Ruff Love (Part II): Meeting Dogs Who are Bashful or Bold

This dog is approaching with soft eyes, a relaxed mouth, floppy ears, and a tail held below spine level. Let's connect!
This dog is approaching with soft eyes, a relaxed mouth, floppy ears, and a tail held below spine level. Let’s connect!

We recently talked about why it is important to let a dog approach you to initiate interactions rather than sticking out your hand. But what if the dog doesn’t approach you? Since we are all grown-ups here, I know you will accept in mature fashion the answer to that question: Tough noogies.

By not approaching you, the dog is saying, “No thank you, I don’t want to get closer to you right now.” As a true dog lover, a person who takes the feelings of others into account, and an all-around sophisticated type with the latest information on dogs, you will no doubt find it easy to respect what the dog is saying. If you think the dog is “fine,” click here to learn many of the signs a dog is uncomfortable with you in their space. If you are very interested in the dog, or if it feels socially awkward not to touch the dog, just talk to the person about the dog instead. Like so:

“How old is your dog?”

“What do you like to do for fun together?”

“Where did you get that cool collar?”

“Oh my goodness, your dog is so adorable!” That’s handy for little dogs being held and therefore unable to make the choice. Obviously the person will say, “Go ahead, you can pet him! Pet him!!!” This means they love their dog, but they are not yet hip to the scene. You can say you’d prefer to pet him when he’s on the ground so he can choose to approach you. 

“Wow, your dog is really beautiful. He reminds me of a dog I once had.” That works nicely for dogs being asked by their person to hold a stay position, or being held back by the collar.

The surprise twist to this is that, when you choose not to encroach on the dog’s space, he or she is likelier to approach you. I have lost count of the times someone has said to me, “Wow! My dog never gets near anyone, he must really like you!” I explain I did not sprinkle magic dog trainer dust on him. I just didn’t mow him down physically and emotionally. It is truly funny to see the look of surprise and curiosity on some dogs’ faces when they encounter their first polite human.

What if your dog never seems to want to approach anyone?DSC_0244

Most dogs are not even given a chance to make the choice. When someone asks permission to pet my dog I like to say, “That is so nice of you to ask! I really appreciate it,” which is true, and also buys my dog time to get comfortable with the person. Then I say, “The best thing to do is to stand where you are, with your hands at your sides, just like you’re doing. Bazooka prefers that. If she wants to be touched, she’ll come to you on her own. Then you can pet her, under her chin, like this.” And I demonstrate.

If at any point the person disregards your advice, just call your dog to you cheerfully, or step away with her a step or two, cue a nose touch to your hand, or, in very close quarters, face the person and step smoothly and suavely between your dog and the person. I do this with a huge smile on my face as I say, “My dog needs much more space than this. Thank you so much, we’re just going to go over here.” If you have a dog who is truly easy-going, consider swooping in and popping a treat in her mouth in the middle of the interaction, so she’ll have an extra pleasant association with the experiencing a close-talker. (It’s a  good insurance policy for future encounters, even if she seems ok in the moment.) Otherwise, skip the treat and create space.

It helps to practice your spiel before you need it in real life, with a friend or in group training class. Have fun with it. Try out different personas and different exit strategies. When practicing the ABC’s of Dog Safety and Respect, with kids or adults, sometimes the dog’s owner or the dog should say “no” so the humans learn accept not being able to pet the dog without any hard feelings.

If your dog is bashful, or worried about being touched, choose from these strategies:

  • A nose touch to your hand. It provides fun, focus and good feelings in the presence of the stranger.
  • A nose touch with the other person, then call your dog to you. First practice with family and friends your dog loves.
  • Favorite tricks (like spin or sit pretty). This keeps your pooch happy and the person is likely to be delighted and keep their hands to themselves.
  • Relax on a mat (using very high value rewards) so that pose becomes a position of safety and security when you need to chat with someone. Be prepared to step between your dog and an incoming Ms. Grabby McGrabbenheimer.
  • Work on body handling exercises with you, friends, and then less familiar people so your dog gains confidence with people’s hands coming at him or her.
  • Watch for common signs of stress (looking away, lip licking, yawning, still or stiff body, closed mouth, furtive glancing) and call your dog to you when you see them building. 
  • You needn’t coax, reassure or apologize for your dog, or tell him or her, “Go say hi, you silly thing.” There is no need to feel embarrassed or try to convince your dog to go up to someone, either with the leash or a bribe (like getting the stranger to hold out a treat, which I do not recommend). Just work on a training plan, ideally with a skilled trainer so it’s customized, and proceed at your dog’s pace.

Why is a sit-stay for petting not a good idea?

Perhaps your dog goes hoppin’ wild when he meets people, either out of happiness or out of nervous energy (very common and often misinterpreted as happy). Someone might have advised you to make the dog hold a stay while people pet him. After all, it’s no good for people to be knocked down or to feel unnerved by a rambunctious pooch. But we need a better solution than taking away the dog’s ability to communicate with his body language. To recap the last blog entry, a dog is not a coffee table. The dog should have a say in who touches him or her. Besides, if your dog is feeling hyped up, making him hold a stay likely adds to his stress. Why do that to him when there are alternatives?  Some ideas:

  • Teach your dog to calmly sit while the humans are chatting, and then be calmly released on cue like “say hello” to approach the person.
  • Teach her to do a nose-touch with strangers’ hands or shoes and then call your pooch back to you before she gets wound up.
  • Sprinkle treats on the ground for your dog to hoover up while you chat with someone.
  • For dogs who truly love to be touched all the live-long day, teach them to stand with all four paws on the ground so at least they can step away or back up if the tides change and they need to create space for themselves.
  • Teach your dog to relax on a mat even under very exciting circumstances, so he or she can hang out while you talk with someone.

There is a lot of stuff in Puppy Savvy about how to do this, including detailed training instructions for a nose touch, calm greetings, sit stays and other games for any age dog who is bold or bashful. Watch this nine second video showing baby Logan in training. You can see him about to launch himself at the person, but when offered a chance to nose touch the person’s hand, he chooses that instead.

What skills do you train to let your dog know he or she can approach without jumping? What maneuvers or phrases do you use to allow your dog space or protection from incoming hands or bodies? What have you discovered doing the five-dog challenge? (All the cool kids are doing it: The next five times you see a dog you’d like to touch, try just standing still, and see if the dog comes up to you.)

Tune in for the final installment of the Ruff Love series in which we address the question, “My job requires I touch dogs whether they approach or not, because I am a veterinary professional/animal control officer/groomer/shelter worker. What am I supposed to do then, Miss Smartypants Very Fetching lady?”

Doggie Habits Annoying You? This Trick Is Spot On

Imagine how useful it would be if your puppy or dog knew that when you say, “Spot,” he should lie down and relax on his mat.

Teaching “Spot” means you won’t have to deal with your dog doing any of the following:

  • Going berserk when someone rings the doorbell
  • Sampling snacks off your coffee table
  • Hanging around the dinner table or under your baby’s high chair
  • Putting paws on the counter while you prepare a meal
  • Bothering your kids or guests while they are seated or standing
  • Pestering other pets in your household
  • Dropping toys in your lap while you try to relax after a hard day of earning money to buy dog treats
  • Jumping up on people you meet on the street
  • Straining and whining at other dogs or people in the veterinarian’s waiting room or in puppy class

None of those aggravating things can happen if your dog is lying quietly on a mat, so teaching this one skill will be of benefit to you in many ways. Your dog will benefit because he will earn plenty of rewards in the form of praise, petting, treats, a stuffed Kong, being included in more activities and having a chance to chill out.

Believe it or not, this is not advanced training. It’s the kind of basic skill (like sit or come) that any dog can learn.

You’ll need a bath mat to start (later you can transfer the skill to a mat as tiny as a washcloth, and just carry it with you!), soft yet non-crumbly treats in a contrasting color to the mat, and an indoor location free of distractions. Some practice teaching “down” is a bonus that will speed the process. Use a leash or train in a powder room if you think your pup may wander off.

Here’s how to teach it. For more details and troubleshooting tips see Puppy Savvy, and ask questions in the comments section below.

Session One

Have a few treats ready in your pocket. Be prepared to say “yes” and bowl the treat onto the mat as soon as your puppy looks at the mat. Why will he bother to look at it? Because you will start by spreading out the mat, standing two feet away and looking at it yourself. He will look, and you will reward immediately by saying “yes!” and tossing the treat onto the mat. When he is finished eating his tidbit, encourage him off the mat by patting your leg and saying “ok” (in the video I say “free,” which happens to be Ruby’s release word). Repeat 2-3 times.

The hardest part of this training is resisting the urge to convince your dog to look at the mat by pointing, leaning, or outright bribing with food. If you do this, the training will take ninety-two times longer, and his skills will never be as strong as they could have been. Just stand there and look at the mat. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Session Two

Warm up with a few reps of the above exercise. Then allow your pup to look at the mat, but don’t say a word. Just wait. His wheels will turn and he will walk over to the mat (because that’s where his reward has been magically appearing). When even one of his paws touches it, say “yes!” and feed him a treat. On each subsequent repetition, withhold your reward until another paw touches the mat (such that by the fourth repetition, he is leaving you, walking up to the mat, then putting all four paws on it).

Session Three

Start right where you left off. Spread out the mat and wait. Your pup will look at it, walk to it, and stand on it. Reward as usual. On the next repetition, count to one or two and then reward. Woo hoo! He went to his mat and stayed for two seconds. Now anything is possible! Repeat a few times, encouraging him off the mat in between repetitions.

Take a short break and play with a toy, or just run around the room and act silly together.

Back to training. Go near the mat. Wait. After he is standing on it, wait some more. Don’t say anything. He will likely plop his butt into a sit, because by now he’s figured out from your other training that sitting pays the big bucks, and that staying on the mat is also highly rewarding. Say “yes” and feed him several treats like it’s a big deal (which it is!).

Only do a few of those because the goal is for him to lie down, right?

Session Four

Repeat the last exercise, but this time wait for a down position (this will go quicker if you’ve already started teaching “down” separately). Instead of staring into the pup’s eyes, look at the spot you want his elbows to land. When he goes even partway into the down position, lavish him with praise and treats fed low between his front legs. Remember to release with “ok” before he has a chance to hop up.

Final Sessions

Now we make it look like real life. For the next few sessions, practice in several different places in the room. Then try your body in several different positions (sitting in a chair or lying on the couch—good practice for when you have the flu and don’t want your dog disturbing you). Work up to different rooms in the house and you standing at varying distances from the mat. Use awesome treats. If you get stuck at any point, try again, but do make it a wee bit easier if you get two failed attempts. 

When to say “Spot!”

When you can roll out the mat, in any room of your house, with you sitting or standing, from any distance you like, and your pup trots right on over to the mat and lies down, waiting for your release before he gets up (after a few seconds), then you are ready to add the magic word to cue him to go there. Just say, “Spot!” right as he’s about to do it and he’ll start to associate the word with the action he already knows.

You can add to the length of time he is able to stay there by counting more seconds before you feed his treat in the down position.

Soon he’ll be lying there for 30 minutes at a pop, perhaps enjoying a chewy while you have cocktails with your friends. It might even make you nostalgic for the days when he was so young and naïve, all cute and eager to learn this handy, new trick.

Double the Fun: Thoughts on Training Two Dogs at Once


I’ve been thinking lately about my two dogs, and how fun (and funny) it is to live with them both. Their personalities could not be more different, yet they are amazingly compatible. As you can see from the video Ruby (the tiny one) is the Queen and Bodhi (the black and white one) is the Court Jester.

For training purposes, there are a few things that make having two dogs more interesting. Here are a few tips I have found work well when both dogs need training:

First Things First

For an issue in which both dogs need much improved skills, like leash manners or responsiveness to their names, start by teaching each dog individually. This is super efficient, because you can devote your attention to one dog and visa versa. Trying to train them at the same moment may create unnecessary pandemonium and confusion. Get the skill looking sharp and then put both dogs together, first for a simple challenge (walking up the driveway and back), gradually working your way to trickier situations (going on your full walk together).

Spot On Training

Teach both dogs how to lie on a mat or dog bed on cue, and stay on their spot until you release them. That way you can train them individually, yet both in the same training session. While you work with one dog (around one or two minutes is plenty), the second dog can be chilling out on her dog bed. When you are all finished with the first dog’s session, cue him to go lie on his bed, then release the other dog for a short session. Repeat having them take turns until you are finished training. (For instructions on how to teach a dog to go to her spot and stay, see Puppy Savvy.)

I Am Free and You’re Okay

Give each dog his or her own release cue. Bodhi is released from whatever I have cued him to do with the word “okay.” Ruby’s release word is “free.” Those two words sound nothing like each other, so I am able to release one from their dog bed without the other hopping up, I can release one to race out the door to the yard without trampling the other, and I can do fancy training things like having them stay side-by-side but calling them separately (that’s fancy because it is harder to stay when your buddy takes off full-tilt, and because they run faster when they are trying to beat the other to get to me, which improves their come-when-called performance). 

Double Dog Dare

Here is a challenge for you that I just started with my dogs. (You can do it even if you aren’t yet ready to train both dogs in the same session.) I picked a trick that neither of them knows, stepping through my legs from behind and placing a paw on each of my feet, both of us facing the same direction. The interesting part is that normally in any given week I am teaching them different things, but this time I am teaching the same trick to both them. It is raising my awareness of different habits I have with each dog, revealing fascinating differences in how they learn, highlighting choices I need to make as I roll out their learning plan, and helping me appreciate the quirky and hilarious things they do. (I can only imagine what they are saying about me when they compare notes!) For example, Ruby is much likelier to offer me novel moves that I can quickly capture, whereas Bodhi is likelier to offer me a slew of things he already knows. We’ll see what happens as we progress!

What do you learn about yourself and your dogs as you try this? You can also pair up with a friend or neighbor and each teach the same trick. How do you do things differently? What do the dogs pick up on similarly or differently? As always, I welcome your questions and comments. Happy training (for two)!

Pretty Please, Pay Attention To Me? Look, I Have Treats!

"Please, leave the begging to me, 'k?"
“Please, leave the begging to me, ‘k?”

At the risk of sounding melodramatic, I am just going to come right out and say that bribery can be the kiss of death in dog training.

If your dog needs to know in advance that you’ve got treats in your hands* in order to attend to you or to learn a new task, things have gone awry. You may soon find yourself saying, “But he’ll only do it if I have a treat in my hand!” or even one day, “She tears around the neighborhood and doesn’t even care that I am shaking the treat container!”

* Not to mention the giant Home Depot hardware apron that says loud and clear to your dog, “The moment I’m not wearing this in real life, that’s your signal there’s no point in paying attention to me.”

It’s not just about treats. If you have to work yourself into the right cheerful state to get your dog to look your way, you pepper your training sessions with a lot of encouraging sounds to keep your dog engaged with you, or if you routinely wait until your dog is “tuning you out” before you run or clap, chances are you are not rewarding your dog for attending to you. It is much likelier that you are coaxing, bribing, luring, or begging your dog to pay attention. It works to an extent. But not reliably, not long-term, and not when you need it most (like under distraction or for safety reasons). Experience tells me you may then get frustrated with the dog and say things like, “He knows this!” “He is being so stubborn!” “He is just not food motivated!” or “He does it fine at home!” Your frustration may even lead to using punishment.

There are other variables involved in why training is not always as effective as it could be, but today I want to focus on bribes vs. rewards. Rewards are very, very powerful ways to build behavior. However, a treat in your hand is not a reward. A treat dangled in front of your dog is not a reward. A treat (or toy, or activity) that is delivered as a surprise after your dog has done an action you prefer, that is so satisfying to him that he repeats the action in the future, is a reward. I know, it’s mind-blowing, right? But the cause-and-effect sequence of events is enough to make or break your efforts.

So it is worthwhile to take inventory and make sure that you are using your dog’s favorite things as rewards and not as bribes. Signs that you may be inadvertently bribing:

You are at home and feel like training, so you head to the pantry for the dog treats. Your dog hears the goodies and appears out of nowhere.

Better: Call your dog from wherever he is in the house. “Good boy! Surprise, you get to train with me!” Then hustle to the pantry together, reward the action of coming to you, then begin your training session.

Lesson Your Dog Learns: “Coming when called is one of my favorite things because I will be surprised with goodies! And a chance to spend time with my person, solve puzzles with my brain, and get even more goodies!”

You are in training class and it’s time to practice, so you get your dog out of his crate. As he looks around and sniffs the air, you dig around until you find some good treats or a toy so you can get his attention.

Better: Be ready to deliver your dog’s reward before you release him from the crate or rouse him from his mat. Otherwise you invite your dog to become engrossed in the fascinating things around him while you fumble around, and then attempt to coax his brain back to you with goodies, thereby potentially rewarding “being distracted.” (Remember: cause-and-effect.) Instead, ask your dog to come out of the crate by cuing a nose touch your hand or to look at you by saying his name, and reward those.

Lesson Your Dog Learns: “Ooh, paying attention to my person is fun, because it predicts a chance to do an action I already like, and then more good stuff happens as we play and learn!”

You want to teach your dog a new trick or action to do with his body, like “down” or “come.” After a few repetitions of luring him into position with a treat, your dog starts anticipating what to do with his body. Instead of eliminating the bribe from the picture, though, you continue to show the treat to start the next repetition.

Better: Don’t bribe the dog with food or toys to get him to do things. Instead, catch him doing a down (or heading toward you in the case of “come”) and surprise him with his favorite thing(s). Then start naming the action so you’ll be able to ask him to do it on your cue. It’s generally okay to “lure” 2-3 times if you swear on a stack of How Dogs Learn that you will switch from bribes to rewards thereafter. (If you are stuck, let me know and I will help. We’ve all been there!)

Lesson Your Dog Learns: “Hmmm, if I use trial and error to puzzle out what action I should do with my body, and I guess correctly, my person will surprise me with something really cool! Geez, training is engaging! And it is totally worth it to voluntarily offer behaviors to my person. I’m hooked!”

This morning’s paper happens to have an article on why bribing kids does not work to create lasting, reliable behavior. It advises to train behaviors incrementally, with surprise rewards after the dog (er, child) makes a choice, and to build games and social rewards like praise into the process. Sounds like doggone good advice!

Talk to the Paw: Is It A Good Idea to Ignore Puppy Behavior You Don’t Want?

 

therighttoyOftentimes dog trainers who recommend reward based training say to reward the dog behavior you want, and ignore the dog behavior you don’t want. Problem is, while you’re busy ignoring the behavior, your dog is having a good old time. His actions of jumping up, chewing on the carpet, pawing at you, grabbing something off the counter, running away from you, or snagging a tidbit out of the trash are pleasurable. He repeats the behavior on another occasion. And you are faced with the same cycle all over again.

The sad thing is that it makes it look like reward-based training doesn’t work. However, what is really going on is that the principles of reward based training are being misapplied. Rewards are powerful. They build behaviors and strengthen doggie habits, whether or not they are habits you like.  The trick, therefore, is to be strategic about which behaviors you reward and allow to be rewarded. Strategic use of rewards means expanding your definition of what a reward is. Your dog’s point of view is what counts here; if your dog finds an action rewarding, no matter how diligently you may be ignoring it, he will repeat it.

Instead of ignoring behavior you don’t like and risking the dog finding it rewarding/repeatable, do not allow the dog to rehearse it to begin with. Then he can’t find it rewarding, and you’ll be presented with the opportunity to reward, and therefore build, the behavior you do want to see in its place. Examples:

  • Assume your dog will jump up and don’t wait for it to happen. Instead, whenever he approaches, preemptively cue him to sit, then reward with attention/a tidbit. Or crouch preemptively, or use a leash, baby-gate or drag line you can quickly step on to prevent the launch sequence.
  • Assume your dog will chew the carpet and don’t wait for it to happen. Provide appropriate chew outlets that your dog finds engaging, appropriate confinement as needed, and roll up a valuable throw rug until you’ve taught the dog desirable habits like working on a food puzzle or relaxing on a mat.
  • Assume your dog will take off running and don’t wait for it to happen. Use a leash, long line, storm door, or a better lock on the gate. Meantime, use rewards to teach your dog to come to you on cue.
    For details on how to prevent common puppy habits and how to teach alternatives with rewards, see Puppy Savvy.

If you can predict when your dog is going to engage in an aggravating action, you are almost there! Prevent it (rather than ignoring it), then reward an alternative behavior that you would like to see more of. The old behavior will fade (starved of the chance to be rehearsed/rewarded), and the new behavior will become the norm (having been strengthened with rewards).

 

 

Freaky Friday Conga Style

Each Friday we take a moment to see things from the dog’s perspective (like in the Jamie Lee Curtis movie of the same name).

Today features a video of dogs performing an elaborate, difficult and entertaining series of stunts in front of a huge, live audience.

Are the dogs enjoying themselves? How do the dogs feel about their person? About each other? Do they feel safe? Do they all act the same or do they react to the environment differently? Do you think this kind of performance celebrates the dogs, makes fun of them, or something else altogether?

I am not fishing for “right” answers. The whole point of our Freaky Friday exercise is to take a moment to try and experience the world from the dog’s point of view. Let me know what you think.

May the families affected by today’s events in Connecticut find peace. May we all cultivate empathy in our lives. 

The Bowl of Happiness

The Bowl of Happiness
The Bowl of Happiness

I last left you with the advice to never let your puppy out of his confinement area, crate or tether without first having a specific answer to the question, “What will I give the puppy to do next that will set him up to succeed? What game, project, training session, edible toy or other ‘coloring book’ will I offer right off the bat?”

Yet it is one thing to remember to ask yourself this question, but how will you know how to answer it?

The answer to this question will depend on what your puppy likes, your mood, what you have time for, and even the weather. Perhaps you would like to teach the pup to play fetch or go to his spot. Maybe you would rather tether the pup with a stuffed Kong while you finish some emails. Or perhaps a puppy field trip would be a good choice to provide socialization and get you both out of the house.

Now, maybe you are like most people, who have a lot of things on their minds and don’t want to spend their days memorizing puppy games to pull out of thin air in a pinch. I’ve gotta say, that seems reasonable. I find it helpful to write each puppy-occupying game, skill or chew toy on a small piece of paper, put all the slips of paper in a bowl near the puppy’s crate, and fish one out before I release the puppy. I call this the Bowl of Happiness.

What’s that you say, you don’t have time to sit around writing down games on little slips of paper? Again, who could blame you! Not to worry, I have done it for you. Just click on the Bowl of Happiness image (above or on the Puppy Savvy page). You’ll find ready-to-cut-out tips to keep your puppy occupied. Draw one of these slips of paper from a bowl and you’ll have a plan before you risk letting the pooch run wild. These are things you may already have handy or know about; the rest are Magic Wand strategies, Life Lessons and Training Skills described in Puppy Savvy.

Presto! Even with a puppy in your house you can have peace, quiet and happiness. Ahhh…

Are You Puppy Savvy?

Scan 123170008It’s getting pretty exciting around here as we are just days away from the launch of Puppy Savvy. I thought I would offer a series of puppy posts to get us in the spirit of things. Starting with the secret formula to being truly puppy savvy:

a) Imagine what you wish your puppy would do.

b) Set up the situation to make that desired behavior likely, and then, when your puppy behaves as you wish,

c) Surprise! Present a reward that matters to your puppy.

The behavior you reward will become a habit.

One of my favorite restaurants, Elmo’s Diner, uses this approach to great effect (with humans, though I am sure they could teach a puppy to do anything). When you ask for a table at Elmo’s, if you have children the friendly host seats you with menus, crayons, and sheets of paper with the Elmo’s cartoon duck to color in. The Elmo’s staff thereby applies the same principles that will yield great results for you and your puppy:

a) They wish young kids would color instead of whine or tear around the restaurant.

b) They make this coloring behavior likelier by, right off the bat, presenting the opportunity to color in a way that makes it a special ritual (the stuff is not just sitting out on the table).

c) Surprise! In the middle of the coloring session, they deliver the pancakes and juice the parents have ordered. The kids are invited to hang their masterpieces on the Duck Wall.

This is powerful stuff. It is so peaceful (and delicious) a dining experience that I even have an Elmo’s t-shirt. But back to your puppy…

Will you let your puppy gallivant through the environment, letting his adventures and the taste of your favorite shoes be his rewards? Will you then unintentionally pile on more rewards in the form of attention, making these undesirable puppy behaviors even stronger by interacting with him (“No!” “Come back!” “Give me that!”)?

Choose a better way. Harness the power of rewards to your advantage and to help your puppy. Use rewards consciously and strategically. Use a baby gate, a crate or x-pen, an indoor leash known as a dragline and an indoor tether to keep your pup out of mischief, and always give him the equivalent of a coloring book to keep him occupied (a game or a stuffed Kong are often good options). Get in the habit of never taking your puppy out of his crate (or off his indoor tether) without first having a specific answer to the question, “What will I give the puppy to do next that will set him up to succeed? What game, project, training session, edible toy or other ‘coloring book’ will I offer right off the bat?”

Have you tried this approach with your puppy? What questions do you have about how to make this work? Let me know! Up next…ideas for keeping your puppy occupied with the right kind of “coloring book.”

One Minute Dog Training Solutions…For Free

I have for you some seriously budget-friendly dog training advice in honor of National Train Your Dog Month. This is pretty cutting edge stuff. Without further ado:

Freebie Number One

Enjoy free webinars and Facebook chats on a terrific variety of training topics presented by the Associaiton of Pet Dog Trainers. Want to help your dog to stop pulling on leash? Not sure if you should get a dog from a shelter? Want your dog and baby to get along? Struggling with separation anxiety? Think you might like to become a dog trainer? Check out the schedule and grab all the state-of-the-art training advice you like!

Freebie Number Two

“But,” you say, “I want customized advice for my dog!” No problemo. Email me [barbara[at]topnotchdog.com] a one-minute long video of where you are stuck in your training, and I will write back with advice on how to get unstuck and meet your goal.

Your video must be one minute (or less) in length. (Limit three per person.)

Your training dilemma must be for everyday, basic manners issues, like trouble teaching your dog a position (like sit or down or sit pretty) or getting him to do something (come when called, settle on a mat, bring the ball back without getting so distracted). What would you like a little help with?

I will provide you some tried and true instructions that should get you unstuck, perhaps something new I invent that I feel sure would work, and maybe even some tips to advance things as you progress. Depends how zesty I’m feeling.

Feel free to send your video up to Valentine’s Day. I can’t wait to see it!

Here’s some video footage of tricks I did with one of my dogs just to get you inspired to get your training challenge on tape: