TEAM
TEAM
Mesa Smith started training dogs as a young girl, and is now a Canine Star and starring on America's Got Talent with her dog, Delta.
Mesa Smith

The Canine Stars
Trainer

Since
2019

Specialty:
Freestyle Dance, Flyball

Alaska
United States
@myalaskandogs@myalaskandogs

THE CANINE STARS TEAM

Trainer

BIOGRAPHY

Interview with

Mesa Smith

June 15, 2021

By

@CANINESTARS

Q: What’s your specialty in The Canine Stars shows?

Our specialties are freestyle dance/disc, flyball, and agility.

Q: Tell us about your pack…your family of dogs.

My pack consists of four amazing dogs. My oldest, Zoya, is a rescue mix from right here in Alaska and she’s the one who first helped teach me everything I know about flyball. I started racing with her when I was about 8 years old, and even now, at her older age of 15, she is still going strong. My next dog, Rugby, is an 9 year old Border Collie x Staffordshire Bull Terrier mix who always puts 110% into everything he does, whether it be in flyball or anything else. Pixel, my other half Border Collie mix, is who really got me into the trick/freestyle world. This 6 year old Border Collie x Rat Terrier mix has a lot of attitude all packed into a little package, 14 pounds to be precise. You’ll be able to hear her barking from a mile away. My newest member to the pack is Delta, my sporty little “mixy mix.” She is mostly a Border Collie, Whippet, and Terrier mix and has excelled at everything I’ve thrown at her.

Mesa Smith

Mesa Smith

's

performing dogs

Pixel

Pixel

Border Collie
Rat Terrier
Rugby

Rugby

Border Collie
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Delta

Delta

Border Collie
Whippet
Mixed Breed
Zoya

Zoya

Mixed Breed

Mesa Smith

's

retired stars, and those waiting at the bridge

No items found.

Q: What are your favorite Canine Stars shows and adventures?

This may be a little biased but I love the show at the Alaska State Fair! I had an amazing time being able to perform right here in my hometown and the amazing scenery in the background is always a perfect bonus. I also love seeing all the videos from the Calgary Stampede and would love to perform there one day.

Q: What are your top FOUNDATION skills that you like to train?

A very important foundation skill for me is just teaching my dog to think, whether that be through tricks, mind games, etc. I want my dog to be able to work through problems and offer things up to me. That’s why when I have a younger or new dog I start by teaching behaviors like place, leg weaves or spin. Because I can use those things to teach them to offer things up. For example, with place, I start out by having a tupperware (or something big enough that they can stand on, like a feed bowl) out on the ground. I reward ANY interaction they have with it, whether it be sniffing or even looking in that direction. Slowly, as they start to interact more with the object, I start to ask more and more of them. Now I’m only rewarding when they put a paw on it. After they have that down I start to only reward when they put two paws on it. Keep in mind this whole time I’m not luring. Instead, I’m asking them to offer up these behaviors themselves. They are learning to think and problem solve and do whatever they can to get that reward. The speed at which this will happen definitely depends on the dog but you have to remember, for your dog to proficiently learn what you are teaching, they have to think for themselves.

Q: What are your favorite TRICK skills that you teach all your dogs?

One of my favorite tricks to train is rebound because of how unique it is to each dog. I also love how it can also be translated into many different areas of training, like in disc.

Q: How did you get started in dog sports and dog training?

Right around when I was born my parents started Alaska’s first flyball club, so I’ve been lucky enough to be around dogs/dog sports my entire life. I first started competing in 2011 around when I was about 8 years old and haven't stopped since. Now I participate in multiple sports including, but not limited to, flyball, agility, disc, freestyle, and dock diving. I have always been drawn to dogs and having such amazing trainers in my life definitely helped me to grow and pursue that passion.

Q: Outside of performing with The Canine Stars, what is your “normal” life like?

I’m a full time student. When I’m not busy with school I love to work with my dogs, hike, take photos, and go on all sorts of adventures. Whether it be kayaking, stand up paddleboarding, or camping. Getting outside with my dogs is always my favorite activity. I also teach some classes at a local dog training facility.