From Beast To Beautifully Behaved Dog: Why I Teach My Dogs Good Manners

I adopt a lot of dogs.  I train them and then place them in good homes.  If it’s a truly exceptional dog, I’ll keep him for myself.  When I first bring a new dog into the house, my objective is to teach the dog good manners as soon as possible.  Here’s how I do it:

First, many of the dogs I adopt have a lot of raw potential: They have intense drive to chase a ball and they have high food drive.  They may be cast-offs from a potential client who finds it easier to give me the dog than to work through the problems, themselves.  Or it could be a police dog wash-out.

Needless to say, they almost never come to me as nice, well-mannered dogs.  They come as high drive, obnoxious, rude dogs.  Good dogs with bad behavior.

Dutch ShepherdSo, since I need to live with these dogs first-and-foremost and I may not be able (in some cases) to start formal training right away, teaching good manners immediately is necessary to get through those first few weeks.  Here’s what I teach:

Crate Training:  Teaching a dog to sleep quiety in the crate is the first order of business.  This helps with house training and gives the dog a quiet place where he can de-stress.  It also allows me to know that the dog is safe and not getting into trouble when I can’t keep one eye on him.

The Recall Command:  I don’t want to be in a position where a momentary lapse of attention means that the dog is out the front door and running down the block.  Been there, done that… too many times.  So, teaching a rock-solid recall command (Come!) is top of the list.

Boundary & Perimeter Training: The dog needs to know where he’s allowed to go in the house and where he’s not allowed.  For example: We don’t let our dogs up on the furniture or in our bedroom.  We also insist that all dogs wait for a “free!” command before going out the front door or the back door.  This also includes learning to keep paws off counters and not jumping up on people.

Good Manners Around Other Animals: Because we raise working dogs, I don’t let the dogs play with each other, willy-nilly.  Play is an activity reserved for me and each of our dogs.  It is a relationship building activity and something I want my dogs to look to me for, not to the other dogs or animals for.  This creates a deepr bond between dog and owner and it also teaches impulse control around other animals.  We also insist that our dogs either ignore the chickens until we tell them to actively help us “round ’em up” when it’s time for the chickens to go back into the chicken run.

Most people would probably say, “Wow! That’s what I’d consider a trained dog!” — but let’s remember that this is all just taught in the initial first few days.  After that we continue on with formal obedience exercises like the sit, down, heel, loose leash/attention getter exercise, formal ‘come’ and off-leash proofing in a variety of environments.

To learn more about my approach to training I go into greater detail in my book, “Secrets of a Professional Dog Trainer!”

Even The Best Dogs Have This

There is no such thing as a perfect dog.  Even the best dogs have problems.

Talk to any dog owner and they’ll admit that even their favorite dog has a few “quirks.”

Either the dog will have those quirks when you first get ’em or they will develop some sort of behavioral problem over time as they mature.  Just like human teenagers… it happens.  You work through it.

For some dogs, they’ll develop more extreme behavioral “quirks”.  For other dogs, it may be health or digestive problems.


Every dog owner must decide for themselves whether their dog’s problems are worth dealing with.

Sometimes the problems aren’t actually problems but rather a result of a poor marriage between dog and owner.  A bad match, if you will.

But more often than not it’s usually a matter of the dog owner not having enough knowledge about how to deal with the problem.

Knowledge.  Education.

That’s the difference between an enjoyable life-long experience with your dog versus a complete disaster.

Fortunately for us, most of the people who download my dog training book, “Secrets of a Professional Dog Trainer!’ are committed to their dog.  They want to be educated and knowledgeable about their dog.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a good dog that they want to turn into a great dog… Or a royal pain-in-the-neck of a dog who needs to learn manners: For the most part, the dog owners we help are committed to working through their dog’s problems.

We generally see two things start to happen once a dog owner begins their journey:

1.  They start to develop a more satisfying relationship with their dog.


2.  Their dog becomes happier, calmer and less stressed.

So, while even the best dogs have problems… sometimes those problems can be a blessing in disguise that motivates the dog owner to dig deeper and ultimately make their dog happier.

By enhancing the communication between dog and owner and giving the dog more freedom, even the best dogs can overcome those little behavioral “quirks” to become perfect companions.


How To Calm Down An Excessively Excited Dog

Dianne asked, “Is there a way to calm down an excessively excited dog? My Belgian Malinois sometimes gets overly excited when people come over (and this can happen right after an hour-long walk) or even when she is just coming into the house. I make her sit until I give her the release command before allowing her to come in, but as soon as I give the release command she goes bounding up the stairs. I don’t know how to explain it except that sometimes it’s just too much.”

How To Calm Down An Excessively Excited Dog
Copyright Creative Commons: d williams intrepid malinois

Adam replies:

I recommend using the down command instead of the sit command. And to make it even better, teach your dog a “place” command by using either a place board (rug, board, or pillow). The difference in elevation gives the dog something additional to focus on.

This is partially a breed attribute.  She will start to calm down with more training and repeated exposure to the same type of situation. The more people you have come over and you get her used to staying on the place board, the more she’ll begin to understand what’s expected of her. Age will help, too.

Remember: The way to combat an unfocused mind is with structure, structure, structure.  You create structure for your dog by creating routines.  Soon, she’ll start to immediately go to her “place” when she comes into the house– and you will keep her there until she calms herself down.

Are You Burdening Your Dog With Unnecessary Emotional Baggage?

There were two really exceptional posts that caught my eye this week in regard to dog owners who burden their dog with unnecessary emotional baggage.

The first from Robin MacFarlane, owner and training director of “That’s My Dog, Inc.” in Dubuque, Iowa who writes:

If you send me an e-mail that says something like: I’ve rescued a 3 year old dog. He was living with a neighbor who didn’t pay much attention to him. I “believe” he was abused…he has bit me several times, but not hard bites, just scratches. I tried to take away a piece of garbage he had and he came at me. He’s a beautiful dog. I feel so sorry for him, he must have been abused…I love him and cuddle with him, he gets a couch to himself and I feed him as much as he wants…why does he treat me this way? I will put it to you this way: I have rescued a 30 year old man. He was living with his mother. I “believe” he must have had a hard life. He has pulled a gun on me several times, but no direct shots, just grazed the skin. I asked him to move off of the couch so I could clean and he came at me. I just feel so sorry for his having a hard life. I tell him how great he is and feed him and he’s just so handsome! I can’t understand why he treats me this way.

We will need to get on the same page that sympathy over perceived abuse will not fix the problem. Unacceptable behavior may have been learned, but it can be unlearned through work, structure and rules.

If you can change your mindset about what rescuing should really mean…then we will begin the journey together of rehabbing an attitude of entitlement into one of becoming a productive and well mannered member of society.


And the second from Lynn Stockwell (DPTrainer4 on our dog training discussion forum) in answering a question from one of our members:

emotional baggage
Are you burdening your dog with your own emotional baggage?

It is extremely unfair to burden the dog with such an albatross around its neck.

The best way to help a dog is to move it forward. Dogs don’t live in the past, and you are not abusing him. Rather, you are giving him a fair home, feeding him regular meals and undoubtedly giving him a bed. The least you can do is ask him to respect your house, respect your rules, and learn how to be a regular dog in a human society. He needs structure, not the world at his feet.

Now, when Adam asked about the training collar, be advised that the tool itself is not how you achieve your goal, but it will help you get there a whole lot faster, when used humanely and effectively.

Let me give the best example that comes to mind: my college professor. Dr Durkin (linked just so you know he’s real :P) was a man who demanded our respect, gave it right back to us students if we pushed ourselves in his classes, and it only made sense that he adopted and raised several crack-house babies. The fact that they were born and temporarily lived in situations far beyond even my imagination did not entitle them to have the world handed to them on a silver platter, nor did it exempt them from any negative consequences in life.

I never got to meet any of them, but he showed enough pictures and told enough stories that we knew they grew up to be solid, hard-working, respectable members of human civilization who truly earned their keep in life.

Think about it this way: obviously, in most situations, a firm “no” suffices.

But what about the situations you describe, such as when you are out on walks? Obviously, the “no” is not doing it.

The best thing you can do is be confident–that you are not afraid of other dogs, that you are in control, and that you can get past this problem. Even if you’re not, act it. You are King Tut or Cleopatra, and the world knows this–this is the type of confidence I like to see when watching someone work a dog. It’s not gloating or lording over the dog, it’s just knowing that You Are In Control of your little corner of the world.

Dogs on leash must be under control in such a way that, at the very least, their owners can prevent them from coming to you. You must learn how–and I’m not just paying lip service, I had to learn this as well, and I can be a wonderful doormat given the opportunity–to demand your space. Check out how Linda puts it; she provides several examples of how claiming your space is far from being rude to other people and their dogs. It is helping your dog understand that YOU are in control and he doesn’t need to meet everyone (if he is a social butterfly) and not everyone with good intentions needs to meet him (if he is fearful).

Now, as long as he is more concerned about the other dog or person and barking at them, whether at the end of the leash or hiding behind you, shows that he needs to start learning about control and focus before you can begin to teach him that the world is not out to get him. The loose-leash exercise is a GREAT way to do this, in a low-distraction environment where he can learn to focus on you rather than worry about the big bad world around him. This way, when you start to work out in public, he can connect what you are trying to communicate to him (stop worrying about the Big Scary Thing over there) with what he is supposed to do (stay by your side and walk on because he has learned that’s the right thing to do).

Hurting him is the last thing we want to do. And truly, a good collar correction–even on a large Rottweiler wanting to take off your hand–hurts the trainer more than it hurts the dog. Done right, a correction is simply an interruptor: Stop Doing That and Do Something Else Please.

Stop pulling on the leash and stay by my side where you can watch me.
Stop jumping on people and sit instead.
Stop being a nut and grow a brain (or in the vernacular, sit down and be quiet–you can’t learn anything jumping around like a bucking bronc on the end of your leash).

In the meantime, Adam is right: dog parks are not really recommended. There is no need for a dog to “socialize” with other dogs in order to live a full life, and the likelihood that your dog will pick up parasites or disease from a dog park is phenomenal (working as a vet tech, we can pretty much predict which dogs go to dog parks or live in places where there is common “dog area” based on the parasites found in their fecal floats). You had your bad experience there…that should be enough. The dogs at parks are not under control, not taught how to listen–their owners may be under the impression that they are “being dogs” (again, Linda’s writing is worth a read), but in reality, a dog running around wildly out of control, allowed to bully others as commonly happens in parks, because of excess energy that is not properly released through more appropriate physical and mental exercise is a sad situation–it speaks volumes.

This isn’t to say that dogs should be denied the chance to run around and blast out, but it should be in a place and in a manner that isn’t going to cause any issues.

“Socializing” a dog has been misinterpreted these days as meaning “social interaction with other dogs,” which can’t be farther from the truth. True socialization is teaching a dog how to be confident in situations, environments, aroun people, in strange places, and around strange noises. When I first got my dog (you’d be interested to know that she came from a research environment, in which she underwent regular venipuncture, radiograph and anesthetic routines), I had no idea how she would act in a home environment. Sweepers are scary things, the TV makes strange noises, I live down the street from a sheriff substation (think sirens) and my road connects to a major highway (think semi trucks). This dog didn’t bat an EYE at any of these noises from the first day I brought her home (however, she does draw the line at gunshots, which limits her time with me at the range). I take her into Home Depot, with permission, and she doesn’t care at ALL about shopping carts, heavy machinery, wood saws, or screaming children. She falls asleep when I run the sweeper, even up to her bed. She doesn’t bat an eye at my movies or the insane variety of music to which I expose her.

She is socialized almost to the max. I feel comfortable throwing her (not literally, please) in almost any situation,and she will not lost her focus, or her mind.

She is also dog-aggressive, hence my limitations on the situations in which I feel comfortable throwing her.

And when she gets all chuffy on a walk upon seeing an out-of-cotrol dog being allowed to approach us, I am firm to the other person that my dog is NOT friendly please lock your Flexi or else you are paying all vet bills (after all, my dog is on-leash, under control and obedience-trained), and I am not afraid to give her a correction to direct her focus back to me. She is not demo-dog material yet, but getting there. I am not hurting her–I am reminding her that This Is Not Necessary.

The correction collar is simply a tool that allows me to communicate to her through means other than verbal or signal commands. How YOU feel about it is going to be how the dog reacts to it: if you use one with the thought that it is harmful and not what you want to do, then the dog will react accordingly. This is how good trainers can pull out remote collars and pinch collars, and their dog will absolutely dance in excitement: this means that they are going to WORK or go somewhere FUN and do something. This is Adam’s dog…

I’m going to leave things at this, since I’m starting to lose my train of thought. Please let us know if you have further questions or need clarification on any points I’ve presented.


Good job, guys!



Dominant Dog Behavior

Remember all those dominant dog behavior exercises that some trainers and veterinarians recommend -picking the dog up and keeping his feet just off the floor until he quits struggling, holding him on his back until he gives up, not letting him go through doors ahead of you, making him wait to eat until after you have eaten, making him stay off the furniture, and especially not letting him sleep on your bed? By the way, all this is known as “alphabetizing.” It’s all baloney and based on a complete misunderstanding of pack dynamics and dog behavior. None of that stuff happens in the dog world!

Yielding is a concept based on the fact that among group dwelling animals, it is the more dominant animals that control space and that the higher the dominant dog behavior the greater and more specific space is controlled. How does an animal control space? By making other animals get out of it through dominant dog behavior. The corollary to this is that the ability to control space bestows status.

Watching My Own Dogs
For Dominant Dog Behavior

This led me to begin watching my own dogs. I noticed that the higher-ranking ones spent time causing the lower ones to get out of their way. A low ranking one would move off the couch, for instance, when a higher member approached. I also noticed that ranking was not a fixed thing, but was rather a constantly shifting phenomenon. The ability to cause other animals to yield space (i.e., to move out of the way) seems to be a matter of force of personality rather than one of physical size or strength, though they sometimes go hand in hand.

Dominant Dog Behavior
Dog trainer Chris Amick

Along about this same time, I was becoming disenchanted with the usual dominance exercises that we dog trainers had been taught and were teaching. Many (most) of them were more confrontational than was needed, desired, or even helpful. What we were doing was not the things that happened in a stable group of dogs. Living with a stable pack of dogs for any length of time, and observing them, will teach you that appeasement is a much more prevalent mode of interaction than confrontation. “To get along, you go along” … dogs figured this out long before people ever did. A dog’s aim is simply to get through the day as easily and with as little hassle as possible. This is achieved by appeasement rather than confrontation. Dog trainers, most at least, had missed this. They, along with behaviorists and etiologists, had completely missed what was really going on.

Case in point, as an example, the alpha roll. There is no such thing. There is a cinnamon roll, there is rock and roll, and there is a roll mighty river roll on, but there is no alpha roll. What there is a beta roll. The higher ranking dog, except by his personality and presence, has nothing to do with this behavior. It is physically initiated and performed by the lower ranking animal as an act of appeasement. Dog trainers who have attempted alpha roll techniques with dominant, ready to fight, dogs have learned and have the scars to prove, that this is a really spiffy way to get yourself bitten.

What Does Yielding Have To Do With Dominant Dog Behavior?

Initially I practiced Yielding with my own dogs. Then, when 1 would borrow an untrained dog to demonstrate with at class, I’d have him move out of my way a couple or three times before I demonstrated what I had borrowed him for. I noticed a couple of things almost immediately. After a couple or three Yields the dogs gave me their attention. This was not always the case before I started having them Yield to me. Also, they caught on to what I wanted them to catch on to quicker. This change caused an almost 100% improvement in the results that my students were getting with their dogs. The command we use to have the dog Yield is “move.” I call yielding “the magic move.” Having taught the dog to move out of your way makes everything else you will ever attempt to teach him easier to teach.

Yielding Makes Everything Else We Have
Done In The Past To Establish Our
Leadership Completely Unnecessary.

With my own dogs, if they get to a door before I do, I let them go through first if they want. I regularly and deliberately feed my dogs before I eat. I let them hang out on the sofa, the easy chairs and my bed. I purposefully violate every principle in alphabetizing. But, at random times through the day, as our paths intersect, I have my dogs Yield the right of way to me. I do not have aggression toward me problems. I do not face challenges. I do not even have over pushiness. Neither do my students once they start this procedure.

Yielding does not seem to affect the (rare) psychotic dog. Alone, it does not stop fear-aggression. But, used in conjunction with balanced training to give the dog some structure and discipline in his life, we are having very good improvement with older fear aggressive dogs and absolute cures with dogs under a year.

During the first week we have the dogs Yield as we approach them from the front. The second week we come in on both shoulders. The third, we come at about diaphragm level on both sides and the fourth week from an angle behind the dog intersecting him at his hips.

Procedure the first week (and you can extrapolate to the other positions) is to stand in front of the dog with him on a loose lead. Saying, “move, move, move,” walk into his face. Do not kick the dog. Do not move him with the leash. Do not knee the dog. Try not to step on him. Do not stop walking into him until he moves. As soon as he moves, even the slightest, quit moving forward.

Give him relief. Praise and pet him. Teaching Yielding is negative reinforcement training. Folks with little dogs need to “Charley Chaplin” into the dog with their toes turned out and their heels together. Later, you have him move farther to get relief. It is never farther than out of your way.

Yielding works best when it is practiced at random times throughout the day as opposed to being drilled. When you get through with that first cup of coffee in the morning and are going to put the cup in the sink, plot your path through the dog. Have him move. Go rinse the cup out. Later, when you get through playing on your computer, take a moment to have the dog Yield to you. Tell him “move” and go through him. When you get off the phone with your mother-in-law and just really, really need to vent some frustration, walk through the dog. “GET OUT OF MY WAY!!!”

Except for mom-in-law, Yielding is non-confrontational. It allows you to interact with the dog in a way that dogs interact with one another. And, it says to him in a language that he is hardwired to understand, “I am the leader, You are the follower.”  You are– in a very subtle way, demonstrating dominant dog behavior.

I consider yielding one of the most important things I am doing. The instant the dog moves the first time, the relationship between that dog and you has been put on a basis that you are leader and he is follower. When the relationship has been properly ordered, you have the dog’s respect.

He’ll work for you. You can train him. Pure and simple, dominant dog behavior will be a thing of the past.

Dog Attention Training

Whiteshepherd writes to me with a question about dog attention training:

Hi, I’ve just finished reading your dog training book and had a few questions about dog attention training: I have a 9 months old white German shepherd dog. He’s been pretty dominant compared to the previous two dogs that I had a few years ago. I used the techniques described in the book and fixed his pulling issue on leash and got great results with the sit and down-stay. I also tried to build up his ball drive.

Dog Attention Training Fails Once Her Dog Gets The Ball

dog attention training
dog attention training

The problem is: he’d totally focus and fixate on the ball and ignore me for the whole time. Once I let him to have the ball, then he went wild and became dominant again and tried to correct me if I touch him or put him into a sit or down stay. It’s like the ball represents gaining the controlling power back. Meanwhile, without the toy, he looks so bored and lays down very slowly, but at least he listens to me and would not break down stay without the release command. I gave him praise when he did a good job. I did the watch me exercise and even spit food from my mouth. it helped a little bit, but didn’t get a significant result like I see when you teach dog attention training.

I hope i described the situation clearly. I just wanna him pay more attention and be happy. he’s a really smart dog and once he pays attention he learns things very fast.

Adam replies:

Hi, White Shepherd:

What you’re going to need to do first is: Resolve the relationship issues you have with your dog. He should not be correcting you for going after the ball. You are the Alpha dog, not him. It is YOUR BALL and he is YOUR SUBORDINATE (in the pack). The subordinate dog never corrects the Alpha dog, in the wild. If he does, then it is interpreted as insubordination and a direct challenge to his leadership… which can affect the SURVIVAL of the entire pack.

So, it needs to be addressed, immediately.

You need to correct him with 2X the seriousness that he corrects you.

It’s only after you’ve established yourself — and let him know that if he even thinks about correcting you, that it’s not going to be in his best interest– that you can start working on the obedience and building him up to make him flashy in his obedience routine.

DPTrainer4 adds:

Something you might also do is work with the presence of the ball, but not it’s inclusiveness in the exercise (hold on, I’ll explain…not as complicated as it sounds at first!). This takes away the cumbersome-ness of trying to hold a ball AND give a motivational correction.

Work attention and stationary exercises with the ball on the ground. Walk near the ball, sit next to the ball, and make sure that he’s paying attention to you. Do anything you can with the ball on the ground, and once you have that down, start moving the ball with your feet like a soccer ball to make it more appealing.

J&J sells a waist-clip to hold a ball hands-free, but it only works with tennis-ball or Chuck-It-type balls. It might be of help too, depending on your needs and the size of the ball he needs.

If at all possible, I’d also recommend a ball on a string. I believe Adam has, in the book, some instructions on how to make one yourself. It’s just a good toy to have, and the string adds something for you to grab a hold of.  Please keep me updated as to how the dog attention training progresses.

Training a Dog To Stay In The Down Position Without Rolling Over On His Back

So, you’ve taught your dog the down-stay command. But when you bend over to praise her, she rolls on her back.

Here’s what you’ll need to do: Take a step backwards. Literally.

Did your dog roll right-side up? Just give verbal praise.
Did he stay on his back? Then walk to the end of the leash.

Did he roll right-side up, and then stand up? Step in and reissue the down command, with a downward tug and release of the leash.
Block him from creeping forward with his body. Your goal is to teach him to go down and stay down on the same spot where you initially gave the command.

What if he stayed on his back? Then (while still standing at the end of the 6′ leash) pull (with a constant pull) toward you… even if you have to drag him forward a little. It’s okay to repeat the down-command. Release the tension as he starts to roll, right-side up.

Now practice walking into the dog and leaning over to give physical praise: Start by just touching his head. If he starts to roll submissive when you bend over to touch him, then stand up straight again. Your goal is to communicate that rolling over makes the praise “go away”.

DPTrainer4 on our forum adds: “Down can be a difficult command for many dogs simply because it IS a submissive position.

My current dog is one that likes to “cockroach” (a very technical term, you see), rolling onto her side and back at any given opportunity. Teaching the down was somewhat difficult.

The way I corrected this was to teach the down while the dog was in a heel position. I would have her lay down, then the MOMENT she cockroached, I was off into a “Heel,” and if she was not right behind me (which is entirely possible), she self-corrected. She learned to stay in the sphinx position rather quickly.

DPTrainer5 offers the following: It is quite possible that you or perhaps a family member or friend is unknowingly reinforcing the rolling over in times other than training sesssions. For example, your friend comes over to your house, greets your dog and the dog automatically “cockroaches” and the person might say something like, “Awww. He’s so cute. He wants his belly rubbed.” Then they rub the dogs belly thus reinforcing the rolling over. I suggest not petting the dog at all while he’s on his back. That may help during training because the dog will not have been rewarded for the behavior at other times.

Stop Dog Aggression When People Pass By

Corie writes to me about territorial dog aggression:

Our rescue husky/heeler cross dog is 1.5 years old. I’ve made a lot of progress with him with your suggestion of the pinch collar and leash and boundary training. He is a nervous dog that is really afraid of everything and when people come up to him his fur goes us and he is on edge. He will not bite, he just backs away. I give people treats to give him and that helps. But when people walk by our yard and I don’t have him in a stay position he will charge after them and show dog aggression (or territorial aggression). I know I have to work more on the boundary issue, little harder right now in Canada with 2 feet of snow on our grass. What should I be doing please? Thanks.

Adam replies:

Hi, Corie:

Specifically for the fence charging?

Don’t leave him out there, unsupervised… until you’ve got this problem fixed.

Here’s what you do: When he charges the fence, yell out, “No!”… then calmly walk to him and administer a firm correction with the tab. Rinse and repeat.

This issue really just comes down to getting the right motivation level, for your corrections. If, after several repetitions, he’s still doing it… then your correction simply isn’t meaningful enough.

If you can’t get a good correction with the pinch collar, I’d recommend upgrading to the e-collar. There is something about the texture of the e-stim that gets through to the dog (without having to even be set high, sometimes) that works, when the pinch collar corrections do not.

– Adam.

DPTrainer4 adds:

To echo what Adam posted, it’s basically a problem that the dog is outside and devising his own ways to keep occupied.

That doesn’t mean that you need to keep him busy 100% of the time when you’re out with him, but it’s a good policy to not turn him out by himself often. Because we have an unfenced yard, I feel (and this is my opinion, and it’s NOT MEANT TO RAG ON ANYONE WITH A FENCE) that because we must be outside with our dog, she is more focused on us than just doing her own thing around the yard. We play with her, do obedience, work on boundary training, just sit and chill…but we’re out with her. My personal opinion is that it helps a lot with potential problems that she would otherwise have if she were allowed to go out by herself and fence-fight with the two poodles that live behind us (and yes, she has the capability to do that if we allowed her to do so).

If possible, keep the dog outside on a long line too so that you are not stuck playing “catch-me-if-you-can” when you need to correct.

Cory responds:

Thanks for the tips – figured the e-collar might be the next step.

I have another question. I have been doing all you suggested to become the alpha dog – having him wait til I go thru the door first, down stay for longer periods, not being allowed on bed, etc. but when I walk him he always wants to be 1/2 a body (dog) length ahead of me. I use the pinch collar and correct him and say hey and he steps back but then he’s ahead again. I also have a 13 year old lab who comes with us for a short part of the walk but he’s always 10 paces behind because he has a hard time walking and chooses to stay behind. Daos (husky) is pretty much the same way whether my lab is there or not. Although he is getting pretty good at walking with the leash (well it is dragging so I can step on it if he decides he wants to get away). Training my lab was a breeze – this rescue dog has certainly been a challenge. What should I do about the husky trying to lead? E- collar again?

Adam replies:

Hi, Corie:

Yes, the e-collar will definitely help with that, but what you’ll want to start doing is more of the Left-about turns. (Make sure they’re tight turns, as if you’re balancing on a tight rope, and make the dog step back and around you, if possible.)

The idea is to bump the dog in the side of the head with your knee, in a surprise left-about turn. The dog will start to hang back, because he’s watching and waiting for (and wants to avoid) getting bumped by your knee.

You can synchronize the knee with the e-stim, for even greater results.


Keeping Your Puppy From Eating Too Fast

TeamK writes to me with a puppy training issue:

Our female black lab came from a litter of 12. Brought her home at 7 1/2 weeks. She is now 11 1/2 weeks. At first of course we figured it was how they needed to eat just to get food, but it’s gotten worse. She eats SOOO fast – inhales her food. Tried feeding in smaller amounts, feeding from hand, but still inhales. We also have from day one been around her when she eats,putting our hands in dish or by dish – but now that just makes it worse -she eats faster. (did this with our first lab (now deceased) and she always ate slow and did not mind if kids or other dogs took her food. ( We do not have children at home nor other dogs) I’ve used the kong for small amounts of treats or food while time needed to keep her busy but not for a full meal. If I spread it on floor still inhales it -does not chew. Feed her twice (or 3) times a day splitting her food according to bag. K (Oh yes and she growled at me two days ago when I put my hand in but I continued to do it and fed her by hand and she has not done that since…yet)
Adam replies:

Hi, Team K:

Take a look at this:



It’s usually something they grow out of. I really wouldn’t worry about it too much at this point. Keep doing what you’re doing. Good food drive is healthy (as long as she doesn’t have worms). But she’s growing a lot right now. Eventually (after a few months) you should see this intensity calm down a bit.


Dog Refuses to Go Outside

jomackenzie writes to me:

I adopted a terrier mix 7 year old male dog whose owner had died. They lived in Beirut and he was put in a dog shelter there for about 9 months. Rocco was brought to France & fostered for 4 months in the countryside until I adopted him in October. From the start he was reluctant to go out (I live in the city), he doesn’t want to go to the beach or for long walks, he is unhappy & dragging behind me until he knows we’re going home, then he can’t get there fast enough. He trembles & pants if I take him on public transport or in a car. Since there were fireworks on New Year’s Eve, he is even more fearful. He is almost never left alone, & if I have to leave him, it is never for more than an hour or so. I have tried calming medication from the vet, Zylicène, which seemed to have no effect at all. I have started him on Bach Floral Remedy for Dogs, no change. I have now sent away for a pheronome collar & will also get a training leash & collar for him, but is there anything else I can do in the meantime? I would so like both of us to enjoy our walks.


Adam replies:
Hi, Jo:It’s going to take some time. It’s a process.

I’ve heard good things (from my vet) about the DAP hormone collar.

In addition, I recommend crate training the dog. And use meal times to represent being outside in social settings, if possible. Even if it’s just feeding him on the front porch or my hand, while you’re out on a walk (if he has the food drive).

But far and above, the best remedy will be starting him on an obedience program where you’re incorporating the training around your every-day lifestyle. He’ll soon start to respond to the structure and look forward to it. In addition, even though it sounds counter intuitive, I would start him on the “Nothing in Life is Free” program– which will simply help build his trust in your leadership.

Please keep us posted. He’s a beautiful dog!
– Adam.

Jo responds:
Hi Adam,
Thank you for your fast response. I’m already getting results just from having read thru your book & realising that I needed to assert myself as the Alpha dog. I live in the middle of Nice, in an apartment, so feeding him outside won’t work, & he’s not very food orientated, but I’ll figure something out.
On an entirely different subject, do you (or anyone else) know of anywhere online where I might find a small frisbee? Rocco doesn’t seem interested in balls.
Thanks again,
DPTrainer4 adds:
We’ve had a lot of good times with the Ruff Dog K9 Flyer frisbee…it’s just a rubber frisbee-like thing, no sharp curves in it like the “fast-back” design, easy on the mouth (our current dog won’t touch plastic Frisbees) and it’s light enough to fold and carry.They make a K9 Flyer Jr that’s 6.5 inches (16.5 cm) in diameter, which might be a lot easier on his mouth than the 10 inch (25.4 cm) one we have for our dog!

There should be some other suggestions on the Amazon page to “Similar Products” or what-have-you, but that’s the one my family likes!

By the way, I’m JEALOUS you’re in Nice…my brother went over there years ago for an exchange program and LOVED it, and I’ve been wanting to go there ever since, especially since my French minor has been rusting uselessly in the back of my brain!