Teaching Your Dog the Off Collar “Come” Command

Elizabeth writes to me:

Thank you so much for your thoughtful reply. You helped me realize that I can trust my instincts with Mollie. I really noted your idea of the dog gaining “respect and trust” for the owner. I see that in Mollie as she matures. She is seven and half months old now.

Speaking of “collar smart” I guess I still don’t have the concept of how to avoid it. Mollie does well with her collar but since we keep her in our large fenced back yard, she doesn’t usually have it on when we walk out and interact with her on an informal basis. She definitely acts differently with the collar and I guess my real question is how to “off leash” train.
Adam speaks of never giving a command unless you are close enough to the dog (and the tab) to give a correction, but how does one accomplish this is you want to teach the ‘come’ command from a distance? I’ve watched the video of teaching “come” with the lunge line, and I’ve done that, but how does one move away from that to off leash? Maybe I just need to reread Adam’s directions but I can’t visualize how this is accomplished. I realize I’m repeating myself, but again, how can I teach her to come, off leash, from a distance, if I always need to be close enough to give the correction?

Actually, Mollie is pretty good with the command, but not perfect. I don’t fully trust her with this one yet.

Thanks again for the last response. I find the debate about training to be interesting. I am teacher and we have that same debate in education. Yes, positive feedback is always best, but sometimes we all need that “negative” motivation. I think it’s a law of nature.


Adam replies:

Hi, Elizabeth:

Think of it this way: The leash and collar are just a tool to help YOU teach the dog that he cannot run away from you, and that he cannot ignore commands.

I knew a woman in Missouri who did the following: She would take a young dog and put the dog in a small, enclosed yard. No leash, no training collar. Just a buckle collar. Every time she called, she’d go and MAKE the dog come. The dog learned that he could not run away, because she’d catch him– EVERY TIME.

With the long line, you’re playing a MIND GAME on the dog. You’re getting the dog conditioned to respond every time– just the same way you get conditioned to pay attention and reach for the telephone, every time it rings.

Once the dog is conditioned, you can take the long line off and sub the tab. But remember: Reinforcement is forever, so if you start to see the conditioned response get slower– that’s when you pull out the long line (or the e-collar) and brush up.

Make sense?

– Adam.

Is Eight Weeks-Old Too Young To Crate Train Your Dog?

Hi, Adam: IĀ got an 8 week old puppy from a person that just let him run free in his house. I am assuming that the puppy was free to potty any where and it was just cleaned up instead of working on training him to go in a certain place. Now enter me who is trying to crate and potty train. I put him into his crate and he sits there and whines, cries, and scratches at the door. I know 8 weeks is young but he potties everywhere and anywhere, doesn’t matter, in the pen or on the floor. I take him outside and he sits at my feet whining until I bring him in and then he potties. I just purchased your book and am reading it but I need help fast and there is just so much to absorb. Any advice is greatly appreciated. I just got a new house and can’t have him going everywhere.

Adam replies:

Hi, Gini:

No, it’s never too late to start. In fact, we recommend that you start as soon as you get your new dog– regardless of his age.

In the beginning, expect it to take 2-4 days, before the puppy acclimates to the crate.

Watch these videos. It’s a good “quick start”


You might want to focus on this department, too:

Some of the articles jump back and forth, between mentioning “adult” and “puppy”. I’m trying to clean this up. We hired a search engine optimization company, and they ended up doing more harm than good. I think you’ll get the general idea, though. If you have further questions, just post a new question at the top of the forum. We’re here to help you.

– Adam.


Help With House Training Her Dog

Skahler writes to me:

Hi, I just downloaded the secrets book yesterday and am just about finished. We are having some issues with going in the house. I am home during the day with our 1 year old lab mix dog. We have only had her about a week and a half. I bought Poochie Bells and am trying to teach her to use those when she needs to go out. One problem is she rings the bells even if I know she doesn’t need to go out to go to the bathroom. I want to know if the bells are even a good idea, and how can we teach her to let us know when she needs to go out if we don’t use the bells? I take her out every time she rings the bells, which is becoming a pain. She peed on the carpet this morning and I am not sure when. I keep such a close eye on her I don’t know when she did it. My other question is how do I correct her for this, isn’t it too late since I am not sure when it happened, and how do I correct it?

Adam replies:

Hi, Skahler:

Take a look a my video, “HouseBreaking In A Hurry” (divided into five part)

I’m going to copy and paste your post, and comment in-between:

SK: One problem is she rings the bells even if I know she doesn’t need to go out to go to the bathroom. I want to know if the bells are even a good idea, and how can we teach her to let us know when she needs to go out if we don’t use the bells?

>> Adam replies: I don’t think they’re a good idea. More hassle than it’s worth. She’s old enough to hold it, until you let her out. (At regular intervals). Also– as a general rule: If she gets super-animated and is ripping around the house, that’s probably a good indication she needs to go out, too. But normally, after a few days– if you put her on a set feeding and watering schedule (no free feeding!) you’ll have an idea as to about how frequently she needs to go outside. Once every four hours or so is typical. Many dogs can hold it, even longer.

I take her out every time she rings the bells, which is becoming a pain.

>>Adam replies: Agreed.

She peed on the carpet this morning and I am not sure when.

>>Adam replies: This is a handler error. You need to keep one eye on her LIKE A HAWK if she’s not in the crate or outside. Otherwise you’re being inconsistent.

I keep such a close eye on her I don’t know when she did it.

>> Adam replies: If you need to, keep her on a leash, and attach the leash to your belt, until you’re more confident about your ability to keep her from eliminating in the house, without getting a correction.

My other question is how do I correct her for this, isn’t it too late since I am not sure when it happened, and how do I correct it?

>> Adam replies: See above.

Does what I’ve written make the process easier to understand for you? If not, keep asking me questions until it’s crystal clear. For the dog, it’s a process of:

1. Getting her conditioned to eliminate outside, where she gets both relief, and praise for doing it in the right spot.


2. The contrast with #1 and getting a correction for doing it in the house.
(Plus the other elements I talk about in the video).

Keep me posted,


Train Your Dog to Avoid Accidents In Crate

Yorma writes to me:

Our 11 year old puppy obviously hasn’t read the dog crating rules and doesn’t know NOT to poop/pee in his crate. He does use wee wee pads when outside the crate and we give plenty of time to relieve himself before placing him in the crate. But after we leave him alone for 30 minutes to an hour…we return to a crate full of poop. We’ve made the area quite small within the crate, where he can barely turn around but it keeps happening. (little if any bedding). Something is in his head and we can’t figure it out. We also clean and disenfect very, very well after any accidents… ANY ADVICE WOULD BE APPRECIATED…but please do not simply send me to a site about crate training. READ THEM ALL and almost none assume the dog will poop repeadedly in. HELP PLEASE!!! Thanks.

Adam replies:

Hi, Yorma:

Is your dog 11 months old, or 11 years old? Please let me know. If he’s 11 years old, I’m curious why you’re crate training now, and if he’s displayed separation anxiety in any other contexts?

It’s very likely your dog is suffering from separation anxiety… which isn’t really a true housebreaking issue in light of what you’ve described.

This is what our local veterinarian recommends. The last time we were there, she told me that she’s had a lot of success, with a lot of different dogs using the DAP Diffuser:

Please report back (good results or not) and we can go from there.

Or, if you’d like to try two remedies at the same time: Ask your vet about a med called “Clomicalm” (or something similar that she might suggest?) It’s basically an anti-anxiety type med. It’s not forever, it’s just to get him over his issues.

Keep me posted. — Adam.

Dog Growling While Being Fed

Nikki writes to me about her dog’s growling:

“Dear Trainer, I have a 4 mth. old Rott. and Lab mix male, more Rott. then Lab. I am the main care giver and trainer. I am a small women. We do very well together except in one very important aspect. When I feed him and pet him at the same time he growls at me. I have fed him entire meals out of my hand for a few feedings that went ok. But this dog aggression behavior continues with the bowl. I spit in is bowl as instructed I have his pinch collar on I will correct him he does not like this. He does not growl at my husband who does care for him but not as much as me. Help he is gaining 4 lbs a week. soon he will out weigh me. HE sits and stays on command. Thank you, Nikki ”

Adam replies:

Hi, Nikki.

This is very, very common for Rottweilers. Although usually it happens closer to 8 months of age.

What you can do is: Take a baseball bat or a golf club (or anything else that makes you feel more comfortable) and use it to nudge him out of the way, in one swift motion. The club becomes an extension of your arm. But you can’t do it timidly.

Don’t misunderstand me: I’m not suggesting you hit the dog with the club. Just shoo him away from the food. You’re using the club as a prop to give you more confidence.

It’s really just an attitude thing. Regardless of your size, you need to get your point across. You’ve got to remember: He’s still a puppy. So, he’s really just testing you to see what he can get away with. You’ve got to let him know that, regardless of YOUR size… you’re tougher and meaner than him. In other words: If he’s going to growl and threaten you, then you’re going to rock his world, and he’s never EVER going to think about doing that to you again.

This is really where consistency and self-confidence comes in. Because even if you’re correcting him, if he can sense you’re not really confident in telling him what to do… he’s just going to shake it off.

I’m not the biggest of men, myself. And when I work with big, aggressive, powerful dogs– I have to approach it with the attitude that I am the dominant animal. This is the same way our little Jack Russell can make our much bigger dogs get up and move away– when he walks by and wants the toy they’re playing with. Even though the bigger dogs could (physically) kill him– psychologically, they don’t know it. Because the little dog is tough, tough, tough. And he’ll go after the bigger dogs, if they test him– with no abandon.

Make sense?

Keep me posted.

In addition– I suggest you start implementing the “Nothing In Life Is Free” approach, as described in the book. This is something that will psychologically start making the dog view you as his pack leader.


Getting a timid dog out of her crate to potty

JMDay writes to me: “Hi – we adopted a shelter dog two weeks ago. She is a lab mix (emphasis on mix) and is extremely timid. According to the shelter, our girl is about 4-5 months old and was dumped in a bar ditch along the highway. She had lived at the shelter for a couple of months before we got her. Our vet has checked her out and says she is healthy. My husband and I are attempting to crate train her and want the crate to be her “safe” place. The challenge is getting her out of the crate to go outside to potty. There are no children in the house and we have another 10 year old dog that virtually ignores her. She will allow us to approach her and pet her. She “cowers” in the corner when we attempt to remove her. We know we must be very patient and kind, but we’re frustrated that getting her in or out of the crate is an ordeal without picking her up. Any suggestions… and thanks! ”

Adam replies:

It’s not an issue of being “patient and kind”. We already know you’re that kind of person, because you adopted a dog like this in the first place.

Here’s the real secret to helping a timid dog get over their timidity: You ignore the timidity. You treat them just like you would a normal dog. If she won’t get out of the crate, you call her name and then immediately reach in and BRING HER OUT. She will gain confidence by DOING. Doing activities.

But she needs you to make her do these activities. That means: You make her do it, you don’t “ask her” to do it, and then wait to see if she has the confidence to do it or not. You make her do it, and then after she does it a couple of times, she pokes her head up toward the sky and says to herself, “Hey– I just did that!”

This builds confidence in your leadership, too.

The trick is to make it “no big deal.”

When you make her sit, do not allow her to droop her head down. Sit means: Sit with your head held high.

You make the body do it, and the dog’s mind will follow.

Make sense?

Please keep me posted of your progress.


Train Your Dog to Stop Licking

DancingFlame writes to me: “Hello, I have a pug/chihuahua mix and I would like to thank you for the solutions you’ve already given me. My dog was whining in her crate and having a hard time learning the down command. We bought her a comfy bed and began feeding her inside the crate, and now she actually enjoys napping in it and will go inside at bedtime without being prompted. We’ve also got a good start on the “down” command.

I’ve looked over your games to play section in order and would like to teach her to locate hidden items. I started with smelly salmon treats, and she was unable to find them. Do you have any recommendations of tricks or techniques that can help us to develop her sense of smell? I would love to work up to her bringing me my keys (when I lose them).

My husband has a question for you. Our dog will often lick his hands, face, and arms while he’s petting her. He doesn’t like it and says he feels like a jerky treat, but hasn’t corrected her yet, as he doesn’t want to discourage her from feeling confident in our pack. Should we train her not to do this, or is it normal behavior for her place in the pack?

Thank you in advance!”

Adam Replies Hi DancingFlame:

Hi, DancingFlame:

Thanks for the feedback.

The trick with teaching her how to find hidden objects is to start by getting her excited about the treat, and then let her see you hide the treat — but pretend like you’re really hiding it. Tell her, “Go find it!”

Do that a few times, and then hide it in pretty much the same place, but don’t let her see you put it there. (She’ll go back to the same place! LOL).

After a few times, hide it maybe a 1/2 foot, and then a foot from that same location.

The rinse and repeat in two more locations.

Then mix it up, so that she goes to check the old locations, too. At the same time, you can help her out by saying, “Check here,” and snapping your fingers at the spot.

As for the licking: It could be from a vitamin deficiency. You might talk with your vet about changing food. If it is behavioral, usually the easiest way to fix it is to just say, “No!” and pinch the tongue when she licks you. (This licking behavior isn’t submission, because the submissive behavior does not continue for more than a couple of seconds, when it’s that!)

If pinching the tongue doesn’t work, you can use the collar and tab to give a LIGHT correction, and then offer her a toy to chew on.

Keep me posted.




Exercising With My Dog

daisyhusky428 writes to me:

So I read on the GRCA website that you aren’t supposed to jog with your golden retriever until it is 2 years old.

so these are my questions:

1.Should goldens be 2 years old before you take them jogging?
2.How old do standard poodles need to be before you take them jogging?
3.How old do miniature poodles need to be before you take them jogging?
4.How old does a labradors need to be before you take them jogging?
5..Can you jog with a small breed(20lbs) dog before a large breed dog (70lbs)?

Adam replies:


1, 2: The breed doesn’t matter, unless you were looking into the Giant Breeds — in which case I’d tell you: “Don’t jog with them.” Otherwise, my advice is the same: Wait until the dog is full grown. About a year old. Pay attention to your dog. Use common sense. It’s not like driving a Honda on a busy highway, where you can’t tell what’s going on under the hood. Use common sense. You won’t “break” the dog. I promise.

3: If you want a dog to jog with, don’t get a miniature poodle.

4. See 1,2.

5. No.

daisyhusky428 responds:

Thanks! because I was considering not getting a golden because of that.
Okay so when a puppy starts jogging after its one year old is there a limit to the mileage like don’t go past 4 miles until they are older or something? When you start jogging you slowly work them up to longer distances right? Like add 1/2 a mile every week or two?

Adam replies:

Daisy: You just go, according to what the dog tells you.