How to Teach Your Dog to Drop the Ball on Command

We’re teaching our dog to fetch a ball and then “drop it.” I have several questions:

1. When you first start teaching a dog to drop his ball, how many times does he have to do it successfully before it’s automatic? [Adam replies: It depends on the individual dog. Usually not more than one or two training sessions.]

2. In your experience, how difficult is it for pet owners to teach their dog to drop the ball on command? Very difficult, Somewhat difficult, Not too bad, Fairly easy, Very easy [Adam replies: This is a very easy behavior to teach. Tell your dog, “Drop it,” and then wait for him to drop the ball. As soon as he drops the ball, kick it and let him run after it! Do not bend down and pick it up with your hands.

This will ruin the timing. Your goal is to teach your dog that the faster he drops the ball, the faster he’ll be able to chase it again. If he doesn’t ever drop the ball, then use the pinch collar and tab (he is wearing it, right?) and tell him, “Drop it,” and administer a firm tug on the tab. As soon as he spits it out, tell him, “Free!” and kick the ball.

3. Do you know of any tools/machines or training devices that would make this easier? [Adam replies: Just your brain. Once you get your dog to understand that dropping the ball DOES NOT MEAN “GAME OVER” & your dog will start to eagerly drop the ball in anticipation of another romp.

How to Fix Troubles With the Long Distance Recall

I purchased the 5 tape kit and I am glad I did.

There is one problem: When my dog (beagle-border collie mix) is pretty far from me, like 100 feet or so, I have a difficult time getting him back tome. Would you please advise.

Thanks, Steck

Dear Steck:

Your dog has become leash smart. Remember, your dog has very limited use of logic and reason. She only learns through association. Please review the section in my book about how to use the long line and undo what you’ve inadvertently done. There is asection in the book where I describe how the exact same thing happened tome, with the first dog I ever trained. She associated that I could make her come, as long as she was within a 25 foot distance (the length of my long line) because I would always call and tug on the line, just she hit the 25 foot limit.

I fixed this by buying a35 foot line, and then working with the line at various lengths. (In other words, you’ve gotta mix it up. Remember, you’re playing a mind game with your dog. You want to convince her that ther is no distance that you cannot enforce your command.) One of the best ways to do this is to vary the length of your leash, and also to tie it to a tree, walk her to 30 feet of one side of the tree and call from 30 feet from the other side.

When to Start Obedience Training

I have a 4 1/2 month-old Doberman Pinscher. Got him at 9 weeks of age and trained him to sit by command and hand signal by 11weeks for the most part. He comes when I call and heels and goes down somewhat, but I’m sure if I practice the information in your book he will come around.

He seems to be very intelligent. I’m wondering: At what age do you think I should start training? And I was also curious about the “Development of Perfect Attention” I would like to know how to do that exactly (to get him to watch me like the competition dogs do) and what the “Halti” and the “Promise Leader” is and does? Thank you for your time. – Kevin Dear Kevin: You can start the formal obedience training (correcting your dog when he disobeys commands) when he is 4 ½ months old& or whenever you see his adult teeth start to come in.

As for the Halti and Promise Leader& these two items are virtually identical products. They are designed to CONTROL and RESTRAIN the dog& not to TRAIN THE DOG. This is why we don’t carry these products. Any time you find yourself RESTRAINING rather than RE-TRAINING& you know you’re using an inferior technique.

How to Change Your Dog’s Correction Word

To consistently keep my dog aware of his negative behaviors even during his obedience training, I always say, “NO!” without attaching his name to it, and then give him a quick pop (prong collar) to reinforce my morivational correction — all in a timely manner. And it works perfectly all right. He’s now in fact a very obedient dog that any owner can be proud of.

The only thing I’d like to alter is my constanct use of “NO!” I just don’t want to use it anymore as it’s already common in our place. Almost all trainers in our community use the same negative expression on their dogs walking around my dog while in a down position. (I just feel that every time my dog hears the word “NO!”, even if it’s not meant for him and his behavior, he gets confused). Who knows but perhaps my dog in a quandary is beginning to ask himself: “Oh gosh, what have I done wrong this time??” Is it still possible to introduce a new word that I can substitute for “NO!” exclusively to my dog.

I want the word “NO!” to be totally taken out of my dog’s vocabulary. Please advise, sir! How am I to do it properly and slowly? Thanks, Alberto Dear Alberto: Yes, it is posible. But it can take awhile. What you’ll need to do is to re-associate something positive with the word, NO. Start by just whispering the word, NO! and then feeding your dog a piece of hot dog. Gradually, over a period of days, start saying the word louder and more forcefully, and then give the dog a piece of hot dog. Pretty soon, he’ll be happily wagging his tail when he hears the word, NO! Just be sure that YOU keep it consistent and don’t accidentally use the word NO! when you go to correct him.

Verbally Correcting One Dog When You Have Two

“I have two dogs- – a Pit Bull and a Boston Terrier. I have read that you should not use the dog’s name and [the word]”No” together so that the dog does not associate negative feelings with his name. So how do I tell one dog “No,” without both feeling like they are both in trouble? Situation: The Pit Bull is happily playing with her chew toy.

The Boston Terrier is chewing on my sofa. How do I let the sofa chewer know that he is in the wrong (the Boston knows better. I have corrected him using the prong collar in the past and by just saying, “No,” will get him to stop) without making the Pit Bull think that she is in trouble. Adam replies: Eye contact. You don’t need to worry about the other dog’s “feelings.” Just make eye contact with the dog you are going to correct. If the dog is chewing on your couch you should NOT BE GIVING VERBAL CORRECTIONS.

You should be giving leash corrections. Chewing on the couch is a major infraction. We don’t give $2 tickets for chewing on the couch. We give $200 tickets. Otherwise, your correction will have no meaning. (Keep the tab and training collar on the dog.) You shouldn’t be giving exclusively verbal corrections for this behavior. Period. Two, maybe three leash corrections for this behavior and your dog should never do it again.

If he continues doing it, then you know that your corrections aren’t firm enough. Also, you may want to try taking one link out of the pinch collar.It should be a snug fit. I don’t advise pet owners to ever use the dog’s name in conjunction with the word “No.”

Teaching A Quick Response To Commands

You reference, “training collar” several times. I have probably overlooked this, but what do you mean by training collar? Is it a pinch collar or one that delivers a shock? So far I have used your techniques with a great deal of success. We use the “get busy” command to make the dog relieve himself. After three days, it works very well. The dog sits well, too. He still needs a hand signal from time to time. We’re currently working on the down position. Your book has been an inspiration. One other question: We recently had an invisible fence installed. The dog is 15 weeks old. How soon should we start to use this? He is a 33 pound “English” yellow Lab.


Dear Brian:

Thanks for the e-mail.

Yes, in general I’m talking about the pinch collar when I refer to the training collar.

In regard to the to sit command: You should first issue the command THEN the correction. Don’t wait to see if the dog’s going to do it or he’ll learn to WAIT to see if you’re going to correct him. In other words, you end up teaching your dog that a slow response to commands is okay. And this is not our goal. Our goal should be to teach the dog that he should respond quickly and immediately.

Once he’s 100% conditioned to respond fast every time… and he consistently beats you to the correction… then you can stop.

As far as the electronic fence… I’d probably wait until he’s 6 to 7 months.

Training Your Dog To Make Turns On The Lead

Training Your Dog To Make Turns On The Lead

Check all collars to see that they are the right weight, length, and correctly placed on the dog. Hold the leash in both hands at waist level so the dog will be kept under control and the six-foot length will not seem awkward. Start the lesson with heeling and sitting. Make right-about and left U-turns every few feet so that the dog will be more attentive.

Your hands should stay “glued” to your waist area.

Say heel! Tug on the leash as you start walking, then praise as your dog makes an effort to stay up with you!

Keep moving on the right-about-turn! Command “Sit!” and tug upwards and then immediately release the tension in the leash by bringing your hands back down to your waist area.

Don’t forget the praise.

Large dogs can be brought around on the about-turn more quickly if the owner kicks backward with the right foot to rap the dog unexpectedly on the rear. Praise should follow immediately as the dog moves forward into the heel position.

Transfer the lead from the left to the right hand before you tell the dog to sit. This will shorten the lead so that you will have control over the dog and can make him sit straight.

You should only have enough slack in the line so that the dog feels no tension in the leash, but you only need to move your hand upwards 2-3 inches in order to administer the tug on the leash.

When you prevent mistakes before they happen, you won’t have to correct them later.

If he sits crooked, immediately reissue the heel command and then make him sit again, this time guiding him straight with your left hand.

Then continue: About turn! Tug on the leash! Praise! Keep moving. Walk briskly, especially on the about-turn. Use a series of short, snappy tugs on the leash to make the dog forget outside distractions, if/when he glances of in the opposite direction.

Tug on the leash in the direction of travel. Not up in the air!

When you make an about-turn, pivot sharply to the right and snap the lead parallel to the floor after you are headed in the opposite direction. You can more or less allow your body motion to do this, automatically.

Keep moving! When you make a left U-turn, bump into the dog to make him draw back by himself. Carry the leash comfortably in both hands. Keep it short but slack, and have your dog under control. Tighten the lead to make a correction, but don’t drag or hold it tight. When you snap the lead the right way, you will hear the collar click. Pat your side after you tug the leash to reassure your dog, and coax him to come in close.

When the dog forges ahead, do a right about! When he lags, jump forward!

Don’t exaggerate hand motions. Use a wrist action as well as bending the elbow and snap the leash short and firm. Throughout the training, command first, correct second, praise third!

The dogs must sit square and close to the side. Be careful not to step into your dog! It will make him move away from you. If he sits wide, pull him in close and hold the lead tight until he sits down the way he should. When he goes too far ahead, hold the leash in back of your body in the left hand and tug backward before you stop moving.

If he persists in sitting too far ahead, step across in front of him and block him with your left leg. At the same time, pull the lead tight across your left hip. He must learn never to pass your left knee when either heeling or sitting, and not to sit at an angle.

Dog Training: Why It’s About Teaching, Not Winning

When training your dog, you cannot prevent him from experiencing some stress.  Learning is stressful.  But you can keep it at a level where he can learn. And have fun, too.

You must recognize the signs of stress and when you should end the training. When your pet reaches the point where he is no longer able to learn, all of his actions will be the result of random, redirected, or displacement behaviors and will not be committed to memory. Even though he may respond to a command, his feeling of anxiety will be such that he will not retain what you are trying to teach him.

Of course there will be moments when your dog just does not get the message. It can happen at any time, especially when you are working with distractions. It seems like nothing you do works and you feel that you are not making any progress.

What do you do in this situation? You may think that if you stop, then your dog will think that he has won and will never work with you. This kind of thinking assumes that you and your dog are adversaries in some kind of a contest. If you approach dog training with this kind of attitude, you are doomed to failure; at best, you will have an unrewarding relationship with your pet.

Training is about teaching, not winning. You can walk away from a training session at any time, whether or not you think you have been successful. When you see that no further learning is taking place, end the session. If you do not and insist on forcing the issue, you will undermine your pet’s trust in you and the relationship you are trying to build.

Let your dog rest for at least thirty minutes and then try again. You will find that all of a sudden the light bulb seems to have gone on and your dog is more willing to learn. By having taken a break at that point, you are giving your dog the opportunity to get the point through time.

You must stop the training as soon as you find yourself becoming irritable or when your dog starts to show signs of severe stress.

Dog Obedience and Behavior: How To Understand Proper Dog Training

The dictionary defines discipline in several ways. I favor the following: “Discipline is a branch of knowledge or of teaching.” I interpret this to mean that when an individual is motivated, he becomes self-disciplined by virtue of what he learns. It is an internal phenomenon. A musician isn’t controlled by the conductor; his passion for music is channeled and orchestrated. The musician controls himself, as does an artist or a football player or anyone dedicated to his field.

In martial arts training, if the student doesn’t display the correct attitude in his training the sensei ignores him. When the student shows spirit and dedication the sensei will seek to shape him in the discipline of the art. Whatever the art form, discipline is more the responsibility of the teacher to know his subject, and to be able to teach, than it is something to be imposed on the student.

This subtle aspect of discipline is even more true in dog training because, unlike with a human student, the motivation behind the dog’s desire to learn is wholly dependent on the trainer. To motivate a dog, we need to know how he perceives, how he feels, and how he learns; it is the dog owner who requires discipline so as to inhibit the impulse to lash out in anger or to be discouraged by failure or immobilized by guilt. A problem must always be approached from the dog’s point of view. When we ask, “How much discipline does my dog or puppy need?” remember that the question is moot. Discipline isn’t like a vitamin that needs to be dosed out periodically.

Dogs are disciplined by their instincts and they don’t need more. There is, however, a lesser definition of discipline that has some value in dog training. To quote the dictionary, “Discipline is a systematic method to obtain obedience. A state of order based upon submission to rules and authority. Punishment intended to correct or train.” While we are about to explain that there are times where this more limited view is necessary, we wish to reaffirm that the higher definition should be foremost in our minds and at the foundation of your training program.

Being an avid dog owner and trainer, there are those times when I will correct an extremely nervous dog – ideally with the lead and collar and in a training context – in such a way that he associates the correction with me. By acting confrontational, I can calm such a dog. My specific purpose is to have the dog attribute the shock to me so that his nervous system is dampened. It is quite analogous to grasping a tuning fork to quell its vibrations. Once dampened, and depending on the dog’s temperament, I will immediately try to put the dog back on the path of pure drive and happy motivation.

But what must be reemphasized is that most dogs considered hyper are only that way because their prey instinct has been allowed to find gratification at its own level, away from the owner. Or because of a lack of exercise, either mental or physical.

Dog Obedience – Your Dog And The Law Of Expectation …

If you’ve been reading my email newsletters for some time now, you probably already know that I’m not a big believer in New Age remedies or holistic healing. However, there is one “universal law” that seems to hold true when it comes to dog training: The Law Of Expectation. Okay–I just made that up. I don’t even know if there actually is a Law of Expectation. But according to “Adam’s Law of Expectation”: Your dog will respond to commands and his environment in a manner that is consistent with how you expect him to respond. I’ve seen this time and time again, when working with clients.

For example, an owner’s dog shows possessive behavior over a bone or a toy. The owner apprehensively tries to take the bone away, but their dog responds by possessively guarding the toy and may even run off with it. Game over. Then, I approach the dog and calmly just take the toy. The dog gives it up without even thinking about responding in a possessive manner. And the owner is left with their mouth gaping open, followed by the often-heard surprise remark (so well-known to professional dog trainers) “Why doesn’t he do that for me?” He doesn’t, because dogs are experts in reading body language. Even better than humans are. And they will react in a manner that is consistent with how you expect them to act.

Thus: Adam’s Law of Expectations. If you act confident when you give commands and EXPECT that your dog will react accordingly–then he will. (Assuming you’re using the right techniques). If you act without confidence–forgetaboutit! Your dog will instantly know you’re not someone to be respected. And if you’re not someone to be respected, then your dog will not bond with you, listen to you or want to please you.

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