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Leerburg's Weekly Newsletter
September 30, 2010

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Rules Dogs Must Live By

The majority of emails we get from people involve behavioral problems with their dogs. The vast majority of these problems stem from a lack of pack structure. This short video talks about the rules that dogs must live by. The lecture comes directly out of our DVD, Establishing Pack Structure with the Family Pet.


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Establishing Pack Structure with the Family Pet

4 Hours, 9 Minutes| $40.00

Establishing Pack Structure with the Family Pet DVD

The goal of our pack structure training program is to produce a dog that is calm and submissive and a dog that follows the rules of the pack leader. This DVD teaches people how to become a pack leader that their dog respects and loves.

Most people are not born pack leaders. In fact far from it. The majority of dog owners (many who have owned dogs their entire life) simply don’t know anything about the instincts that control our dogs or how strong these instincts are in the domestic dog. Oh people may have heard that they need to be a "pack leader" or they may have heard they need to be an "ALPHA" with their dog but they don’t understand what this really means or how to accomplish it.

Current shows on TV about dog training lead people to think they can deal with behavioral problems but the fact is these shows are often misleading. In many cases these TV shows offer limited to dangerous advice that only a professional dog trainer with years of experience should attempt. While these shows are interesting to watch, because the dog owners are so inept, they don’t offer a program that pet owners can follow.

Our DVD outlines a program that I have developed over the past 45 years of owning, breeding and training German Shepherds. This program works on every breed of dog and dogs of all ages. This program is the foundation for solving almost all behavioral problems, especially those related to aggression.

New pet owners are often told the road to a calm, submissive dog is to attend obedience classes and socialize their dog. In our opinion this is not correct. The road to a calm dog is to first establish pack structure and leadership. When that's done you can obedience train your dog.

Dogs are pack animals. Every breed of dog is hard wired with genetic pack instincts. From the smallest Chihuahua to the largest Great Dane, dogs wants to live in a family pack. Once they find their pack they genetically need to determine their rank within that pack.

Read more.

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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.


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: We adopted a new dog, he’s bonded with my wife but he runs away from me.  How can I win his trust?

Dear Cindy,

My wife and I have just adopted a rescue dog named Trouble. He is a 6 year old toy poodle. We also have another 4 year old toy. Trouble has bonded with my wife. He seems to be very cautious towards men. He is very scared of me and runs when ever I go near him. I keep a happy tone of voice when ever I speak to him. How do I gain his trust?


I think you would benefit from watching this free 3 part video on fearful dogs & puppies.


I’d also make sure Trouble was ALWAYS on a leash so he can’t run away. You need to break the pattern. Don’t pay any attention to him at all, don’t look at him, don’t try to buddy up… you should be taking him on some walks and things of that nature but be aloof. Your wife needs to make sure she doesn’t undermine this by babying him or holding him. He’ll be a much happier and more balanced dog if he can relax in your home. 

Start with our groundwork program. People tend to drag their feet on this work with little dogs, because they are small and cute but they need this just like a German Shepherd or Lab would. Pack structure is universal, no matter the breed.

I’d also recommend Pack Structure for the Family Pet.

I hope this helps.

Cindy Rhodes

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


Question: I like the way your dog works and I think I would like a Malinois for my next dog.  What do you think? 

This email is from a grandmother in her 70’s that I’ve helped with her GSD over the last several years.


I have had a German Shepherd  for 8 years and thoroughly enjoyed him, and have loved training him. I have been able to put a toy or food over to the side and he will focus on me and work like crazy, knowing that he will eventually get it. Showing that he can engage and refocus even when there is something he wants, and he knows its just 10 feet away, in clear view. He has been un-demanding in the house, waiting until I can go out, play or train. I guess you would say he is not a demanding dog. I'm older, so this is good.

I'm thinking about getting another dog now, and wondering if a SMALL, female Belgian Malinois, might be the kind for me? I know people with Belgian Tervuren and they say their dogs never sit down, and pace! I don't think I would like a hyper or a dog with so much drive he's moving all the time. I would feel pressured. My Shepherd has all the drive anyone would want but when you don't ask for it, he chills. I like this, because he is easy to be in the house with. Lets say, he works around my schedule, I don't work around his!

I would like a smaller dog, and like the way your dog works so I decided to ask you about the breed. How is a Malinois different than a Terv?? Tell me how a Malinois acts in the house and his exercise needs. Thanks ever so much.

PS My dog is not dog or people aggressive! He is protective of our house and yard but when I let people in, he knows they are ok and is usually friendly, maybe aloof if he thinks they don't like him or if he's not sure of them but never aggressive. I like this!


Living with a Malinois has been discussed a LOT on our website and forum. There is much more to it than I can cover in an email. I would say that I talk most people out of getting a Malinois. They see my dogs work and think they want one, but they don’t see the road it takes to get there! It can be challenging, to say the least.

I’d recommend using the search function to find more info..

Malinois are more reactive and energetic than most German Shepherds. They have a higher exercise requirement (as a general rule)  my dogs are wonderful in the house but they are a full time job… I typically don’t recommend them to people who want a dog that works around their schedule. They can be a dream but if not handled correctly they can be your worst nightmare. Based on our correspondence over the last year or so I would probably NOT recommend a Malinois for you. Malinois have MUCH more drive than the typical Terv (I’ve owned both breeds).

Maybe a smaller female GSD would suit you?

I hope this helps.

Cindy Rhodes

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


*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 Comment
See Previous Testimonials

Dear Ed and Cindy:

I wrote you before and was given a response and added to the newsletter. (Thank you, by the way.) Between then and now, I've been reading a lot not just on your site, but all over the place. The more I read, the more I realize, you really know what you are talking about.

I stated before that I acquired two lab mix puppies that were thrown out like garbage on to the streets and while I know you do not approve of raising two dogs at the same time, I am doing that. I am, however, taking your tips seriously. I immediately went out and got them crates and I am walking them separately, feeding them separately, etc. and things you said would happen, have. But they are getting better. Most noticeably was the screaming fit from being separated.  My God. This still happens when I take them out to walk separately. I will put one in their crate and take the other outside. The one in the crate howls and cries and carries on for a good 10 minutes. (I can hear them.) I ignore it. It is getting shorter but it still happens.

At night, one stays in the living room and one is in the bedroom next to me, on the floor. The one in the living room, the girl, has been known to throw a fit about this, trying to get the brother to come back to her. I do not let him go and I ignore it. This is also getting shorter and doesn't happen every night anymore.

I realized how right it is to separate them as this would result in serious problems down the line if I didn't.

Also, you invited us all to do our own research on vaccinations and I honestly wasn't sure if I agreed with you or not on this topic. I do know that I got my cats vaccinated when they were young and never did it again. I felt that vets over vaccinated and I worked in a vet office for about 3 months at one time and saw some animals having bad reactions to those vaccinations. 

So, keeping that in mind and doing my own research, including the opinions and advice of vets sites I found, I think you are absolutely right.  In the state of FL it is the law to get them the rabies vaccine once a year so I'm not sure I have a way around that one but all other vaccines they will not get.  They got their initial three dose vaccine but they will not get more. 

I also researched your "raw diet." I've taken some information from that vet I used to work for plus a vet I used to have for a dog I used to own and everything I've found, (both sides of the debate), and again, I believe you are right. My dogs have been on their raw diet for four days now. Already they are calmer, already their "doggy odor" is gone. I picked them up and smelled all over them... nothing.  I even started the cats on the diet, too.

When I started reading your site, I agreed with most of what you said but was unsure about other things. Now? I'm convinced you know what you are doing and that your site is a wealth of useful, helpful information that will keep the dogs, cats and myself happy, healthy and safe.

And thanks to you, I no longer go to dog parks. Never liked the places anyway but now I know I don't have to feel guilty for NOT taking them there. We all get brainwashed along the way, I think. Thankfully, I'm seeing the light.

Thank you, again, for sharing all of your experience from over the years. You do a great service, especially for the dogs.


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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 upcoming Obedience Intensive class, October 11th-22nd, and the Advance Obedience class, October 25th-29th, are now full. There are a bunch of spaces still open in the Puppy Development (November 1st-5th) and Protection classes (November 8th-12th and November 15th-19th).


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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