Tips and Techniques for teaching basic dog obedience to your dog

Dog Walking Leah Pulling

5 Easy Steps to Stop Your Dog From Pulling on The Leash

If you have trouble with your dog pulling on his leash, you can stop this dog behavior. You want to go in one direction, your dog wants to go in the other direction. Sound familiar? There are several things you can do. If your dog is still young, you want to stop the leash pulling now, especially if he may outweigh you when he is fully grown. You don’t want to look like a tail on a kite when you walk your dog.

Taking your dog out for a walk can be a very enjoyable experience. It is also a critical element in having a well balanced dog. Dogs need to be walked, just getting exercise in your backyard is not enough. Dogs need not only the exercise, but also the intellectual and olfactory stimulation of walks.

You head out the door to take your dog for a walk. But if you stop for just a moment the battle begins. He still wants to move and you don’t. He wants to walk down the street at 90 mph and you can’t keep up and don’t want to walk that fast. Can you control this behavior in your dog? Yes, with consistency and the right method. It may be frustrating for a bit, but it can be done.

Here are 5 tips to help you train your dog to stop pulling on leash. While you can use training collars and retractable leashes, it is best to try other options first. Retractable leashes are largely a waste of time on big dogs, and really aren’t effective for training smaller dogs either.

For this method all you really need are: a 6′ leash and a nylon buckle collar. This is pretty simple and very effective way to train your dog to walk on leash. Remember, as always, consistency is the key to changing any behavior in your dog.

  • While you are out for a walk with your dog and he begins pulling on his leash, simply stop. Become immovable until he stops pulling and allows some slack in the leash.
  • The minute there is slack in the leash, praise your dog and begin walking again.
  • Continue your walk until the dog starts pulling again, stop dead in your tracks once again. Remain neutral. Wait for slack, praise.
  • Sometimes, if you simply stop, change your direction and start walking, your dog will have to stop pulling and try to catch up with you going in the other direction. This strategy will also teach your dog to pay attention to you when you walk.
  • Do not let your dog go sniff and investigate whatever he wants. You must control the walk.

Granted, this can be time consuming. But, walks are so important to your dog, he will soon learn that when he doesn’t pull he gets what he wants. Dogs do what works!

Changing the behavior of your pet isn’t really that difficult, but as in most any type of training, consistency, repetition and praise are two aspects that must be reinforced. Dogs are smarter than you think. Do your part and you will soon find that you can emjoy your walks and your dog will love them as well.

Be as comfortable with the trainer of your dog as you are the teacher of your children. And remember “Opportunity Barks!”


Six Minutes A Day To A Well Trained Dog

Lots of people believe doing obedience training with their dog at home takes too much time and effort. The truth is, if done correctly you can teach your dog to perform many commands and behave the way you want him to behave, by yourself, in your home. That’s where he needs to behave isn’t it?

Look if you can take 6 minutes to hard boil an egg, take that same 6 minutes to work on having an awesome well trained dog!

Here’s are a few pointers:

  • From the earliest age possible, begin to teach your puppy or dog control commands, such as sit and down.
  • Use food treats (in the beginning) to shape the behavior so that your dog wants to work
  • Always, always praise when your dog gives you the behavior you request.
  • Never punish or scold when he does it wrong, simply say WRONG and try again

Here’s the hard boiled egg part. At a convenient time of day for you, but preferably when the dog has not eaten yet so he’s food motivated (not starving but motivated), and you’re relaxed, not in a rush and are excited about training your dog, work on one or two commands with your dog for 6 minutes.

Six minutes! Doesn’t sound possible does it? But here’s the key. Yes, it’s a short amount of time, but the trick here is consistency. You’re training every day for 6 minutes on commands that are going to be important to you and your dog. It’s very much like teaching children. Repetition and consistency, Repetition and consistency. Like the shampoo bottle says: Rinse and Repeat.

Once your dog gets good on these commands in your house, increase distraction levels by taking him outside in your back yard and work on the same commands. Remember, dogs learn in context so don’t be surprised if he looks at you like you’re nuts when you ask for a sit outside. You might have to re-introduce the food treats in the beginning to keep his attention. Also remember, working your dog on a leash keeps him in the classroom!

Once you’ve mastered those commands in your back yard, progress to your front yard. Now the wonderful world of distractions is going to kick in and you’ll have to work harder to get your dog to listen. Again, you probably will have to break out the food treats again for a short time.

The progression of all of these sessions of 6 minutes results in a dog that will listen to you no matter what the distraction level is and he will listen to you because you have made training fun, a positive experience AND you’ve practiced your leadership role.

So go ahead, put the egg on the stove to cook and go train your dog!

Be as comfortable with the trainer of your dog as you are the teacher of your children. And remember, Opportunity Barks!


Hurry Up and Train the Dog – Sometimes Slow and Steady Wins the Race

You may want to train your dog to obey all of those nice little commands such as sit, stay and so on. Owners who are willing to put in the time have actually trained their dogs to wait, go to bed, stand and respect boundaries. They even have dogs that won’t go out into the street without a certain leash on. Amazing? Yes and no. It’s like anything else, you get out of it what you put into it.

How to do you train your dog to obey every command you give them? It takes plenty of time and patience. The biggest mistake people make is trying to teach their dog all of the commands at once. Not only will this not work, it will frustrate your dog and he will lose interest and desire because you get impatient. Dogs are very much like kids, so you have to show patience and understanding.

  • Choose one command you want your dog to learn and stick with that one command until your dog performs. Use training exercises and do those exercises over and over again, each and every day. You don’t have to work your dog hours every day, just fit in three or four 5-10 minute training sessions a day.
  • Always remember to start a training session when you are relaxed, not stressed, not in a hurry and not around a lot of distractions at first. The more fun you make it for the dog, the more he will enjoy it and the faster he will learn. Use calm energy, no shouting, no yanking on the leash. Dogs respond best to a happy voice and a simple “no wrong” when they mess up. There is absolutely no need to be hard on your dog – it will backfire on you.
  • Always, always end your training session on a positive note. If the training on a new command is not going well, when you’re ready to end the session, have the dog do a command he knows so he gets praised or rewarded with a food treat.
  • Some folks are lucky and they’re retired or don’t have to work and sure, they will get results with their dog faster. But it still takes a lot of work and repetition. If done correctly, you can train your dog to obey any command and it is even easier if you start when they are puppies. If done right, training your dog to listen and obey will make them respect you even more, because they know they will get rewarded with your attention, praise and maybe a food treat when they behave well.

Taking the time each day to train with your dog is the key. This is the consistency part of the equation. Each day, work with your dog on the command you want him to learn for a couple of sessions, five minutes each until you achieve success. This is the repetition part.

Keep at it and soon your dog will have learned a new command. Certain commands build on each other. You can get your dog to roll over it your dogs knows how to do a down. You can get your dog to shake hands, if your dog knows how to sit. You will be amazed how many fun things you and your dog can do when you know how to teach the basics. So go on, take the time to train your dog – I promise you’ll enjoy it – and so will the dog.

Be as comfortable with the trainer of your dog as you are the teacher of your children, and remember, “Opportunity Barks!”


Dog Not Listening To You? Here’s An Easy Secret To Changing That

Does your dog ignore you and not listen to you when you attempt to get him to obey? This is a pretty common dog training complaint with dog owners, but it is also a complaint that is pretty easy to solve. Here’s one way to look at understanding how to make your dog listen to you. Dogs are much like children. You must have patience and be consistent in your training in order for any type of dog training to work. Here are a few tips to help you understand the best way to get your dog to listen:

  • Relevancy is key in dog training. What this means is: If you teach your dog certain behaviors, but only teach those behaviors in the kitchen, then the dog will very likely only perform the behavior in the kitchen. Dogs learn in context. So to have your dog respond to your request for a certain behavior, you need to practice teaching that behavior or behaviors in many different settings. Especially settings that are highly relevant to you. Example: You like to take your dog to Starbucks, sit on the patio and have your dog sit next to you. Then you must practice teaching him sit at Starbucks.
  • Consistency. Teaching your dog obedience isn’t really that difficult, but you must be consistent. Practicing dog training only occasionally will not work. Taking the right action each and every time is what will instill obedience in your dog. If you choose to train your dog only when you are in the mood, it won’t work.

Here’s a little secret for you. Understand what your dog views as important. This can include anything from going to a walk ,to playing with other dogs, to dinner time. Once you understand what’s important to your dog, you begin to show your dog that he has to earn those important things. He want’s to go for a walk. Require a sit before you put on the leash. He wants to go outside, require a sit or a down before you open the door and let him out. If the requested behavior is not given, the dog does not get what he wants. Walk away and come back in 2 or 3 minutes and try again. Dogs do what works. Once they realize you are not going to give in and instead they have to give you the behavior you request, they’ll do it.

You will find that by training your dog in this manner which is totally positive and non-confrontational, training get easier and can be a lot of fun. Remember to train in different locations and around different distractions. That’s what will give you a well trained dog.

Dog training is really common sense and understanding what dogs need to be balanced and what are the things that are important to your dog and how do you control those things. Put all that together and you become a good leader to your dog and your dog becomes a wonderful, obedient pet. All achieved through patience and practice.

Be as comfortable with the trainer of your dog as you are the teacher of your children. And remember, “Opportunity Barks!”


Easy Ways to Train Your Dog Not to Jump on People

Have you ever been all dressed for work, church, or special occasion only to have your dog jump on you and get your clothes all dirty, or worse, knock you down. Are you tired of having to apologize to guests as they come in when their first introduction is to your dog looking like a pogo stick as he jumps up and down on them?

There are several ways to go about fixing the dog behavior of jumping on people. You can choose one or use a combination of approaches. Whichever you choose, always remember that consistency and repetition are what make dog behavior modification work. Everyone in the family has to be on the same page with what approach you are going to use and stick with it. There is no yelling or forcefulness involved in any of this.

Dogs react as a direct result of the way we react to them.

Our dogs are very social and they get excited very easily, so when we come home, they jump up on us to greet us. So, even though we don’t like this, we, as dog owners, STILL give them some type of reinforcement. We either pet them and let them continue to jump and lick because we love our dogs! OR, we yell at them, push them off, tell them they’re bad—pick one.

Next time this happens make sure you are aware of the way you interact with your jumping dog. Learn what reinforces the behavior of jumping. Whether you are petting or yelling at your dog when they jump on you, you ARE giving that behavior attention, which reinforces the behavior. If you continue to pet or yell or whatever at your dog, the behavior will continue because you are reinforcing it. Think about it like a child having a temper tantrum.

  • Do NOT give the behavior any attention. When you come home, simply come in the door, walk past your dog, put your things down and the dog gets absolutely no attention till the jumping stops. Then and only then can you pet the dog, BUT you still must not make a big production of it as your excitement will then have the dog jumping again. If that happens, again no attention. Practice, Practice, Practice.
  • When your dog jumps up, immediately turn your back on the dog and pay no attention to the dog. Practice, Practice, Practice
  • Attach a leash to your dog and have your dog in front of you with YOUR foot on the leash high enough on the leash so that when he attempts to jump he can barely get his front paws off the ground. Talk excitedly to your dog (do NOT call his name), get him excited so he will jump. When he tries to jump, your foot on the leash prevents him from jumping and the dog self corrects.
  • Train your dog to sit, request a sit when guests come over. If you can get a good reliable sit stay, your dog can not jump when in a sit stay.

Be as comfortable with the trainer of your dog, as you are the teacher of your children. And remember, “Opportunity Barks!”


Dog Training: Good Dog Walking Manners Start Before You Leave the House

walking a dogIf you want a good dog walking, or even a good puppy dog walking, experience, manners should start before you leave the house. Usually the excitement of  your puppy walking or dog walking starts with the sight of the dog leash. With some puppies and dogs this signals a great time is going to be had by all – or at least your canine companion. You, on the other hand, may only have visions of your puppy or your dog pulling you down the street instead of  your dog walking nicely by your side.  So what do you do?

Let’s start with calm control in the house as you attempt to simply get the dog leash on your dog.  Here are three things you can do to begin calming your dog:

Teach your dog to “Sit!” for everything – affection, dinner/breakfast, potty breaks in the back yard, toys, etc. If you get your dog in this mode, then sitting to put the dog leash on for walking becomes much more manageable. Often times it is recommended to have new pups or dogs drag their leash while in the house (only when you are around to supervise) to aid in preventing jumping on you, other family members and the furniture. Consistent use of your dog’s leash in this manner with not only give you a better mannered dog but aid in providing the calm you need before the walk.

As you approach your dog with the leash, ask for a calm “Sit!” and if you do not get it, put the dog leash up and resume other activities. Repeat this exercise as much as possible until you get a calm sit.

And, to help in desensitizing your dog to your just “picking up the leash” simply pick the leash up frequently during the day or evening, handle it and then put it back in place – never paying your dog any mind.  With consistency and repetition, this time proven exercise works every time.

Once you are outside, there’s more work. Usually easy dog walking can be achieved by using equipment designed to prevent pulling. Premier Pet Products makes a no pull harness for dogs called an “Easy Walk Harness” where the dog leash attaches in the front of the dog to maximize your control.   Any other kind of dog harness may not work nearly as well. Premier also makes the Gentle Leader designed to control the dog’s head much like a halter for a horse.  Using these tools will most likely put you on the road to an easy and enjoyable walk with your dog in no time.
Does your dog whine? Irritating isn’t it. But before you loose your patience, you need to make an evaluation of why your dog is whining. Is there something wrong? Does he need something like– to go out to the bathroom? Or, is he demanding something, like your attention?
Be as comfortable with the trainer of your dog as you are with the teacher of your children. And remember, “Opportunity Barks!”

Training Your Dog to Sit

You can train your dog to sit relatively easily. The sit command is one of the best commands to master with your dog as it can be used to solve a lot of minor behavior issues with your dog. If your dog is trained to give you a sit, when he is sitting he is then unable to do inappropriate behaviors such as jumping.

Training your dog to sit is also the easiest command to teach as you progress on your path to a well trained dog. Always remember, that training should be fun, relaxed and rewarding for both you and your dog.

Here’s what you need to do to train your dog to sit:

  • You will need your dog to be on a collar and a leash
  • You will need some high value soft food treats such as cut up hot dogs or bits of cheese.
  • You might want to take your dog for a walk prior to training so he has had time to release any pent up energy and will be in a better state of mind to listen to you.
  • Choose an area to train your dog that does not have a lot of distractions. Your den or living room is good to begin with. You would not want to try to train your dog to sit in the middle of the dog park.
  • Have your dog in a standing position by your side, left or right side of you is not important. Whatever side you walk your dog on is the side you should use to train.
  • Have the collar turned so that the leash is coming up from the top of the dog’s neck.
  • Have the high value food treat in the hand not holding the leash.
  • Say your dog’s name and take your hand with the food treat in it, let him see it and he will smell it if you’ve used a really good treat.
  • Take the treat in your hand and hold your hand over your dog’s head so that his nose goes up as he watches the treat go back towards the middle/back of his head.
  • Watch as his butt will hit the ground as his head goes up.
  • The exact second his butt hits the ground, praise him with “good boy!” This is called marking the behavior, You have told him that the behavior he gave you is what you’re looking for. It is critical that your “good boy” is said the minute he completes the sit and the butt hits the ground. You only have 1.0 seconds to 1.5 seconds for the dog to understand the praise with the action he has performed.
  • NOW you may reward him with the treat.

If your dog backs up with the treat over his head instead of sitting, simply say “wrong”, reposition yourself and the dog and begin again.

Patience is the key as is repetition. Keep your training sessions brief, maximum 10 minutes. If your dog continue to display lack of interest, call it a day and start again later that day or the next day.

Here’s an important point for you. As you are practicing this, and giving your dog the yummy reward, extend the time between saying “good boy” and giving the treat. For example, at first, pretty quickly after you say “good boy” you will give the treat. As the sit becomes more dependable, don’t give the treat so quickly. Then start giving the treat only every other time, then every third time until the simple statement “good boy” is all you need to do. You do not want to be held hostage by food treats as you train your dog.

Be as comfortable with the trainer of your dog as you are the teacher of your children. And remember, “Opportunity Barks!”

Need more help with your dog’s behavior. Visit our behavior page and sign up for current solutions that work, based on my 25 years of positive dog training.


Dogs on Furniture – Yes Or No?


You come into your family room, only to find your dog happily snoozing in your spot on your couch! Now, for some folks this is not a problem–for others it is. When it comes to the touchy subject of dogs on the furniture, my vote is to YES, have dogs on the furniture. Yup, you heard that right, on the furniture. I would however, present the following clarifications:

  • There should be rules. Dogs should earn the privilege of getting on your furniture by at least, doing a sit. This should be followed by a command to get them on the sofa, like the command Up. After your dog performs a sit, simply pat the couch and say Up. So his getting on your couch is on YOUR terms, not his.
  • You should teach your dog a relocation cue (another place to go other than the sofa) and train this command frequently. Examples would be, go to your bed, or once off the couch just place your dog in a down by your feet in front of the couch. This teaches him that you can let him up, BUT, you can also tell him to get off and go somewhere else. If your dog has a tendency or potential to guard the sofa, doing this exercise frequently would help to minimize any resource guarding that could develop.
  • Dogs with strong leader type personalities or temperaments would have a greater tendency to resource guard space. The stronger this tendency, the more I would tend to limit time (IF ANY AT ALL) on the furniture.

You can circumvent a lot of these issues by deciding early on if you want your dog on the furniture or not and begin training the behavior as a puppy. If you decide somewhere along the line to change the rules, be patient, your dog can’t read your mind. You will have to patiently and consistently train him to stay off the couch. Also, if your dog came to you from another family, they might have allowed him to be on the furniture. You will have to teach him new commands to stay off the furniture. Again, yelling and punishment doesn’t get you much, so be patient and consistent and remember set your dog up to succeed so you are able to accentuate the positive and downplay the negative.


Nuisance Barking – How to Fix It

As a natural and completely normal part of a dog’s behavior, they bark. While this may be for a number of different reasons, it doesn’t always mean that danger is imminent. Some dogs bark excessively, which can become quite annoying. It can be controlled, but you must first understand some of the reasons they bark – and why YOU might be at the root of the problem.

Barking seems to be more dominant in certain breeds of dogs than others. Huskies are very vocal dogs, Yorkies tend to bark a lot. Barking by a dog can be a signal that he’s defending his territory, alerting others that they are in his space. Barking dogs will also use it to seek attention. Barking is also part of the play routine.

However, most if not all nuisance barking is due to boredom and loneliness. We tend to forget that dogs are pack animals. They have a social structure in their pack and they belong to a PACK. They are generally NOT solitary creatures. But we, as dog owners, more times than not, do not think about what our dogs need to be balanced. And being isolated and alone does not make your dog balanced- it makes your dog anxious, lonely and bored.

As an example, it you have relegated your dog to the backyard that is a sure fire recipe for behavior problems. The reasons are:

  • There is no one outside to interrupt inappropriate behavior with a NO, OFF and redirect to appropriate behavior so the dog is allowed to practice unacceptable behavior all day long or all night long.
  • The dog has no intellectual stimulation. They are intelligent creatures and their brains need to be active
  • The dog is terribly lonely, even if there is another dog outside with them, YOU are inside
  • The dog is storing up energy and will release that energy by digging up your yard or flower beds, chewing up your lawn furniture, digging out of the backyard and escaping to the wonderful outside world!

If your dog barks constantly and is an inside dog, some of the reasons can be;

  • Demanding your attention. The dog barks, you pet or pay attention, the dog figures out barking gets him what he wants
  • Territoriality. Dogs that are allowed to bark at a window at passersby are rehearsing territorial dominance. They bark, the THING goes away, the message to the dog – barking works.

So how do you fix an inside dog that barks. Use your leadership role and training. When the barking starts, immediately interrupt the behavior with a NO OFF then give the dog something to do that is appropriate and praise. If your dog is barking to demand your attention, do not give him attention. If the barking continues, use your leadership and training skills and have him go to his place. Remember, things must by on your terms, not your dog’s terms.

So how do you fix an outside dog that barks—easy. Bring it inside and begin teaching your dog how to be a great member of your family.

Be as comfortable with the trainer of your dog as you are the teacher of your children. And remember, Opportunity Barks!


Dog Training in Houston – Saving Lives

Dog training in Houston, Texas has been my profession for most of my business career. One of the highlights in my dog training business happens when a client calls with a special need.

Just such a client called last summer with a special request. Her daughter has a seizure disorder and their request was to teach their dog to “alert” and make an emergency phone call – then return to her daughter, lay down by her side until help arrives.

The release of this video, authorized by my client, pretty much sums it up. Being able to set them up on a dog training program to achieve their goals gives me a great feeling. Their dog has actually made 2 or 3 calls for real since her training.

We are currently working on more tasks for their dog and will keep you posted as each one is completed.

Train your dog to be the best they can be!  Be as comfortable with the trainer of your dog, as you are the teacher of your children.  And remember:  “Opportunity Barks!”