Blog – Success Dogs

How To Train Your Dog To Shake

This tutorial is part of The Ultimate List Of Dog Trick Ideas which contains 99 other tricks like this!

Shaking hands is one of the more traditional dog tricks and remarkably easy to teach. Your dog will learn to offer a front paw in response to request and solemnly shake hands with first you and then visitors to the home. Shake is an old but impressive trick to teach any dog.

  1. Have a treat handy and sit either on the floor or a chair in front of your dog
  2. Show him the treat, this will encourage him to try and get the reward from you.
  3. Dependent on his particular nature and tenacity your dog may naturally attempt to lift a paw and poke you for the treat – this is perfect, if it happens then reward this by saying the word shake and giving the dog his reward.
  4. A dog that is less likely to naturally offer a paw may need a little more encouragement. Reward any sign of paw movement despite how brief it may be. You can also encourage by offering a closed fist with the treat in for your dog to tap with his paw then mold the tap into a more prominent shake. Add your command word as described earlier.

Top tip; Starting small and offering reward and encouragement towards the slightest movement of paw, that will lead towards the final goal, you can easily withhold the reward gradually until the dog is offering more for the same reward.

Dog trainers love this trick because the shake is a great alternative to teach that prevents a dog jumping up on greeting people.

How To Train Your Dog To Wait

This tutorial is part of The Ultimate List Of Dog Trick Ideas which contains 99 other tricks like this!

The idea of this trick is to encourage calm self-control in your dog. By learning that he only gets a reward when he is calm and waits for permission then your dog will be focused to learn.

Visually pleasing to both the trainer and onlookers the wait command makes your dog appear completely obedient and tuned into the wishes of his trainer, this action is useful as a prelude to something more complicated. For a simple trick to teach, the wait command is neat and effective and extremely useful.

To teach the wait command you will need a treat and a quick hand.

  1. Sit down on a chair and ask your dog to sit in front of you
  2. When your dog is sitting nicely, show him a treat and ask him to wait
  3. Slowly place the treat onto your knee whilst your dog is watching you. If the dog moves or reaches for the treat take it away very quickly and ask him once again to sit and wait.
  4. Repeat the previous two stages as many times as you need to until you can put the treat on your knee without the dog moving or trying to take it, always use the word wait.
  5. Eventually your dog will sit and wait despite the tempting treat on your knee often he will look directly into your eyes, pleading for his treat.
  6. When you are certain that your dog is not going to move you can give permission by saying “take it” and allowing your dog to take the treat.

Top tip; Build up the wait slowly, start with asking him to wait only for a few seconds then as he learns and your confidence grows increase the length of time between the command and the permission to take the treat.

Dog trainers love this trick because it teaches a dog to focus and be controlled during training sessions and everyday life.

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The Ultimate List Of Dog Trick Ideas

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Welcome to the Ultimate List of Dog Trick Ideas! On this page you will find a list of 100 dog tricks you can teach your dog. They are here to inspire you, motivate you and get you to spend time with your dog training and ultimately creating a closer bond with your dog. Enjoy!

Sweet and Simple Dog Tricks

Perfect tricks to start with when you are beginning to teach your dog new things. Impressive to watch yet easy to teach these early sessions will enable you to learn about how your dog thinks and works things out before moving onto more complicated training sessions

Wait

The idea of this trick is to encourage calm self-control in your dog. By learning that he only gets a reward when he is calm and waits for permission then your dog will be focused to learn.

Visually pleasing to both the trainer and onlookers the wait command makes your dog appear completely obedient and tuned into the wishes of his trainer, this action is useful as a prelude to something more complicated. For a simple trick to teach, the wait command is neat and effective and extremely useful.

Dog trainers love this trick because it teaches a dog to focus and be controlled during training sessions and everyday life.

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Free Training Game – Reinforcement Zone 1

Wow! I’ve received such positive feedback from my 3-part series on training dogs to walk in harmony…

But after reading dozens of emails, I realized many people are still struggling with their dog pulling them on the leash.

So I decided to give you a FREE training game…

Inside this training game, you will learn the best strategy to reward your dog for walking nicely with you.

Because most dog owners have the wrong approach. They focus on punishing their dog for pulling instead of rewarding their dog for walking nicely with them.

Which leads to all sorts of problems…

The biggest of them all is it takes the fun away from walking your dog. It leaves you in a negative mindset and scares your dog as he tries to avoid being punished.

So take a moment to watch this training game, and more importantly practice the technique with your dog during your next walk.

You’ll be glad you did.

Click the play above button to watch the video.

YOUR NEXT STEP:

Like this training game? There’s 23 others like this one inside my Walk In Harmony Game Plan. Click here to learn more about it, your dog will be glad you did!

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Success Stories: How Our Students Are Training Their Dog To Walk On A Loose Leash (And Stop Pulling On The Leash)

In my first article in this series on training your dog to walk on a loose leash without pulling, I shared my unique four-step training process. In my second article I discussed the five most important reasons you should train your dog to walk on a loose leash.

In this article I will share some of my students’ success stories. You’ll see that it’s possible to transform your dog’s walking behavior, no matter your circumstances. And by the end of the article you’ll be motivated to take action yourself. If others can do it, so can you.

I would like you to meet two dogs, Balto and Makita, belonging to one of my students.

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Balto and Makita are large dogs that weigh over one hundred pounds each. Their owner, Luann, was having a difficult time walking them together because they were easily distracted. But with the help of the self-control training games inside my Walk In Harmony Game Plan, Luann was able to teach her dogs to focus on her.

Here is what Luann said after completing my program:

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“Because of the Walk in Harmony Game Plan, I can finally walk both of my dogs at the same time and go to parks, beaches and even hiking with them. I have a 3 year old small Siberian Husky and 7 month old 100 pound Alaskan Malamute and they both are natural pullers when walking on a leash. I had to take them on walks separately because of the pulling and being distracted so I only took them one at a time up and down my block. After using this program on both dogs I can now take them on walks together and go to parks and beaches, hiking and anywhere I want.

This program is a fun-filled positive, motivating, and bonding program for both owner and their dog. The Walk In Harmony Game Plan is user friendly, day by day steps which makes it easy to understand, and very precise easy to follow videos.”

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Building your dog’s self-control is vital. It will teach your dog to think twice before running after something like a squirrel or another dog. And the best thing is that you can start building your dog’s self-control in only five minutes and in the comfort of your own home.

For example, my popcorn training game teaches your dog to ignore a pile of popcorn on the ground. Although you’re not likely to see this while walking your dog, the purpose of the training game is to build your dog’s tolerance for distractions by focusing on you instead of the distraction. The game serves as a blueprint you can use to train your dog to overcome any distractions including a dog barking, a squirrel running, or something on the ground.

If you haven’t yet tried my popcorn training game, here is a sample video showing exactly what to do:

Meet another student who has gone through my Walk In Harmony Game Plan: Lisa also struggled because her dog Doodle was easily distracted. But her dog reacted differently than Luann’s. Instead of just pulling on the leash, Lisa’s dog would also become overly excited and bark uncontrollably at the distractions. Lisa found herself in a quandary: How could she get her dog to stop barking?

Like Luann, Lisa also found the self-control training games to be extremely beneficial. Here is what she wrote to me after completing the program:

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“My dog is a 9 month old Doodle who was very easily distracted by birds, cats, other dogs and especially squirrels. The walk was a constant struggle because he would zone out at the sight of any of these. He would become extremely excited, pulling and barking and then remain in that state of excitement for the rest of the walk. We had an AHA moment where I understood how to apply the ‘ It your choice’ principal to the beginning of the walk.”

“Some days we don’t walk at all we just practice going back and forth up the driveway working on self-control and paying attention to me. This has greatly improved our walk. He is much better when passing dogs now. He still gets really excited with squirrels but he seems to recover from them a little quicker so that I get his attention back. He is still a work in progress and we have a ways to go yet but I feel more confident now with the tools I learned from Jean’s program. I have always used positive reinforcement when training Doby but the addition of the ‘it’s your choice’ component has made a huge difference.”

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If you’re wondering what Lisa means by “It’s Your Choice,” it’s the process of teaching your dog that it has a choice. Instead of punishing your dog for bad behaviors like pulling on the leash or barking, I teach my students to offer their dogs a choice. If their dog makes the right choice, such as paying attention to them, walking next to them, or ignoring distractions, then they reward it.

This is the opposite of what many traditional dog trainers teach. Many dog trainers will have you punish your dog for bad behaviors by either pulling sharply on the leash or using a pain-inflicting device like a choke or prong collar.

There’s none of that in my program. Instead, my program requires you to think creatively and to understand what goes on in your dog’s mind. As you offer your dog choices, your dog will learn to think about what it’s doing, and over time your dog will learn to look for ways to please you, even when you’re not actively asking it to do anything.

That is how I teach my students to train their dogs, and that ultimately leads to the happy, well-behaved family dog they’re proud of.

Now I’d like you to meet Chester, another dog that has gone through my Walk In Harmony Game Plan with her owner Marianne.

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Marianne knows a thing or two about dogs and is very experienced with owning different breeds. But before she enrolled in my program she had trained her dogs using the traditional methods I mentioned above that are focused on punishments instead of rewards.

But Marianne was looking for a better way to train her dog to walk on a loose leash. She wanted her dog to pay attention to her, to walk at the same pace with her, and to respond to her body language.

Here’s an excerpt from a letter she wrote me after going through my Walk In Harmony Game Plan:

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“Jean Cote’s Walk In Harmony Game Plan was certainly one of the BEST investments I have paid for – no classes, no fuel costs and no ‘waiting’ around to ‘do my turn’!

Jean Cote has changed my perspective on training and I am much more realistic in my expectations. Having had MANY dogs including Boxers, and bred Westies I thought I had done pretty well. Jean Cote has given me a much faster and patient methodology in training and with my latest (18 months at start of training) Chester – a Husky cross Alaskan Malamute, weighing now 6 stone+, it has been so rewarding for both of us in learning to ‘talk’ and ‘respond’ to each other – particularly as Chester is my ‘soul mate’ and just wants to ‘be’ with me and please me!”

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I will be honest and say that her letter left me a little teary-eyed. There’s nothing better than making a difference in my students’ lives and seeing how much their relationships with their dogs blossom as a result of my training methods.

That is why I’m so passionate about this subject. It’s not just about training your dog to walk on a loose leash or to stop pulling. My ultimate goal is to give my students the tools and strategies to train their dogs to do anything they want them to do.

I believe the more time you spend interacting, training, and having fun with your dog, the less likely you are to give up your dog. There’s a crazy statistic from the ASPCA that 3.9 million dogs in the United States are abandoned to shelters every year. And of that number, 30 percent will be euthanized.

That is a staggering statistic, and it’s only for the United States. And so it’s my duty as a professional dog trainer to promote these training methods because I know how much they can improve the quality of life for both owners and their dogs.

I would like to thank you for reading this three-part series, and if you would like to continue your education I would be pleased to welcome you inside my “Walk In Harmony Game Plan.” I’m always excited to meet and greet new students, and I look forward to reading your success story.

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Five Good Reasons You Should Train Your Dog to Walk on a Loose Leash

In the first article of this series, I shared my steps for training your dog to walk on a loose leash and stop pulling once and for all.

For some reason, whenever I discuss these training steps with my students, they always want more information. They want more details—almost like they’re looking for that secret piece of the puzzle that will magically transform their pets into perfect walking dogs.

However, the sad truth is that there’s no such thing. Nothing replaces hard work, and if you want a dog that walks on a loose leash, then you will have to take the time to train your dog.

I will admit that most people don’t find this proposition attractive. They think to themselves, You mean I have to train my dog? That’s way too much work!

Yes, that is exactly what I’m asking, but you don’t have to take any extra time out of your day. All you have to do is replace the time you’re already taking to walk your dog and replace it with the time you use to train your dog. Simple, right?

I wish all dog owners did this with their dogs. Unfortunately, even after I’ve laid out my logical case, most people still won’t take the time to train their dogs to walk on a loose leash. It requires effort, dedication, and energy.

So in this article, I’m going to share with you five good reasons you should train your dog to walk on a loose leash (and to stop pulling). These reasons are meant to energize and motivate you to take action and begin training your dog.

Reason 1—The longer you wait, the more your dog will pull on the leash.

It’s no secret that many dog owners will tolerate their dogs’ habit of pulling them. Many think it’s a normal part of owning a dog, whereas others simply don’t know what to do or how to solve the problem.

Either way, the longer a dog gets away with pulling on the leash, the harder it’s going to be to curb this habit, which is caused by self-rewarding behaviors—which is explained in detail in the first article of this series.

This is why training a puppy is so much easier than training a full-grown dog. A puppy has not yet developed the bad habits of walking ahead and pulling on the leash. You can get a puppy to walk nicely beside you in just a few training sessions.

Now, that’s not to say you can’t train an older dog who has been pulling for months or even years. You definitely can do it. However, it will be more challenging because you will need to replace the old habits of walking ahead and pulling with new ones such as walking by your side and paying attention to you.

Reason 2—Pulling is a serious safety issue.

Walking a dog that constantly pulls on the leash is not a pleasant experience, and in some cases, the dog pulls so hard that it causes physical pain in the owner’s hand, wrist, arm, or shoulder.

I recently had a student enroll in my Walk in Harmony Game Plan who had had an incident with her dog and needed surgery on her shoulder. She was walking her dog when, all of a sudden, her dog saw a squirrel and decided to run after it, putting massive strain on her shoulder.

Another student of mine suffered from a broken wrist because her dog was pulling on its leash during a winter snowstorm. She didn’t realize that her dog was pulling her toward an icy patch, and she ended up slipping and having to go to the hospital.

I even had another student tell me a story about when she almost got hit by a car because her dog decided to pull her toward a busy intersection. She was walking a big German shepherd, and had she not dropped to the ground to make her dog carry all of her weight, both she and her dog would have been hit by a car.

Now, these cases might seem extreme, but they are real stories from ordinary dog owners who never took the time to train their dogs to walk on a loose leash. They were just too busy with life, and their dogs’ tendency to pull them wasn’t a big enough problem.

My advice is to not wait until it’s too late before doing something about your dog’s pulling behavior. I know that prevention isn’t easy, but if it can prevent an injury, it’s time well spent, in my opinion.

Reason 3—Pulling on the leash often leads to less exercise.

Did you know that humans will do more to avoid pain than they will do to gain pleasure?

This simple fact is also at play for dog owners training their dogs to walk. For example, if your dog is constantly pulling and dragging you around the block, you will experience physical discomfort from a sore hand, wrist, arm, or shoulder.

On top of that, there’s also the emotional pain of what others will think of you. Often, people will make the assumption that you’re a bad dog owner simply because your dog is pulling you on the leash.

I had a student in my Walk in Harmony Game Plan tell me how her neighbor told her silly things as she walked her dog such as “You should have a sled,” “It’s a good thing you don’t have a big dog,” and “Your dog is sure leading the way!”

Of course, her neighbor was just trying to be funny and didn’t intend for those comments to be hurtful. But sometimes what others say can influence us more than we realize, and we can easily associate physical and emotional pain with walking our dogs, which leads us to unconsciously walk them for shorter distances and less frequently.

Another student of mine presents a perfect case of this. She was so ashamed of what other people thought of her while she walked her dog that she would only walk her dog late at night or early in the morning when it was still dark so that nobody could see her getting dragged down the road.

The overall problem is that dogs need lots of daily exercise to release their excess energy, and if you end up walking your dog for shorter distances and less frequently, it will be getting less exercise. If your dog doesn’t have an outlet for excess energy, it will find another way to get rid of it, even if that means doing destructive things such as barking, digging, and chewing.

My sister had this exact problem with her dog a few years ago. Her dog was constantly chewing shoes and furniture. All of that stopped when she started walking her dog for an hour twice per day—her dog simply wasn’t getting enough exercise.

Reason 4—Be able to go anywhere with your dog.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could go anywhere with your dog? This is why I’m so passionate about loose leash training. I want dog owners to be able to go to the park, attend public events, hike, jog, or even take a trip to their local pet store with their dogs. Why should anyone be restricted to just going around the block?

Not only are longer walks beneficial to your dog’s health and well-being, but they’re also great for getting rid of stress. So many of my students live hectic lives with busy schedules, and they tend to be exhausted when they come home at night. The problem is that walking their dogs becomes a chore rather than a way to relax and be out in nature with their dogs.

That’s why taking the time to train your dog to walk on a loose leash is so important. Once you’ve trained your dog, you can go wherever you want, whenever you want. Walks are no longer stressful situations.

Reason 5—Training transforms your dog into a happier, better-behaved family pet.

When I ask my students why they decided to get dogs, they usually tell me it’s because they thought getting a dog would bring happiness to their lives, that their dogs would cheer them up when they felt alone or sad, or that having a dog would give them a reason to get out of the house. But these reasons somehow get forgotten over time, and the struggles of owning a dog become the main focus.

I’ll admit that it’s important to address any behavioral problems that come up with your dog; however, it’s just as important to remember why you’re doing all of this in the first place. Focusing on the problem doesn’t solve it. Focusing on the solution does.

What will motivate you to seek the solution is the vision of why you wanted to get your dog in the first place: the moments you imagined sharing with your dog and the positive things you thought it would bring to your life. If you can get through the tough times, even when it seems like there’s no hope for you or your dog, your relationship will grow stronger. It’s kind of like a couple getting through a rough time. Maybe it’s someone getting laid off at work or a death in the family. It’s extremely difficult during those times; however, once they’ve passed, the couple can look back on them and smile because those events made them stronger.

The same is true with training your dog to walk on a loose leash. It may seem hopeless right now, but it can be the time when you learn how to properly train your dog by using positive reinforcement. If you take the time to master these training techniques now, you’ll not only get a dog that walks on a loose leash but also one that wants to please you in the future. Because the training methods I share in my Walk in Harmony Game Plan are widely applicable, you can use them to get your dog to do almost anything.

Many of my students continue to train their dogs beyond the scope of the program. They’ll use what they learned to teach their dogs to do tricks and all sorts of other neat stuff.

PART 3:

In the final part on this series on training your dog to walk on a loose leash, I’m going to share some real-life success stories of how my students used my Walk in Harmony Game Plan to get their dogs to walk on a loose leash and how you can do it too. Stay tuned.

Why Do Dogs Eat Poop? A Look at Coprophagia

I love my dog. She cracks me up. She will do the funniest things. She digs when I am gardening; I think she wants to help! She even has brought me a dead animal as a present. But when I saw her eating poop, I was disgusted! Why, why, why? I didn’t understand. Why would my “best friend” do something so repulsive? We would like to think of our pets as humans, but dogs will be dogs and will continue to exhibit dog behavior, no matter how domesticated they are. Why would any animal eat feces? Dogs are misunderstood on so many levels. In fact, in the town where I live, working ranch dogs have been shot for eating poop. This poop-eating behavior is actually very common in the animal kingdom. There are many reasons why dogs or other animals eat a piece or two of poo. Let’s take a look at why.

The act of eating poop is so common that there is an actual word for it: coprophagia. For example, the dung beetle’s primary nutritional source is feces. Elephants, giant pandas, guinea pigs, and hippos are a few other species that consume this treat from time to time. Surprisingly, poop can offer a good source of nutrients. Rabbit poop is rich in enzymatic nutrients and vitamin B. An animal lacking certain digestive enzymes can have an urgent need to engage in coprophagia, especially if it has pancreatic insufficiencies. Malnutrition from a poor diet leaves a dog hungry and searching for proper nutrients. Surgeries involving the gut with the removal of intestines can lead to a lack of nutrients being absorbed, which can cause malabsorption and coprophagia.

Poop-eating behavior also has evolved as a protective mechanism, ensuring the pack’s survival. A designated pack member will hide the scent of a weak or sick animal by eating its excrement, eliminating any smells of weakness. Predators seek out easy prey such as the young. A lactating mother and her newborn pups are prime targets. Milk by-products in the puppies’ feces are a powerful and attractive smell to predators. Dogs eat poop as a means of keeping their newborns safe and clean.

A bitch instinctively will clean her pups during the birthing process. She eats the remnants of birth and will lick the newborn’s anus to stimulate the bowel process. This keeps the den free from disease. This process will go on for four to five weeks after birth. In some cases, a brood bitch (a female dog kept for breeding purposes) will continue this process throughout her life, regardless of how old the puppies are. Some females will ritualize this habit whether there are puppies or not.

Some dogs love to eat the little delicacy known as kitty roca. Cat poop in the litter box is extremely dangerous to dogs. Manufacturers say it is nontoxic for cats, but they don’t put a warning label on the box about consumption by dogs. Herein lies the problem: the cat litter molecules (or clay) are absorbent, soaking up water. When the kitty roca is swallowed, the dog’s intestines, mostly liquid, will combine with the cat litter to form a cement-like substance. The hard blob subsequently will stop any normal passage of feces, blocking the flow of digestion. This bad case of constipation wreaks havoc on a dog. Your dog can suffer many gastrointestinal symptoms such as gastric pain, belly bloating, nausea, vomiting, and more. If your dog eats enough kitty roca, its intestines can rupture due to the swelling.

Keep in mind that your dog can become ill from eating poop because it can carry parasites such as giardia and Coccidia. If it sits around for a few weeks, roundworm and whipworm have been known to populate poop. Herbivore feces from deer, goats, rabbits, and so on cannot transmit parasites to carnivores such as dogs, bears, and wolves. Interestingly, parasites are specific to the host they are carried in. Therefore, carnivores can be infected only by eating other carnivores’ poop! It’s a vicious cycle: the dog eats poop infected with parasites; the parasites gobble up the nutrients for fuel, leaving the dog hungry; and then the dog looks for more food, only to eat poop again. Getting your dog tested yearly for parasites can be a lifesaver.

Dogs eating poop may have developed as part of their evolution or for nutritional purposes; in addition, there are behavioral reasons. Allelomimetic behavior is the act of doing the same as others—basically copying a behavior. Some dogs might copy this eating habit, thinking it’s a good thing to do. Submissive dogs will eat the poop of a more dominant dog. This occurs when there are multiple dogs living in the same house. A stressed, nervous, or anxious dog will be driven to unwanted, odd behaviors. You’ll see this behavior in dogs that are confined to a kennel or chained up. They might indulge in excrement if they are bored, lonely, or neglected. If your dog is young, it might be exploring its world. Some dogs like the taste, which is very comparable to their warm, moist food as pups.

Dogs love things that taste and smell terrible to us. You might say some dogs have a sort of “refined taste.” We may not understand why dogs want to eat poo, but they do.

pineapple with slices

Just a side note: if you have a dog that eats its own poop, you can try feeding it pineapple. Half a chunk or one teaspoon will suffice. Pineapple contains the digestive enzyme bromelain. This chemical acts as a meat tenderizer. Some dogs have been known to be put off by the taste of pineapple in their own poop. It tastes good when it goes in but bad after it comes out!

References:
http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2013/08/23/coprophagia-poop-eating.aspx
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coprophagia
http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=2+2085&aid=155

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The Ultimate Guide on How to Train Your Dog to Walk on a Loose Leash

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Is your dog pulling you on the leash? If so, then you’ve come to the right place. In this training guide, I’m going to share with you four training steps to getting your dog to walk nicely on a loose leash with you and to stop pulling once and for all.

Now, before we dive into the actual training, I’d like you to meet Sophie.

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This is a picture of Sophie on the very first day I met her. You see, I met Sophie because my friend was having an extremely difficult time walking her. She would pull on the leash, bite the leash, tug on the leash, lunge at anything that moved, jump up, and bite clothes and shoes.

Does any of this sound familiar?

Although your dog’s pulling behavior might not be as bad as Sophie’s was, I want to share with you exactly what I did to train Sophie. This way, you’ll get a real-life example of how my training methods can be applied and get some insight into how to use them with your own dog.

The sad truth is that there are many ways of training a dog. And though all training methods do work in their own ways, I’m what you could call a gentle soul and have a strong belief that inflicting physical pain on a dog during training is unacceptable.

That is my own personal belief, and it has forced me to think “outside the box,” so to speak, and train using a different method—with positive reinforcements (or force-free, as some would say).

Okay, let’s get started!

TRAINING STEP #1: Eliminate Self-Rewarding Behaviors

Before I give you training advice on what to do, it’s really important that you first understand WHY your dog is pulling on the leash in the first place.

Pulling on the leash is not a natural behavior that your dog is born with. Why would a dog want to strangle himself to the point of gasping for air?

The main reason a dog pulls on the leash is because it’s a reinforced behavior. Yep, in one way or another, your dog is being rewarded for pulling (I’ll explain how below), and most dog owners aren’t even aware of it.

Let me give you an example.

John decides to take his dog to the park for a game of fetch. He knows how much his dog loves this game, plus it’s good for his dog’s health and well-being. So they start walking, and his dog pulls and drags him all the way to the park. They then proceed to play fetch for ten minutes.

This might be a pretty obvious example, but the act of playing fetch (which is something his dog loves more than anything else) will reward any behavior that occurred before, including the pulling.

If you look at it from the dog’s point of view, why wouldn’t he pull? The faster he gets to the park, the faster he will be able to play fetch. And if his owner isn’t aware of what’s happening and how this is rewarding his dog for pulling, the behavior of pulling will get worse over time.

Imagine that this scenario is repeated daily for months. This is how pulling becomes a big problem, and if nothing is done, John will end up with a sore shoulder and wrist and begin to resent walking his dog.

Here’s how you can stop this downward spiral dead in its tracks:

Whenever your dog pulls on the leash, especially if your dog is trying to get to or at something, stop walking and wait for the leash to loosen. An even bigger deterrent is to turn around altogether and walk in the opposite direction.

What does this do? Remember, your dog is pulling to get to something more quickly, and stopping, walking, or turning around creates an incentive to keep the leash loose.

This is exactly what I did with Sophie (which you can see inside my Walk in Harmony Game Plan).

Sophie would pull because she wanted to go to the park and sniff the grass. She would pull when she wanted to meet another dog or stranger or whenever there was an object on the floor she wanted to sniff and investigate.

I had to teach her that pulling would delay the time before she could get to those things. And it worked!

You can do it too. All you have to do is commit to practicing this simple exercise with your dog for the next week or month. Now, before you go ahead and try this exercise, you first have to take into consideration how long your dog has been pulling.

If your dog has been pulling for months or even years, then it’s going to take considerably longer to undo this conditioning. Pulling is like a bad habit, and habits are hard to break. It simply takes time, dedication, and consistency.

TRAINING STEP #2: Reward the Behaviors You Want

The second biggest factor that will influence your dog’s walking behavior is whether you are rewarding your dog for walking nicely with you.

You would be surprised by how many dog owners I’ve worked with who don’t actively do this. And I don’t blame them; our society has programmed us to adopt a punishment mind-set. We are used to looking for ways to punish or suppress bad behaviors.

Here’s a personal example. In one of my relationships, my girlfriend really wanted me to call her every single night. If I missed just one phone call, however, she would become angry with me and let me have it the next time I called her. She wanted me to call more often, but her approach was to punish me for not calling, so when I did call, I received lots of pain.

What do you think ended up happening? You guessed it—the frequency of my phone calls lowered until one day our relationship ended.

Traffic tickets are another example. We all know that speeding is bad and we shouldn’t do it. But let’s be honest—the real reason we don’t speed is because we don’t want to get a speeding ticket. We don’t want the burden of dealing with a police officer and having to pay the fine. And a speeding ticket will usually drive up the cost of car insurance.

Most of us want to avoid the consequences of speeding.

But what if we flipped the psychology, and instead of punishing the “bad” behavior, we rewarded the “good” behaviors?

What if a cop pulled you over and handed you $50 for driving the speed limit? Would you be more or less likely to drive the speed limit in the future? My guess is that you would be more likely to do so.

Of course, this wouldn’t be practical because it would cost a fortune. Luckily, there aren’t any limits on the amount of positive reinforcement you can give your dog. You can easily reach down and give your dog a pat on the back while saying “good dog!” for walking nicely at your side.

And here’s the kicker: the more often you reward your dog, the more your dog will want to walk nicely with you. The behavior will grow over time.

This is exactly how casinos work. A casino never forces anyone to play a slot machine, but if you walk into any casino, you will find someone playing—and most likely losing money.

How do casinos do it?

It’s simple! The casino rewards the player for playing! Everyone who walks into a casino has the dream of walking out rich, of making an extra $10,000 or even $1,000,000. That rarely happens, though. What casinos do instead is give smaller rewards randomly.

Imagine you are on your tenth play and all of a sudden your slot machine starts making noise, the siren goes off, and your machine rack up points for two entire minutes. Everyone around you smiles and congratulates you on your big win. You’re now just a little bit ahead.

And what do you do? You guessed it—you keep on playing in hopes of getting an even bigger prize.

This is exactly how you want to think when training your dog. You want your rewards to build the behavior of walking nicely with you. And it’s extremely simple to do, as I show in my Walk in Harmony Game Plan.

First, you will need to make a list of the behaviors you want to reinforce. These might include walking at your side, looking up at you, stopping when you stop walking, keeping up the same pace as you, ignoring objects on the ground, ignoring other dogs, etc.

Then simply give your dog a reward for engaging in those behaviors. The reward can be anything: saying “good dog” in a cheerful and happy tone of voice, touching and patting your dog, stopping and playing a quick game of tug, or giving your dog a delicious treat.

The key is to give the reward immediately after the behavior so your dog makes the association between his behavior and the reward.

TRAINING STEP #3: Focus on Progress Instead of Perfection

I wish I could tell you that you can get your dog to stop pulling in one afternoon. It would make a great marketing sound bite. The reality, however, is that it’s probably going to take longer than that. It really depends on how long your dog has been pulling.

For example, a dog that has been pulling on the leash for five years has developed a habit that will be harder to break than the habit of a young puppy that is just learning the rules of walking.

But no matter how long your dog has been pulling, you can change the behavior. The key is to focus on progress instead of perfection.

What you want to do is to focus on improving your dog’s current behavior. If your dog can only walk four steps before pulling on the leash, your goal should be to get your dog to take five steps without pulling.

Your goal should be to ask “a little bit more” from your dog each time you go out for a walk.

This is how professional dog trainers train dogs: they focus on the next achievable step. And this is exactly what I did with Sophie. I didn’t show up one day and have one training session, and then she was magically transformed into a Lassie. It took many training sessions with a focus on improving her walking behavior a little bit each day.

In fact, I kept a written journal of every training session I had with her, and I would highly recommend that you do the same.

Here is what it looks like:

how-to-train-your-dog-to-walk-on-a-leash-picture-2

It’s very simple. All you have to do is write three things:

  • What went well during the training session (or walk). I’m a firm believer in celebrating successes no matter how small they are. This acknowledgement is also going to give you the emotional juice to keep going.
  • What didn’t go well during the training session (or walk). This will be really easy to remember, but I still urge you to write it down. Why? If you write it down, you won’t have to remember it. It’s like Einstein said: “Paper is to write things down that we need to remember. Our brains are used to think.”
  • What you need to work on in the next training session (or walk). This is the most important thing to write down, so try to do it immediately after your training session (or walk). Doing so will make your brain think about a solution rather than dwelling on the problem.

And if you are a more advanced trainer, you may even want to videotape your training sessions. That way, you can review the footage and even ask for advice on possible training solutions. For the vast majority of dog owners, though, this isn’t practical or necessary.

All you need is a simple notebook to use as a training journal.

This is why my Walk in Harmony Game Plan is so effective: because I went through this process with Sophie and kept a written record of every one of my training sessions with her. I could open up my training journal right now and tell you exactly what I did during each training session.

TRAINING STEP #4: Play Training Games to Strengthen Skills

Did you know you can improve your dog’s walking behavior without ever leaving the house? Yep, all you have to do is work on teaching your dog the following five skills:

  1. Attention
  2. Self-control
  3. Obedience
  4. Loose leash manners
  5. Body awareness

What are these skills?

They are skills that you can teach inside your home where there are no distractions, and then once your dog has mastered them, you can utilize them outside to make walking your dog easier.

For example, you can teach your dog to look up at your face. How useful would this be? Well, next time you are walking past a distraction, you can say “look at me,” and your dog will look at you instead.

Or how about teaching your dog to control his instinct and not lunge or pull toward things on the ground? This is exactly what happens when you strengthen this skill.

So how does it work?

Simple. All you have to do is set aside ten to fifteen minutes a day and teach your dog a particular skill.

I lay out all of my skill-building training games in my Walk in Harmony Game Plan, but here is one I played with Sophie. The objective was to teach her to ignore a pile of popcorn on the ground.

(Click the play button below to watch the video.)

As you can see from the video above, Sophie was quite persistent in the beginning. By the end of the training session, however, she had much better self-control. Imagine if you worked on this every day for a week or a month how much better your dog would be!

PART 2:

In the second article of this series, I’m going to share five reasons why you should train your dog to walk on a loose leash (and to stop pulling) that are incredibly important. As a loving pet parent, you absolutely need to be aware of them. Click here to read part two.

89

Driver’s License Pet ID For Your Dog – Giveaway Contest

Did you know you could get a driver’s license for your dog?

No, your dog won’t be able to drive a car… But you can get him a fictional driver’s license that is sure to spark up a conversation with your fellow dog loving friends.

Here’s a picture of what it looks like:

pet_drivers_license_id_large

pet_drivers_license_id_small

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine introduced me to this novel idea… She had gotten her dog one and mentioned how much attention it got from other dog owners… People were complimenting her on how cute it looked…

Then I thought about my students and newsletter subscribers, and how much they would love to get one too…

So I decided to hold a contest, where I will be giving away THREE vouchers to claim and design your very own personalized driver’s license for free…

Each of the three winners will receive (1) large real-size driver’s license that you can put in your wallet and (3) small dog tag that you can attach to your dog’s collar or keychain…

In my search for a reputable company to manufacture and deliver the prizes, I stumbled upon www.MyPetDMV.com, which was so helpful and courteous. In fact, they even decided to sponsor this contest!

Who is eligible:

Anyone with a dog and lives in the United States or Canada. (Sorry if you live overseas.)

How to enter the contest:

All you have to do is scroll to the bottom of this page, and submit a picture of your dog along with his or her name, and what you absolutely LOVE about your dog… That’s it!

When the contest will end:

Three random winners will be selected this Sunday (August 2nd 2015 at Midnight EST / New York Time) and will be announced on this page.

Share this contest with your friends!

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Good luck!

CONTEST UPDATE:

The contest is now closed and winners are announced in this video:

Winner #1: Cheryl

Winner #2: Sara

Winner #3: Aryana

Congratulations to all the winners! This contest was a lot of fun and it was wonderful to read all of the comments and reasons why you all love your dog. I look forward to seeing you inside the next contest.

Remember, you can head over to www.MyPetDMV.com to order your personalized Driver’s License Pet ID for your dog today.

1

The Ultimate Guide To Training A Dog To Come On Command

Does your dog ignore you when you call him? And does he respond only after you’ve called him maybe three or four times?

You’re not alone—I understand what you’re going through. You see, my dog, Onyx (a purebred Siberian husky), wasn’t always the perfectly behaved dog she is now. There was a time when she would completely ignore me when she was in the backyard sniffing the grass.

I would have to call her four or five times before she even looked at me. And it was so frustrating because I knew she could hear me, yet she was choosing to ignore me and continue sniffing the grass.

So, in this short article, I’m going to share three of the most important lessons I learned while training Onyx to come to me on command.

Lesson #1 – Understanding your dog’s point of view.

Whenever you call your dog to you, the dog has a choice of either dropping whatever he’s doing and coming to you or continuing what he’s doing at the moment (like sniffing the grass.)

Every time you call him, your dog will evaluate the positives and negatives of this choice.

For example, if your dog believes that you’re going to give him a delicious steak if he comes to you, this belief most likely will dwarf any other choices in his mind.

Your dog will evaluate the options: sniffing the grass or eating a steak. Simple choice, right?

Yet many dog owners don’t realize that this process of choice also operates in reverse. For example, if your dog believes you’re going to punish him and yell at him if he comes to you, it will be an easy choice to keep sniffing the grass.

So whenever you want your dog to come to you, think about what’s in it for your dog. I’m not saying you should bribe your dog to come to you, but you do have to be aware of what you’re offering your dog.

Praise and play go a long way. Imagine if you gave your dog total undivided attention for sixty seconds every time he came to you by playing tug-of-war or having a wrestling session. That would totally change his perceived value of coming to you.

You also have to be aware of what your dog is doing and how much of a reward it is when you call him to come to you. Remember—not every reward has equal value in your dog’s mind.

For example, let’s say your dog is running after a squirrel in the backyard. The reward level for this activity would be through the roof; even a steak might not be enticing enough to get him to stop chasing the squirrel.

So, with Onyx, who loves to sniff the grass in my backyard, I know that she gets the most value from this behavior in the first five to ten minutes. After this amount of time, it becomes a little boring for her, and this presents me with the best opportunity to call her to me.

Training your dog to come on command is a game of balancing what you offer (giving your dog a reward after coming to you) and requesting the behavior at the appropriate time (when the self-rewarding behavior is at its lowest value, or when you believe your dog will choose you instead of his current activity).

Whenever either one of those actions is out of whack, your dog isn’t going to choose you.

Lesson #2 – Coming to you is a loss of freedom.

You also want to be aware of what happens after you call your dog to you. Dogs are a lot smarter than we give them credit for, and they will make the connection about what happens after they come to you.

For example, you’re at the dog park and your dog is having an exciting time with other dogs. You realize it’s time to go, and you call your dog to you.

Over time, your dog is going to make the connection that coming to you is not a great choice because all the fun stops, the leash is put on him, and he has to go back home.

So you have to become unpredictable. You have to sometimes call your dog over only to give him a reward and let him go back to whatever he is doing.

This is why I’m such a big fan of playing training games with dogs, as they teach dogs to come on command and there are no drawbacks. The dog doesn’t think he will lose his freedom; he comes to you because it’s pleasurable.

This is a lesson I describe in my Fido, Come training program (which you can learn more about here).

Lesson #3 – Timing is everything.

Did you know that you can train your dog to come using any word or command? You could literally train your dog to come to the word “banana” or “spider.” The word itself is meaningless.

Your dog learns to come to you after hearing a particular word only because he’s been conditioned to do so. Maybe you’ve done this consciously or unconsciously, but there must always be a particular sequence of events for your dog to respond to a command.

The proper sequence is:

So for training your dog to come, the sequence would be:

COME COMMAND > DOG COMES TO YOU > GIVE TREAT

Pretty simple, right?

But the key for this command to work is that you must have proper timing. This means that every event in the sequence must occur in close proximity to the next event.

For example, if you give your dog a treat five minutes after coming to you, he’s not going to make the connection that the treat is a reward for coming to you.

The same is true if you call your dog to come to you and he comes to you five minutes later. Even if you give him a delicious steak, he’s not going to learn the command, because the time duration between events is too long.

Ideally, you want your dog to respond within five seconds of your calling him and you want to give him the reward immediately after he gets to you. The quicker everything happens, the better.

Your dog isn’t really going to know what your command means at first. This is why I always tell my students to play my “Boomerang” training game, which is a super-simple way of teaching dogs to come after hearing a command.

Here is an example:

This training game should be the foundation for every other training game you play with your dog.

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