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Michael Ellis - The Beauty of the Word YES

Michael Ellis "The Beauty of the Word YES"

The beauty of the word "yes" in marker training is that you do not have to be ready to go with a high value food reward all the time. By incorporating some simple food chasing drills, you have the ability to mark a specific behavior at an exact point in time without having the food in your hand. You can then turn your high value food reward into a reward event. This not only allows you some leeway with your timing, but it also channels your dog's energy and builds drive for whatever activity you are training.

Leerburg Online University Student Comment

Leerburg's Online Basic Dog Obedience Course

I am a manager and certified counselor at a doggy day care and boarding facility. I can't thank you enough for the useful information contained in your course. I have been wanting to expand into training for a better understanding of dogs. The most important aspect of balanced dog training that I learned was how to be more in control of the environment and distractions in your dog's environment. Also this course has made me understand the extent of the communication barrier between humans and dogs. I loved the videos on clicker training your friend. It really opened my eyes and made me feel foolish for getting upset when telling a dog a command and expecting him to understand. After taking your course I applied the simple techniques to see if I could train a friend's dog. I couldn't believe the results I achieved using this course. It works! Thanks again Leerburg.

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Leerburg Q&A
Ask your training question

Question: My dog is fearful of people he doesn't know and today a stranger reached out towards my dog and he snapped at the guy. Should I have walked away sooner?


I have a year old while German shepherd dog. I got him as a 9 week old pup. We also have an adult Beagle, and 2 cats. Sax GSD gets along with everyone in the home. He is extremely loving and playful and has lots of energy. He has not been neutered yet but we do plan to do that this month.

He has always been fearful of strangers out side the home. If someone comes into the home he is better after he gets to know them. However, when we are walking it is hard to go a block before someone what's to pet him. He is a very beautiful while shepherd and people like that. I ask folks to please not try to pet him, but some people do anyway and he barks at them and this hair stands on end. Today I was talking with some folks at the corner and one guy asked if he could pet him. I said it would be better if you let him come to you. But the guy kept reaching out to pet him anyway until Sax snapped at him. I want to know if I am handling this right. Should I have walked away sooner?


Cindy's Response:

You may want to read the following resources.  I don't allow anyone I don't know and trust to approach or interact with my dogs, even if they don't have fear issues. 

I would recommend our article on Socializing Puppies.
I would also recommend watching this 3 part video on fear periods in dogs and how to condition them to things that make them nervous.
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 

You may want to consider getting a vest for him to wear when you take him out.. One that says "In Training." Here is one of the vests I use for my own dog, you can get different patches for them.  

I've found that it's easier to get people to leave my own dogs alone when they are wearing this. You also need to be an advocate for your dog and stop people before they get too close. If you need to be firm or forceful, do so. Your dog needs you to make sure he feels safe.

Cindy Rhodes


Dear Cindy,

Thank you so much for your response. At least now I will not feel so guilty when I tell people not to touch my dog. Somewhere along the line I was told that dogs should accept people no matter what or the dog is at fault, and I believed that. I am defiantly going to get a vest for him. I think I have a lot of retraining to do in order to get Sax to be comfortable and focused on me. We have an excellent relationship so I am hoping this will help.

Thanks again.

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

We get a number of Q&As every week, if you would like to read this week's Q&As, click here and check out the 'Recent Questions' section!

Have a question for Ed & Cindy? Try the Leerburg Q&A Search. If you can't find the answer to your question by using our search engine, you can email Cindy here at Leerburg at If you have your spam filter on, make sure you set it to receive our replies!!!

Customer Comments

On Leerburg's Mil-Spec Collar


Got the Mil-Spec collar for my GSD. The material and workmanship are excellent. This is not a collar that will slip or loosen the fit. It appears to be less distracting and constraining for the dog. The design and material is far superior to the parachute rigging we used in the Army in the '70s. The clasp is high quality and I can't imagine it failing.

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