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Basic Obedience Q&A

Basic Obedience Q&A

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I try and answer every question I receive on dog training. I may often come across as a little on the blunt side, (some may call it brash). That is because I consider myself an advocate for dogs and not dog handlers. I am an advocate for common sense dog training and not the latest fad that appears on the horizon. Good dog training is not rocket science. It's common sense.

  1. Our two 9 month old dogs bark when we let them out in the morning. The neighbors are threatening legal action. What can we do?

  2. Your training tapes seem to be aimed at large dogs. I have a very small dog. Would your methods work as well with smaller dogs and will I need to make adjustments for a small dog?

  3. I have a 10 month old Rot that always grabs the leash and acts threatening when I try to stop it. What should I do?

  4. Our 1 year old dog is obedience trained but we can’t keep him off the furniture. What can we do?

  5. Our dog chases children on bikes and is overly protective of myself and my husband. Is this is a concern?

  6. My 18 month old dog chases my horses and won’t stay on our 2. 5 acres of property - help!

  7. My dog takes food off the table and cupboard. Can you help?

  8. I have made almost every mistake possible when buying a pup. Now I need your help!

  9. My dog has recently taken a disliking to my husband. What can I do?

  10. Should I take my dog to obedience classes or should I train it myself?

  11. I love to play frisbee with my dog but it won’t bring it back to me. Should I do a forced retrieve?

  12. Laney has many annoying habits such as: constant licking or jumping on us. She can’t ever just sit or lay by us when we watch TV or talk.

  13. I have a serious problem with my dog coming when called.

  14. Our 11 month old shepherd will not do a “down stay” and he seems to be very dominant. What shall we do?

  15. I sent my 8 month old female German Shepherd to a professional for advanced training. She doesn’t have much drive for the retrieve, should I send her back?

  16. I have an 18 month old dog that refuses to sit or down. What can I do?

  17. What do I do if my dog howls when a family member leaves the house?

  18. Can a person train a dog in 3 weeks?

  19. My dog has great prey drive. He loses focus when I try to use a toy for a reward. Should I correct him?

  20. My German shepherd doesn’t obey my wife. What can we do?

  21. I am having a problem with the recall on my young dog.

  22. My dog chases cars and bikes and doesn’t come when called...?

  23. When my 4 month old GSD sees other dogs, his hair stands up, he barks low, and sways his tail back and forth. Is this normal?

  24. My 8 month old dog growls when you go near his food. How should I deal with this?

  25. My dog goes wild when I praise him. How can I calm him down?

  26. My 2 labs have started chasing “game” while on walks. What could we do to stop this?

  27. My dog loves a ball. He won’t perform a down stay when I throw a ball. Should I use an electric collar?

  28. My dog is obedience trained. His problem is that he knows when the leash or long line are on and will mind, but gets stubborn when the leash is off.

  29. My fiance is inconsistent with reinforcing obedience training. Do you have any suggestions?

  30. Our new dog is constantly sticking its head under the back yard fence and barking at the neighbor’s dog. Any ideas of what we can do?

  31. I have a problem with my dog doing a long down. It won’t stay when I move away from him. What should I do?


  32. My East German bloodline male continues to jump on me. He has knocked me down several times. What should I do?

  33. My 11 month old GSD has crazy prey drive. I am having trouble controlling his nipping when he plays in the backyard. What should I do?

  34. I am hearing impaired and have some serious concerns about my two dogs when they meet strangers and other dogs on our walks. Can you offer some advice?

  35. My dog cowers when I grab it by the collar. What can I do to fix this problem?

  36. My rescue dog is very timid. She sulks and drops to the floor after a soft correction. What should I do?

  37. I can’t seem to teach my 2-year old Rott to jump in my truck. Can you give me some ideas?

  38. I took my dog to a professional for help in focus work heeling. The instructor took the leash during one training session because she didn’t think I was correcting properly. The dog did not know her and growled after a correction. She then hung the dog with the help of a second helper. The dog now shakes and acts nervous whenever I get the training collar out. Did this person do the right thing?

  39. My redbone coonhound is being trained in S&R, but it will not come after the first two finds. What can I do?

  40. What is your opinion of these new Sonic Collars that use sound and not electricity to train a dog?

  41. Can you explain the different types of corrections used in dog training?

  42. My dog is doing well in obedience. 99% of the time when I issue a correction, the dog responds well. The other 1% of the time it goes crazy as I approach it to give a correction. What can I do to stop this?

  43. My dog lays down when I ask her to sit. What should I do?

  44. What is the best way to teach a puppy the “stay” command?

  45. I have been sending my 2 year old dog out for training since it was 6 months old. It still does not mind. What can I do?

  46. My 6 month GSD was sent to an outside trainer. Now it never minds. I train it an hour a day and it still has problems. What can I do?

  47. Do you train with e-collars?

  48. When our dog gets out of the yard we need to chase it around the block with our car until it tires out. Then it will jump in the car. How can we train the dog to stay in the yard?

  49. When we walk our 8 month old dog she pulls us down the street when we get near a house that she knows there is another dog at. Can a HALTIE solve our problem?

  50. Should my wife and I both obedience train our dog at the same time?

  51. What do you think of halti's?

  52. My 9 month old pup has been through basic obedience, she knows the recall but will not do it all them time. Should I enforce this exercise at this age so the dog comes EVERYTIME?

  53. I train for 10 to 20 minutes every day and I am having problems teaching my dog to walk next to my knee in a heel position. What can I do?
  54. I started training my 5 month old pup using food. I think that may have been the wrong thing to do. Am I right?

  55. When my lab sees birds he runs off and will not come back. I think prong collars are not humane. What can I do?

  56. I have a deaf dog and I have problems with her pulling me out of the card. I keep her on a leash but she is so wild. What can I do?

  57. I am working my 100 pound female in distractions. I only weigh 115 pounds. Should I use an electric collar?

  58. I have a 18 month old pomeranian who just bit me. I had recently used a choke collar in training. Do you think this aggression was caused from using the choke collar?

  59. My dog always wants to chase other dogs if it hears them. Will a shock collar work for him? Will it effect his "ID" chip. Do I use the "NO" command before I shock him?

  60. I have a White German Shepherd. People who raise these dogs all say that they need to be trained differently but no one will tell you how to do this. Can you tell me what they are talking about and how to do it?

  61. My dog does not want to do into his dog crate. I yanked him into it with a prong collar. When he growled I pulled him out and jumped on top of him to show him he was not the boss. Was this the right approach?

  62. Our new rescue dog digs under the back yard fence and runs away – after a few hours it comes back. What can we do?

  63. We have a terrible neighbor who poisons dogs with anti-freeze. What can we do?

  64. My Boston Terrier runs off when I take it off leash. He minds at home this just happens when we are out for a walk. What should I do?

  65. I was told that staring your dog in the eyes is a dominant move that should not be done. What do you think?

  66. We have a problem with our rescue dog biting and nipping visitors that come into our home. Yelling and hitting the dog is not working. It just ignores us. What can we do?

  67. I have a Yorkshire Terrier that is VERY hyper. What do you suggest to correct a small dog with?

  68. I have a pup who is almost always on a leash, but sometimes I let him walk off leash as I'm going to the car or garage. I had him outside with me today for a minute. I went to grab something out of the garage, next thing I knew I heard a lady yell out "hey!!!" She was walking a dog and mine went over to see it. What's going on?

  69. My dog is well trained. But it only minds about 70% of the time when its outside and off leash. It also does not do a good job in running off a couple of the stray dogs in the neighborhood. What can I do to make her tougher?

  70. We have taken our 5-month old dog to a very reputable dog trainer. The problem is he is getting scabs on his neck from the corrections. What can we do?

  71. My dog goes into the heel position rather than the front position when I call her to me. What can I do?

  72. My 2 year old Golden still bites. Is there anything we can do to stop it?

  73. My dog has gone through obedience class, but is starting to show animal aggression when we are on our walks What can I do?

  74. All of the trainers in my area are purely positive clicker trainers. This is resulting in a lot of problem dogs. I find it so frustrating, what can I do?

  75. I take my dog to obedience classes and our trainer tells us to use only Halties and not prong collars. I can't control my dog when we go for walks. What can I do?

  76. I will be moving soon and my "outside" dog will become an "inside" dog. My family says it's cruel to do this to the dog. What do you think?

  77. My 12 pound dog cannot wear a collar because of a trachea problem. How do I correct her without a collar?

  78. My dog will refuse to do a command and then evade me when I need to do a correction. Will a drag leash help?

  79. My puppy went away to training for 3 weeks, but the trainer says that I still need to work with him. My puppy also seems to be very frightened of everything. What do you suggest I do?

  80. Are all breeds trained in the same fashion? Should I get a prong collar, or just try a normal one?

  81. My 5 month Min. Schnauzer bit our obedience instructor when she touched his feet. Should I be concerned?

  82. My 2 dogs both act up when we go for walks, and bark at everything in sight. Should I get a prong collar or go right to an e- collar?

  83. Does the prong collar have to be used for the rest of the dog's life, or can he graduate to a flat collar?

  84. I have an 8 week old puppy but don't want to make the same mistakes by teaching him too much too soon. Which video is best for me?

  85. My neighbors are giving me a hard time about my dog barking. Personally I don't mind it. What can I do to stop the barking?

  86. My 8 month old GSD fell in the pool. Can they swim naturally or must they be taught?

  87. My 73 year old mother got a White Shepherd. She has problems with the dog jumping up and also nipping at her shoes while on walks. Would a shock collar help? If so which one?

  88. My 14 week old pup gets distracted when out in public and does not mind. When can I start correcting this behavior?

  89. I think I have over corrected my 10 month old Rott because she is scared of me. Can I fix this?

  90. I can't seem to get my dog to walk behind me or stay at my side during a walk. I say no and 99 times out of 100 he will come back to position but it seems I'm saying no every 5 seconds or so. Any advice on teaching him the proper position?

  91. I have a 1 1/2 year old working male Bouvier who is defiant about taking the platz/down command. He knows it, but is giving me the finger. Any ideas?

  92. I'm trying to train my dog, but our cats are becoming a huge distraction because they all love to play together. Any suggestions?

  93. I rescued a dog last year. He has lots of issues with not listening and also being alone in the crate. He was abused in his last home. How can I get this to work out?

  94. I think the first experience with an Ecollar has left my dog somewhat traumatized. How can I regain his confidence and improve commands?

  95. I feel that I have let things slide with the pack structure. My dog everything to me and I know I'm too soft! But now I have a large list of problems... Can you please help?

  96. My dog loves doing agility work, but suddenly he just doesn't want to do it. I noticed that he has been drooling a lot too. Any suggestions on what could be wrong?

  97. My Rott female is doing well in obedience, but has started to growl at 1 in 10 people that approach. Do you have any advice?

  98. How does the prong collar work? Also, my dog lunges at strangers, how can I stop this behavior?

  99. My pup is not motivated by any type of food or treat, which makes him hard to train. Any suggestions?

  100. I am thinking about a new training method for my dog who lacks an enjoyment of toys. What are your thoughts?

  101. I have trained large dogs for a long time and am about to train my first small. Will your methods in the Basic Obedience DVD work for this?

  102. My dog is gentle and does not show any aggression except towards large trucks and buses. She also does this with joggers passing us—not walkers.  She also wants to chase squirrels and rabbits. What should I do?

  103. I have a 9 month old GSD, 60lbs, and I am interested to know if I am pushing her too much in training.

  104. We can't import the great treats you have for training and only have poor quality treats here. What can we use as soft treats for training?

  105. When taking the dog for a walk does he always need to be in the heel position? I pull him close (heel) as cars are passing and if there are a lot of distractions around but do we need to stay in that position for the duration of the walk?

  106. Our dog is a 3 year old Malinois and extremely friendly to people on our walks, and gets very excited when he sees other dogs. How do you train a dog to ignore other animals and people?

  107. I have a 3 yr old neutered rottie who had medical problems as a 6 mo old, requiring crating and immobility to heal a broken shoulder. He became very wary of others outside the family. I would like to be able to have him accept strangers as simply neutral. What do you suggest?

  108. I have a just turned 2 year old GSD male, not perfectly trained by any means but I am working on it hard. I really want to get the pulling on leash under control. I use a prong. Can a dog build tolerance to these? What would be your recommended action to help resolve this? Should I work on my level of correction when he pulls and use a higher level?

  109. I have a now one year old Plot Hound. All I can say is that training her has required a lot of patience but with one exception is paying off.The difficulty stems from her wanting to be with people and dogs to the extent that she often loses her mind when approached. Is this part of a prey drive even though she just wants to play?

  110. I recently bought a one year old female working lines GSD. She is trained in German commands and I would like to switch her over to the English commands. How do I do that?

  111. Is it possible to leash train two dogs at the same time?

  112. What do you recommend for a year and a half medium - large size dog  (60 pounds) who is a very aggressive chewer?  Also, I would appreciate your advice on using the Dogtra collar for her obedience.

  113. When entering the house through the doorway, Should My wife let the dog in first? or the Dog to Follow?

  114. I have seen subtle signs of what I think is dominance around the house, but by all means not aggressive.  C an you please help me in determining which collar and correction method I should use when she's on leash?

  115. I have 2 dogs how can I walk them both together? 2 leads or a brace lead? Should one be on my right side and one on the left?

  116. Do you think my dog would be a good candidate for a narc dog or some kind of work dog? Are there people who are not police officers who have work dogs, but loan them out to people who have a need for work dogs? Is it to late for her or to soon for her to start training for narc dogs?

  117. How do I train my adult dog to leave home?  I can’t get him to leave the yard with me!

  118. How do I teach a stubborn sighthound to heel? I used markers and treats but have now removed those and am correcting her with the leash. She still pulls and is very distracted outside.

  119. My 10 month old GSD drags me when I try to walk her and she barks and sniffs the ground constantly.  I got her when she was 6 months old and her previous owner trained her in search & rescue when she was a little pup, how do I stop this ‘search & rescue’ behavior?

  120. Our dog is very obedient around the house and yard, but once you put a leash on her she forgets you exist. I’ve tried every type of correction there is and she just puts up with them.  Would Focused Heeling with Michael Ellis be something that would work for us, even though I have no plans for competition?

  121. Can you recommend a school for dog trainers?

  122. Can you elaborate what a level 1 to level 10 correction are?

  123. I recently purchased your DVD on Basic Obedience Training. My dog has been doing well with the marker/treats training. However, if we are somewhere and I don’t have treats, or if he is distracted, he pretty much just ignores me. Where do I go from here?

  124. I've never had two dogs at the same time before. Following your advice; they are getting along famously. At some point I will want to walk both dogs together and I have a question: When I start "formally" teaching the puppy, where should I teach her to heal? Also is it safe at any point to use a connector leash so that one leash controls both dogs?

  125. My dog barks at me and won’t leave me alone when I sit in a chair to put my shoes on.  I push him away and he just barks at me. How can I fix this?

  126. I’m confused on what type of correction to use for not coming when called.

  127. Is the dominant dog collar an appropriate tool for corrections while training heeling?

PRONG COLLAR WARNING:

When you use your Prong Collar, we strongly suggest you use a Leerburg Dominant Dog Collar as a safety backup.

Prong Collars can come apart when not not put on properly. If a leash is clipped to a Leerburg Dominant Dog Collar along with the Prong Collar, you will have control of the dogs in the rare occurrence that the Prong Collar fails.

To learn how to correctly fit a Prong Collar, go to http://www.leerburg.com/fit-prong.htm or purchase our Basic Dog Obedience DVD.

Dog Training is NEVER without risk of injury. Do NOT attempt these training techniques yourself without consulting a professional. Leerburg Enterprises, Inc. can not be responsible for accidents or injuries to humans and/or animals.


Question:

We have two GSD's (a male and a female) age 9 months. They were spayed & neutered at age 6 months. We have used your training videos and the dogs have performed remarkably. They were house-trained practically overnight after we used the information from one of your videos.

The new problem is our neighbors. They are old, cranky, and light sleepers. We have the dogs on a routine to accommodate our work schedule. We take them out between 6 and 7 am every morning to eliminate. Some mornings they bark at the paper boy or another animal they see. Our neighbors complain the barking is bothering them and waking them up and have threatened legal action. Would you recommend us trying to train the dogs to use a litter box for the 6-7AM potty break? Would this mess up their house training? We're working on eliminating the bark but, the neighbor said, "If they bark one more time..." well you can figure out the rest. Your comments would be appreciated.

Answer:

I have the same problem with my neighbors. They hate barking dogs. I solved the problem with the No-Bark collars. This took care of the problem in one day.

There are a lot of no bark collars on the market. I have tried them all. The Tri Tronics No Bark is by far the best. They work off lithium batteries which will power the collar for 5 or 6 months. Many people resist using a collar on their dogs (especially young dogs.) That’s a mistake, especially with the Tri Tronics collars.

The beauty of this system is the stimulation from the collar can be adjusted to the point where the shock does not hurt, it’s just slightly uncomfortable. This is great for young dogs. There is a video that comes with the collar that explains exactly how to determine what level of stimulation to use on your dog.

The important thing to remember with collars is that they are not meant to be worn 24 hours a day. They must be taken off for a few hours before being put back on. We put them on at 5 PM and they come off in the morning after 8 AM.

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Question:

We have a male Rott that is ten months old, he has one annoying habit. When on the leash he will periodically bite at the leash and we have tried everything to try to break this habit, he seems to do it to get something going and then he gets feisty and argumentative. If you try to use force, it gets worse. The Alpha roll does not seem to get it. He is better with my wife, he really tries to get something going with me. Looking for help, we would like to break him from this and we do not want it to grow into something more serious. Do you send videos to Canada?

Thanks ......concerned L.

Answer:

There are a couple things to talk about here:

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Question:

Our 1 year old dog is obedience trained but we cannot keep him off the furniture. What can we do?

Answer:

There are a couple of things that come to mind when I see and hear about this problem.

1. The dog is not really obedience trained.
2. The owners do not really understand how to give a proper correction.

What I recommend is the dog should always wear a short drag line while in the house. It should be as long as possible without causing problems with getting snagged on furniture. If the dog has somewhat of a hard temperament (one that recovers quickly from a firm correction) the owner should also consider a prong collar. If the dog is a softer dog (one that takes awhile to recover from a correction) then a normal choke collar will work.

When the dog climbs on the furniture, the handler should only use "ONE COMMAND" either No or pfui (pfui is the German word for NO).

Many dog owners forget this very important point. They come into the room and say "Spot get off the damn couch." or "Spot if I told you once I told you a hundred times, get down off the couch." The fact is that the only word the dog probably understood was his name. He may react to the harsh tone of the voice but this is not good dog training. We should not have to get mad or even sound mad when we train our dogs.

It's important to learn to give a firm command without sounding mad. This is not easy to do, it takes practice. Too often new dog owners teach their dogs that the only time they really have to mind is when they sound mad. They accomplish this by not moving to give a correction until they sound upset.

So, the proper way to handle the dog when it gets on the couch is to issue a firm "NO" and if the dog does not get down the owner should calmly walk over, pick up the drag line and give a firm "JERK." Here again we see a lot of mistakes. Many owners will drag the dog off the couch or chair and not give a proper correction.

The correction needs to be a "snap jerk," it’s more like "Popping" the dog. Many new owners correct the dog with something more like a pull on the leash rather than popping the choke collar with a firm quick pop. This kind of a correction should almost create a little shock in the dogs temperament. We want the dog to realize that he screwed up and just got popped for it.

The most important part of the entire process is to praise the dog when it gets down off the chair. Dogs will naturally seek an area area of least stress. If owners are consistent with this NO - calmly walk to the dog and give a JERK CORRECTION followed by praise or NO followed by praise when the dog gets down. The dog will quickly learn that getting on the furniture is not in its best interest.

If you have a very stubborn dog that will continue to climb on the furniture (after you have gone through the above process) and just get down when told then you need to change tactics. When the dog is found on furniture you must calmly walk over to the dog and give an automatic correction. This means that you don't act mad or upset, you simply walk up to the dog (without giving eye contact), reach down and give the dog a correction that he will dream about tonight. As you issue the correction you give the "NO" command. When it’s down you still must praise. Every dog will appreciate your consistency and praise.

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Question:

I was wondering if you are able to help with a few questions. My husband and I have had a German Shepherd for the past two years. His name is Sargent. We picked him out when he was six months old. He has gone to puppy training and adult training and passed very well. My husband was the one who took him, so he is much more well behaved for him then myself. He is very good and listens most of the time, except when it comes to children. When he sees them running and riding the bikes, he likes to chase them. Is there anything or anyway he will grow out of doing it? The second thing is that he is very, very protective of me and my husband sometimes, almost too much!!! Could that be worth worrying about? Do you have any suggestions or any information you can send me?

Thank you for your time,
Stephanie

Answer:

Realizing that you and your husband are probably very very attached to this dog, I offer my opinions as a word of warning. You sound like you have the beginning of a real problem here. Unless you recognize it for what it is and deal with it you may have an accident waiting to happen.

The dog chases the children on bikes because they stimulate his prey drive. He sees them going and he goes. The problem is going to come when he combines the protective aspect with the prey drive problem. It could easily result in a dog bite. If you have questions about the drives a dog uses in bite work I suggest that you refer to my article titled The Drives of Protection Training.

Correcting the dog for chasing kids on bikes goes right along with normal obedience training. The fact is that this dog needs to learn to come under distraction. This means that he needs to come every time you call him and even when he sees a kid on a bike. If he will not respond then his "come" training is lacking. You have not done your job properly and you need to back up your obedience training and he should be on a long line and preferably with a prong collar. If you have questions on obedience training you should refer to my tape titled Basic Dog Obedience.

The dog also needs to learn that chasing kids on bikes is the worst thing that can happen to him. This can either be done with very strong leash corrections (probably with a prong collar) or with a long line and an electric collar. If an electric collar is used it is critical (in my opinion) that the dog be attached to a long line in the initial stages of training. A situation could develop where the dog would think that the stimulation (shocking) from the collar actually came from the child and this could trigger aggression. So you have to have him under control so that if this happens he can not get to the child.

The bottom line is that most dogs will respond to strong leash corrections, or long line corrections if they are strong enough. Remember that one good correction is worth 1000 nagging mid-level corrections on a deal like this.

If the dog does not respond to obedience training and corrections you need to consider putting the dog down. No dog is worth taking a chance on a child being hurt.

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Question:

Could someone please guide me in the right direction to finding help with training an aggressive male German shepherd named "Storm?" He is 18 months old and a dear children’s pet but he has a terribly dangerous habit. We have two horses whom he loves to chase and nip at, (he will not respond to our calls when he is doing this and has recently been kicked twice). We are fearful he will be seriously hurt or killed if we cannot control this behavior. He is currently in a dog run but we would like to give him the freedom of running our 2 1/2 acre fenced property. Options we have considered are a shock collar. He is so strong I cannot hold him back if he is on a leash and he wants to get at these horses. Should I put a prong collar on him? Please send any helpful information my way. We would love to breed him as soon as his bloodlines and confirmation are exceptional. I would appreciate any information in this area. Also, (we are currently seeking a female mate for him).

Answer:

My last choice would be an electric shock collar, especially for people who are not familiar with dog training. It would be much wiser to get a prong collar and my video titled Basic Dog Obedience. I call prong collars power steering for dogs. In this tape we show how to fit the prong, how to determine what level of correction each dog needs and how to maintain off-leash control with the use of a long line. This is not a difficult thing to train.

The biggest problem is that you are expecting an untrained or partially trained dog to mind under a very high level of distraction. That’s an unfair expectation. You should take the dog through the training steps of correction training and distraction training and have the horses be the last step of distraction training, (this is all explained in detail in the tape).

As far as how to deal with your property boundaries, there is only one reliable way to do this and that’s with a fencing system. This is never a training issue. If you do not want to go to the expense of a normal fence then go to the innotek Fence System. This is similar to an "Invisible Fence" in design and quality except it costs 80% less than an invisible fence. The "Invisible Fence" patent was up in 1989. There have been a lot of clones that have come on the market. Most are garbage and not worth the money. This innotek Fence System is excellent quality and every bit as good as the Invisible Fence. I know because I sold Invisible Fences for six years in the early 1980's.

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Question:

My dog takes food off the table, cupboard and out of the garbage when we are not in the room. Can you help?

Answer:

This is a simple problem. You simply place mouse traps under a piece of paper near the food that you leave as bait. Usually the dog will set the trap and never get snapped. Some dogs are especially pain resistant and care free. If they are large enough you can go up to a rat trap. That is seldom needed. Before I do that I usually take the paper away and leave the trap sitting out.

These traps are also very effective in keeping dogs off of furniture or even out of certain rooms where you don't want them to go. You start with the paper down and land mines under it (the mouse traps). Then gradually take the paper away. This system works almost all the time.

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Question:

I have made almost every mistake possible buying a new puppy. Here is my story.

I can hardly believe it's 3 a.m. and I've been reading all you have to say! Such a wealth of information! I can see many places that I have gone wrong.

First, I didn't buy a Leerburg pup. I can clearly see that was the first mistake! In fact, I got Gatsby (sort of black & cream American) from a fairly respectable breeder... to our dismay we found that she had a heart defect (valve didn't close after birth) and she was the only one in several litters with this problem. We got our money back, but I couldn't trade in a pup that stole my heart in the first week we had her! In the seven short months she lived, I found her to be the most wonderful dog I have ever owned.

She bonded to me immediately & would never leave my heel. I could let her out & know that she would never leave the yard regardless--she couldn't stand to be away from me for too long, I guess! She would come when called & sit well. I decided against any other training considering her short life expectancy...but she was so well-mannered that it really didn't seem necessary. I held her when they put her down & I swear a part of me died, too! I was depressed for weeks. Then the problem came--his name is Meeko.

I just had to have another GSD to fill that void!! We, completely by chance (we weren't really looking at that point, but knew that we'd like to get another one) found Meeko--he is one of the White GSD misfits that no one likes to talk about (more info on this??). I thought he was gorgeous despite the fact that they are "inferior." We got him at 4 mos. of age--he had not been housebroken! The people had several little girls that would drag him around on the long line -- thankfully he is excellent around our sons; (They are twins, both 14 mo. old now), but often balks at the concept of a leash (not surprisingly).

Problem is he is a runner. He will take off at the drop of a hat, driving me totally crazy. I try to approach him slowly & get him back in the house (as our neighborhood streets can get some fast traffic) as soon as I can, but often he will just bolt as soon as I get close! I am infuriated! He refuses to pay a bit of attention to me (and only somewhat to my husband)--I have always been in charge of the "training" or "handling" of any breathing creature in our house.

Meeko has recently obtained a prong collar, but I want to make sure that I use it properly (a level 10 seems harsh to me at first, but I'm totally willing to try it if you think it's appropriate). Also he still has "accidents" in the house if we leave him for more than an hour. I can't keep him from going spastic every time we have company (I've had to pay for clothing & dry cleaning bills from his jumping up habits) & I find myself getting angry. He has a thing for the garbage (including diapers, which is really disgusting let me tell you!) I know I shouldn't get mad and I keep telling myself that he's a normal pup, and will never be another Gatsby.

So do I need to lay down the law with him, or what? What steps can I take to undo some of the nasty habits that are already there!? I'm going absolutely insane here! I have checked out the pix of the gorgeous Leerburg pups and wish I could go back & do things differently! But Meeko is a part of our family & we want so badly to see him do well & learn how to behave better. I really don't think he's stupid--I can see the cogs & wheels just behind those beautiful black eyes ...I just need a little confidence!?!! Yikes!

Thanks so much,
A.J.

Answer:

The mistakes that you made are no different than those made by other people every day. Unless you are in the dog business you can not be expected to know how to go about acquiring a new pet for your family. Frankly, I think the cost of my puppies is a little prohibitive for people looking for pets.

Your new dog definitely needs work. You need to start with a dog crate in your home. I like the wire cages vs. the plastic crates. The wire cages give the dog more room to see things around him and they seem to relax better in them. Kennel-aire in Minneapolis makes a good one.

Once the dog is crate trained (it takes about a week) he should be put in the crate every single time you leave the house and every time you have company. This will eliminate the peeing when you are gone, the jumping on people when you are there.

Once the pup has had some basic dog obedience he will calm down. Then he can be around strangers. But until he will mind and go lay down when you tell him to, he should be crated.

The garbage problem is another matter. I would start by putting mouse traps on top of your garbage. If he ignores them and is willing to get snapped, then escalate to a rat trap. This is going to keep most dogs out of the garbage.

There may be a problem with the dog’s diet that causes him to eat your kids poop. Make sure you are feeding an all-natural diet. I would also give him a good human vitamin every day. Dog vitamins are pretty poor.

The running can be cured with a drag line and a prong collar. Keep the line by the door. Every time the dog goes outside he gets a 20 foot line attached to him. They never know where the end of that line is. So you always want to be within reach of the line when you call. If he does not come he should be corrected (this is assuming that you have done your motivational training and he knows what the word "come" means).

I strongly recommend that you get my training video titled Basic Dog Obedience. You need this tape badly. It will solve all the problems you refer to and a lot more. A major part of your problem is related to the fact that you have a poorly bred dog. His genetic make-up limits what he is capable of learning and how well he learns.

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Question:

My 6 month old Australian Shepherd is an extremely smart, responsive dog but has no use for my husband. I walk him everyday and I used to feed him. Since we noticed this problem my husband has begun to do all the feeding, and though the dog is nicer to him he won't leave the house with him or play with him. Thanks for any help you can give us.

Kathleen

Answer:

Maybe your dog is trying to tell you something about your choice of partners. Just kidding.

Have your husband turn into a hot dog machine. Go out and buy these cheap hot dogs and cut them into small pieces. Your husband should give the dog treats every time he can think of it. When you go for walks, let your husband call him and give him a piece of hot dog when he comes. Have your husband brush and groom him. This also helps.

In addition, your dog should never sleep in your bedroom. Sometimes a dog will get attached to the female in the family and be allowed to sleep in the bedroom. When the husband sleeps with the wife, this triggers a dominant response from the dog. Make the dog sleep in a dog crate in another room. If these things don't work - either get a new dog or a new husband.

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Question:

Should I take my dog to obedience classes or should I train it myself?

Answer:

You should NEVER take a totally untrained dog to obedience classes. You will never find an effective professional trainer taking his totally untrained dog into a room full of other dogs to start his training. I have written a complete detailed training article on this subject and placed it in the description portion of my video Basic Dog Obedience. If you are serious about doing a good job training your dog you need to read this information.

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Question:

I want to train my lab to retrieve frisbees, tennis balls, etc. She loves retrieving, but also likes playing games of not giving it up to me when she returns. Would the forced retrieve video that you well be a good idea, or is it really intended for competition dogs?

Bob

Answer:

One of the things new trainers need to do is step back from a problem and analyze what is actually going on. Sometimes they confuse "what they want to have happen" with "what is actually happening." I think this is the case here. What you want to have happen is for the dog to retrieve the Frisbee and bring it back (with emphasis on bringing it back). Your thinking is that it is a forced retrieve situation. When in fact the dog is going out to get the Frisbee to retrieve it just fine. She is just not coming when you call.

Initially let her keep the Frisbee when she comes to you. She obviously likes it or she would not play. When you do take it away maybe you give her a treat or when she comes back you can have a second Frisbee and show it to her. Make her spit the first one out on the ground before throwing the second one. This works great with tennis balls also. I talk about it in my videos and call it the "2 ball game."

It does not take a dog long to learn that if they charge out to get the ball and run back they will be able to chase the second ball.

Once the dog learns this game you can add obedience to it by making it down after it spits the first ball out but before you toss the second ball. This is all called "training thru drive" and is always a better idea than using force as a first option.

If a dog will not play the 2 ball game (and very few will not) then you can look at a different approach.

You can look at this problem as a recall problem. It seems the distraction of the game is so strong the dog does not want to quit playing and come because she knows she is going to lose her toy - and that is no fun at all.

So you need to work on the recall under distraction. Go back to long line work (away from the Frisbee work see my Basic Dog Obedience video.) Take the dog to areas where there are other dogs and make her come every time. The emphasis needs to be placed on praise for the dog when she comes.

When the dog will do recalls under extreme distraction you can then go back to the Frisbee work. If she doesn't come, put a long line on and guide her back to you. If she drops the Frisbee and loses interest in it then you have another problem. But if you make a big enough deal about having her come back to you with the Frisbee this may help.

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Question:

We live in a small town and I can't find anyone to train us, mostly my husband and I. Laney (1 year old part chow part Shepherd) has many annoying habits: constant licking or jumping up on us. She can never just sit or lay by us while we watch TV or talk. She also play bites my husband, but never me because I have been firmer in the past with her. Last, she is too smart for us, we can never get her to come or leave the room, go to bed, go outside... When we try she always lays down, rolls on her back and puts her paws in the air. If you try to grab her or get her by the collar she will raise her gums and try and bite you. Please help!

Answer:

Your dog needs obedience training. That’s the place to start. At one year of age she needs to learn manners. She is old enough to begin to go through serious training. You need to get my tape Basic Dog Obedience. This dog is crying for attention and dog training provides this attention. It also teaches the dog manners.

The bigger concern is that you have allowed her to roll on her back and show her teeth to you. By allowing this to happen, you have trained the dog to do this. She has learned that it produces results. When a dog shows its teeth as a young dog (under 1 year) it needs to get corrected and a very good correction, at that. The dog is not mature enough to really turn on (no matter how inexperienced the handler is) and come back on the handler. If you do not feel comfortable about sticking your hand down to grab the dog, put a short leash on her and make her wear it all the time. You can always reach down and grab the end of an 18 inch leash. If she snarls, she needs a level 10 correction. She needs to learn that every time she shows her teeth she is going to go through HELL.

If you as the handler refuse to do this, you are creating a very dangerous situation. As this dog matures, it will gain more and more confidence in its ability to defend itself (when it is under 1 year it does not have that self confidence yet). The dog is learning that if it does not like something it can snarl at a human (even a human it knows) and get its way. One day it will be around a child and the child will do something it does not like. The snarl may not work because the child does not recognize it as a warning signal. Then the dog bites and everyone is a loser.

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Question:

I am hoping you can help me with a problem I am having with my female German Shepherd "Gracie." Gracie is now 14 month old, she knows the basic obedience commands, but refuses to obey on recall. The minute she hears the door she will try to bolt through the door and refuses to come back until she is ready. We will live in a rural community in Fairbanks, Alaska and so far this has not caused a problem, but it is extremely frustrating as well as posing a potential future problem. She does chase people and horses. I am quite concerned but do not know how to break her habit. I did go ahead and ordered a training collar in hopes this will break her, but I am not sure if this is the right thing to do. Any suggestions?

Answer:

There are a number of things that need to be considered to correct this problem. The electric shock collar is the last on the list and probably not needed.

Every single obedience command follows 3 simple steps. First we teach the dog the meaning of the command. Second, we teach the dog that once he knows a command and then refuses to do what's asked he gets corrected for it. Third, we teach the dog that he must perform the command under distraction or he is corrected.

A dog can never be corrected for not "coming" if it does not know the meaning of the word "come." So the first thing that needs to be determined is if she knows the word. I assume she does because you said that she has gone through basic obedience. So this dog needs to learn that it will be corrected for not coming.

This should not be done in the back yard. There are too many distractions for this dog out there. I would begin by putting a prong collar and a normal leash on the dog in the house. I would put here in a "Down Stay" in the living room and then have someone open the door like they were going outside. At that moment I would call her to me. If she goes to the door rather than to you (your assistant does not allow her to go outside), you calmly (without screaming or raising your voice) walk over pick up the leash and give her a level 10 (on a scale of 1 to 10) correction for not "coming." In these circumstances I correct several times as I back up to the point where I was when I called her. All the while saying "Come !!!- You Come!!!"

The key is to sound firm and not mad. There is a big big difference here and novice trainers a have a problem not sounding mad.

When you get back to the point where you were when you called her, you stop (she should be considerably upset if the corrections were firm or hard enough). Wait a second or two and then praise her and show her that you do not hold a grudge.

This training continues until the dog minds under every distraction in the house. We want her to mind when the back door is wide open and she needs to run by it to get to you. When you get to that stage of training it is best to put a 30 foot line on her and not a leash. If the dog bolts outside it is always easier to catch her again if she is dragging a 30 foot line. They never know where the end of the line is. But again, when you catch her, the corrections are severe. I have one simple way to look at corrections: "ONE GOOD CORRECTION IS WORTH 100 NAGGING CORRECTIONS."

A point not to forget is that the correction is actually a series of corrections all the way back to the point where you originally were when you first called the dog. Also this process can take days to accomplish. Do not try and rush through this in one or two training sessions. Then when you get to the point where you are outside, you always have her drag the 30 foot line. When she is 100% with the line on, you can shorten it to 10 feet, then 3 feet, then a foot long line attached to the collar.

Very few dogs do not respond to this training. If you want to get then entire program I recommend you buy my video titled Basic Dog Obedience. This tape covers this program and a lot more. It is a no nonsense approach to dog training.

The following are a list of the biggest mistakes novice trainers make, don't let yourself fall into one of these traps:

  • They don't praise enough when a dog does the command properly. You really need to exaggerate the praise when you dog train (men have more of a problem with this than women - it’s an ego thing I think).

  • They start the correction phase to soon. In other words, they start to correct the dog before it understands what the command means. That's simply unfair to the dog. You need to be 100% sure the dog understands what you are asking him to before you correct him for not doing it.

  • Novice trainers try and teach new commands in places where the distractions are too high. A perfect example of this is in an obedience class. You don't try and teach a new command in a obedience class with 20 other dogs near by. That's crazy, you will never see a professional trainer take his own personal dog into and obedience class and try and teach it a command. This is why I am not a proponent of these 8 week or 10 week obedience classes. Teach your dog at home in your kitchen or back yard. Then when the dog is through the learning and correction phases take him to class and use the class to teach your dog to mind under the extreme distraction of 20 other dogs.

  • Novice trainers forget to praise after a correct. When you correct your dog you are adding stress to the dog. When you praise your dog you are letting some of that added stress out of the dog. It’s always necessary to show the dog that you are not mad at him after a correction, by praising a little and saying "OK, you screwed up but I still love you."

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Question:

My husband and I bought a German Shepherd pup at 4 1/2 months of age from a professional breeder with several past champions. We wanted to make sure we were purchasing a dog with a good pedigree and excellent temperament. The dog is now 11 months old and we are extremely disappointed and ready to give it back to the breeder. We don't know if it is our problem in training or the dog is the problem.

The dog will obey my husband most of the time and will listen when he tells him to sit/stay or down/stay, I have a difficult time getting him to obey me. He will listen most of the time to sit but he will not stay for long and getting him in the down position is one of the most frustrating things I have to deal with. He fights me all the way and it takes several times before he will listen and I'm on the verge of tears and frustrated. Sometimes it gets to the point where if he won't listen I will just put him outside so I won't have to deal with him. He jumps up on everyone in the family and I have a 4 1/2 year old daughter and 7 month old son, so I am very concerned about that. He has made her cry several times and is constantly grabbing her clothes or biting her to play with her. We are there at all times and supervise but we are constantly saying NO MAX! and I will grab him by the neck and shake him and look him in the eye. I can control him if it's just me or my husband in the room most of the time but all it takes is for my daughter to walk in and he's jumping all over running around the room and getting all excited and grabbing anything he can get like my children's toys or clothes. I have gotten him chew toys so he would have something of his own that he knows is only his to chew on but it doesn't seem to sink in no matter how much we tell him NO!

We have taken him to Dog Obedience School in a group which I realize you don't recommend. He knows how to heel, sit, stay, down. The problem is he won't listen to me all the time and I want him to be an obedient dog at all times around people and it's not turning out that way. He seems very bull headed and extremely dominant. Nothing we've tried seems to help and we're ready to get rid of him if he doesn't get any better. That is the last resort. We don't want to give up on him. We know that GSD's mature between 18 months and 2 years so we don't know if it's just puppy behavior and he will eventually calm down or he just wants to be the alpha dog in the house. He is outside during the day and has the run of the back yard and I bring him in at night. We want him to be a part of the family and a watch dog for us. But it is hard to bond with a dog that your always yelling at and won't respond to your commands unless he wants to or is put on a short leash and is forced in the down position and made to stay. What should we do with him and what are we doing wrong? Please help!

Answer:

It is always difficult to try and solve complicated problems without seeing the dog in action. This situation sounds like there are several factors affecting the solution.

People that lack experience tend to think they are getting a good dog when it comes from Champion bloodlines. The mention of "Champion Bloodlines' indicated an American bloodline vs. a German bloodline dog. In effect the working ability has been bred out of these dogs. The only thing they are bred to do is to run in a circle and look pretty. There is no consideration given to temperament or working ability in American bloodlines. The AKC (American Kennel Club) and the GSDA (German Shepherd Dog Club of America) have destroyed the working ability and temperament of the American bred Shepherd.

So, this is where the problem began. What you thought you were buying and what you bought are two different things. It could be worse, you could have bought an American German Shepherd with the intention of wanting some form of a personal protection dog. I compare that to buying a local farm horse with the intention of running him in the Kentucky Derby. The odds of getting protection work out of an American bloodline dog are about the same.

The dominance issue is something else. There is a difference between dominance and being stubborn. If the dog shows possessiveness towards his food bowl or toys or dog crate by growling. Then these are early warning signs of Dominica. In this case I recommend that you neuter the dog if you plan on keeping him. Keep in mind that if there is a possibility of you not keeping him, it is often times more difficult to sell a neutered dog.

Dogs will show dominance over children or other dogs by playing with them and then when the dog or child is down on the ground, the dominant dog will stand over the top of the other dog or child and stare down at them. I call this bracing. It’s their way of establishing dominance. The first time you see him standing over (bracing) one of your children when the child is laying on the floor you need to recognize this as a sign of this dog trying to establish pack order with that child. It's time to either get very serious about showing that dog where he stands in the pack or get rid of the dog. Don't gamble with your child's safety.

At 10 or 11 months a dog is basically a puppy. He does not have any fight drive to back up a good swift kick in the butt. In other words if you correct him and he would growl at you, you correct him twice as hard. At 11 months he is not mature enough to challenge you for pack authority. Now, this may not be the case 6 or 12 months from now. A two year old dog is mature enough to say, "You are going to treat me like this, I am going to show you who's boss and then we will see who is going to tell who what to do around here!" At that point, the only thing left to do is to get rid of the dog to either an experienced handler or put that dog to sleep.

This dog is an adolescent. He is immature and in reality untrained. This is part of the reason for the way he is acting. It sounds like he does not get enough attention. I say that because of the comments on how he acts when the kids come into the room. I would recommend getting a good metal dog crate and keep it near the living area where you spend the most time. Keep the dog in this crate. This accomplishes a couple of things: it gives the dog the feeling of being part of the family unit but also does not allow him to be crazy. Later, when he proves himself, he can be allowed to be loose as long as he is not too wild. If he gets wild - then back in the crate. The odds are you will only need to use the crate until he is about 24 months old.

The last problem seems to be a handler problem. The dog does not respect you. Until you are prepared to teach this dog that he has to mind and if he does not mind you are fully capable of giving a meaningful correction, he will never respect your commands. I recommend the tape we have titled Basic Dog Obedience. Some people are not prepared to get a prong collar and give a dog the kind of correction that is necessary. Other people have problems with consistency. They can give a good correction but are not constant. They are willing to correct the dog one time but don't do it another time. This only creates problems like you have.

If your dog wore a prong collar with a short leash (18 inches long) all the time and he knew that every time he disobeyed a command he would get a level 10 correction, he would quickly develop a new respect for the spoken word.

Lastly, dogs are not robots. You need to allow some free time. This does not mean that he is allowed to be crazy in the house but if he is calm he should be allowed to be free. Maybe one or two walks a day would help settle him down. Walk him on a prong collar and a Flexi lead. Take him out in the back yard and throw the ball for 5 minutes in the snow. Let him burn off some of this pent-up energy.

I have written an article called Will My Family Be Safe with My Protection Trained Dog?If you are interested in more information on dominance in dogs, read this article.

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Question:

I sent my 8 month old female German Shepherd to a professional for advanced training. She doesn’t have much drive for the retrieve, should I send her back?

Answer:

No, 8 month old dogs should not go through any kind of formal training, especially force exercises like the retrieve. This only kills the dog’s drives. A person should not call themselves a pro if they are accepting this type of work. I would think they are better described as a prostitute. There is little wonder that an 8 month old female would have little drive after going through forced retrieve work.

When I first started in Schutzhund you could not put a title on the dog until it was 13 months old. That has since been changed to 18 months because of the damage it did to was started too early when training young dogs.

The way I see it is that anyone that accepts a job doing force retrieve on an 8 month old dog is more concerned with his wallet than his client’s dog.

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Question:

I have an 18 mo. old airedale that does excellent obedience work, except when she is on a field where lots of other dogs have been allowed to run around or walk on - including an obedience ring.

She'll refuse to sit or down, side steps over patches of grass, and usually backs up when she does sit at a halt from the heel.

Have you encountered anything like this before? I've been at "dog-run" parks and tried to force the sit and down, etc. At that point she usually shuts down and of course the sessions are no longer any fun for either of us. I have to end the sessions myself before I take my anger out on her.

Answer:

The fact is that your dog is only partially trained. I guess you already know this. The dog needs to get over the hump that exists in learning that they MUST DO what they are told to do. Once they understand this concept things will move ahead. Until then there are no magic tricks that you can do to make her sit and down when she does not want to.

I am not one of these mean trainers - but I expect my dogs to mind all the time or they get a correction.

You identify the biggest problem that ALL her trainers have "ANGER" - there is no place for this in training. If you can replace ANGER with "BEING CALM" and you have taken the first step to becoming a dog trainer. I talk about this in my training tape titled Basic Dog Obedience and Training a Competition Heeling Dog. I would recommend these tapes to you.

So what this dog must learn is that it is going to receive a correction every time it does not sit down. This stage comes directly after we know 100% in our mind that the dog knows and understands these commands and is refusing to do them. The correction must be followed by exaggerated praise from you. The dog must feel that you corrected it for doing something wrong , but you have immediately forgiven it and still love it for doing what you asked it to do. That’s the concept.

Some people can never learn this, some people take years to learn this and some people are naturals. Where you fall in the loop is something that you will have to figure out. The fact that you have identified your temper is a first step.

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Question:

I have what I believe to be a dominant dog in some respects. I have show dogs (Belgian Shepherds), one of my Groenendaels can be a hand full, most of the time he knows that I am boss and will behave but the thing that is the problem is when any one in the family goes out of the house he barks cries and screams even though there is still someone in the house. Also, this then sets the other dogs off barking and some time it progresses then to a howl. I have tried a number of different things to cure this (playing to distract him, sits to wait for food, putting him in a different room) all of these to no avail. Could you suggest any thing as before long we will get neighbor complaints.

Thank you,
Sandie

Answer:

This is not a dominance issue. From the information that you provide in the email its more of a spoiled or hyper dog issue.

I recently took back a 15 month old male from my breeding program. He was more dog than the handler could deal with. This dog has so much drive that the local schutzhund people screwed him up. They tried to work him the way that they work all of their dogs in drive development. The problem was that this dog started out in drive at the peak level that they end up getting their dogs to after 2 years of work.

This resulted in this dog almost becoming hectic. When he goes into a dog crate in my truck he screams like your dog does when someone leaves. He gets himself so wound up that he throws a fit barking, biting the crate and trying to dig to China. He does not do this when he is in the crate in the house or anywhere else.

I took the approach that this was unacceptable behavior. No amount of pampering or socializing around the truck was going to change it. So I simply put a Tri Tronics Collar on the dog and when he threw a fit he got level 5 stimulation (without verbal commands - strictly avoidance training). When he barks he gets random stimulation - initially if he was stimulated every time he barked he would get constant stimulation and this does not work. Only through time has he learned that if he gets in the crate and is quiet he is fine.

It sounds like this is what needs to be done with your dog.

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Question:

My name is Mohamed. I am from South Africa and love anything to do about animals. I may come across as a child but my excitement is to blame for that.

My question is: Can a person train a dog in 3 weeks?

I have seen several advertisements on the internet and was actually considering sending my 11 month old doberman for such training. The person I was considering was recommended by my training school. His name is Robert Lee and he further guarantees that the dog will maintain its training for life provided you continue with certain prescribed exercises.

The training he is supposed to do is Obedience and Protection.

I am a bit skeptical considering that I will be paying a months salary.

I was given names and contacts of others who have made use of his services and they all seem very pleased. What I really want is an expert opinion that says, “YES, IT CAN BE DONE,” or “YES, IT IS REALISTIC.”

He has approximately 20 years experience in training.

Answer:

The answer to your question is yes to obedience and no to protection.

Professional trainers can put basic obedience on a dog in three weeks - usually people like yourself lack the skill to maintain that level of training and the dog regresses after you get it back.

You can read what I have to say about obedience training here.

As far as training any dog in three weeks to be protection trained - that’s bull. This guy is out in left field and a con artist who knows very little about protection training. Maybe he is just hungry and needs your money.

Training a good protection dog requires months. Training a dog to become sharp and a little dangerous to be around is another thing. This can be done by working a dog in defense from the very beginning. This makes the dog dangerous to be around - or it makes them neurotic.

If you want to learn how to protection train a dog get my training videos titled The First Steps of Bite Training and The First Steps of Defense. The information in these tapes takes months of work.

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Question:

I have a male GS 15 months. His temperament is excellent. He is a very happy and a confident dog. Now that I have him it has become even more apparent that the female did not have good nerves. Anyway, I have started doing bite work with the male. That is going great. He has a full, strong grip. He really enjoys the work.

I have been trying to do something with him every night (socialization, obedience, playing) he has so much energy! Now that the holiday are here my trainer is taking 2 weeks off. We are going to start formal obedience training after the holidays. My question is this: his ball drive is so intense I am having trouble using it when teaching him hell. Is it OK to pop him if he tries to take the ball from my hand or will that discourage his ball drive? He also does it with the jute. It's like he gets so excited, he just wants the toy and can't focus. Should I just stop using the toy for now?

Do you have any other suggestions I can do to keep him busy? How often should I be doing obedience work with him?

Andrea

Answer:

You need to understand that some dogs have so much prey drive that a ball or toy can not be used for obedience work, because it’s such a distraction. It sounds like this is what you have. If you try and continue to use toys you will just promote problems - the solution for these dogs is usually to go to food for obedience work.

Take a look at my tape titled Training a Competition Heeling Dog.

I will also warn you that dogs like this are very easy to get locked up in prey drive in bite work. You need to be very careful of this. Make sure that you understand the foundation of defense: The First Steps of Defense.

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Question:

I really enjoy your web page. I believe I've read most of your training articles but don't know how to get my 6 1/2 month old male GSD to obey my wife. We've trained him in basic obedience (no, heel, sit, down, stay, come). My dog ignores my wife's commands when he becomes even slightly excited because he wants to play or he sees a strange person or another dog.

He obeys me on the first command as long as I use a deep, stern voice. I've found that he is much slower to obey if I don't.

My dog often gets bored and uses a very high pitched bark to get us to play with him. With my wife, he will escalate to the point where he runs in, nips at her pants or shirt, and then runs away to get her to chase him. My wife has corrected him as you describe for over a month, but he still doesn't seem to take her seriously. I think he sees her as more of a playmate than a master.

He will also completely ignore my wife if he sees a strange person or a dog. He will bark at strangers and will run to play with other dogs. We usually play and exercise with him about 30 to 60 minutes a day. My wife uses the sternest voice she can muscle when he ignores her but it doesn't work.

Answer:

I suggest you read what I have written about obedience training here.

You may think you have trained your dog but it is obvious that you have only half trained him. You need to learn how to administer a proper correction. Raising your voice should not be part of the equation. This only creates the situation you currently have, which is he only listens to you when you raise your voice.

The dog needs to go through a correction phase and a distraction phases, but this needs to be balanced with praise. The tape will show you how to do this.

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Question:

I have a question on the use of compulsion with my dog. He is now 7 months old, and I am working with him on his come. I wanted to start him in herding just for fun until he turns of age to compete in his SchH trials. The herding person wants his come to be solid as I would like also. He understands the command and will obey in the house and outside too. He can get distracted when playing with other dogs, as he is still a puppy, but when it is me and him on our walks he listens. I wanted to know if it was too early to use a prong collar on him with his long line when he gets stubborn and just gives me the finger, so to speak. I hope this message makes sense as to what I am asking. Thanks again for all your help.

Dan

Answer:

If you know that the dog understands the command it’s appropriate to use compulsion, even with a prong collar if that’s what it takes to get his attention. The recall is a command that needs to be 100% because failure to comply could result in a dead dog.

What I do is have one command for a dog to come to me when we are outside, and a different command for him to come during an obedience recall exercise. This recall needs to be a dog coming in fast with a sit-front and a good finish.

Keep the 2 commands separate. It helps in the competition. The dogs quickly learn the difference.

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Question:

I have an 11 month old female shepherd named Tasha. I have never owned a dog before and I've been very surprised at how much work she has been the entire time. At this point Tasha is not very trained and is in her adolescent stage. I've gotten very frustrated with her and I'm looking for your advise because I'm at my wits end now.

First let me start by saying that I've not taken as much time with her as I'd imagine I should have. I am a mother of two girls and have only so much time to spend working the dog. Her behavior is as follows: She sits, stays and lays down briefly for treats or a toy. Beyond that she never comes when you call her, if she gets out of the yard she chases cars and bikes and whatever else is moving quickly, she barks aggressively at strangers and all other animals. She is defiant when I tell her to go outside, she runs around the furniture until I pick up a big pillow and swing it at her. She is constantly pestering us to play fetch (day or night) and never stops. Get the picture?

At this point I've tried dog training class but that is too expensive to continue on my budget. I've tried a Haltie because my hands were hurting from trying to walk her on the standard choke chain (she is always pulling and needs to be jerked). The last few times she bit the leash and growled at me and would not stop jumping and biting at it. She is very wild when she gets out in public. In addition, she never comes when I need/demand her to! Nothing has worked so far...

I am looking for your advise because sometimes think I have a stupid dog. Everyone else's animal seems to not have the same problems as mine. We sometimes laugh and call her the "happy" dog. Life is too good for her. She is wonderful with me, my husband and daughters. She is never aggressive at them and I trust her with my precious children. This is why I need to know if I am working with a lost cause or if she will mature in combination with training and become the pet I dreamed of.

Sincerely,
Tamara

Answer:

It sounds like you need to find another home for this dog. Either that or make an effort to do the proper training.

If you choose to keep the dog you need to:

  1. Get a dog crate for inside the house. Every dog needs to be crate-trained, no exceptions.
  2. Obedience train this dog, get a prong collar and work it. Read what I have to say about Basic Obedience Training.

Obedience training is going to solve a whole range of problems. A prong collar is like power steering on dogs. Training does not have to take a lot of time.

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Question:

When we approach people and especially other dogs on our walks around the street or in the local pet store and in puppy kindergarten class his hair stands up, he barks low and sways his tail slowly back and forth. Or it stays partially limp, not stiff nor tucked. When he's in actual contact with them, he's fine. Perhaps a bit shy, but not scared. This is sending me mixed signals. Is he just happily greeting, feeling threatened, or being protective.

Answer:

Your pup is not being protective this is impossible at 4 months. Pups at that age are too immature to protect you. I would compare this to a 5 year old boy being protective of an intruder in his home. He simply cannot do it.

The dog hair goes up from insecurity. He is nervous and bristles up to make himself look bigger.

The important thing is to not allow the pup to be attacked by an older dog. If that happens at this age he will always be dog aggressive as an adult. So be very careful with your pup. They NEVER forget being attacked.

If the pup acts aggressive towards other dogs you should correct him for this. He must learn that this is not acceptable behavior and he can learn this from his pack leader (you). If he approaches a safe dog and acts socially, then pet him on the side to show your approval.

I would recommend that you read what I say about Basic Dog Obedience.

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Question:

Zeke is an 8 month old un-altered GSD from working lines. We've had him since he was seven weeks old. He is obedience trained and minds well. However, although I've had GSD's before, he is by far the most stubborn of them. In any event, he understands that he is "low man on the totem pole" and will accept corrections from any family member, although I seem to have more influence with him. One problem we cannot solve, however: Zeke hates having anyone within 3-4 feet of him when he is eating. He is crate trained, and his food bowl is next to, but not in, his crate. If he is touched or approached closely while he is eating, he will stop eating, "freeze," look very uncomfortable, and growl. When he does this to me, he acts as though he knows he shouldn't do this, but just can't help himself. He will let me touch him, and even take his food away, and not show teeth, but he will growl nonetheless. When my son (age 13) approaches Zeke when he is eating, Zeke will occasionally snap at him.

We have tried fairly severe corrections, and taking away his food, which he will tolerate. As soon as we correct him, Zeke acts very contrite, wagging tail, flattened ears, etc. However, the problem with him growling while eating (or even snapping) doesn't seem to be getting any better. Mind you, this is a dog who will do a down-stay, and you can put a treat right in front of him, say "leave it" and he won't touch the treat until given permission.

Do you have a suggestion? Should we be removing his food and NOT giving it back within a few minutes? What do you recommend? Should we neuter him at this point? He does not show aggression toward family members under any other circumstances, and he accepts strangers well, although he is very quick to bark if he hears someone approaching our door.

Thanks for any advice you can offer,
Andrea

Answer:

I would not take the food away from the dog. He is growling, because he thinks you will take the food away. So to do so only confirms that there is something to be worried about.

If you want the dog to do some form of personal protection do not neuter him until he is 2 years old. If this is not a concern then neuter him now.

If this is the only place that he is growling I would teach him to eat quickly and make sure that no family members go near him when he eats. I would put the food down and pick it up in 20 minutes. He will learn real quick that he has to eat when its presented to him or he will not see any food for another day. Trust me it does not take long. Feed him in a location where he can have peace and quiet.

Some people will try and teach the dog that it’s OK to have you around by taking the food bowl and holding it up off the ground in a neutral location while the dog eats. Start off with treats in the bowl and work up to food.

You should read what I have to say about obedience training.

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Question:

I have just purchased your obedience video and only have one question. How did you get the dog in the video to be so calm? My dog turns one this month. Is a lot of this age? When completing an exercise any praise makes my dog go wild - as you say in your video she stops thinking. Does this mean I should immediately move on to the next exercise if she is bored? When she does go wild I use a number 7 correction. In the video you had a level seven correction which you had thought some people may think you were too hard. No way. Any less than that and my dog is king. One good correction and she chills out for a little while. Also with a sit and stay my dog will not allow me to go behind her back without her moving to see me. Is this a good trait or should it be stopped? She is not for competition. Thank you for your time.

Brent
Birmingham, AL

Answer:

Levels of "praise" can be a strong distraction for some dogs. If that is the case with a dog then the praise should be very calm and soothing not ecstatic and exciting. If you remember I said in the video that you can praise to the point of distraction. When this happens you have done too much.

When the praise is calm after the "sit" and the dog still gets hectic, the handler needs to remain calm and just pick the dogs front feet off the ground with the use of the leash and calmly say "NO." If the dog continues to get wild it may require a correction to get it to "sit" again. At this point there is no praise. The handler should continue to calmly repeat the command "Sit" (we are not at the stage where you only give one command and expect it to be followed - that’s much later). A very important point about this process is to not get mad or sound upset.

Once the dog finally stops throwing a fit then it is calmly praised by soothingly stroking its head to show it that everything is OK, and you still love him.

Your question about the "down" is an extension of the first problem. Your dog needs to get it's act together on the sit before you worry about training a second command. When you can sit the dog and move away from it, stand for a minute and then back to it you can move on in training.

If the dog moves when you go behind it - then it needs a correction. The easiest way is a second leash and handler. I assume that you are using a "prong" collar. The second handler has a long line and is in front of the dog. When you move back and away the dog should get a level 10 correction when it moves. You then come back and calmly praise the dog. Start with one step back, then two steps back. Step back and then come back to praise. At one year of age the dog should be able to handle the stress of this work.

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Question:

I have two beautiful three year old labs. They are not trained except for the basic commands. I walk them in an open mesa area near my home every morning. The problem is they have begun not only chasing young rabbits, but when they do catch one they pick it up and clamp down, thus causing internal organ damage, which of course kills the rabbit. I am a nature lover and very upset by this behavior! I have thought of getting a shock collar and using this devise to get them to quit chasing the rabbits when they get too close. Do you have any thought on this??

Thanks,
Judy

Answer:

If they were my dogs I would get a shock collar. The Tri Tronics Collar is the cheapest but has short range - Tri Tronics also makes a 2 dog model on some of their collars - this means that you can have collars on 2 dogs and shock them independently from one transmitter.

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Question:

My dog is totally ball crazy. He always walks around the house with it in his mouth and is always ready to fetch. For exercise I take him to the park and let him off leash I hit the tennis ball with a racquet to get some distance. I put him in a down-stay and as soon as I hit the ball he is off after it. Totally ignoring the down-stay. At all other times he will correctly execute the down stay even with loose dogs running around him. I have pulled him back to his down-stay spot, after tricking him by faking hitting the ball because I thought by the time he gets back from fetching a football length he has totally forgotten the down-stay command, by the back of his neck and with a little ear. And even right after I put him back and hit the ball he is off again. The only thing that worked so far is putting my foot on top of him. Should I continue with the foot or is there something else I can do? Is it shock collar time? One more thing. Is the 3 second rule credible? Which is if you don't correct you're dog in three seconds after an incorrect behavior you might as well not correct. Because he won't know what he did wrong?

Thanks again,
Chris

Answer:

What in effect you are saying is that your dog is not fully obedience trained.The ball is an extreme distraction and the dog will not perform in its basic commands.

I would train the dog in two ball, I would use a prong collar and long line.

I would not recommend an electric collar to you, because its obvious that you do not fully understand the principles of dog training and in my opinion it would be a mistake for you to use the collar (you will end up causing more problems than you fix).

If you want to use a collar you need to learn how to use it. The 3 action training videos that we sell are very, very good.

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Question:

I have heard mention correcting a dog many times in your articles. My question is what would a level 10 correction look like compared to a lower level correction? My dog is almost eighteen months old and grabbing by the back of the neck does not have the same affect as it did when he was a puppy. Most of the time he minds, but occasional he will be a knuckle head. He knows basic obedience and most of the time he will respond to me saying "no." Another problem that I have is that he knows when he is on the leash and will behave differently. I make him drag around a fifteen foot line most of the time but my I think that maybe he needs to have a line on him all of the time until he behaves. The problem with that is when I take it off he knows I can't get to him and that's when he does not listen.

Answer:

Well to start with you say your dog is obedience trained and it is not. It has not gone through the correction and distraction phases of training. You can read some of what I am talking about in the description of Basic Dog Obedience.

Until you organize your training properly you will continue to have these problems - which are handler mistake problems and not dog problems. It's totally inappropriate to shake an 18 month old dog. This is a correction that is used for puppies. You need to get a prong collar and that video and run this dog through the phases of my obedience program. Then the dog will mind on and off leash.

That tape discusses the levels of correction and when to use them and how.

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Question:

Hi, I have a few questions that I hope you'll be able to answer for me. I have a small dog that is almost four years old. He is very obedient in the home unless he becomes distracted by strangers, outside noises, etc. I understand that this means he is not fully trained. I've had problems with completing his training in the past mainly because of two reasons. One being that my fiance is inconsistent with reinforcing the training (for example I correct the dog for getting on the bed and the next day he's picking the dog up and putting him in the bed). The second reason is whenever I correct him harshly he urinates. I'd like to complete his training, but at the same time I'd also like to get another dog. Would it be a mistake to try to train both dogs at the same time? I'd appreciate your input. Thank you.

Answer:

If you can not do a good job on one dog I am not sure what makes you think that you can train 2. These problems are 100% your fault.

If your fiance' will not become part of the program - do not allow him in bed. This will motivate him to listen and help with the dog training. This is a very quick and simple solution. You may want to get my tape Basic Dog Obedience. Then ask him to watch it a few times. Maybe he can do it when he is sleeping on the couch. This tape will explain the principles of dog training. It may be that he simply does not understand how important it is to be consistent.

Once you get one dog trained then get a second. My guess is the dog pisses because it is confused and does not understand what’s going to happen next.

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Question:

My female GSD has a problem with the male Australian Shepherd next door. If she is in the yard they both try and stick their noses under the 8 foot privacy fence and go nuts barking. I go out and get immediately and she is mainly an inside dog and so is he, so it doesn't happen often. I know that she needs work and I have purchased your Basic Dog Obedience video. She will pay attention when on the leash and if is corrected, but off is another story. I am guessing I need to have a long lead and correct her from a distance when she goes after the fence. My male dog has no problem with the whole situation. I have had him from a pup and he minds explicitly. I recently adopted the female from the pound (she was turned in for testing positive for heart worms, the previous owners didn't want to pay for treatment). She gets along fine with my male and is submissive with me and my husband (more so with me, but I think she follows our male dogs lead). It just seems to be the goofy dog next door that she doesn't like. It may be that it barks non-stop at every thing all day. The owners are never home. It charged their chain link fence, before we put ours up, whenever we came near it, doing yard work and such. Do you think my dog is just telling the other dog to stay away? I have let her go on occasion to see how long it continues and she loses interest after a little while.

Thank you so much for this web page. I have learned so much about GSD's. The service you provide can save lives, especially the 'preventing dog bites' section.

I read the wolf hybrid pages with interest and have long agreed with your point of view. What to you think of Australian Cattle Dogs with their diluted Dingo blood? My male is one that we got while stationed in Hawaii and he has never been a day of trouble. Smart as a whip too. Well, I realize this is a lengthy letter and if you haven't got the time to answer it, not to worry. I think I may be able to find the answer with a little more time with the video training. You helped me once before with advice on a dog that came after us while walking. Our problem was solved by your advice, but sadly the same dog ended up biting a little girl and was rightly put down. We warned the owners, but they didn't want to hear it. Sad.

Take care,
Katie

Answer:

The solution is two fold:

1 - You have not followed the Basic Obedience video. More than using a long line, you have failed to be consistent. Yes a long line can be a step in this process. But if you tell your dog No or Quiet - and it does not respond (and it knows what you mean) then it must get a correction, even if you go to it and it is then quiet, it must still be corrected. So, let it wear a long line, say QUIET, when it continues to bark, you calmly walk to the dogs, pick up the long line and jerk her head off saying "QUIET, QUIET, QUIET" This happens "every time" the dog does not mind. Even when it shuts up after it sees you coming down the steps. It must be corrected. New trainers often have a problem understanding how important consistency is, in some cases they don't understand what it is.

2 - You can solve the issue with a Tri Tronics No Bark Collar. This will stop the barking right now.

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Question:

I have been training my dog with your tape for three months now. My dog learns fast, but the problem is that when I tell him to stay, no matter the position, he gets up and runs away when I turn my back. I sit him down and correct him for not staying, but its like he doesn't even care. I have bought him a prong collar. He still doesn't care. What can I do so he listens?

Answer:

If the dog truly understands the meaning of the command down, then it needs a correction for moving. You also want to combine this with positive motivation for complying. For example, show the dog a ball (if it has strong prey drive) and as soon as you release the dog from the down (and there must be a verbal RELEASE - i.e. OK) then toss the ball. Use a motivator that really appeals to the dog. If it's not a ball then maybe its food or a Frisbee - bottom line is you do what it takes to motivate the dog. It's also important to start with short time spans for the down. Don't be doing 3 minute downs when you have these kind of problems. You have to have a dog that can do a 10 second down for a reward before you have a dog that can do a 45 second down for a reward.

You will need to use a long line and a prong collar for correction. They need to be firm and consistent. From the sound of what you are saying you are more into problem solving rather than real dog training. You need to really think about what's going on and come up with a game plan. Emphasis has to be on your mistakes and not the dogs.

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Question:

Hi, you helped me once before when I had a puppy with severe hip dysplasia. He was put down at six months of age. I am hoping you can help one more time. Two issues. First - 9 month old East German male, great dog, high drive for prey and reproduction. I have no idea if he has any defense or not, he is so bomb proof with nerves, he may show it later in training. Right now he is extremely good in area and article searches both on and off line. He is a great little tracker, still learning corners though. Our trainer sent me on the wrong training technique for corners, I know this and am going with your methods, that's what I thought earlier and it has been reinforced by reading your articles.

Problem is this with him - he is really hard (but in body, not in temperament). He does not respond to corrections that I give when he is determined to do something. He also keeps hurting himself doing things that a football player would not do. In addition, he hurts people to no end. He will be calm in the house and all of a sudden jump up and lick your ear, but belt you in the head on the way up. He does not feel a thing. He has sent me flying by hitting me in the shoulders while he is coming from behind me, he has actually done the DINO move on the Flintstones cartoon where the dog knocks down Fred and licks his face. He has a habit of jumping at my face when I do correct him hard enough to make him listen and give nips. He's got my nose, lips many times. Yet, this dog is 100% obedient during an area search. Is this just his age and type of dog, or is this a HARD dog?

Second issue - 5 month female Czech/West German. She is interesting. No fears of dogs, good and gentle, not the type that bugs them. She is however controlling of our older male at all times they are free together, or not. She will bark relentlessly, nip, jump on him, chase him around, has given full growls to guard an object from him, is so thrilled to see him each day and licks and whines to him through his crate or her crate. Now people - she took a week to allow me to approach her with out her walking away. It took much longer for my son to approach her, much longer yet for other family members to get near. She would move to a hiding area, either sit watching or bark. Now she is so bold, playing, learning in leaps and bounds, totally secure in all situations with me. Jumps in and out of the car, hates going through the Vet's door, but once in she takes treats from them and eats them, lays on the examining table so comfortably and they do all their things to her. She went from running and barking at new people in the house to maybe some barking and approaching them to smell them. But still, no one but me, my son can actually take their hand and take her collar when she is free to move away with no leash on. She just simply does not want to be grabbed by anyone. Also, she will watch the neighbors around us and not be spooked at all, then if they start to enter the yard at the corner area, she will run forward to them barking. She does not bark in the car, does not bark at the vets, does not hesitate on walks to go anywhere and see anything, no bad jumpiness at objects or sounds. Is this puppy fearful of people in general? or is she very stubborn? Here's one more example, she walks today with me and a friend and his dog, for half an hour in the trails, off leash. He turns to call her to him and she all of a sudden runs back a bit and turns and barks at him. The whole time she is barking, she is taking little bunny hops toward him again. When he turns and continues walking with me, she runs up behind him and gives one last little bark at his leg, then goes about her business again. Will Schutzhund training help this dog with people or make her worse?

Thanks in advance. Liz.

Answer:

I am afraid that what I have to say about this situation will not be well received. Both of these dogs have different problems but the same source of the problem - it's you.

The dogs are not trained. Oh - you may think they are trained because they mind some time but then not under distraction. Neither dog has a clear respect for the meaning of the word NO. I have an article about this on my web site. Even though it was written for puppies, it has come to my attention, over the past couple of years of emails, that there are more people with adult dogs that have this problem than puppies.

Your male needs serious training, either with a prong collar (which I do not think you have used) or an electric collar. Your bitch needs basic obedience training - but more importantly, you need to learn how to train dogs.

I would never allow someone else (outside the family) to try and expect my dog to do obedience. Especially recalls. You are unrealistic to think that the dog should mind someone outside the family pack. It makes no sense to a dog or a professional dog trainer. It may be acceptable for Golden retrievers but it certainly is not acceptable to a working dog (or a dog from working bloodlines).

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Question:

Ed, greetings from Miami. I need your advice on an issue that's driving me crazy. My GSD is now 11 months and is very playful and his prey drive is very high. My concern is that when we are in the backyard he becomes unmanageable with the way he plays. He jumps up and bites your hand and runs away like a speeding bullet and comes back and does it again. He doesn't get the message when I correct him and I do correct him hard. He has a prong collar and I sure yank the hell out of him and tell him NO. He will sit look at you with these "I didn't mean it eyes" and does it again. He seems more scared of getting wet than getting the hell yanked out of him. What can I do. The corrections in the backyard "specifically" don't do him any good. I'm concerned because I have a seven year old and with this intense prey drive he can take some skin of you hand.

Regards,
Frank

Answer:

This is 100% an obedience issue.

You need to do some serious obedience work with your dog. This training must follow the proper steps.

If you would like to learn something about the principles of obedience training a dog, read the description for my Basic Dog Obedience video. You will probably find that you have not had the full picture on the steps of training a dog must go through before it can be considered fully trained. You can also read why I am not a fan of taking an untrained dog to obedience classes.

You also need to give the dog some options to use his energy in prey drive, this can be Kongs, tennis balls (as long as they are NEVER left with the dog - they will eat them and die if you leave them with the balls).

But the solution begins with obedience training and the use of a toy as a reward, sometimes when prey drive it too high in dogs the food reward is better because they get so crazy for the toys they can not focus.

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Question:

Hello I just came across your site. I find it very interesting and informative. I have two wonderful dogs, one is a 2 1/2 year old Border Collie female (have had her since 10 weeks), and the other one is a 4 (?) years old German Shepherd mix (adopted her a year ago). I am in the process of training them ...I haven't been such a good trainer or alpha leader in the past, but I am learning greatly from books I've purchased and articles on the Internet. I have a few questions, but first I need to tell you that I am deaf and have retinitis pigmentosa (where my eyes are slowly losing their vision, and currently I have "tunnel vision").

First, are your videos closed captioned? Especially the Basic Obedience video?

Secondly, I have a very difficult time monitoring my dog's behavior around people and other dogs. For one thing, I can't hear them if they growl, snarl, or make any noises. So I am paranoid when I approach other people or dogs, and my dogs get excited. I never know if they are growling. I can feel them barking, but can't tell what kind of barking it is (i.e., threatening or happy barking). My dogs used to pull and try to go after people or dogs, but I have been working with them, and they are doing pretty well now...the border collie listens to me a lot better than the German shepherd mix...my fault, I know. But, I want my dogs to approach other people (and dogs if they're leashed, etc) on a friendly basis...but I try to avoid that, because of my deafness...but I don't like doing that. Another thing, about watching the dogs' behavior, is that when I look at a dog's head, I can't see the tail, or if I look at the dog's tail, I can't see the head...due to my limited vision. Due to that, I have difficulty in monitoring their behavior, such as if their tails are wagging, while they're growling? Or, their hackles are raised, but their heads are not threatening? All those things that you are told to watch for in dogs to see what they are behaving like. I hope I am not rambling here, but I wanted you to get a clear picture of what I have difficulties with. Anyway, I am wondering if you know of any way I can make things easier for myself, without having to avoid every dog or person I see on the street? I really would like for my dogs to be sociable, but it's difficult to do that when I have a hard time monitoring their behavior. You probably will say, get someone to help me, but my husband works during the day, and I'm home all day, by myself. I can't drive, so I can't get myself to obedience schools to socialize the dogs. I have a hard time communicating with people with two dogs in my hands, so I can't ask people if their dogs are sociable or not...(I speak fairly well, and lip-read very well, but as you can imagine, having dogs all around you being excited and having your hands full with leashes, isn't exactly helping the communication).

Even if I did train my dogs fully, and have them be obedient..(which I am trying to work on), It won't really be any fun going out with them if I have to avoid people and other dogs. Well, I mean, I have loads of fun going out with my dogs and being with my dogs...but I'd like to be able to have them around other people and dogs without being paranoid of their behaviors.

Thank you for listening (reading),
Tabitha

Answer:

My videos are not closed captioned, you are actually the first one to request this in 20 years of doing videos.

The issue of your dogs' behavior around other people and dogs should not be that much of a concern. The dogs just need to be trained that they are to focus on you when there are other people around. There is no need for a dog to be introducing himself to other dogs and people. This is a pet owners misunderstanding. I never allow my dogs to meet people on their own. They only interact with people if I allow it and they know that. So when we approach people there is never a question of "CAN I ?" They know that if they do they will get a prong collar correction if they even try to go out to meet people. There job is to be a dog and a pet, which means they stay by my side and sit while I talk with people, they are not the center of the conversation nor are they controlling the meeting by going up to people and dogs - this is 100% wrong and unacceptable. You are the pack leader, you are the person who determines who gets greeted and how the greeting is handled.

If you do your obedience properly you will have people comment on what well mannered dogs you have.

As far as other dogs are concerned, I NEVER allow other dogs near my dogs. It is not even a question. If a strange dog tries to get near one of my dogs I first warn the dog verbally to stay away, if it refuses and still approaches I kick it in the head. I am very serious about this, I am very quick with my feet and I kick them right under their jaw so it has a shocking effect. Once again, I am the pack leader. Other dogs do not control the situation with my pack, I do.

So the bottom line is that you need to rethink the way that you are approaching your relationship with your dogs and your role in that relationship.

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Question:

Ed,
I bought your basic obedience video. Great video!!! I have a 13-month-old female Rottweiler. She would be considered a soft dog. She is very submissive to any other dog or person. This is not a problem. What concerns me is that when I raise my voice or grab her by the collar, she cowers away and usually rolls over. I have never hit her, but have never hesitated to grasp her by the collar or scuff of the neck to correct her when nipping or swatting at me. Is there any type of exercise I can do with her to help build up her confidence? This is strictly a "pet" and I have no desire for any type of protection work. This is my first dog, and I am starting to think that maybe I was too firm with her from day one.

Thanks,
Mike

Answer:

You have answered your own question. You screwed up from day one.

Training a soft dog (like yours) is not an easy job for a new trainer. It takes thought. You need to think about your corrections and praise - jack the level of praise (like I explain in the video) ten times and back off these corrections 10 times. If this dog is that soft, you should not have to grab the dog - simply raising your voice should be enough.

The bottom line is these kinds of dogs usually respond well to obedience training if it is done properly. Once the understands the exercises they can be made to mind because they will work for the praise that comes with doing a good job. They find comfort in doing the right thing.

The key is being 100% consistent with the dog. You can be calmly firm as long as the excessive praise is there for the dog when it does what you expect it to do.

Your work right now is to correct the problem you have created. You are about to find out that it's more difficult to fix problems than to do good training in the first place.

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Question:

Dear Ed,

I received your Basic Obedience tape a couple of days ago and was eager to start training. I had already been to my local obedience classes, so she knows sit and down, but performs only when I have a treat in my hand. She is very soft, so I used an extremely gentle leash correction and she became scared. She froze and put her ears down. I praised her greatly, but when I stopped she tried to run. I stopped and tried again after a few hours with similar results.

I adopted this dog from the shelter. I think she was about a year old. I have had her for about two months and have been working on her gaining confidence. At first she just followed me around all day, wouldn't chase balls and had no interest in people or other dogs. Now she seems very confident, she loves chasing balls, squirrels, etc and pays little attention to me when we are outside. But overall, she seems like a much happier dog.

Is it possible that it is too soon to be using a correction, even though she knows what the commands mean? Or if she was treated roughly in her previous home, could it be a bad idea to use physical corrections at all? She seemed slightly traumatized when I got her and as I said she is extremely soft so I don't want to break her confidence again.

Thanks,
Emma

Answer:

Your dog has a soft temperament. She has also learned that she can get her way by sulking or acting shy.

It is your choice but the solution is to train this dog that there is no other way than to mind you. She must go through corrections; it's just that the level of correction does not normally have to be as high as other dogs. But what needs to happen is the dog needs a harder correction for sulking, in other words if you give the dog a command that you are 100% sure she understands and she refuses and sulks, she needs firm POPS on the leash (get a prong collar and use it). When she screams and drops to the floor she needs additional POPS on the leash until she minds. She must learn that there is ONLY ONE WAY and that is to mind. The important thing is to really praise the dog when it finally does what you want. I normally start with a recall, then a down. DO NOT FORGET TO ALWAYS GIVE A RELEASE COMMAND.

Response:

Dear Ed,

Thanks so much for your advice. You were completely right. She had me believing that she was too scared to understand the commands, but just a few good pops on her choke collar (I didn't have to use the prong collar) and she sat right down. After a few times she became used to the idea and now just a small firm pop makes her obey, but she remains happy and interested.

Your video is great. I had taken her to obedience classes and have a few books on training. All of these gave training methods for teaching the commands but not enforcing them. They used only positive reinforcement. I was a little reluctant to use force on my soft dog, but just a few days with your methods and I am now converted. She will now do a sit stay for a full minute and I can even roll a ball past her after just a few days of training. The people at the obedience school said that using physical corrections would make her scared of me but it seems to have had the opposite affect. She pays more attention and now follows me around at home even more closely than before but she is not scared of me. I will definitely recommend your video to everyone I know who owns a dog!

Thanks for making such a wonderful tape,
Emma

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Question:

Mr. Frawley

I have a 2 year old female rott, she is trained for basic obedience on and off leash, but there is one problem I have with her, I can not for the life of me get her to jump, all I am really wanting is for her to jump up into my truck, she loves going for rides and gets excited at the mention of the word "ride" but it is very annoying to have to lift this 130 lb k-9 every time, she has no problem getting out but going in all she will do is put her front paws on the seat then I have to lift her hind quarters up, do you know anyway possible for me to accomplish my goal here?

Marc

Answer:

Have her hips x-rayed. Sounds like she may have dysplasia. Then you lift her in because she can't physically jump in.

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Question:

Dear Mr. Frawley,

Recently, I decided that I wanted to learn competition obedience, and had a Schutzhund instructor recommended to me. I took two 4-year-old males that I had taken through several obedience classes. One male is extremely pain sensitive, and I have always been very careful since he would yelp with a light pressure pop on his choke leash.

My previous instructor had never taught me to teach my dogs to focus, and I wanted to teach my dogs this skill when heeling. I had suggested that I use a different word for focusing to my instructor since both dogs had been told for four years that they were good dogs for heeling without focusing. The instructor disagreed and said I should continue to use heel for this new skill. At about the third lesson the instructor took my tougher dog, and in the dog's confusion he refused to do what she wanted him to do, and challenged her. The instructor with a helper hung him a couple of times. This dog now will often shake when I tell him to sit and occasionally shakes at other times. (He never shook before this happened) My sensitive dog was yanked very severely with a prong collar (first experience with a prong collar for both dogs), but since he did not challenge her he was not hung. When I work with this dog, he now cowards when I gently correct him. Most often when these dogs see the prong collar they will try to hide or walk up to me shaking. My dogs are about 30 pounds, and they are of an old breed that were originally used for ratters, stable protection, and all around farm dogs with a terrier type temperament. Should the instructor have used a different word for teaching a new skill? The instructor says that my sensitive dog is a bag of nerves? Could the harsh treatment cause the shaking, and will they get over it? (My dogs had never been hit or mistreated, and I now have nightmares seeing my dog hung.) Thank you for your basic Obedience video and Tom Rose' Heeling tape. I wish I had known about the tapes before meeting this instructor. I look forward to you answer.

Barbara

Answer:

This is not how I would have handled the situation. The person that did this does not understand dog training very well.

Teach the dog "WATCH ME" from a sit - do it until the dog will sit and watch you under distraction - when it will do that then use WATCH ME for one and two step heeling until they will do it under distraction. When you have that - then extend it. Use leash pops combined with food and praise.

People without experience do not realize how "One Single Bad Experience" will have long term (sometimes permanent) effects on dogs. With a little patience and luck you can work your way through this experience.

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Question:

I have a redbone coonhound pup. She is 9 months old. She has done quite well on her obedience training. We belong to Evergreen Search Dogs, (Vancouver, Wa.) My problem is she will not come after one or two finds. She starts running. I use treats on her returns, however, after one or two finds she’sin la-la land.

Any help would be appreciated.
Dale

Answer:

This is a handler problem not a dog problem. You need to use force to train the dog to come. The recall is a learned exercise and there are no secret pills that will change what your dog is doing. It’s just not minding and it has to learn that there are consequences for not minding – mainly corrections. So you either use a prong collar and a long line or an electric collar.

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Question:

Hello Mr. Frawley,

I wanted to know what your opinion on the product below was, is it worth buying.

The new Pro Trainer Plus is an electronic pet training aid that uses sound, not shock, to teach your dog or cat to behave. The Pro Trainer Plus gives you four different training tones. Three obedience tones are provided to teach your pet specific behaviors such as Sit, Come, Heel, etc. A rapidly pulsating, irritating "NO!" tone is provided to deter barking, jumping, digging and other unwanted pet behaviors and may even be used very effectively for house training.

The Pro Trainer Plus is unique in its very humane yet, effective approach to dog obedience training. Unlike an electronic dog-training collar, the Pro Trainer Plus is hand held. No electronic training collar is required. Only the Pro Trainer Plus combines the positive response techniques of clicker dog training with a powerful negative stimulus to quickly get your pet's attention when it is misbehaving. Even cats can be taught to come on command and to instantly stop clawing, chewing and entering off limits areas. The Pro Trainer Plus represents a significant advance in cat and dog training providing the pet owner with a quick, easy, effective and inexpensive pet training aid.

Answer:

I will preface this answer by saying that I have never worked with one of these collars. I will also say that I would never spend any money on one to see if they works, because I do not think that will work on the type of dogs that I train. In fact I don't think they will work on 98% of the dogs out there. Maybe if you have a very soft temperament dog it may work.

I will say that I got an e-mail yesterday from a lady who had one of these collars. Her dog worked well with it in the back yard, but when she took it out of the yard and into the park it would not listen. She did say that it scared hell out of the birds in the park and the other dogs that were running around seemed to find it interesting.

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Question:

Can you explain the different types of corrections used in dog training?

Answer:

There are only two types of corrections in dog training.

1-The first type of correction is ONE HARD JERK on the leash. This is the type of correction that everyone knows and uses. It's main use is to correct a dog for doing something wrong or for not doing something fast enough. This correction takes DRIVE out of the dog. The most common exercises to use ONE HARD JERK are with the SIT, DOWN, STAY exercises.

Very often we see inexperienced trainers nag their dogs in these exercises with a number of soft jerks. This only promotes frustration and misunderstanding in the dogs.

2- The second type of correction is what I will call a drive building correction. This is where a dog, wearing a prong collar, gets "Three VERY FAST Hard Sharp Jerks" on the collar. I explain this to new trainers by comparing this to a wake up correction. Correcting the dog in this way "turns on the dogs nerves." It wakes up a dull dog. You will see a dogs speed and their attention level will increase when this type of correction is used.

The level of the jerks is determined by the temperament of the dog. A soft dog obviously not needing the same level of correction that a hard dog needs to accomplish the same results.

The Three Jerk correction is used in motion exercises, (i.e. Heeling during obedience and in the Bark and Hold during protection work). When done properly, along with good voice commands, it adds drive to the dog.

This explanation may sound simple but it's very difficult for new trainers to master. Once a trainer learns how to use both of these corrections properly he has taken a big step towards improving his training abilities.

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Question:

Dear Ed,

First thing I wanted to say is thank you for an excellent training aid. I recently purchased the Basic Obedience training video and found it to be an inspiration. Already my dog is doing the sit - stay (with level 6 distractions) on a thirty foot line after about a week of training.

I have one question. Normally when I issue a correction, the dog responds in the normal manner - I correct and then order the sit - stay command and 99% of the time there is no problem. The other 1% of the time, as I approach him to issue a correction he goes crazy - he begins jumping around and tugging at the leash and trying to escape - this is before a correction is given. This only lasts for 15 seconds or so.

Is it possible that I am correcting the dog too severely? I have listened to what you say in the video about not charging at the dog when he moves and I never do this. I approach calmly but occasionally he still goes crazy like this.

I use a prong collar for the training due to the lack of response when I used the choke collar - I couldn't get the reaction you got in the video with the choke but am able to do so with the prong.

Any help you can give would be appreciated.

Sam
Ireland

Answer:

You are correcting too hard and not praising enough. You need to issue constant praise. Walk up to the dog 10 times and praise the dog for every one time you walk up and correct him - so he does not look at you walking to him as a time to get his butt kicked - which is exactly what he sees it as right now.

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Question:

Dear Ed:
I have purchased your basic dog obedience tape and it is great. However, I still have a couple of questions if you don't mind answering.

My GSD (8 months) knows the sit, lay and stay commands as well as the come command (without the sit. Just started working on that). And you were right in your tape that the lay was much harder for her to comply with.

However, now when I ask for the sit she will either sit or lay and it is usually lay. Do I need to work on that and if so how do I bring her up from the lay into the sit??

Thank you.
John

Answer:

If you are not trying to train a competition dog – why worry if the dog sits or lays down? All you really want it to do is stay in one place – sitting or laying down is not a big thing.

But if a dog does lay when you ask it to sit – you should not correct it for doing this. The dog is trying to comply with a command from you. The problem is not that she is not being obedient but that it does not understand the command. This is a problem that can be fixed with a lot of praise when she does it right and then if she does lay down – say SIT and gently pull her up to a sit position and give her a treat when she is sitting.

I hope this helps.

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Question:

What is the best way to teach a puppy the "stay" command?

Answer:

Wait until it's 6 months old to train it like an adult. To do it too early it can screw up your dog. There is no reason to do it on a puppy. It requires too much force and this kills the temperament of a puppy.

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Question:

Dear Mr. Frawley,

I have a 2 year old German Shepherd, just became 2 this August. My dog has undergone training in obedience with several trainers whom I paid for but I was never satisfied. Recently I hired a private trainer which according to him he had experience in dog training and would like to try it on my GSD. Although there was some improvement, I noticed that the dog is still disobedient, when I walk him off leash, he would run away and will not listen to my callback. When there’s a cat and he is in his cage, he would bark, whine and he would not listen to my command to be quiet and sit and stay until I shoo the cat away.

I bought 2 videos from you hoping to train my GSD on protection work but it seems he is not ready for it. What do you think is wrong in the way the trainers are doing the training, my dog has been undergoing this training since he was 6 month old. I also have a 6 month Golden Retriever and a 5 month old Labrador which I would like to be started correctly.

Regards,
James

Answer:

I have already written about this on my web site.

The problem is that it’s NOT YOU training YOUR dog. It is a big big mistake for people to take dogs to trainers and expect those same dogs to come home and mind the owner.

The fact is these dogs may be trained but the owners ARE NOT TRAINED. Unless the owners understand the principles of correction and praise the dogs will quickly learn that they do not have to mind.

In my opinion it is a total waste of money for people to send dogs out for training unless the owner goes with them and learns how to train the dog themselves. It is unrealistic to expect anything more than that.

If you would like to learn something about the principles of obedience training a dog, read the description for my Basic Dog Obedience video. You will probably find that you have not had the full picture on the steps of training a dog must go through before it can be considered fully trained. You can also read why I am not a fan of taking an untrained dog to obedience classes.

Get this tape and a prong collar and learn to do this yourself.

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Question:

Let me start off by saying that I'm glad with the way you handle some of the questions, sometimes you're very blunt and that's needed to make sure even the clueless get it. You seem very knowledgeable in your field. Now to my story.

I have a 6 month old GSD male. we got him when he was 8 weeks and did a good job of socializing him with people and other dogs. He would run up the stairs, play in the pond being out house, sit, lay, walk with us off leash on the golf course staying near even with other people walking, and would come when we called him.

We sent him to a kennel while we were out of town for a month this summer, and had him trained for on and off leash healing. I now think this was a waste of time and money and that I could have gotten better results from my own training and by purchasing every training video you sell, and still would've spent less money. They were also supposed to break a digging habit, and jumping on doors. Since he came back earlier this week, he's not obeying the commands like the trainer had perfected and he's jumping on windows and doors, he does bad things he used to not do like barking at other dogs and getting distracted. I've been working him about an hour a day and he's almost obeying all the commands, but he's very sloppy and highly distracted by other people and especially other dogs. I'm only giving him partial praise if he does something partially correct, and none if it's just bad. He acts like he doesn't understand although he knows what I want him to do, I figure this is just him trying to out-smart me and make me give up on him and give him his way.

Should I start using treats more often along with praise for following commands correctly, and should I give the treats with my mouth so that he's looking at my face? He doesn't look at me at all when I work him, usually just stares at the ground. I would like for him to keep his head up and to look alert and professional. I'm also wondering why he doesn't go up the stairs anymore and why he's afraid of water now, he used to love water. Should I just work with him more and let him know to trust me by carrying him around the pool on a float gradually? And should I drag him up the stairs to get him used to them again?

My condensed questions:

  1. Will constant working and correcting fix these problems
  2. Will giving treats from the mouth fix the attention problem
  3. What command should I give to hush him from barking at other dogs, and what If I want him to bark sometimes
  4. Are my theories on reacquainting him with water and stairs the right idea

I'm probably answering my own questions, but anything you can say will help drive it through my brain.

Ron
Texas

P.S. I strongly feel that the reason some dogs eat their poop is from lack of proper nutrition. Mostly certain minerals. It's the same theory behind why some children eat dirt. They aren't getting enough of the minerals they need from their diets, and what they need is in dirt. All the minerals in the human body can be found in most dirt.

Answer:

Well you have made a number of mistakes:

  1. Sending the dog out to be trained by someone else is NEVER a good idea. This is even worse that it was done at such a young age. Outside trainers invariably use too much force because they do not have the time to use correct motivation to train a dog. The result is a screwed up dog that will only mind this trainer and not the handler.

  2. Working a 6 month old puppy for 1 hour a day is really nuts. This is going to make the dog neurotic. Training should be in 2 to 3 minute intervals 3 or 4 times a day (at most).

  3. It sounds to me like there is a lot of correction going on with this pup. I think you have a lot to learn about obedience training – young dogs are not to be corrected that much.

  4. Yes you need to go back and use food to motivate the dog.

If you would like to learn more about the principles of obedience training a dog, read the description for my Basic Dog Obedience video. You will probably find that you have not had the full picture on the steps of training a dog must go through before it can be considered fully trained. You can also read why I am not a fan of taking an untrained dog to obedience classes.

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Question:

I’d like to know if you personally would train one of your working dogs with and electric collar. I’m also curious how you feel about them in comparison to traditional correction with prong or slip collars. If e-collars are the most humane, what is all the fuss about? If anything, what don’t you like about this type of training, even in the hand of an experienced e-collar training?

Answer:

I will never train a dog without an e-collar.

Like every other dog training aid, these collars can be abused and often are because people buy them and do not learn how to train with them – that does not make them wrong. They are no different than a prong collar or a choke chain in the hands of a skilled trainer.

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Question:

We have a gorgeous black and white german shepherd. I suspect it was the runt of the litter, but she's gorgeous. She is neutered and five and a half years old. She's terrified of thunderstorms and fireworks so we have to drug her. However, that's not our major problem. She gets out of the house and we can't get her home unless I drive our van around the block until she gets tired. She has never attacked anyone but we have a new neighbor with small kids that has called the police on us for being a vicious dog. How do we train her to stay in the yard?

Answer:

You build a dog kennel and use it or put up a fence or purchase and in-ground fence. No one can train a dog to stay in a yard. Especially someone who cannot train a dog to come when called.

You also need to obedience train this dog. It is not trained. If it were you would only have to call it to come and it would come.

If you would like to learn more about the principles of obedience training a dog, read the description for my Basic Dog Obedience video. You will probably find that you have not had the full picture on the steps of training a dog must go through before it can be considered fully trained. You can also read why I am not a fan of taking an untrained dog to obedience classes. I think if you read the testimonials on that tape you will see that my customers feel the same way.

Get this tape and a prong collar and train your dog.

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Question:

Hi. I have a problem while I walk my 9 month old dog Annie. I do not want her necessarily to heel the whole time I just want her to walk on a loose lead. When I walk her because she knows where the dogs in the neighborhood live she will pull harder near a dogs yard until we get there then she will bark at the dog. Then when I finally get her away from the dog she pulls until the next dogs yard. We live on a street with many dogs so there is no avoiding them. She basically just wants to say hi to them and is not aggressive towards them. But I have tried many ways to solve this but I cannot get her to pay attention to me and stop walking me. How can I get better control of my dog? Someone suggested the Halti Head Collar but I am not sure how effective it is. I really want to make walking my dog enjoyable, (for both of us).

Another thing she does is when the family goes on a walk she HAS to be in front or else she will bark/choke herself. The family frequently goes for long walks (especially in the Valley) and we want to take her along but she is such a nuisance to us. Please help, I love my dog and fear that she will injure her neck while pulling (which is why I cannot use a "training collar." I have heard the Halti mimics what higher ranking wolves do to lower ranking wolves in the wild and thought that it would be good to use. Anyway please help us with the problem.

Thank you,
Jessica/Annie

Answer:

Don’t waste your money on a Halti. You may as well go out in your back yard and build a little bon fire with the money you would spend on a Haltie. You would get more use out of the money.

Get a prong collar and use it. I call them power steering on dogs.

This is really a lack of obedience issue. If you would like to learn more about the principles of obedience training a dog, read the description for my Basic Dog Obedience video. You will probably find that you have not had the full picture on the steps of training a dog must go through before it can be considered fully trained. You can also read why I am not a fan of taking an untrained dog to obedience classes.

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Question:

My name is Rusty, and I have ordered and received your training tape on basic obedience training for our german shepard...AND I think it is one of the BEST tapes I've ever seen for (Like Me) a beginner!!..I have only one question, that I didn't see addressed on the tape?..Is it advisable for both the wife and husband to work together in this "Basic" training? Or is it better for one to handle this? until the dog is trained...IF one trains her? will the dog Then listen and obey the other? after training?...Just want too make sure we handle our german shepard right..at the beginning ..Thanks for any help you can give.

-Rusty

Answer:

A very good question.

I believe that both should train this dog. The important thing is that you both talk to one another about where the dog is at in training. You both need to be on the same page as to what you expect from the dog. The biggest concern is that one of your would expect too much of the dog and start to correct him when in fact he should not yet be corrected.

When both owners train you establish the rank within your family pack. One of the most under-rated things that new pet owners misunderstand is the important of how obedience training establishes the owners as pack leaders. If there is a chance of a dominance issue with a dog both partner MUST OBEDIENCE TRAIN or the dog will probably challenge the owner when it reaches maturity (18 to 30 months).

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Question:

Ed:

First thank you for your great web site and training tapes. I have purchased your basic obedience tape and will be purchasing other tapes in the near future. The advice on the tape has helped greatly with the training of my Kangal. (I own several other breeds - 3 kuvasz, 1 landseer newf (old) (water rescue trained) and one very young sweet golden retriever, who will be using your training method on agility etc. of course on a very light level 1 correction - unlike my Kangal (although he has improved greatly) thanks to your web site and your video.

I was curious on why you don't believe in the halti/gentle leader. Again, I am using your methods, but would like your opinion on why you don't like the halti. Also, I have learned thru my Kangal/Akbash group that Australia and the UK do not permit the use of a prong collar. Have not yet received from the group the reason why, perhaps you know something about this, if indeed it is true.

Perhaps one day, when my "group" becomes smaller I will own one of your fine dogs. Kuvaszok and Kangals don't excel in the obedience area. Obviously I love working with all types of dogs. I've learned a lot thru the different breeds and continue to learn.

I have tried several types of training programs through out the years. I feel yours has an appropriate amount of food reward, verbal reward, and punishment when needed.

Answer:

I see no benefit to a halti.

I believe you need to teach a dog to mind on his own. That becomes a process. The LEARNING: CORRECTION: PROOF UNDER DISTRACTION process. A halti has no place in this equation. It does not allow for a correction. I call anything you get from a halti as a nag nag nag from the handler. I don't like people who nag at me and I doubt dogs like to be nagged at.

Prong collars are a very humane way to apply corrections for a short period of time without hurting the dog. They are far safer than a choke collar and do much less damage to the dogs neck.

The animal rights people have blocked their use in the UK. These people have their head up their ass most of the time. I categorize them as "people who know very little, that have very big mouths that have way way too much time on their hands." They should get out and try and train a police service dog with a halti or a dominant Rot with a halti. Maybe if they were on the receiving end of a dog going after his handler because he was not properly trained they would have a different viewpoint.

Maybe with very soft dogs there may be some way to justify one of these thing, but I seriously doubt it.

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Question:

I am a big fan of your web site and training methods.  I am currently working with a trainer for my 1 year old labradoodle.  I got him as a rescue at 6 months old.  He is very fearful and lacks self confidence.  My biggest problem is that he has no drive to work.  He is very uninterested in working for treats. I have tried not feeding him the day prior to class; I have tried using freshly cooked meat as treats; I have tried feeding him his meals from the training pouch and working at the same time. He is completely uninterested! Any suggestions?

Thanks,
Melanie

Answer:

I would be ONLY feeding this dog at training time, missing one meal or one day of food may not be enough for a dog with low food drive. I would also keep trying different foods until you find something that "trips his trigger." Sometimes dogs that lack confidence need to just get more comfortable in their skin, before they can relax enough to eat food in a training scenario.

Will he take food from you at home, but not at class? If so, I would recommend working him at him more and put the training classes on hold. Sometimes it’s just too overwhelming for a dog like this to try to learn in an environment where they are so fearful.

If you don’t already have our Basic Dog Obedience DVD, I would highly recommend it. We also just released a new DVD on Pack Structure for the Family Pet. I think you and your dog may benefit from this as well. 

I just had one other thought about your dog, does he like to play with toys at all?  If so, you may be able to use toys in your training to "loosen him up" a bit.  It’s worth a try anyway!



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