I was having dinner last week with Jeff and Michelle–two of my first dog training clients, when I branched out on my own and started South Bay K-9 Academy in Southern California, back in 1994. [I’m now actively retired from working with the general public& I love working with dogs, but the dog owners (Jeff and Michelle not withstanding) drove me absolutely nuts!] Anyway, Jeff and Michelle still have their Dalmatian, “Dotty,” who’s now close to 11 years-old.
I’ve always thought it was funny that the one thing people seem to remember from my 324 page dog training book, “Secrets of a Professional Dog Trainer!” is that I recommend spitting in your dog’s food. As if this were the magic key to getting a well behaved dog. Regardless, it seems to be the one thing that almost everybody remembers–from literally hundreds of dog training tips I present in the book, on our web site Dogproblems.com, and in our discussion forum.
Why do I recommend spitting in your dog’s food? Because you’re marking the dog food with your scent. And because the Alpha dog in the pack always eats first. This is a subtle way to communicate to your dog that you are the pack leader. But this alone won’t do it. You need to be acting like a pack leader in every other aspect of your dog’s life, too. Such as being the first to walk through a door. Or telling your dog where to lay down, and when he’s allowed to eat.
And making sure you follow through and enforce any and every command that you give. I take a lot of guff from people–especially other dog trainers–who misinterpret my advice and think that spitting in your dog’s food is the only thing you need to do tol make you the Alpha dog. It’s not. Well, not any more than the 100 other subtle things you must do to communicate that you are the pack leader. I always stress to new dog owners that the more things you’re doing to reinforce that you are the pack leader for your dog, will make your dog view you as the pack leader, faster. Spitting in your dog’s food is just one more thing to do that helps.
So anyway, back to my dinner with Jeff and Michelle: When I asked how Dotty was doing, Jeff responded that Dotty was absolutely fantastic. The best dog they’d ever had, due in no small part to their diligence and consistency in applying the dog training techniques I showed them. But then Jeff said something very interesting: “I’m still spitting in her food. In fact, she won’t even touch the food until after I spit in it.” (Remember: The Alpha dog always eats first!). So there you go: Further proof that some of my more outlandish dog training techniques really work! Even if you may feel silly doing it. P.S. Jeff and Michelle are able to take Dotty anywhere–off leash–and know that she’ll respond to commands, immediately. They even take her camping quite frequently&, which Dotty absolutely loves!