Dog Games: Two Hula-Hoop Games Made For Fun & Training

The Hula-Hoop Game: Teaching “In,” “Out,” & “Leave It” Using a hula-hoop is a good way to teach the “In” and “Out” commands while your puppy has fun.

You need to familiarize her with the In and Out commands when taking her through doorways or leading her in or out of the crate. This is also a great way to involve the kids. Place the hoop securely on the ground between your legs.

If your puppy is on your left side, then lure your puppy through the hoop with the right hand holding the motivator. If your puppy is on your right side, then lure your puppy through the hoop with the left hand holding the motivator.

As your puppy goes through, give the command “In,” and then place her in a Sit position. When she passes through from the opposite side, state the command “Out,” and place her in a Sit position. Another Hula-Hoop Game: Teaching “Leave It” Another game consists of laying the hoop on the floor and placing a treat in the center.

Make sure your pup is on the leash to stop her from entering the hoop. If your puppy starts to go for the treat, say the “Leave it” command and clap your hands to startle her or step on the lead to stop her in her tracks. You are teaching her to obey a barrier, a dog-free zone so to speak. You want to create this pattern to stop your puppy from going for some object that you don’t want her to have.

Stopping her with the “Leave it” command while she is in an excited state will create a strong impression on her – she learns that she can’t go for something no matter how excited she may be. This will be important when you want her not to go for discarded food or other objects in the park during a walk. When you want your puppy to have the treat, place another treat in the palm of your hand and say “Take it.”

This teaches her that she can place something in her mouth when she hears this command. Don’t use the same treat that is on the ground, because this will be counterproductive to what you are teaching her.

Is Dog Training Causing Your Dog Stress?

Stress is the body’s response to any physical or mental demand. The response prepares the body to either fight or flee. It increases blood pressure, heart rate, breathing and metabolism, and there is a marked increase in the blood supply to the arms and legs. It is a physiological, genetically predetermined reaction over which the individual, whether a dog or a person, has no control.

When your dog is stressed, his body becomes chemically unbalanced. To deal with this imbalance, the body releases chemicals into the bloodstream in an attempt to rebalance itself. The reserve of these chemicals is limited. You can dip into it only so many times before it runs dry and the body loses its ability to rebalance. Prolonged periods of imbalance result in neurotic behavior and the inability to function.

Your dog experiences stress during training, whether you are teaching him a new exercise or practicing a familiar one. You should be able to recognize the signs of stress and what you can do to manage the stress your dog may experience. Only then can you prevent stress from adversely affecting your dog’s performance during training.

Stress is characterized as “positive” (manifesting itself in increased activity) and “negative” (manifesting itself in decreased activity). Picture yourself returning home after a hard day at work. You are welcomed by a mess on your new, white rug. What is your response? Do you explode, scream at your dog, your children and then storm through the house slamming doors? Or, do you look at the mess in horror, shake your head in resignation, feel drained of energy, ignore the dog and the children and then go to your room? In the first example, your body was energized by the chemicals released into the bloodstream. In the second example, your body was debilitated.

Dogs react in a similar manner, and stress triggers either the fight or flight response. Positive stress manifests itself in hyperactivity, such as running around, bouncing up and down or jumping on you, whining, barking, mouthing, getting in front of you or anticipating commands. You may think your dog is just being silly and tiresome, but for the dog, those are coping behaviors. Negative stress manifests itself by lethargy, such as freezing, slinking behind you, running away or responding slowly to a command. In new situations, he seems tired and wants to lie down, or sluggish and disinterested. These are not signs of relaxation, but are the coping behaviors for negative stress.

Signs of either form of stress in dogs are muscle tremors, excessive panting or drooling, sweaty feet that leave tracks on dry, hard surfaces, dilated pupils and, in extreme cases, urination or defecation, usually in the form of diarrhea and self-mutilation. Behaviors such as pushing into you or going in front of or behind you during distraction training are stress related.

How to Stop Your Dog From Digging Holes in Your Garden

Guess what? My new dog Forbes started digging holes in my rose garden!

As the founder of the web site (as well as the Southern California dog training company South Bay K-9 Academy for seven years) I’m going to let you peek into my world and learn how a professional dog trainer solves this type of behavior problem.

First, I need to figure out when he is digging. Since I know the dog and his lifestyle, I can rule out several factors such as boredom or puppyhood or gophers, etc… I noticed that every time he would start digging holes he was in the yard playing with a friend’s dog, unsupervised. So, I first need to MAKE SURE that it was ACTUALLY MY DOG that was the perpetrator. A quick look at his feet would suggest that it was.

Next, I needed to figure out if he would dig ANY TIME he was left alone in the yard or if it was only when another dog was present. To figure this out, I simply left the dog in the yard alone with access to the rose garden several times… and came back to find that he had not dug. So… it stands to reason that the only time my dog is digging in the yard is when there is another dog in the yard. (Who knows why? There could be a million unexplained reasons that only the dog knows.

All I need in order to fix the behavior is knowledge of the dog and the circumstances). Now, I know that to fix any behavior problem I need to make the dog experience a NEGATIVE ASSOCIATION with the actual ACT of doing that behavior.

In this case, digging in the garden. And he needs to experience that same negative association EVERY TIME HE DIGS! In this case, I must be 100% diligent to never leave Forbes unsupervised in the yard when there is another dog in the yard. Of course, if he was digging by himself, then I’d need to confine him to a kennel run where he cannot dig when I’m not supervising him. Or if there is another dog visiting then I will need to bring Forbes inside, put him in the kennel run, or use the presence of the other dog as a “set up.”

The next step is to make sure that he associates that negative (correction) just as he starts to dig. There are two ways I can do this: The Lazy Man’s Way and the Old Fashioned Way. Both methods are based on the same principle. The Old Fashioned Way to make sure that the dog gets a motivational negative association when he digs is to:

Step 1.) Leave a pinch collar and tab (one foot leash) on the dog when he’s outside in the yard with another dog.

Step 2.) Bury hardware mesh or chicken wire in the spot where he’s been digging. The chicken wire should be buried two to three inches below the surface. Dogs don’t like scraping their paws against this stuff. So, right off the bat you’ve got an immediate negative association.

Step 3.) Spy on him and just wait until he start to dig.

Step 4.) As soon as he begins to dig, yell “No No No!” as you run outside and give the dog a correction. As long as you continue to say “No no no” as you run to the dog, the dog WILL still associate the correction with the behavior.

Step 5.) Be 100% consistent until you are 100% sure that the dog isn’t digging any more. The Lazy Man’s Way to fix this problem behavior is to use a remote electronic collar (e-collar). Everything else remains the same. When using the e-collar for this behavior, I’d turn the setting up to the high level. Your goal is to create absolute avoidance to this behavior (digging in the garden). And you want him to think that the dirt just jumped up and bit him! Usually if you correct the dog with the electronic collar for this type of behavior, you’ve only got to do it twice before the dog decides that it’s in his best interest to leave your garden alone.

Dog Chewing: My Experience With The Nuts For Knots Dog Chew Toy

Alright, this isn’t an actual “training tip” per se, but it is relevant. I was in California last week and picked up a couple of dog toys while I was there. I generally like the rope toys. They last a long time, they’re relatively cheap, and they are a good way for your dog to relieve stress and anxiety by chewing.

Trust me… there’s nothing I hate more than spending $7 on a dog toy, only to have one of the dogs chew through my $7 in less than 30 seconds. Well, I was impressed when I saw the “Nuts For Knots” dog toy at my local big box pet store. If you’re not familiar with this toy, they look like this:

The price wasn’t too bad, and I figured that this toy would hold up even better than the normal rope toy.

Not so. “Clemenza,” our Team bulldog/boxer-mix mascot had the darn thing unraveled in under 4 minutes.

Oh, well. Live and learn and pass it on.

For the money, I think there are better toys.

Allison adds: “I got one of those rope balls at the Dollar Store, and my dog (who usually destroys toys immediately) LOVES it – AND it has held up. She was making it her mission to “de-fuzz” any tennis balls we used to play with her. She loves to play fetch, but we didn’t want her eating all that tennis ball fuzz, so this was perfect. She’ll fetch for awhile, or play by herself and fling the ball – chase after it, then chew it for awhile. Maybe the dollar store version is more rugged? Who knows – just thought I’d pass it along. -Allison”

Fast Dog Training Technique Transforms Her Dog

She couldn’t believe it. And to be honest, neither could I. “It’s like he’s a different dog,” she said. I mean… I’ve seen people get some fantastic results with my dog training techniques. But this was just ridiculous.

Normally, it takes about an hour for me to explain and demonstrate my techniques and get the dog owner comfortable working with their dog. But this dog and owner responded almost instantly. This was a big Germans Shepherd dog. And with a big, beautiful coat, he was a beaming, confident dog now listening to her every command. But not 20 minutes earlier. When she brought Hank out of the car, he was lunging and pulling on the leash… barking and acting otherwise obnoxious. She didn’t know how to control her own dog. Which is actually fairly common.

See, it’s not that her dog didn’t know how to behave. He did. It’s just that he chose not to. But Hank was a smart dog. And a good dog. He really wanted to please his owner, but his owner didn’t know how to communicate with Hank in a manner that Hank understood.

At times, dog training is almost like learning a foreign language. (But trust me… as a struggling Spanish conversationalist, I can tell you… learning a foreign language is a lot harder!)

The other thing that enabled my client to get incredibly fast results with her dog was by understanding the role that respect plays… in any relationship. But especially in her relationship with her dog.

** Shameless plug: I actually had a great advantage with this client, as she’d already read my book, “Secrets of a Professional Dog Trainer!” (which you can read more about at: ) … but she was waiting to meet with me before trying any of my techniques. Understandable, I guess, when your dog weighs almost twice as much as you do! ** Maybe you’ve had a friend who constantly interrupted your conversation by answering their cell phone? Yet, do you think they would behave in such a rude manner if your name was Robert Deniro? Or famed British actress, Judi Dench? I doubt it. They’d turn their cell phone off and listen to what you were saying with respect and admiration. And that’s exactly what Hank needed to learn. He needed to learn respect and admiration for his owner.

Fortunately in this case, the owner was a quick study. Almost like a fish to water. (I’ll bet you already know it’s never the dogs that take long to train… it’s their owners!)

“It’s like he’s a different dog,” she said as she walked back towards me, with Hank– a full 160 lbs. of muscle and pride– prancing along at her side. “Look,” she said, “One finger… just like in your videos.” She was now walking Hank with just one finger through the loop at the end of the leash. “Okay… it’s probably a little premature to be showing off,” I responded. “I know, I know, ” she replied. “but it’s like he’s a different dog.” And that’s what we strive to do with – we teach dog owners how to get respect and admiration from their dogs. Because in most cases, that’s all our dogs really want from life, anyway. To respect and admire us.

Stop Dog Barking – Dog Barks Continuously While Owner Eats…

Dear Mr. Katz,

I have a two year-old female Boxer named Amber and a six year-old female St. Bernard named Crystal. My question is regarding the Boxer, Amber. Whenever my husband and I sit down to eat dinner, watch TV, or when company comes over, she incessantly barks at us. She doesn’t want to play with her toys and nothing can distract her from this barking. We try to correct her in a deep tone, but she only gets crazier; i.e.. jumping up, biting our clothes. From reading your book, it seems that she needs a motivational correction, such as her training collar. As of now, we do not leave it on her, except for when she is being walked. Should she be wearing the collar when we are home and she’s in the house at all times? Can you please make any suggestions to correct this behavior so when we want to relax or have guests over, it’s pleasant. She gets plenty of exercise and tons of attention. I’m not sure what to do. Thanks in advance!!


Dear Christine:

Remember the section on the pinch collar? And the emphasis I placed on how you will teach your dog to become, “collar-smart” if you only use the pinch collar during walks?

Remember the part about consistency and how the dog MUST receive a negative association with ANY unwanted behavior? And how just saying, “NO!” without attaching an association to the word will NOT produce any results? If not, please go back and re-read… it’s in there! J

“But Adam… the dog has since eaten the book! Please just give it to me, plain and simple!” you say…

Okay… here it is: Your dog must be wearing the pinch collar and the tab ANYTIME you are with her. If you were a canine rather than a human you wouldn’t need the pinch collar as you’d just go over to your dog and give her a nip on the neck.

Let’s recap: When she barks you need to tell her, “No!” and then give a firm tug on the leash. If she continues to bark, then either:

  • Your correction didn’t have any meaning to her…


  • She’s testing to see if you’re going to correct her for barking THIS TIME just like you did LAST TIME. If your correction is motivational then you’ll only need to do this two or three times before the problem stops forever.

Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Crate Training – Teach Your Dog To Get In His Crate On Command

This is a really great trick to teach your dog. First, your dog should view his crate as a “safe place.” A place to go when he’s tired, to take a nap or to just be left alone. Here is the fastest and easiest way to teach your dog to get in his crate, on command. It’s especially useful for if you have unexpected company and don’t want your dog to ‘get in the way.

Start by palming a cookie in your right hand. Put the training collar and leash on your dog. Walk him up to the crate and make him sit. Now, say, “Get in the crate!” Toss the cookie in the crate, and then pull forward on the leash, in the direction of the open crate. As he moves into the crate, he’ll automatically release the tension on the leash. Close the door to the crate, and tell him, “Good dog!” as he munches on the cookie. Next, open the crate door and tell him, “Free!” When he comes out, praise him lavishly. Repeat this exercise, four times. After the fourth time, open the crate door, take the leash and training collar off, give him another cookie and close the crate door.

In 20 minutes, you can return and repeat this exercise. After you’ve done this a few times and see your dog start to ANTICIPATE the command, the next thing to do is only give him the cookie once every third time. At this point, he’ll likely begin running into the crate before you even tell him to. You’ll need to tell him, “No!” and pull him out of the crate. No praise. Remember–he can go on the crate on his own when you’re not standing next to him, but as this is a formal exercise, we want him to wait for the command. This sounds confusing, and it is for the human mind. But it’s one of those things that your dog will understand naturally. Trust me–I know this from experience.

After you’ve brought him out of the crate, he’ll start looking at you for the “Get in the crate” command. Give him the command. Reward him this time with the cookie. You’ll start to see that he’ll begin looking to you… waiting for that magic command that allows him to dive into the crate and get your praise. (Note: If your dog is more motivated by a toy or something else (No, not the cat!!!) you can use whatever you want. The idea is to use a motivator. The reason you want to pull forward on the leash instead of just throwing the food/ball/motivator into the crate is so that your dog learns that you are actually making him do it. This is the difference between using food as a motivator vs. using food as a bribe. If the food isn’t there, you’re going to make him do it anyway.

Come On Command: Some Advanced Theories On Teaching Your Dog To Come When Called

[Adam’s note: Remember, the difference between using food as a bribe versus using food as a motivator: As a bribe, you’re bribing the dog to do the behavior, and if he does… then he’ll get a cookie. Bad, bad, bad. Instead, use the food as a motivator by MAKING THE DOG do the exercise, and then after the exercise is complete, you can reward with praise and a cookie… if this is what motivates your dog.]

Wscott52 on our discussion forum made this excellent post: “I think for most people, the long line is basic recall training. This was my method with personal pets long before I read Adam’s book.

This method is based on my understanding of operant conditioning learned while earning a BA in Psychology. Start with the dog on the leash in an open area with minimal distractions. Call the dog and pull him toward you with the leash. When he reaches you praise him and reward him with a treat. The reward and praise have to follow the completion of the desired behavior immediately.

Soon the dog will turn to you at the recall without being prompted by the leash. When he is turning on his own wait for a moment after calling him to give him time to obey. If he comes give him praise and reward, if he stops after turning issue the recall again and gently pull him in with the leash When he is coming 100% reliably you need to start weaning him off the food reward.

A 100% reinforcement schedule is the fastest way to condition a new behavior. A behavior learned this was will also be the fastest to extinguish if you go from 100% reward directly to 0%. The key is to gradually wean him off the treats. Go to 50% reward for behavior and then after several sessions go to 1/3, then 1/4, 1/5. At some point where you are rewarding for only one in five or six trials you should go to a decreasing random reinforcement schedule. In other words reward after five trials but the next time wait for maybe eight then five or four again. Eventually you can wean him to 0% food reinforcement. You want to keep verbal praise going throughout.

The conditioning resulting from a gradual random decrease in the food reward will be the most persistent you can achieve. Eventually it will extinguish but if you occasionally give him a treat when calling him he should come reliably indefinitely. Also at some point during this process if he is coming 100% reliably you will start letting him drag the leash and only pick it up if he fails to recall. At this point too if you want to you can introduce him to an ecollar and do away with the long line.”

Using A Clicker vs Adopting The Flawed Clicker Training Methodology

There are two points you must recognize:

1.) You CAN train a dog using a traditional approach AND use the clicker. It depends on your style, but yes… I’ve had very good results using the clicker as an event marker, and for getting the dog to understand a new behavior… especially a more complex behavior. However, THIS IS ONLY USED DURING THE FIRST PHASE OF TRAINING … the “learning phase.” Once you move into the reinforcement and proofing phase, the clicker loses it’s benefits.

2.) The idea that “some methods work better for some dogs,” is a falsehood. It stems from people who are not completely competent in working with dogs. Here’s where the misperception comes in: TRUTH: Some dogs are very soft. These dogs you will emphasize more praise and build them up. Use of corrections are minimal, and depending upon the dog’s temperament, may just be just a verbal correction to be motivational.

MYTH: These dogs never need to be told when they do something wrong, therefore a “different method” (i.e. clicker training) should be used. This is complete bunk. Recognize that using a clicker as an event marker is not the “clicker training approach.” The clicker training approach requires that you keep your dog confined at all times that you are not following him around this house with a clicker to reward the right behavior. This is why it works so well with dolphins: Because they’re confined in a small pool when they’re not being trained. In any event… I’m off on a tangent. Using the clicker as ONE tool in your arsenal is fine. But using it to the exclusion of all the other tools at your disposal and you’re being blind.

Schutzhund Competitor and Professional Dog Trainer Chris Amick Sends Us A Letter

I recently downloaded and read your “Secrets” book and have to tell you how refreshing it is to find someone else with common sense! I’ve been involved in “dog sports” since the late 70’s and have trained and titled in both AKC obedience and Schutzhund.

I’ve taught classes with a few groups and given private lessons as a ‘sideline’. I’ve always trained under the principle that all dogs are different and that what works well with one will not necessarily be so good with another.

Like you, I am NOT “politically correct” and have not jumped on the “clicker” bandwagon and the “positive reinforcement only and the ban the “pinch collar” school of so-called “trainers”. My position cost me

acceptance into the NADOI (I got over it), [Editor’s note: I don’t know what NADOI is, either… probably some pseudo-professional association] BUT two different judges made the remark that mine was one of the “happiest” Rottweilers doing obedience work that they had seen and several of my “students” have earned various titles, so something must be working!

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that I thoroughly enjoyed your book and tapes. One of my long time “dreams” has been to do “dog work” as a full time job – I’m 45 & getting short on time I know! I will be ordering your Dog Training Business Kit in a few weeks and look forward to forward to a working relationship with you in the future. Keep up the good work.

I hope you and your loved ones have a great holiday season.

For the Sport!
– Chris Amick