Does Your Dog Come When You Call?

Posted on Apr 11, 2015 in Canine Good Citizen, Dog Training, Dominance, Fun, Leash Training, Pets, Positive Association, Positive Reinforcement, Posts, Puppy, Rescue Dog, Safety, Socialization, Training, Unleashed Control | 0 comments



Bonding with my new foster dog

 Many people contact me to help them with recall or getting their dog to come when they call them.

A good recall begins with a strong relationship between the human and the dog. The dog who happily comes when called shares a bond with them and trust them completely. They go to them repeatedly because they associate their owner with good things.

If you call your dog and they look at you as if to say why? “Why should I?”   It would be nice if relationships were that easy, but we know any relationship has a balance of trust and respect.  Anyone parenting children can see similarities as we are able to say “because I said so!” Many of us have learned to give a specific reason, expressing our intentions clearly we will have better success and maintain a healthy relationship with our children in the process.

When we put up a barrier or close the conversation with an intense emotion, we create a sense of frustration, anger or distrust which leads to avoidance.  Avoidance is safer than engaging for a child or dog so they go in the back door or simply put their head down and ignore you.

My foster dogs may think their name is come when they first arrive as they often earn their breakfast when they respond to “come” and then I release them to more freedom.  Hence, conditioning them that Come is a good thing.

My point is if you want your dog to come repeatedly, then reward generously as he is choosing you over that amazing smell in the leaves or snow, that he really would love to investigate.  If he does not come, then I suggest you begin to walk towards him, the second he looks at you, you smile, get down low or bend forward and open your arms with clear intentions and a happy “yes” or click with your clicker and your dog will run to you with excitement much more consistently.

If your dog begins to run to you, but stops 10 or 20 feet away, you can still reward this by tossing him a treat and walking away.  Many dogs have been grabbed when they came close so may avoid being grabbed again as it was scary to them.  Repeat, by calling your dog and tossing the treat again, then walk away, call your dog and get low offer the treat out to the side, quietly drop one on the ground and turn or move away.  You are building a relationship build on trust.  If you or anyone else has tricked this dog, he is smarter now and will not be fooled, never trick a dog or you lose trust and your recall will certainly suffer as a result.

All my foster dogs are usually off leash within 1 week as I condition them that coming to me is 100% positive and feels safe. Enjoy your dog and remember coming when called is much more likely if you are not dominating, but building a trusting relationship.

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Dog Training vs Management

Posted on Jan 3, 2015 in Aggression, Barking, Certified Dog Trainer, Child, Clicker, Crate Training, Dog Training, Fun, Leash Training, Pets, Positive Association, Positive Reinforcement, Posts, Puppy, Rescue Dog, Safety, Socialization, Training | 0 comments

Management, as it relates to dog training  keeps everyone safe.  Management,  does not teach your dog a behavior, in fact it often creates frustration and increases arousal.  Using forms of management are useful when you need to prevent conflict, such as putting your dog in the bedroom when guests come over.  Using effective management tools, often buy’s you some time, as you teach and reward an alternative  behavior.  


I will fade the food lure quickly and simply reward when he offers a sit.

For example:  A leash is a management tool used to prevent a dog from jumping on someone.  In this photo, Gambits leash is a form of management, however I am luring this handsome 5 month old pup into a sit and rewarding him.  With some repetition, a person approaching becomes the cue for Gambit to sit if he wants affection or food wether he has a leash on or not.

Another example:  Grabbing your dogs collar when people enter the doorway is a form of management to prevent him from jumping or running out the door.  However, if you teach him an alternative behavior like a sit/stay then you will no longer have to manage.

One more:  Using a crate to potty train your puppy  is a form of management that keeps the puppy safe and prevents him from practicing the unwanted behavior of peeing on the floor.  Immediately rewarding your puppy with a piece of dried liver after each of the 6 or so times he pees in the grass will certainly be reinforcing, so he will repeat the correct behavior to get the same yummy reward!


3 of these pups are under 1 yr and learning to stay.

 In Summary:  If your dog seems overly aroused, barks often, chases anything that moves, is displaying frustration or poor impulse control behavior, is it possible you are simply frustrating your dog through the over use of managment?  

Consider teaching him what to do in each situation and reward him with anything he loves to reinforce positive behavior.  This will make you a proud parent and keep him from getting frustrated, all while building a better relationship!  


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Good Things Happen…

Posted on Nov 2, 2013 in Fun, Positive Reinforcement, Rescue Dog, Training, Unleashed Control | 0 comments

When I introduce a new rule structure to my dogs or to my clients dog, I make sure good things happen when the dog performs the wanted or desired behavior. We can all agree that consequence drives behavior in all of us, but I really want you to think of the consequence as a positive and rewarding one.  It is not just that I believe it works, it is scientifically proven that if a dog does a behavior and what follows is rewarding, the behavior will be repeated.  This repeated behavior performed several times per day and continued over a few weeks becomes a desired habit.  Is that not what we all are trying to do?  Shape our dogs behavior into good habits?Here are a few examples you might want to try:

1. Good things happen when you are on your mat! 

Good things happen when you go to a mat,
these two are chewing on stuffed kongs.

Simply have your dog near you with a handful of treats and your dog’s mat.  Lay the mat on the floor and when your dog sniffs it, looks at it or step on it, say “yes” and drop a treat or two between his paws.  Ask your dog to get off the mat, pick it up and walk a few steps with it in your hand.  Repeat the process of laying the mat down and rewarding your dog for moving onto the mat.  You can initially walk around the mat and stop while facing your dog with the mat between you two.  When he steps onto it, say “yes” and reward generously.  Initially, put the mat away between sessions and play this game a few times per day.  When you see your dog get excited that you are about to lay the mat down, add a cue like “go to your mat” just before you lay the mat down.  Once your dog is walking on the mat quickly, wait on the “yes” and see if your dog offers you a sit, then say “yes” and reward.  Eventually your dog will offer you a down and then you can jackpot this behavior.

To maintain this behavior of “go to your mat” you will want to randomly reward your dog when you see him go to his mat without being asked.  This can be a good massage, kong time, bone time, yummy treat or a good scratch, whatever your dog finds rewarding.  I use this each morning as we enter the kitchen, each of my dogs will move towards their mat and I will eventually feed them while they are on their mat waiting patiently.  I no longer ask them to go to their mat, they know going to their mat predicts they will get fed, which is rewarding to them and nice for me not to have 12 paws under my feet!

2. Good things happen when you look at me!
Training your dog to perform a simple behavior is nearly impossible without first having your dog’s attention.  If your dog is not quick to look at you, teach your dog that looking at you is ALWAYS followed by a reward.
Again, begin with a handful of your dogs yummy treats and your dog near you, maybe on a leash if necessary.  Say your dog’s name, and when he looks at you say “yes” and toss him a treat.  Wait a few seconds and repeat, saying his name, and marking the moment his head turns towards you and rewarding.

Another game that works well to get your dogs attention is to simply sit in a chair with some treats in hand.  Toss a treat on the floor and when your dog eats the treat he will most likely look at you to see if more food is flying.  When he looks your way, say “yes” and toss another over his head.  When he eats the treat he will come near you again and you can smile and say “yes” when he looks at you and repeat the process.  Your dog will learn that looking at you predicts Good things happen, and will repeat the behavior.

If you are reading this Blog, then I assume you have a dog or are thinking about getting a dog.  My hope is that you are a positive influence in training your dog and not one who feels they need to dominate a dog.  Consider how effective science-based training is, and how your dog “feels” when you are training.  I hope your dog feels good when you are near, when he looks at you and when you reach to touch him.  If not, read more of my blog to learn how to train your dog while also having a happy, healthy and trusting relationship.

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Bark For Life

Posted on May 15, 2013 in Fun, Positive Association, Puppy | 0 comments

Bark For Life
Bug Light Park, South Portland
May 19 2013
11:00 Registration Opens – Participants, Survivors & Caregivers check in.

11:45 – Noon Opening Ceremony
Noon – Walk Begins with the Survivor & Caregiver Lap around the park (both 4-legged and 2-legged) Participants will join in the 2nd lap

A variety of beautiful walks are available in the area. Maps are available
Noon – 1:00pm  Food & Refreshments available for a modest donation
Noon – 3:00pm Music, activities, silent auction, and demonstrations
3:30pm Closing Ceremony
Click here for more information and to register!

Here is a list of exciting demonstrations and activities that will be happening at Bark!

  • Poetic Gold will be doing a Rally-O demonstration
  • The American Red Cross – will have information for emergency planning for your family and your pets!
  • Bobby Silcott, head of the POM Project (Pet Oxygen Mask) will be in attendance to spread the word about this important project that could save the life of our “best friends”. He will also be representing Harvest Hills Animal Shelter
  • Judy Moore of Canine Behavior Counseling will be doing a behavior demonstration, and show us all tricks with her dog Pablo (he is a really cool dog)
  • Chris and Sully – dog therapy team!
  • Finish Forward Dogs will at the event to do a weight- pull and a mini-agility demonstration, and they will also be raffling off a gift certificate for a training class at their table!
  • Gayle Hickok of Pawsitive Results K-9 Rehabilitation will be raffling two passes for her salt-water rehabilitation pool, two initial evaluations, and her famous doggie chicken jerky.
  • DJ-Paul Robart will be keeping the energy high through the whole event.
  • Roosevelt the Border Collie will be present. Roosevelt is in a wheelchair because he doesn’t have use of his front paws
  • My First School Preschool and Childcare will be doing face painting
  • South Portland Police Department will be doing a K-9 demonstration
  • Uptown Hound will be doing nail trimming.
  • Kathy Young will have information about Reiki for pets and people
  • Lori Sirois will also have a table representing Therapy Dogs Incorporated
  • CCART – Cumberland County Animal Response Team will be in attendance
  • Rescue Organizations that are participating: Lucky Pup Rescue, Almost Home Rescue, Fetching Hope Rescue, Border Collie Rescue, Tall Tail Beagle Rescue, CT Underhound Railroad Rescue, and Pug Rescue of New England.
  • We are excited too that Guiding Eyes For the Blind – Maine Puppy Raising Region, and Maine Veterinary Referral Center will be attending!
  • Silent Auction, games, and contests for dogs, adults and kids 
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Positively Rewarding

Posted on Apr 7, 2013 in Clicker, Fun, Positive Reinforcement, Puppy, Socialization, Training | 0 comments

IMG_0248While working with a private client and her pup this week, she repeated herself many times by saying, “she is so smart”, “I had no idea my dog was so smart!”  The funny thing is, I hear this from many clients when teaching their dog a new behavior.

When pet owners learn to teach their dog new behaviors using positive reinforcement, their reaction is always, always, the same: “I had no idea how smart my dog was!”  The only thing they did differently was quickly rewarded the dog when it made the right choice, then repeated the reward when the dog did the correct behavior again.  We were able to teach her puppy to touch her hand with its nose and to lie down, in a matter of minutes using the pups mid-day meal.

2013-04-06+09.46.34Seeing how happy this owner was, and how quickly she became more connected to her pup, reminded me once again how effective positive reinforcement training is — both for the dog and owner!

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