Training is a two-way street:
Buddy is just as involved in training you as you are
in trying to train him. The trouble is that Buddy is
already a genius at training you, a skill with which
he was born. Put another way, a dog comes into the world
knowing what is to his advantage and what isnt, and
hell do whatever he can to get what he wants. You, on
the other hand, have to discover the skills of training
him, just as we had to.
One of these skills is figuring out how to recognize
when youre inadvertently rewarding behaviors you may
not want to reinforce. Begging at the dinner table is
a good example. When Buddy begs at the table and you
slip him some food, he is training you to feed him from
the table. You need to ask yourself, Is this a behavior
I want to encourage? If the answer is no, then stop
doing it, no matter what.
Most dogs eventually ignore commands that dont lead
to tangible consequences. When he responds to a command,
reward him by praising him. If he chooses not to respond
to a command he has been taught, correct him.
Now look at another situation: Buddy has taken himself
for an unauthorized walk through the neighborhood. Youre
late for an appointment but dont want to leave with
Buddy out on the streets. You frantically call and call.
Finally, Buddy makes an appearance, happily sauntering
up to you. You, on the other hand, are fit to be tied,
and you let him know your displeasure in no uncertain
terms by giving him a thorough scolding. You now need
to ask yourself, Is this the kind of greeting that will
make Buddy want to come to me? If the answer is no,
then stop doing it, no matter what.
Here are two examples of how your dog is training you:
1. Buddy drops his ball in your
lap while youre watching television and you throw it
2. Buddy nudges or paws your elbow when youre sitting
on the couch and you pet him.
Buddy has trained you well. Is there anything wrong
with that? Not at all, provided you can tell him to
go lie down when you dont feel like throwing the ball
or petting him.
Knowing Your Attitude
One of the most important aspects
of training is your attitude toward your dog. During
training, you want to maintain a friendly and positive
attitude. For many people, maintaining this attitude
can be enormously difficult because frequently they
dont start to think about training until Buddy has become
an uncontrollable nuisance. Hes no longer cute and cuddly,
he has become incredibly rambunctious, everything he
does is wrong, and he certainly doesnt listen.
Don't train your dog when you're irritable or tired. You
want training to be a positive experience for your dog.
If you ever get frustrated during training, stop and
come back to it at another time. When youre frustrated,
your communications consist of no, bad dog, how could
you do this, and get out and stay out. Youre unhappy
and Buddy is unhappy because youre unhappy.
A better approach is to train him with firm kindness
so both of you can be happy. An unfriendly or hostile
approach doesnt gain you your dogs cooperation and will
needlessly prolong the training process. When you become
frustrated or angry, the dog becomes anxious and nervous,
and is unable to learn. When you feel that youre becoming
a little irritable, stop training and come back to it
in a better frame of mind. You want training to be a
positive experience for Buddy (and you).
Welcome! Here are the weekly handouts and my
advice for many of the exercises in Super Puppy class. You and
your dog will get out of it what you put into it. Practice what
you've learned every day but keep it fun. Turn training into
a game. Ask your dog for something (such as a sit or down) before
giving something that he or she wants, such as a game of tug,
dinner, a ride in the car, a chance to go outside, some time
on the sofa with you, etc. Think of more things your dog likes
and values and use them as rewards.
I am very happy to have you in class!
Here are some training tips:
Remember to keep training fun for you and
your dog and stop before your dog wants to. Keep your dog
happy and confident.
Catch and reward your dog being successful
and stay positive. Ignore the times your dog is unsuccessful.
Rewarding positive behavior will build trust
and improve your relationship. Punishment
erodes the relationship and in some cases may cause aggression.
Make a list of what your dog values most
(types of food rewards, play, petting, ride in the car,
etc.) so you know how to reward.
Begin training at home in an environment
that is not distracting. As your dog learns the exercise,
slowly increase the level of distractions.
Break training into small steps.
Plan ahead. Have your tools ready before
you begin (such as clicker and treats).
Reinforce highly to maintain a positive
Multiple short sessions are better than
one long session (boring and tiring!). There are moments
of training opportunities all during the day.
Play and training should be indistinguishable
to your dog. They both should be fun!
Don't be afraid to act silly sometimes.
Your dog will enjoy your playful attitude.
Be sure your dog gets lots of exercise and
environmental enrichment. A tired dog is a happy dog!
The handouts will help you remember what we did in class and
help you to practice at home. Keep playing games that increase
focus and attentions such as the Name Game, Find It and Watch.
Also be sure to reward your dog when he or she offers you attention
without you having to ask. When you ask your dog for a stay,
be sure to use the release word you have chosen; it's not ok
if your dog makes the decision when to get up. Maintain your
How awesome your dog behaves and responds is totally up to you.
The amount of motivation, ambition, and standards you have will
reflect in your dog's level of training and attention to you.
We will continue to learn a lot over the course of the class.
You will be amazed how much your dog can learn.
Please keep me informed if you have any questions or I am not
covering the things you are most interested in. I am here to
serve you. If you need to reach me before class, please call
561-427-6700. Please let me know by phone or email when you
this is not your puppy's first class, by
now you should not be using a treat to lure
into a position. If you still are, please
phase it out quickly. Work on moving into
all six positions (sit from down and stand;
down from sit and stand; stand from sit
and down) without your lure.
Keep track of your pet's progress so you will
know if you are going too fast or if you can
add in more challenges. If your dog does an
exercise correctly 5 out of 5 times you can
make it slightly more difficult. If he or
she is right 3 or 4 out of 5 times, keep doing
what you're doing until it's close to perfect.
If your dog is only correct one or two out
of five times, you need to make the exercise
easier. Always strive to keep your dog successful
so training stays fun and motivating.
Here are exercises to work on:
your dog back with a hand on his chest, collar
or harness; then release him to some treats
that are several feet away. When the treats
are consumed, call your dog back to you and
reward that. This should be high energy and
fun. You can also release to a toy and play
a game of tug (be sure you get to the toy quickly
so that your dog does not play keep away).
When your dog gets good at this, ask for a
behavior that is on a verbal cue such as sit,
down, paw, etc., before you release him to
the treats. This game can be a powerful motivator
and it's great to teach your puppy to listen
even under times of high arousal.
Tips if things don't go as planned:
1. They don’t perform the behavior correctly
and try to get the food or toy regardless,
jump ahead and beat them to it (make it a bit
of a competition!)
2. They don’t perform the
behavior and look a little like they are stuck
on the spot, like the lights are on but nobody
is home. This is because they are too aroused
(excited) to be able to function at that level.
Calmly stroke them on the side, get them moving a
little to stop the stickiness and try again now that their
arousal levels are a little lower.
3. They don’t perform the behavior correctly and
manage to beat you to the toy. What do you think you
should do? Laugh about it - it’s no big deal and you
know for next time to change things up.
Play this with all kinds of rewards, all kinds of cues
and higher and higher excitement levels to help teach
the concept of listening no matter how exciting the
Advanced Attention game: Show dog treat in hand, stretch arm
out to side. Do it with offered attention: wait until dog looks
at handler; to begin with click as soon as you get an eye flick
to your face. As he gets the idea of this exercise you can make
it harder by clicking with longer attention to you.