Lisa Pattison

Mariner Watersports Judge

Raised in the Adirondacks, known for it amazing lakes, Lisa Pattison was brought up on a small family farm that provided an early launch pad for her psychological obsession to connect to animals of all shapes and sizes. Her obsession continued into college. While attending the Cobleskill  SUNY College Lisa absorbed any psychology based electives she could find, including animal training.

Lisa was 30 years old when she brought her first dog, Murphy, home and it was shortly after buying her first house.  She wanted a companion for work. Murphy was an Australian shepherd who she adored so much she found Shelby 8 months later and a year after that Lacey.  Lisa found her breed right off the bat. The breed was beautiful, busy and brainy so soon Lisa was immersed in dog sports and changing  her job in order to compete on weekends. Shaping behavior in these guys was pretty much the hobby that consumed her life. In the past 13.5 years Lisa has felt like she has gleaned a doctorate's worth of knowledge through pure immersion into behavior and health. The dogs have benefited from raw feeding, homeopathy, holistic medicine, water dog work, carting, drafting, skijoring, obedience, herding (ducks and sheep), Frisbee, backpacking, therapy dog work, rally obedience, canine freestyle, agility, and tracking. She truly enjoys the canine psyche and so she shaped Murphy, Shelby and Lacey in all things regardless of their competitive abilities.


Because behaviors are being offered around the clock there is no training regiment at her house. Bits and pieces of desired performance are offered out of context and spontaneously rewarded.  Lisa is truly fulfilled when it clicks into a long behavior chain when called upon.

What Lisa loves about titling is the opportunity to perfect communication with her dog.  The requirements to fulfill a title or test continually “raise the bar” on her shaping abilities.  In the end she wants her furry friends to learn worry- free and to spend as much time interacting with them as possible.


 Lisa’s senior Australian shepherds still want to work and while their vision and hearing have diminished, their noses are unbelievable. Water tasks provide good health benefits as well as provide Lisa with more “Premack” powers.  Older dogs re-prioritize their reinforcers on a regular basis so she is learning to be creative with cues and motivations to find  tasks to take their enhanced capabilities as far as possible. Training for scent on land and in water are gentle  and motivational conditioning methods.  At 11 and 13 her  dogs don’t want the couch, they want to live life through their senses and  now they are motivated by their noses.   Lisa is trying to build a variety of task repertoires to reward them in their golden years.

While swimming with her dogs Lisa tries to enhance her connection, she strives to "see" what they experience. The water increases her awareness of their breathing and focus. Lisa welcomes the challenges the water presents to the trainer. The water hides so much of the handler and the dog,( body cues that training on land can compliment). Training in the water can test cues and reinforcers in the purest sense. That is the good and the bad.  Emotionally and competitively, Lisa likes the fact that in the water, the playing field for learning is leveled. Both the dog and handler are in an environment that has no previous history. You have a clean slate to build on. You reap what you sow. You have to accept your dogs psych and create moments together that foster learning and trust.  Soon, the relationship feeds on itself and you realize you are a team in the water. Your relationship with your dog has transformed and along with the new behavior chains you have mastered, you have created with drive and focus, a creature that can out swim you just by being happy. How cool is that! This is the environment to foster such "listening" skills in handlers and create an arena for "retired" dogs.  Canine Water Sports has the power to foster a special team experience for patient handlers and their beloved dogs. They can explore a new world with special tasks.  Share this spirit of communication, awareness and trust provided by the water with your closest companion.


One of  Lisa’s favorite quotes:


Our dogs deserve the best we can give them. In our efforts to train them, we must always respect their individuality and nurture their spirit. Only when we recognize the magnificence of that spirit can we begin to appreciate their worth. We must affirm that worth.

                                 Sheila Booth

  Canine Water Sports
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