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The Dog Trainer : How to Get Your Dog to Stop Barking and Lunging on Leash: Quick and Dirty Tips ™

Some folks like listening instead of watching or reading here is a short podcast that I like on: “how to stop bad behavior on walks” & why these methods work in the long run better than just yelling and jerking on the leash.

Source: The Dog Trainer : How to Get Your Dog to Stop Barking and Lunging on Leash : Quick and Dirty Tips ™

23 Best games for a New Puppy | Dog Star Daily

Great video for all dog owners, not just for puppies!!

23 Best games for a New Puppy | Dog Star Daily.

Dr Dunbar and his team discuss the idea of teaching our puppies by turning training into a game. They also refer to several games that have online instructions listed by the trainer’s name or the name of the task.

One behavior that dogs and humans have in common is the desire to play throughout our adult lives. Most other animals stop playing as they reach adulthood. So here I will write about the benefit of play in dog learning.

We often want dogs to do skills/behaviors that make no sense to them. So of course we use food as a reward to motivate puppies. When we turn the training lessons into games, the dog experiences training as fun puzzle games, that they get to do with family. The more fun the training, the more your dog will love training and the more they remember

For example, my dog Leo loves training sessions, especially when he is learning new skills that are challenging for him. I can tell when he is really into it because he takes the treats and spits them on the ground quickly to be ready for the next thing.


Let me go through benefits of games on learning using the example game I call “GO-FIND-IT.”

The most immediate benefit for puppy owners is that mental exercise is more fatiguing than physical exercise. On days when the weather is bad, I often teach Leo new skills in place of outdoor exercise. As just a 3 year old adolescent dog, he becomes more tired after 20 minutes of learning puzzle games compared to a full hour of physical running. When he was a puppy it was more like 5 – 10  minutes of puzzle time. This is a very good way to help a puppy sleep through the night.

Instructions for”Go- find-it.”  (Be sure to run the words together to make the cue into one long word). Begin by hiding a favorite Toy in plain site, allow the dog to watch you place the Toy under a chair or other easy to get to place. Most puppies will go pick it up or follow you while you hide it. Exchange the Toy for a food treat after the dog has it solidly in their mouth. Reward with food for each find. Repeat hiding the Toy in the same room and in easy places about 10-15 times before moving on to more difficult hiding places, like under a pillow. Once the dog catches on to the game you can replace the food reward with a short “Tug on Toy” play. Puppy will be ready to go pick it up after a quick bit of play. It will be easier for the pup to give up the Toy each time if the dog already knows “Leave it”. Next level of difficulty is to have puppy in sit-stay, while you quickly hide the Toy just out of sight. Increase the variety & difficulty of hiding places as pup learns to find it more quickly.

Leo loved this game and would race to find the Toy. He would come back prancing, tossing the toy up & catching it in the air as he returned to me.

The game uses a combination of actions to increase learning.

1. Action: The wait at a sit until I said the cue words; “go-find-it”.

Learning:  Sit-Stay and practicing impulse control, longer sounds are cues.

2. Action: search for his Toy.

Learning: Frustration tolerance, Search behaviors & Pay attention to the environment.

This basic skill can be used to teach: “GO-find-Dad” & Go-find-Kitty”, Go-find-Billy.

3. Action: Object  pick  up, hold in mouth, and return with the Toy and give up the Toy.

Learning: all skills for solid retrieve in sporting dogs & service dogs. Dogs don’t understand the idea of pick up, hold, bringing  back  objects at our request. Especially, the part of the game where they give their toy away. Game reinforces the whole sequence of skills for a good retrieve which is harder than we think. Many dogs who are not trained to retrieve, will run off with the object or pick it up and drop it until you retrieve it.

4. Action: repeating the game at increasing difficulty.

Learning: Reliability & speed

Leo quickly realized that he had to bring the Toy all the way to me. Plus, the quicker he brought the Toy back, the quicker he got to play the game again. All without any food rewards. Playing and having fun becomes a natural reward.

5. Action: Increased difficulty leads to longer and more area searched by the dog. If he came back quickly without the Toy I sent him out a second time, the third search I go with him and show him the location.

Learning: Problem solving, frustration tolerance, memory.

As the dog figures out the simple hiding places, increase the difficulty so the dog has to search more areas for the Toy. This teaches basic problem solving and frustration tolerance and important cognitive skills for dogs throughout life. One fun fact revealed by brain research into memory:  The greater effort expended while learning, the better your memory becomes of the information learned.

All this from 10 to 20 minutes of fun for the two of us.




How to create a Happy Dog

I see allot of behavior problems in dogs because their busy families don’t make time for daily social time with the dog. In our modern, commercial world, we believe we have a right to have it all. More  and more pets are aquired like hobbies, chosen based on appearance and hair color, rather than personality, social and physical needs. Matching a family situation that is  a good situation for the pet is not considered until after the first placement has failed. Children, younger than age  12 often beg for a a puppy and get to them including choosing the breed or individual pup. children younger than 12 will within 1 -2  months move on to another interest. The family dog is stuck in yard or house alone all day, treated  like the motorcycle or sports car, stored away until the weekend when the weather is good, ready and waiting in good working order for the road trip. But, dogs are like people, highly social creatures. They need allot of social time from their families every day of their lives. And like children they require a prolonged puppyhood and adolescent period of social education for brain development and to acquire all the information and behaviors needed to make it in the complex human world like ours. Watch the Video for 4 tips that will help your dog have a happy life.

How to create a happy dog

Dog Body Language Video Part 1

This is simply a great video to start understand your dog.

Understanding canine body language part 1

How Dogs Learn- Video by Dr Yin

How dogs learn

Great Video! A must see for all who love dogs.

If you are a client of Dr Smith’s – watch this video.If your dog has bad habits – watch this video. . If you want a better relationship with your dog – watch this video!

Training dogs to walk on a loose leash (with a clicker)

I like the detailed explanations that have been added to this video.


There are many ways to train a dog to ‘walk on a loose leash”. Here is another method that is alittle different.She slows it down enough to understand the technique.. Whenever training a dog, or any animal, the details of how the technique is done moment to moment are very important until you get the hang of it.


A word about ‘bloopers” and attention span.  Training the dog to do incorrect, unintended behaviors I call “Bloopers”.  It is easy to accidently train in extra steps in any method. For example a common one …  you say “sit” dog does nothing. Next you repeat sit, sit, siittt, SIT!… then the dog sits”. You have just poluted the verbal command of sit with, a sentence with a loud vocal punch.

This happens when the trainer attention lags alittle and we fall into bad habits. For the dog and the trainer, keep time of the repetitions short. The dog can maintain focused attention on learning for 3-7 minutes. For us however, when adding a new complex skill, are attention maybe 1 to 2 minutes. So stop for 2 minutes, pet your dog and breath. Then go back to training.

Dogs study us to figure out the thing we do immediately before they execute a behavior that results in the click/treat. If you scratch your nose a few times, that becomes part of the cue.  Hand or body movements are more meaningful to the dog so they remember what we do more than any verbal command. Keep your body still except any discrete handsignals. When training a word as the cue, speak a single word, then a short pause, then the handsignal (that the dog already knows). It still takes alot of repetition over 30 to 90 days for the dog to really learn a word and be able respond  in any situation. Just like humans, toddlers take months to really learn and understand all the useage of a word.

So ….  don’t yell, unless there is allot of background noise. Your dog is not deaf, he actually can hear 5 times better than you. Or you may accidently train the dog to only respond to Yelled commands.


If you want to know more about how dogs learn  look at my post on the ABCs of learning.



How to train your dog to come. “Recall training”.

Almost no one can get their dog to come! Bold statement I know, but I witness this daily. In our minds, we remember the times the dog did come to us, forgetting all the many times that “come” went unanswered.  Dogs eventually come to their family because, first they like us & second, we feed them so eventually they will come. This is not the same as a dog who comes immediately on cue .

Come or recall is a more complex behavior than most of us realize.  What we humans really what from the dog is:  “stop whatever you are doing (sniffing other dogs, chasing, playing, barking…) and come immediately.” BE QUICK ABOUT IT! “Recall, every time” is one of the hardest skill for a dog to learn.  For the dog to learn this  skill takes a series of steps with progressively more difficult situations in which the dog stop what he/she is doing, redirects to you and comes. Accepting what is really going on is the first step toward changing it. The article below reveals several steps in training  a reliable recall. 

Why is training recall so difficult for dog owners? | Dog Star Daily.

A few basics  about training a reliable response.

1. Practice, practice,  practice.

Reliability is all about practice. Just like sports, flying airplanes, surgery, military operations, excellent musical performance or any high skill endeavor. We humans tend to hold our dogs to a higher, almost magical, standard of performance. We expect our Dogs to stop whatever they are doing and come when we call, without specific training and allot practice,  How many of your employees, kids, or spouses  immediately come when called!

2. Reward after the desired behavior-Use what the  dog wants. This is the Consequence for dogs actions/behaviors.

3. Timing – dogs focus on what happened right before, 1/2 sec, the treat arrives. The closer the treat is to the behavior the more effective the training.

4. The order of things is the magic formula for learning – the ABC’s

a. Antecedent-something that happens before the behavior. We often use a cue: like a hand gesture, or a word “come”, whistle sequences or sound of meal prep in the kitchen. Even lightening is an antecedent to thunder for dogs afraid of storms. But the lightening does not cause the thunder, the storm clouds cause both, but light travels faster than sound so it precedes the noise.

b. Behavior -the dog does something.

C. Consequence– what happens immediately after the behavior. If  this something positive the dog will repeat the behavior. If something negative the dog will not repeat the behavior.

The error for many is believing that the the Antecedent or A . causes the B. Behavior to happen again. It is the C=consequence that will motivate the dog to do the same Behavior in the future. The Antecedent alerts the dog to the possibility that treats maybe available to be earned. I often use a pre-antecedent to set my dog in the mindset of training by saying “are you ready”, he then knows that a cue for a behavior is coming. He becomes alert, focuses on me waiting for signal word.


A Positive Consequence is more effective if:

*It immediately rewards the behavior – < 1 second after the behavior (unless a bridge is used-clicker training is using a bridge).

*Is it better than other available options. That is why trainers us favorite food or fun.

*Predictable- a little like a paycheck. If you work but don’t get your paycheck you would not want to continue to work for that employer. However, this doesn’t mean you won’t work harder for the same paycheck if you enjoy your job. Enjoying your work is another reward for a job well done. For dogs after allot of practice they seem to enjoy the task itself.

 Make it worth it for the dog. Mostly we use food, toys or play.  However as puppies, almost all dogs come to their substitute families. This recall is preprogramed into the young canine brain; stay with the family group, check in often. Don’t mistake this natural tendency for your dog understanding “come”. Instead, use the tendency in early puppyhood to teach English, repeat “come” whenever the pup naturally runs toward you. Make returning to you, a great experience for the dog. Even when you have been chasing the dog for 30 minutes, gave up and turned to go home. Which is when the dog will come to you. You’re irritated and can’t imagine giving the dog a reward for running you around. Fight the urge to punish and reward the arrival of your dog at your side.

Why does the dog get a reward for 30 minutes of run-away time. First, dogs love the chase game, so he/she would have thought  you were playing. Second and more important– dogs will repeat behaviors in the future, that get them something good. The more accurately this one fundamental  is practiced the stronger your dog will listen to you.

Let me repeat myself. Dogs will repeat a behavior in the future because last time it resulted in something good. Behavior followed by a good consequence.


Break it down. Rex comes to Tom. Tom gives him a dog treat. Rex follows Tom around, coming close enough to be touched and gets a treat each time.

Has Rex learned to come to Tom? No, he is playing the odds that the treats will keep coming, so he stays close by.

Next day, Rex comes to Tom, Tom does not give Rex a treat, Rex waits for his treat and eventually wanders off. Rex tries “come” few more times but, when no treat arrives he ignores Tom for more interesting things. Rex does not come to Tom when called. He comes when he wants to come because he likes Tom.


How do I get my dog to come when I don’t  have treats. Practice in many different situations.

 After Rex comes 90% of the time when called for 7 days in a row, then it is time to move to fewer treats for more work. ( 1 treat for 2 comes, then 3 comes and so on). Or treat after 2 behaviors.   Rex comes, Tom says sit, Rex sits, Tom steps back, Rex “comes a second time”, Tom gives Rex a treat. Now Rex has done a come-sit-wait-come, for 1 treat. Repeat this sequence, rapidly stepping back will entice the dog to follow because this is a mini-version of the chase. So keep the pace fast, as the dog does well, make 2 step backs or mix up how many sit-comes Rex must do to get a treat. But gradually make these changes.

When the dog stops paying attention you have pushed for more difficult to learn behaviors too fast or he is at the end of his attention span. Give him a break and repeat after a 10-15 minutes. Ideal time for each mini training session is 2-5 minutes.


Teaching-“Enough” -by Patricia McConnell

Excellent skill for dog to learn. Useful when you want the dog to settle down. Very important Skill for dogs’ who seek constant attention. and of course we all want/need some personal (non-dog) time each day.

How to teach ANY dog to Come when called!

I have attached one of the best videos on how to train a dog to come every time.

Video train a dog to come everytime

More indepth info on training

How a change in thinking that will greatly increase your dog training success

A common way of thinking about how dog’s interact with us is based on a human viewpoint.  We wish that dog’s behave  because we tell them what to do and  motivated by love  & desire to please us they do what they are told. A good dog behaves well and bad dog’s don’t.   Hence the name obedience training, which has been used interchangeably for dog training for generations.

But, science into how learning happens shows us otherwise.  So how do dog’s learn “to come” when called?

I will break down into parts how learning  works.

First,  the word, “come’.  Dogs and most animals respond to words as just soundsHuman speech is hard for dogs to distinguish and sounds like noise to dogs, much as barking does to us.   A specific word only becomes a sound signal after the dog figures out the importance and usage of the sound.  We decide that certain words are important for training as cues for dogs. The dog does not know about that.  Not until the dog learns the use of a word in a training sequence does the word  becomes a sound signal.  We must also teach the dog, which behaviors go with the signal, the order to act out the behavior and which behaviors do not go with signal.  Next, the dog must also learn which sounds are not the one that pairs with “come when called”.

A. Make the signal easier:

1. Use short crisp, distinct sounds. Repeat the word pairing lesson 20 times in each training as one set. Only add difficultly once dog has mastered “come” in the quiet indoors and many rooms. Then practice  in different locations, start 6 inches away and increase distance slowly, different peoples voices, with background noises, distractions (fun and scary).

2. Start with an easier signal than sound.  Hand or arm signals are easier  for dogs because so much of their communication is made up of complex body language.  Dogs watch you closely every movement you make in an attempt to pick up on a signal.  Make it easier by using hand/arm signals. Keep the rest of your body still. Use one hand/arm. Add sound after the dog is beginning to do it how you want it.

B. The sequence of learning is backwards from the order of  doing the final behavior.

Let me explain further….

Dogs learn to use a set of behaviors by trial and error. So if a behavior is followed by something the dog likes, they attempt the behavior again. That is why treats work so quickly with training, especially in puppies. Timing of the reward is very important because dogs are doing behavior all the time. The closer the timing of the dog’s behavior are to the arrival of the treat the easier it is for the dog to understand what they did that resulted in treat delivery. The dog will experiment with body movements to figure out which sequence or posture or behavior gets the reward.

The first part of the video above suggests pairing the sound “come” prior to something the dog likes. He is taking advantage of a dogs natural tendency to  approach when we make any sound.  It seems simple but the thinking is a 3 step process. The trainer is ready for the dog who will approach, he will give something the dog likes, plus he adds the word “come” before the dog gets to him. This is a great way to introduce the idea of “come”  when you first get a new puppy.  Something the dog likes can be: praise, ear rubs, and treats whenever the puppy comes to you for any reason. Change up the rewards, so eventually food will not be needed. Make “come” part of everyday life.

C. Make the signal a signal.

The first time you hear a  siren it has no meaning. It is just an annoying noise.We watch our parents pull to the side of the road as the noisy vehicle goes by. Later on we learn as someone explains. The signal does not make us drive to the shoulder of the road it is the order that we have learned to do when we hear the sound signal. So it is with dogs. A signal is a good one if it clearly helps the dog predict what to do next to get the final outcome. The sequence is how mammals learn by trial and error.  Called the ABC”s of learning. Take advantage of this way of thinking to speed up your training and solve the stumbles that happen along the way to well trained dog.

The sequence is how a behavior happens in real time.

A stands  for antecedent. Which simply means whatever comes before the behavior.

B stands for the observed or goal behavior. These are not always the same.

C stands for consequence. Here in is the biggest secret to good trainers. They all know it is “C”, the consequence that determines future behavior. If the consequence is a good one, the dog will try out the behavior again to see if the same consequence will follow. The behavior is a guess at how to get the consequence again.

The A is not always a signal as we wish it to be. It can be any set of circumstances, the dog recognizes, that happened before a they behavior worked to get the big C.

But training happens backwards from execution of a already trained behavior. The sequence of thought is: planning the big C and delivering it close to the behavior.  The dog will try out behaviors, until they suceed  at getting the big C.   The dog also observes what precedes the sequence, B->C trying to figure out when doing a certain behavior gets the big C. The dog will bet on your signal,  do the behavior, in the hope of getting the big C.

So training involves manipulating these three things. We add clarity and reliability to the Antecedent which helps the dog recognize it as a signal. We are clear about which behaviors get the rewards and when. We add good quality rewards for the behaviors that we want the dog to do. The dog becomes reliable the more reliably the consequence happens when the dog gives us the asked for behavior.

Excellent video guide to Dog Body Language – YouTube

Zoom Room Guide to Dog Body Language – YouTube.

Look for upcoming post on dog language and dog body postures.

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