Off-Leash Dogs

It’s important that if you have your dog of-leash in a public area such as a park or an apartment complex you are able to recall your dog consistently from people, other dogs and wildlife.

An owner of another dog or puppy should never have to justify why they don’t want your off-leash dog approaching them.

A puppy could be under vaccinated, sick or going through specialized training.

An adult dog may have reactivity issues and your dog approaching could set the dog back even if they are not being outwardly reactive.

Not to mention, this is a safety issue for your own dog as well. While some dogs may not be reactive they may be aggressive. The off-leash dog is always at fault in cities with leash laws, because had your dog not approached there would be no Incident.

If you are the handler of an off-leash dog don’t get to make the decision for the other dog owner if your dog meets their pets, child or them.

Some people simply don’t want to meet your dog. Some people simply don’t want your dog to meet their dog.

One of the biggest responsibilities of pet owners is to keep all dogs safe. We do this through reliable recalls -the first call everytime and leashes.

Socializing Older Puppies and Adult Dogs



Adult dogs and older puppies



One of the main reasons for your dog’s bad habits or unwanted behavior is his/her lack of early socialization or lack of properly done socialization techniques. Once your dog has reached the age of 15 weeks, early socialization methods are less effective because the dog is becoming more fearful. At this point, the best way to introduce your dog to new things and to modify his reactions is thru desensitization and counter conditioning.

Don’t start the first day you have your new dog. Follow the “Learn to Earn” handout for the first two weeks.  This allows you to build a relationship and bond with your dog before exposing your dog to new and scary things.


Learning the lingo and the methods,

Desensitizing: This is a training technique used to introduce your dog to new or frightening things while still maintaining his level of comfort. If your dog is calm ( also known as “under threshold” ) then it is much easier for him to learn new ways of dealing with his environment. If you can slowly and gradually introduce the dog to things he finds frightening then the lines of learning remain open and his reactions are more likely to be successfully modified. This approach is safer and provides more reliable results than FLOODING.  (see below )

Counter conditioning: Counter conditioning replaces the fear response entirely.  It is not just about changing the way that the dog behaves.  It is about changing the way that the dog feels.

Successful counter conditioning will enable the dog to be happy and relaxed in the presence of the previously fearful stimulus

Counter conditioning,  also referred to as stimulus substitution, simply means the training of a pet to respond to a certain stimulus in a different way than it currently does. A stimulus can refer to any number of things such as people, events, substances (like water), animals, machinery, noises (car alarms, thunder), and much more. Should your pet display responses of fear, aggression, and anxiety to certain stimuli, counter conditioning is an effective method of adjusting his or her behavior.


Flooding: Flooding is a full immersion training technique applied in both human and animal psychology. It consists of forcefully exposing the dog to the stimuli that triggers its fear and provoked the original trauma. This method of behavior therapy may bring fast results, but most often will be traumatic and comes with certain risks. While flooding may help in some mild cases, when it does not, the dog may turn into an emotional wreck and be prone to sensitization, which causes an increase in fear. There are, therefore, far better approaches granting higher rates of success

Threshhold: In order to determine threshold, you need to be able to “read” your dog well. In other words, you need to be able to constantly scan those subtle signs of relaxation, alertness and stress so you can intervene accordingly. Different trainers have different “interpretations” of over or under threshold. For some, a dog is under threshold when it is calm, almost sleepy, for others a dog is under threshold when the dog is stressed, but not stressed enough to react by barking, lunging etc. In my opinion, you definitely do not want a dog so on edge that is too stressed to learn and cognitively function, but you may want a dog that acknowledges the stimulus but without growing overly concerned about it.


Starting the training;

You have been following the Learn to Earn method for the last two weeks, so your dog is prepped for great learning.

Desensitizing: take your dog to a place where he can observe his triggers, like other dogs or people, but won’t have to interact with them. Practice getting your dog to focus on you during this time.  Don’t allow triggers to approach your dog, so if your dog is afraid of dogs then don’t allow dogs to approach.  This will set your dog’s progress back if you do it too soon.  They should be able to totally ignore the trigger before working closer.  Gradually work closer each day until your dog can stay focused on you.


Counter conditioning: After the dog is comfortable ignoring the triggers (scary things) than then start counter conditioning. When your dog even looks at a scary thing, say “yes” or use a clicker then give a treat.  You want to put the treat into your dog’s mouth within 3-5 seconds of seeing the scary thing.

If your dog doesn’t accept the treats, make it easier by moving farther away from the trigger. (REMEMBER YOUR THRESHOLDS) Continue this training until your dog is happy to see the trigger, then move a little closer.

Repeat this step until your dog seems happy about the trigger, if your dog is regressing instead of improving you need to go back a step and /or contact a professional trainer.


Setting Boundaries Creates Better Behavior

Training Your Dog to Say “Please!”

Dogs that are in a home with boundaries, under a training plan and following this program are set up for success.  Owners experience less challenging behaviors, like counter surfing a door bolting and dogs settle in faster because they know and understand what is expected of them.


Learn to Earn

  • Begin by teaching your dog “Sit!”
    • Once your dog knows sit, ask them to sit before they get anything that rewards them.
  • Use everything your dog wants as rewards for training purposes.  Have them sit before any of the following things are given to them.
    • Food, treats, play time, door being opened, leash being put on, meeting new friends, toys and  love from you!
  • Your dog will learn to earn everything they want by politely and automatically saying “Please!” by sitting. This teaches good manners.
    • If you want your leash on, you sit.
    • If you want a door to open, you sit.
    • If you want to be pet, you sit.
  • For the fastest training, dogs should earn their meal throughout the day when you are home.  Reward appropriate behaviors throughout the day.  Click here to learn about the Benefits of Hand Feeding
    • Carry food around with you in your pockets, a bait bag, or have it available in easily accessible containers throughout the house.
    • Hand feeding part or all of their meal is a great way to get the dog learning to listen to all members of the household.  This is a great job for the children in the home.


Umbilical Cord Training

  • Keep your dog attached to you in the house, using a leash for the first two weeks.  This prevents your dog from sneaking off and practicing bad habits.  Use a kennel when you can’t watch your dog.


Nothing in Life is Free

  • This training technique is very similar to the learn to earn. The difference is that we will extend the idea to many commands.
    • After you dog has learned a few basic commands, these become behaviors that earn anything important.
  • This becomes a gentle reminder to your dog that we do things on your terms.
    • We may be playing and having fun, but each time you will offer an appropriate behavior to continue that play.
  • Define the rules for your dog and be consistent! Make sure the whole family is on the same page or your dog might become confused.
    • For example, does your dog sit before walking through every door way?
    • Does “down” mean lay down or don’t jump?  If your family isn’t on the same page your dog will surely be confused.
  • To busy to hand feed?  Use a Kong Wobbler instead of a food bowl.  This can be picked up from any pet supply store and it should be noted this is different than a regular rubber kong.

Additional Tips and Tricks

Spend time teaching and training your dog to dog basic skills like “Watch” (eye contact on cue), “leave it” and stay during this time.  Click here to learn how to teach leave it

Here is how we teach watch:

  • Give your dog a week before introducing your dog to dogs outside of the home.  Before going to the dog park do playdates with your friend’s dogs.
  • Don’t force a scared dog into a kennel, instead use food or toys to convince them it’s fun and safe.
  • Before Behavior Modification Starts: Prepping your dog to learn




Adopted Dog Guide to the First Week

Tips for Preventing Problem Behaviors:

In the first days your dog is home she should be supervised at all
times. If you are not able to supervise, use a crate, training pen, or dog
safe room to confine your dog until you can. When she is not within
sight of you, she needs to be in the type of situation where she cannot
practice unwanted behaviors. Barking, pacing, and other behaviors
that reinforce poor impulse control can be self rewarding to your new
dog. Instead, you want to reinforce good behaviors as they occur
when your dog is near to set your new dog up for success. Otherwise,
you tend to forget and miss training opportunities, which makes
training take weeks or months longer.

When You Bring Your New Dog Home:

1. Family Meeting- On the way home, or on your first night together, agree to what rules
you will have for your new dog. Rules such as sittingfb_img_15564931454843196474217352259138.jpg
before doorways, not jumping up, and what cues you
will use in training. For example, will “Down” mean lay
down, get off the furniture, or no jumping? It can only
mean one thing to your new dog. The more consistent
your family is, the easier life will be for you new pup.
2. Kennel- Kennel training gives your dog a safe place
to hide and helps house training come much more
quickly. It also prevents your dog from being able to
chew when you are not home.
3. Enrichment Feeders- Instead of standard food bowls, allow your dog to chase and play
for their daily kibble. Have lots of FROZEN stuffed rubber Kongs (feel free to mix up
what they are stuffed with to keep it exciting) ready and in the freezer for bored dogs.
4. Leash- When you get home, use a leash inside the house to keep your dog close, so he
can’t sneak off to practice bad behaviors like chewing or peeing indoors.
5. Routine– A routine is very reassuring and calming to your new dog. Try to pick a routine
and stick with it from day one. This should include potty breaks, playtime, walks, rest,
and feeding times.
6. Training– Group classes provide a level of distraction that DIY training normally doesn’t.
Group classes provide an excellent source of socialization that can not be achieved by
the unpredictability of a dog park setting.
7. Decompression- Use your best judgment, and based on the temperament of your new
dog, allow your new family member to relax after their big transition into home life during
your first few weeks together. Try to avoid having large gatherings or taking your dog to
heavily trafficked events until they’ve had time to adjust to their new life.

Learn to Earn

In this Learn to Earn program, the idea is to use everything your20181208_1356265372948299044802583.jpg
dog wants as rewards for training. Your dog will learn to earn
everything they want by politely and automatically saying
“Please” by sitting. If you want want your leash on, you sit. If
you want a door to open, you sit. If you want to be pet, you sit.
Sitting to say “please” teaches good manners.
For the fastest training, dogs should earn their meal throughout
the day when you are home. That means no food in the food
bowl. Instead, you’ll carry food around with you in your pockets,
in a bait bag, or have it available in easily accessible containers
throughout the house. This way, when you are home, you can
reward appropriate behaviors throughout the day.

The idea is to use everything your dogs wants to your advantage for training purposes. The dog
will learn to earn everything they enjoy through polite, appropriate behaviors. At the same time,
the dog will learn that performing undesirable behaviors such as jumping on you causes those
rewards to go away.

If you have a behavior problem, contact us right away!
We can help you address these and teach your dog
to be the dog you’ve always dreamed of.

Questionnaire for behavior


Email behavior assessment



How old is your dog:

Does your dog have any medical issues:

When was the last time you took your dog to the vet:

What does your dog eat:

How do you feed your dog:

Any thing else worth noting:




Where did you get the dog be specific which rescue or breeder:

Do you know if littermates or parents had similar issues:

Did you contact the place you got your dog from and what did they say:

How long ago did you get your dog:

What do you know about your dog’s history (type of socialization, foster, breeder ect):


Additional Questions:

What is your dog’s daily routine look like?

What causes your dog to react make a list of everything you can think of?

Has your dog ever bitten a person or dog before?

Does your dog growl if you take him off of furniture?

What cues does your dog know?

Is your dog kennel trained?




What do you want to work on with your dog:

List at least three goals:







If your dog has any of the following issues please fill out additional questions: ANXIETY, DOG-DOG ISSUES, DOG-HUMAN ISSUES



When did you first notice the problem:

Does your dog poop/pee when alone:

Does your dog cause self harm when alone:

Does your dog seem unable to relax:

Does your dog cause destruction?  If so where in the house be specific

Does your dog whine and pace?


Dog-dog aggression or reactivity:

When did you first notice the problem?

What does your dog do when he sees a dog on-leash?

What does your dog do when he meets a dog off-leash?

Has your dog ever bitten another dog?

If so….. How bad was each incident? (How many puncture wounds, did the dog have to be pulled off, was professional care required to treat)

How many times has your dog bitten another dog?

Any additional known dog- dog history known?



When did you first notice the problem?

What does your dog do when he sees a person when he is on-leash?

What does your dog do when he meets a person and is off-leash?

Has your dog ever bitten a person?

If so….. How bad was each incident? (How many puncture wounds, did the dog have to be pulled off, was professional care required to treat)

How many times has your dog bitten a person (clothing, or skin)?

How many of those broke skin?

Is your dog muzzle trained?





Getting Socialization Right


When to start?

Puppies should be handled since birth, so if you are adopting from a rescue or purchasing from a breeder you should be asking about what the socialization looked like before your puppy came home.

Both the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior position statements state “It should be the standard off care for puppies to receive socialization BEFORE they are fully vaccinated.”

According to the AVSAB your puppy can start socialization as long as they have had 1 round of shots at least 7 days prior to starting their new class.  Waiting can mean you miss the window completely.  Watch this video to learn more, When to socialize

Are you reading your new puppy correctly?

One of the most important parts of your job as a new puppy parent is helping your puppy build confidence in following you and in the world around him.

In order to do a good job at this you have to be very keen on what your puppy’s body language is saying about what they are feeling.  You want to look out for any sign your puppy is unsure.  Now is the time to be a proactive and protective puppy parent.

What is socialization?

Socialization is not about letting your puppy play with as many dogs as possible and meet as many people as possible. It is about teaching your puppy the skills and habits necessary for participating within society; while being happy and confident in the world around him. Socialization for pups seems to be generally defined by many dog lovers as the act of meeting and playing with other dogs which can create many long term behavior problems, watch this video to learn more:socialization the right way

Breed snob, why it takes more than owning a breed to make a good owner.

Shelter workers know the line all too well, ” I am here to adopt a “insert breed here.” They don’t care about meeting the dog, or making sure the dog as an individual is a good fit, they are there and ready to adopt that dog based on breed.

When you ask them why they want the dog they simply state, “I’ve owned insert breed here all my life.”

While some of them make experienced and amazing homes, many are referencing the dogs they had growing up that their parents trained. They may not have experience in fixing preexisting challenges or have never really done much with the dogs they had.

As much as I hate to admit it I am guilty of being a breed snob.

I love the NEOs and the DDBs. Don’t get me wrong, I love all of the dogs I work with. I find that a lot of my favorite shelter dogs or actually the chihuahuas and poms, but my whole life I’ve been drawn to Neos.

Like all breed snobs I feel that my breed special, and I feel that we only a certain type of person should own them. When we get them in to the shelter I can’t help but be a little bit more selective on who they go to.

Over the years I’ve begun to wonder does being a breed snob make you a better dog owner? Training professionally, has made me think the answer is” no”.

Hearing dog owners refer to their Cane Corsos as King Corsos makes me want to turn around and walk out of the house. How is it possible that you spent more than $1,000 on a dog without Googling how do at least pronounce the breed? I’m sorry, but the breeder you purchased the puppy from should have at least educated you on how to say the breed name properly.

I also frequently go to a home that’s complaining about typical breed problems.

Great Pyrenees owners complaining about their dogs barking at night and dashound people complaining about their dogs digging, what do you think they were bred for? My favorite is when the owner of a Cane Corso is guarding is complaining about their dog guarding the house and you ask them why they got a cane corso and they say they wanted a guardian. Hum🤔

It’s not so bad when it’s little irritating behaviors, but when you get into the more difficult breeds like the Cane Corsos, the presas and the NEOS you really need to know your stuff.

I have a client that purchased a really nice Neo from a breeder that is beyond amazing. She did her research, she’s had a history of owning giant breeds she has English Mastiff, NEOS, and Cane Corsos.

So, she goes to adopt a new Neo. They ask her, “what do you know about the breed? ”

She gives us that resume it looks really good on paper. History of owning giant breeds. What does she actually know about the breed? Has she brought ANY of these dogs to their full potential?

Since I know her as I client, I believe that she really shouldn’t be owning these dogs.

She didn’t have the time to commit to training she didn’t have the energy for socialization or exercise.

She might have owned multiple English Mastiffs and multiple Neapolitan Mastiffs, but SHE HAD FAILED ALL OF THEM.

Why did she keep going back for the same breed? Why do people keep giving her these dogs?

Her English Mastiffs did pretty well in her home with the exception of some aggression between the dogs in the home.

After her English Mastiff she decided to get her first Neo she did some research she found a pretty good breeder, but let’s face it it’s hard to find a healthy Neo. She brought one home and after a couple years learned he had medical issues and had to be put down. This neo was nice with people, but once again there was dog aggression.

She decided to get another Neo, she starts her research and finds a breeder who really goes through the health testing. She brings him home and does some basic in the house training.

She teaches them not to jump takes him a couple places when he’s young and then around the time he’s 6 months old she decides to get another dog, she brings another Neo into the home. The dogs are getting along famously and they’re getting along along with the kids in the home too. She no longer needs feels the need to take him out to socialize it. He’s socializing with their family dog after all just fine. He’s great with the people in the house. The second neo turns 1, and bites the husband causing 12 stitches. Three months later bites the youngest kid in the face while out in the backyard together. Then bites the husband again. They decided then to have a bbq and not put the dog away, he mauls a child that doesn’t live in the home.

So they ship him off to California and decide to get a cane corso, but their first neo never got socialization or training. That dog attacks the new puppy pretty badly, they get rid of the older dog and then APPROVED by a large breed specific rescue for a neo puppy, so now their two puppies can socialize and exercise each other.

Fast forward they are two years and she can’t control them enough to go for a walk together and they routinely redirect on each other when somebody’s walking by the house.

Just because she is on the breed does not make her a breed expert.

My question is what have done with your dogs? Have you help them reach their full potential? Or they simply yard ornaments?

I’ve owned “insert breed here” all my life.

What does that actually mean?

Have you owned “instert breed here” all of your lifetime and the dogs did nothing but sit in the backyard, go for an occasional walk and jump up on guests OR did you have a companion who you spent time training, taking places, maybe did a Canine Good Citizen with and took on adventures with you?

It is not about how many you have owned, it’s about the time and the energy you wish to invest in the relationship with your dog.

It is about seeking knowledge to develop an even stronger relationship with your dog and meeting your dog’s breed’s needs.

You may have owned 10 German shepherds, but you may have never learned to help them succeed.

Just because you have kids doesn’t make you a good parent and just because you’ve owned a certain breed doesn’t make you an expert.

Before Behavior Modification Starts: Prepping your dog to learn


Week one: NO TREATS

FEEDING, put your dog’s breakfast lunch and dinner portions in a zip lock bag or tuber ware container. You and the whole family hand feed the dog in different rooms throughout the day.

The next two days give your dog 1 handful at a time for simple cues like sit. The rest of the week mix up what you are asking your dog for; sit, down, stay, eye contact.

Food has monitary value to dogs so this builds their work ethic, so that when we challange them slightly they don’t stop working for us.

To learn more about this method read this, Learning to Earn

WALKING, even if you have a yard up your dogs walks to 15 extra minutes each day… so if you don’t normally go for walks you would take a 15 minute walk.

PLAY, play is a great tool for training. Encorage your dog to play with you for 10 minutes twice a day. Tug and fetch are ideal. Even if your dog is staring at you continue to try and teach them to play with you.

COMMUNICATION, “yes” will bridge the gap betwen what they did right and their reward. “Yes” should mark the correct behavior and should predict food or something that they like MORE then food.

To learn how to better communicate with your dog try reading this:communication with your dog

Week two: NO TREATS

FEEDING, invite people outside of the family over to handfeed your dog and handfeed your dog in different places like outside in the yard or on walks. This will prep your dog to accept treats in new places from new people which will make training easier.

WALKING, add an extra 10 minutes to their existing 15 minutes of walking. If you don’t have a yard walking should be at least 1.5 miles a day.

DAILY LIFE, nothing in life is free have your dog train for dog food, sit before each door and down or sit before each time being leashed up. Sitting before attention and accessing favorite toys are a must.

PLAY, up your play sessions to either 3 ten minute sessions or add five minutes to your exsisting sessions. This allows goes a long way in relationship building.

COMMUNICATION, continue teaching your dog that “yes” predicts either a treat or something that they like more then a treat.

Please read:

Please watch:

Top Nutritious Dog Treats

I really like to keep things nutritious and I encourage students to train as much as possible with their dog’s regular dog food.

In certain situations like new places, bigger distractions and with harder work using special treats is appropriate.

#6 I like this one, but it’s big chunks of crumbly-ness. It’s good for dogs that are very picky!

#5 Tried and True. A little crumbly, but not too bad. Stinky for picky dogs, but you have to take the time to precut and properly store.

#4 Less crumbly than the Nature’s Balance rolls, but I’m lazy and this one still has to be cut up and stored.

# 3 Precut pieces, not to crumbly. Strong smell that dogs love, even very picky ones. The down side… a little expensive and there are always small crumbs in the bottom.

#2 Love these! Perfect size, several flavors dogs love and very healthy! The down side… baby puppy teeth have a hard time chewing this so it is better for dogs and puppies with adult teeth.

# 1 Freeze dried, yet not to crumbly. Good for dogs with sensitive tummies and food allergies. Healthy and you don’t have to cut it up ahead of time. Stores easily.

How board and trains renewed my perspective on training.


After loosing my two beloved demo dogs, Boss and Charlie just two months apart I decided to open my home to board and train dogs. I decided I would have one dog at my house at a time for a week-3 weeks and work on behaviors that owners found to challenging to address in their home.

Having a fully trained dog that fetches the remote, heel backwards and could down stay all day can allow you to forget what it’s like to struggle with loose leash walking, barking at the window, bolting through doors, stealing socks, jumping fences and biting your friends. I worked with dogs like these everyday for the last 12 years, but an hour once a week is far different then sharing your life and home with them.

When I didn’t have a board and train clients I would foster a dog from the shelter. All of my fosters had a bite history and my very patient boyfriend never complained, even when a chihuahua held him hostage while I was away. I did this for about a year and six months.  It was an incredible experience and me to truly empathize and better understand my clients and their needs.

Here are somethings that my experiences taught me;

Tethering to you, learn to earn and hand feeding are an absolute pain in the butt. I did it with my mastiffs.  They were so far along it was second nature to them, they didn’t think about bolting through a door and if you forgot to release them they wouldn’t budge.  It wasn’t 10 minutes of waiting at the door for a sit, like a dog that was new to the program.  One of my board and trains I had to leave for every appointment like 20 minutes early to work on door manners at every single door we got to.  She would have rather just pushed me out of the way instead of sitting politely and waiting, but by the end of the first week she WOULD politely sit and wait.  She would also ask to go out by sitting politely at the leash instead of body slamming the door while barking.

I got attached to a lot of the dogs; actually all of the dogs I worked with. I got one board and train with a multiple human bite history.  When I first met with the owners they had labeled him as “Protective” and “Aggressive”. After less than a day and watching the 145 pound dog hiding behind my parking at a parked motorcycle, bolting for his life away from a little lawn marker flag and watching him literally spook at his own shadow I realized just how misunderstood the dog was in his own home.  I became so attached I checked up on him more then normal once he was back home, kind of hoping that it wasn’t working out and they would want to rehome him.  Unfortunately, he was doing great and they report only the most positive feedback.

Board and trains absolutely translate to the dog owner’s home, but their management of the behaviors don’t always. I would come up with a training plan that addressed the owners top three goals and then teach new behaviors.  I would practice the behaviors at home, at the park, at the store and then have other people practice, by the time they got home they could do the behaviors easily even if the owner was royally messing it up.   The biggest challenge I saw was them forgetting that they had behavior dogs all together.  An example would be a dog with two prior bites to the family and they decided to have a children’s birthday party at their house without putting the dog away.  Even though they were sent home with a detailed plan that explicated said that when kids come over put the dog away and when adults come over leash the dog.  When I talked further, she explained, but she’s been doing so good with guests.  It’s hard for owners to keep cautious when their dogs aren’t being naughty.

The best part about doing board and trains was it helped me heal from loosing my two mastiffs. I remember the first time I fostered a dog after loosing my last dog.  My dog’s favorite trick was picking up dropped objects for you, especially car keys.  I was walking the foster dog and dropped my keys, momentarily I looked expectantly at him, forgetting this isn’t something all dogs do and he stared back up at me like. “What?”.  Fostering and board and trains allowed me the ability to regain realistic expectations of owning a dog.