The Emotional Connection with your Dog

I love my dog like a babyI Love My Dogs So Much!


We all love our dogs so much.  Many people will tell you they love their dog like a baby.   I mean, why not?

Here is why  loving your dog so much is  important.

The emotional connection you create with your dog in the very beginning weeks and months of your relationship will form how he relates to and interacts with you, other family members, friends and strangers in the years to come.

Will you create a confident and well-balanced dog?  Or, —- will your dog develop insecurities and become laden with anxiety and tension?

Here are some facts about relationships with our dogs that could change your approach to training and insure you a more confident dog:

Most all of our relationship with our dog is emotional. Dogs draw us to them. There’s that doggie breath we remember when they were puppies, their total cuteness – not to mention they were so warm and cuddly as dogs and are still.  It’s the whole package really!

We feel like our dogs are very sensitive to our feelings.  We pick up on this almost immediately.  Come to think of  it, if this sensitivity were not there, we probably wouldn’t have them as pets.


Dogs do not do well with an over abundance of our emotional energy. Too much love and affection when we are home can really cause our dog to miss all that attention when we are gone.   This can make them feel insecure.  One minute tons of attention, and love, then you leave and nothing—-what the heck happened ?  What’s going on?

Dogs become afraid when they sense our anger or hear us yelling and screaming. This kind of emotional energy, filled with anxiety and tension, creates an unstable environment for our dog .

Our dog then tries to relieve the tension caused by the frustration in his relationship with us and that’s when behavioral problems occur. Barking, house soiling, biting etc.

So how do we balance the love we feel for and want to express to our dogs, while at the same time keeping them balanced?

Tips to Creating a Confident Dog

  • Don’t involve your dog in excited departures or arrivals. This tends to cause him to have emotional highs at important, critical times of the day which in turn can lead to disorders such as separation anxiety.
  • Instead, ignore your dog for 5 minutes prior to departure and upon arriving home. By consistently doing this, you will level out your dog’s emotional highs as they tend to contrast too sharply with his alone time while you are gone. After5 minutes, simply and quietly ask for a sit – then greet your dog with love and affection.
  • Don’t “bark” (yell and scream) at your dog with anger or frustration when correcting him.
  • Don’t reward your dog’s insecurities by feeling sorry for and coddling him (i.e. during thunderstorms.) Instead, “happy your dog up” – that is, changing your emotional state can change the emotional state of your dog through mood transferences. Work your dog through happy sits and downs praising and treating him for a job well done during his stressful thunderstorm episodes. I’ve suggested singing a happy song to help to begin changing a dog’s emotional state – and with success!

A Couple of Closing Thoughts for You

Pair your calm energy with quiet redirects to appropriate behaviors like sits or downs followed by simple praise for doing a good job.

And finally, engage your dog in very short, frequent obedience training sessions daily to give your dog a sense of working for your leadership rather than feeling responsible for being the leader himself.   If the decisions are left to him, that puts a difficult emotional burden on our dogs to carry.  Above all, make sure you have fun raising and training your dog. And more importantly, make sure your dog has fun too!

Feel free to print off a copy of this article if you like it so you can easily refer to it as you’re training your dog.  We love helping you!

Remember, sharing is caring.  Please “Like” and “Tweet” this article is you enjoyed it.  Come join us on Facebook and let’s chat about your dog.

Jim Burwell, dog trainerJim 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

Dog Behavior: How To Recognize And Reduce Holiday Stress For Your Dog

Overeating, strange relatives, no time to exercise, traveling… and that’s just what your dog is dealing with during the holidays. It’s no surprise that many of the things that cause us stress at this time of year also have an effect on our dogs. Now is the time to observe your dog for signs of stress and take extra care to reduce his stress this month. First, what are some of the behaviors a stressed-out dog will display?

  • unusual house soiling, i.e. soiling your belongings
  • abnormal scratching and chewing
  • constant barking or whining
  • destructive behaviors, i.e. pushing things off tables, tearing up furniture or other belongings

Also watch your dog for any physical signs of stress like drooling, obsessive grooming, itching, rashes, etc. So what can you do to keep your dog calm and well-behaved?

  • do not skip daily walks, they provide exercise, leadership and mental stimulation
  • keep up your good training habits like having your dog perform a sit before meals
  • absolutely no indulging with people food or extra treats
  • skip the holiday costume, it may be itchy and heavy to your dog

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

(C) Jim Burwell 2010

Dog Walking: Dog Owners Can Create Dog Behavior Problems

dog walkingThis past Sunday I participated in the pre-game annual Dog Day Afternoon event sponsored by the Astros (they played Cincinnati.)

I was amazed at the number of “good dogs” walking calmly by their owner’s side through the maze of people as if they had done this a 1,000 times or more.

I was more amazed at the number of dogs pulling their owners through the crowd tangling people with the leash or jumping on kids who were trying to walk  and  eat a hot dog (fondly remembered as Dome Dogs).

I’ve been on a number of lessons in the past where dog walking issues was the complaint – more specifically, pulling on leash and sometimes it ended in the dog becoming reactive or aggressive towards other dogs.    One was a Border Collie that turned out to have fear aggression resulting from a lack of socialization.

Another was a 24 month old male golden who, on observation, had always been in charge of the walk.   The owner had the road rash to prove it. The owner seemed to think her dog might be aggressive towards other dogs but really didn’t know because she was afraid to ever let him near dogs.

I immediately recognized the symptom: “BOHS” or Bad Owner Handling Skills. The owner clearly over time kept communicating wrong information to the dog by keeping the leash tight. And, as the dog was consistently corrected for pulling, over time he began to think, My   owner doesn’t want me to go near other dogs.”

Additionally, opposite reflex action – owner pulling back – causes dogs to naturally pull against the leash pressure when owners “honk down” on the leash. And of course, the dog was pulling in the direction of the other dog.  Owner anxiety travels down the leash to the dog and further exacerbates the problem.   Clearly this dog would never get a good butt sniff much less a good playtime with other dogs – unless we could resolve this issue.

In my lesson with the golden, I was not sure what to expect meeting other dogs so I brought two of my dogs. I muzzled the golden, put him on a flat buckle collar and a15’ long line to make sure there was no leash tension and proceeded to approached my two dogs – one at a time (from behind for a good butt sniff).

The golden showed no signs of aggression at all either on muzzle or off muzzle.  I finally mixed up the approaches with pass-bys and frontal approaches and still no issues.   Over the weeks we concentrated on correct owner/dog practice on how to walk their dog on a slack leash around other neighborhood dogs and this eliminated any of my concerns with territorial aggression or aggression to protect the owner.

Key: Learn how to correctly walk your dog on a slack leash and try to check your anxiety at the door before the walk.  Structure your walk with your dog so that he looks to your leadership.

Control most of the walk – but do give your dog his unstructured time to pee, poop, sniff and explore with his nose. It is also a good idea to have your dog sit before allowing your dog to leave your side for his flex time. Build your confidence in your handling skills with practice and time. Remember, the window of socialization and desensitization for most puppies closes by 5 months of age.

Socialize your puppy well and keep it up through the life of your dog. Learn how to walk your dog on a loose leash as this will lead to many more satisfying walks for both you and your dog.

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

Dog Behavior Problems? The Solution Could Be As Easy As the Words You Choose



Dog behavior problems are a concern for many dog owners and a major reason that dogs end up in shelters. The best thing you can do for your dog is to begin training when he is still in the puppy stage. It’s is much easier to start off on the right foot than to go back and correct months or even years of learned behavior by your dog.

No matter when you start your training, being consistent is the major key to successful dog training. Training a dog is very much like raising a child. When children understand what behavior is expected, that expectation never changes and that expectation of behavior is conveyed the same way time after time, children are clear on what to do and will generally do the correct behavior time after time.

The same holds true for dogs. Here is an example: If you begin teaching your dog the meaning of the command of OFF then that command can be used later should your dog begin to jump on you. Do not say DOWN Where most people make the mistake is using the same word such as DOWN to mean not only get off the couch, or quit jumping on me and to also mean to lay down. Pick one word for a behavior and stick to it. The word DOWN should be used only when you are asking the dog to lay down. The word OFF means stop what you are doing, no matter what it is, look at me while I give you an alternate behavior to do that is acceptable. The word OFF is one of the best control commands you can teach your dog.

When you are clear with the message to your dog, your dog has an easier time complying. Also remember to be patient when you are training and keep your lessons short – about 6 minutes in length but you can do training several times a day. Be as comfortable with the trainer of your dog as you are the teacher of your children. And remember, “Opportunity Barks!”

Dog Behavior: Does Your Dog Beg For Food at the Table?

The very best way to stop your dog from begging at the table for scraps is – don’t encourage it in the first place. Simple right.You would think so. But so many dog owners initially think it’s cute or just want their dogs to have “just a taste”. Before you know it, you’ve created a monster—right there at your dinner table.


Feeding your dog leftovers (that are appropriate to feed ) is perfectly fine. As long as the leftovers are placed in the dog’s bowl and the bowl is placed in his usual feeding spot AND he has to give you a sit before he gets anything.

But if you’re reading this article, you already have the problem of the begging dog. So, here are a few tips to correct the behavior.

  1. Avoid paying attention to or looking at your dog when you are eating. Those soft brown eyes are hard to resist and looking at and paying attention to your dog will encourage the begging. You are setting him up to expect something.
  2. Tell every member of your family to quit giving your dog food from the table, food from the couch, food from the chair, food from the desk etc. He should only be eating food from his bowl.
  3. When you are eating, place your dog in a sit/stay or down/stay and have him remain there until your meal is finished.
  4. If your dog will not hold a sit or down stay and you want him in the room with you, then tether him to something unmovable so he can’t come over to the table. Of course, this means your dog is on leash and the leash is hooked onto something.
  5. Place your dog in his crate or if you have taught him to ‘go place” have him go to his place and stay there.

Should your dog break his sit/stay, down/stay or place, calmly get up, return him to the stay position, repeat stay and walk away.

Be consistent and patient with this. Food is of high value to a dog and if you’re trying to break behavior YOU started don’t blame the dog if it takes a while.

The best thing you can do of course is not begin to feed your dog from the table at all. Once again, practice setting your dog up to succeed, not fail.

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


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.

Tips for Obedience Training Your Dog

The Amazing Benefits of Obedience Training Your Dog

Owning a well behaved, happy, well balanced dog takes work. So before you run out and get a new dog or puppy, give it some serious thought. Make sure you are ready for the commitment and care it takes to add a new dog or puppy to your family.

Unfortunately many dog owners do not take the time to teach their dogs to obey commands. Lots of new dog owners are amazed that their untrained dog will not come to them when called or their untrained dogs pull them on a leash so badly they look like a tail on a kite. Lots of dog owners simply let the dog or puppy have the run of the house and allow them to jump on the furniture, tear things up and have their own way. Not only is this detrimental to your home, it doesn’t teach your dog to respect you. It certainly doesn’t help him view you as his leader. Next stop – the local shelter. No fault of the dog!

Here are some easy to follow suggestions to help you get started obedience training your dog:

  • Be consistent. Training your dog to perform a specific behavior one day, then the next day allowing him to do as he pleases is being inconsistent and confuses your dog. Train for 5-10 minutes each day, the same way you trained the day before, using the same hand signals and the same words.
  • Give praise and an occasional treat. When you ask your dog to perform a behavior such as a sit, the minute his butt hits the ground you say in a happy voice Good Boy. If you want you may then give a treat. If you wait more than 1.0 to 1.5 seconds after his butt hits the ground to praise, your dog is clueless as to what the praise is associated with.
  • Always use the exact same words to request a command. If you are teaching your dog to come to you and you use the word come then always use the word come, and all family members must use the same word. If you use come and another family member uses here—you are again being inconsistent.
  • Be patient. You will have times when your dog has learned a command, the next day you ask for the behavior and he looks at you as if you are speaking a foreign language. Try a couple more times, if again, he doesn’t do it, stop for the day and pick back up tomorrow. Dogs will sometimes do that. There is a saying that goes, your dog has not truly learned a command until he has learned the command, forgotten it, then learned it again.
  • Don’t try to teach too many commands at once. Get one mastered before venturing on to the next one.
  • Very important – dogs learn in context. This simply means if you teach your dog to sit in your den, that’s where you dog will sit—not in the kitchen. He hasn’t learned sit in the kitchen. Point being, you have to teach your dog the command in different areas.

When you have a dog that is well mannered and obeys your commands, life is much easier and happier for everyone. You don’t worry about him jumping on friends and visitors. Your dog understand what the expectations are and HOW to meet them, he views you as his leader and you in turn have a well mannered, well balanced, happy, happy dog. Everyone wins!


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!


House Breaking A Puppy – The 3 Things You Don’t Know

One reason people find it difficult to train and house break a puppy is that the puppy has absolutely no idea what the owner is trying to teach. And, many times, the owner’s expectation of the puppy is beyond what the puppy is capable of at that certain age. This communication gap is never more painfully obvious than in house breaking a puppy. It can be a very frustrating process. It doesn’t have to be, but sometimes there are those puppies that are difficult to house break. Many people will say, “I’m doing all the right things” or, “I’ve read a whole stack of books” and the bottom line we keep getting back to with some puppies is, “House breaking this puppy” is difficult – or at least so it seems – but in reality, they’re generally overlooking some very simple “tricks of the trade” to house break a puppy. There are many factors that impact house breaking a puppy. None of them can be viewed separately as they all work together. One component most puppy owners do not consider is the impact that nutrition has on house breaking a puppy. What kind of food, how much and how it’s prepared can heavily impact how quickly you can house break a puppy.

1. Step one is to feed a high premium, nutritionally balanced diet to your new puppy.

Tip: Inexpensive dog food is chocked full of artificial preservatives, dyes, bad fat and low grade carbohydrates used as fillers. You can not purchase high quality dog or puppy food in a grocery store or a big box store. They don’t carry high quality foods. Tip: Keep your new puppy on the breeder’s food for at least 4 days once home. Any change in diet should be done gradually to prevent digestive problems and any related house training issues. Tip: When you are ready to begin switching to your high quality food, begin using this formula: day one – 3/4 old food, 1/4 new food; day 2 – 1/2 old food, 1/2 new food; day three – 1/4 old food, 3/4 new food and finally on day four – all new high quality food. If at any point your puppy develops a soft stool, simply go back to the previous day’s formula until you get a firm stool.

2. How much you feed is important. Many people over feed their puppies and in fact, leave the food bowl down all the time so that the puppy can free feed.

Tip: The quantity they tell you to feed on the bag of food is not set in stone. Be flexible and adjust to your puppy’s appetite and weight. Too much food and you will have a puppy with loose stools. Tip: Puppies have a very difficult time or simply can not control loose stools resulting in accidents for which they should not be blamed.

3. Developing a regular and consistent feeding schedule is important.

Tip: Keeping your puppy’s feeding schedule consistent on weekends as you do on week days is critical. Once you have the diet correct, there are other components you will need to put into your house breaking routine. These include:

  • How to be proactive in teaching your puppy to be house broken instead of being reactive.
  • Understanding the importance of the crate in house breaking your puppy.
  • Teaching your new puppy where not to go is the final part that completes the process.
  • Remember that throughout this process avoid any and all punishment of your new puppy

Again, always set your dog up to be successful. Give your dog what he needs and he will give you back years of wonderful companionship and love.

Need help now???  Check out our puppy training course.  You’ll think I’ve moved in with you 🙂

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