Dog Behavior improves inside with a leash


Dog Behavior Inside Will Improve with a Leash




It never fails. Whenever I go into client’s home to work on their dog behavior, starting with lesson one, owners are surprised to hear me say, “Put a leash on your dog in the house.”
Now, on lesson two, they are even more surprised to find out that it works surprisingly well to squelch any kind of unwanted behavior.

Demanding Attention Dog Behavior Issue

This little guy is on stage, center of attention, and making demands. It was extremely difficult to carry on a conversation because of his loud barking and demands.
Take a look at the pup in the video who is barking for attention, and what his owner does with the leash to settle him down to stop that unwanted attention barking.

So, settle him down now.

Once settled down by his owner, he became quiet and relaxed and we could resume our talk.

Dog Behavior Problem – Lack of Exercise

What I did find out, in all fairness to the pup, was that because of our early scheduled lesson he had missed his morning walk. That’s right. No morning exercise.
So, now, the next time your dog misbehaves, you’ve got to ask yourself this question: “Have I satisfied all his needs?” So, what are those?

Dog Behavior – Tried and True Solutions

Exercise, like walks, jogs, running him on a bike, whatever his thing is that you like to do with him that he enjoys with you. Mental stimulation. That’s like obedience training. Thinking about doing “sit” and “down” and “sit” and “down”, “stand up”, “lay down”, “sit”, just like that. And also, doggie puzzles. All those things create mental fatigue.

Lastly, you want to make sure that he doesn’t need food, water, or a potty break, or all of the above.

That’s your tip.Hopefully you can put that to use with your dog in your house. I’m Jim Burwell. Keeper and I, as usual, can always be found at

Neighbor Dogs are Training My Dogs to Bark

Neighbor Dogs are Training My Dogs to Bark

“It has become extremely frustrating to see that my neighbor’s dogs are training my dogs to bark!” This came from a follower on Facebook asking me what to do.

To make matters worse, he had just moved into the neighborhood and has dogs living on both sides of him. One dog on the left is quiet and never barks but on the other side, not quite the same. Backyard chaos reigns when he lets his dogs out to play.

Neighbor Dogs are Training My Dogs to Bark

His neighbor’s dogs immediately charge the fence with uncontrolled barking which triggers a wild and uncontrolled chain reaction of dueling dogs. He’s concerned that someone is going to start complaining sooner or later asking him to do something about training his dogs unless something is done quickly.

Assuming no help from the neighbor on this barking problem, there are things to consider and much training to do.

Things to consider

Your dog’s instinct to bark can be controlled by mechanical devices (bark collars) or training. But your dog’s instincts cannot be modified.

As I’ve said before, addressing the symptom (in this case barking) is not the solution. If you put a bark collar on your dog, you may have stopped the barking but you have not relieved your dog’s stress (the reason he’s barking in the first place.)

Not being able to bark to relieve his stress causes him to be even more stressed and he will find other ways to relieve his stress, like digging or destructive chewing.

Finding the root cause of the problem and seeking other acceptable solutions is the better route to go.

Other alternatives

Since we know that your dogs bark to relieve stress and anxiety, what would be the root cause of the barking?

You’re right, the dogs on the other side of the fence. Your dogs are probably stressed and frustrated not being able to get to them to play.

Here’s the question: How can we use these dogs to stop our dogs from barking?

Playtime as an alternative

If the owner of the neighbor dogs were agreeable, you could introduce the dogs on neutral territory (one dog at a time) to check play compatibility. If all get along, then begin exchanging play dates in each other’s back yard.

Frequent play dates might lessen their barking if everything else with your dogs is in order: leadership, listening to obedience commands around distractions and adequate exercise “with you” to buffer and stave off stress.

Training as an option

Assuming you have established a respectful training relationship with your dogs, training could be used to control your dog’s barking. In this case the basic idea is that the barking dogs come to be your dog’s cue to come in the house.

During the training period, you should prevent them from being able to charge the fence and bark. Walks out front on leash for exercise and potty breaks would be the new routine.

Work each dog individually on a leash or long line at the back door at first. Make sure they have a reliable “on-leash” recall at a distance from the fence without barking dogs. If they are weak on the come command, practice individually with each dog somewhere else to perfect this command.

Once this is achieved, work when the neighbor dogs are out, again close to the back door and a good distance from the fence. Pair your recall (come command) within a second of hearing the barking dogs. In other words, the barking is your dog’s cue to come. Praise your dogs and give them a high value food treat.

It worked for Sammy

We used this same technique with our lab Sammy who had begun to charge the front door when the doorbell rang. So we taught Sammy that the doorbell was his cue to go to his place. Better behavior in your dog is always worth the training time.

No dog obedience training program however good it might be, will ever work unless you have the correct working relationship with your dog.

Your relationship should be based on trust and understanding. Your dogs should show respect by listening in other training situations – then finally in the back yard around barking dog distractions.

If you do not have a strong working relationship with your dogs, then that is where you start. Begin by establishing rules, expectations and setting personal boundaries for your dog to live by and respect.

I’m always curious about your input – it’s important to me. Do you deal with this situation in your house?

Remember: “Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”

Jim Burwell, Houston dog trainer for 25+ years, serving over 9000 clients, has a profound understanding of dog behavior and the many things, we as humans, do that influence that behavior – good or bad. Jim has the ability to not only steer dogs and puppies down the right path but to also train the owners to understand their part in having a great dog.

His Ground Rules for Great Dogs is your must have, easy step-by-step process to helping your dog. Be the dog owner your dog needs to be a great dog. Ground Rules gets you there. Grab them now.

My Dog is Anxious in the Crate

My Dog is Anxious in the Crate

My dog is anxious in the crate. She barks and whines incessantly every time I crate her in the house which, needless to say, drives us nuts! We are exhausted and weary from a severe loss of sleep. Please help me!

That’s what Jack and Maggie were experiencing with their newly adopted rescue dog Nellie, a 6 month old Australian Shepherd mix.  I spoke with Jack and Maggie about life with Nellie.  They found her picture on line and fell in love with her infectious smile. Her sweet disposition absolutely cinched the adoption. Their two girls, both under the age of 6 also liked her a lot.


My Dog is Anxious in the Crate

The kids quickly lost interest

Once Nellie settled into the family routine back at the house, the girls quickly decided they didn’t like her that much because she jumped and nipped at them. When I asked how the girls reacted,  Maggie said, “The girls scream and try to run from Nellie who gives chase.” Attempts to hug Nellie’s neck got the same results as well.

Now that I had a clear picture of the girl’s interactions and reactions, I turned my attention to Jack and Maggie. They described Nellie as hyper, nervous and extremely needy as she jumps on the couch and constantly requires their attention.

Feeling sorry for Nellie and her sketchy past, they both gave in to her need for attention and provided her with a lot of love and affection. Through repeated interactions that started the day she arrived, a relationship or bond was developed between Nellie and her owners, Jack and Maggie.

Even though she had an overabundance of plush toys and chew toys, the love and affection better satisfied Nellie’s need for companionship.

Love and affection – a high value commodity

I explained that all of this love and affection tends to be extremely reinforcing and had become a high value commodity for Nellie. When you cut off access to this attention/love and affection by crating your dog, the lack of social contact becomes too much for Nellie to handle.  So Nellie begins to bark when crated as her way to relieve her frustration. Nellie is now a dog that is anxious in the crate.

All of their corrections for sofa jumping and jumping/nipping at the kids contrasted too sharply with the attention and love and affection she demanded. This was confusing to Nellie causing her to feel very insecure as to who was running the show. These insecurities complicated her life in her new home increasing Nellie’s anxiety in the crate. She was now barking at night as well. No one is getting any sleep.

More problems in paradise

Not coming when called was another big issue. This stemmed from the interactions between Jack, Maggie and Nellie in how they corrected Nellie for chasing the two back yard cats when Nellie would go in the yard to relieve herself. Trying to correct Nellie for her “cat chasing” created this issue of not wanting to “come when called” because of the corrections Nellie got–which was being crated. All of these became multiple sources of concern for Nellie and being her crate.

A program was needed for Nellie and her owners

More than anything, Nellie and her owners needed a lot more structure. Nellie especially needed more structure in the rules and boundaries that could be maintained over time – my Groundrules for Great Dogs approach. For the short haul – 4 to 6 weeks – Jack and Maggie needed to:

• Throttle way back on love and affection.

• Any love and affection Nellie wanted had to be earned with sits and downs.

• Once earned, Nellie could be briefly petted.

• This was high need to balance all the free love and affection that created her neediness.

• Nellie was also required to earn everything else: food, toys, potty breaks on leash (to prevent cat chasing.)

• Jack and Maggie worked Nellie daily on dog obedience training – short 2 minute sessions frequently each day.

• Jack and Maggie involved the kids in the feeding of Nellie and, with parental supervision, both kids began to get Nellie to perform sits and downs improving their own relationship with Nellie.

• We also implemented an “independence” program of rewarding any voluntary efforts by Nellie to be somewhere other than glued to Jack and Maggie.

During the behavior modification course of four lessons over a 6 week period dramatic improvements took place in the home of Jack and Maggie.  They were thrilled as they were anxious to get back to life as normal – lots of love and affection with Nellie maybe on the couch.

BUT, I cautioned that time on the couch with required sits first should be balanced with time off the couch.

With encouragement, I’ve been able to help Jack, Maggie and Nellie maintain a balance between required work and the affection they all want. Nellie now goes willingly into her crate and sleeps through the night.  All is well.

What Do You Think?  Let us know your thoughts on today’s issue by commenting below and remember “Sharing is Caring. 


“Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”


Jim Burwell, professional dog trainer for 25+ years, has a profound understanding of dog behavior and the many things, we as humans, do that influence that behavior – good or bad.  Jim has the ability to not only steer dogs and puppies down the right path but to also train the owners to understand their part in having a great dog.  His Ground Rules for Great Dogs is the step by step system to a great dog.

Do You Bark Like A Dog At Your Barking Dog?

Do You Bark Like a Dog at Your Barking Dog?

Stop dog barkingIt’s true.   I admit it.   In the past, I would often times catch myself barking (hollering) like a dog at my dogs when I heard them barking. But hey, most folks are just as guilty as me for joining in on the barking dog action.

The difference is I should know better, and I do.  But, sometimes I just forget – actually I think a better description is that my yelling is often a “knee-jerk” reaction
to my dogs barking because it catches me off guard.

Do you yell at your dog thinking, “I’ll give that dog a piece of my mind!” ? In this case, yelling at your dog just confirms to your dog that you are the “top barking dog” in the pack – and who knows, your dog may, in your absence, begin to vocalize with even more enthusiasm when you are gone!

Some dog owners use punishment in an effort to quiet their  dog and gain some peace of mind.

In this case, if the dog settles down, it is probably more because of associating their owner’s tone of voice with a fear of impending punishment –
especially if punishment had been experienced before.   Rather than the dog stops  because he knows better.

I know if I had been previously whacked with a newspaper for barking,  I’d be headed for the next room!

So now you gotta be thinking, “If yelling is not a good way to correct my dog, then what do I do to actually stop my dog from barking?

To stop your dog, there are a couple of things that need to happen that do not involve yelling:

  • Your mus stop or seriously curtail the barking
  • and second, find and eliminate the cause of the barking.

For example, if the dog is barking in the back yard, keep it inside while you are working on exercises to eliminating this.

Many dogs have been banned to the back yard because of house soiling or destructive issues inside the house. The easy solution for these problems
was to put the dog in the back yard.

But, this just created your barking dog problem. You might find that dealing with the inside problem is often much easier than having to address an outside barking problem.

Here’s a program to fix your barking dog.   A Six-Week Program

If your dog barks at something when you are home, quietly call him to you (use a leash or long line if necessary to reinforce the come command) and ask for a sit, then a down and then another sit.

Praise your dog and release your dog to resume normal activities.   If he barks again, repeat the exercise.

If at any point you think his barking warrants checking things out, then do so and quietly return to your previous activities.

That’s it!

BUT you must be persistent with this routine for 6 weeks.  This is what will stop your dog from constant barking and should provide you with a dog that will  bark once or twice and then look to you to check things out. This is the beginnings of creating a good watchdog!

This exercise is presuming you have developed a strong leadership role with your dog and that your dog is good at performing come, sit and down with outside distractions.

We tend to communicate more verbally with our dogs.   Words are just noise to dogs and when you add negative emotional energy because you are mad, that tends to complicate their world and create undue stress and anxiety.   It is true that dogs can learn command words

Bill Campbell, a noted animal behaviorist, puts it like this:

“In the non-verbal world of dogs, silence means quiet,   inaction begets stillness and movement stimulates action. The fact that this obvious facet of non-verbal communication must be written or talked about to gain attention among dog owners further points up the extreme verbal orientation of humans.”

Remember not to yell or scream at your dog as a way to correct. Keep your negative emotions out of the correction.

Instead, be calm and do the exercises mentioned above.

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

(C) Jim Burwell 2011

Dog Problems – Could Be Boredom

Please See Sammy Burwell’s Video at End of Blog Post

On one side of town a dog owner complained that their dog shredded the arm of their favorite lounge chair. On the opposite side of town another dog owner complained that their dog is extremely needy and in fact has become an incessant licker. The owner can’t get a moment’s rest without the dog constantly following her from room to room to continue this insane licking.  Another dog has a bad case of hyperactivity and yet a completely different dog licks himself raw while other dogs develop aggressive issues.

These appear to be totally unrelated dog behavior problems. But they actually have a very common cause:

Lack of enough things to do that stimulate the senses and the brain in dogs can often times result in behavior problems suck as hyperactivity, destructive chewing, licking of themselves obsessively, attention-seeking behaviors, OCD (obsessive compulsive disorders) and aggression.

Maybe you’ve noticed your own dog acting out, to a lesser or greater degree, with some of these behaviors. If you think about it, most pet dogs are handed their food in designer dog bowls wolfing it down less than 10 minutes – in sharp contrast to dogs in the wild that used spent hours foraging for food.

Another contributing factor to potential problems is that pet dogs don’t spend a lot of time if any at all doing jobs for which they were bred (hunting, retrieving, herding, guarding, etc.) leaving absolutely no outlet for high levels of energy.

While, environmental enrichment cannot make up for all of a dogs physical needs, it can diffuse the potential for problem behavior by providing for a more interesting and enriched environment.

Our black lab Sammy gets his doggie brain challenged several times a week with interesting puzzles like the one to the right.

You can watch below to see him work out the puzzle to retrieve his prize “lamb loaf treats!” in a quick VIDEO we did to demonstrate how much fun your dog can have too.

He revels in the fact that he can completely empty out the puzzle is less than 5 minutes.

So, what do we do with the rest of his time?  Another great game that Sammy loves is “Find it!” in which we hide a rope toy we call his “Trade” somewhere in the house while Sammy is required to go to his bed and stay until we return and send him off on his hunt. A stuffed Kong toy awaits him as he returns with his “Trade.”

As you look at your dogs daily activities – especially while you are at work all day, consider the following enrichment ideas that will hopefully go a long way to curb unwanted behavior:

Put your dog’s dry kibble or treats in a Buster Cube or treat-dispensing toy so that your dog has to work for its food.  Some even have a way to adjust how quickly the food/treats are dispensed.

Hide food or a chew toy in an old towel that’s been folded or wadded up to challenge your dog to get at the goodies.

For backyard activities, shotgun your back yard with nickel slices of carrots or tiny diced pieces of apple for your dog to hunt. The carrots will keep your dog hunting for these special treats vs. digging in your yard.

If your dog is a digger, provide him/her with a special place to dig. For little to no money you can get a $9 plastic kiddie pool at Wal-Mart and fill it with sand. Bury chew bones, etc. and bury them in the sand box for him to find.

Hide a portion of your dogs daily meals around the house in small nooks and crannies (use open plastic containers to place the kibble in. Feed the rest of his/her meal in his/her dog food bowl.

These are just some of the fun ways you can take your dog’s environment from “Ho-hum to “Wow!” Now sit back and let the games begin. Don’t you wish you had a video camera?

Don’t forget that your dog still needs exercise on daily walks, training on come, sit and down and other interactive games with you.

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

Dog Training Success Story: Barking at the doorbell

Hi this is Kelly and I’m the owner of Magic who is a rescue dog who HAD, previously, lots and lots of behavior issues.

Magic would lunge after children, bark incessently at the doorbell, and generally run around and make our lives crazy.

With Jim’s help, we’ve been able to channel some of Magic’s energy into much more positive pursuits such as:

sits and downs and learning how to respect boundaries.    This has been a FABULOUS experience!

Listen to their testimonial Here:    Barking at the doorbell

Puppy Training: Big Barking Problems Can Come In Little Packages

puppies barkingPuppies are just too cute—aren’t they?  But sometimes that smallness and cuteness encourages the owner NOT to train their dog – big, big mistake!

I did a series of puppy training lessons with a really cute fluffy puppy and went down the list of recommendations to do and precautions to take and showed them how to avoid potty accidents, how to create a well-balanced and confident pup who was not prone to bad manners or barking and everything I go over in puppy lessons – “nose to tail” so to speak.

That was about 4 months ago. And as I have always known, my suspicion of “owners remaining the biggest challenge” continues to be proven over and over again.

We got a phone call from that cute puppy’s Mom that her puppy was out of control:

  • Barking at them if they didn’t give her the attention immediately by picking her up.
  • Barking loudly at visitors entering the front door.
  • Barking at the odd startling noise she hears on occasion.
  • Barking at the sound of the elevators running up and down the elevator shaft.

“It simply must stop. It’s driving us absolutely crazy,” says the client.

I found out myself on the first of the new series of lessons as I entered through the front door for the first time in a while. Wow! What a set of pipes! There had been no structure in the dog’s life.  It was:

  • picked up,
  • doted on,
  • allowed to lounge on the big sofa near the front door waiting eagerly for the next person to come through the door or odd suspicious sound to loudly sound out with her shrilling alarm barking.

It was after all, “her job”.   She had nothing better to do other than to do “her job” which she created all by herself.

Clearly she lacked structure, routine and exercise. With the family, housekeeper and nanny, surely someone had the time to work the dog??

It was now time for my heart-to-heart talk with all parties involved. I hate this part but I had to do it. I made the following rules and daily schedule:

  1. Every hour on the hour each person had to spend 1-2 minutes doing sits and downs with the dog.
  2. Three times daily on the half hour 2 people would engage the dog in the come command back and forth between them.
  3. I recommended that the owner put the dog on an “earn-to-learn” or “no free lunch” program by requiring her dog to earn everything by performing at least a sit.
  4. We then went back to utilizing the crate more frequently in the beginning by requiring the puppy to stay quietly in the crate for random lengths of time throughout the day so that we could take back control of our couch space and prevent any barking until we were able to work with the puppy doing set ups.

After the first week and a half, the barking stopped significantly – not completely but the client has her life back and
she definitely sees how consistency in routines and repetitions in obedience training has made a difference in her and
her puppy’s life.

Don’t let your puppy barking problem get out of hand before doing something about it.

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

Jim’s  Nose to Tail Puppy Training is the culmination of these years of training into an easy, step-by-step process so that your puppy understands what you expect of him because you know how to teach him.  You empower him to be able to give you the behavior you want and you empower him to be successful at living in a human home.  The result – one awesome puppy and one happy family. 

(C) Jim Burwell 2011

Dog Barking Got You at the End of Your Rope?

If you dog’s barking is out of control about reacting to distractions like your doorbell ringing, or seeing a neighbor outside, then understanding how “training for specific circumstances” can be especially beneficial to you.

If you own a dog, then you have more than likely – at one time or another – been faced with “what to do” with your dog when he demands recognition of his full authority by exerting his take-charge attitude.

”Training for specific circumstances” is literally teaching your dog to respond to distraction sounds in “relevant situations” like in the examples above “instead of” responding to verbal cues like sit, down, come or quiet. Let’s take a look at this hypothetical example and for some of you it may be real and you need it fixed as soon as possible. Here’s the scenario:

“Your doorbell rings and your dog immediately charges the front door and begins to bark as if to scare the bad guys away. It’s his job, right? Or at least he thinks it is at the moment. Wouldn’t it be much, much better if, instead of yelling at him to “Quiet!” or “Come!” he takes the doorbell cue to go to his dog bed?

It is actually very simple to “pair” or “link” the doorbell sound to the command, “Go to your bed!” and then eventually eliminate your command. The simple way to do this is to first ring your doorbell and then say, “Go to your bed!” and then eventually drop the command and your dog begins to respond to the doorbell ring.

Now, I suppose you are asking yourself, “What’s the benefit?” Well, here it is. When you begin to correct your dog for barking, your timing is off and in many cases your dog won’t associate your verbal corrections with his barking.

And, if you are yelling, he probably thinks you’re trying to help him scare the bad guys away. However, if your dog now responds to the doorbell by going to his bed, timing is perfect and you have eliminated the barking.

Your dog’s preferred behavior is no longer contingent on you hearing the doorbell first and then sending your dog to his bed – rather your dog hears the doorbell and immediately goes to his bed.

Remember, consistency and repetition is the key. Keep your training fun and always end on a happy note.

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

(C) Jim Burwell 2010

Review: Anxious dog with separation anxiety

separation anxiety in dogsDear Jim,

Thank you so much for working with Brian, Sadies, and me.  The main thing we learned from our time with you is that dog training is primarily about training the humans rather than the dog!!

And the number one key to success is consistently working with the dog (and thus ourselves).

I had low hopes for our dog due to her astronomical level of anxiety that had developed into constant barking, jumping, and, eventually, aggression.  After the first visit, we had her sitting and  laying down on command.

After the second visit, I was able to take her on walks using the recommended collar and quiet command. She was so well behaved that I almost cried like a proud parent!

Several weeks after our last visit, we continue to see improvement. She waits by the door in sit until we cue her to come in and out of the doors. Meal times are a breeze now that she we feed her with a set routine, and food territoriality is almost gone by following your simple tips.

Thank you for all of your wonderful help and advice – you are the best!

Best regards,
Julie & Brian Albright + Sadies

Review: Aggressive Dog

Hi this is Nick White we have an 18 month old Doberman named Jax.

He was territorial, showed aggression and snapped at strangers when he saw them.

We called Jim and after about 2 or 3 lessons we saw a huge change in him.

He’s now able to meet strangers without showing any signs of aggression

We had issues with him in the kitchen when we were cooking, and he is now trained to stay out of the kitchen.

He also used to bark at the front door when the doorbell rang and he no longer does that as well.  He goes into the sit position right when the doorbell rings  and we are able to open the door without him rushing up

Jim’s methods have helped up tremendously.  I’m really glad that we called him and I’m glad that Jax is able to act like a dog and be relaxed and stress free.