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Leerburg's Weekly Newsletter
August 9, 2010

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Fear Period in Young Dogs - Part 3

Fear Period in Young Dogs - Part 3

This is the third in a short series of video lectures taken at Michael Ellis' School for Dog Trainers in California on counter conditioning sharp, shy puppies.

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Training the Retrieve with Michael Ellis

3 Hours | $65.00

Training the Retrieve with Michael Ellis

3 Hours Long

This DVD is 3 hours long. You can read the chapter headings below. It is by far the most comprehensive step-by-step training DVD on teaching a dog to retrieve that we have ever seen. It will replace both of our previous retrieval training DVDs.

If you are a student of marker training or interested in marker training you will love Michael Ellis’ approach to this work. Because the system is founded in markers there is a minimal amount of force used in our training. It is our belief that a dog should not be force trained to retrieve.

We recommend the viewer have an understanding of marker training before beginning this work. This is all covered in the earlier DVDs we have done with Michael Ellis.

Chapters in this DVD

  • Michael Ellis' Opening Lecture on the Steps of Training the Retrieve
  • Pattern Retrieving Games
  • Step One - Holding the Dog's Muzzle
  • Students Learning the Hold
  • Retraining Older Dogs to Hold
  • Review of Training Steps Before Pickup Training
  • Trouble Shooting the Hold 
  • When to use a Tug Reward 
  • When to Switch the Retrieve Object to a Dumbbell
  • Training the Pickup 
  • Introducing the Dog to the Tossed Dumbbell
  • When to Mark the Pickup 
  • Proofing the Exercise 
  • Free Shaping
  • Advance Training - Introducing New Retrieve Objects
  • Two lectures on Michael Reviewing the Retrieve 

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Dog Bite

We are always looking for photos of people who have been bitten by their dogs while trying to break up a dog fight. If you send us photos and the story on how the accident happened we will put them on our website with the hope that your mistakes will help other people realize how dangerous it is to try and break up a dog fight the wrong way.

Dog Bite:

Fresh from last night... It was between a 2 year old male, neutered Malamute and a 5 year old female, spayed GSD/Siberian mix. Both indoor, normally loving dogs. I've never even heard the Malamute growl. She was the instigator, and stole his toy. She had bullied him from a pup and he has just now gotten brave enough to fight back. We tried grabbing hind legs, putting a bucket over heads, throwing a bucket over water, throwing the actual bucket, inserting a folded chair in between, then my husband did the unthinkable and grabbed a collar. He knew better, too. We finally turned the hose on them.


dog bite

Have a Question on Dog Training?

Have you checked the Leerburg Discussion Board? It is one of the most active dog web boards on the internet. The Leerburg Web Board has over 16,000 Members with over 165 forums and 269,000 posts in its archives. The web board also has an excellent search engine that only searches the web board's 212,000 posts.

This Week's Featured
Question & Answers

Our newsletter will always contain several featured customer Q&As from that week.

Have a question for Ed & Cindy? Try the Leerburg Search Engine. This search engine was written specifically for Leerburg by our in house IT manager. Our search engine is specific to Leerburg and only searches leerburg.com and the Leerburg web forum. If you can't find the answer to your question by using our search engine, you can email Cindy here at Leerburg at cindyr@leerburg.com. If you have your spam filter on, make sure you set it to receive our replies!!!

Question: My dog is oblivious to my kids, he only wants to be in my face all the time.  How do I make him acknowledge my kids?


My dog isn't aggressive to my children, he's oblivious! I have a rescue dog that is constantly focused on me, eyes following my face 24-7. He lunges toward my chin to nuzzle it whenever I'm doing anything less than standing or sitting at full military attention. I cannot bend down even the slightest bit for any reason without this dog jumping at my chin. He insists on having his nose within less than an inch of mine whenever possible, for as long as he can. If I push him or his nose out of the way (kinda hard to see the world when his nose is literally IN my eye) he just pushes back harder to get back into position. He seems oblivious to anything other than the location of my face, does not see that I am trying to pick something up, trying to fold laundry, trying to lay his food bowl down so he can eat (who needs food when I can be in Mom's face? seems to be his thought process) or anything else. He continuously steps on or shoves aside anything in his way to my face.
The problem is that what is in his way is often my two young children, an infant and a toddler. He never looks at them, never seems to notice that he stepped on something that makes noise afterwards (loud crying, he doesn't seem to even hear it), never seems to consider anything other than me as even existing. The child I am holding this time is as easily shoved aside as the laundry I was holding last time (5 minutes ago). I have tried to force him to notice/acknowledge the children when he has run them over, stepped on them, shoved them aside, etc, but he never even looks at them no matter what. They simply don't seem to exist as long as I am around.
I have had the oldest boy try to walk the dog, but he outweighs the oldest boy by 2x and is not leash trained very well. He just dragged the child where ever I went, and squashed the child trying to meld himself into my leg. He won't acknowledge his favorite treat in my boy's little hand held directly under his nose. Having either boy stand in-between the dog and I to pet him only gets the boy shoved aside and stepped on as he lunges for my chin. He will sometimes acknowledge a stick thrown in the backyard or will run around my son for about 30 seconds (yes, I really timed it) if he has forgotten that I am at the house watching. This is rare, and never happens once the dog sees me. Even then, he seems to be more interested in the stick or ball and still does not see the child that threw it for him.
I cannot have a 50Lb+ dog stepping on an infant or bowling over a toddler every time I show my face. I want to show this dog that he has a home here, that he's loved and welcome, but I cannot spend hours petting him and ignoring the rest of the family. He is NOT more important then them. If he were aggressive, that would be one thing, but he's not, he's just oblivious! How do I widen his focus? How do I show this dog that there are other family members, that these family members are important to me? How do I fix this?
Please, any advise will be welcome!


I would first refer you to our section on preventing dog bites in children. If your dog is indifferent to the kids, then I would encourage that to continue. Some dogs show aggression and some choose to ignore, and by trying to force the issue you may cause a really big problem.

I would also recommend you stop trying to have your child interact with the dog in the manner you described. It’s impossible for a small child to be a leader to a large dog and you are putting the child at risk by trying to force the interaction. Instead, I would put some firm rules in place for your dog: to stop the clingy behavior with you and become a more balanced dog. I would put your focus on that, and control the dog’s movements and environment. This means a crate or on leash at all times. I don’t allow dogs to be “in my face” or move freely around my home unless they follow ALL my rules and it sounds like this dog is a very needy and pushy. You don’t mention how long you’ve had the dog, but you should start over as if he’s just been brought into your home for the first time.

Start with our groundwork program. I’d also recommend Pack Structure for the Family Pet.

Control the kids, keep them out of the dog’s space and control the dog at all times and teach him some rules and boundaries. Dogs only behave in a way that is reinforcing to them, so if you allow him to follow you around and push into your space then that’s what he’ll do. Dogs don’t know how we want them to behave, we have to show them. This may be a dog that never really wants to socialize with others, and that’s ok. They are all different, just as people are. Pack structure is the key to showing him that you are in charge of how he acts in and around the home.

We also have a number of eBooks, which include topics that may help you. 

For future questions, you might benefit from learning to use our SEARCH function, which is located in the top left corner of every page of the website.  If you type in your key words or question it will find you articles, Q & A’s, free streaming video and links to threads on our discussion forum.  Our website has over 16,000 pages and it’s very likely you’ll find the information you are looking for.  I hope this helps.

Cindy Rhodes

For more questions on this topic, see our Q&A on Electric Collars.


Question: My dogs have lived in harmony for three years and now want to kill each other. What do you suggest? Do you think they will every be able to co-exist again?


I have two female dogs who have lived in harmony for three years that now want to kill each other. One dog is a shepherd/husky (possibly part timber wolf. I was told this when I got her, but did not believe the owner until I saw a timber wolf that looked exactly like my dog); the other is a beagle mix with I don't know what (could be pit bull, boxer...?). Both have been very gentle, but the shepherd/husky has always been territorial. She won't let anyone near her food or she will give a warning. The other dog is a very submissive dog. The Shepherd/husky is 14 years old and has cataracts, so getting a little nervous since she cannot see. She gave a warning to the other dog one night two weeks ago when it got too close to her food bowl and they got into a fight to the death. My daughter got bit and I did the wheelbarrow pull to get them apart. I slowly tried to re-introduce them and they were fine for a  week and then someone knocked at the door where the shepherd was standing and when the beagle came running and barking at the door, the shepherd snapped which caused the beagle to tear into her. We once again got them apart and keep them in separate rooms. We have a steel gate between the rooms and the beagle mix tried to go through the gate to get to the shepherd. It has been very stressful to keep them apart and I thought a muzzle for them would help. When I measure them, they are both 2-1/2" long and their nose circumference is 9-1/2" for one and 8-1/2" for the other one. I don't see an appropriate size on your guide. What do you suggest? Do you think they will ever be able to co-exist again? 



I do not want to insult you or make you mad but I don’t have a lot of time and I must be blunt.

This is 100% an owner problem more than a dog problem. These problems are happening because of the mistakes your making in how you chose to live with these dogs.

The worst dogs fights are among females. I have a folder on people who have had dogs kill their other dogs.

The biggest triggers to dog fights are toys and food. You should have two dog crates and you should be using them. The dogs should be put in the crate and fed in the crate. These dogs need to go through pack structure. Right now they seriously lack pack structure – that is where the growling at you comes from

Run these dogs through the work in Establishing Pack Structure with the Family Dog. Read the description on the web page for this DVD. This is the beginning trying to fix this dogs issues. If your not prepared to do this you wont fix your problems.

Baby gates are never going to work. You are already finding that out.

Even though I will lose sales muzzles are not the answer spend the money on dog crates. Buy them locally. Dogs can still fight with muzzles on and the fight can be self satisfying. I did a training video for police officer on MUZZEL FIGHTING FOR POLICE SERVCE DOGS. I know what I am talking about here.

So run them through the pack structure and then obedience train these dogs. In this case I would be inclined to do the work in our Basic Dog obedience DVD.

Good luck with your dog. I have added your name to our newsletter.

Ed Frawley


For more information on this topic, see our Q&A on Aggression.


Comments on Q&A in Thursday's Newsletter:

Hi Cindy / Ed

Love your newsletter. Keep it coming.

Re: That e-mail about torture devices:

I live in England and unfortunately those emotional-knee jerk, canine-illiterates are completely in control of dog training over here (except for a few gundog trainers in the back country such as remote bits of Wales, etc.). Because of people like that, qualified, experienced trainers over here aren't allowed to say no to a dog, let alone actually stop it doing anything (even though they actually can) for fear of their reputation. 

Every month I go out to serious behavior cases where those kind of self-appointed, ignorant, armchair "dog-experts" have got there first, achieved nothing, wasted the owner's time and money and left the dog with potential put-down problems.

I don't find it funny at all. All of us qualified, professional trainers over here are desperate for legislation to regulate dog-training and put those idiots off the street.



Thank you so much for the Leerburg newsletter and all of the quality equipment and training help I've received over the last 4-5 years. I read Laura's comments in today's newsletter about "torture" devices and know there are other uninformed people out there who feel pretty much the same.  I have a 6-year-old GSD who has fear aggression problems.  I have regularly used a remote electronic collar on her to modify her behavior. I always "shock" myself in the hand before I put it on her, so I absolutely know that it is not at a "torture" level... it's much more like a tickling sensation. She doesn't like the shock and most times immediately modifies her own behavior as soon as she sees it even before it's on. I rarely have to administer any shock to settle her down. In the past she was aggressively running after my cat, but with the collar on she'll quietly lay and let the cat walk wherever he wants. I would suggest that people like Laura might want to more fully investigate a training technique before they complain about it. A picture of Anna is attached where she is instigating a game of tag with Blackjack, a mixed-breed puppy who pretty much rules the roost around here.


For more information on this topic, see Thursday's Newsletter.


*If you have a training question – write Cindy here at Leerburg at cindyr@leerburg.com
*If you have your spam filter on, make sure you set it to receive our replies!!!
*Our newsletter is a big success and we would like to send out a huge THANKS to our wonderful customers! Since beginning this newsletter our volume of email has greatly increased and you may have a longer than usual wait for a reply to your question.  We will answer; it just may take us a bit longer than you are accustomed to. In order to speed up this process, please condense your questions to a paragraph or two. This will make it MUCH easier for us to answer in a timely fashion. Your questions are important to us and we always appreciate receiving them. If you have a medical issue or emergency, please consult with a health care professional right away. We can’t diagnose or treat sick dogs via email. Also, try using the search function on our site - it now searches the site AND the web board. Thank you. Ed & Cindy

A Recent Leerburg Testimonial
See Previous Testimonials

I had to write after I saw the high drive puppy video – that was our Polly (GSD) 2 years ago. I had NO idea what it meant to have a high drive dog. The only people who were thrilled to see her at 6 months were the trainers we finally found who wanted to keep her and were very disappointed to learn that she was already spayed. But 2 long years later we have the smartest, almost most completely well behaved, sweetest dog, that anyone could ever ask for. It took constant training – I went to “dog school” 3 - 4 times a week for over a year where I worked her with the support of a team of trainers who really knew what they were doing. I also own, and have watched repeatedly, every video you have produced. The turning point came when I finally watched Dealing with Dominant and Aggressive Dogs. Polly was about 15 months at that point. While we had made a great deal of progress I wasn’t committed to what it would take to get her into line. After watching, and really absorbing the message, we embarked on a 2 month intensive period where she did absolutely nothing without my say so. She was on a leash or e-collar at all times. She had to stay with me, down, quiet, unless I told her something else. Luckily I work at home so she could be out and around while this was going on. While she is well trained to a crate (one of the true blessings for us) I do not like to crate her except at night or when we are away. We have always given Polly lots of exercise, walks, playing fetch, training etc, and she eats a raw diet which keeps her lean and healthy. Our one remaining problem is that she is aggressive with other dogs. I think this is a combination problem born of not enough socialization as a small pup, a few bad incidents with other dogs, and my failure to correct her effectively in these situations. She is actually fine at dog school where all the dogs are well behaved and she knows her place. Our problem is walking where there are other dogs; she just strikes out and refuses to be indifferent. Because she is so reactive she brings out the worst in other dogs… and as I have discovered many other dogs are very poorly behaved.  But this is the final frontier and I know we will conquer it. So I agree with you, most people have no idea what they are getting into with a high drive dog. Having said that I am already thinking about when we might get another puppy; I am almost ready to start again! Thanks for all your help and support you have the best information and are just a fabulous resource for dog lovers.

I attached a picture – thought you’d like seeing her in one of her favorite poses.


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The Michael Ellis School for Dog Trainers

More details on courses, course content and dates available on the website.
A list of Michael Ellis Seminars

There are still some openings for upcoming classes!

The next Obedience Intensive in October is filling up fast, only 5 spots left! There are a only 2 more openings in the next Protection Theory courses. The section on Theory starts on July 26th and the Decoy section begins August 2nd.


The next
K-9 Basic Course
will be held in the Albuquerque Metro Area

Beginning October 11th. 
There are still a couple slots left.

Info is available at http://www.k9services.com
You can find standards and the syllabus for the courses here.

Kevin Sheldahl

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