It’s Like My Dog Doesn’t Care What I Say

Dog Training: It’s Like My Dog Doesn’t Care What I Say

Dog training is critical in successfully managing your dog’s behavior. But, does it seem like your dog doesn’t really care what you say? Does your dog ignore your requests when asked to do certain things?

If your dog has reached a point in his dog training with you where he seems to think any command you give is optional and subject to how he feels right that moment, then just maybe it’s time to take a look at where to begin to regroup your thoughts and your approach to your dog training.

I have found that for most dogs like that, everything in life is and has always been, free for them. Their toys are on the floor accessible for play and with a demanding nudge, love and affection is available on demand 24/7.

Unlike their ancestors who had to forage for food, most domesticated dogs just keep one eye on the door and the other on the clock just waiting for your return so they can do the one thing that may be the highlight of their day: EAT. Worse yet they may not even have to work for their food. Some dog owners even free feed.

It’s no wonder that dogs don’t find their human owners “relevant” at all. And when it comes time for them “do what you say,” they just don’t “care what you say” enough– to really do what you say.

This can be very frustrating, can’t it?

It all starts with a Primary Resource

So let’s start with the basics and that’s a scheduled feeding. Food is instinctively thought of by most all dogs as a “Primary Resource.” Even if you think your dog is a finicky eater, it’s still true.

Controlling your dog’s food is an excellent way to become relevant to your dog. And it’s a really great way to teach your dog that listening to you and obeying your commands like sit and down is a good way to earn his food. If you are consistent with your feeding ritual twice a day, it can teach your dog that good behavior matters.

You are now relevant to your dog!

If your dog is a finicky eater, then you’ll have to spice things up a bit. Let me explain because it all depends on how serious you are about becoming that relevant force in your dog’s life.

If every morning for breakfast your mom put a box of cereal on the kitchen table and said, “The milk is in the refrigerator,” that’s not very appealing, right? And you probably would care much about breakfast.

On the other hand, if you knew your mom was in the kitchen cooking a hot breakfast every morning and each morning she surprised you with something different, WOW! Your mom would suddenly have relevance and you would know that she cared.

For the finicky eater (that’s also a trouble-maker by not listening) spice up his meal. Add some canned food to his dry kibble. Put some beef or chicken broth (warmed from the microwave) over his food. Or, add a dollop of yogurt to his food. Keep it interesting. We add chopped spinach, chopped broccoli or sometimes a piece of sweet potato to our dog’s food to make it interesting and they love it. Leila and I do have relevance at our house, do you? Well, you can!

On the other hand, if your dog is highly motivated by food then count your blessings. You have a highly trainable dog.

 It’s Like My Dog Doesn’t Care What I Say

Other benefits to a scheduled feeding program

 It’s easier to monitor whether he feels well. You’ll know the instant your dog goes off his food as a possible indicator that he is not feeling well. It’s impossible to do that with free feeding.

Food guarding opportunities are kept to a minimum. Picking up his bowl after each meal helps to eliminate the possibilities of food guarding. Continuous feeding allows your dog to develop guarding instincts of his food bowl and the surrounding space. Don’t forget to pick up the bowl after 15 minutes.

A scheduled twice a day feeding also keeps your dog from running on empty for half a day and helps to stave off hunger tension which could create other behavior problems.

Everyone wants a dog that listens because they know you have relevance and well, they just care about you and what you say. Try it I know you’ll like it.

So, come tell me on Facebook what you think? I truly hope you found answers and hope for helping your dog. Did you think the fix would be this easy?


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

Jim Burwell, Houston dog trainer for 25+ years, serving 8700+ clients, has a profound understanding of dog behavior and the many things, we as humans, do that influence that behavior – good or bad. Jim has the ability to not only steer dogs and puppies down the right path but to also train the owners to understand their part in having a great dog.

His Ground Rules for Great Dogs is your must have easy, step-by-step process to helping your dog. Your dog must and wants to understand what you expect of him. But you have to empower him to be able to give you the behavior you want and you must empower him to be successful at living in a human home. Ground Rules gets you there. Grab them now.


Puppy Play Should be Playful not Painful

It goes without saying that when you get your cute new puppy, engaging in puppy play should be playful, not painful. But that’s not always the case.

Many new puppy owners and their children are sorely disappointed when their new puppy begins to literally bite the hand that feeds it.

Recently a new puppy owner contacted me with concerns about her 14 week old puppy:

“My 14 week old Jack Russell is really nipping. I have tried the redirecting to a toy, “yelping,” ignoring and again redirecting to a toy…nothing seems to work. He just hangs on and growls.”

Puppy Play Should be Playful not Painful

At 16 weeks, he was still biting her and at other family members when they pick him up. She was frustrated. We talked about the amount of time it would take and the importance of regular daily play exercises.

Additionally we discussed not picking him up as that may tend to put him in the defense mode of “flight/fight” and since he couldn’t take flight, he resorted to biting.

Biting does tend to throw everyone into a panic wondering why “their” puppy is biting so much and so hard when they try to play and pet their new puppy! They automatically jump to the conclusion they have a puppy that is aggressive!

The reality is, a puppy’s world pretty much consists of eating and sleeping and spending a lot of time playing – which includes using their mouths on you. That’s how his life was with his litter mates and it’s an activity carried over to you and your family from his schooling in the litter.

If you have a new puppy that is biting in puppy play, and you are wondering why, let’s take a look at the benefits of play as seen through the eyes of your puppy. This will help you not be so concerned.

You will see why your puppy instinctively carries out his biting in play with you as he did his litter mates.

Here are some puppy benefits of playing

Playing allows your puppy to compare himself with his litter mates – size himself up. Who’s stronger? Who can take control of things?

Playing allows your puppy to work on bite inhibition and bond with his litter mates who can take those razor-sharp teeth much better than our pound of flesh!

Playing is a stress-reliever for your puppy – after which he can relax and sleep – waking up just in time to eat again.

Playing also gives your puppy a chance to hone his skills to stay alive or hunt and kill his next meal. Thank goodness food is in the pantry now and he’s in a safe home, so those skills are no longer needed. But the instincts are still there and instincts drive his play.

Now let’s look at types of play

You can break puppy play down into two types of play: Playing with objects (articles of play like tug toys, chew bones, balls, etc.) and physical play with his littermates or you.

While puppies need to play with you nicely, he probably won’t at first. Take the time to condition your puppy to playing with stuffies or other toys when you first bring him home. These will be great redirects when he gets mouthy with you.

The more “play toy” conditioning your puppy received in the litter starting at about 4 weeks of age, the more he will naturally gravitate to the toys in your home. If he missed that in the litter, keep up the conditioning, it’s not too late – especially if you start right when you bring him home.

Rules for play with your puppy

If your puppy never gets to bite your hand, how will he ever learn how hard is too hard or never bite at all? And of course it would make good sense that the “test hand” be yours and not your children’s. Most puppies learn this lesson quickly.

Teach him biting hurts. Play with your puppy and if he bites, then “yelp” and redirect to a sit, praise and treat. You want to make sure he knows that you are in control of the play session.

When teaching your puppy not to bite, do it gradually. Work on achieving softer bites first, then just mouthing and finally no bites at all.

One more lesson is to teach your puppy is to respond to the word “Off!” which means stop what you’re doing. This way you have a correction word to use so that you can redirect his activity to a toy or chew bone.

Another activity that tends to provoke some puppies to bite is being picked up. I mentioned that earlier. If this is the case with your pup, then refrain from picking him up.

Instead, gradually desensitize him to being picked up. Simply associate food treats with picking him up briefly and then back on the floor he goes. Try and extend the handling time gradually using food treats.

Begin teaching your puppy obedience training. Sits and downs are great “redirects” if you can’t get your hands on a toy.

Don’t expect things to change overnight. It will get better, I promise. You just have to persevere and be consistent with your feedback to your puppy. What you do today will shape the future behavior of your puppy as an adolescent and adult dog. Make it a good experience.

I’m always curious about your input – it’s important to me.  

We’re always learning and there’s a bunch of you out there we are grateful to be able to serve and learn from.  

I’m really interested in your thoughts and opinions on this.  I’m here to help.

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

Jim Burwell, professional dog trainer for 25+ years, serving 8700+ 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. 

Your puppy comes to you as a blank slate.   How you fill in those blanks gives you a great puppy or a puppy with problems.  His 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, 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.

Video Review: Puppy training and 3 kids

New puppy trainingHi we’re Chris and Sara Crawford and these are our kids Carter, McKenna and Millie.

This is our new puppy Kiwi.  She was born on mother’s day and we got her on July 4th.  My wife says that was the day she lost her independence.

So we are grateful to have Jim here helping us to regain our independence.  We’ve learned a lot of new things with Kiwi

She’s learned to not jump, to not bite, she learned to sit to stay and she’s learned to walk and we’ve been able to do that in a couple of weeks.

And it’s been really great for our family.  We’ve really enjoyed Jim and our kids have really enjoyed Kiwi.

So thank you very much.



Why Are Some Puppies Aggressive?

I get a few inquiries now and again about aggression in puppies.  The owners who wind up with an aggressive pup can’t help but wonder why me?

While there can be many reasons behind this aggression, hopefully  the following offers up at least one reasonable explanation – the sometimes bad effects of taking pups from the litter too soon.

Early, and I do mean the early most important socialization starts at birth. Some say it really starts before birth where the puppy makes a chemical association to the mother. The critical period  period goes from that point in time all the way to 12 weeks of age.

In this critical period,  all of a puppy’s senses are gradually developed and become refined: their sense of smell, touch, hearing and finally vision. Oh yea, there is also motor co-ordination. You probably thought it was cute how a new pup stumbled around – kinda like a sailor getting his sea legs grounded.

Also during this critical socialization period, they learn to communicate with their litter mates. They learn the language, how to appropriately respond to body language – send and receive good body language signals to turn off any potential bad behavior.

The most critical weeks for learning this is from 7 weeks to 10 weeks of age. Getting this continuous and uninterrupted time in on socialization with their mother and litter mates is critical.

When puppies are pulled out at 6, 7 or 8 weeks of age, it all stops so they miss out on 4, 5 or 6 weeks of critical, continuous socialization. This continuous level playing field cannot be replicated by other dogs later or by well-meaning family members.  There certainly are variances in aggressiveness  across the breeds, in litter mates and in gender.

And some dogs, like people, have short fuses while some have longer burning fuses. Primary socialization in puppies – if cut short – is gone forever.

Training can certainly help but it’s not the dog’s natural behavior. And I’m sure you would have to keep an eye on your dog to circumvent any challenge on the playing field. Many  do adjust well to life outside the litter but leaving them in the litter until at least 10 weeks will give them a better chance to do well socially in their new life at home with you.  Then once you get them home, be sure to set them up to succeed like we talk about in our Nose To Tail Puppy Training.

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

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

Stop My Puppy From Biting

This is Marion and Thomas. We have Maya, a Goldendoodle puppy (5 months).

Even though the cutest dog in the world Maya’s behavior clearly needed some adjustments.

We called Jim Burwell and asked for help. Jim came to our home and gave us simple, specific and extremely logical advice on how to train our puppy.

This included walking on a leash, not jumping on the kitchen table, not running through the house, not biting and so on.

We must say that after only 2 weeks we do not recognize our puppy anymore.  Maya turned into an obedient dog following commands and being well behaved.

We would have never thought that a dog could change to the positive in such a short period of time.

We think Jim’s methods are sensitive and highly adapted to the individual situation of the dog owner. Jim did an excellent job.

Review: Puppy Training for First Time Puppy Owner

Alright,  I’m Melissa and we have a mini Aussie named Dude and we are first time puppy owners.

We’ve never had a puppy before so it was very difficult training him because I knew nothing about it.

So we hired Jim and he came over and taught us leash training, sit and downs, feeding, pretty much ALL of it
since I knew nothing about it.

He did a great job and I would completely recommend Jim to any new puppy owner.

Listen to her testimonial here:   Dude

Labradoodle Puppy Training

Hello, our names are Kyle and Jessica Abarca and we have a new labradoodle who’s name is Occy.

He is approximately 14 weeks old  now and we hired Jim to help us train the dog with potty training, sits and downs and
walking and we have been very pleased with the service we received.

Jim is very professional and our dog Occy is actually, he’s very well trained now.  There you have it.  It’s also about training owners.

Listen to their testimonial here:   Abarca Testimonial

Review: Puppy training and being overwhelmed

Puppy Training OverwhelmThanks to Jim I learned there is still time for life with a puppy!  I was feeling very overwhelmed by this little puppy we brought home and after just the first visit Jim taught me how to schedule-crate time, play time, training time and sleep time.

I can’t believe how much more comfortable she is in the crate (or how comfortable I am leaving her in the crate)!  And having her with me… she hasn’t had one accident since Jim was here!

And I feel like I somewhat have my hands and life back! She was immediately potty trained and I started sleeping again!  The next couple of visits we worked on walking, playing with my kids and deterring biting and barking.

Jim was so easy to talk to and worked so well with Abby and our specific needs as a family!  I wish I could have him here 24 hours a day, but he gave me confidence to continue the training beyond his visits.  I look forward to taking group classes and continuing to work with Jim.

Review: house breaking and puppy biting

I’m  Cathy Fonfara and my dog is Stella Dora.

We called Jim after my vet recommended Jim Burwell  to puppy train and train me to potty train Stella

So I called up Jim, he came to the house and showed me how to train Stella and I used his techniques

After 3 lessons and she’s acting like a normal dog

She’s not biting me like she used to.           She’s not pottying in the house like she used to.           I appreciated it and I will recommend Jim.