“I’ve Spent The Past 25 Years Collecting The Best Dog Training Strategies From The World’s Greatest Dog Trainers… And I Want To Share What I’ve Learned, With You.” — Best selling author Adam G. Katz
Pip Writes to me:
We live on an acre of property in the country. On three sides of us are open fields and orchard and in front we have a very busy country avenue. Our place in not fenced except for a back yard area where we keep our dogs. We have a seven month old German Shepard, Mollie, and I have been using your book to train her on the long leash. Our “problem” is that I don’t think we’ll ever feel safe having her off leash on this property. She’s pretty good with her “come” command but letting her off the leash is so scary to me. Many people in our area let their dogs run free so I have that fear that she’ll see another dog or rabbit and take off across the road. Cars regularly travel 60-80 miles an hour on this road.
We are discussing the idea of fencing our entire property which would be a great expense but I can’t see a way out of this delemma.
I have one other question: We take our dogs for a walk on easement roads behind our property. Our older shepard is sometimes on leash but often is free. We have purchased a halter for Mollie. On walks when she has the halter, we let her explore on the long leash. Usually either before, during, or after that long walk, I’ll put the pinch collar on and take her for another walk. I use both the long and short leash. She heels during this time. We also practice “come” (on the long leash) sit, stay, etc. Do you think it’s OK for her to use the halter and have “free walk” time with us?
Hi Pip. I’m glad to read that you’ve been having some success with Mollie, and I do sympathize with you on the unfenced property–our yard is very poorly suited to a fence due to how the house and driveway are situated, and as such, we have never fenced it in. I would like to know if you’ve tried yet to boundary-train her to visual boundaries on your property? You can teach her to stay out of the street, and if there is something, even a line of trees, that differentiates your property from your neighbor’s, that’s something you can use to teach her, as some character said in a famous movie, YOU SHALL NOT PASS.
Something to remember, though, is that we recommend that the dog not be let out in an unfenced yard without supervision, even if she has been boundary-trained. There’s just too much risk that, like you said, something could run by and she’d find it more motivating than the consequences you’ve been giving her for stepping into the “hot” zone (or, Not Your Property).
It may seem hard to trust her now, and there is a point where, as you move through obedience and you see that she is really picking up concepts (not only commands, but also respect and trust for you), you might start to trust her a little more. You might find this a good read, as I actually did have off-leash situations in mind when I wrote it: there’s a big step the owner has to take, mentally, in order to trust that the dog will make the right choice, and in return, earn more freedom.
The very first day we had our current dog home, we learned that she was a squirrel-chaser, bolted out the door, and found anything but us to be the Most Interesting Thing in her world. It took time, long lines, tabs, and lots of corrections and praise…but now she is completely trustworthy (granted, we are in suburbia at the end of a cul-de-sac, so I WOULD be more careful around roads in your area) in the yard off-leash. She doesn’t chase wildlife, or if she does, she stops when I call her, she respects the boundaries of the yard, and anytime she’s out, we’re out. I admit it to being a horrible drag some days–believe me, I’d LOVE to just turn her out on frightfully cold mornings to do her business–and unfortunately, some shelters/breeders do require fenced-in yards in order to give you a one of their dogs, so I do see the bright side of the concept!
As for your question regarding “free” walks, I have no problem with it…I do it myself! The one thing is that, although she can stop and explore, move ahead and behind you, she MUST keep up with you, which means that you MUST keep moving. It’s not a matter of “Give an inch and she’ll take a mile” (unless she is that kind of dog), but the deal is that you’re still leading the walk, even though she’s not right next to you. The one thing I recommend you might change, though, is to not switch between the halter (do you mean body harness with this, or actual headcollar, like the horse?) and the training collar. This can make her “collar-smart,” and teach her that she needs to be good and listen to you when her training collar is on, but when it’s off or she’s wearing her halter, she can do whatever she wants. It’s OK to let her have some free time on the long line and pinch collar. Anytime you are interacting with her, she needs to be wearing it, and even free walks count.
Hope this is some help to you!
Martiwise writes to me about her dog’s aggressive behavior:
We “adopted” an 8 year old minature poodle at Thanksgiving….. from a home in which he was neglected (therefore abused to me). The house contained 30 dogs and 1,000 rats when it was highlighted on TV new program. He was the oldest dog and the stud dog, father to a lot of the other dogs in the house. He wsas never outside…. never groomed…. food was “dropped off” at the house…
He was the last to be removed from the house…. had to be shaved, he was so matted (couldn’t even lie down) He was neutered and our hearts go out to him for the life he had to endure. We’d like to give him a good home for his remaining years.
We feel he has a lot of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome in that he had to fend for himself with 20+ other dogs… fight off rats for food….heard noises (rats) all night long. We’ve house broken him, he comes and sits, waits calmly to be fed…
We have 2 standard poodles, both males, and he has “tussled” with the Alpha on several occasions, and the Beta nips at his neck. My concern is for the dog aggression he displays when we settle down to watch TV in the evening.
He growls very little during the day… it’s night when the ugly disposition manifests itself. He can be sitting with us, as calm as can be….and if either/both of the other 2 dogs comes into the room…or is in the room and just moves….he begins to growl…ferociously….at both the dog(s) and can include either me or my husband….moreso my husband than me….and has tried to bite him on several occasions when in this state….
I’ve been pushing him off the couch and saying “NO!” sharply….and it helps, but it has not stopped the reaction…..is there anything else someone can suggest?
What a horrible life! You’re an angel for rescuing him.
The dog should not be on the couch. He needs to get a correction for the aggression, and that correction needs to come from somebody he sees as above him in the “pack”.
I recommend you start him on a “Nothing In Life Is Free” program. The structure and predictability will work wonders for providing stability and structure in his life.
Second, you need to start giving him leash corrections in the manner I describe in my dog training book. Please read it, from cover-to-cover, and if you still have questions, we’re here to help.
Well, all I can say is…..the book works!
First, I established myself as the “pack leader”…and my male (standard poodle) Alpha “set the rules” for Baby (that’s the name he cam with and we’ve kept it).
I started the “walk on a leash…and he managed it in 2 days of training. Mastered the SIT command….doesn’t “stay” well yet, but wil continue to work on it. Waits. Is housebroken. Was “disciplined” EVERY time he GROWLED at the other 2 dogs when on the couch…was put onto the floor IMMEDIATELY!…and had to deal with the other 2 dogs from that level. And now does not get agitated into the growl stage every time one of the other 2 comes into the area where he is.
I also did the “THINK what he’s thinking; be in his head” …I “listened” to his “communication” with me….body languange, bark, everything! and when I started to realize that I needed to treat him like a puppy instead of an 8 year old dog….it all came together!!! This dog NEVER stepped foot on cement, or grass, or had a toy….or was loved….not the way I “love” a dog! He was the eldest dog of 30, trapped in a “house” that was filthy and rat infested…and had to be destroyed after the 30 dog were removed….and he was the last to be taken out….he and his 8 week old pup/son….who were left in a cage for 2 weeks before their removal…night frightened him, because no one lived in the house….just the dogs and the rats…..food was put out….and the dogs had to fend for themselves…against the rats! put myself “in his place”….it was really easy to do what was needed….think like he did….discipline him….teach him….lead him….and love him!
He’s become my “buddy”….follows me everywhere…..listens to my voice/commands….responds to praises and discipline….and it’s all right there in your book! I didn’t have it with my other dogs, but raising them from puppies was a lot different than adopting an 8 year old!…and he’s finding his place in the pack in our house! Still has a way to go, but NOTHING like it was the week of Thanksgiving…all this progress in 3 months!!!
I’ve told others about you website and book…
don’t know if anyone will take my advice….but if they don’t, it’s their loss….
Thank you for sharing your knowledge! What a difference you made in helping me realize “I CAN DO THIS!”
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.
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!
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!
dana.hanson writes to me:
I have a 3 year old rescue lab who I would consider very ball motivated. Because he has some dog aggression issues (which we’re working on, but that’s a whole other episode), for exercise I take him to the park to play fetch, rather than go on long walks because we live in a very dog-heavy area. Loose leash training is really helping with the aggression, but I want to mix his exercise up too. We go to an “island” of grass at the edge of the park where we can be in our own area and other dogs do not pass very nearby. So for the most part, it’s just us with none other than natural outdoor distractions. When we first got Jake, he would play fetch non-stop for over an hour — I think he would have played all day if we let him. However, lately he has begun to lose interest in the ball after 5 fetches or so. He will either not chase the ball at all and start wandering around sniffing, or he will chase the ball, drop it 10 yards away and start wandering around. Either way, the ball ends up 10 yards away. Since I have begun your training techniques with him, I intersperse fetch with 5 or so minutes of sit-stay or down-stay exercises, with the ball as a distraction and then the reward after 5 or so reps. This sparks his interest again, but it is short lived, and the ball ends up 10 yards away again. If a dog DOES happen to pass by (no closer than 20 yards), I have been putting him in a down-stay and correcting as soon as he perks up or lunges. When the dog is out of sight and Jake is calm again, I give the release command and throw the ball. Again, interest sparked, but short-lived and ball is 10 yards away. (This technique seems to be correcting the aggression though.)
So I find myself in a quandry. I don’t want to go get the ball for Jake and try to get him to fetch because (a) I want him to know that fetch is MY idea and this is what we’re doing right now, rather than my fetching the ball on his terms, and (b) I want him to get the exercise! At the same time, I cannot get his attention redirected to “get your ball” and bring it back to me after he has disengaged, so he gets no exercise unless I go get the ball and resume fetch (which doesn’t usually doesn’t work anyway). I’ve tried putting the ball away and ignoring him for a bit, but this doesn’t work either. And again, fetch needs to be MY idea and My game on MY time, not his.
SO, to make a very short question extremely long, how to I get him to go get his ball and bring it back to me after he has disengaged from the game? In short, how do I get him to play the game MY way and not his.
As background info, our set up during fetch is this: Jake wears a harness connected to a 50 foot rope, which is attached to a tree. This is insurance against his taking off after a dog. I stand near the rope and can grab the rope if my voice commands do not stop him in his tracks. (I’m no dummy — we’re not 100% on recall and I won’t risk it.) I do not want this rope to be attached to a collar, pinch or otherwise, because Jake often kicks the ball further than the 30 feet I throw it. If he kicks it too far, I don’t want the rope yanking his neck when he goes after it and hits the end of the rope. Along with the harness, he wears his pinch collar with a tab on it. This allows for any corrections necessary during training or dog encounters.
If you have any advice or can direct me to other posts, I would really appreciate it. Sorry for the long question, and thank you!
… LATER THAT EVENING…
I just wanted to add that I have read the entire Secrets book as well as the “Becoming the Alpha Dog,” “Loose Leash Training,” and “Fixing Aggression Problems.” I just started using your techniques yesterday, and Jake is an entirely different dog. Today at the park I had him running right next to me — I was darting all over the place and he was right there the whole time! Even more amazing is that all kinds of dogs walked by our “island” and he didn’t even break stride!! 2 days ago, he would have started yelping and whining, reared up on his hind legs, and tried to take off after the dogs. THEN, after this leash session, I brought him to about 15 feet from the road where dogs were passing by, did a down-stay, and… NOTHING!! He just sat there!! I had to give him ONE correction when he started whining, but that was it. I can’t believe it. So THANKS!!
Still having the same issue with Jake leaving the ball 10 yards away though. Any help would be great.
Thanks for the kind words. Can you please post a picture of your dog?
As for the ball issue: If I’m understanding correctly, it sounds like you’re using the ball as a distraction (to tempt him)? I believe this may be killing his ball drive, and/or confusing him.
What I recommend is to never correct the dog (at this point) for chasing after the ball. Get creative and use other things as a distraction.
In addition, use the ball-on-a-string or the other “drive building” exercises I describe in the book, to increase his ball drive.
Remember: Drive works on a curve. Take the ball away BEFORE he loses interest, and tease him with it… then put it away. Even if he loses interest after four or five throws, then you should be putting it away after two throws– but not before you tease him with it and get him excited about it.
Then, the next time you bring it out, he’ll be just a little more excited for it, and a little more, and a little more… each day. Frustration builds drive.
Thanks for the advice! I’ll work on it. Here’s a favorite picture of Jake. I would gush about how beautiful he is, but I’m sure you hear/see that all day! 🙂
Miadog writes to me:
I can’t believe I have been using the prong collar with the prongs under my dogs neck, not behind her head!. I have been using it the wrong way for 8 mos. The associate at Petco never even asked if I knew how to use it. I just assumed the prongs went in front. I watched the video on how to walk your dog on a leash and finally saw the right use of the collar. I feel awful. Could I have caused any permanent damage to my dog’s trachea?
If you find yourself with more questions regarding training technique or proper use of the collar, feel free to ask. That’s what we’re here for!
Thanks. She is a labradoodle.
No, you haven’t caused any damage. That’s actually one of the benefits of the prong collar: It doesn’t put pressure on the dog’s trachea. Supposedly, the slip/chain/choke collar can… but even with that collar, I’ve never seen evidence of it doing damage or injury to a dog, if used properly.
Also: Please note that– as long as you fit the collar the way I show in the video, it doesn’t matter if the prongs are underneath the neck or on top. You can spin it around, depending on what exercise you’re working on… so that it’s easier for you to give the correction.
Example: If I’m teaching the sit/sit-stay, I’ll move it around so that the ring I attach the leash to is at the back of the dogs neck (and the prongs will be underneath– the side where the chest and chin are). This is because the tug on the leash for the sit command is straight up.
It’s the opposite if I’m working on the down, as the correction is in a downward and forward direction.
If you haven’t yet, please read through the Secrets book, as it will be an excellent supplement to the videos.
Thanks Adam. I got the impression the collar was only used one direction after seeing your video. I am glad to hear what you said. I worked my dog for about 3, 20 min periods today, and she is pulling less on the leash. I can’t wait to get a 30 ft leash and try the off leash exercises.
Great info! But wouldn’t it be cumbersome to constantly turn the pinch collar every time you want to enforce a command, or is that only for the first steps of training? Can a tab face downward or to the side and you can ‘pop’ it upwards or downwards for a ‘down’ or ‘sit’?
Yes, it’s only an issue if, for example: I’m working on the down. I’ll turn it around, so that it’s easier for me, but it will slide around on it’s own– eventually, even if I didn’t.
oliver031009 writes to me:
I’m about to adopt a beautiful American Cocker Spaniel. The owner says she
always urinates when she gets excited around her, as well as meeting new
people. The dog is not a puppy,(2 years old)
Anything I can do to reverse this. I’ve met the dog and It does do this.
This is usually a behavior that a young dog will grow out of. But at this age, it’s hard to say whether she will or not. (More than likely, she will). The trick is to teach the dog a lot of obedience exercises, and get out and socialize, socialize, socialize: For example, have her sit immediately upon greeting people, and hold a strong sit-stay. You can work her around people to get her used to people (have them ignore her) and the obedience exercises will build up her confidence– which frequently will fix the submissive urination issue. Have strangers approach her in a sit-stay and then give her a cookie– without a lot of drama.
Just know that there’s no 100% guarantee that this will stop, completely. If you do adopt this dog, you need to be mentally prepared in case it never completely goes away. (Not so much for you, but when she meets other people). In most cases, it goes away once you start with the obedience exercises, the way I suggest in the book.
Keep me posted.
Vellsworth writes to me about dog biting and aggression:
There is no consistent ‘mitigating pattern’ to his dog aggression – first time he jumped up and drew a drop of blood from a man’s inner thigh, a man with a leg prosthesis (other dogs also went for this ‘wounded animal’ – Skippy was immediately leashed and made to walk around the park with the man for about 20 minutes – never another problem). 2 other times, men were walking away from him (trying to get their attention seems a bit out of the question as Skippy was busy playing with dogs) he just jumped up and snapped – but he did bruise one man – the other, nothing. Again, I caught up to him – no – he came on command and I gave him a time out – once we left the park and another time I knew the guy and we stayed – I distracted Skippy with one of his playmates and kept close watch on him. Since he is extremely bonded with me, I’d like to say he is just being overly protective – HA! He is nowhere near me when this happens – which is why I have (finally) gotten my e-collar.I also bought a mesh muzzle today – which I promised in order to go back to the park.
re: e-collar. is he supposed to think that the shock is coming from me or the man? I assume I watch closely for him going Toward a man – command him ‘no!’ then shock if he doesn’t obey. Correct?
BTW – he used to nip at dogs’ heels and we thought he had some sheep herder in him – one day with the shock collar eliminated that. Hope the same with men.
RE: The stim from the collar: He needs to know this is coming from you. You use it the same way you would use the leash and collar: By saying, “No!” and then giving the correction. The e-collar just allows you to more accurately match the motivation level of the correction with your dog’s temperament and the situation.
I think using the muzzle is smart. It sounds like you’re on the right track. Regardless of why he’s nipping (peg leg, a guy with a hat, herding instinct) you’ll correct it, just the same.
As a side note: At this stage in his rehabilitation (I hate that word!) … you shouldn’t let him get more than 10 feet away from you, because we want him to know 100% that the correction is coming from you.
I’m assuming you’ve read the book already and understand the “three keys”?
Cokersmoses writes to me about puppy training to teach your puppy to stop biting the leash:
On a past post you gave the following puppy training advice with a older puppy biting their leash:
The easiest way is to use a leather leash, and then just pull the leash fast, across (and out of) his tongue, as he tries to bite it. It will give him a slight burning sensation. He won’t like it, and when he realizes this happens every time he tries to bite the leash, he’ll stop. You should also just say, “No!” when you do this
My question is does this advice go for a 9 wk old Rott puppy since he still has his baby teeth? I’ve been afraid to yank the leash out of his mouth b/c i’m afraid of breaking his baby teeth. I also need to get a leather leash b/c I only have the nylon kind.
No, for 9 weeks, you can just say, “No!” with a low, firm voice and then cup your hand around the top of his muzzle and open his mouth and take the leash out… and then stuff something else in his mouth (a toy) or distract him with a “chewey”.
If you have trouble getting the leash out of his mouth, you can gently bend his lips around his teeth and he’ll open his mouth so you can take it out.
Keep me posted. There’s nothing in the world more adorable than a Rottweiler puppy. Someday in the next couple of years, we’ll likely get another one.
Thank you so much for getting back to me, Adam. I am in the middle of reading your book and on the posts. There is so much good info. However, do you have some page numbers for me to get fast info on what to do with my Rott puppy? I mainly need info on walking him and stopping him eating grass and anything else he will instantly pickup while out on our walks (and in his potty area in the yard). Also, biting is a bad habit i’m trying to deal with. It is hard to tell what advice you are giving for what age in your book. I know that you have said you can start to train after adult teeth comes in. Does that mean any advice in the book is for above the age of 5 months? I brought my boy home and I want so much to have him be everything he can be that I started out expecting too much and getting very frustrated (both of us). Sorry this is getting long…I’m planning on finishing your book but just need something to get me through this next couple months. What do I need to be doing (besides potty training,which is going pretty well) when it comes to my beautiful puppy? Thanks again for your help and your book.
You’ve got the “Baby Einstein” syndrome. You’re expecting too much, too soon. Just like you wouldn’t put a 5 year-old in college, you can’t push a puppy through the process, too quickly. The pup isn’t mature enough.
What you want to focus on right now (before the adult teeth start to come in) is just:
– Crate training
– Using food to create associations with words (sit/down/come) — but ONLY AS A GAME, right now.
– Socialization to as many different sights, sounds and experiences. (No other dogs). Your vet will tell you to keep the dog indoors until you have the full series of shots. In my experience, it’s best to expose to as much as you can, but keeping the dog away from high traffic areas where other dogs are.
– Mild leash corrections for biting, if distraction or a scruff on the back of the neck is ineffective.
That’s all! No leash walking. No obedience exercises where the pup gets corrected for breaking a sit-stay, etc…
Make everything a game. Make everything fun. If you kick the side of a metal trash can and he recoils, then produce a toy and play with him IN AND ON TOP OF the metal trash can. Walk over a grate and it makes noise? YIPPIE! It’s play time!!!
Check out the “Puppy Primer” in our download library in addition to reading the rest of the Secrets book.
Keep me posted.
Andersenm writes to me:
Hi Adam – Just joined and started on the book – I adopted from a rescue orginization a Border collie/Golden retriever mix of 15 months of age. he definitly needs work but has learned some commands while indoors – problem is his prey obsession, I have had to cover some windows and door windows because he has become totally obsessed with the squirrels outside. Since this is entering week four of our relationship I still use a leash on him in my 1.5 acre fenced yard. I realize I cannot rid him of this as it is natural but do have to temper it some. Anything that would help while I digest your book cover to cover would help. I did raise and train a border collie that we had for 15 years before he passed and do not remember having this much trouble with him.
Most likely, with this breed mix, he’s got a pretty soft temperament– which is a good thing– so it shouldn’t be too hard to correct this.
First: Make sure his exercise requirements are met. (This means: A lot of cardio).
Second: You’re correct in keeping the leash (or a long line, outside) on him… until he’s 100%. I would start with correcting the behavior in the house, using the tab (as described in the book). This is mostly an issue of making your corrections motivational, and then keeping him in the dog crate (in the house) or kennel (outside) when you’re not home. This allows us to make sure the dog is getting corrected CONSISTENTLY until he drops the behavior.
You’re actually quite lucky, because you can channel that prey drive into a ball or a toy, and use it as a motivator to get him to respond to commands extra-fast and with a positive attitude.
Read through the book. I think it’ll make a lot of things clear for you. If you still have questions, please post again and I’ll try to extrapolate on any issue that might not be clear.