If You’re Choosing A Puppy To Be A House Pet:

Isolate each puppy from the rest of the litter, preferably in another room or part of the yard. First, look for a puppy who is not afraid to walk around and explore it’s new environment.

The next thing to do is to drop a dish or loud metal pan, 10 to 15 feet from the puppy. The ideal response is one of interest and investigation. Your potential puppy should look in the direction for the dropped object, and within a few seconds, go forward and check it out.

Do not pick a puppy that runs and hides.

The second test you can do is to roll the puppy on his side. The ideal response is for the puppy to quietly allow you to roll him over, at least for a minute or two, before starting to squirm.

Along these lines, it is also a good idea to pick the puppy up in your arms and cradle him like a baby, with his back in your hands and his feet towards your chest. He should be calm and relaxed. I like a puppy who will gaze into my eyes quietly, for several minutes. This means that he will be an attentive and responsive, outgoing dog in later life. Be careful of the puppy who squirms a lot and is extremely vocal.

You should be able to touch every part of the puppy’s body, without him kicking and screaming about it. Touch his feet, his ears, and especially his gums. Another test is to hold the puppy with one hand, under his arm pits, and raise him straight in the air. As expected, the pup should remain quiet and calm.


How To Choose A Puppy From A Professional Breeder

First, you must locate a professional breeder. Breeders can be found through breeder directories (available at your local veterinary clinic, or book store), through referrals from friends, the professional sector (such as groomers and dog trainers), or on the internet.

How do you determine if they are professional or not?

Use common sense.

Is their facility clean? Do they seem knowledgeable? Is it a planned breeding? Is the breeder familiar with the bloodlines of his dogs? Does he know how the bloodlines he is breeding will mix, and what kind of temperaments they will produce?

For example, if you breed a German Shepherd dog from lines which generally produce dogs with soft temperaments… with another line which may tend to have weak nerves…. what will the off-spring be like?

You can usually guess, but it’s even better if you are in a position to talk to several breeders who know what the siblings to the stud or bitch dog you are considering. Once you’ve selected the breeder and the litter you have decided to choose from, the next step is to select the specific pup from the litter.

Personally, I have questions as to how effective puppy testing actually is, in the long run. If you’ve selected good bloodlines, and a quality breeder, you’ve already taken care of 90% of the factors which will determine whether or not you will end up with a good dog.



Adopting a Pupppy From The Pound

I won’t lie to you and say that every puppy that gets adopted from the animal shelter or dog pound is going to grow up to be a nightmare. Just most of them. [And by puppy, I’m talking about a pup from 8 to 16 weeks of age].

Does this mean that you should not consider adopting a puppy from an animal shelter? Of course not.

But you need to be very, very careful:

The reason I take this position is because the first 16 weeks of a dog’s life are the most important in forming the dog’s personality and future temperament. Next to genetics, the first 16 weeks affect more attributes of the dog’s stability and personality than any other factor.

Some dog experts will actually argue that the environment during the first 16 weeks of the dog’s life is MORE important than genetics…. and I’m not one to argue, except to note that one can never overcome genetics. And at the same time, it is rare that you can compensate for a dog who has passed through his various critical stages and not been properly socialized.

You can bet pennies to dollars that puppies dropped off at the pound are not going to be properly socialized, nor will they be from good genetic stock. (Think about it… if you had a champion X breed dog, and paid $500 for a stud fee, would you dump the puppies in the pound? No. You’d sell them, or at least see that they were placed in good homes).

Secondly, it is a rare adult dog who can survive an extended stay at the local dog pound without picking up some form of virus or disease. And puppies, when their immune systems are at their most vulnerable, do not have the strength to fend off all of the nasties that can be picked up.

Considering that raising puppies in a sterile, clean, professional kennel is hard enough to keep the puppies from getting all kinds of diseases, you can bet that stumbling onto a puppy from the pound that will grow up to be both temperamentally and physically sound is next to impossible. You can be assured that you will run into some problem. Sometimes, people get lucky, and it ends up being a minor problem that can be easily fixed. Other times, you can find yourself with a canine time bomb on your hands.



The Purchase Price Of Your New Puppy or Dog

As long as the purchase price of your new puppy is within $1000, you should NOT make the price of your chosen dog or puppy have any bearing on whether you will buy him.

I am consistently baffled at how ignorant many potential dog owners are when they call me and tell me that they’ve got a “good deal” on a dog. People think that because they are buying a $200 dog, rather than a $500 dog, that they are getting some kind of deal.

That $200 difference will more than likely mean that the dog’s lineage is somewhat dubious.

Again, there are exceptions to this rule. In certain parts of the country, depending on the breed, you can buy a very fine dog for half of what you might pay if you’re buying from a high profile breeder. But my experience and observations have proven that it is better to risk paying a few hundred dollars more and buy a healthy, well-bred dog, than to save a couple of bucks, only to spend 10 times as much when you find out that, because of poor breeding, your dog needs hip repair, worming, heart medication, etc … simply because you chose to scrimp on the purchase price of your dog and buy an inferior puppy.

Remember, this dog will be your companion for the next 9 to 19 years. The purchase price will be long amortized in that period of time. The second reason to ignore the purchase price of your new dog is that, by the time you get done with a full veterinary check up (including hip x-rays for medium to larger breeds when buying an adolescent or adult dog), you will have racked up several hundred dollars. Even if you go to shot clinics, for a puppy, five series of shots at approximately $15 is still going to cost you at least $75. Add in emergency trips to the vet for accidental scrapes, bumps, eye and ear infections, and other such anomalies, and you’ve got a fit load of bills.

Buying a genetically superior dog(meaning the most well-bread dog you can afford) will reduce the number of trips to the veterinarian you will have to make in the long run.

Why should you not spend more than $1000 on your new puppy?

Because that is the top of the average going rate on a well-bred pet quality dog. Anything more than $1000 is excess, and what I consider price gouging.

The exception would be if you are purchasing an older dog which already has titles, proven working drive, or you are buying the dog as a stud or bitch for a planned breeding program. Keep in mind that if you purchase your dog from a breeder who is out-of-state, you will also be required to pay for the pre-flight veterinary examination (required by the airlines), the shipping crate, and the cost of shipping. This can add another $100 to $300 to the price of the dog.

And whether you are shipping him from across the country, or simply picking your new dog up from a breeder across town, the first thing you will want to do is take him to your veterinarian for a thorough check-up.


How To Adopt The Right Dog Breed!

Making the right choice when choosing your next dog or puppy can predict 50 percent of the success you will have with your pet over the next eight to 15 years.

Considering that proper socialization, training, and practice makes up the other 50 percent, the dog which you select as your next canine companion should not be a decision that is taken lightly, but rather one that is made with much forethought and preparation.

There are several factors one must consider when deciding to adopt a new dog. This is a subject I have become intimate with in the past few years, as I have been through no less than four different demo dogs for various reasons.

One, a German Shepherd dog, was a gift, but did not possess the proper working temperament for the type of protection sport (Schutzhund) I wanted to practice.

The second dog was a Rottweiler puppy who, at 9 months of age, developed some sort of genetic kidney failure and had to be put to sleep. The dog after him was a rare breed called a Bantam Bulldog. While “Gizmo ” was a great little dog, I felt that with my life style, and the dog spending so much time in the back of my truck… it would only be a matter of time before he got “ripped off”. So I decided to sell him back to the breeder, who is now using him as a stud dog.

After “Gizmo,” I purchased a dog from a highly respected working dog breeder in Wisconsin. This ended up being a wonderful dog… everything a German Shepherd dog should be. The only problem was that, at 10 months of age, he began limping on one of his back legs. Subsequent X-rays showed that the dog had severe hip dsyplasia.

There are several important factors to be considered before making your decision.

This article will explore these different factors and help you make a more educated decision about the type of dog which will fit best into your lifestyle. It will also strive to debunk many of the common wives tales and myths put forth about how conventional wisdom has always suggested you should select a dog.


The temperament of the individual dog you choose is far more important than the breed in which your specific dog may be a part of. In many cases, it is easier to find one Australian Shepherd who is much more similar in disposition to a St. Bernard, than to a second Australian Shepherd. However, choosing a breed is still very important because the breed of dog which your individual puppy is a member can give us general clues as to certain traits he may likely possess.

As with any topic, we can only talk about generalizations… and there are always exceptions to every rule.


The following advice applies specifically to the potential pet owner, and should not be interpreted as a prescription for the individual who may be looking for a dog to participate in working or competition trials. So the question which always comes up is,

“Which are the worst breeds, and what kind of dogs should I stay away from if my goal is to obtain a good house pet.”

The Pros and Cons of the Different Breeds

TERRIERS: The terrier breeds are incredibly popular. They present a hardy little package which usually provides a very easy to maintain coat and are frequently small dogs which fit well into apartment living. What many people fail to recognize in the terrier breeds is that these are tough little dogs that have been bred for tens of years to work independently and to be hard enough in character to burrow down holes and rat out rodents and other subterranean beasties. As animals bred to have a lot of fight in them, these dogs tend to be very dominant.

If you are a weak handler, these dogs will walk all over you. They are feisty, but if you demonstrate yourself to be on top of the ball game with these dogs, they will work very quickly and with much spirit. Definitely not an easy category of dog to train, however highly intelligent.

HERDING BREEDS: The herding breeds are usually highly intelligent. When selecting a dog from this group, recognize that these are generally dogs that have been bred to run around all day and chase sheep, cattle, ducks, or other livestock. And this means they are usually high energy, ants-in-the-pants kinds of animals. They tend to be fairly easy to train, compliant, and mostly forgiving.

But the key thing to remember is that these are dogs that have been bred to do a job. In other words, they’re highly intelligent dogs with a lot of energy. If you don’t stimulate a dog like this–both mentally, and physically–you’re going to end up with problems. In other words, a dog like this is going to stimulate himself… by barking, chewing, hyperactivity, jumping, self-mutilation… you get the picture. If you keep these dogs busy with an active, adventuresome life, you will have a great pet.

WORKING BREEDS: The working breeds can be similar to the herding breeds, with the exception of two differences in temperament. The working breeds tend to be more dominant, but are usually less energetic. Less energy is (for most pet owners) a good thing. It means that, as an owner, you won’t generally have to spend as much time burning off your dog’s excess energy. The flip side of the coin is that, with a more dominant temperament, you’ll probably have to spend more time training, as to constantly assert and reassert your position in the “pack” as the alpha dog.

HUNTING/SPORTING BREEDS: There are two types of hunting dogs. Those bred for the show ring, and those bred for work (hunting and field work). While I generally recommend against adopting a puppy or older dog from a show breeder, the hunting breeds offer the unusual exception to the rule. The show people have (as usual) done an excessively good job of “breeding out” the working drive in most of the hunting breeds. Most notably, the Labrador Retriever, which has become an extremely popular dog as of late.

HOUNDS: The Hounds are similar in many respects to the hunting breeds, except that, being less popular, you will be more likely to purchase an individual dog which is close to it’s working lines. It has been my experience that the typical ‘hound dogs’ are quite stubborn and energetic when young, but as they grow older, become less demanding of the boundless need for exercise as is required in their more youthful years. With the exception of the Basset Hound, and a few others, this is not a category of dog for the sedentary or those who like to spend countless hours taking afternoon naps or Sunday snoozes.

TOY BREEDS: In general, the toy breeds were DESIGNED to be good companion pets. However, I have found that the smaller breeds have a tendency to be harder to housebreak. In addition, it seems that many have a tendency to be very ‘yippie’, with barking problems being the second most common behavior problem for this group. Some tend to be dominant toward their owners, but this may be more of a reflection of the owner’s handling of these dogs.

It is common for a toy breed owner to see his dog as a baby, or small child, and with this, comes the need to excessively spoil and cater to the dog’s every whim. It is much more common to see toy breed owners with dominance and aggression problems created as a result of this attitude. But since the dogs are of such a diminutive size, they are usually not in a position to cause lasting damage or hospitalization… at least not on the same scale as a larger dog such as a Pit Bull or Rottweiler.

NORTHERN BREEDS: Unless you’ve located an exceptional specimen of one of these breeds, my recommendation is to stay away from the Northern Breeds. Consisting of dogs such as the Akita, Husky, Malamute, Shiba Inu, Samoyed, Jindo, American Eskimo, etc…, these breeds were generally bred for one purpose… to run! They tend to be very air-headed and stubborn, and are not easy dogs to train. Unfortunately, they are some of the most beautiful of dogs. With long, thick hair and beautiful faces and tails, they are hard to resist.

This is not to suggest that I have not encountered individual dogs from this category that have not been easy to train, but instead to point out the many more times I have run into these dogs which have been a real pain-in-the- neck. Some of these breeds (most notably the Akita) have strains of handler aggression (which means they tend to want to eat their owners), but at the same time rarely have the requisite drives and temperament to do police work, or for that matter, even personal protection.

NON-SPORTING BREEDS: It’s hard to make generalizations about the non-sporting breeds. With this category, probably as much as any other, it is the individual dog that must be taken in to consideration. When I fist began training, I had felt that the Dalmatian was a breed which was consistently a waste of good dog food. However, in recent months, I’ve worked with several who have had fairly decent working temperaments and were very willing to please.

On a similar note, conventional wisdom suggests that Chow Chows are nearly impossible to train. Yet, I have found them to be very intelligent and showing of a strong bond with their owners. The Shar-pei, too, has been a surprise. The few which I have worked with have been amazingly willing to please their owners (upon being taught proper technique), and very happy to be trained.

While I am certainly not offering an endorsement of either the Chow Chow or the Shar-pei, I am saying that each of these has definitely surprised me in their willingness and appropriateness as a house pet in contrast to the conventional wisdom that is so commonly expressed about these breeds.



The Three Keys to Successful Dog Training and Behavior Modification

There are three concepts that any dog owner must understand in order to get quick results in a minimal amount of time. I call these the,”Three keys to successful dog training and behavior modification.”

These three keys can be utilized in both obedience training and behavior modification, as well as many other types of dog training (such as narcotics detection, tracking, etc…) Completely understanding these three keys will put you ahead of even many professional dog trainers.

The three keys are:

Timing, consistency and motivation.

I have developed a simple analogy to help dog owners easily understand and conceptualize how these three keys work.


Let us imagine that our dog is a tourist from a small Alaskan village, and that he does not speak our language, know our customs, or understand our culture. (In real life, he’s a dog and he doesn’t understand our language, customs or culture). As a tourist, the first thing he wants to do upon arriving in America is visit Disneyland. So… he rents himself a shiny red, brand new convertible Corvette and starts speeding down the highway doing 120 miles per hour.

Through this analogy, we (the dog trainer/handler/owner) will be the police. It is now our objective to get our dog to stop speeding. Now, let’s suppose our dog has been speeding down the highway at 120 miles per hour, and after driving for two and a half hours, he starts getting sleepy. So the next thing he does is pull over, find himself a little motel on the side of the road, check into a room, and take a little nap. Twenty minutes into the nap, we (the cops) finally catch up, bust into the motel room, and give our dog a ticket for speeding. But… because he doesn’t speak our language, know our culture, or understand anything about our customs– such as speed limits, stop signs, or traffic signals– he can’t associate the correction (the ticket) with the behavior (speeding).

So what does your dog think?

He may think he’s being corrected for checking into a motel, taking a nap, or possibly even stopping the car and pulling over to the side of the road! Why can’t he associate the correction with the behavior, you may be wondering? Well… the United States government commissioned a study at Lackland Air Force base in the 1970’s, on over 500 dogs, and what they found as a result of this study was that a dog’s memory for association (it’s ability to associate cause and effect) is on average 1.3 seconds. In my experience with dogs, I’ve found it to be a bit closer to three or four seconds, depending on the individual dog and the circumstances. Of course, there are “bridging” techniques which can be used to extend these two to four seconds by maybe another seven to nine seconds, but in general it is necessary to either praise or correct your dog immediately after his action in order for there to be a strong association.

Let’s look at an example as to how timing comes into play. Let’s pretend that your dog walks into your kitchen and decides to start digging through your trash can. And when he’s done digging in the trash, he walks over and sits down on your couch, and begins drinking one of your beers and watching the baseball game on your television set. And then you come over and correct him for digging in the trash… In the dog’s mind, he thinks he’s being corrected for sitting on the couch, drinking a beer, and watching baseball. Even if you drag him back over to the trash can and rub his nose in the trash… what he thinks is that he’s being corrected for sitting on the couch and drinking beer. And that the punishment for sitting on your couch is that he gets his nose rubbed in the trash.

However, that’s not going to stop him from digging in the trash in the future, because in his mind, he’s never actually been corrected for digging in the trash. So, association is the key word when it comes to the element of timing. If the dog doesn’t associate the praise or the correction with a specific behavior, then your efforts are hopeless.

A big mistake amateur handlers make is assuming that their dog understands that they’ve done something wrong, even though it’s beyond their two to four second memory for association. Simply because your dog may be showing submissive body language does not mean that he understands that he’s done something wrong. There may be a prior association, or something else going on in the dog’s mind… such as reacting to your body language.

For example, if your dog learns that he gets a correction every time there is trash laying on the floor of the living room, he’s going to be very afraid anytime you walk into the room and see trash on the floor. So, the dog learns that if there is trash on the floor, then he gets a correction. However, he does not learn that it is the act of digging in the trash which will render him a correction.


Consistency is pretty simple. Consistency means that your dog should get the same response to a behavior, every single time he exhibits that behavior. Mother Nature does this very effectively. Notice that every time a dog jumps into a rose bush, he gets pricked by a thorn, and thus receives a negative association with jumping in the rose bush. Another big mistake amateur handlers make with the consistency issue is allowing their dog to jump up on themselves.

If the rules are that your dog should never jump up on you, then every time he jumps up he should receive a negative… or in plain English…a correction. Now, a lot of people know this instinctively, but you’ll occasionally see them (especially when distracted or nervous) reach down and scratch their dog’s back right after he’s jumped up!if your dog learns that he gets a correction every time there is trash laying on the floor of the living room, he’s going to be very afraid anytime you walk into the room and see trash on the floor. Remember, in order for your rules to be absolutely clear in the dog’s mind, it must be like black and white as to when he gets a correction and when he gets praised.


Using motivation in your training means that your dog must receive a positive/praise, or a negative/correction, which has meaning! In other words, everything you do with your dog must be motivational. Imagine yourself (the dog trainer) being a cop, and your dog being a speeder, in a flashy red sports car. If the cop gives the speeder a ticket, even if he uses proper timing and consistency… but the ticket isn’t motivational… then this speeder will never discontinue his behavior. It’s like a cop giving you a ticket for two dollars, when your last name is Trump, and your first name is Donald. This two dollar ticket is in no way going to be motivational. What you need is a $200 ticket. Or maybe a $2000 ticket. Or maybe, in the case of The Donald, you would need to give a $20,000 ticket. But, eventually, I’m going to find a motivation level that works for my dog.

Now, some dogs are like my grandmother. When my grandmother was alive and driving her automobile, if she happened to be speeding, all a cop would have to do is give her a warning, and this warning would be motivational enough to get her to stop speeding. In contrast, if you take an ex-convict and give him the same warning you gave my grandmother… it’s probably not going to be motivational. So, what I’m trying to say is that, just like people, every dog has its own motivation level. And whatever it is you are doing, be it praise or correction, it must be done with motivation.

Potential clients often call me and ask me what kind of training collar I use, and what kind of training collar I recommend for their dog. Again, this should really depend on the individual breed, temperament, and personality of the individual dog. If I am working with a Chihuahua, with a really soft temperament, then I will probably use a soft buckle collar, because this is all I will need to use to be motivational for this specific dog. On the other hand, if I am working with a 130 pound Rottweiler, who is as stubborn as a mule and hard headed, then you can bet I won’t be using that same soft buckle collar, because it’s just not going to be motivational.

So, perhaps I’ll use a choke chain, or maybe a pinch collar. Or perhaps even an electric collar. But in the end, I’m going to find something which is motivational for that specific dog. And don’t forget about making your praise motivational, either. If you praise your dog for doing the right behavior, and he just sits there and looks at you without moving… like ice… then it’s probably a good indication that your praise doesn’t have any meaning. Or, in this specific situation, it is not motivational.

What you need to do is get a little more motivational with your praise by either offering more patting, petting, or scratching behind the ears. Sometimes incorporating motion is a good idea, too, because your dog will see the motion and movement as something fun. In essence, the phrase ” good dog” doesn’t have any meaning by itself. So you must give it meaning and make it motivational by associating something positive with the word “good dog”.

In a nutshell, dog training boils down to one simple premise:

What I want to do is to praise my dog when he does something favorable, or a behavior I want to encourage. In contrast, I want to correct my dog when he does something unfavorable, or a behavior I want to discourage.

And finally, don’t do anything in particular for neutral behavior. For example, if the dog happens to just lay down at your feet, but you did not command him to lay down at your feet, then there is really no reason to praise your dog.

With timing, consistency and motivation, you can think through any problem behavior you are experiencing with your dog, and figure out which of the three keys to behavior modification is the weak link. Eliminate one at a time, and try to crawl into your dog’s mind to figure out what he may be thinking.



How To Use The Four Ways Dogs Communicate To Get Quick Results When Training

In order to get the best results in the least amount of time, try to combine as many of the four ways dogs communicate in such a manner that they will work in harmony with your objective.

For example:

Body language:

Make sure your body language doesn’t communicate the opposite of the behavior you are trying to encourage (or discourage). For instance, I have found that a dog goes through two phases when learning a new behavior. The first phase the dog goes through is learning and understanding the desired behavior. The second phase is a proofing stage in which the dog understands what is expected of him, but tests you to see if you will consistently enforce your requests. Let us assume we are teaching your dog to hold a down-stay– laying down in one spot and not getting up for a specific period of time… regardless of distractions.

When the dog is in the first stage of learning, he will usually lay quietly for a few seconds and then begin to get up and come to you. But before he actually gets up, there may be something you are unknowingly doing to confuse him. If, after you put him down, you walk backwards, leaning slightly backwards as you walk, your body language will be actually encouraging the dog to get up. If, at the very moment when your dog is about to make the decision to get up, you instead lean forward and say,”DOWN!”, your body language will, in essence, be pushing the dog away. Your body language will be communicating, “stay there, don’t get up!”

If you’ve ever visited a local dog park, you will notice that when owners chase their dogs (in order to leash them and get them in the car) these dogs will inevitably run the other way. The reason for this is simply that when the owner runs toward the dog, his posture is threatening, or dominating, and thus pushes the dog further away by stimulating his flee drive.

But as any neighborhood jogger will tell you, most dogs will give chase as the jogger runs by. It is the jogger’s posture (leaning low) and running away which stimulates the chase drive. Because his posture is bent over, and he is running away from the dog, the jogger’s body language is communicating submissiveness (showing his posterior) and his body motion (jogging) stimulates the prey/chase drive.

Vocal tonation and voice inflection:

It is interesting to note that the vast majority of American Kennel Club obedience competition champions are female handlers. I feel that part of the reason for this phenomena may be that women naturally (or culturally) feel less inhibited about using different tonation when praising or correcting their dog, while men tend to simply grunt, or mumble praise under their breath. When women say, “Oh what a good, wonderful little lovey-dovey-puppy-wuppy!” in high pitched, enthusiastic tones, men tend to simply grunt, “Eh, good boy.”

I really don’t care what you say to your dog when you praise or correct him, as long as you are using high and low tones and using the same commands consistently. For example, any time your dog exhibits an unwanted behavior, you should always bark at him, “No!” in a deep, low voice that might sound something like one dog would bark at another. When praising you dog, consistently sing the same words such as, “good dog!” in a high pitched happy voice. Trust me, the dogs know the difference, and when you use a broad range of vocal tonations, it makes it one-hundred times easier for him to understand when he’s doing something right and when he’s doing something wrong.


    Positive touch:

Whenever you tell your dog, “Good girl!” or “Good boy!” make sure you attach a positive association with your praise by physically touching your dog. You probably already know better than I do what kind of physical positive touch has the most meaning for you dog. So whatever makes his tail wag, his ears fold back, his eyes go round and his tongue drop out of his mouth is what you should do to him when praising. One word of caution, however, is to make certain your praise does not interrupt the flow of your training.

    Negative touch:

A physical correction can be given to your dog in order to make him associate a negative consequence with a certain behavior. Whatever method you use to correct your dog (see section on how to give an effective correction) be sure to try to replicate as closely as possible the way a more dominant dog will correct a subordinate dog, I.E. quickly, to the point and done with before the dog on the receiving end of the correction knows what happened. It can be beneficial to watch dogs at a local park interact.


There are not too many ways to use scent as a way of communicating with your dog when doing obedience training, but you can definitely use it to help develop a more proper relationship between you and your pet. How? Simple, just spit in you dog’s food. Not a lot, just one good, “thud!” And it doesn’t matter if he sees you doing it or not. Why would you want to spit in your dog’s food? Think about it from your dog’s point of view. In the pack, which dog eats first? Right, the Alpha dog. And when the Alpha dog is finished eating, then– and only then– will the Beta dog (the next dog in the social hierarchy) begin eating.

What does the Beta dog smell and taste on whatever food is left by the Alpha dog? Saliva. And in the saliva is the the Alpha dog’s scent. In sum, there are two reasons for spitting in your dog’s food. First, because your saliva carries your scent, so in essence, you are marking the food and saying to your dog, “Here, it’s my food, but I’m letting you have some of it [because I’m the Alpha dog and you’re part of my pack].”

Secondly, when your dog eats the food and detects that you have already eaten, he thinks, “My owner has eaten first, and I’m eating after him. And since only the Alpha dog eats first, I must not be the Alpha dog. It must be you.” All this is understood, not through some kind of advanced doggie logic, but rather on an instinctive level. Of course, if spitting in your dog’s food was all anyone ever had to do to establish a proper relationship with their dog, professional dog trainers like myself would be out of a career. However, spitting in your dog’s food, combined with several other dominance-building techniques and obedience training will help to establish you as the pack leader much faster.

Let’s recap:

There are four ways in which dogs communicate. 1. Body language
2. Vocal tonation and voice inflection
3. Touch
4. Scent
Combining as many of these together as possible will produce the best results.