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Leerburg's Weekly Newsletter
August 23, 2010

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Cindy's New Puppy, Endy, Working Engagement at 13 Weeks

Cindy's New Puppy, Endy, Working Engagement at 13 Weeks

Five weeks ago, our newsletter video featured Endy when she was 8 weeks old showing engagement. For the past four weeks, Cindy has worked with Endy on a daily basis training behaviors and engagement with food. This work is the foundation of Michael Ellis' system of dog training and is cover in detail in the DVD we did with Michael titled "The Power of Training Dogs with Food."

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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:

We did everything wrong in bringing a new dog in to our pack, and, apparently, weren't living correctly with that pack anyway. A massive 4 way dog fight ensued, one was almost killed, and we got the living sh*t bit out of us breaking it up. Now we are starting from scratch with the "Establishing Pack Structure" video. We also will watch the "Dominant and Aggressive Dogs" video as well. We wonder if the dogs can ever be left alone together outside, presuming we actually work your program? Cindy said no, and like a patient trying to find a doctor to tell them what they want to hear, I'm asking you. No disrespect to Cindy. Right now they are all sleeping quietly on their assigned pads in the living room. But I never know if a big blow up will occur. We are keeping them separated during the day, walking them all together at night, and have totally regulated their behavior in a way we never did before.

Rhae Leigh has healed beautifully, she's minus one ear, she nearly died at one point! Now she's running around like it never happened. $7,000.00 later.

Photo quality a little crappy for your website, just included for your info. Of course, you've seen it all before.

Thanks to God my hand healed, I'm a surgeon. I KNEW not to stick my hand in there, but the wheelbarrow trick didn't work. They were locked on to Rhae Leigh like a vice. If push comes to shove, we could re-home the new guy, we never had trouble prior to that. But, as you say, it was our fault, not his. We thought we had a good pack structure, but we were really not all the way there. And yes, we are Cesar fans. Now I don't know what to think of him. That acupuncture crap just made me wonder if he has spent WAY too much time in L.A.


Ed's Response:

Cindy is a better dog trainer than I am I suggest that you follow her advice on keeping these dogs separated for life and running them all through pack structure.

Ed Frawley

To view these dog bite photos, click here.
Warning: these photos are very graphic!

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 2 dogs became ill a month ago and ever since then they won’t eat their regular food. I’ve been offering them their favorite treats, but even then they walk away unless I hand feed them. Please let me know what you think.

Hi Cindy,

My 2 dogs are eating Honest Kitchen Embark. Both of them became sick about 1 month ago with diarrhea and some bleeding (1 week apart) and I put them on a bland diet of boiled chicken and rice. After 2 weeks of a bland diet I slowly introduced them back on the Honest Kitchen and they will not eat it. I have tried everything and finally gave up and put them back on fruits and cottage cheese which they loved and now refuse to eat that as well. Every morning and night it's a hassle to get them to eat. I tried some beef last night and they walked away and bananas were their favorite and I have to hand feed them before they will actually start eating. I don't know what to try next. The vet said if they don't eat it pick it up and wait until the next time they eat, but that doesn't seem to bother them.  Please let me know what you think. 



If the vet gives them a clean bill of health, I think I will agree with his advice.  It sounds like the dogs are now waiting to see what ‘goodies’ they will get if they don’t eat their regular food.  A healthy dog won’t starve and by offering a variety of treats and hand feeding you are actually making this worse.

Offer their food, give them 15 or 20 minutes and if they don’t eat, pick up the food and then wait until their next normal meal time.  No treats, no hand feeding.

If they skip meals for a day or two, don’t worry about it.  If you cave in and give them something special to get them to eat, then you will actually be reinforcing the picky behavior.

They will eat eventually, it just may take a bit of "tough love."

Cindy Rhodes

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


Question: We are training our dogs using the Ellis DVDs. We have a number of questions about using YES in this training. We are unsure if our dogs understand that YES means they are released. They know it means a reward is coming but how do we know if they understand the release?

Hi Cindy, Ed & Michael,
We bought 4 DVDs from Leerburg: The Power of Training Dogs with Markers, The Power of Training Dogs with Food, The Power of Playing Tug with your Dog and Focused Heeling and we found them to be very informative. We have watched the first two DVDs and we have a few questions for you, which we hope you will be able to clarify for us.
We use "Yes" to mark the behavior and "Yes" to release the dog, as per your DVD. We have trained our dogs to do the touch command, by putting their paws on an object a short distance away (as shown in the Training Dogs with Food). We have progressed to the point, where we say the command "touch"; we make a slight gesture/movement towards the pad; then we stop and the dog continues on and puts his paws on the touch pad.
Now here comes the questions:
As soon as the dog puts his paws on the touch pad, we say "Yes" (marking the behavior)  Correct  or  incorrect? 

As we would be standing a couple of yards away from the touch pad, do we say "Yes" as mentioned above and lure him off the pad, by saying "Yes" again? Correct  or  incorrect? 
Or do we go to the dog on the touch pad, say "Yes" and reward him with a treat, lure him off and say "Yes" again? Correct or incorrect? Correct.
We are not sure if the dog realizes that "Yes" marks the behavior and also, that it is a release word.
If the dog stays on the touch pad, and we circle him a little and he moves around on the pad, do we say "Yes" first and continue with "good" or just say "good"? Correct  or  incorrect?
Then, we lure him off the pad and say "Yes" again? Correct  or  incorrect?
If we are out in the fields walking the dogs off leash and we call their name and they turns towards us to come back, we say "Yes" and they run back to us and get a reward. They always do this, so they know/understand that "Yes" means a reward.  But, as to whether, they understand that "Yes" is a release, we are not 100% certain; even though on the touch pad, when we lure with food and they follow our hand, we say "Yes" in that situation. We think it maybe just the treat that they are following, instead of understanding that it is releasing them from a position.
We hope that you understand what we are trying to say and that is it not too confusing for you. We have noticed a big difference in both our dogs (German Shepherd & Golden Retriever), they are much more fun and they want to be with us, which is marvelous. We await your reply so that we can continue our training with our canine friends!! 

Many thanks, 
Eamonn & Liz


I believe the answer to ALL of your questions below are "correct."

Yes means keep doing what you are doing as well as meaning that you are free to access your reward (which equals a release), that may mean sitting, downing, standing, being lured off a touch pad, turning on a touch pad or running to me when I call. You use good to add duration to a behavior, like standing on a pad, or staying in a sit. When you say yes, the behavior is OVER and the reward is to be accessed. When you say good, the behavior is to be continued but you can still use food at first to reinforce the meaning of the word.

I believe you are trying to make this more complicated than it is.

Of course at first the dog is just following the treat, but with continued training and repetition comes understanding. It will all make more sense as you progress and watch the rest of the videos.

Cindy Rhodes

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


Question: My typically non aggressive lab has bitten since we bred her and she had puppies.  What advice can you give us?

I tried to find the answer to my question on your web site, but couldn't quite find the right fit from the previous questions. I'm really hoping you can help because I don't know what to do.

We have a lab that we've had since she was a puppy. She's always been an inside dog and has gotten along great with EVERYONE up until now. She has not been to formal obedience training, but we don't like unruly dogs, so we've got her pretty well trained. She's always had ear problems and, as a result, she's pretty much deaf, so we've got her trained to hand signals now. She hunts so it's important that she behaves, so she'll sit, stay, retrieve, lay down, etc. She doesn't have free reign of the house so we built her a kennel indoors for when we've got a lot of company or aren't home, etc. 

Anyway, she's now almost 6 and we decided we'd breed her, since she's been so great and we wanted a puppy. Well, since probably her late pregnancy she's shown a few instances of aggressiveness, but nothing serious. She sort of showed her teeth and barked at a lady that was at the house for a party, but was in her kennel so there was no incident really and I didn't get alarmed. I was really surprised more than anything because that was a first for her. 

When the puppies came she was a really terrible mother. (She had 9 puppies and only 4 survived her.) My son, who she just loves and slept with most nights for the past year or so, was trying to help her tend to them so she wouldn't kill any more and she sort of attacked him. I'd say she bit him, but she bit both of his hands so I know there were at least two bites. (I feel that's kind of like an attack, verses just a bite.) During this encounter she never barked or growled or anything. There was no warning that she would become aggressive. My son was in the birthing box/kennel with her when it happened and it was at night so we wrote it off to the new motherhood and the confined space/dark, etc... The next day she sort of snapped at me from inside the kennel, so we just kind of left her alone figuring it was a "mother dog" thing and that it would get better.

Well, the reason for my question is this; it's now 9 weeks after puppies and they've been separated from her for about 2 weeks. The puppies are outside and she's still inside. Last night she bit the neighbor boy when he put his hand in her kennel. Again, she never growled, barked, nothing. I can't say that this is just "mother dog" behavior any longer. I've never owned a dog that's ever bitten anyone and I don't really know what to do. We love her and don't want to put her down, but I cannot have a dog that I can't trust either. 

Can you offer me any advice of a logical next step? The whole family is very upset because she's been such a great pet up until this point.  I've even thought about extracting her canine teeth to at least make her less dangerous if she would ever bite again. I'm just so stunned that these events have even taken place that I don't know where to turn. We've always had her socialized to whoever comes to the house and have never had a problem. Now I'm concerned that she might hurt someone else. 

Thank you in advance for your time.
Have a great day! :0)


Even non aggressive dogs may bite when you put your hand inside their kennel or over a fence. I’m not making excuses for the dog but the first responsibility of ownership is making sure that your dog can’t be put in a situation where they feel like they need to bite. Dogs should not be kenneled where people (especially kids) have access to them.

Many pregnant dogs and dogs with puppies will show aggression, it’s what we refer to as maternal aggression.  It usually fades with time as the puppies get older and leave to go to their new homes.  

My advice would be to re-establish rules and pack structure with her and correct any aggression appropriately. Extracting the canine teeth is NOT the answer. 

Start with our groundwork program and Pack Structure for the Family Pet.

I’d also recommend Dealing with Dominant & Aggressive Dogs. You will need a dominant dog collar and possibly a muzzle. We also have a number of eBooks, which include topics that may help you. 

I hope this helps.

Cindy Rhodes

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


*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

Thank you for all the available information and accessories that can help all of us to better understand our puppies and dogs. I look forward to my order arriving so I may begin the Marker Training. I think all men should go through the marker training that Cindy did with Ed!! Too funny, but very accurate as to how a dog must perceive this new technique!! I have followed your web site articles, and thank you Cindy for replying to my many an e-mail!



I just had to say I am very much satisfied with all my products! The leashes are like nothing I could find! And even the toys are great Quality! My dog loves the Everlasting Fire Plug and the Orbee Cosmo!

I’ve got 12 DVDs so far and there so many others I still need to get! I love the way you add humor into your videos, I loved the choking on the packing peanuts and when you talk about testing the range of the e-collar too funny! You make it easy to understand, I would like very much to become a Pro. Dog Trainer and I think your videos are a great help getting me there!

Anyways keep up the good work and thanks for sharing the wisdom!

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We Support & Recommend
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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