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Michael Ellis - If you don't need it, don't use it.

Michael Ellis
"If you don't need it, don't use it."

One of the first things students at the Michael Ellis School For Dog Trainers learn is engagement. Engagement simply means, my dog wants to be with me and wants what I have. The first step to developing an engaged dog is to reward the dog for eye contact.

However, as simple as this sounds, there are several common mistakes people make. One of those common mistakes is to make a noise or gesture to get the dogs attention. The problem with this is that that sound or gesture become an unintentional cue for eye contact. Rather than cue the dog we want to wait the dog out until he or she offers eye contact on their own. This creates a dog that is looking to you to find out where the next reward is coming from all the time, rather than only when you make a sound.

Coupon Code: DVD2234   Expires: November 3, 2014
Not valid on previously purchased items. Not valid on orders placed any other day than the listed dates for the sale. This special cannot be combined with any other special. No exceptions. You must enter the coupon code in the shopping cart to obtain the offer. Offer valid until Monday, November 3rd, 2014 at 11:59 pm central time.

Leerburg Online University Student Comment

Leerburg's Online Basic Dog Obedience Course

The most important facet that I learned from this class is to know my dog. Know his limitations, know what corrections work most effectively with him, and that every dog is different. It is most important to give a correction to a dog the moment it happens not later because they have no idea what they did as time goes on. They all learn in different ways and with different types of training methods.

Through this course, I was able to evaluate my 2 year old German Shepherd and determine that he is a dog with high ball drive and through the class was able to increase his food drive with a high quality food. Even though he was a pretty well trained dog, there were several areas that needed work.

Through the criterion of lures and "look it" helped me have him more focused on me than what was going on around him. We have also been working on marker training because he likes to greet everyone that comes in and have now established where he is to go with visitors. There are so many things that help through out this course to mention. Each segment of each week has brought either a refresher or different aspect to training for me.

Thank you for the course and I look forward to doing more in the future.

Read more student comments on Leerburg Online University

Leerburg Q&A
Ask your training question

Question: My 6 month old puppy gets very excited and lunges at other dogs when I go to our local pet store. I want him to not be so wild when he sees other dogs, I would appreciate advice.

Hello, Ed and Cindy.

I have a question about my 6 months old GSD puppy and his behavior around other dogs. I watched several of your DVDs, also your basic obedience and engagement online classes, but still have a problem with my pup. He gets very excited when he sees other dogs. I guess he feels insecure around them. I do not let him interact with them at all. All I do is go to our local pet store and just let him be in sight of them. He engages fine at home but no matter the distance from other dogs, he goes crazy and won't stay engaged. He barks and lunges towards them. I say NO! Jerk the leash and if he still doesn't stop, grab him by scruff until he stops. If he just looks at them quietly, I reward him a lot. But I am not sure it really helps, because if another dog goes by, we go through the same cycle. I don't want him to play with the dogs, I just want him to not act so wild if the dogs are around. I would very much appreciate your advice.

Thank you!

Cindy's Response:

You need to work on teaching him what you expect from him without such big distractions. Very few 6 month old puppies have the level of training to be going into a pet store and in such close proximity with other dogs. If your puppy won't stay engaged then you need to work on it from a larger distance from the distraction (whether that's other dogs, etc). There aren't any shortcuts to this and grabbing him and jerking him isn't going to help, it will only erode your relationship. You may need to go 100 yards away or more from the other dogs and this is not possible inside a store. I'm very sure you are expecting too much from him at this point and the more you let him do this, the more of a habit it will become.

Control your environment, stop taking him to places that he's not ready for and work on engagement in increments. I have a 6 month old puppy and I work on this EVERY day in environments I can (somewhat) control. I go to a local walking trail and work on engagement, engagement, engagement....

Cindy Rhodes


Thank you very much!!! 
I very much enjoy and appreciate your DVDs and your website.
In my opinion, the way you train in Leerburg, is great and makes absolute sense.
Thank you for all your help and time you put in in helping others to train their dogs. 

You, guys, are great!

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

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 Wire Basket Muzzle



We received our wire muzzle on Monday and it has taken less than 24 hours for my "sneaky" biter, Rey, to acclimate to it. I did just what Cindy did in the video with Rush. It makes me so happy that I will be able to go more places with him and have others enjoy his talents. In the past, I just never knew when or who he might decide to bite. He could be running an agility course a mile a minute and just decide that the gate person might need a quick bite. He never broke skin, or drew blood, but I had to quit bringing him out in public. He hates the cloth muzzle and will fight it, but this wire muzzle with plenty of room to breathe and lick and even enjoy a treat has just been a blessing. Thanks for taking the time to email me and explain about the measurements, etc. and the pros and cons of each muzzle.

Bouvier, Briarlea Rey en la Luz, and owner, Janet

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