Author: allthingspups

The Power of Positive Reinforcement

positive reinforcement woman playing with her dog

I’ve been meaning to write a blog post about this for a long time because it is the core principle of everything I believe in when it comes to training dogs.


I started All Things Pups as a community for not only dog training, but also as an honest resource for you, as owners, looking to learn more about your best friend.


More than ever, people are looking for the right style of training for their individual dog.


From my experience, I can confidently say that no matter your dog’s age, breed, temperament, background and behavioral issues—positive reinforcement training IS the right training method for your dog.


However, there are still a lot of people who say negative reinforcement works better on their dog, so I'm going to talk to those people briefly here.


The truth is, whether or not you believe positive reinforcement training is the "best" method", I think we can all agree on that the vast majority of dog owners would LIKE to be able to resort to using only positive reinforcement training methods with their dog.


The problem is that people think that positive reinforcement training will not work for THEIR dog and unique life situation for reasons XYZ, so they result to using negative reinforcement methods (prong collars, shock collars, etc) as a quick fix.


While this lack of commitment can largely be attributed to excuses, another large problem in this case can be attributed to the lack of education and patience surrounding dog training.


The more dog owners I talk with, the more I have come to realize that people who have “difficult” dogs think that their dog is one in a billion and that using positive methods will not work for their dog.


I 100% agree that every dog is one in a million and deserves an individual approach! There is no other dog with the exact same personality and behavior as your dog, and you should cherish their uniqueness.


With that being said, when it comes to training, the “best” macro-level method of training for every single dog is the same, end of story!


Let me explain..


My definition of “the best training method” is as follows:


The "best" method is one that is positive and fun, which allows you to form a strong bond with your dog, but at the same time, enables you to be firm and establish a relationship where your dog respects and listens to you at all times.


This is MY definition of positive reinforcement training.


It sounds pretty well balanced, right?


With this form of positive reinforcement training, there really is no need for negative reinforcement, or “balanced” training, as some may call it.


From the two-pound Yorkie puppies to the 150-pound mastiffs I work with, positive reinforcement training is the only training I use.


From the friendliest Pitbull to the most aggressive German Shepherd I work with, positive reinforcement training is the only training I use.


From the most fearful 10 year old shelter dog to the most outgoing and hyper puppy I work with, positive reinforcement training is the ONLY training I use.


For each and every single dog I work with, positive reinforcement training is the ONLY training I use and it has proven successful EVERY SINGLE TIME.

positive reinforcement Man and woman hugging a dogFor me, there is absolutely no reason a person should ever have to use fear, intimidation, or tools that employ those emotions, in order to force a dog into behaving.


In fact, there are really only two factors that determine the success or failure of positive reinforcement training:


1. The Amount Of Reinforcement And Work The Owner Actually Puts Into The Training.


A huge tenant of my training method that I stress to every dog owner is that one session with me won’t magically turn your dog into a well-behaved dog.


You are going to have to put in the work to reinforce the tools and techniques that I give you.


There is no substitute or magic pill for hard work!


If you only reinforce the methods I give you half of the time, you should only expect to see half of the potential results.


Isn’t this something that applies to every area of life?


If you only put 50% into your workouts at the gym, you shouldn’t expect to be in the very best shape possible for you to be.


If you only study for half of the subjects on your test, you can’t expect to receive 100% on every subject.


We all know this life lesson and it is no different when applying it to training your dog. So why don't we follow this tried and true life lesson?


2.  Patience When Working Through The Dog's Individual Learning Threshold.


Dogs do indeed have different intelligence levels and some catch on to different training concepts faster than others. When you combine this uncertainty with impatient owners in today's society, a lot of people end up quitting on their dogs!


However, if the owner is consistent in reinforcing the training, and patient with the process, the dog (no matter what intelligence level) WILL catch on—it may just take longer (or shorter) than it takes the neighbor dog to catch on.


The bottom line is, my clients who put in 100% effort and consistency, see 100% improvement and results with their dogs.


I can give you the best tools in the world, but it won’t matter if you aren’t willing to put in the consistent work over the long-term.

positive reinforcement Woman with a dog on a walk on the beach
Another thing people always ask me is, “Has there ever been a dog you weren’t able to train?”


I love answering this question!


What I tell these people is that I have never worked with a dog who has not responded nor improved with my positive reinforcement training methods. There are, however, people who don’t see the results they want because of one of two reasons:


A. They don’t reinforce and build upon the foundation we set in our training sessions.


B. They aren’t patient enough to work with their dog’s cognitive ability to learn and develop new behavior.


That, my friends, is the only difference between my clients who succeed in raising a well-behaved and trained dog, and those who fall short.


Positive reinforcement training takes PATIENCE.


Patience will be your number one tool to fall back on when training your dog; it may also be the most challenging part of training.


This is where most people stumble, and where you, as the owner, have to work on keeping patience with your dog. Our society has taught us the false pretense that there is such thing as an “overnight success”; that you can become successful at something without working hard.


I think this is one of the main reasons why it’s so hard for most people to work through behavioral issues with our dogs.. Because 90% of us are impatient as hell and want an obedient dog without putting in the work that it requires!


Another reason why people think that positive reinforcement training will not work for their unique dog is due to misinformation from other dog trainers.


Lately, I’ve been working with a lot of new clients who are coming to me after working with other trainers whose methods they did not feel comfortable with.


Here are a couple of examples:


One of my clients, who has two sweet German Shepherds and has never owned dogs before them, was looking for help with some leash walking manners while her husband was traveling for work for a couple months.


She hired on a trainer who used negative reinforcement and fear tactics to get the dogs to listen.


Because my client had no idea about the different types of training, she put all of her trust into this man who was a professional trainer (I would too if I didn’t know where to start!).


Her husband arrived home to see this trainer using a prong collar on his dog while stepping on the leash so that the dog’s neck was down on the ground. (In what world would this be necessary to train basic leash walking manners?!?!)


Another one of my clients has a three month old Morkie who is a typical puppy and also barks when he wants attention.


The original trainer she hired told her that her dog was completely out of control and the only method that will work on him is a shock collar.


Again, she did not feel great about using this method but wanted her dog to be the best dog he could be, so she took the professional’s advice.


When she brought her puppy into the vet, they were in awe that she had a shock collar on her 5 pound pup and told her that it could seriously injure him.


There is nothing that infuriates me more than “professionals” misinforming and taking advantage of dog owners. Even writing these stories is making my blood boil!


In both of the above examples, both owners were completely devastated and felt so horrible for putting their precious fur babies through such negative experiences.


Obviously it was not the owners’ fault at all.


When someone is a professional in a certain field, you expect that they are going to give you all the right information to help you—hence why you hire them.


It is so, so, so upsetting to me that there are dog trainers who take advantage of people’s trust, and apply unnecessary and sometimes unethical training methods to their dogs.

positive reinforcement - person commanding puppyIf positive reinforcement training works for every dog, why do trainers use other methods?


This is a question I get a lot and one that I, myself, always wondered.


From my point of view, I couldn’t fathom why any dog trainer or dog owner would want to use any training method other than positive reinforcement.


I guess this comes from my undying passion for dogs and belief that they, being the innocent, sweet souls that they are, should only be treated kindly and positively.


But obviously it also comes from the fact that positive reinforcement has never failed me in training even the most aggressive dogs.


To figure out the answer to this question, I’ve had to look beyond my point of view.


The reason that some people resort to other training methods is because it is easier.


When I say easier, I’m not talking about how challenging the actual training methods are—my training methods are extremely simple.


I am talking about that patience factor we discussed earlier and putting in the work to achieve results. Like I mentioned, we live in a world where everyone wants instant gratification and fast results, while putting in the minimum amount of work required.


Anyone who is successful knows that this is the complete opposite of what will get you to success.


Nonetheless, using negative reinforcement techniques, such as using a shock collar, is a quick, band-aid fix to the issue. It's a shortcut attempt to stop behavior that requires hard work and persistence.


Shock collars are widely used to “fix” the issue of a dog barking.


A couple days ago actually, I saw an owner walking his dog utilizing a shock collar for this very issue. The dog was barking at other dogs across the street, so she was zapped.


When another dog passed by, the dog did not bark again. Instead of barking, however, she put her ears back and head down. Sure, she did not bark, but her entire demeanor changed in fear of being shocked.


This is the perfect example of how this negative reinforcement technique is simply a quick bandaid fix, and does not actually solve the root of the issue.


Using positive reinforcement to work through an issue does take practice, time, and patience.


Unlike negative reinforcement, however, positive reinforcement starts at the root cause of the issue and works to truly RESOLVE the issue, not by instilling fear on the dog.


Sometimes, negative reinforcement techniques can actually hurt a dog—physically and mentally.


Physical injuries can happen from misuse of negative reinforcement tools (like prong and shock collars).


Mental injuries can happen even from using the tool “correctly”.


Let’s use the above scenario again: When a dog barks at another dog, he is shocked. While this may make life easier on the owner, this does the complete opposite for the dog.


First of all, with any behavior you do not want exhibited by a dog, you have to think about WHY the dog is exhibiting this behavior.


Is the dog barking at another dog out of excitement?


If this is the case, he needs to work on self-control to contain his excitement when he sees another dog.


Shocking him may keep her from barking, but there’s no way it teaches him self-control.


Is he barking at another dog out of fear?


If this is the case, he needs to learn that there is no reason to fear other dogs.


Shocking him may keep him from barking, but it certainly will not take away his fear of other dogs.


In fact, it does just the reverse. If the dog is barking out of fear, he is associating other dogs with negativity.


When negative reinforcement is applied (the shock) the owner is adding MORE negativity to the situation. When more negativity is added, the dog will only add more negative associations with other dogs, which could hurt the dog immensely mentally.


Remember, positive reinforcement training takes practice, time, and patience. If you can grasp and embrace that, the rest is simple!


What are your experiences with positive vs. negative reinforcement training? I’d love to hear you stories in the comments section below 🙂

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How To Treat And Prevent

Resource Guarding

resource guarding - dog reacting

Is your pup possessive about toys?


Does your dog growl when you or another dog approaches his food bowl?


Does he snap at you when you even step near him when he has a bone?


Or show his teeth when you approach the couch?


All of these situations listed above are common examples of resource guarding.

resource guarding leashWhat Is Resource Guarding?


Simply put, it is when a dog controls access to food, objects, people and locations that are important to him through defensive body language or overtly aggressive behavior.


A resource guarder will not tolerate competition and will guard the resource to maintain priority access.


Resource guarding is actually a relatively common canine behavior and is influenced by a number of environmental and situational stimuli, including a dog’s natural instinct to survive.


Guarding resources is usually a manifestation of the dog’s deep-rooted insecurity and inability to cope well in a social situation, even with people and other dogs he knows.


An insecure dog can see anyone as a potential threat to a resource, whether that resource is food, toys, space, a mate or access to a particular person. The threat of losing the resource, and the good feeling that the resource provides, makes a dog more angry and irritable.


This is where things may get tricky, as there are two main types of resource guarders: those that guard from humans, and those who guard from other dogs. 
Typically, dogs that guard resources from people (often their owners) possess more deep-rooted issues that are more complex and difficult to overcome than when this behavior occurs toward another dog.


For that reason, if your dog is guarding resources from you or another person, I'd highly recommend consulting with a behaviorist who can walk you through this delicate process.


With that being said, there is a lot one can do to prevent or treat resource guarding between dogs.


Preventing Resource Guarding 


While prevention isn’t helpful once the problem has begun, don’t miss the chance to prevent resource guarding before it rears its jealous head.


Say you have a new dog, Bobby, and a resident alpha dog, Nolan. You can teach Nolan that a treat to Bobby leads to a treat to Nolan. And vice versa.


It’s quite easy to do:


When you pop a treat in one dog’s mouth, immediately give the other dog a treat as well. Then reverse the order.


I’m doing this right now with my foster dog Riley. Every night after dinner all the dogs get a treat. I’ll walk into the dog room and the dogs will cluster around.


First, I’ll say “What do good dogs do?” They all know that they are supposed to sit when I say that.


Then I’ll say the name of one dog, perhaps Juneau and let her get some treats. Grizzly knows to wait his turn, but if Riley moves forward I merely move forward a step to block her. I also say “UH UH” to her, too.


When she backs off, I’ll then say her name to allow her some treats, then quickly say Grizzly’s name and let him do the same. Then back to Juneau and all around about 3 or 4 times so that all the dogs learn that being patient and polite pays off!


However, I would never suggest doing this if you already have tension between your dogs. This is prevention, not a treatment. Think of this exercise as either the first step to prevent trouble when none yet exists, or the end game if you already have problems.


Another caveat: Pay attention to the level of arousal.


If the dogs begin to get excited and pushy, ask them to sit and calm down. You want the dog to learn that being polite and patient gets the treat, not pushy and demanding.

all things pups

What Do I Do if My Dog Is Already Guarding Resources?


1. Until you are able to work with a dog trainer/behaviorist, manage the situations that the resource guarding is occurring in.


2. Determine what situations the resource guarding is happening and be VERY specific. Is it over food? Any food or a certain kind? Inside, outside, on the bed? Try to find the root and be as specific as possible.


3. Prevent these situations from happening! Every instance that the food guarding does happen, it is a step backwards in working through the root cause.


Feed the dogs in separate rooms, give treats in separate rooms, do whatever to can to prevent it while you work through the deep-rooted issue with your behaviorist.


4. Teach impulse control! This is an indirect way of handling the problem, but it definitely helps with the process.


Dogs who resource guard are often dogs who cannot handle not getting what they want when they want it. Teaching self control is extremely beneficial for all dogs, especially ones who resource guard.


Commands such as...


'Wait', 'Lay Down', 'Stay', and 'Leave It', are all great exercises to teach and practice self control.


Your trainer should work with your dogs through a more direct process of desensitization and counter conditioning to treat the resource guarding.


The ultimate goal of this process is to take the trigger that is producing an unpleasant response in your dog’s mind (and thus, making him feel the need to react and be aggressive), and replace it with positivity so that he feels confident and that the situation is positive, instead of negative.


This is a process that takes time and control to really work through, so do not feel discouraged if your dog’s resource guarding is not solved after one session!


Below is an example of how I would work with a dog resource guarding his food bowl:


Begin by changing the situation and provide a new food bowl in a different location for your dog to eat.


Vary meal times so that your dog never has the chance to become tense when his body clock tells him it is time to eat.


Utilize the 'empty bowl method'. Pick up your dog’s bowl and make it look like you are filling it with his food. Place the empty food bowl on the ground in front of him. Wait for him to check it out, see there is nothing there, and look up at you. As soon as he looks at you, praise him and add a bit of food into his bowl.


After your dog has finished eating the food, wait for him to look at you again and add more food into his bowl.


Repeat this until all the food has been eaten. Walk away from his bowl and then back and add a little more. This shows your dog that your approach and presence at his food bowl means he is going to get more food and you are a positive part of his feeding experience.


Feed your dog in this way for a week, and as he becomes more relaxed with your presence close to his bowl, gradually add larger handfuls of food until you get to the point where you can put down a full food bowl and he can eat with you standing right next to him.


The next level is to practice walking by an empty bowl and throwing a piece of high value food such as chicken into it. Every time you approach your dog’s empty bowl, your dog will see your approach as something good.


The last stage of this treatment is to throw a desirable treat into your dog’s bowl as he is in the process of eating. By this time, he should be much more relaxed with your presence and able to accept you being close to him as he eats.


Should I Punish My Dog for Resource Guarding?


If you’ve read enough of my blogs, you know that I support only positive reinforcement training methods.


While there will always be those that object to positivity in every situation, I truly believe it is the only way to truly win over your dog and have a quality relationship with them; one where they want to listen to you and obey your commands.


With that being said, some people still misunderstand why their dogs guard and why there is social competition, therefore, many owners of resource guarders often get angry and confrontational with their dogs.


Confrontation, however, only increases competition and causes the dog to guard the contested resource even more. Using physical punishment on a resource guarding dog is the exact opposite of what you need to do.


Instead, make sure you understand your dog’s situation and work to instill more confidence in him, so that he feels less threatened by your presence.


When working to rehabilitate a dog that aggressively guards his resources, he should not be forced into submission or physically punished!


It is much more effective to use counter conditioning to alter a dog’s behavior... without your dog ever realizing that you are doing so! That, my peeps, is the epitome of masterful dog training!!

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How To Get Your Dog To Come When Called EVERY Time

dog recall woman with her dog at sunset



*Fluffy looks at you but decides that running off in the opposite direction sounds like more fun*


Does this scenario sound familiar to you?


Then you are in the same boat as many, many other dog owners.

dog recall

One of the hardest aspects of training for owners seems to be teaching their dog recall.


From their home, to the dog park and everywhere in between—owners have a difficult time getting their dog to consistently come to them!


In a perfect scenario, the owner commands the dog: “come!”, and the dog drops whatever he is doing at any given moment to come to his owner.


What if I told you that you can have this perfect scenario ALL the time?


Yes, your dog does have the ability to come to you when called, I promise you! It just takes a few simple steps.

dog recall

First off, what does your dog associate the word “come” with?


Does “come” mean that it is time to leave the dog park?


Or does it mean that it is bath time?


Or does it mean that it is time to go in his crate for the night?


If your dog associates “come” with these types of actions, why would he want to come to you?


This is the key to successful recall training: Making your dog want and choose to come to you!


Making Your Dog WANT To Come To You


The first step of recall training and the ultimate key is to make the command "come" mean nothing but positivity and rewards.


The second your dog comes to you after you call him, you need to REWARD him.


Remember that rewards can be attention, affection, toys, treats, etc...


but for this command, specifically, you want to use a highly motivating reward—sometimes I even recommend using “special” treats that you only use during recall training.


The reason that you have to use highly motivating treats at first is because to get your dog to want to do something, you need to motivate him.


When your dog is off leash exploring outside, his freedom and free roam is very motivating in itself.


Therefore, to be able to get your dog’s attention and to make him want to come to you, you may need to motivate him using an object of his desire when first beginning recall training.


However, if the only time you ever tell your dog to “come” is when you are going to end the play time by putting on his leash and restricting his freedom, the word “come” is going to be the opposite of motivating for your dog!


With that being said, telling your dog to “come” throughout your stay at the dog park and rewarding him for coming will teach your dog to associate coming to you when called with a reward; as opposed to the negative consequence of leaving such a fun place!


Another common objection I get is “Well, if I only motivate my dog with treats, then they’re not going to listen to me, they only want the treats, and won’t listen to me when I don’t have food to give them”.


This is why transitioning out of treats becomes key, and showing your dog that listening to you and pleasing YOU as their pack leader is the biggest reward there is.


After gaining your dog’s motivation and attention with praise and treats, slowly begin to wean off the treats in your training until you get to the point where your fur friend will come when called on a whim—not because you’re holding a treat in your hand… but because they respect you!

dog recall

Another very important part of recall training that is often overlooked is starting small and working your way up.


When a client tells me that their dog will not come when at the dog park, I ask how is their recall at home?


Some respond that the dog always comes, and some say that he comes when he wants.


This is a crucial situation to analyze in your own experience.


If your dog does not come every single time you command him to “come” at home, how can you expect your dog to come to you while at the dog park?! You can’t!


Home is where the dog is most familiar with his surroundings, and there are the fewest distractions.


The dog park is on the other end of the spectrum, where there are a million and one distractions, and your dog probably has a harder time keeping self control.


If your dog does not have a good basis of recall at home, he will not consistently respond to your recall anywhere else.


You have to start by practicing recall where there are the fewest distractions and slowly increase the distractions to make it more challenging.


For more tips on recall, and an explanation of why it’s so important, check out “The Golden Rule Of Recall Training”.


If after reading both of these blogs, you’re still having trouble with improving your dog’s recall, feel free to sign up for a free phone consultation with me!

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How Setting Limitations Help You Train A Well-Behaved Dog

How Setting Limitations Help You Train A Well-Behaved Dog

When you’re in the early stages of training your dog, there may be times when the thought of a well-behaved dog can seem like an unachievable goal…


Whether it’s your chewed up shoes, your stained carpets, or your scratched arms and legs, the growing pains that can come along with training your furry best friend can be mentally draining and emotionally taxing.


Are you at this point of mental defeat with your dog?


Then it’s time to draw a line in the sand.


There is likely a VERY important reason why you haven’t yet reached your training goals...


Something that you’ve been afraid to do up until this point.


What is it?


While I don’t know the specifics of your particular situation, my best prediction is that you’re afraid.


Afraid? I’m not afraid of anything”, you might think. Maybe not in the typical context of fear, BUT I do know something about you.


I know that you’re a HARDCORE dog lover.


How do I know that? Well, since you’ve read this far, you’re obviously the kind of owner that would do anything to give their dog the best life possible.


And that is awesome! Props to you for putting in 100% to give your dog the best life possible. I wish there were more dog owners out there that cared as much as you do.


However, you must wield that compassion wisely.


With that much emotion, it is extremely likely that in the back of your mind, there is the fear that if you’re “too hard” on your dog, or “too strict”, then they won’t like you.


And this where I tell you in the nicest way possible to get over yourself! Seriously!


The truth is that your dog will NEVER become well-behaved and well-trained if you don’t set boundaries and limitations for what is and isn’t appropriate; and consistently enforce those boundaries when they are crossed!


Let me restate that again… this is crucial!


The key to correcting any unwanted behavior is to give the dog you are training limitations, which will help to prevent the behavior from occurring in the first place.

train a well-behaved dog, all things pups

It is actually very easy to restrict a dog and give him limitations, but the problem is typically when owners “feel bad” for restricting their dog.


However, if owners utilized restrictions and limitations, their lives would be much easier and the dog would actually be happier than if they gave them everything they wanted!


For instance, I have many people ask me this question:


“How can I stop my dog from destroying my belongings while I am at work?”


I then ask where the dog is kept when the owner is at work. Chances are pretty high that if the dog is destroying items, he is not being restricted by being confined to a small area such as a crate.


The owner typically responds to me with something along the lines of:


“Well he has a crate, but while I am at work, I just keep him out in my bedroom because I feel bad crating him all day.”

train a well-behaved dog, all things pups

While you may feel for putting your dog in the crate while you’re at work, or not letting him have his way, like we discussed earlier there needs to be a point when you decide that enough is enough!


A dog, much like a child, will not learn to restrict himself on his own. A dog needs to be given limits and restrictions in order to learn boundaries.


Knowing this truth, my answer to people is simple…


If your dog is still getting into things when being left out, he has not learned his boundaries yet and needs to be restricted on his space when you are not there to monitor him and are unable to correct his unwanted behaviors.


Once a dog learns his boundaries and limits, he will learn what is right and wrong.


Once he learns these things, he can slowly be given more and more freedom. However, if he takes advantage of freedom at any given time, you must take it a step backwards and reduce the freedom by reinforcing the limitations.


Many dog owners actually undergo this process the opposite way (and have the opposite result of a well-behaved dog I might add).


They “feel bad” for limiting space and enforcing restrictions on their dog. So, they decide to start out by giving their dog ultimate freedom with no boundaries.


Soon they realize that it is really taking their dog a long time to get over certain unwanted behaviors and that no matter how many times they tell their dog, “NO,” he continues to perform these unwanted behaviors.


This is because although the owner is telling the dog what is wrong, the owner really isn’t enforcing anything when the dog is still being given freedom.


It would be like a telling a dog who is chewing on a slipper “NO” and then leaving the slipper there.


Do you think the dog will really stop chewing on the slipper?


Maybe he will stop while you are there watching if he really understands that he is not supposed to chew on it, but once you leave, of course he will start chewing on it again.

all things pups

It's the same idea behind continuing to give a dog freedom when he is taking advantage of it. When your puppy is having accidents because he has free roam of the house, you can tell him “NO” and redirect him to where he is supposed to go potty.


But then, you must limit his free roam and set limitations to prevent the accidents from happening.


If you continue to give him free roam, of course he will take advantage of it and go potty whenever he wants and wherever he pleases.


Setting limitations, restrictions, and boundaries for your pup will only make both of your lives easier and happier! Both of you will understand what is expected.


The more you set these limits on your dog, the faster he will be able to gain more freedom WITHOUT misbehaving.


If you would like some advice on setting boundaries on your pup for a specific behavior that he has been performing in your home, sign up for a free phone consultation!

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Using “The Check-In Method” To Make Walking Your Dog A Walk In The Park

How To Use “The Check-In Method” To Make Walking Your Dog A Walk In The Park

Everyone wants the perfect dog who heels at your side, walks with a loose leash, doesn’t pull, stays calm when another dog is barking like crazy at him, and knows who is walking who.


However, the reality is that most dogs are very distracted while out on walks!


Whether it be that the dog is pulling on the leash trying to get to something, on high alert or barking when other dogs or people walk by, or just simply distracted by all of the smells and new things in the outside world—this is a very common issue among many dog owners.


While there is a lot of training that goes into getting your dog to focus at all times while on a walk, there is one basic step that your dog must reach before progressing any further.


Whatever your situation with your dog on walks may be, the following strategy will help your dog reach that first step, meanwhile developing your dog’s focus and obedience, and making walks enjoyable for the both of you!


This piece of advice seems so simple and obvious, but it is surprising how many people do not practice this with their pup on walks.


What is this strategy?


The Check-In Method


Like other techniques that I practice and teach, “The Check-In Method” is instrumental in setting the foundation for your dog’s basic obedience.


Getting in the habit of simply making your dog “check-in” while on walks is one of the simplest yet most powerful tactics for gaining control of your dog, and reinforcing that YOU are the pack leader while out in public!

woman checking in with her dog

When training your pup to check-in, you want to be sure to give him the motivation to do so. To do this, you and your voice has to be more appealing than everything around that is distracting your dog.


Some dogs are simply motivated by your praise, which is awesome.


Other dogs, when out on walks, are fairly disinterested in you unless you have something that they want. So, here is how you can motivate your dog to WANT to check-in with you:


When out on walks, simply say your pup’s name in a positive tone. The second he looks up at you, tell him “Yes” and give him a treat and/or praise. Repeat many, many times.


Just simply saying your pup’s name so that he has to look up at you to check in will go SO far when it comes to developing basic obedience.


How come?


Making your dog check in with you forces him to remember who is walking who.


Some dogs get so carried away on walks and completely forget that you are even still there, let alone in control! Therefore, checking in forces your dog to re-focus on you and reminds him that you are in charge, despite all of the distractions.


When dogs are distracted, their minds are running at what seems like a million miles per minute on nothing but the object of their distraction.


So many people tell me that there is no way to get their dog’s attention when he is so distracted, but this is not true!


Consistently using the “check-in method” essentially trains your dog to re-focus his attention on you.

woman using the check-in methodWhat if my dog still won’t focus on me?


Every dog is capable of re-focusing back onto you when he is distracted. You, as the owner, just need to be persistent in training him to “check-in” and show him that he is capable of this!


The issue in this case is usually that the owner believes that there is no way that their dog would ever be able to or want to re-focus his attention onto them, and the owner just gives up.


Believe in your dog and reinforce the checking in, and I promise you your dog will really surprise you with those re-focusing skills that he really is capable of 🙂


Depending on how distracted your dog gets on walks, the amount of time in between making your dog check in with you will vary. The more you can get your dog to check in with you, the better.


Using The Check-In Method As A Preventative Tool


A lot of dogs become distracted by the new environment the second they step out the door for a walk. Then, when the already-distracted dog sees another dog on the walk, he has his sight set on that dog and wants to play.


Many owners tell me, “When my dog sees another dog on a walk, he gets SO excited, starts pulling, barking, and going so crazy that it is not possible for me to get his attention at all.”


Honestly, this may be true in some cases. If your dog does not have to ever have to take his mind off of the distractions outside, his mind will continue to go at a million miles per minute and completely forget his appropriate leash-walking manners.


Then, when another dog comes along, your dog is already so distracted and zoned out that there really isn’t any turning back and gaining his focus.


With that being said, this issue can be solved by making your dog check-in with you consistently BEFORE this tantalizing dog comes along.

german shepherd checking in with his owner

Train your pup to check-in with you constantly. If he never has to do this, why the heck would he start when there is another dog across the street that he desperately wants to get to?


The “Check-In” Progression — Stand Your Ground


In the beginning, it may take your dog a while to look up at you because he has never had to check-in with you; and probably just doesn’t want to.


If he doesn’t look up at you when you call his name, stop walking. Use the kissy noise or other sounds to get his attention to make him look up at you.


Be patient—he WILL look up at you eventually!


Be sure to give him lots of praise when he finally does. Make checking in a FUN part of the walk!


For example, I was in a training session a couple weeks ago where I was training this 5 year old dog to do exactly this. For 5 years, he never had to check-in, allowing him to basically have the reigns of the walk.


He knew exactly what I wanted him to do when I said his name, but was so stubborn and did not want to have to check-in.


He didn’t want to be reminded that he is not in control of the walk and kept purposely looking away from me when I would say his name, despite the treats I was holding.


After he did not look up at me when I first said his name, I stopped walking.


He desperately wanted to just keep walking and not have to check-in with me. The first time it took him about FOUR MINUTES until he finally would look at me.


However, I would NOT give in. I sat there and waited patiently. His owner at this point told me that he would not have had to patience to wait that long. Nonetheless, I did not move until he checked in.

all things pups check-in method

Why? This is a lesson in proving yourself as your dog’s 'pack leader', per say.


If I was to walk without waiting for him to check-in, then he would still think that he is the leader. Therefore, by repeatedly reversing the roles, and consistently making him check-in, I took the reigns on the walk and made it very clear that I am the pack leader.


Keep in mind also that I did all of this WITHOUT ever touching or scolding this dog. You indeed can effectively and efficiently gain the trust and respect of your dog WITHOUT ever using negative reinforcement!


To do this, you have to follow through with every command or act that you instruct your dog to do, or he absolutely will test your patience with his stubbornness to see what he can get away with!


Each time I made the dog check-in with me, the amount of time it took him to do so decreased.


He started to realize that the faster he looked up at me, the faster he could get back to his walk and that until he did so, neither him or I were going anywhere. So, sometimes you have to use the act of walking as the reward.


Whether your dog goes crazy when he sees another dog on a walk, or just loves to sniff every single thing you walk by, training your dog to check-in with you is incredibly beneficial.


This tactic can help teach any dog he must always re-focus on you, and will help you to get your dog’s focus and attention much easier in situations that are distracting.


By consistently employing The Check-In Method, soon enough walks with your dog will become a time for relaxation and bliss! 

Young woman with her dog walking with a loose leash

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What Type Of Collar is Best For My Pup?

What Type Of Collar is Best For My Pup?

Dog ownership is a beautiful thing; the way that it completely transforms a person.


If I’m out in public at a pet store, and through conversation, someone finds out I’m a dog trainer, I can’t tell you how cute it is to see the most serious person melt right in front of me while they talk about their dog!


Dogs have a way of bringing so much joy into our lives, easing the stress of the outside world.


It comes as no surprise, then, if you’re reading this right now, then it’s no doubt you want the best nutrition, toys, coaching, and even style for your pup—just as if you were raising a child.


As silly as it may seem, this clarity of purpose is even extended to something seemingly simple as a dog collar!


With all of the different types of collars out there, dog owners often ask me the question,


“What kind of collar is the very best to use for my dog?”


While the answer to this question does differ from dog to dog and owner to owner, I think it’s important to discuss that there are collars I recommend for training purposes and collars I advise you to stay FAR away from.


What type of collar should you use?


There are a variety of collars that you can purchase to serve a number of purposes.


However, out of the four options I’m about to describe, I recommend sticking with one of the first two:


Simple Collar

simple collar

The simple collar is the most common collar you will see on dogs. It’s flat and connects with a clip or buckle.


For many people, I recommend that they start with this collar for their puppy. If your pup has no issues walking on leash and isn’t pulling, you can continue to use the simple collar.


Martingale/Check Chain Collar

What Type Of Collar is Best For My Pup?

Despite the simplicity of the standard collar, the martingale/check chain collar is definitely my favorite collar.


Why? Well first off, it is an amazing training tool.


This style of collar was designed so that your pup isn’t able to slip out of the collar—without choking or physically harming your dog.


How it works is that when your dog pulls on the leash, the collar gently tightens around the neck, which is a great ‘training wheel’ so to speak, when beginning to train a dog to walk on a loose leash.


From this point, once I tell people that this is my favorite type of collar, they often ask: “What is your favorite brand of dog collars?”.


For me, that is hands down Dream n’ Design, a growing company based out of Southern California who specializes in handmade check chain collars.

Dream n' design

The reason I love Dream n’ Design so much is because not only are their collars handmade to the highest quality seen on the market, but as you can see below, they’re also absolutely gorgeous!


For all of you dog fashionista’s out there, Dream n’ Design is constantly releasing new collections of stunning lines of collars; I have received nothing but raving reviews from all of my clients whom I’ve referred to these guys!


To top it off, as your dog becomes a better loose leash walker, and your collar becomes less of a training tool, a check chain collar from Dream n’ Design will simply become a style statement 😉

Screen Shot 2016-10-14 at 6.38.48 PM

All joking aside, let’s move on to the two distinctions of collars that I strongly suggest you stay away from:


Choke Collar


I DO NOT recommend the choke collar for a number of very serious health reasons.


Choke collars can be very harmful to a dog if used incorrectly, which in most cases it is.


What happens most of the time is that when using a choke collar, people pull way too hard on the leash and cause serious problems with their dog’s health.


The use of choke collars has been associated with whiplash, fainting, spinal cord injuries leading to paralysis, crushing of the trachea, dislocated neck bones, and even brain damage.


The bottom line is that dogs will respond much better to a gentle tug on a normal collar rather than a choke. Stay away from these ones.


Prong Collar


I personally do not recommend prong collars. Aside from the obvious health concerns, I don’t believe that pinching your puppy is the right way to teach him how to walk on a leash.


The obvious health concern is that the metal spikes of prong collars pinch the skin around dogs’ necks when they pull and can scratch or puncture them.


Over time, this can cause dogs to develop scar tissue, and hence build up a tolerance to the painful pinching feeling.


Therefore, you’re left with a dog that continues to pull, and no way to ‘pinch’ him into stopping; making loose leash walking even more difficult.


Prong collars are also not always effective, and often times the dog will associate the negative pinching feeling with other things around him, such as another dog or animal, which may cause them to be fearful and aggressive


The obvious truth is that choke and prong collars are designed to punish dogs for pulling by inflicting pain and discomfort.


They can cause serious physical and emotional damage to dogs, which is why, in my opinion, they should never be used.


Whether or not you agree with my opinion, with plenty of other great collars available that can safely advance your training needs, there is really no need for the choke or prong collar.

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Are You Making These 5 Detrimental Dog Training Mistakes?

Are You Making These 5 Detrimental Dog Training Mistakes?

Whether you’re just starting to train your dog, or you’re looking for more expert advice to speed up the process, there’s a few crucial mistakes, that, if avoided, can drastically speed up the training process.


Without further delay..


Here are 5 very common training mistakes that you absolutely want to avoid at ALL costs:


1. Repeating A Command More Than Once


This is the most common mistake among dog owners. I can guarantee you that every dog owner has been at fault of this without even realizing it!


Let’s say you are trying to get your dog to sit—you tell him “sit” and he doesn’t sit.


So what do you do?


Most dog owners will continue to say “sit” until the dog sits. Without even knowing it, you might have told your dog “sit” three times before he actually sat.


However, you should really only command your dog ONE TIME to 'sit', 'stay', etc. This is absolutely crucial.


One of the largest hurdles you must overcome in training your dog is developing a relationship to the point where he understands that YOU are the pack leader, not him, and he needs to listen to you.


If you say “sit” three times before your puppy finally sits, he will think that he doesn’t have to do what you ask until you tell him three times.


Again, you want your dog to sit (or listen to any command you say) after commanding him only ONCE. 


Does a well-trained dog...


Come after his owner commands him to come five times? Or does he come after being called just once?


You want your dog to listen to you immediately, so make sure that in training and practicing commands, you enforce this rule of only saying the command one time.


If your dog does not listen to your command after the first time, or gets distracted, try using his name or the “kissy sound’ to re-focus his attention back to you while using the hand gesture for that specific command.


2. Inconsistency 

all things pups

Consistency is KEY in EVERY single area of training your dog. Whether it be command training, potty training, working through behavioral issues, etc. being consistent is the most important thing to remember.


Let me give some examples of why consistency is mandatory in each of these areas...


Command training:


With command training, you must consistently work on teaching your dog the new command—even if it just for ten minutes a day.


You can’t expect your dog to master something unless you are consistent with working on the skill with your dog.


NOTE: Remember that dogs learn new skills at different speeds, but as long as you are consistent your dog WILL learn!


Potty Training:


If you want to potty train your pup as quick as possible, you must be consistent with taking your dog outside when potty training him/her.


Potty training can be frustrating, but as long as you are consistently taking your dog outside enough for his needs, he WILL learn that outside is the appropriate place to go potty.


Behavioral Issues:


When working through behavioral issues, it is so important to be consistent with what is appropriate and what is not appropriate behavior.


For example, if you are trying to get your dog to stop jumping up on people, you must tell him “Off” and move your body away from your dog EVERY SINGLE TIME he jumps up on you.


Yes, it will get to be repetitive, and often times you may think it is easier to just let him jump up on you.


However, that one time you let him jump up on you, all the progress you have made with correcting the issue will go right out the window, so it is extremely important to enforce the appropriate behavior consistently!


These are just a few examples of the importance of consistency in training—being consistent in everything that you do with your dog will help your dog to understand quicker, learn faster, and will make the training process much easier.


3. Scolding Your Dog By Using His Name 

all things pups

When your puppy squats right in front of you to pee in the house, do you yell “ROVER NO!”?


It is only second nature for us as humans to say our dog’s name when he is misbehaving, but this is a BIG mistake. Your dog’s name should only ever be associated with positivity!


You want your dog to like his name because you will certainly be saying it a lot!


You want your dog to look at you or come to you whenever you say his name—not to run away! For this to happen, your dog must always think that something positive is going to happen when he does look at you or come to you.


If your dog starts to associate his name with being in trouble, why would he want to come to you when you call out his name?


If you have been at fault of this, don’t worry! It is definitely not too late to fix it.


Start saying your dog’s name in a positive tone all the time—at home, on walks, at the park—and reward your dog with a treat, or just simply pets and praise for looking at you or coming to you after saying his name.


4. Only Telling Your Dog “No” After Misbehaving 

all things pups

If your puppy is chewing on your shoe, what do you do?


My guess is that you loudly tell him “No!” and take the shoe away. If this is you, don’t worry, you are not alone. When a dog is doing something that he is not supposed to do, most dog owners simply tell their dog “no” and expect the dog to stop.


Well in a dog’s mind, he is thinking: “Why not? Why should I stop?” This is why instead of only telling your dog “no,” you must also redirect him to the appropriate behavior.


If your dog is chewing on your shoe, you can tell him “no,” but then you need to redirect him to what he is able to chew on, such as a chew toy.


Redirection is very, very important in dog training. With any behavior that you don’t want your dog exhibiting, you need to teach your dog what is appropriate to do instead, rather than just telling him “no.”


5. Making Training Anything Other Than What It Should Be.. Fun! 

all things pups

Training should never be anything other than a fun experience!


Creating a training environment that your dog enjoys is so incredibly important. If you find something to be confusing and hard, do you have fun doing it? Probably not, and neither will your dog!


The fun part is when you understand and catch onto something and then get rewarded. Dogs are very similar in their motivation by rewards, so the more you reward them for doing the right thing during training, the more they will enjoy training.


Rewarding a dog for doing the correct thing is called positive reinforcement. I am a huge advocate of using only this method, and making training fun for you and your dog!


You, as the owner/trainer must also have fun with training too. It is easy to get frustrated when your dog isn’t catching onto something you are trying to teach him, but it is important to not exert that frustration onto your dog.


Dogs can always sense human feelings, and they feed off of those feelings—good or bad.


If you are frustrated, your dog will know, and this will make training the opposite of fun for your dog. If your dog is getting too confused or you are getting frustrated, move onto the next part of the training session and continue to have fun with it!


So How Do I Apply All Of This Information?


After reading through this entire blog, you might seem a little overwhelmed with how much can actually go wrong when training your dog.. but that’s okay!


Whether you’re planning to get a dog soon, or you’re currently frustrated with some of the mistakes that you’ve already made in training your dog, it’s never too early or late to start making the right choices.


I’ve spent the past several years of my life training and caring for dogs all across the United States.


Out of my extensive experiences (good and bad), I’ve come to develop a wealth of knowledge for what it truly takes to effectively train a dog and develop that lifelong bond that every dog lover DREAMS of.


However, the truth is, when I started volunteering in rescues and working with dogs, I certainly wasn’t an “expert” by any means! In fact, I made a LOT of the beginner mistakes that I just described above!


The point is… nobody starts out as an expert; you’re going to make some mistakes!


No matter how good your intentions are, there’s going to be some times when you accidentally say a command twice, or scold your dog using his name because you’re just so upset!


The important thing is not being perfect, but rather, quickly moving past these little blips and staying consistent!


I know this can be difficult sometimes, which is why I want to personally help you through this learning curve and show you how simple it actually is to effectively raise and train a dog—if you’re equipped with the correct knowledge and tools of course!


To help you along the way, I’ve developed a puppy training program that will give you everything you could possibly need to know about raising and training a new dog.


From step-by-step training tutorials and videos, to behavioral problem solutions, this comprehensive program has all of your most pressing dog questions answered!


Even if you don’t get my program, I still want to help you get the best coaching possible! That's why I'm giving you a free puppy training video and a free puppy training guide, both of which will give you a sneak peek into our training program.


You can also schedule free 20-minute phone consultations directly in my calendar here.


When it comes down to it, my ultimate goal is not to sell you anything; it’s to help you guys out and give you the best chance to shape your best friend into a happy, healthy and well-trained addition to your family!

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How To Manage Your Dog's Separation Anxiety

How To Manage Your Dog's Separation Anxiety

Does your dog cry, bark, howl, or simply just go crazy and be destructive around the house when left alone?


These behaviors listed above could be signs of your dog having separation anxiety. If this is your dog, then don’t worry—you are definitely not alone! 


It just so happens that I have been getting a lot of questions about how to deal with a dog who has separation anxiety lately.


A lot of owners think that their dog has separation anxiety, when in actuality, the behaviors the dog is exhibiting are learned behaviors, and does not truly have separation anxiety. Rather, the dog has learned that if he acts badly, he will get attention.


Therefore, he will bark in the crate, destroy items, whine, etc. just to get the attention that he wants. It is very easy for me, as a behaviorist, to determine if the dog has true separation anxiety, or if the dog is just exhibiting these behaviors for attention.


If your dog truly has separation anxiety, he experiences emotional stress when you leave.


However, owners sometimes mistake their dog’s barking (for attention or to get what he wants), as separation anxiety, when it actually is not.


It is very important to understand the difference between real separation anxiety and learned behaviors because there is a different course of action to take if you are needing to correct your pup’s learned behaviors.


With that in mind, even if your dog shows NO signs of having separation anxiety, this blog will still be incredibly helpful for you to ensure that you are doing everything you can to not feed into any behavior in your dog, that could develop into separation anxiety.


Working through true separation anxiety in dogs is definitely something that takes time but it certainly is possible for a dog to get over his separation anxiety.


What causes separation anxiety in dogs?


In my experience working with dogs, I have found that every case of separation anxiety is unique.


There is typically not one, concrete answer as to what causes the separation anxiety in each individual dog because there are a number of factors that go into the development of separation anxiety, and they vary between every dog.


Factors such as...


What happened to the dog in his past?


How long is he left alone each day?


Was he crate trained properly, so that he associates the crate with positivity?


How does the owner respond to his unwanted behaviors?


Some dogs are inherently more attached to their owners as puppies, and are therefore more prone to developing separation anxiety, while other dogs end up developing it later on in life.


Working through separation anxiety is a process that is unique and different for each dog, depending on the circumstances and behaviors of the dog.


Fully overcoming separation anxiety in your dog will most likely take the help of a professional dog trainer or behaviorist, but I will give some general advice that can help with the process if you want to try on your own!


Here are 3 frustrating mistakes that dog owners make that can contribute to separation anxiety (or behaviors that may seem like it!):


1. Rewarding Unwanted Behaviors


The most common reason why dogs develop learned behaviors (mistaken as separation anxiety) is typically because of owners who incorrectly reward unwanted behaviors.


In fact, owners often feed into these behaviors in their dogs without even knowing it.


Crazy, right?!


When your dog is crying or whining, do you ever ask him: “Ohhh Rover, what’s the matter?”


When your dog is barking just for attention, do you ever give in and give him the attention he is looking for?


I can almost guarantee that just about every dog owner has been guilty of responding to these behaviors in this way at least a couple times.


What’s wrong with this?


Well, when you respond to these kind of unwanted behaviors, you are telling your dog: “When you whine or bark, you will get my attention.”


When you give them this attention that they’re so desperately asking for (in the form of unwanted behavior), your dog is going to think: “When I whine or continuously bark at mom/dad, I get my way!”


Therefore, your dog will continue this behavior of whining and/or barking because your response to these behaviors is the reward.


I’m going to repeat this point because one really can’t stress it enough… your response to these unwanted behaviors is essentially rewarding your dog for misbehaving, which will only cause it to occur more frequently.


After fully grasping that crucial point, let me offer a suggestion.


Instead of rewarding your dog for exhibiting these unwanted behaviors, reward your dog for wanted behaviors. Well, duh!!!


This sounds very simple, but is SO overlooked by most dog owners!! When your dog is simply sitting calmly next to you and behaving, THIS is when he should be rewarded.


Yes—reward your dog for doing absolutely nothing at all! Positive reinforcement is all about rewarding your dog for the behaviors you want repeated.


Of course, we all want our dogs to sit calmly next to us and have their focus on us all the time. Well, then you must TELL them and REWARD them when they are doing exactly this!


When you reward your dog for being calm and quiet, he will think: “When I am calm and quiet and focused on mom/dad, I get rewarded”, and will continue to practice this behavior. It is as simple as that!


2. Overdoing Hellos And Goodbyes


Another extremely common way that owners feed into their dog’s separation anxiety is by making goodbyes and hellos a big deal.


When you get home, do you ever greet your dog very excitedly saying something like: “HI ROVER! OH HI ROVER! I MISSED YOU SO MUCH!!!!”


I know that you are probably just as excited to see your dog after a long day at work as he is to see you, but making it a huge deal when you are reunited IMMENSELY contributes to a dog’s separation anxiety.


When you make arrivals and departures a grand event, this often creates emotional stress for your dog while you are away.


Therefore, if you want to teach your dog to remain calm and keep his cool, you will have to practice calmness at both of these times.


Acting as though hellos and goodbyes are not a big deal is one of the most important things you can do to work through your dog’s separation anxiety.


Of course, you can still calmly say “hi” to your dog and give him love when you get home, but wait until he is calm and sitting before you do so.

3. Leaving Your Dog Alone In A Poorly Conditioned Environment


Another very important aspect of working through a dog’s separation anxiety is thinking about where you leave your dog when you are gone, and how you introduce that place to your dog.


Do you leave your dog in the crate every day when you are gone for 8 hours at a time?


For many people, the answer is probably yes (which is completely fine, by the way).


What really makes the difference is your answer to my next question:


Is this the only time that you leave your dog in the crate?


Or even more important: the other times that you place your dog in his crate, is it to let him relax, or to punish him?


If you were put in a small room every day for 8 hours at a time, what would you think about the room? Probably like a prison! However, imagine that you were forced to stay in this tiny room every time you made a mistake.. How much more would this make you dread that room?


Now, let’s say that you were put in that same room every day for 8 hours at a time; but instead of your other exposure to that room being for punishment, it was your place to eat delicious meals.


This is the power of operant conditioning, that is, how certain stimuli and specifically, positive reinforcement, can positively impact the emotional state of your dog when he is left alone for long periods of time.

separation anxiety

So what can I do?


By this point, you should grasp the point that how you associate certain spaces (such as their crate) with them while you’re present will greatly impact how they feel when you’re gone.


If the only time that your dog is in his crate is when you leave him in there for 8+ hours, or even worse, when you punish him as well, he is going to associate the crate with nothing but suffering and being abandoned for long periods of time.


You obviously want your dog to like being in the crate and not associate it with the negativity of being alone.


Therefore, if the crate is the big issue, you will need to go back to the basics of crate training, but for now, I will touch on the basics of associating the crate with positivity.


NOTE: If your dog is left in an enclosed space instead of the crate, use the same approach that I am describing, just substitute the enclosed space in for crate.


How do you associate the crate with positivity?


1.  Feed your dog his meals in the crate


Food equals positivity in a dog’s mind (and in ours too, let’s be honest), so associate the crate with meal time and this will help your dog enjoy his crate.


2. Give your dog chewing items in the crate


Antlers, bully sticks, and frozen kongs make great chewing items that dogs love!


Chewing items are a very positive way for dogs to exert their natural need to chew, so chewing items in the crate are an excellent way to keep your dog distracted, and his emotions at bay.


3. Give your dog treats when he is in the crate


Treats are an obvious positive! So be sure to reward your dog when he is in the crate with treats, treats, treats.


4. Give your dog these items of positivity EVERY time he is in the crate!


On top of these quick tips, it is very important that you make your dog understand that the crate does not always equal being alone for long periods.


To prevent this type of anxiety, allow your dog to have breaks inside the crate WHEN YOU ARE HOME in addition to the times that you are gone.


Have your dog spend some time in the crate while you are home so that he isn’t automatically associating the crate with being left alone. 


How in the world does putting my dog in the crate for short periods of time help his anxiety?


It makes your dog realize that just because he is going into his crate and you are leaving, does not mean that you will be gone for 8 hours every time.


For instance, if you start by putting him in the crate for very short periods, such as when you are just going to get the mail, it will slowly condition him to grow comfortable with spending time in the crate.


As he starts to get used to the crate and being left alone for short periods, you can slowly increase the amount of time he is in the crate—when you are running errands, shopping, etc.


Obviously you will still have to go to work and leave him for long periods as well.


However, the idea is that he won’t get himself worked up prior to you leaving and think that you will gone forever, every single time he has to go in the crate.


As one final reminder, separation anxiety is a tricky subject that isn’t nearly as easy to change as say jumping on people or even destructive chewing.


It’s a long process that some owners need to work on over the entire span of their dog’s life!


Don’t let that discourage you though, as I’ve equipped you with the best of the best, the knowledge and techniques that I use every day with my own clients.


If you ever feel lost along the way, I offer E-Training sessions via skype/facetime, where we can dig into the nitty gritty details of what you’re experiencing with your dog, and work on correcting these behaviors.


Or, if you have a couple quick questions, feel free to schedule a free 20 minute consultation directly in my schedule here, I’d love to help you out!


Either way, whether or not you need extra help, I know that I’ve given you a TON of tools today, so take the time to re-read this blog as needed, and take notes on some of the tactics that you want to apply with your own dog. Good luck!

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Is The 'Designer Dog' Trend Bad For Dogs?

designer dog

With the rising discussion surrounding “designer dogs” in the media, I believe it’s important that people thinking about purchasing this type of dog are educated about what a “designer dog” really is, how they are bred, and what the consequences are of this type of breeding.


As a strong rescue advocate, I’ll admit that I’m strongly biased when it comes to this topic; however, the scientific facts that support my position strongly outweigh any emotional attachment that I have to rescue advocation.


So first off, what is a “designer dog”?


To put it simply, it’s a cross between two purebred dogs of different breeds.


Often times, these dogs are given a breed name that combines the two parents’ breeds.


Take a goldendoodle, for example. A goldendoodle is a mix of a Golden Retriever and a Poodle—both purebred dogs with sought-after qualities.


People often purchase designer dogs when looking for certain qualities from each breed.


A goldendoodle sheds much less than a golden retriever, due to its poodle gene, but often has the family-friendly disposition of a golden retriever.


This recent trend is leading people to experiment with breeding in order to find the character makeup in a dog that best fits their personality and/or family needs.


Not even bringing the statistics of abandoned rescue dogs into the equation, but rather, a scientific analysis, it is very important to be cautious about where each “designer dog” comes from.


Unfortunately, puppy mills still exist today and that is where many of these designer dogs are bred.


What in the world is a puppy mill?


Puppy mills specialize in breeding dogs that they can put on the market and sell for the most profit. Therefore, with the rapidly rising popularity of “designer dogs,” puppy mills are jumping on the opportunity to financially capitalize on this trend.


The horrible fact about puppy mills is, as I stated earlier, their sole mission is to profit—most of these mills couldn’t care less about the dog after it leaves their confines.


While there’s certainly nothing wrong with capitalistic intentions when conducted ethically, many puppy mills treat dogs in inhumane ways and leave them subject to horrific living conditions in order to maintain a low overhead.


Many do not care about the dogs at all, other than being their next sale, and thus, do not care if they are breeding healthy dogs, as long as they get their paycheck from the next eager family.


As a result of this, many of these puppy mill puppies are not being bred reputably, so they end up having extreme health and behavioral issues.


However, let’s say that you actually find a reputable breeder who cares about and properly raises the “designer dogs” that they breed.


Even with incredible care and attention, there is certainly still a potential for issues.


How so?


Due to the simple reality that every single dog breed is at risk for and predisposed to unique health issues.


If you paid attention in high school science class, then you’ll know that when crossing two different breeds, there is no way that a breeder can control which genes they are crossing for each puppy.


Therefore, there is a small probability that you could get lucky and get all the desirable, healthy traits in a puppy, OR you could get double the health and behavioral issues, resulting from the so-called “bad” genes of both of the different breeds.


Let’s use the ever-so-popular Corgi/Golden Retriever mix as an example.


When a Corgi is bred with a Golden Retriever, you could get the desirable traits from both breeds.


However, you could also get the less than desirable traits from the breeds, such as the Golden Retrievers’ high risk of developing cancer and hip dysplasia, and the Corgis’ predisposition to intervertebral disc disease and epilepsy.


This causes two major issues for dog owners:


1. The young family taking home their new Corgi/Golden Retriever puppy has unknowingly purchased a dog that is much more susceptible to developing a serious disease or illness that could vastly shorten the dog’s life expectancy.


2. Every breed possesses certain behavioral genetics that every dog of that particular breed is predisposed to developing.


This combination of experimental breeding coupled with genetic dispositions often creates a recipe for disaster.

For example, Golden Retrievers are in the Sporting Group of dog breeds, and were bred for this specific purpose.

Pembroke welsh corgi puppy sitting in flowers

Corgis, meanwhile, are in the Herding Group of dog breeds, and were bred to perform this specific task as well.


Despite how well a Corgi/Golden Retriever may be raised and trained, he will have some degree of behavioral genes from both of the breeds he derived from.


This is where behavioral/mental problems can occur: is the dog supposed to be a sporting dog, or a herding dog?


This may cause the dog a lot of confusion and hinder their training abilities and can also lead to mental health issues or behavioral problems.


When it comes down to it, most designer dogs are not bred to enhance health and behavioral traits, but are instead bred to just be “cute” to look at (expensively cute, I should add).


While this may be nice when purchasing a new puppy that everyone wants to pet and provides a nice ego boost, in the long run, statistics and probability are going to catch up to you, and you’re going to experience a multitude of health and behavioral issues with your dog down the road.


The most critical problem with this fad of “designer hybrids” is the fact that people are blinded by the cuteness.


These are living, breathing, complex beings; not designer handbags. The issue of being blinded by the cuteness is an issue people have concerning all puppies in general.


Most people do not realize the amount of work it takes to raise a happy, healthy, well-behaved, and well-trained dog.


Many people purchase puppies on impulse or are sucked into getting a designer dog because of all the ones they’ve seen on their newsfeed. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with this..


However, what 99% of these people I just described don't realize is that it takes an extensive amount of research to determine which dog breed is right for you, an unlimited amount of time and energy to put into training and raising the dog, and strict budgeting to account for the multitude of costs that your dog will incur over his or her entire life.


I always advise people to put in a LOT of research before even thinking about bringing a puppy home.

So, what’s it going to be, are you going to purchase a “designer dog” so you have something else to snapchat in your life other than your most recent meal (sorry, not sorry)... AND in the process, play Russian roulette to get a happy and healthy dog with a fully-loaded revolver?


Or are you going to do your homework, analyze the pros and cons, and come to an educated decision that will not only benefit your future dog, but the future of all dogs?


The choice is yours.


What’s your opinion on the designer dog trend? Let me know in the comments below.

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How I Gain The Attention of ANY Dog In 5 Minutes Or Less

How I Gain The Attention of ANY Dog Within 5 Minutes

Whenever I am out with my dogs, there is always at least one person who comments “Wow your dogs listen to you so well,” or “How do you get your dogs to be so focused on you?”


Obviously, a compliment about my dogs is always nice.


However, what actually goes through my mind every time someone asks me a question like this is it shouldn’t be out of the ordinary for dogs to be attentive and obedient to their owner!


So many people say: “My dog is just way too hyper and distracted to listen to me like that.” Statements like this are SO incredibly false and simply an excuse for an owner who’s given up working with their dog.


Every single dog has the potential to be attentive and obedient to his or her owner—no matter the dog’s breed, age, OR background.


So the question remains, why are there so many dogs that are NOT attentive and obedient to their owners?


The answer is simple: most dog owners have not spent enough time working with their dogs on training them to be attentive and obedient.


It’s sad that this is the case, but this is one of the main reasons that I became a dog trainer!


One of my main goals as a dog trainer and behaviorist has been to educate owners across the world about how SIMPLE training a dog really is. Dog owners tend to overestimate the difficulty of training a dog; when in reality, training a dog is actually quite simple.


There is no magic trick to turning your dog into an attentive and obedient one. 


In fact, getting your dog’s attention on you is one of the simplest steps to raising a well-behaved dog.


Every single time I train a dog, no matter if I am training a puppy on basic obedience, or working through aggression with a 5 year old dog, teaching the dog to be attentive and obedient to me is the very first thing I start with.


How can you expect a dog to be well-behaved and well-trained if he or she has no desire to be attentive and obedient to you? You can’t!


So how do I get a dog's attention in 5 minutes or less? 

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The unbelievably simple key to gaining your dog’s attention is to REWARD your dog for focusing on or being attentive to you.


This makes your dog want to be attentive to you, not forced! Positive reinforcement is all about rewarding your dog for exhibiting behaviors you want him or her to repeat.


When your dog is focusing on you, give him or her a reward. Treats are typically the best reward for dogs.


Don’t be afraid to use treats, treats, and more treats when working on positive reinforcement training with your pup! When your dog is looking at you and focusing on you, he gets a reward.


This is how I gain the attention and focus of any dog within 5 minutes of meeting them.


I start by saying the dog’s name, and when he looks at me, I give him a treat. ANY time the dog is focused on me, I give him a treat.


Whenever I say the dog’s name and he looks at me, I give him a treat. Within 5 minutes (usually it only takes about 2) the dog is typically sitting in front of me, eyes locked on me.

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A few days ago, I had my first training session with two 7-month-old Husky puppies.


Prior to meeting these dogs, I gathered a lot of information about them from their owner. Their owner told me he was on the verge of giving these puppies away because they don’t listen, get into everything, and are the most difficult dogs he has ever met.


I went into this training session knowing that I would be able to help this owner, but thought that I would probably be getting two very naughty little trouble-makers that would even give me a challenge.


When I arrived, the pups were jumping up on me right away.


However, it only took about ONE MINUTE for one of the pups to begin sitting in front me with his full attention on me; and about 2 minutes for the other one to do the same.


I had the complete focus of both of these “difficult dogs who don’t listen” for the rest of the training session.


The owner was astounded and kept saying, “I have never seen them act so well-behaved. You must really have a way with getting dogs to listen to you.”


I told him that it is not magic, and I am giving him the tools to have this “way” with dogs TOO!


He asked me, “So what exactly are the tools you use to get a dog to listen to you?”


What did I tell him?


The same exact thing I’m telling you right now!


First of all, find a reward that your dog LOVES. If your dog doesn’t seem thrilled about the treats you are using, find different treats or a different reward that he GOES CRAZY FOR.


I usually bring about six different kinds of treats to every training session I go to, just in case the dog is picky. If your dog is obsessed with his ball, then use the ball as a reward. If it a certain toy, then use that.


Whatever the object of your dog’s desire may be, it is very important to find a reward that your dog loves loves loves, especially if your dog is easily distracted.


What should you do when trying to get the attention of a distracted dog?


The key to getting your dog’s focus when he is distracted is having a reward that is BETTER than the object of his distraction.


Although your dog is distracted by that other dog across the street, you need to teach him that what you have is better than that dog, and anything for that matter!


Since you have that reward he loves, your dog will associate focusing on you with that reward, and thus, will want to always focus on you when you say your dog’s name.


Once your dog is very attentive and obedient to you with that reward, you can gradually wean off the treats.


And then, you’ll have a dog that not only is attentive to your commands, but also want to come to you for your love and affection.


And that, my friend, is what dog ownership is all about.

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