my dog licks

My Dog Licks and It’s Driving Me Nuts!

My dog licks constantly is one of many, frequent complaints from clients.  By the time I get the call or email, the owner’s tolerance threshold has been reached.  They are literally going nuts with their dog licking.

my dog licksIs it medical?

If you have an incessant licker the very first thing to do is to have your dog checked out by your veterinarian to rule out any medical issues such as allergies.

Once your dog is cleared of any medical issues, we have to look else where. A dog that constantly licks itself is stressed or anxious about something.

The problem may have started because of some frustration in the environment.  That means you doing your homework.  Do some soul-searching if you will, on what your dog is stressing about.

You don’t want the licking to develop into an obsessive compulsive disorder that will be more difficult to treat.

If you do your homework, you should be able to finish the sentence: My dog licks because he is stressed about (you fill in the blank).  Read on for a better understanding.

Stress in the environment

I’ve listed some of the most common environmental stressors you should consider. Think hard on this.   Can you honestly say, my dog licks because of:

Not enough exercise
Not enough mental stimulation
No structure in your dog’s life
Loud noises like sirens
Other noises like kids screaming and playing loudly
You frequently argue loudly, yell or scream

What’s the best way to get started?

Your corrective program should start from the ground up building a strong foundation of leadership for your dog by requiring him to earn everything. Make a list of all the things your dog can earn – even going outside to potty. Being consistent is the key.

Exercise your dog with walks every day. It’s a good buffer for stress. If he hasn’t gotten enough exercise by spending time outside on walks to explore and be a dog, this can be stressful for him. You owe it to your dog to satisfy his needs.

Mentally stimulate your dog with puzzles and games and have him earn part of his meals from a doggie food dispensing toys like a Bob-A-Lot from

You can also create mental fatigue with rapid-fire sits and downs for 2 minutes then stop. Do this 3 times daily or more if you want. He will love you for it!

Family check

Do an honest check on family emotions to see if your energy or other family member’s energy is frequently off the charts. Do your best to acknowledge this as a possible contributing factor to your dog’s stress or anxiety. Licking is his way of internalizing his stress, instead of releasing that stress by being destructive in your home.

Do this – not that

Understand the value of redirecting his licking if he starts in your presence. Have acceptable chew toys readily available to which you can redirect his licking. You can also interrupt his licking with obedience training; that is, rapid fire sits and downs for 30 seconds to a minute.

The most important part of any corrective program is to locate his stressors sooner than later and be committed to putting structure and exercise (both mental and physical) into place consistently every day.

It may take as long as 6 weeks or more before you can say “my dog licks less” or has stopped, but my guess is you will begin to see improvement sooner.

I’m always curious about your input – it’s important to me.  Do you deal with this situation with your dog?  Comment below with your frustration with this.

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

Jim Burwell, is Houston’s most respected dog trainer for 25+ years, serving over 10,000 clients.  Jim takes the science of dog training and makes it work in your home with your family and dog.  He gives you the ability to get the same great behavior from your dog.

Dogs Chasing Squirrels

Dogs Chasing Squirrels: A Walking Nightmare for Some

It seems the problem of dogs chasing squirrels is aggravating to more dog owners than you would expect.

Here are owner’s concerns:

  • squirrel chasing ruining a perfectly good walk
  • arms out of sockets 
  • banged up knees from falls


Then the Obvious Question, “How Do I Stop It?”

Dogs Chasing Squirrels

Stopping it takes training and practice. You should start sooner than later because it can be a serious problem especially if your dog has a particularly high prey drive.

It’s not uncommon to see this squirrel issue progress to other fast-moving things like animals (cats in particular) cars, bikes, kids on skateboards and joggers – just to name a few.

It can also become quite addictive as your dog’s body releases chemicals while in the chase mode, including adrenaline.


Prevention Gets Down to Training


I know what you’re thinking! Loose leash walking and dogs chasing squirrels just don’t go together. Or, could they?

What will it take to create pleasant walks on a loose leash once again, even around squirrels?

It all gets down to training your dog. But what exactly does this include? For one thing your dog must understand to listen to you when on walks.

It should include a “Leave it!” command which should mean “stop what you are doing and make eye contact with me.”

At this point I would say that “timing is everything.”

You must say “Leave it!” right when your dog first notices the squirrel and before he gives chase. This takes practice and keen observation of your dog’s body language.

Next should be a redirect to another command like “Sit!” as you praise and a treat. Immediately back up a few steps using a treat to lure your dog to you (on your leash) as you say, “Come!” Follow that with another sit. Repeat this exercise. Praise and treat each time for a job well done. Continue on with your walk.

It’s important to understand that the “Leave it!” command should be worked on with your dog in the house first to teach him what it means.

This should be followed by proofing your dog in the back yard around light distractions before you actually go on your walk. Finally work your dog at a distance around squirrels where you get compliance to “Leave it!” with your dog. Gradually close the distance.

Basic Foundation Work Is Critical


It goes without saying that you must have a relationship with your dog where your dog looks to you for guidance on what to do INSTEAD of what he’s doing.   If it’s not, then you must start with foundation work before you can successfully start your squirrel diversion training.

Let’s take a look at needed foundation work.

Your dog should already be doing sits and downs for everything in the home; food, access to furniture, toys and affection. This teaches him to listen to his pack leader, as you are in charge. This develops better listening skills in the real world on walks.

You should be doing ongoing scheduled obedience training 3 times daily for just 2 minutes. This would include rapid fire sits and downs.

You could also incorporate the come command between two family members so the sequence is “Come! Sit! Down! This could be done back and forth for 2 minutes.

This kind of training will begin to foster discipline for your squirrel diversion training on walks.

Remember, once your foundation work is done inside, move to the back yard for distraction work. Follow that with real world training on walks.


Managing Your Dog’s Energy


One way to manage your dog’s energy is to engage your dog in a game of fetch. This burns energy in a constructive activity that can be controlled. Make sure your dog sits before you throw the ball.

As your dog gets better, require a sit-stay, throw the ball then release your dog to fetch the ball. Teaching your dog to sit-stay and watch the ball in action, can give you better control on your walks when squirrels appear.

Practicing the come command between family members is another way to manage your dog’s energy. You just have to be consistent in doing it every day.

If before you walk your dog, you play fetch or burn energy with the come command, he’ll have less energy for the squirrels and you may find he listens better.

Bottom line is that it does take time to train your dog and manage his energy. And while you’re managing his energy, don’t let your dog run loose and practice bad habits you are trying to stop.

By using positive dog training methods you develop an impressive display of training and management skills that will help you in all aspects of your life with your dog.

Thanks for letting me share my dog training knowledge with you. Don’t be a stranger. Feel free to comment below. I’d love to hear about your squirrel chasing dog.

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

Jim Burwell, Houston dog trainer for 25+ years, serving over 10,000 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.

Our FearfulDog

Our Fearful Dog

“Our fearful dog is keeping us from enjoying all the things a normal dog owner gets to enjoy with their dog.” That was the answer I got when I asked Billy and Sue, “How can I help you with your dog?”

Now that can be a lot of things, so I asked them what their goal was for our lesson program.

“We want to know, step-by-step, methods for changing Bebe’s behavior from a dog that is a fearful dog – afraid of strange people and other strange dogs to a relaxed dog we can take to dog parks, other dog friendly places and be comfortable when we invite family and friends to our home.”


Our FearfulDog

 It wasn’t always this way

Billy and Sue had adopted Bebe from a rescue group at the age of 12 months and now Bebe was a little over 3 years of age. They said Bebe wasn’t always fearful. They had socialized her as a puppy and even went to a puppy training class a few times. They said they took her everywhere but that now, at age 3, she has grown fearful of people and dogs.

I found out that taking Bebe everywhere actually translated to: “occasionally out to a dog park” and a few times to a local dog friendly eatery. Apparently job changes for both Billy and Sue in the last 12 months had significantly limited their activities with Bebe. Their schedules had changed, requiring later hours which meant Bebe spent more time alone and all of her predictable routines were now gone. All of this causing a lot of stress and anxiety for Bebe which in turn caused her to become more insecure.

Looking closer at their lifestyle with Bebe showed that Bebe free fed and she slept with them. She also got more than her fair share of love and affection.

All of this was Billy and Sue’s attempt to make up for the time they were now spending away from her.

I also found that her fear aggression towards other dogs caused Billy and Sue to walk her less.

Since Bebe was not about to share her owner’s love and affection with any “competition,” approaching dogs got Bebe’s customary “lung-growl-snap” sending Billy and Sue into an embarrassing tizzy.

They now walk at odd hours of the night to get in some walking exercise – all designed to avoid as many people and dogs as possible.

Sound all too familiar? A quick midnight walk to pee – then scurry back inside before someone sees you. This was not their idea of “happy ever after” with Bebe.


It’s a start

We gave Bebe her own bed to sleep on. She is fed twice daily and earns each meal. We’ve balanced Bebe’s time on the couch with time off the couch. Everything Bebe now gets she has to do sits and downs. We’ve put limits on love and affection for a while. Now don’t get crazy on me here…. Bebe still gets love and affection – just limited and now on their terms! Setting these ground rules seems to be “just what she needed.”

Billy and Sue now share in obedience training exercises  3-4 times daily for just 2 minutes. This gives Bebe a sense of working for them rather than Billy and Sue catering to Bebe’s every whim.

Bebe now delights in coming to Billy and then to Sue as she sits and downs in front of each of her owners. It’s her favorite game! 

As we see improvement in her dog behavior problems,  the things that Bebe took as rightfully hers (access to furniture, boundless lap time and unearned love and affection, etc.), can be given back to Bebe as earned privileges.


The hard part is next

Re-conditioning Bebe to strangers and dogs is the tough part – if for no other reason it must be done consistently every day – and in the right way.

I told them that the methods will always be fair to Bebe and easy to understand and apply. This training program doesn’t take hours a day. It does take spending daily time consistently with Bebe in order to rehabilitate her.

I cautioned them not to push her too fast. Let her progress at her own pace. I told Billy and Sue that after some time, they may find she still won’t walk up to a complete stranger for petting, but she will be a lot more at ease with them coming a little closer. Bebe may not cower behind their legs as before.

Billy and Sue are determined to get back the dog they once knew as a puppy and seem genuinely sincere about working the plan. As I’ve said before, once the owners change, the dog begins to change. It just takes time.

“Sharing is Caring”  What Do You Think?  Let us know your thoughts on today’s issue by HERE


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

Jim Burwell, professional dog trainer for 25+ years and 8,500+ 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. 

My Dog Licks

My Dog Licks – How Do I Stop It

“My dog licks all the time!” It drives me nuts and because my dog licks so much, I can’t seem to stay in a meaningful relationship” That’s exactly what my client said when I got all the background information for our lessons.

In fact, the licking was so bad that her dog would not only lick her and but also lick the new boyfriend constantly. “They just don’t call back after the first date. It’s just depressing.” So much for the saying, “Love me, love my dog!”

I told her I was not in the relationship business – just the dog training business. But, I added that perhaps if we/she could fix the licking problem, the “other problem” would fix itself and that would be a win-win situation in the love department.

So as always, we started with lesson one at her apartment and I got to meet my student. No. It wasn’t her Chihuahua, Buttercup. My student was Jane, the school teacher – Buttercup’s mom.

Jane was well organized – pen and pad in hand – ready to take notes. I applauded her for that. And, she did take lots of notes – almost to a fault. She really did want to get back in the dating game. I got it. She was serious. So I’m thinking to myself, “Boy, this is rare – a determined dog owner.”

My Dog Licks

 I’ve always said that the dog won’t change until the owner changes.

Owners must reach a point in their minds with their dog problems where they say, “Enough! I’m serious about fixing my problem.” Their dedication is usually validated by their weekly progress which we discuss with emails between the first and the second lesson.

During our first lesson Jane wanted to know why dogs licked to begin with so I said, “Here’s the short answer.”

Brand new puppies usually lick at the mother dog’s mouth and can get a regurgitation of food by the mother dog but licking seems to acquire different meanings when the puppy comes to live with a human family.

Licking problems generally involve a submissive dog and an owner that permits the behavior (some people feel genuinely flattered when their dog licks them) and the dog appears to enjoy the owner’s response.

Additionally, if your dog barks and you feed him or if he licks your hand and you pet, what begins to form in your dog’s mind is a kind of, “who’s doing what for whom?” pattern. Dog does something to get something, owner immediately responds.

This consistent pattern, always started by your dog, begins to affirm his leadership over you as his dictates on a daily basis all the things he gets you to do for him.

In many past cases, licking, often times referred to as an attention-seeking behavior, was used by an owner’s dog to get the owner to pet and/or pay attention thereby affirming the dog’s leadership over it’s owner. And, in Jane’s case, the licking problem had extended to include her boy friends and other visitors.

 Correcting Problem Licking

 If your dog’s licking has become a problem in your home, here are some easy-to-follow steps to correct this bothersome habit. Before starting make sure your dog can do sits and downs.

Let me explain with this ‘blast from my past” when I was a kid:

“I remember growing up that every time I walked into a room my Mom was in, she would have me do a chore. It got to a point that I would avoid going into that room and take another route just to avoid doing chores. It worked.”

Puppies are the same way. If every time your puppy comes up to you – and you know he’s going to lick you – give him a chore to do. Make him do doggie push ups! You know, sits and downs for dogs. Pretty soon he’ll stop trying to lick you and take another route – maybe chew a chew stick. ‘Yeah, that works for me!’ he’s thinking!”

Here are the simple steps that made it work for Jane.  They will work for you also:

• Timing is everything so as her dog approached to lick, she simply said, “Sit!”
• Once her dog was sitting, she should immediately followed that with a “Down!” followed by another sit and then a final down.
• She would pet her dog very briefly and then sent it off to play.

Additionally, I would recommend that you hold back on how much doting, coddling and petting you do on a daily basis. Use it very sparingly for a while. For example, if your dog is nudging you for attention, ask for a simple sit, briefly pet and send your dog off to play.

Alternatively, ignore your dog’s plea for affection and call him to you on your terms, ask for a simple sit, briefly pet and send your dog off to play.

After a few weeks of this corrective program, you’ll find that the licking problem has gone away.

I would also recommend that you schedule three (3), 2 minute training sessions daily working on sits and downs with your dog. You will be surprised at what a difference this “6 minutes” will make in your dog’s attitude on licking and leadership. You should now see why dog obedience training is important and should be practiced every day with your dog.

These training sessions will give your dog a sense of working for you rather than you addressing his needs all the time. You might also find that working your dog on a leash in the house will get you results more quickly as dogs are more compliant and responsible on leash than off leash.

During the initial stages of this corrective program, you might see other behaviors develop, such as whining, pacing or self-licking. Just ignore them and they usually go away in a few days.

Four weeks after starting this program, Jane happily reported that she was in a new relationship with a male friend and with new ground rules in place  was enjoying a better relationship with her dog Buttercup.

Has Your Dog Unfairly Been Labeled A Social Bully

Being confronted by the trainer in Jack’s socialization class that Jack was a social bully, was concerning, humiliating – and embarrassing. The subject was not addressed directly but instead, Jack, a young, head-strong Siberian husky pup was timed out (crated) so many times in his socialization class that his owners were too embarrassed to return. Trainer tact or experience could have made all the difference.

Dismayed the owners were now trying to figure out the trainer’s real message. Maybe he was trying to say, “Your dog is too over bearing to actually play with other dogs” or, “He’s too much of a bully.” They just didn’t know exactly what the problem was.

In their minds it didn’t seem right for Jack to be unfairly labeled as a bully – especially if the odds were innocently stacked against him – with no explanation or suggestions of other options.

It seemed to them Jack was getting a raw deal mainly because – things were not explained to them in a way that helped them understand how to help their dog. Jack hadn’t yet had the opportunity to learn how to properly read other dog’s body language and signals and turn off his strong invitations to play.

Jack’s story

I was called to help Jack’s owners with dog obedience training and to work on his jumping, biting and pulling on leash – all typical adolescent behaviors. They had previously owned a Siberian husky and as most folks do, they compared Jack to their former dog that was a much calmer dog. Jack’s exuberant, take-charge personality had them a little concerned about what to do with all this energy and especially how he channeled it when playing with other puppies. They really needed options.

Since Jack’s exclusion from his socialization classes they were in a dilemma about Jack’s ability to “ever” play nicely with other dogs. I mentioned to them that you can’t always choose playmate temperaments in a group class setting, which was evident in Jack’s case.

I also mentioned to them that while I can’t speak to that trainer’s experience, I’ve had experience with bossy personalities like Jack where the other dogs or puppies were softer. My remedy was to bring in one or two of my older dogs to help temper – and teach – the Jacks of the world on how to play, read body language and turn off rough play.

I recommended that Jack and his owners join one of my group classes where we always have a mixed bag of dog sizes and temperaments. This gave Jack an opportunity to make play choices in our playtime before class. If he picked a dog that was too soft, we simply redirected him to a dog that matched his temperament and energy and off he went to play. In addition to honing his social skills in playtime, he is also expanding on his obedience training around his classmates.

Managing Jack’s play and energy in group class was important for Jack. It was equally important to teach his owners how to manage his energy at home for better control.

One on One with Jack

We worked Jack in private lessons to teach Jack solid basic obedience commands – sit, down, stay and the come command. Regular dog training gave Jack a sense of working for them rather that his owners always catering to his needs.

Jack learned to “Settle” by their feet in the family room. Before this training, he was jumping on the couch and biting – very unruly behavior.

Jack enjoyed long walks where he learned to “Curb!” when cars approached. We worked on other ways to constructively manage his energy as well like jogging on the treadmill.  This was great for rainy days or if they didn’t get a chance to get in a proper walk.

All is well with Jack – and Mom and Dad are happy!

“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 Jm’s 25+ years of setting dogs up to succeed presented in an easy, step by step plan for all dog owners.

House Soiling in an Adult Dog

Your Dog’s Behavior Will Change When You Change

“Your dog’s behavior will change when you change” is what we tell owners who insist that “I need to fix their dog”.

I had an elderly couple as clients who had called about their 5 year old Bulldog named Freddy who had taken to house soiling. One of the first things they said was they were considered giving up the dog – their rugs were being ruined.  And they didn’t like that Freddy was not nearly as affectionate or loving as their last Bulldog, who was, of course, the perfect dog.

House Soiling in an Adult Dog

When they called the office and spoke with Leila they said the reason for their call was:   “Freddy needs re-house training and behavior modification…”  We are upset and we just can’t sacrifice our rugs because of Freddy’s psychological issues.”  
What these owners said is important.  Why?  Because my experience has shown me that unless the owner has a very strong commitment to helping their dog, it is extremely difficult to make any progress at all.

Part of this may be the world we live in, but many owners like this couple want a quick fix. When calling, they are flooded with emotions about their dog problem like, “When I saw the mess in the house, I could have whaled the tar out of him!”   They are usually vacillating between “I’m getting rid of this dog now” to “I’ll keep him only if he stops peeing and pooping on the rugs.”

I explained to Freddy’s owners until they unanimously decided to keep Freddy, their house soiling issue would not go away.  They were taken aback by that, but agreed to have the heart-to-heart and talk about their true feelings for Freddy and ask themselves, “Is it better to re-home him or can we commit to keeping him?”

Freddy’s mom called back the next week and said that they had talked it over and had made a unanimous decision to keep Freddy – no matter what.  When owners change their attitudes toward their dogs – from uncertainty to an attitude of unconditional acceptance of their pet, the dog begins improving almost immediately.”

Dogs are extremely sensitive to your emotions.  Freddy could feel his owners begrudging disappointment towards him. But with their renewed commitment to Freddy, they had removed a huge stumbling block to Freddy’s success. Freddy picked up on their “renewed emotions” which made him less stressed and anxious.

Most all trainers recognize the intuitive sense that animals have and use to interpret your feelings and emotions – which affects how they respond to you.  Three-time Olympic equestrian Champion, Jane Savoy, put it best when she quoted Jonathan Manske:  “What is going on inside your head really does matter! Your thoughts, your attitudes and especially your non-conscious programming create your results. When you change what is going on inside your head, your ‘real world results’ change as well.”

Freddy’s owners changed what was going on inside their head with a renewed commitment to Freddy. As I started working with them they reported that Freddy had stopped peeing/pooping within the first week.

In addition to the behavior modification program, we also included dog obedience training  and implemented some much needed rules, boundaries and expectations for Freddy.

For Freddy’s owners, this meant stepping back and using my “Ground Rules for Great Dogs” to change Freddy’s opportunistic mindset of, “What’s in it for me?” to one that was more giving and harmonious. These Ground Rules for Great Dogs changed the entire relationship between Freddy and his owners.  The structure and training were well-received by Freddy and improved his quality of life as it gave them a new way to interact with Freddy other than just lap time and gave Freddy a new way to behave.

The principle in this story has been repeated many times with other clients and their dog behavior problems leading us to this conclusion: Your dogs behavioral reactions to you will only begin to change when you unconditionally accept your dog.

Dog Behavior That Embarrasses You

Tired of Apologizing for Your Dog’s Bad Behavior?

That’s what my last client of the day had to say, “I’m tired of apologizing for my dog’s bad behavior.” She also added that her dog’s behavior was, in her conservative view, embarrassing as well.

Dog Behavior That Embarrasses You

She had tried puppy class but had taken Sophie out of training because Sophie, as a puppy, was too afraid of the other dogs. It would soon be apparent to me that there had been very little formal dog obedience training in Sophie’s life.

Sophie, is a 12 month old lab/Catahoula mix and full of energy. My client – we’ll call her Ann – says she barks at people on walks – especially men and she becomes highly reactive to dogs on walk.

The barking part was confirmed as I knocked on the door to begin our first lesson. I could see the frustration in Ann’s eyes as she apologized by saying, “Sorry, but you see what I mean?”  Lots – and I mean lots of barking.

Successful Entry

Upon entering, I used my “silver bullet” approach by promptly stuffing her mouth with a loaded Kong toy (lamb loaf.) My quick action immediately accomplished 3 things: It shut her up, prevented jumping and most importantly, I became her BFF. Ha! LOL!

 Ann’s frustration melted into smiles as she gave me an ecstatic, “Wow! She’s never stopped barking and warmed up so quickly! This is amazing!”   Now typically most dogs go off to another room – Kong in mouth – never to be seen again – or at least for 15 minutes. Nope. Not Sophie.

This is when I learned of her athletic abilities as she broad-jumped the coffee table and landed on the sofa right next to me – almost before I could seat myself.  Ann quickly noted out loud, “Oh yes, could you fix that too?”

As it turned out Sophie is not aggressive towards people – she’s just a little (or a lot depending on the person) scared and misguided – like a teenager needing a lot of direction and structure.  

Now, if you feel as if you are on the outside of a window looking through and watching your own life with your dog, read on.

I got Sophie under control by putting a leash on her and settling her down next to my foot on the floor – with the Kong. It was time to get the lowdown on the rest of the behavior problems.   Sophie’s fear of people and dogs was the main reason I was called but it was clear that there was a good laundry list of adolescent behavior that needed to be curbed quickly.

Easy Solutions

 The honest truth is most of the adolescent behaviors are easy fixes. The main solution for most of Sophie’s dog behavior problems involved pairing high value food treats and stuffed Kongs with people thereby changing the way Sophie thought about strangers.  Now, strangers meant “manna from heaven?  Her fear of dogs will take a little longer to work on.

I could see Ann liked my Kong solution. It did seem easy. And just to make sure she could replicate my “silver Bullet” approach with others, her mom had agreed to come over halfway through our first lesson.  In the past her mom was hesitant to visit very frequently because of Sophie’s jumping and improper behaviors.   But if a stuffed Kong was placed outside on Ann’s door mat her mom would have a silver bullet too! We stuffed our Kong and put it in a small zip lock bag on the front porch. We settled in, continued our lesson where we were working on Ann’s personal space and Sophie.  

The doorbell rang and Ann greeted her mom. The order was: Silver bullet to Sophie, hug the mom, settle the dog and then settle mom.  Done.   I also told Ann that she could use this technique when she had gentlemen callers.  A girl’s got to have a life, right?

Things to Remember

  1. Always greet visitors with your dog on leash while in training.
  2. Always be prepared with food treats and a stuffed Kong.
  3. Always settle your dog by your side.
  4. Always praise your dog for good behavior.

We all want calm dogs for which we don’t have to apologize. In fact, we’d really like to get compliments like, “What a nice dog!” It’s not impossible and it’s probably easier than you think. 

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.

Women and Their Dogs

What got me to thinking about women and their dogs? We had a scary medical emergency this morning with our lab, Sammy who, from a small thrown away puppy, has had some serious medical issues with his hips and elbows.

When Leila heard Sammy’s low yelp/scream Saturday morning she saw Sammy not moving – not wanting to even get up with coaxing. – Leila, who is pretty practical, immediately became flooded with emotions – with a sinking feeling in her gut – scared to death she was going to lose her Sammy.  Sammy is her heart dog.  He has definitely moved into her heart, locked the door and thrown away the key!

So we rushed over to the vet.  While waiting for Sammy to get x-rayed, we sat in the reception area. I gazed around the area and there were 5 other people waiting for their appointments with their dogs – two men and three women.  The dogs belonging to the men were patiently (or not so patiently) waiting on the floor next to their owner’s feet.

Two of the women had small dogs – a Maltese and a Yorkie. Both dogs were in their laps. The third woman had a large male Golden Retriever – a real handsome lad – that looked to be about 2 years old and intact. His back feet were planted squarely on the ground and the rest of him was up on her lap. He stayed that way the entire time until they went to their exam room.

Leila and I must have been watching the Golden Retriever at the same time literally standing on top of his “Mom” when we both turned to each other at the exact same time and said, “Women and their dogs!” Chuckle!



Women are Born Nurturers

That’s one thing that sets them way apart from us rather non-emotional men.  95% of my clients are women.  And for the most part, the responsibility to train the family dog lies mainly with them.  The women feed them, walk them, care for them and – love them. There is an even deeper nurturing relationship with some women more than others.

Some years back one of my single women clients said about her dog, “I have kept a journal of my new puppy, Sophie and the journey we are on together.”  Another has said that, “I somehow seem to be subconsciously aware that my dog won’t live nearly long enough so I try to love him as much as I can while he is here.”

While the connection between women and the dogs they raise is genuine and true, it can become bitter-sweet.  It can— keep women from applying the needed structure they know is required to properly parent their new puppy or dog. 

 Let me explain.

 Right off the bat precious new puppies are warm and cuddly and too cute to put down and we already know that many stay-at-home moms feeling guilty crating these precious puppies.  The red carpet is rolled out for the new rescue dog. He’s lavished with so much love and affection in an attempt to make up for what he “should have had and didn’t get” in the previous home or never had at all because he was dumped on the street. All of this is the sweet part.

I just started lessons with a wife and her newly acquired rescue dog who was the recipient of just such red carpet, love affair treatment.  This was the “sweet” part in the bitter-sweet.

There was so much love and affection in the first two weeks in his new home (still the honeymoon period) that he is now growling when the husband hugs his wife. That’s the “bitter” part. Oh, what to do. I warned this could quickly escalate if a plan were not put into place immediately to get better control of your relationship with your dog.

The must have structure, discipline and manners required for the kids seems to somehow get misguided when it comes to obedience training the family dog.

Leila says all the time that women are nurturers. This was never as clearly observed as it was in one of my puppy lessons today. As I picked up my gear to leave, the wife picked up the puppy and said, “He’s so warm and cute. I just want to hold him but he always fidgets and struggles to get free wanting to get down. It’s like he is rejecting my love. It makes me sad.” I looked at her, then at her husband who shrugged.  I guess it’s the nature of women “to love” and it’s the nature of men “to do” – meaning we tend to look at things from a more practical, rather than emotional point of view. 

Dogs do need as much structure as kids. And just like with kids, I think we have to strike a balance because dogs do need love and affection but the practical side of me says:  please, just make em’ sit first- deal?

What Do You Think?  Let us know your thoughts on today’s issue by commenting below.

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

Don’t forget to come chat with us on Facebook.  We talk dog big time over there!

Jim Burwell is a “thanks for making the impossible, possible” successful professional dog trainer having trained 20,000+ dogs and counting and serving more than 7,000 clients.  He 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.

(c)Jim Burwell Inc.

How Much Works Is This Dog Going to Take?

Just How Much Work is This Dog Going to be Anyway?

“Just how much work is this dog going to be [email protected]*!” that was the question from my new friend at Starbucks.

I was just grabbing a coffee at Starbucks in between lessons and reading one of the new books I got on dog training.  Always want to stay educated.  I guess this man saw what I was reading and noticed my Petiquette shirt came and sat down and started talking about his dog.

How Much Works Is This Dog Going to Take?

Here’s His Story

The dog is a female adolescent Labrador – about 18 months old who I’m sure was the “twinkle of their eyes” as a puppy.   But now she was apparently climbing the walls with nothing to do but chew up the house! Totally stressed.

He kept on talking and he told me how his dog stayed charged up all the time.  I asked a couple of questions:

  1.  What are you feeding your dog:  Pedigree
  2.  Do you walk your dog. No

Now, if you’ve been part of our community for any length of time you already see the red flags waving here.  Right?

He did say they had, as new responsible puppy owners, enrolled their dog in puppy classes at their local retail pet store and when done with their puppy training, picked up a 40# bag of Pedigree on the way out the door. Get the picture?

For some reason the thought process seemed to be, “Let’s get a puppy – get it trained – done. Oh yeah, it’s gotta eat. Grab that bag of food. Done.”


But, it’s never really done, is it?


Now I’ve had my “Angel” dogs – those perfect dogs but you just can’t count on every one of them being perfect. I wouldn’t have a job now, would I?

After my first line of discovery, I suggested an immediate food change and multiple walks daily. And, oh yes, start back up on your obedience training.

The second question was, “How long do we have to do this? We work you know.” 

Now I’m generally a pretty cool cucumber with folks, but this really took me back. After I picked myself up off the floor, I began to find out a little more about their daily routine which included both working out of their home in their upstairs office with their dog down stairs.

Now I don’t know about you, but I know many – no thousands of people – that would give anything to be able to have their dogs with them during the day. What a golden opportunity for this couple to be able to spend this formidable time with their puppy all the way to adulthood to achieve the perfect dog – and enjoying her all along the way!

It’s a perfect opportunity to continue much needed obedience training so that you can solve any dog behavior problem that might come out along the way.

Did I mention having your dog with you in your office as well? Wow! That would be a great stress reducer for those hectic days at the office. Feel stressed? Just reach down and pet your puppy. “I feel good now!”

After least 30 minutes fact-finding, making immediate life-saving recommendations on the dog’s behalf – and theirs, the third question popped out,

“Maybe this isn’t the right dog?”

 By that time my coffee was cold and I could not think of anything else to say that would be polite.

You know as well as I do that replacing this dog that has such great potential, is not the answer.

You know the answer.  Set rules, boundaries and expectations for your dog, exercise your dog, train your dog and take your dog places on the weekends like hikes at the beach or whatever makes your boat float.

Make your dog want to be connected to you – part of your pack because of the cool things you have to offer. In turn, she has to give you sits and downs. You’ll love the outcome, I guarantee it!

Oh, by the way.  The picture of the dog in today’s article is probably the best dog for this couple.  Don’t you think?

Good Dog Behavior: How to Help Your Fearful Dog

I received an email about a fearful dog from the owner who needed help with her fearful dog. She wrote, “How can I train or work with my dog to not fear certain people? He barks and is afraid of men. It’s pretty tough on walks at times.” 

It can be very frustrating not to be able to enjoy walking your dog if you anxiously anticipate greeting the occasional male friend or even have family or friends over – some of whom are male.  If you are like me, knowing that your dog is having as much fun as you in the company of friends and family is well, very comforting. Anything less than that – like having to crate them or gate them – tends to add stress to the situation because we are always thinking about our dogs. Are they okay?  


Obedience training helps your dog to focus on something else

Training your dog to perform obedience commands like come, sit, down or place is a good way to help him focus on something else other than being afraid of men passing by on walks or visiting male friends.  It does take time to practice your obedience training. Not only do you want an immediate response to commands, you need an immediate response to your commands around men who are scary to your dog. 

Our dog Sammy is fearful of new people coming over. He knows his obedience training commands and we use them to keep him focused and “on task” (go to place) when new people come over. We practiced a lot with Sammy on his commands – first without visitors – then with visitors. We kept Sammy at a comfortable distance at first on place or his doggie bed as he got more comfortable with each new visitor. 

Once Sammy’s obedience training was good to go, we gave each new visitor a doggie bag of Sammy’s high value dog treats. Since we typically train with lamb loaf, we used grilled chicken only for visitors. With our visitor approaches preplanned, it went like this: 

Our first step

  •  Visitor arrives at scheduled time and picks up zip lock bag of grilled chicken treats
  •  Visitor rings doorbell and steps back, waiting for me and Sammy to come out to the front porch.
  •  Once out on the porch, our visitor is at a comfortable distance from Sammy and turned sideways to present a less threatening situation to Sammy.
  •  I put Sammy in a sit (lots of previous practice helped here) and when I clicked, the visitor tossed Sammy a piece of grilled chicken. There were 8-10 pieces in the   bag and in no time we were done. 

Our second step

  • I brought Sammy inside and as our visitor followed, I put Sammy on his place next to my chair with my foot on the leash.
  • Our visitor then picked up treat bag #2 on the end table next to the couch and tossed Sammy a treat each time I clicked. There were 4-6 treats in this bag.
  • Once we were done with bag #2, I gave Sammy a Kong toy stuffed with big chunks of grilled chicken. 

Our third step

  • We repeated the process – doorbell ring and all 2-3 more times with our friend. 

It’s very difficult for dogs to generalize things. For example, getting used to this friend, at least for Sammy, doesn’t mean all friends are okay. So we are gradually widening Sammy’s circle of friends – one at a time.  We also are aware that Sammy, like all dogs, may not warm up to all of our friends. That’s where we know that our dog obedience training will be our good back up. 

By the way, each time a visitor comes over, Sammy is associating positive things, treats and stuffed Kongs – with visitors. As Sammy gets more comfortable with each visitor, we will begin to get him comfortable with being closer to our friend and with our friend’s movement in the house.  Although some dogs warm up more quickly, dogs like Sammy take a little longer. It’s worth it for us. We keep him sharp on his commands so that we can count on them.

In summary:

Practice what you want your dog to do; i.e., sit, down, place, etc.

Practice what you want your dog to do around visitors

Keep your dog on leash

Keep your dog at a comfortable distance allowing you to get successful sits, downs or place.

Associate positive things – food treats, stuffed Kongs – with visitors

Practice, practice, practice 

If your dog seems stressed or uncomfortable, stop the training and pick it up again later. Keep your training positive and upbeat.


What Do You Think?   Let us know your thoughts on today’s issue below in the comment section.

Sharing IS Caring right:  Please share with others by “Tweeting” and “Liking this on Facebook”

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

Don’t forget to come chat with us on Facebook.  We talk dog big time over there!

Jim Burwell is a “thanks for making the impossible, possible” professional dog trainer having trained 20,000+ dogs and counting and serving more than 7,000 clients.  Jim’s easy to follow, common sense, and positive methods have made him the “dog trainer of choice” for 30 years.  One of his clients says it best: There are people who are so good at, and passionate about, what they do, that in their presence, one can’t help thinking that they have found their true calling and are doing exactly what they should be doing on this earth. Jim is one of these rare people. His quiet and understated manner, his effective technique for training dogs (and their families) is something which I feel fortunate to have witnessed and in which to have been an active participant.  Jane Wagner

(c)Jim Burwell Inc.