This German Shepherd Dog Has Better Bathroom Manners Than Most Of The Men In Your Family!

Imagine never having to let your dog out to potty, again! Well… maybe not.  But the dog trainers at Hill Country K9 did a pretty good job of getting us to think about it:


This German Shepherd dog was taught to:

1. Lift up the toilet seat (something your wife would appreciate!)

2. Close the toilet seat lid when he’s finished (something your mom would appreciate!)

3. Flush the toilet.

Let’s face it… this dog is better trained than most of the men in your family!

How To Train Your Dog To Find Mushrooms? The Hunt For Tuffles?

Hi Adam! Your book is fantastic! And when I follow your advice, it works to a tee.

I have a dog that is about 16 months old. She loves to fetch and find the ball. Even when I throw it in the brush, she just does a search pattern and finds it.

I would like to train her to find a certain “mushroom.” Yes, I said mushroom… which seem to grow in our area. Can you give me some help on training her to sniff out this mushroom? Thank you, Bob

Dear Bob: Thanks for the kind words. You’ve got exactly the type of dog you need to train this type of exercise. And that is, a dog who is BALL CRAZY!

First, I would start or continue doing the “drive building” exercises I outline in my book. (If you’re reading this and wondering, “What book?” … take a look at: ) In order to do scent work, you need a dog who can search all day for his ball and never get tired.

Now, once you’ve built up your dog’s drive, here’s what you’ll need to do:

1.) Get a hard, indestructible, UNSCENTED nylon ball, about the size of a tennis ball, to use only for training.

2.) Ask a friend to join you, and take your dog to a local park that has soft sand. Put the dog on a leash and a flat collar, and let your friend restrain him. Next, you should run ten feet ahead, wave and tease him with the ball. Then, drop it in the sand and kick enough dirt over it so that he can no longer see the ball. When you’re ready, tell your friend to let the dog go, preferably, when he’s at his peak for being “amped up” for the ball

3.) Praise him when he scratches the dirt to dig the ball up.

4.) Repeat this exercise over the next two weeks with three minor variations:

a.) Start burying the ball deeper.

b.) Start burying the ball in different parts of the park, but still where your dog sees you bury the ball.

c.) Start burying the ball… once he’s done a. and b., in places where he DOES NOT see you bury the ball.

5.) Here’s the trick: You need to make sure that the dog understands that he needs to:

a.) Find the ball. and

b.) Scratch to get the ball.

6.) If he has trouble understanding that he should scratch (this will be how he communicates to you that he’s found the mushrooms)… then take a step back and do the following:

Have your partner stand 10 feet away from you and your dog, who should be on-leash. Your partner should then bend over and put the ball under your shoe… and stand on it firmly. Now, let your dog run up to him. Your dog will try in vain to get the ball. You should stand behind the dog, and praise him excitedly as he makes an effort to get the ball from beneath your partner’s shoe. The MOMENT he tries to use his paw to scratch, your friend should lift his foot off the ball and let the dog have it.

With a few repetitions, your dog will learn that the sooner he starts to scratch, the sooner he gets the ball. With practice, you can start letting him scratch longer and more intensely before rewarding him with the ball. This will create a more obvious signal that he’s found the ball.

7.) Once you’ve progressed this far, it’s time to start SCENTING the ball with the mushroom. Take some of those mushrooms and rub it all over the ball. Next, take some more mushrooms and drop them in a zip lock baggie with the ball, and let them sit in your refrigerator for a few days.

8.) Repeat steps 1-6 with the scented ball.

9.) Get rid of the scented ball.

10.) Buy another UNSCENTED ball.

11.) When the dog can’t see you, hide a fresh mushroom at the park/sand lot where you first started practicing.

12.) Keep the unscented ball in your back pocket, or where the dog cannot see it.

13.) Bring the dog out of your vehicle and take him close to where you’ve hid the mushroom. This should be an easy find. You can tell him, “Find the ball, find the ball!”

14.) When he hits on the mushroom, praise him intensely, and from behind his head (remember, he’ll be looking at the ground)… toss the ball into his field of vision. The idea is to make him think that when he scratches where he finds the scent… his ball will magically appear and then it’s… PLAY TIME!

15.) Repeat this exercise in different places, gradually making the ‘finds’ more and more difficult. By the way… don’t be surprised if you notice how much fun this is for your dog!!!


A Competition Dog Trainer’s Trick

Competition dog trainers rely on food and tennis balls to motivate their dog into giving a performance with much gusto and attitude.

While I don’t generally advocate using food for pet/companion dog training (it takes WAY TOO LONG and is not necessary unless you’re trying to pull additional points in a dog competition)… it’s often rewarding to be exposed to the tips and tricks used by professionals.competition dog trainers.

In order to constantly have food ready to reward extraordinary speed, attitude, or precision, the competition trainer will wear what’s called a “bait apron.” This is simply a large pocket that is worn around the waist. Competition trainers will stuff this pocket full of hot dogs, Bil-Jac, Roll Over, Liver, or any other doggie treat that motivates their pet.

One of the problems with using a “bait apron” is that they get incredibly stinky, sticky and dirty.

Here’s my tip of the week:

Home Depot sells aprons identical to the “bait aprons” used by most competition trainers. They’re in the ‘Paint’ section. And the good news is that: They only cost $1 !!! So, when your ‘bait apron’ gets worn out… or it’s just too incredibly dirty to wash with your other laundry… now you can buy a new one… without breaking the bank!


The Invisible Dog Command: How You May Be Sabotaging Your Dog Training Efforts

I was sitting in the waiting room of my local HMO with a sinus infection and happened to pick up the recent issue of Outdoor Life magazine. Actually, it was the only thing to read, but that didn’t bother me as most hunting publications usually include at least one article on dog training.

I was lucky, as this month’s dog training article was interesting enough for me to tie into this week’s e-zine issue. On page 36, sandwiched between the ‘Professional Bass Tournament’ article and the “His camo-painted truck and ‘Kiss my Bass’ bumper sticker are the only endorsements you’ll ever need” advertisement, I found a story by veteran dog man, Larry Mueller.

Mueller recants meeting 82 year-old James Evans, of Naruna, Va. who owned an 11 year-old Lab-weimaraner cross that could allegedly multiply numbers!!! Mueller states that, “Evans decided to teach [his] dog to count to 10… ‘What’s the first number?’ One bark. ‘What comes after one?’ Two barks. And so on. [His] dog counted backward, too, in addition to correctly answering what comes before or after any number not exceeding 10.”

As a professional dog trainer, I hear amazing stories like this all the time. The only problems is that upon further investigation… they NEVER turn out to be true. Mueller writes, “Evans began to suspect that [the] dog was reading his mind.” However, anyone who has studied the dog’s mind (and canine behavior in general) knows that:

1.) Dogs can’t read our mind. They read our body language.

2.) Dogs can’t do math. Especially multiplication. Mueller must have come to the same conclusion as I did, because he decided to review several video tapes of Evans and his dog performing their multiplication trick. But it wasn’t until he actually met with Evans that he was able to ascertain how the dog was figuring out the math problems.

“All I knew for sure was that James Evans was no trickster trying to deceive the public for gain,” and that the old man had wanted to know how the dog did it, as much as anyone. Mueller continues, “I studied the video tape and recognized that the word, ‘ What’s ‘ could be the cue to start barking. I thought the signal to stop might be Evans withdrawing his hand from his pocket with a kibble reward. But it didn’t correlate, so I asked Evans if I could rig something to tell us the approximate location of the cue, if there was one.”

To make a long story longer, Mueller found that when the dog could not see Evans, he stopped getting the answers right! After further study, Mueller noted, “I noticed an almost imperceptible twitch– a reflex action like a blink occurring without conscious thought… I asked Evans to stand motionless. He found it difficult, and [his] dog’s barks in answer to his questions [became] random.”

When Evans wasn’t allowed to subconsciously cue the dog, the dog was no longer able to come up with the correct answers.

In sum, the dog was relying on his owner for the answers. Which, in and of itself is a pretty impressive feat, even if it isn’t comparable to knowing your multiplication tables!

Here’s two examples that probably apply to your daily training:

1.) Many owners tend to start bending over before telling their dog the, “Down” command. Because of this, the dog starts to cue off the owner’s body language (just as Evan’s dog did) and lays down anytime the owner bends over… but not if the owner stands up straight and issues the command! Solution: Always give the command FIRST, before bending over and making the dog do it. This way, the dog will link the behavior with the command, rather than with your body language.

2.) Amateur handlers tend to tell their dog “Heel,” and then walk with their shoulders angled back towards their dog, so that they can look at their dog while they’re walking. The problem with this is that the dog reads your body language and attempts to align himself with your shoulders, thus lagging behind the owner, rather than walking in the heel position (aligned with your left heal.)

Solution: Keep both shoulders straight forward as you walk. If you need to look at your dog (you should)… cock your head, without angling your shoulders. This will keep your dog lined up right alongside you.


How to Get Your Dog To “Crawl” on Command

Once you’ve established a proper relationship with your dog, it’s okay to incorporate food into your training to perk up the dog’s attitude, or to help communicate more advanced behaviors. Or simply as an additional tool to motivate your pet.

To teach you dog how to crawl, first make sure that he’s REALLY HUNGRY, or food motivated.

Start by putting the dog in the down position. Next, hold a piece of food approximately two inches beyond his front paw, close to the ground. If the dog incorrectly tries to STANDS UP and puts his head towards the food, then pull the food back and correct the dog back into the down-position.

If he instead stays in the down position, but lowers his head and puts his nose to the food, then reward him by letting him eat the snack. Do this a couple of times, and you’ll see the dog start to lean forward and extend his nose, while staying in the down-position.

At this point, it’s very simple to get the dog to start crawling. First, say the command “Crawl.” Then, immediately hold the food in your hand, but this time, approximately ONE foot in front of his paws. He’ll crawl forward to get the food, and you’ll reward by letting him eat it, and then giving physical praise. Again, if the dog gets up, you’ll correct him back into the down position.

For dogs that are a little more dense, you may have to guide them forward with the leash. Once the dog will crawl forward ONE foot, then the next step is to make the dog crawl forward TWO, THREE, and then FOUR feet forward.

The trick is that, if the dog gets up half way through the crawl, you tell him “Down.” If he’s gotten up and walked more than a few steps, then you’ll want to bring him back to the starting point. Then, say “Crawl,” and hold the food two inches in front of the dog’s nose, and drag it on the ground, letting him follow throughout the distance you’re trying to work up to. But make sure not to try to cover too much ground, too soon.

For the first session, work on getting the dog to crawl a few steps. Then the next session, a few more. After you practice this exercise over a period of a few weeks, and in different places, the dog should be performing reliably enough– and have enough understanding of the exercise– that you can simply take him anywhere. You’ll be able to point to the ground and tell him to, “Crawl,” and he’ll do it!

Make sure that as you go through the teaching process, you consistently give the command “Crawl” first, so that the dog learns to cue off the verbal command, rather than the production of food. This trick looks really cool with small dogs, but is EXCEPTIONALLY impressive with bigger dogs.


Teaching An Old Dog New Tricks

It is always a lot easier to teach a puppy the right things to do when they are young, but it is not impossible to eliminate the bad habits of an older dog.

The first step obviously is the need to make sure the dog understands that you are the master so you can gain it’s respect and then you can start the process of training the dog so that it no longer performs the unwanted actions.

It is important to address only one thing at a time and not try to change the way your dog responds to different things all at once. The way you will get an old dog to change is to show it that there is a better outcome from the new behavior pattern than the old one.

This is easiest to do if the dog learns that it will get a reward for making any behavioral changes. The clicker technique works well with old dogs and is not something that is restricted to the training of puppies alone. Be prepared for any training to take longer than it would if you were working with a puppy, however there are other benefits in that an older dog will generally have a longer attention span than a puppy and if you have had the dog for many years they will be more likely to want to please you.

Be assertive but always remain positive and encourage the dog to change.   

Please note: This article is part of a collection of dog-related content that we purchased the rights to. Opinions expressed may or may not agree with those espoused by Master Dog Trainer Adam G. Katz. When in doubt, please refer to the advice given in Adam’s dog training book.  This article is provided for your enjoyment, only. It’s relevance to real world working dog training may be limited.

Tricks and Games Your Can Teach Your Golden Retriever

Because much of training involves teaching your Golden Retriever what his place in the family is and how to control himself, training can get to be rather serious.

However, training can also be fun. Teaching your dog games and doing some trick training can really challenge your Golden’s ability to learn. Once you have taught your dog, you can have a great time showing off your dog’s tricks, amusing your friends and family, and just plain having fun with your dog.


As their name suggests, Golden’s are born retrievers that are able to bring back just about anything that moves or is thrown. However, some will chase after whatever is thrown but won’t always bring it back. If your dog likes to retrieve then all you need to do is tweak the game so that he brings the item all the way back to you and gives it to you without playing tug of war. If he hesitates on the way, simply call him to you. If he drops the item, send him back to it, again using encouragement to have him pick it up and bring it to you. Don’t scold him or try to correct him; that will only serve to discourage him.

If your dog likes to take the thrown item and play keep away from you, you have two options. You can stop the game and go inside, leaving him alone. This shows him that you will not chase him and the game will end when he tries to play keep away. Or you can have a long leash on him when you start the game so that if he tries to play keep away, you can step on the rope, stop him, and use the rope to bring him back to you. If you need to use the rope, you still must praise him for coming back to you even if you made him do it. As said before, the come command must be positive.

Once your dog is retrieving reliably and bringing the toy or item back to you, there are unlimited games you can play. Most Goldens love retrieving tennis balls. To make it challenging, tennis balls can be thrown short or far, or bounced off the side of the house.

If your Golden is really motivated, throw several tennis balls at once and see how many he can pick up and carry at the same time.


The name game is a fantastic way to make your dog think. Believe it or not, your dog can think and is capable of learning the names of many different items and people. Not only is this a fun game for your dog, it can come in handy around the house. You can tell your dog to find your keys or your shoes. You can send your Golden after the remote control to the television, or to go find a person. In addition, it’s great fun to show off to your friends or guests.

Start with two items that are very different, perhaps a tennis ball and a bowl. Sit on the floor with your dog and these two items, and have some treats that he likes. Say to him, “Where’s the ball?” and bounce the ball so that he tries to grab it or at least pays attention to it. When he touches it, tell him, “Good boy to find the ball!” and give him a treat. When he is responding to the ball, then lay it on the floor next to the bowl and send him after it. Praise and reward him for getting it. Now set several different items out with the bowl and ball, and send him back again. When he brings back the ball, praise and reward him.

When he is doing that well, place one of his toys out there and send him back again. If he goes for the other toy, take it away with no comment, and send him after the ball again. This is a critical step in his learning process and you may need to repeat it several times.

When he will pick up his ball from among several different items, including toys that tempt him, then start hiding the ball. Make it simple to start, maybe just partially hiding the ball under a magazine. As he gets better, start making it more challenging.

When you can hide the tennis ball and your dog can find it, start teaching him the names of other items, following the same process. You will find that the first three items will be the most difficult. Your dog needs to learn how to learn and he needs to understand the concept you are trying to teach him. Once he understands that each of these things has a different sound, and that he needs to listen to you say those sounds, then he will start learning much faster.


Hide and seek is a fun game that is similar to the hide and seek you played as a child, except that you or your family members will hide and your Golden will find you. You will see that your dog will be much better at finding people than you ever were because he has outstanding scenting abilities.

Start by teaching your dog a family member’s name using the techniques you learned in the name game. When your dog can identify a family member, you can have that family member hide. Give that family member a treat and have her show your dog that she has one. Hold your dog as that family member goes and hides in a fairly easy location. Tell your dog, “Go find Daughter!” or whoever and let him go. If he starts to look around and sniff, just be quiet and let him work and think. If your dog starts to look frustrated or confused, tell him again, “Go find Daughter!” and help him find her. When he goes to daughter, praise him enthusiastically and let Daughter give your dog the treat.

As your dog gets better at this game, you can start making it more challenging. Have family members hide in more difficult places or slightly farther away from your dog. They can also run around a little before finding a hiding place, so that there is a more challenging trail. As your Golden gets better, you can also cover his eyes so that he can’t see the family member go hide.

When your dog has learned the names of different family members and knows how to find them, you can use this skill around the house. For example, you can send your dog out to the yard to get the family when it’s dinner time. Or have him take the remote control to Dad when he asks for it. Hide and seek is a lot of fun, is challenging for your dog and allows him to use his natural scenting abilities.


Shaking hands is a very easy trick to teach your dog. Have your Golden sit in front of you and ask him to “Shake” as you reach behind one front paw and tickle his leg in the hollow just behind his paw. When he lifts his paw to escape the tickle, shake his paw as you tell him, “Good to shake!” and give him a treat. When he starts to lift his paw on his own, stop tickling.


When your dog is shaking hands reliably, tell him “Shake. Wave!” and instead of shaking his paw, just lightly touch your hand under his paw and move your hand away so that he continues to reach for your hand. As he reaches for your hand, tell him, “Good to wave!” With the wave, you want him to lift his paw higher than in the shake and to move it up and down so that he looks like he is waving.


Have your dog sit and stay. Hold his chin with one hand as you place a treat on the top of his nose. Tell him “Stay!” After a few seconds, tell him, “Okay!” and let him toss the treat and catch it. Gradually increase the time you want him to wait before you release him and enthusiastically praise him when he catches the treat in mid-air.


Have your dog lay down. With a treat in one hand, circle your Golden’s head with the treat in the direction you want him to roll, while you tell him, “Roll over!” At first, you may need to physically help him roll. Praise him when he does roll over, even if you need to help him. Enthusiastically praise him when he does it on his own. Once he can roll over by himself, you can ask him to do it more than once. Have him roll over two or three times. Teach him a command for each such as “Three roll overs!” or “Two roll overs!” Impress your friends that your dog knows how to count! 

Please note: This article is part of a collection of dog-related content that we purchased the rights to. Opinions expressed may or may not agree with those espoused by Master Dog Trainer Adam G. Katz. When in doubt, please refer to the advice given in Adam’s dog training book.  This article is provided for your enjoyment, only. It’s relevance to real world working dog training may be limited.