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?

A Leash on Your Dog Means Control of Your Dog

Leash on Your Dog Means Control of Your DogIt’s that simple. A leash on your dog means control of your dog – until he learns how to behave in the house. You would be absolutely amazed at the number of dog owners who say,

“Wow! I never thought of that! How clever. And, it works!”

The leash is  only taken off when you cannot personally supervise your dog – say at night when you are asleep or gone from the house.

I was on a dog forum recently and reading about a bad dog jumping habit someone was complaining about. That reminded me of a past client and still, to this day, I am absolutely astounded  at this phenomenon.  The fact is, a leash or line on your dog “in the house” is your best offensive tactic to gaining control of your puppy or dog. They are just much better behaved. If they are not on leash, they tend to make decisions of which we don’t approve.

I am literally amazed at the number of homes I go to with rowdy and unruly adolescent dogs and out-of-control puppies – all with one thing in common! They are all off leash – not attached to their owner in any way, shape or form!

Thinking back to this client, my first lesson was with their out of control rescue pup – small 15 pounder as I remember, 18 months old and certainly friendly enough but he spent the first 10 – 15 minutes of the lesson hurling himself at me and his owners trying to get up on the sofa to finally make his way to “a lap” for his share of love and affection. I couldn’t believe they watched their dog do this to me.  But it wouldn’t stop there. It was up-your-chest, lick-your-face and do it again over and over! Certainly the owners thought it was cute initially but it was now getting out of control (and that’s why they called me. 🙂

As we discussed their priority issues with their new pup, current behavior being at the top of the list, I simply put a leash on their dog and put my foot on the leash close to his collar giving him some maneuvering room but preventing his jumping.

I gave him a stuffed Kong toy and said, “Settle.” I then ignored the dog. He fussed and struggled for a while and then settled down with his Kong toy. When he tired of that he fussed a little more and then finally settled down while we talked.

Once he was quiet and relaxed for a while (about 5-10 minutes) I asked him to sit and invited him up on the sofa to sit nicely next to me. I maintained control of him on the sofa with the leash.

At the first attempt to crawl up and lick my face, I simply removed him from the sofa, using the leash (not making a fuss) and settled him on the floor once again – foot on the leash.  On the third attempt to sit nicely by my side on the sofa, we had success!   Some dogs may take longer. We got lucky! By the way, we also taught him to get off the sofa as well by sending him to his dog bed which was conveniently close by.

While some may find the leash a small inconvenience, when used inside the home with their pup or dog, the end result – good manners – is achieved  quickly – no, a whole lot more quickly! And it allows you to send a very strong message if you leash train your dog every day.

What’s the message: “I’m in charge. You have to listen to me now.”

The implications of controlling your personal space with your dog are huge!

Control your personal space with your dog. This means your couch and your lap. Don’t allow your dog to take charge of your space even if it is cute. Invite your dog into your space once he has earned the right by performing a sit – then say “Up!”  Balance time on the couch with equal time off the couch. He’ll respect you more because you did. And, with the new consistent boundaries, your dog will be a lot less stressed and anxious.

I also explained to my clients that training helps too.

We talked about the value of combining leash control in the home with 3 daily 2-minute obedience training sessions of come, sit and down to provide him with a sense of working for his owners rather than his owners following his lead.  Long walks allowed the owners to more constructively manage his energy rather than him using his destructive talents on their prized possessions back home.

I hope this information is helpful in training your dog.

Be as comfortable with the trainer of your dog as you are the teacher of your children. “Opportunity Barks1”

Remember, sharing is caring.  Please “retweet and like” this post if you found it valuable.

Also, please feel free to print off a copy if it will help you as you are training your dog.

Oh, you might want to take this article to a friend’s house when you’re over there for dinner and their dog is jumping all over you.  Maybe just leave it on the kitchen counter as you leave.

Together, we can raise a happy and obedient 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

How Dog Training Can Keep Your Dog Safe And Happy During Christmas

It’s easy to forget about keeping our dogs safe during the holidays with the Christmas tree and everything else that can distract us. If something unfortunate happens, you don’t want to find yourself saying, “I never would have thought that could happen!”

Now, many of you have dogs that are veterans of many Christmases past, but some of you have concerns about facing your first Christmas with a new puppy or adolescent dog. Then there are those of you who haven’t given safety for your dog a single thought. This post is for all of you!  Here are some tips to consider during the Christmas season to keep your dogs (and cats!) safe:

The Christmas Tree:

  • Keep the water stand covered.  Pine sap mixed with water makes a poisonous drink for your dog or cat.
  • Sweep up pine needles.  Eating pine needles can cause vomiting and gastric irritation.
  • Tie the tree to the wall or ceiling to keep your dog or cat from pulling it over.
  • Tinsel is very dangerous for dogs.  Eating tinsel can cause serious intestinal obstruction that may require surgery if ingested.  Use ribbon up high on the tree instead of tinsel and garland.
  • The smell of a live tree may cause your dog or cat to urine mark.  It may help to bring the tree into an isolated indoor room for a day or so, so it smells more like the home.
  • Your best bet is to use your dog’s obedience skills to redirect any attention he is paying to the tree. Here’s how. Star by having pet treats ready to distract your pet from paying attention to the tree. Then begin working on setting a boundary for your dog by doing “set ups” with your dog on leash as you take him to the tree.  When he sniffs the tree, give him a gentle tug and say “Off” then redirect to a stuffed Kong toy or chew bone and praise him for taking the appropriate item. Soon your dog will see that ignoring the tree earns him praise and toys.


  • Pick up any ornament hooks that fall.  If your dog eats an ornament hook, it can damage the intestines.
  • Better yet, replace ornament hooks with loops of string tied in a knot.
  • Glass ornaments should be placed on the upper half of the tree where dogs and cats can’t reach them.
  • Only use wooden or non-breakable ornaments down low, or better yet, only decorate the top 2/3 of your tree.


  • Don’t hang indoor lighting low, this will keep your dog or cat from becoming entangled in them.
  • Remember to unplug the lights when you’re not home to supervise your dog.
  • Some dogs might also be tempted to chew electric cords or other electric ornaments. Again, it’s best to use training to let your dog know that this is unacceptable.


  • Dogs are very inquisitive and the decorations on presents can be very tempting.  Take ribbons and string from packages.  Consider storing presents in a safe area until right before opening.
  • Don’t place edible presents under the tree—take it from someone who knows! Dogs can smell them a mile away and they will rip them open and eat the contents.  (Jalapeno beef jerky was the culprit and a fast call to the vet!)
  • Don’t forget to give your dog or cat a present.  A stuffed Kong will keep them occupied when guests are over.
  • Don’t EVER give a puppy as a surprise present.  A puppy who grows into a dog is a major, lifetime commitment and owners must be prepared to make the commitment of time and energy it takes to successfully integrate a puppy/dog into a home. However, if you are considering getting a puppy for the holidays, see my post on the right way to add a new puppy or dog to the family. Don’t forget my CD, Puppy Training Sins Every New Puppy Owner Needs To Avoid, it’s like having me in your home!
  • The perfect present to give the dog lover in your life is the gift of dog training. You can buy gift certificates for group or individual training session with me. You can contact me through my website, e-mail me at [email protected] or call me at (713) 728-0610 to order today.

Dog Activity:

  • Repeat after me: A tired dog is a good dog.  Do not forget to take your dog for his daily walk, especially before company arrives.
  • Give your dog a safe place to go – another room, a crate removed from the activity, somewhere your dog is used to and feels safe so he can escape all the activity.

Have a safe, wonderful, blessed Christmas and hug those pups for me!

(C) Jim Burwell 2010

Your Dog Training Questions: My Dog Has Food Aggression

dog aggressionDog aggression is a difficult behavior problem. It’s hard to say why a dog shows aggression. Common causes are poor puppy socialization, being taken from the litter too soon, fear and poor obedience training. Unfortunately, dogs can’t tell us why they are behaving the way they do, but that doesn’t mean we can’t manage the behavior. Here’s a reader whose dog was showing unexpected aggression towards the family’s new dog.

Your Question:

After years of being a one-dog household, my husband and I decided to adopt an older rescue dog. Our first dog, a 6 year old mix, has always been a little nervous, but never gave us any major problems. That’s why we are stunned about the way she is reacting to our new dog, a 2-year-old mix. They seem to get along fine most times, but when it is time to feed, our older dog becomes very aggressive: growling, snapping, guarding. She is doing this not only to our new dog, but to my husband and I as well. We are feeing them in separate rooms for now, but is there another way to fix this problem?

– Louie

My Answer:

Food aggression can be a complex problem. In general, the solution is to get your dog desensitized to having other people and dogs around during meal time.

You’re doing the right thing to keep them separated — but it’s only a temporary solution. It’s a solution that is keeping all family members safe, but if you don’t address the root of the problem, it will eventually get worse.

Because you are experiencing a new problem with an old dog, I would guess that your dog is reacting to a perceived lack of structure in the family. One thing to start immediately is to make both dogs perform a sit for you in order to earn their meals. This reinforces that you are in charge and control the resources. This is actually very comforting to your dog, who instinctively looks for a leader.

If your dog has serious aggression around her food bowl, it may be time for you to consider a good trainer or behaviorist to begin working on a more rigorous behavior modification program to directly address the underlying issues around food aggression.

(C) Jim Burwell 2010

Dog Behavior Problems and Your Personal Space Part 2: Practice Makes Perfect

Yesterday, I covered the “Law of the Dog.” This law states dogs recognize leaders who control resources like food, toys, fun and personal space. This applies to their human housemates as well. In short, if your dog is able to come into your personal space at will and take something of value like food or affection, your dog thinks he is running the show.

This would be bad enough, but the consequence of this is that your dog won’t listen to your commands in any other situation. So, let’s talk about how to fix this common dog behavior problem.

Let’s look at a hypothetical situation. A toddler is in the family room eating a cookie when the cookie breaks in half and falls to the floor in the dog’s space.

You may get very tense at what your dog might do to your toddler because to the dog if it’s in his space, it’s his – but your toddler doesn’t know this.

My guess is that you hope your dog will step back and take a relaxed sit, wagging his tail. Wouldn’t that be a great out come? It takes a little work to achieve this but here’s how you would do it.

Stand in the middle of a room with something of high value like a stuffed Kong toy.

Drop it on the floor behind you and block your dog from getting it.

When he finally relaxes and sits, click and treat him.

Expand the exercise to other high value items your dog likes – yes, even use cookies if that is relevant to your (and your dogs) situation.

Now here’s the key: Don’t use any command words at all. Just stand there and wait until your dog sits patiently.

By not using words or having any emotions in the process of this exercise, your dog begins to react to your body language. Of course your dog must be able to sit.

Gotta teach the basics!

Now practice with other family members as well using many different things of high value to your dog. And remember, practice makes perfect!

(C) Jim Burwell 2010

Dog Behavior Problems and Your Personal Space

What do dog behavior problems and your personal space have in common? They have a lot more in common than you could ever imagine.

Dogs, just like us humans, are very sensitive about their “personal space.” Don’t think you’re sensitive to your personal space? Try standing too close to someone in an elevator when the two of you are the only ones on the elevator. That’s a great test to prove space sensitivity.

Take for example the phrases: “He lets her walk all over him” or “He’s a pushy guy.” These phrases and many more suggest that the power of space in our world is not that different from our dogs.

In the dog world there are two positions: Leaders and Followers.

Leaders occupy the space in front and followers, follow behind in their space. Dogs that hold firm on their space have more authority than the dog that gives up their space when another dog encroaches.

How your dog evaluates your ability to control your resources and space can often times, especially in leader type dog personalities, determine whether or not he will listen to you at critical times- or not – when you need control of your dog.

Consider the following understood “Law of the Dog”, as he evaluates you:

If your dog can infringe into your personal space and take something of value like a dog toy you are holding, get on your lap or put his face in your pizza on the coffee table, then your dog’s interpretation is that you cannot control your resources (dog toy, your pizza, your lap space and your love and affection.)

The resulting complication of this perception of you, is that any other work, like trying to fix a barking problem or lunging at the door problem, you may try to fix with your dog could now be infinitely more difficult.”

“Law of Dog” is simple. If a resource (your toy, your pizza, your lap) is controlled by you, it is owned by you. And this “Law of Dog” is very important in your dog’s world regarding the foundation of how he determines his relationship with you.

If you are consistently firm with the message of who is the leader – especially with everything your dog places value on; food, space, toys, love and affection, walks and much more, you can gain his respect and his attention.

So, how do you put this into good practical use at home? I’ll answer that question tomorrow. Until then, remember “Opportunity Barks!”

(C) Jim Burwell 2010

Your Dog Training Questions: How Can I Let My Puppy Know When Behavior Is Bad?

I’ve said time and time again that you need to be a leader to your puppy for him to understand what kind of behavior you expect. But how do you communicate this to a puppy? After all, you can’t reason with your puppy. But don’t worry, because it’s not as hard as you think.

Your Question:

You’ve said before that you can’t scold a puppy. So, if I can’t scold the puppy, what do I do?

– Jennifer

My Answer:

To potty train your puppy correctly, you must be proactive and not reactive. What this means is you must take the time to do what needs to be done so your puppy has NO accidents. It won’t be enough for you to react negatively to every accident for your puppy to understand what you want.

Part of the reason for this is that dogs have very short attention spans. Puppies and dogs only have a 1 to 1.5 second window of opportunity after they take an action for you to be able to praise or correct them effectively. After that short window, they will simply be unable to understand what you are trying to tell them. They will literally be clueless to what they did a few seconds before and therefore won’t understand why they are being praised or told “no.” Knowing this, you can understand how confusing this must be for a dog.

It’s important to understand this about dogs: even if you can catch them in the act, scolding just won’t work. The only way for your puppy to succeed is to set them up for success. A regular schedule of feeding, exercise and trips outside is how you accomplish this.

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 2010

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

Your Dog Training Questions: My Dog Chases Cars During Walks

For some dogs, walks are tough. After all there are lots of distractions: people, other dogs, roaming cats, strange smells and loud cars. A reactive dog hardly has a chance against so many potential distractions. That’s why it’s so important to set your dog up to succeed on walks — remember, skipping walks is not the solution. This reader has a dog with a dangerous habit — chasing cars.

Your Question:

I have a 4.5 year old sheltie. She is generally very well-behaved and smart. She has earned her canine good citizen medal. However, she has one very bad habit — chasing cars. It is impossible to take this dog for a walk because she will try to chase and attack every car that passes by. She has no aggression to people or other dogs, nor bycicles, just cars. I think the noise frightens her.

We have tried for months to take her out each night for about 1-2 miles; putting her in a sit-stay whenever a car approaches and using high-value treats to reward her for remaining calm as the car passes. It works as long as we have the treats handy, but if we don’t catch her at a certain point once she sees the car, she goes into attack mode despite the treats being offered. And there is a certain point near the end of our walk where no matter what the treat, she will not pay attention and jumps, pulls, barks, twirls and strangles herself at the end of the leash.

I do not use a retractable leash and I do use a harness with a martingale (or is it dale) ring to protect her neck. Is there anything else we can do? Thank you!

– Duke Nurse

My Answer:

You are more than likely starting off by getting her way too close to the cars in your attempt to desensitize her. If she is that reactive, then you need to move way back up the driveway or even the yard. It’s a slow process.

I recently answered a reader’s question about chasing after other dogs while on walks. I recommended she try a proofed down, which is a “down” command that a dog has proven she can hold until released. Practice this inside, with no distractions, until your dog acn do it successfully every time. Then add one distraction, like another family member  or loud noises  before moving to the yard, then closer to the street, etc. Be patient and work on this every day, but for only a few minutes a day. Good luck!

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

Your Dog Training Questions: What High-Quality Dog Food Do You Recommend?

One of my dog training secrets is to watch what you feed your dog. Many dog foods have cheap, low-quality ingredients and “fillers.” It’s easy to understand how this could have a negative effect on your dog’s health, but many people don’t realize this can impact your dog’s behavior as well. That’s why I recommend only high-quality foods to all of my clients. I have blogged about dog food and behavior before, and one reader had a question that I’m sure was on many readers’ minds.

Your Question:


Good advice as usual! Can you suggest a high quality food that doesn’t cost a fortune?? Would appreciate it! — Domino2

My Answer:


The easiest place to find high-quality dog food is at PETCO — look for Dick Van Patten’s Natural Balance, also Merrick dog foods and Prairie dog foods. Go to a Natural Pawz store, they have a great selection of high quality dog foods and they have great information. We just switched our lab to a grain free food to deal with his skin allergies. It’s called Instinct and it’s rabbit based for the protein and grain free. His itching stopped in less than a week and he LOVES it!

(C) Jim Burwell 2010

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

Puppy Training Secrets: Food Matters. A lot.

Don’t you wish your new puppy came with a manual that told you exactly how to train a puppy? A puppy’s natural activities of running, chasing, biting, chewing, peeing, pooping, jumping, digging and barking can take you to the edge of your sanity if you are not prepared to deal with them. The truth is your new puppy doesn’t know anything about living with you or any other human.

Remember, your puppy came straight to you from living with its littermates. The litter was probably kept outside or in the garage and allowed to pee and poop everywhere! Or, you puppy came to you from a shelter because the original owner either was too lazy and stuck the puppy out in the back yard, or didn’t really know the correct way to make a puppy successful at living in a home. Now it’s up to you. You must teach them how to co-exist with humans — peacefully — so that all family members can enjoy your new family member.

Training a puppy not to pee or poop in your home is perhaps one of, if not, the highest priority concerns of most new puppy owners. Not just stopping accidents, but preventing them in the first place! Can you imagine never having a single potty accident because you’ve learned how to housebreak your puppy – and with no potty accidents? This is very possible. It comes down to understand the few simple things you can do to be proactive in your puppy training instead of being reactive. Just think how less stressful that will be on your puppy and you!

I’d like to share a secret with you that few trainers teach. Food can play a huge role in expediting your house breaking process. What’s so important about food? Every aspect of food is critical, everything from what kind of food, the ingredients (the order of ingredients) as well as the ingredients themselves. All of this information actually gives clues as to the value of the food you’ve just purchased. Also, how much food and believe it or not – how you prepare it. If you know what ingredients make up a high quality dog food, it will expedite your puppy’s housebreaking process, your puppy’s rowdy behavior. Yes, the food you feed your puppy has a major impact on his behavior. The food you feel also affects your puppy’s quality of life, thus preventing you from being faced with months of frustration.

Having trained 20,000 dogs and counting, we have found that puppy owners who start off on the right foot with their puppy have few to no behavior problems as their puppy becomes a dog and are happy with the relationship they have with their dog.

Let us help you take your first step to a well-trained puppy so that you too can begin experiencing all the joy, fun, laughter and love that your puppy was meant to bring into your life and home! You would love that – wouldn’t you? 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 2010