Spring Is Here So Make Sure You Walk Your Dog, Not The Other Way Around

Taking your dog out for a walk can be a very enjoyable experience. At least it should be. Walks are a critical element in having a well balanced dog. Dogs need not only the exercise, but also the intellectual and olfactory stimulation of walks.

But if you have trouble with your dog pulling on his leash, you need to stop this bad dog behavior. You want to go in one direction, your dog wants to go in the other direction. Sound familiar? Especially if your dog is still young, you want to stop the leash pulling now, because 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.

Try my 5 steps to better dog walks. 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 smaller dogs either.

For this method all you really need are: a 6′ leash and a nylon buckle collar.

  1. 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.
  2. The minute there is slack in the leash, praise your dog and begin walking again.
  3. Continue your walk until the dog starts pulling again, stop dead in your tracks once again. Remain neutral. Wait for slack, praise.
  4. 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.
  5. 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! Dogs are smarter than you think. Do your part consistently and you will soon find that you can enjoy 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!”

(C) Jim Burwell 2011

Your Dog Training Questions: How Do I Crate Train My Dog?

I just adopted a new dog and I am lost. I would like to crate train, but I am not sure how to do it. How long do you recommend keeping a dog in the crate a day?
— Sarah, via email


My Answer:

Crate training is not about confining your dog in a crate. Do not leave your puppy in a crate for hours on end. That is confinement, not crate training. A puppy should never be confined in a crate all day long while you are at work. If that is your circumstance, then hire a pet sitter to come over at least twice a day to take the puppy out and play with it a little. A puppy in a crate for 8-10 hours a day is not going to make for a well balanced, happy puppy.

That said, the idea behind crate training your puppy or dog is to set him up to be successful in house training, instead of setting them up to fail.

How does this work? Well, dogs and puppies don’t like to soil the areas where they sleep or eat, so crating them for a time helps inhibit their tendency to urinate or defecate in their crate, thereby helping them learn to hold their business. It helps teach them to wait until they have an opportunity to do the business outside.

Here’s how to start. When you are at home, take your dog or puppy out of the crate and take them outside to potty. Generally speaking for every month a puppy is old, that is the number of hours they can hold their business. So if you have an 8 week old puppy, that puppy can hold it for approximately 2 hours (especially when awake). When you take your puppy out and they don’t potty, take the puppy back in, put it back in the crate and try again in about 15 minutes. When the potty potties, they get a standing ovation which helps them understand that what they did was a good thing.

To recap, crate training is not the same thing as confinement. The crate is used to aid in potty training, giving the puppy somewhere to go to be quiet and to sleep in at night so the puppy does not wander the house.

Crate training is used to illicit good behavior from your puppy and to aid your puppy in being successful instead of setting your puppy up to fail. Good luck and remember, “Opportunity Barks!”

(C) Jim Burwell 2011

Separation Anxiety In Dogs

Separation anxiety is one of the most common dog behavior problems. This is because many owners may not realize the cause of the problem and make the issue worse without realizing what they are communicating to their dog.

Separation anxiety occurs when a dog is extremely attached to their owners and cannot cope when left alone. The symptoms of separation anxiety in dogs include:

  • Vocalization. This includes incessant whining or barking.
  • Destructive behavior. The dog may lick, chew and scratch inappropriately.
  • Obsessive behavior. This can include some destructive behaviors and other dog behaviors like pacing.
  • House soiling. An anxious dog might eliminate in the house or in unusual places.

The most common reason a dog might develop separation anxiety is that the dog is very rarely left alone. This usually happens when a member of the family is constantly with the dog or takes the dog with them whenever they leave. Dogs need to learn how to be alone.

“Alone time” training should begin as soon as you bring your new puppy home. Most people get a new dog or puppy and plan to spend an entire weekend or a week’s vacation consumed with making the dog feel “part of the family”. This is all well and good, but you must allow the dog to be alone.

To being alone time training, Start out by crating your dog and leaving the room for 5 minutes. Do not return unless the dog or puppy is quiet. If you return when she is barking, whining or crying you have just told her that that behavior works — it gets you back in its sight. The dog is now controlling your goings and comings.

Begin extending his alone time, incorporating actually leaving the house for extended periods of time. Do NOT make a big fuss when you either exit the house or return home. Departures and arrivals needs to be low key so you dog does not attach any “special” meaning to them.

Another factor in dogs having separation anxiety is lack of structure in the home. Dogs are very much like children, they do very well when they know what is expected of them.

Basic obedience such as simple sits and downs can work wonders in adding structure and leadership role into your relationship with your dog.

(C) Jim Burwell 2011

Your Puppy Training Questions: My Puppy Bites Too Hard

Today’s question, submitted via Twitter

Jim – my new puppy bites my hand hard! I think she’s just playing, but it hurts. How do I get her to stop? She is 4 months old.


My Answer:
The first thing you can do is to start socializing your puppy. If adequate puppy training, desensitization and socialization is started as early as possible, many puppies can learn to develop the  social skills they need to lead positive social lives interacting with other puppies and dogs.

To address the biting problem immediately, follow these tips:

  • First, simply freeze (no feedback to reinforce the biting) and in fact turn away to discourage biting.
  • The next level (with some aggressive pups) you would make a quick move towards the pup in the form of a lunge as she snarls and growls – very fast and abrupt.
  • If all else is failing, use a distracting ploy. Toss a chew bone or Kong toy in front of the lunging puppy as a distraction.
  • Use Bitter Apple (a topical spray) from your local pet store. The taste should discourage biting. Apply to back of hands to prevent biting and spray on jeans or shoes if puppy is biting pant legs or shoes. You may also have to combine Bitter Apple with some of the above techniques.

The bottom line is that you can avoid aggression and injury with these non-physical recommendations. 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

Avoid These 4 Common Mistakes When Training A Dog

I spend a lot of time showing dog owners how to train their dog the right way.  Part of doing something right is avoiding the pitfalls. Today I want to focus on how NOT to train your dog. There are 4 common mistakes to avoid when training your dog. These dog training mistakes are especially important to avoid when training a puppy.

Getting Emotional
To truly have your dog listen to you, there should be NO emotional energy in your voice at all. Dogs do not understand, nor do they know what to do with a lot of emotional energy. Don’t shout, don’t plead, don’t scream. A lot of emotional energy in your voice can also cause high anxiety and stress for your dog, who will not understand what you are saying. Use the pitch of your voice instead.  To indicate to your dog that he has done something you approve of, use a higher pitch in your voice to say, “Good BOY.”

Being Harsh
Harsh, aggressive treatment causes not only frustration for you and your dog, it can stop and even make your dog regress in its training. Never be heavy handed with your dog because hitting a dog accomplishes nothing positive. What it does accomplish is that you will be left with either a fearful dog that is afraid of you or a one that sooner or later will return the favor and bite you. Either way, because of your mistake, the dog loses. Worse case scenario is that your dog will tire of the abusive treatment and snap at you or even bite you. There is a lot of truth to the saying, aggression begets aggression.

Waiting Too Long
When correcting your dog for something he is DOING wrong simply say, “No, off.” Notice I didn’t say to correct for something your dog DID. If your dog has already made a mistake and you find it, forget about it because correcting at that time is useless. Dogs have a 1.0 to 1.5 second window of opportunity to understand correction or praise to a deed. Anything past that is irrelevant, your dog will just be confused.

Expecting Too Much
You will not turn a badly behaved dog into your perfect pooch in a day. Sometimes, frustrated owners decide they are going to train their dog for hours on end until they get the results they want. They may decide to devote a whole weekend to training the dog, expecting the problem will be gone by Monday morning. The problem with this is that dogs can’t “cram.” Remember the short attention span? The way to get results from your dog is to train in short, relaxed sessions every single day. I’m talking 5-10 minutes max per session.

The Key

Be consistent with your training and remember to make training fun for you and fun for your dog. Dog owners generally get the kind of pet they create. Be good to your dog, have patience when training and have a wonderful member of your family. Be as comfortable with the trainer of your dog as you are the teacher of your children. And remember, “Opportunity Barks!”

(C) Jim Burwell 2011

Dog Training: Problem Dog Barking And How To Fix It

bark collars don't workI recently answered an e-mail from a woman who was frustrated with her barking dog. She described the problem like this, “My dog barks at home constantly. He jumps up at every noise and barks for 10 to 15 minutes. My husband and I call his name and say ‘NO!’ until he stops, but it seems like only a few minutes before he’s back to barking at something. It’s driving us crazy.”  The e-mail revealed the dog also barks on walks, the dog barks when anyone comes through the door, and the dog sits by a window to bark at passersby.

Problem dog barking is one of the most frustrating dog behavior problems and the cause of many headaches. Constant barking is caused by a lack of leadership on your part. Without a clear understanding of leadership, her dog feels insecure and barks to work out that anxiety. The problem has a two-part solution: creating leadership and redirecting the behavior.

Here’s what I told her to do to create a leadership relationship with her dog:

  • Require your dog to earn everything that he wants from you i.e. food, toys, love and affection by giving you a “sit.”
  • Require him to sit before getting on beds, sofas, etc.
  • Require him to sit before walks
  • Do daily regimens of 2 minute training session to give him a sense of working (because you as her leader requested the behavior) instead of feeling responsbile for it himself.

As for redirecting the behavior, it’s important to know that 90% of what goes on between us and our puppies and dogs is emotional. Very little is intellectual. Keep your emotion in-check by following these guidelines when the barking starts:

  • 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.
  • Ignore your dog for 5 minutes before departing your home and 5 minutes after arriving at home.
  • Don’t shout at your dog with anger or frustration when correcting a behavior. Your dog will think you are “barking” too, thereby convincing your dog the barking is appreciated by you.
  • Do decide what you would prefer your dog to do instead of what you are correcting her for and then train him to perform the good behavior. This is another great time to use a “sit.”

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

(C) Jim Burwell 2011

5 Steps To Getting Your Dog To Stop Chewing Your Stuff

Chewing is a natural dog behavior. Anyone who has owned a puppy knows they have a drive to chew on anything. But if your adult dog is chewing your stuff, you can have a very expensive dog behavior problem.

The key to getting your dog to stop chewing your stuff is to teach him to chew on his stuff.  So, to deal with a dog that chews, teach an alternative behavior. If you own a puppy, start teaching early to avoid chewing problems in your adult dog.

  1. Start by teaching your dog the difference between his stuff and your stuff. When he grabs something of yours and begins to chew, give a simple, non-emotional “No. Off.” Do not yell. Remove the object and replace your object with something that is OK for him to chew. “But I’ve done that,” you may be saying. “And it doesn’t work.” The secret is to not make a big fuss over the puppy or dog chewing the wrong thing, but make a big fuss over the puppy or dog chewing the RIGHT thing. Never, never hit a dog for chewing an inappropriate item. The more emotion and interest you put on the wrong item, the more interesting it is to the puppy or dog.
  2. Set your dog or puppy up to succeed, not fail. Puppy- and dog-proof your house until they learn not to chew your stuff. If you leave shoes, tv remotes, kid’s toys all over the place before the puppy or dog understands not to touch, then you are continually setting the dog up to fail and you are consistently promoting learned behavior you do not want.
  3. Chewing is a way for dogs to burn off energy. Take a good look at how you are managing your dog’s energy. If you don’t walk your dog and the only way the dog gets rid of it’s energy is by playing in the back yard or being rowdy in the house then you can expect out of control behavior. If your dog uses up his energy outside with no one to supervise behavior, the dog does not know that the outside behavior is not OK inside. Walking is important to dogs, because it is a great way to constructively manage the dog’s energy AND if you do your walk correctly, a great way to practice your leadership role with your dog.
  4. Leadership role is crucial in having a well balanced dog. Lack of leadership can cause anxiety in your dog and anxiety is handled by your dog in chewing, barking etc. Chewing takes their mind off their anxiety. Being a leader to your dog also means he will obey when you tell him to let go of an object he is not allowed to chew on.
  5. Finally, make sure what you allow your dog to chew on is interesting. Dry bones will only be fun for so long.  Try a rubber toy that you can stuff with treats or keep a variety of toys and bones for your dog to choose from.

    Dogs are very much like children, they have to learn to behave appropriately. Good leadership, patience and setting your dog or puppy up to be successful takes work, but in the long run a lot less work and aggravation than not teaching your dog.

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

    (C) Jim Burwell 2011

    Your Dog Training Questions: Can My Dogs Sit On The Couch?


    My daughter visited over the winter break and she was stunned that we let our two dogs to sit on the couch with us. Can you settle this for us?

    – Mary

    My Answer:

    Believe it or not, I think it’s just fine to allow your dogs on the furniture if you like. This often comes as a surprise to my clients. But the important thing is not if you let your dog on the couch, but how and when. Let me explain.

    Like everything your dog does, it must be earned. The rules for sitting on the couch:

    • Dogs should earn the privilege of getting on your furniture by at least, doing a sit. This should be followed by a command to get them on the sofa, like the command Up. After your dogs perform a sit, simply pat the couch and say Up.  They can only get on your couch on YOUR terms.
    • You should teach your dogs a relocation cue (another place to go other than the sofa) and train this command frequently. Examples would be, “go to your bed,” or once off the couch just place your dog in a down by your feet in front of the couch. This teaches him that you can let him up, BUT, you can also tell him to get off and go somewhere else. If your dog has a tendency or potential to guard the sofa, doing this exercise frequently would help to minimize any resource guarding that could develop.
    • Dogs with strong leader-type personalities may have a greater tendency to guard “their” space. The stronger this tendency, the more I would tend to limit time on the furniture.

    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

    What’s your dog training question?
    Use the comments below to ask me.

    Your Dog Training Questions: My Dog Jumps On Everyone


    My dog has a terrible habit, she jumps on everyone. She jumps on me and my company when we come through the door. She is always so excited when I come home from work and it’s almost impossible to get her to settle down. How can I get her to stop?  It is starting to get very embarrassing.

    Alex, via e-mail

    My Answer:

    With this type of dog behavior problem, the think to keep in mind is that dogs react to us as a direct result of the way we react to them.

    Our dogs are very social and they get excited very easily, so when we come home, they jump up on us to greet us.

    Next time this happens make sure you are aware of the way you interact with your jumping dog. Learn what reinforces the behavior of jumping. Whether you are petting or yelling at your dog when they jump on you, you ARE giving that behavior attention, which reinforces the behavior.

    If you continue to pet or yell or whatever at your dog, the behavior will continue because you are reinforcing it. Think about it like a child having a temper tantrum. Do this instead:

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

    Be as comfortable with the trainer of your dog, as you are the teacher of your children. And remember, “Opportunity Barks!”
    (C) Jim Burwell 2010

    What’s your dog training question?
    Use the comments below to ask me.

    Your Dog Training Questions: Should I Use A Clicker To Train My Puppy?

    What do you think of using a clicker for training a puppy?

    My Answer:

    I think the clicker is a great way to train your new puppy. Reward-based training or positive reinforcement training is best and, if you can condition your puppy to a clicker — that’s even better. There are a number of benefits to “clicker training” your new puppy:

    • The clicker provides a consistent sound to your puppy no matter who uses it. Remember, consistency and repetition is needed in good puppy training.
    • Unlike your voice, the clicker is a sharp, crisp non emotional sound that provides your puppy with a special and unique way to identify behaviors he performs (like sits and downs) that produces a food treat. For example, when your puppy sits, click then treat.

    The most important aspect of puppy training is to be consistent in your training. Train simple come, sit and down three times daily for no longer than 2 minutes and do it the same way every single time. It doesn’t really take much time out of your schedule. Setting aside 2 minutes three times daily 2 minutes is a great start. Puppies have a short attention span and will tire and get bored quickly. That’s why we keep it short.

    Puppies are very smart and learn quickly, especially when they are taught from an early age. Most seasoned dog trainers would agree that the earlier you begin training your puppy, the stronger the training foundation is that will provide you with that better mannered dog in their adult years. So the most important thing is to start training and keep training. For those of you that don’t feel comfortable using a clicker, simply use your voice by saying, “Yes!” or “Good!” followed by a food treat when your puppy performs a command correctly.

    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

    What’s your dog training question?
    Use the comments below to ask me.