Dog Obedience Training – How To Correct Your Dog

Dear Adam: While working on our dog obedience training, I wanted to make sure I understood how to correct your dog?  I’ve tightened the pinch collar to make it fit snugly, but it really doesn’t seem to affect the dog. You said that the ring that the leash or tab is attached to should be down, but it keeps swinging around to the back of the dog’s neck.  Can you go over how to correct your dog with the pinch collar, once again?

Its almost as if he doesn’t even mind the collar pinching him and he’s getting huge and strong fast! Any suggestions? Thanks, Rose.

dog obedience training

Dog Obedience Training and How To Correct Your Dog

Dear Rose: No, I never said that the ring has to be down, when teaching dog obedience training exercises. The safety ring should be on the inside, and the ring that is shaped like an apple is the one you hook on the leash. It doesn’t matter if the prongs are underneath the neck or on the back of the neck.

Imagine the mother dog… she might bite the side, or the top, or from underneath… it doesn’t matter. Also, when you give a correction, make sure that you use two hands, together… like you’re holding a baseball bat.

Reach forward to create slack, and then pull it tight, and then make slack again. The first few times that you do it hard enough, the dog may let out a slight yelp. You know that you were motivational then.

You shouldn’t be swinging your arms wildly when you give a correction. Keep your hands together, and lock your elbows, as if you were taking a golf swing. Then, when you create the slack to give the correction, it’s almost like you pivot your hips (again, like taking a golf swing.)

Dog Obedience Training And
Why Motivational Corrections Are Important

Remember, if your corrections aren’t motivational, it means that you’re not popping hard enough, or you’re “pulling” on the leash, tight to tighter, rather than loose to tight to loose.

If you’re still having trouble giving a motivational correction, you might consider upgrading to a remote electronic collar and using it until the dog understands that your commands have meaning.

Initially, I synchronize the leash correction with the e-collar correction.  Using the remote collar will allow you to give a correction that isn’t at all physical– and frequently, you will be able to give the dog a less motivational correction simply because of the texture of the e-collar’s correction being kind of a strange sensation.  (Used correctly, it is not a “shock” in the traditional sense, but rather more of a tingle.  You can try it out on yourself first, and see what I mean.  It doesn’t hurt.)

For more in-depth information on dog obedience training, take a look at my downloadable book, “Secrets of a Professional Dog Trainer: And Insider’s Guide To The Most Jealously Guarded Dog Training Secrets In History!”

Using The Right Dog Training Techniques

Imagine using the right dog training techniques and being able to take your dog with you, anywhere you go… and know that he’ll listen and obey! Imagine being able to take him to a picnic and tell him to lay down… even if there are 30 children running around, dropping pieces of hot dogs and burgers.

Using the Right Dog Training Techniques
Makes For A Happier Dog

dog training techniquesYet your dog is so well trained that he just lays there with a lazy smile on his face! Or perhaps you decide to take your dog with you to pick up some bagels for a Sunday brunch. Instead of leaving Fido in the car, you take him with you. As you walk into the store, you motion for your dog to lay down outside, next to the entrance… and he actually stays there until you return!!!

(I did this with a German Shepherd I owned named, “Buck.” While I was inside, another dog trainer in my area happened to also be in the bagel shop. Not realizing I was a professional dog trainer, he showed his cards and walked up to me, inquiring how I was able to get my dog to stay down for so long! He was literally amazed, and thought that it couldn’t be the training, but rather just that the dog had a ‘lazy temperament’ to be able to stay there without his master repeating, “stay, stay, stay” at his side! — And he was supposed to be a professional trainer!)

With the right dog training techniques,
you’ll be able to walk with your dog to the local dry cleaner’s…
and not have to juggle your dog’s leash and your freshly cleaned shirts!

Yesterday, I took Forbes (my Bullmastiff/Pit Bull mix) past the grocery store to the Dry Cleaners in the local mini-mall. Kids on bikes rode by and commented on what a “cool” dog he was, because he stayed right by my side! And the funny thing is… people think it’s the dog! They think that Forbes must be a “really smart dog,” or “really laid back” — which he is… but that’s not the point.

The point is that when you’re using the right techniques… and you’ve committed yourself to using these techniques and practicing with your dog on a regular basis, you can get seemingly miraculous results. Nobody seems to care that when I first rescued Forbes from the Animal Shelter, he was both extremely dog aggressive and also frighteningly hostile towards anything that moved past him quickly. (Such as kids on bikes, skateboards, and even joggers!)

But now he lazily holds a down-stay while kids on scooters shoot past him. He heels nicely in position as bikers whiz by. And people still think that it must be the dog. I really should have taken video tape of him to show a ‘before and after’ so that you could see what a difference using the right dog obedience training techniques can make. You can do this with your dog. Just remember to practice dilligently and USE the dog training techniques you’re learning from my book!

Should I Socialize My Puppy To Other Dogs

Dear Adam: I am becoming more and more frustrated with puppy training and trying to socialize my young German Shepherd dog (7 months) to other dogs (and bitches) and he is a good natured little fella but almost every dog he meets wants to fight him.

To his credit he has responded in a totally bewildered non aggressive manner but I am getting worried that when his testicles drop he’s going to click all of a sudden and get his nasty head on.

These other dogs seem fine until they meet him. All he wants to do is play. Is it because he is big that they regard him as such a threat? Or do I live in a country which is full of psychopathic dogs as well as people? Thanks, Andy.


Dear Andy:

I believe that it is a mistake to “socialize” dogs with other dogs outside of the pack, after 8 weeks of age and before 1 1/2 years of age. Why?

Because this is how dog aggression is started. Of course, there may also be a genetic component, but when a young dog is dominated– and then submits– and the other dog (because he’s mal-tempered) does not back off… your dog has just learned that submission does not work. So he becomes afraid. And this fear, combined with testosterone, turns into aggression. And within the first year of the dog’s life, this type of experience can create a lasting effect on the dog’s interactions with other dogs in the future.

Trust me, if your dog was with the litter from 6 to 8 weeks of age, he went through the primary socialization imprint stage, and will know how to interact with other dogs later in life. No. The issue is NOT: Should I socialize my dog? The issue IS: Should I socialize my dog with OTHER dogs.

Here are three proofs:

1.) Several dogs I’ve raised, but we’ll take the last two… a GSD, and a Rottweiler (separately)… were both socialized with the litter during the 6 to 8 week imprint stage. After this imprint stage, the Rottweiler was only allowed to socialize with pack dogs. (Safe dogs owned by my family and circle of friends that I’ve know to be temperamentally safe and not overly dominant.) The German Shepherd dog was not allowed to interact with any other dogs. Period. The result: These dogs BOTH matured into well-adjusted adult dogs with absolutely no form of dog aggression. In addition, I’ve counseled hundreds of clients to do the same thing, and have experienced the same results.

2.) Professional Schutzhund trainer Tom Rose has a habit of adopting dogs (intentionally) before the 6 to 8 week imprint stage to other dogs. He DOES NOT want the dog to learn dominant and subordinate behavior. The result: These dogs grow up basically NOT having an interest in other dogs. BUT they are NOT dog aggressive. They behave much in the same way that humans who don’t care about dogs do. After a year of age, they ARE able to successfully co-exist with other dogs in a familial setting.

3.) Every single case of dog aggression that I see from clients are a result of dogs that have been “socialized” with other dogs. And very often, the owners CAN remember THAT ONE experience at the dog park when, blah, blah, blah. And surprise! A few months later, the dog starts showing dog aggression upon maturity. Of course, there may at times be an element of genetic predisposition to this, too. Best regards, Adam.

Her Dog Sleeps On Her Bed And Growls At Her: Is This A Problem

Hi Adam! I have a two-year old Siberian Husky. I have had him since he was a puppy, and will be the first to admit I have been a LAZY dog owner.

I would like to remedy that and was wondering if it will be too much of a problem if I start using a whistle with training him. I am an elephant keeper at the Kansas City Zoo and am getting more and more training experience and would like to start implementing that in my relationship with my dog.

He knows a few basic commands, like sit and shake. I think that’s about it. My big question is this: He sleeps on my bed with me. Whenever I move my legs around or roll over or anything, he growls at me. He has never made an actual attempt to bite or anything, and most of the time just jumps off the bed. When this happens, I try to sit up and back him down, and like I said, he usually just jumps off the bed. What I’m wondering is, is this actually dog aggression?

He doesn’t show any other dominance problems that I’m aware of. If you could give me a possible explanation for this behavior, I could hopefully remedy it with the advice in my “Secrets of a Professional Dog Trainer!” I don’t know if this helps any, but this has been going on since we moved away from my mother’s house and to the Kansas City area (I’m originally from NY), and I thought maybe it had something to do with that, being in a different environment and everything. As I’m re-reading this, I have probably given you way too much info. Sorry about the rambling. Thanks for your time and help, Adam. I appreciate it. Regards, Becky.

Dear Becky: Thanks for the kind words. I hate to be the one to tell you this, but… you definitely have a problem waiting to happen. I would strongly recommend NOT letting your dog sleep on the bed. This is probably the #1 way to undermine your efforts to establish yourself as the pack leader. Why?

Because instinctively, the most dominant dog will always sleep in the best spot… which is also usually the highest spot. (Remember, being the dominant one is also being the one on top). So, when you’re sleeping, you’re spending 7 to 9 hours in a horizontal position at the same level as your dog… who, in most cases, is not sleeping beneath you, but rather on top of you.

Furthermore, in the natural social hierarchy of the pack, a subordinate dog will never challenge a more dominant dog. And if he does, then the more dominant dog will always correct him and put him in his place.

However, when you’re in bed, in the middle of the night… it’s impossible for you to safely correct the dog for this type of aggression. So from now on, let Bubba sleep on the floor. Best regards, Adam.


Recommendations For Buying A Remote Electronic Training Collar

At the link below, you’ll find the remote electronic training collars that I recommend. It is important that a remote electronic training collar (an “e-collar” for short) have at least the following features:

– Seven levels of stimulation. You must have the flexibility to adapt the motivation of the stimulation to MATCH your dog’s temperament. Three levels of stimulation is usually not enough.

– A range that is practical for off-leash training. If the e-collar you’re using only claims to have a range of 50 yards, the reality is that– in the park– the range won’t actually reach this far. – The transmitter should be small enough to carry in your pocket.

– The manufacturer should prove itself to be in business for the long run. This is evident by excellent product support and a willingness to stand behind it’s product.

– The remote electronic training collar should have intelligent engineering. Some e-collars demonstrate a noticeable lag time from when you press the button to when the dog feels the stimulation… and so your timing (and the dog’s association) will suffer. And this means that your training results will suffer, too. The e-collars that I recommend below do not have this “stimulation lag.” Read more at: Adam’s Guide To Buying A Remote Electronic Training Collar


My Dog Forgets About Me When He Sees Another Dog

Dear Adam, Since reading your dog obedience training book (I’m actually still reading it) my year old German Shepherd and I are making great strides towards being well-trained (both of us).

He has been my constant companion since he was 8-weeks old and is a funny, loving, sweet, devoted boy who is actually fun to train. I have combined come/sit/stay/down/heed into a play session using his favorite tennis ball (i.e., having him sit/say, I throw the ball, I walk away, have him go down from afar, fetch it up, come, give, etc.).

He responds beautifully and we get glowing comments from strangers who stop to watch us work. Since switching to the pinch collar, he walks very nicely on a loose lead, no longer bouncing/bounding at cats, squirrels, leaves, other dogs behind their fences, etc., which was a puppy thing, I’m sure. Now, here comes, the BUT….

I have not been successful in getting him to walk PAST another (strange) dog(s), whether that dog is loose (with no owner in sight) or walking nicely with their person, on their lead. Mine bounds and bounces and generally causes a ruckus (as you say). He doesn’t snap, bite or growl and NEVER reacts negatively towards me when corrected. I always give him a correction and usually, but not always get a yelp, and I do regain control; however, he doesn’t seem to apply the lesson to the next time.

I can have him sit while the other guy passes or turn and go the other way and he goes right with me. But pass nicely…he breaks. In virtually all other aspects, he respects and responds to my wishes, is truly bonded to me and wants to please me. I’m not sure if my corrections are not motivational enough (they work in every other instance) or if I need to correct BEFORE he breaks (I’m waiting till be commits the crime before I correct) or if this is a trait (Shepherds are famous for being wary of strangers and, of course, protective) that I need to approach differently.

He does play well with dogs he know, however, he doesn’t hang with dogs all that often. He is friendly enough with people, but aloof, again as Shepherds tend to be. He is excellent in the house, well behaved, attentive and responds to all comments (off lead). Any suggestions? Any comments? Any hope? Thank you, Nancy

ADAM RESPONDS: Here’s the deal: As the motivation for the distraction INCREASES, the motivation for your correction MUST INCREASE, too.

But here’s what I want you to do: Find a distraction dog. Perhaps a friend’s pooch. Tie him up to a tree. Now, take your dog out of your car, and walk him past the dog on the tree. WATCH YOUR DOG the whole time. Do not watch the other dog. Walk straight towards the other dog. THE SECOND you see your dog look (fixate) on the other dog, IMMEDIATELY AND WITHOUT WARNING, SPIN 180 degrees, and RUN in the opposite direction. Do this two or three times, and you’ll be able to work your way to the point where you’re almost in front of the other dog, BUT YOUR DOG WILL NOT TAKE HIS EYES OFF YOU. He will start to think it’s a trick, and he doesn’t want to be left out at the end of the leash.

When you get to the point where the tree dog is on your left, you can run at a 90 degree direction to your right, since your dog will be looking to your left now, instead of ahead of you. Praise the dog when you see that he’s aware of the distraction, but chooses to look at you. If you need to do this 100 times, then it means that your corrections aren’t meaningful, and you might think about getting an electronic remote collar to help you a bit.

However, it’s all technique, and I’ve taught little people to successfully do this. But some people naturally have more of an aptitude for this stuff. If you don’t, that’s okay. Go with the e-collar and make your life easy. But try this first with the pinch collar. It should work well for you. And feel free to report back.


More Thoughts On Dominance Scuffles

An individual sent me an e-mail last week that was titled, “Dominance Scuffles.” And although I’ve already covered this subject fairly extensively as an aspect of dog aggression, I thought it was a good idea to explain it to this fellow through another metaphor.

[In response to a prior e-mail:]

“Thank’s Adam. I think I found the answer. ‘We determine who will be the alpha dog.’ Correct? ”

My reply: “No, no no! You cannot do this! It’s impossible!!! The dogs’ temperaments are inherent. Only you can determine if you’re dominant to the other dogs, by being MORE DOMINANT. But you cannot work it out for them. You can control the dogs’ behaviors and not allow any scuffles if:

1. You are the alpha dog in the pack. and

2. You have voice control. But as soon as you leave the dogs together– unsupervised– and go out for dinner… all bets are off. The dominant one will still be the dominant one.

Think of taking a group of four kids. Kid#1 will grow up to be a Navy Seal, and then an Admiral. Kid#2 will grow up to be a fierce criminal defense attorney. Kid#3 will grow up to be a middle management executive for a large firm. Kid#4: will grow up to be a peace activist and a socialist.

Now, when you leave the house every day for work, you may say, “Kid#4… you’re in charge.” And as long as you’re around, Kid#4 may get the priviledges of being the “so-called” top dog. But as soon as you leave… It’s going to be a given that kid#3 and kid#4 are going to be the bottom dogs, and kid #1 and kid#2 will scrap-it-out to see who is REALLY the “top dog.”

Their genetics (and to some extent, upbringing– depending upon their age) determines this.

But it is the toughest kid who will become the group leader. Even though kid #2 may be fairly tough in his own right, he will test kid#1… but will ultimately lose… as kid#1 is too tough.

Now, if kid#1 gets sick and has to stay in bed, then kid#2 becomes the new kid#1. In other words, the “Alpha dog.” Until you get home. Then you’re the alpha dog, and he becomes the beta dog.


Dog Keeps Pacing, And You Think He’s Under-Exercised

An anonymous writer comments, in response to prior dog training tips: “If physical exhaustion is the only answer, then why don’t I just keep him ‘chained up’ and save ME the trouble. I’m sorry I’m having trouble buying into this lack of exercise/boredom theory.

About Max [the dog] …..He’s a mixed breed, part hound, part long-haired terrier, has the frame of a 15-inch beagle, as a matter of fact, he looks like a long-haired beagle (if there was a such breed). We saved him from a horrible death when we adopted him (at about 7 months old) from the local humane society.

He’s about 3 years old now (and yes he has done this “pacing” since we got him). He’s not obese (which could result from lack of exercise). He’s a smart dog (he can sit, beg, speak, shake, down, stay). And in my opinion gets plenty of “family time” and self-induced exercise.

His bark sounds like a ‘warning bark’ and he races and strolls back and forth [at the gate]. Things I won’t do because it is not fair to him….. Put him in a dog run Put him in a crate until someone gets home Leave him locked up in the house all day Chain him up in a fenced back yard He’s got a 12000 sq. ft yard. I just can’t figure out why he only uses 50 sq. ft of it. Thanks, -Anonymous.”

Adam replies: A couple of points you’re confused about:

1.) Whether or not this is relevant to your dog’s behavior… your dog needs exercise. You cannot “dope the dog up,” as a solution to the dog’s exercise requirements.

So, you’re probably asking yourself, “Doesn’t the darn dog get enough exercise running back and forth at the fence???” The answer is, ‘No!’ Why?

Because what the dog needs is consistent aerobic exercise. The spurt/sprint and then relax-running that he’s doing now simply doesn’t meet the dog’s exercise needs. I don’t know why, I’m just telling you the way that it is. You need to run him, or bicycle him. Or at the very least, play fetch with the ball for 1/2 hour to 1 hour a day. This will definitely take the edge off him.

2.) Your dog is displaying territorial aggression. This is usually exaggerated by a lack of exercise, but will not disappear (usually) simply because you ARE exercising him. So, how do you fix the territorial aggression? Here are a couple of points:

First, you NEED to confine him to an area where he cannot exhibit the behavior when you’re not present to correct him for it. You should use a dog run for this. Remember two things:

– If YOU are meeting the dog’s exercise requirements, then confining him to a small area is NOT a bad thing. In the wild, the Alpha dog would confine the subordinate dog to a certain area where THEY MUST STAY. – Believe it or not, dogs spend approximately 80% of any 24-hour cycle either sleeping or resting. Who cares if he’s sleeping or resting with 20 acres of space around him, or with 12 feet of space around him? If he’s sleeping, he’s sleeping.

– It’s not fair to the dog to get corrected for doing the behavior ONE time (when you’re around) but not THE NEXT TIME (when you’re not around). For the dog to understand, he must get a correction EVERY TIME he does the behavior, until he demonstrates that he has dropped the behavior. This is the only fair way, for the dog. And to do this, you’ll need to confine him to an area (dog run, hint, hint) when you’re not present to set him up.

– Depending on your dog’s temperament, there are different ways to correct your dog. The best way (and fastest and safest) is with a remote collar that you can set the sensitivity to your dog’s temperament. These are safe and humane if you follow the directions. This way, the dog will think that he gets a correction for the behavior, even if you’re hiding upstairs in the kitchen window.

Since the dog is still getting a motivational, consistent correction… your set-ups become much more realistic… which makes the dog drop the behavior THAT MUCH faster.


What To Do If Your Dog Won’t Use His Dog House

Justin writes: “My dog won’t stay in his dog house for more than 5 seconds. What can I do? I have his favorite blanket in there. Any suggestions? Thanks”

Adam replies: For some reason, I find that most dogs do not like traditional dog houses. They do, however, prefer the Tupperware-type “Igloos.” In any case, here’s what you can start doing:

Feed the dog his dinner in the dog house. What you’re doing when you feed him his dinner in the dog house is that you’re associating something positive (eating) with being in the dog house. Simple!

You can also try playing fetch games with the dog, by throwing the toy to be retrieved into the dog house.


Cooking Your Own Dog Food

Ellen writes: “I am considering making my own dog food and not using commercial dog food. Any information you could give me would be helpful.

I’m looking for recipes as well as the pro’s and con’s of doing this. Thanks for any advice you can give me. ”

Adam responds: I hate to tell you this, but… EVERY single one of my clients who has tried to create their own dog food has ended up– after several weeks– with a dog that looked malnourished and had health problems.

Once they went back to the commercial stuff, the dog would start gaining weight again, return to good health, and re-gain a nice coat.

The big pet food companies have put hundreds of years and billions of dollars (okay, maybe not quite that much) into researching what makes for the best quality dog foods. If you stick with one of the top three or four dry dog foods, your dog will be healthier.