearance. When he went to live with his new family later that summer, I found myself missing the chaos of three beagles, and the soft snoring noise he made while sleeping. His mother and sister gradually settled into a new and quieter routine and as unbelievable as it seemed, life went on without him. Seven years later, Alex was unexpectedly returned to me and though I was sad and disappointed for him, I knew that this change was necessary.


Parking Lot Puppies

Not long ago, as I walked through the parking lot of a major discount store, a large crowd had gathered around the back end of a tired looking van. “Free Puppies,” was hastily scrawled on a brown cardboard sign, and taped to the outside of the vehicle. Inside there were seven, maybe eight, active balls of fur. Some were eager for attention, their noses pushing to the front of the pack, while others lingered in the back of the truck, uncertain and reluctant. Odds were good that some individuals and families, who had come looking for a new appliance, would instead leave the parking lot with a new puppy. Despite the sign, puppies always come with a financial and emotional price tag.



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