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Leerburg's Weekly Newsletter
October 25, 2010

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Michael Ellis on the Importance of Rewarding
Your Dog Correctly when Heeling

This video is a short lecture by Michael Ellis, at a Leerburg seminar, explaining why it is so important to reward your dog correctly while training the dog to heel.

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Focused Heeling with Michael Ellis

4 Hours | $65.00

Focused Heeling with Michael Ellis This is our third in the Michael Ellis series of training DVDs. We feel it's the best one yet. The training information in this video is revolutionary in the world of dog training.

Michael's motivational system of training dogs is based in marker training. You can visit the FREE streaming video section of our web site and listen to Michael's 7 part lecture on his method of dog training.

The foundation for the work in this focused heeling DVD is covered in the 9 1/2 hours of instruction featured in our two earlier DVDs that were done with Michael.

The Power of Training Dogs with Food
The Power of Playing Tug with Your Dog

The old "yank and crank" methods of training heeling have gone by the wayside. The fact is a good portion of the training in this DVD can be done without a leash and without corrections. In fact introducing corrections are the very last step in focused heeling.

Click here to read more.

Honest Kitchen Dog Food Sale!
Prices valid until Sunday, October 31st, 2010 at 11:59 pm central time.


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Honest Kitchen Preference Box Preference
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Dog Bite

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

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 Fight:

After the most recent family dog fight, I did a web search and found your site and article on breaking up a dog fight. Your article requested dog bite pictures, so I thought I'd send these. My husband had 9 loose stitches in the palm of his hand because the skin was pulled away down to muscle. You can also see some puncture wounds. The other side of his hand has a larger puncture wound. 

Both dogs ended up with multiple puncture wounds, one of which swelled up alarmingly and leaked for over a week. It's almost a month later and their scabs are finally coming off.

Here's the scoop: Six years ago my young daughter and I lived alone. Both our dogs (a Shepherd and a Lab mix) died of older age and causes. Keep in mind I've always had large dogs and coached them to be kind to everything, including our cats, children and other dogs.

My daughter and I then adopted a rescue dog: a wonderful male Rottweiler, Rocket, approximately 1.5 years old. Rocket was scheduled to be put down in an Ohio pound, so we have no history on him. For the first few years of having Rocket, if my daughter or I would cry, Rocket would shrink and leave the room, as if scared. About a year later, I met John, a 6'2" large man with a booming voice. From the start Rocket had a problem with John and similar-type males. He would, and still will, skirt around John while huffing and making aggressive moves when John moves from one room to another or walks up or down stairs. Outdoors there are no problems. We suspect he and his female owners were abused by a large male.

When John and I were married about five years ago, Rocket had a hard time warming up to him. (Today, Rocket will ask John for attention or lay his head in John's lap, but only if John's sitting.) Being a dog fan himself, John wanted a second dog so he'd have a companion, plus we both believe two dogs are better than one. So we adopted another male rescue, Lucky, a Husky mix. The two hit it off and are best brothers. 

After our marriage, John's son moved in with Diago, the male Golden he and his ex-wife got when Robert was a child.  Again, all went well... one big, happy family with three male dogs all between six and eight years old.

Then came the surprise. Two years ago John's ex-wife received a male Rott as a gift, but when Mason turned four months old she found out she needed surgery and couldn't continue to have him. Meantime, Robert had grown attached to the dog while living with his mom during the summer, so we relented and took Mason. While Rocket appears to be more of an American bred Rott, Mason has papers dating back to excellent stock and it's apparent he's extremely smart. But I had a breeder I know check out his heritage and, from the start, he was concerned about mixing the two Rotts together.

All four dogs are fixed. Mason's now 2.5 years old. There weren't conflicts with Mason when he was a growing puppy. But then they started small and have built up since. Diago, the Golden, never gets involved. Lucky, the Husky, has been part of the attacks without being an instigator. Mostly, it's been the two Rotts who are having problems. Mason seems to think he's the coolest thing around, or is too carefree to care if Rocket is challenging him. Rocket still thinks he should be the dominant male; after all, he was king before any of the other men or dogs came around. 

But Rocket is getting older and having joint problems, so he's losing the battles, but he's determined not to give up.  He still tries the dominant stance over Mason, and Mason stares at him with that glare which says he doesn't believe in the "law." Ever since the last battle a few weeks ago, we have to constantly move the two apart because we can see the hairs start to rise. 

We realize yelling at them when they fight does no good. And, obviously, putting yourself between them is stupid. We don't believe in physical harm, but John's had it and I don't know what will happen next time. With past dogs, letting them fight it out always worked out fine with no injuries. But the two Rotts are different. I'll tell the family about the method in your article (which I read in others, as well), but we tend to panic.

We dearly love all of our four dogs, two cats, turtle and fish. Our furry friends sleep with us and watch TV on the couch with us. Giving one away or putting one down is not an option. 

Kind regards,
Chicago, IL

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

Question: We got a new dog 2 weeks ago and when she plays with our male dog he gets quite rough. She rolls over and puts her tail between her legs. Should we step in?


My husband and I really enjoy watching and reading your various articles on dog training. We currently have two GSD (1 male, 1 female). The female is the newest in the family and the two seem to get along quite well. The question we have is this... the female is very submissive and the male very dominant. We give them their own time to play with us and we also allow them time to play together. The problem (we think) when they play together is that the female just runs after the male while he is chasing the ball or frisbee. She will nip at his neck. Not aggressively though. Her ears stay up and the tail is out (not up or down). However when they play with each other, the male is quite rough with her because of his nature (again not aggressive - no hackles) but she will "fight" back (teeth showing but again no hackles) for a bit and then she submits, and rolls over whining, tail between her legs. Should we allow this to occur as neither are hurting each other? Are they trying to obtain their pecking order? I worry because we have only had the female for 2 weeks and would like to try to determine if this is natural behavior, or if we should step in. We don't want her to be SO submissive. He (Metro) would just like a playmate.

Your opinion would be greatly appreciated. 

John and Gail


I’d read the article Ed wrote on introducing dogs.

I don’t allow this kind of play/bossy behavior with my own dogs. Some dogs play nicely and some get too rough. You are setting the dogs up for injury or a fight. You can’t control how submissive a dog is, but you can control the behavior of the dogs when they are together through training and leadership. I don’t put my less assertive dogs in the situation that they feel the need to roll over and tuck their tail and I don’t allow my more dominant dogs to be bullies. I’m the boss and when they are with me they abide by my rules. I don’t allow dogs like this to be together unless I’m supervising. Dogs don’t really NEED playmates, this is a human idea that sounds nice to us. I do have dogs that enjoy playing but all of them would prefer spending one on one time with me, as opposed to romping around with other dogs (we have 5 house dogs).

I’d recommend reading our groundwork article and watching the Pack Structure for the Family Pet DVD.

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 Introducing Dogs.


Question: I have a shelter dog I adopted last month. He’s 85 pounds and wants to go after every cat, squirrel and yappy dog he sees. He also pulls all the time, even with a prong collar on. I’m 51 years of age, 5 foot 2, 103 pounds and I have bulging discs in my neck and back. I also have pulmonary hypertension.  When I try to control this dog is hurts me.  Will the dominant dog collar help with his pulling?


I have a dog that has the largest prey drive and the strongest body I have ever had to deal with. He wants to go after every cat, squirrel and small yappy barking growling dog. He pulls all of the time not some of the time even with the prong collar on. I am not strong enough to hold him next to me and walk by me as I have bulging disks in my neck and back. When I try to resist him it hurts me.

I have tried the halti collar and it did not work. I also have the gentle leader which works a lot better but he still pulls and when he saw a cat in the bushes he hurt himself yanking on the halter really hard.

I am 51 years of age, have pulmonary hypertension, 103 pounds and 5 foot 2. My dog is 85 pounds and big and long. I adopted my dog from the shelter last month. The shelter policy was no leash walking because they were not set up for it. The only thing we could do is visit in a room.

I had no idea that he was a prey dog. He wants to go after the animals I mentioned. I can only let him walk in front of me and I lean back while he pulls me with the choke collar, when we walk. I can tell him to sit when walking after he sees a prey animal but he is still excited. Also I can tell him to sit in general when we are walking and heel him butt he never will stop pulling me, it is a no win situation with he and I. I would never ever get any where down the road, he would not get to use the bathroom and I would be hours fooling around if I told him to sit so he would not pull anymore. I have a shock collar that I bought last month but have been waiting to use it.

My question is this:
I see you have a collar that is called the dominant collar, will this keep him from pulling somehow? Or is it just for aggression? Would I have to pull the collar up every couple of feet to get him to see the message that I don't want him to pull?



The dominant dog collar is not going to help with pulling. The dominant dog collar is for aggression/excitement but if you have neck and back problems you are not going to be able to use it properly It seems to me like the shelter didn’t do a very good match, I’m not sure this is the right dog for you.  This dog is going to hurt you and/or possibly someone else. 

I’m much larger than you are, with no health issues and it would be difficult for me to control an 85 pound dog under these circumstances.

This dog could probably be trained with the electric collar but he will need to be taught on leash as well, do you have anyone to help you? I can recommend equipment and resources, but unless you can physically handle this dog I’m afraid I don’t know what to suggest.

If you do have someone to help you this dog needs to have his entire life structured, start with our groundwork program and Pack Structure for the Family Pet.

I’d also recommend Basic Obedience and Dealing with Dominant & Aggressive Dogs.

Honestly, if you were a neighbor, friend or family member of mine I’d recommend you find a dog that has a more manageable size and temperament for your situation. I’m afraid you are going to be hurt.

Cindy Rhodes

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


Health Comment:

Hi Cindy; 

I have written you before with training questions but now am writing to pass on a warning. Our German Shepherd came terribly close to strangling to death while we were playing with a racquetball. His jaws were strong enough to compress the ball which allowed it to shoot down his throat where it promptly returned to it’s round shape and choked him. Very, very luckily my son was home that day from college and had first aid training. The dog was choking to death right in front of us and we felt so helpless. Out of desperation we tried the Heimlich maneuver on him and then my son draped our dog over his forearm so the dog was now dangling in a head-down position.  My son pounded on the dogs back moving his hand from the shoulders towards the head (like they teach you in first aid for choking victims). He thought he felt the ball move in the dogs throat so my son kept repeating doing the Heimlich and then holding the dog head down and pounding on his back. After about 2 minutes of repeated work, the ball finally popped out. We took the dog to the vet and were relieved that there was no damage to his esophagus. Please tell all owners of larger breed dogs that racquetballs and tennis balls are a choking hazard. I have heard that Oprah Winfrey’s golden retriever strangled to death on a tennis ball with the trainer standing right there with the dog (and she certainly can afford the best dog expert possible!). Since that day, we have never allowed our dog to play with squeezable balls and he only plays with ones that have really strong material that he can’t compact. It was a horrible experience to see him suffering and choking and it was such a miracle that my son was able to save him. I would hate to have any other dog go through this experience.

Thanks for all the wonderful information on your website,



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!!!

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I do so appreciate the excellent service I get from Leerburg. The orders are shipped quickly and are always accurate.
Thanks for all your advice and help.


Dear Ed, 

First I want to thank you for all the work you have done to share your knowledge of dogs and dog training. My husband and I recently purchased three DVDS from you (pack leader, obedience and dominant dogs) and have watched them all (and taken notes) a number of times and continue to do so.  The information you give is clear, easy to practice and has revolutionized our home.  Our dog is becoming the dream dog we wanted, from a dominant, out of control on the leash scared dog --to a calm, submissive, happy dog who listens very well. We adopted her from a rescue group.  Many of her issues have been resolved through establishing a strong Pack Leader, that's me. She is very smart and takes quickly to obedience training. 

Also, your training on Pack Leadership has been a great tool for me personally.  I appreciate the practice it gives me in confidence and leadership within my home with my pets, and all other beings.

I look forward to learning more from you as my dog develops her skill base. In the video, your landscape looks so beautiful. We live in Los Angeles and have our longer term eyes set on living somewhere more pastoral than the big city. 

Thanks for your time, 

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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!

Puppy Development, November 1st-5th - Openings Available
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