Barbara Buchmayer, Positive Herding Techniques

May 9, 2024
By Anne Marie Duquette
Featured image for “Barbara Buchmayer, Positive Herding Techniques”

Anne Marie Duquette interviewed Barbara Buchmayer, winner of the Books – Behavior, Health, or General Care category with her book, “Enrichment Games for High Energy Dogs.”

View the Winning Entry

Congratulations on your win! Tell us about your experience and expertise, and how this relates to your entry. What target audience did you write for, and why?

Thanks to DWAA and all the members and judges who donated their time to make this contest happen. I have a farm background and my main dog sport addiction is herding. My first two books were about teaching herding using positive methods and my DWAA winning entry book, Enrichment Games for High-Energy Dogs, was based on those books.

I modified the exercises I had developed to train herding without livestock into games that anyone can play with their dog. The herding training was so much fun that it just made sense to transform the basic training plans into game plans.

My intended audience was from pet parents to dog pros, anyone wanting to engage in enriching, interactive games with their dog.

What prompted you to submit this specific entry? Why do you think it struck a special chord with the public and the judges—and with you?

I wanted my Enrichment Games book to be fun and user-friendly. The games needed to be playable by new pet owners as well as seasoned dog guardians, so I kept the game plans simple and avoided dog training jargon.

To develop an upbeat vibe, I incorporated lots of color, both pictures and graphics, as well as gamer terms such as cheat sheets, game plans, hints, lifelines, and whimsical game names like “Squirrel on the Loose.”

How big a part have dogs played in your personal and professional life? Was there a particular dog that sparked your interest in interacting with the public?  Tell us about this special dog, and/or the dogs in your contest entry.

Dogs have always been a big part of my life, but became even more integral when I began herding. Herding brought me closer to my dogs and eventually made me wonder why herding wasn’t taught using positive reinforcement. That thought led me to learning positive reinforcement methods and developing a way to train herding positively, which I reveal in my books on positive herding.

Sir Gold has partnered with me in my books and many other undertakings. He is a bit psycho, as most BCs are, but he has also been an amazing demo dog. About 95% of the pictures in my three books are of Sir!

My heart dog was Pure Gold, Sir’s sire. Gold was my cross-over dog as I moved to positive reinforcement training. I learned so much with Gold and had a wonderful relationship with him. Unfortunately, because I was so new to positive training and Gold was so driven to control movement, I wasn’t able to get him herding at a high level. I wish I could go back and work with him from a puppy onward with the knowledge I now possess, but I don’t think our relationship could have been better and that is what really counts!

 When you consider both your personal and professional canine-related achievements, which one of each stands out the most? And why? What is the driving force that sparks your work?

My life mission was to provide future trainers with a method for training herding using positive methods, which was the driving force behind my first two books, Positive Herding 101 and Positive Herding 201. Those books are meant to be the first, but not the last, word on positive herding. They were a love offering to herding dogs and a blueprint so that what I learned would not be lost, but instead could form the springboard for even better positive herding training.

After completing my herding mission through my two books, I turned my attention to canine enrichment by publishing my third book. I had no idea how little I knew about the amazing types of enrichment that people had developed, but I was keen to learn.

As I learned of more and more wonderfully simple enrichment activities, it became clear that I needed to share what I was learning. Thus, the Dog Enrichment Summit of 2024 was born, which brought together over 25 thought leaders in the field of canine enrichment. Through personal conversations, these experts enthusiastically explained how they used enrichment to grow dogs’ confidence, reduce stress, provide mental and physical exercise, and much more!

People are hungry to find ways to interact with their dogs that enrich both of their lives. Enrichment can be as simple as changing from point-to-point walking to strolling sniff-aris. Instead of being concerned with how far your dog is walked, become more attuned to what is in the walk for your dog. Often, we think of walks in terms of miles or minutes while our dogs may find smells and sounds most intriguing.

What ongoing or future canine projects do you have planned? Are they personal (like cuddling your favorite pooch or volunteering at the local shelter) or professional (like selling articles, training, or conducting medical research)?

The future holds so many opportunities to share what I have learned and to learn from others! Currently, I have three main projects in mind, as well as continuing to nurture my Enrichment Games for High-Energy Dogs Facebook community.

Firstly, I will be speaking at the Pet Professional Guild of Australia Conference in June of 2024! I was thrilled to be asked as an international speaker and the topics they wanted me to speak about couldn’t be a better fit as I will be talking about both positive herding and enrichment!

My second project is launching an online course about enrichment games. The course will cover the first games in the book, the Green Grass Games, as well as some flirt pole* gameplay. I am excited about the gaming elements that will be incorporated into this course such as earning points for completing tasks, choosing minimum, target, and stretch goals, as well as having “Easter egg” and completion celebrations along the way.

(*A piece of exercise equipment that entices a dog to chase a fast-moving lure.)

I hosted my first Dog Enrichment Summit in March of 2024 and may put together another summit in 2025. The goal of the summit was to find and introduce thought leaders in the canine enrichment field to people searching for new enrichment ideas. Through personal interviews, summit presenters covered innovative and often inexpensive enrichment activities as well as more academic topics such as the role of agency or freedom of choice as enrichment for dogs and the 5 keys to enrichment.

I also am concerned with balancing my future projects versus time with my family and my dogs, Qwest and Sir. It is easy to get caught up trying to help other people live their best lives and neglect living my best life with my family and dogs.

What would you recommend to those peers who wish to enter your winning category in next year’s contest?

My advice for entering the Books – Behavior, Health, or General category of the DWAA Writers Contest would be to produce the book that conveys your message in your way. Of course, you want high quality writing, editing, and formatting, but write your book!  Not the book you think people will buy, although you definitely need to identify your potential book buyer, nor about the subject that you think will sell, unless that is a topic close to your heart.

Instead, think of your book as your legacy. How would you like to be remembered as a person and a dog guardian? Not everyone will like what you write and you might not have a bestseller, but the words in your book will live on long after you are gone. Make them count!

To conclude this interview, what thoughts from the heart would you like to share?

In dog training and in life, I see people sweating mistakes: “I shouldn’t have done this.” “Why didn’t I do that?” “How could I have been so stupid?” Or lamenting their dog’s mistakes or imperfect training. My dog knows better. Why won’t they listen, stop, stay down, come back, be quiet, settle, do what I ask, stay out of the garbage, quit barking, stop begging, be more friendly, be less friendly.…?

Life is full of mistakes and imperfections. Even the happiest and most successful people struggle at times. Accept and learn from your mistakes and missteps and trust that your dog is doing the best they can too. In the long run, you won’t remember the times your dog jumped on visitors or failed to sit when cued. You will remember the fun, love, happiness, joy, poignant and sad times you shared with your dog. When your dog is gone, you will look back and long to trade the silence for one more imperfect memory.

Featured Image: Barbara with Qwest, sitting and Gold, lying down.

FB Groups: Enrichment Games for High-Energy Dogs & Positive Herding Dog
Websites: &
Opt-ins: &