Puppy Outside the Home


Once your puppy has received the proper vaccinations, it’s time to explore and enjoy the great outdoors and to continue socialization in puppy classes, dog parks and dog walks. Make sure to incorporate training into all of your puppy’s favorite activities; train your puppy on walks, in the car and in the park.

The most urgent priority is to continue socializing your puppy to a wide variety of experiences and people, especially children, men, and strangers. Well-socialized puppies grow up to be wonderful companions, whereas antisocial dogs are difficult, time-consuming, and potentially dangerous. Your puppy needs to learn to enjoy the company of all people and to enjoy being handled by all people, especially children and strangers.

The most important priority is that your puppy learns to perfect reliable bite inhibition and develops a soft mouth before he is eighteen weeks old. Whenever a dog bites a person or fights with another dog, the seriousness of the problem depends on the seriousness of the injury. Hence, the ease and success of retraining depends almost entirely on the dog's degree of bite inhibition. The reliability of your dog's bite inhibition determines whether you have a minor problem which may be easily corrected with a few safe, basic training exercises, or whether you have a serious and potentially dangerous problem which is going to be extremely difficult to resolve.

In a perfect world, you will successfully socialize your puppy so that he thoroughly enjoys the company and actions of all people, all dogs, and all animals. More realistically, though, accidents happen. Someone accidentally shuts the dog's tail in the car door. Someone runs to answer the telephone and accidentally treads on a sleeping dog's leg. A child runs and trips and falls on top of the dog while he is gnawing on a bone. When dogs are hurt or startled, their natural response is to snap, lunge, and even bite. Even wonderfully friendly dogs may feel inclined to protect or defend themselves when picked on by other dogs and people.

For example, when hurt or frightened a dog may snap and lunge at a person. But if a dog has well-established bite inhibition it is unlikely his teeth will even touch the skin. Or if there is skin contact, it is unlikely that the teeth will break the skin. The dog has caused no damage. On the other hand, if the dog has inadequate bite inhibition and his teeth puncture the skin, then you have a serious situation which may be difficult and time-consuming to resolve.

Similarly, dogs with well-established bite inhibition never cause damage when fighting with other dogs. The problem is minor because your dog is simply squabbling in a socially acceptable manner. On the other hand, if your dog ever hurts another dog or another animal, you have a major problem and resolution is unlikely.

Bite inhibition must be established in puppyhood, before eighteen weeks of age, since it is difficult to instill bite inhibition in an adolescent or adult dog. Learning the skills and techniques to ensure your puppy develops a reliable bite inhibition and an ultra-soft mouth is the primary reason for you to attend off-leash puppy classes. Your puppy needs to play with other puppies. Playing with adult dogs at home or in the park is simply not sufficient.

The most enjoyable priority of dog ownership is to accustom your well-socialized, soft-mouthed puppy to the world at large and prevent the development of predictable adolescent problems, thus assuring that he remains well-socialized and soft-mouthed. Remember, your dog will only remain sociable if he continues meeting and greeting unfamiliar people and unfamiliar dogs every day. Meeting the same people and dogs over and over is not sufficient. You want your dog to practice the art of meeting and getting along with strangers, not simply getting along with old friends. Consequently, regular walks with your dog are as essential as they are enjoyable.

Your life is about to change. You are about to enjoy all the joys of dog ownership — long, energetic, or relaxing walks, trips in the car, afternoons in the dog park, picnics on the beach, plus so many enjoyable organized doggy activities.

Continued Socialization


Training a dog to be people-friendly and especially to enjoy the company of his immediate human family is the second most important item in your puppy's education — much more important than socializing him to other dogs. (And as we all know by now, the most important item in your puppy's educational curriculum is teaching bite inhibition.) Although a few common sense precautions make it possible to live quite happily with a dog that does not get along with other dogs, it can be extremely difficult and even dangerous to live with a dog that does not like people — especially if he doesn't like family members! So people-friendliness is a much more important doggy quality than dog-friendliness. But it is truly wonderful when a dog is dog-friendly, having had ample opportunity to meet and play with other dogs on walks and in dog parks.

Unfortunately, few suburban dogs are regularly walked or even given the opportunity to interact with other dogs. For many dog owners, dog-friendliness is simply not a top priority. On the other hand, for owners who consider dog-friendliness important, in fact a major reason for having a dog, their dogs are presumably walked and/or taken to dog parks regularly and so are likely to grow up to be sociable with other dogs. But even for these dogs, people-friendliness is much more important than dog-friendliness, because every day when walked or taken to a park, they are likely to meet many strangers, often children. Most puppy classes are family-oriented, so your pup will have opportunities to socialize with all sorts of people — men, women, and especially, children. And then there is the training game. It will blow your mind just how much your puppy learns in his very first lesson.

Dogs learn to come, sit, and lie down when requested, to stand still and roll over for examination, to listen to their owners, and to ignore distractions. Additionally, of course, puppy classes are an absolute blast! You will never forget your pup's first night in class. Puppy classes are an adventure, both for you and for your dog. Remember, you are attending puppy class for you to learn! And there's still an awful lot to learn. You'll pick up numerous useful tips for resolving behavior problems. You'll learn how to control the rambunctiousness that is inevitably part and parcel of doggy adolescence. But, most important of all, you'll learn how to control your puppy's biting behavior.

Training:  More Socialization

Puppy Classes


Check out the new videos from SIRIUS Dog Training on the new SIRIUS Berkeley Puppy 1 page.

As soon as your puppy is three months old, there is an urgent need to play catch-up in terms of socialization and confidence building with other dogs. At the very latest, before he is eighteen weeks old, your pup should start puppy training classes.

Four-and-a-half months marks a critical juncture in your dog's development, the point at which he changes from puppy to adolescent, sometimes virtually overnight. You certainly want to be enrolled in class before your pup collides with adolescence. I cannot overemphasize the importance of placing yourself under the guidance and tutelage of a professional pet dog trainer during your dog's difficult transition from puppyhood to adolescence.

Puppy classes allow your pup to develop canine social savvy while playing with other puppies in a nonthreatening and controlled setting. Shy and fearful pups quickly gain confidence in leaps and bounds and bullies learn to tone it down and be gentle.

Puppy play sessions are crucially important. Play is essential for pups to build confidence and learn canine social etiquette, so that later on as socialized adult dogs they would much rather play than either fight or take flight. If not sufficiently socialized as puppies, dogs generally lack the confidence to have fun and play as adults. Moreover, once they are fearful or aggressive as adults, dogs can be difficult to rehabilitate. Luckily, these potentially serious problems with adult dogs are easily prevented in puppyhood, simply by letting puppies play with each other. So give your puppy this opportunity. It's not fair to condemn your dog to a lifetime of social worry and anxiety by denying him the opportunity to play during puppyhood.

This is not to say that a socialized dog will never spook or scrap. A socialized dog may be momentarily startled, but he gets over it quickly. Unsocialized dogs do not. Also, socialized dogs, which have encountered all sizes and sorts of dogs, are better equipped to deal with occasional encounters with unsocialized or unfriendly dogs.

The Ultimate Reason for Puppy Class

The number one reason for attending puppy class is to provide your puppy with the very best opportunity to fine-tune his bite inhibition. Whether your puppy is still biting you too much and harder than you would like, or whether he is biting less than necessary to develop reliable bite inhibition, puppy play sessions are the essential solution. Other puppies are the very best teachers. They say, "Bite me too hard and I'm not going to play with you anymore!" Since puppies want to spend all their time play-fighting and play-biting, they end up teaching other puppies bite-inhibition.

Classes of young puppies of about the same age generate high energy and activity levels, pretty much on par with groups of children who are of similar age. Each puppy stimulates the others to give chase and play-fight, such that the frequency of bites during puppy play is astronomical. Moreover, each puppy tends to rev up all the others, such that the physical nature of the play and the force of play-bites periodically increase to the point where one puppy predictably bites another too hard and receives the appropriate feedback. A young puppy's skin is extremely sensitive, so pups are likely to provide immediate and convincing feedback when bitten too hard. In fact, a pup is likely to receive better feedback regarding the force of his bites during a single one-hour puppy class than he would all week from his owners at home. Moreover, much of the pup's bite inhibition with other dogs will generalize to good bite inhibition with people, making the pup easier to train and control at home.

Now, as mentioned earlier, even well-socialized dogs may have occasional disagreements and squabbles. After all, who doesn't? But just as we have learned how to resolve disagreements with each other and with our dogs in a socially acceptable manner without tearing flesh or breaking bones, so can socialized dogs. Although it is unrealistic to expect dogs never to squabble and scrap, it is absolutely realistic to expect dogs to settle their differences without mutilating people or other dogs. It all depends on the level of bite inhibition they develop while mouthing other puppies in play. So get your puppy enrolled in puppy class right away. Have him develop a supersoft mouth so that all his woofs are friendly and furry.

"But our puppy’s great with our other dog at home."

Your puppy may be Mr. Sociable with your other dog, but you're in for a shock when your puppy goes out alone, whether for a walk on the street, to a dog park, or to training class. You will quickly find that your dog is not socialized at all. Instead he will likely run and hide and defensively growl, lunge, and snap. Your puppy may appear to be extremely well-socialized and friendly at home, but he is only socialized and friendly to one dog. Also, he has likely become overdependent on one dog, and when he goes out alone for the first time, he will fall apart, missing the security and company of his best friend and bodyguard, your other dog. Socialization requires meeting a variety of dogs. To keep a socialized puppy socialized, he needs to meet unfamiliar dogs every day. So walk your puppy and take him on regular trips to dog parks. And be sure to enroll him in puppy classes.

Looking for a Puppy Class

One hopes you will have checked out a variety of classes before you get your puppy so that you will have a pretty good idea of what you are looking for. But here are a few tips: Avoid puppy classes that advocate the use of any metal collar or any means of physical punishment that frightens, harms, or causes pain to your pup. Push-pull, leash-jerk, grab-and-shake, alpha rollover, and domination techniques are largely ineffective, besides being adversarial and sometimes downright unpleasant. These out-of-date methods are now, thank goodness, by and large a thing of the past.

Remember, this is your puppy. His education, safety, and sanity are in your hands. There are so many good puppy schools. Search until you find one.

Look for puppy classes where the pups are given ample opportunity to play together off-leash and where pups are frequently trained and settled down during the play session, using toys and treats and fun and games. Off-leash puppy play is vital, but equally as important, the play session must include many short training interludes, so owners may practice controlling their pup when he is worked up and distracted. Look for classes where puppies learn quickly and owners are pleased with their puppies' progress. And above all look for classes where the trainer, puppies, and owners are all having a good time!

You be the judge, and judge wisely. Choosing a suitable puppy class is one of your most important puppy husbandry decisions.

To locate Certified Pet Dog Trainers in your area contact the Association of Pet Dog Trainers.

"The vet says our puppy is too young for class."

Understandably, veterinarians care about the physical health of their patients. Common and serious infectious diseases such as parvovirus and distemper are a big concern with young puppies, which require a series of immunizations to produce solid immunity. A puppy's risk of infection depends on his level of immunity and the infectiousness of the environment.

A puppy's acquired immunity increases with successive immunizations to around 70–75 percent immunity by three months of age and approximating 99 percent immunity at five months of age. Different environments range from relatively safe to extremely hazardous. But no animal is 100 percent immune to disease, and no environment is 100 percent safe. The safest environments are indoors (homes and puppy classes) and private outdoor property (fenced yards). Sidewalks and dog parks are potentially more hazardous and the two most hazardous areas are the ground outside of a veterinary clinic and the waiting room floor.

It is a sad fact of life that your puppy is always at risk. For example, dried feces carrying parvovirus may blow in the wind and end up in your garden or home. Or a family member could step in infected urine and feces and track it through the home. The safest place for your young puppy is inside your home or fenced backyard. Keep him there until he is three months old and make sure to maintain routine hygiene and leave outdoor shoes outside. Your puppy has household manners to master and many pressing socialization exercises to do in the safety of your home before he is three months old. Other relatively safe places include your car and the homes and fenced yards of family and friends. So it is possible for your pup to begin to safely explore the world at large. Just remember to carry him between house and car.

Puppy classrooms are pretty safe places, since only vaccinated puppies are present and the floors are regularly cleaned and sterilized. However, I would still recommend carrying the pup between car and class until he is four months old. Luckily, the breeds that sometimes have immunity problems — Rotties and Dobies, for example — are slow developers, and it is fine to delay starting class until they are four months old. I actually prefer bigger, slower-maturing dogs to start class at four months so that adolescent problems can be dealt with while the dog is still in class. Otherwise, if a big dog starts class at three months of age, he will graduate at four-and-a-half months and the owner is still under the misapprehension that they are living with a teddy bear.

I would similarly advise to delay taking your puppy to dog parks or for walks in public places frequented by other dogs (and may be contaminated with a variety of viruses and other infectious agents) until he is at least four or five months old. You can always practice leash-walking around your house and yard before performing in public, and you should be inviting people to your house on a regular basis.

I would strongly advise that a puppy not be put on the waiting room floor or on the ground outside of a veterinary clinic until he is at least five months of age. Until then, carry your puppy from your car directly to the examination table.

Physical health concerns are important but do remember, that your puppy's physical health is only part of the picture. Psychological and behavioral health are equally as important. Very few puppies actually die from parvovirus (especially if treated), whereas thousands of dogs are routinely euthanized because of behavior and temperament problems. Indeed, behavior problems are the dog's most common terminal illness during his first year of life. And just as a developing puppy needs immunizations against infectious diseases, he also requires social and educational "immunizations" to prevent him from developing behavior and temperament problems. For all-around health, a young puppy must receive immunization against disease, but he must also get out to friend’s houses and puppy classes and eventually on walks to dog parks as soon as possible.

Adapted from AFTER You Get Your Puppy by Dr. Ian Dunbar

Training:  Puppy Classes

SIRIUS® Berkeley Puppy 1

SIRIUS Dog Training: The Original Puppy School.
In 1982, Dr. Ian Dunbar created the first modern puppy training classes designed specifically for pet dogs under 6 months of age. Utilizing lure-reward training techniques, Dr. Dunbar made raising a well-mannered dog easy, effective and enjoyable for everyone involved. His methods have since become the standard for puppy classes worldwide, and SIRIUS has grown to include over a dozen trainers, with locations all over the San Francisco Bay Area.

Now you can watch a real SIRIUS Puppy classes in action, right here on DogStarDaily!

We're in the process of reorganizing our videos right now.  To see the SIRIUS Berkeley Puppy 1 videos, please use the following link:


Training:  Puppy Classes

Lifestyle Training


If you want your puppy to obey each family member in all settings and situations, then every member of the family must train the pup in every setting and situation. In order to teach your puppy to respond here, there, and everywhere, it needs to be trained here, there, and everywhere. The secret is to train your puppy little but often — at least fifty tiny training sessions a day — with only a couple of sessions lasting for more than a few seconds.

Integrate Training and Games

Playing games with lots of rules is a fun way to train your dog and exercise her mind. Your puppy will learn that games have rules and that rules are fun. Training becomes a game, and games become training.

Integrate Training and Lifestyle

In order to get your puppy to respond here, there, and everywhere, she needs be trained here, there, and everywhere. Train your puppy little but often. The secret is to totally integrate training into both your puppy's lifestyle and your lifestyle.

Train regularly and you'll discover that integrated training is easy and enjoyable. For example, call your puppy for a body-position sequence with variable length stays in each position whenever there are advertisements on the television, or every time you open the fridge, make a cup of tea, turn a page of the newspaper, or send an e-mail. If you instruct the pup to perform a simple body-position sequence on every such occasion, you will easily be able to train your puppy over fifty times a day without deviating from your normal lifestyle. Remember that you are responsible for a young, impressionable, developing canine brain. Exercise that doggy brain. Allow your pup to achieve and enjoy her full potential.

Integrate Training into Your Own Lifestyle

Once your dog is well-trained, she may enjoy full run of your house, will be welcome almost anywhere, and may eventually graduate to couch work. My dogs spend most of the evening snuggled on the couch. They like BBC America and Soccer (Arsenal supporters.) Occasionally, I may ask them to do something during breaks, like move over, fetch the paper, change the channel, vacuum the living room, or fix dinner. They're highly trained dogs.

Your Dog's Lifestyle

Integrate short training interludes (quick sits and releases) into your puppy's walks and off-leash play. Each quick sit is immediately reinforced by allowing the dog to resume walking or playing — the very best rewards in domestic dogdom. Integrate short training interludes into every enjoyable doggy activity — riding in the car, watching you fix their dinner, lying on the couch, and playing doggy games. For example, have your dog sit before you throw a tennis ball and before you take it back. Progressively increase the length of sit-stay with each repetition.

Similarly, insert short training preludes before all your puppy's enjoyable activities. For example, ask the pup to lie down and roll over for a tummy rub, or to lie down and stay a while before being invited for a snuggle on the couch. Have her sit before you put her on leash, before you open the door, before you tell her to jump in the car, before you allow her to get out of the car, and before you let her off-leash. And be sure to have her sit for her supper. With total integration, your puppy will see no difference between playing and training. Fun times will have structure, and training will be fun!

Life Rewards

Puppies are easy to train. It is so easy to teach them what we want them to do. In fact, a young puppy will do just about anything you ask just for the sake of doing it. As the puppy collides with adolescence, however, it begins to ask world-shattering questions, such as "Why?"

Just because your puppy has learned what "Sit" means does not necessarily mean she will sit when you request her to do so. Consequently, the most important ingredient of any educational program, whether for children, employees, husbands, or dogs, is teaching "Why comply?" You must teach the relevance of complying. Indeed, once you have taught your puppy the positive consequences of cooperating, she will eagerly want to comply!

First make a list of all the things in life your puppy enjoys. Then institute a simple and effective rule: Nothing will be denied, nor withheld from the pup, but the puppy has to sit beforehand. It's just common canine courtesy, really. Nothing more than a puppy "please."

In no time at all, your pup will learn the relevance of complying with your wishes and will be only too willing, eager, and happy to oblige. Now your dog will want to do what you want it to do.

Basically, you need to convince your pup that he or she is the trainer and you are the pupil! Your puppy needs to believe, "Sitting is the canine cue — the veritable key to the door — which makes my owners do anything I want. If I sit, they will open doors (how courteous). If I sit, they will massage my ears (how affectionate). If I sit, they will share the couch (how cooperative). If I sit, they will throw the tennis ball (how athletic). And if I sit, they will serve supper (how well-trained)."

Aside from producing a more reliable dog, integrating training into the daily routine of your dog makes your life more enjoyable, and allows your dog to have more fun and freedom. For example, something as simple as going through a door with an untrained and uncontrollable dog can be a time-consuming and daunting prospect. It can take some owners almost five minutes to put on the leash and make their exit. This means leaving the house with the dog just once a day may easily waste more than a whole fortnight over the lifetime of the dog. That's the equivalent of fourteen entire days and nights spent struggling with dogs in doorways. The result, of course, is that many owners do not bother to walk the dog at all if it's that much trouble.

On the other hand, well-trained dogs get to be taken on walks, picnics, days out, and car trips with their owners, and they are far less likely to be relegated outdoors, or isolated in a back room when visitors arrive. A well-trained dog has much more fun.

Settle Down and Shush

Right from the outset, make frequent little quiet moments part of your dog's daily routine. Remember, a puppy is not like an irritating child's toy. You cannot simply remove the batteries from a rambunctious adolescent dog. Instead you must learn how to "turn off" your dog. Learn to use walks and your puppy's favorite and most exciting games as rewards for settling down quietly and calmly.

Throughout the course of the day, have your puppy settle down for longer periods at home. For example, when watching the television, have your pup lie down on-leash, or in his bed, but during the commercial breaks, release the puppy for short, active play-training sessions.

When playing with your puppy, have him settle down and shush every 30 seconds or so. To begin with, have the pup lie still for just two seconds before letting it play again. Use a release command, such as "Free Dog," "At Ease," or "Let's Play." After 30 seconds, interrupt the play session again with a three-second quiet moment. Then try for four seconds. And then five, eight, ten, and so on. Alternate "Settle Down" with "Free Dog" and with each repetition, it becomes progressively easier to get your puppy to settle down quickly.

Once your pup gets the picture, the exercise may be profitably practiced on walks. When walking round the block, periodically have your puppy settle down for just a few seconds before resuming the walk. An entertaining way to train is to instruct your pup to settle down every twenty yards or so, while you read an article from the newspaper, or a page from a good book, such as Jean Donaldson's doggy bestseller, The Culture Clash.

With the above exercises, your puppydog will learn to settle down quickly following a single command, no matter how excited or distracted he may be. Moreover, your dog settles down willingly and happily because he knows being told to lie down is not the end of the world, and not necessarily the end of the walk. Rather, your dog has learned, "Settle Down" is just a relaxing time-out for gentle praise and affection before his exciting life as Mr. Activity Dog resumes once more.

It is difficult to have too many rules with an adolescent dog. Teach your dog to be calm and controlled when requested and there will be years of enjoyment ahead. Let your puppy pull on-leash, and it will pull on-leash as an adult. Let your puppy play indiscriminately and without frequent interruption, and it will become inattentive and uncontrollable as an adult. Integrate play and training, and integrate training and walks. In no time at all, training will be fun, and fun activities (play and walks) will be structured.


Adapted from AFTER You Get Your Puppy by Dr. Ian Dunbar


Training:  Lifestyle Training

Training on the Dog Walk


As soon as it is safe for your puppy to go out, take him on walks — lots of them. There is no better overall socialization exercise and no better overall training exercise. As an added benefit, dog walks are good for your health, heart, and soul. Walk that dog! Tie a pink bow to his collar and see how many smiles you get and how many new friends you make. Doggy socialization is good for your social life.

Housetraining on Walks

If you do not have a private yard or garden, make sure your dog urinates and defecates before you begin your walk. Thus, the walk becomes a reward for doing the right thing in the right place at the right time. Otherwise, when you terminate an enjoyable walk after your dog has done her duty, you end up punishing her for eliminating. Your dog might then start delaying elimination to prolong his walks.

Put your puppy on-leash, leave the house, and then stand still and let the pup circle and sniff. Give her four or five minutes. If she doesn't perform, go back indoors and try again later. Keep your pup in her short-term confinement area for the interim. If your puppy does go within the allotted time, praise her profusely, reward her with a dog treat, say, "Walkies," and off you go. You'll find a simple "no feces = no walk" policy quickly produces a speedy defecator.

There are additional benefits to teaching your dog to eliminate prior to a walk. Clearing up the mess and depositing it in your own trash is much more convenient than a mid-walk cleanup. Walking an empty dog empty-handed is also generally more relaxing than walking a dog and lugging around a bag of dog doo doo.

Socializing on Walks

Take a few time-outs on each walk. Do not rush your young dog through the environment. Give your dog ample opportunity to relax and watch the world go by. A stuffed Kong will help her settle down quickly and calmly each time you stop.

Never take your dog's even temperament for granted. The great outdoors can be a scary place, and there will be the occasional surprise to spook your pooch. The best approach is to prevent these problems. Handfeeding your dog her dinner on walks helps her form positive associations with people, other dogs, and traffic. Offer your dog a piece of kibble every time a car, big truck, or noisy motorcycle goes by. Offer your dog a couple of pieces of kibble every time another dog or person passes. Praise your dog and offer a treat whenever she greets another dog or person in a friendly fashion. Praise your dog and offer three tasty treats whenever a child approaches. And when a child whizzes by on a skateboard or dirt bike, handfeed her the whole bag of food.

Should someone wish to meet your dog, first show them how to use kibble to lure/reward her to come and sit. Ask the stranger to offer the kibble only after your dog sits to say hello. From the outset, teach your dog to always sit when meeting and greeting people.

Training on Walks

When your dog is five months old, puppyhood is over, and you will begin to realize that the canine weight-pulling record approximates ten thousand pounds. Dogs pull on-leash for many reasons. The view is always better for the lead dog. A tight leash provides the dog a "telegraph wire" that communicates the owner's intentions, thus affording the dog the luxury of looking around and otherwise checking out the action. Pulling while on-leash appears to be intrinsically enjoyable for dogs. And we let them do it. Each second the leash is tight, each pulling moment is hugely reinforced by each step the dog takes, forging ahead to investigate the ever-exciting, ever-changing olfactory environment. Here are a few dos and don'ts for teaching your dog to walk calmly on-leash:

DO practice leash walking around your house and yard from the very beginning, and take your puppy for walks in public as soon as he is old enough.

DON'T wait until your dog reaches adolescence before trying to teach him to walk on-leash in public, unless you wish to provide amusement for onlookers.

DO alternate short periods of 15 to 30 seconds when your dog walks by your side, with longer periods of a minute or so when your dog is allowed to range and sniff at the end of the leash. This motivates your dog to walk by your side, as walking side-by-side is regularly reinforced by permission to range and sniff.

DON'T expect your adolescent (or adult) dog to endlessly heel. He will learn that heeling is mutually exclusive to ranging and sniffing. He won't want to heel and will grow to resent training and the trainer (you) for spoiling his fun.

DO consider training your dog to pull on-leash. Thus, instead of being a problem, pulling on-leash can be the solution, an effective reward to reinforce calmly walking by your side. Alternating slack-leash walking and pulling on-leash is enthusiastically endorsed by my Malamutes. Two paws up! Also, on-command leash-pulling is wonderful for ascending steep hills, pulling sleds, soapbox cars, and skateboards.

DON'T allow your dog to decide when to pull on leash. Employ red light/green light training. When your dog tightens the leash, immediately stop, stand still, and wait. Once he slackens the leash, or better yet, once he sits, proceed with the walk.

Red Light/Green Light

The good old dog walk has to be one of the dog's biggest rewards, second only to a romp in the park. Many dogs go quite crazy at the prospect of a walk, and of course, the walk only reinforces his craziness. Moreover, dogs pull on-leash with increasing vigor with every step you take, and, of course, each step you take reinforces the dog's pulling. Luckily, there's a better way. The walk can reinforce your dog's good manners.

Before going on a walk, practice leaving the house in a mannerly fashion. Say "Walky, Walky, Walkies!" and waggle the dog's leash in front of his nose. Most dogs will go ballistic. Stand still and wait for your dog to calm down and sit. With his walk stalled before starting, your dog will suspect you want him to do something, but as yet he isn't sure what. He will likely offer many creative suggestions, maybe his entire behavior repertoire. Your dog may frantically bark, beg, jump up, lie down, roll over, paw you, and circle you. Ignore everything your dog does until he sits. It doesn't matter how long it takes; your dog will sit eventually. When he does, say, "Good dog," and snap on his leash. When you snap on his leash, your dog will likely reactivate. So stand still and wait for him to sit again. When he does, say, "Good dog," take one step toward the door, stand still, and then wait for him to sit once more. Head toward the door one step at a time and wait for your dog to sit after each step. Have your dog sit before you open the door and have him sit immediately after going through the door. Then come back inside, take off the dog's leash, sit down, and repeat the above procedure.

You'll find that the time it takes for your dog to sit progressively decreases as the exercise proceeds. You'll also notice your dog becomes calmer each time you leave the house. By the third or fourth time you leave, your dog will walk calmly and sit promptly.

Don't prompt your dog to sit. Don't give him any clues. Let your dog work it out for himself. Your dog is learning even when he presents a series of unwanted behaviors. He is learning what you don't want him to do. The longer you wait for your dog to sit, the better he learns which behaviors are unwanted. When your dog sits and receives praise and a reward, he is learning what you want him to do.

Dogs love this game. After playing the game for a very short time, your dog learns which green-light behaviors (sitting) get you to proceed and which red-light behaviors (everything else) cause you to stand still.

When your dog can leave the house in a mannerly fashion, it is time to go for a real walk. Put your dog's dinner kibble in a bag, for today he will dine on the walk. Hold a piece of kibble in your hand, stand still, and wait for your dog to sit. When he does, say, "Good dog," and offer the kibble. Then take a giant step forwards, stand still, and wait for your dog to sit again. As soon as you step forward, likely your dog will explode with energy. Stand still and wait. Eventually your dog will sit again. Say, "Good dog," offer the kibble, and take another giant step forward. As you repeat this procedure over and over, you'll notice your dog sits progressively more quickly each time you stand still. After just a few repetitions your dog will begin to sit immediately each time you stop. Now take two giant steps before your stop. Then try three steps and stop, and then five, eight, ten, twenty, and so on. By now you will have discovered that your dog walks calmly and attentively by your side and sits immediately and automatically each time you stop. You will have taught him all this in just one session, and the only words you said were "Good dog."

Sit and Settle Down

Have numerous short training interludes during the walk. Stop for a short training interlude every twenty-five yards or so. For example, each time you stop, say, "Sit," and as soon as your dog sits, say, "Let's go," and start walking again. Thus, every time you stop, resuming the walk effectively rewards your dog for sitting.

Keep most training interludes shorter than five seconds, so as to reinforce quick sits and downs or short sequences of body-position changes, such as sit-down-sit-stand-down-stand. You may periodically reward your dog with kibble if you like, but this is hardly necessary, because resuming the walk is a much better treat for your dog. Occasionally insert longer training interludes to practice having your dog walk by your side for 15 to 30 seconds at a time or to reinforce two- or three-minute settle-downs. Offer a stuffed Kong for your dog's amusement and read a newspaper for yours.

The above training techniques will mold your dog's behavior and mend his manners in a single walk. By averaging seventy or so training sessions per mile, a single walk will troubleshoot virtually any training problem. For example, you may experience some difficulty getting your excited dog to pay attention and settle down the first few times you stop, but by the fourth or fifth time, it will be easy. After an enjoyable three-mile walk (with two hundred or so training interludes), your dog will be nothing less than brilliant.

The reason why this technique is extraordinarily successful is twofold:

1. Repeated training interludes force you to face your foremost fears and conquer them. The troubleshooting nature of these repetitive training interludes allows you to solve pressing training problems quickly. For example, your problem is not that your dog does not settle down; he does, but only eventually, only occasionally, and only of his own volition. You want your dog to settle down promptly and reliably upon request. Practice over and over in the above fashion, with many short training interludes during the walk. Your dog will comply more and more quickly with each trial. Eventually, he will learn to comply immediately.

2. Most owners train their dog only in one or two locations, such as the kitchen and training class, and they end up with a good kitchen-dog and a mannerly class-dog. But the dog still doesn't pay attention on walks and in parks. Presumably, the dog thinks that "Sit" only means sit in the kitchen and in class, because they are the only two places where he has been trained. With seventy or so training interludes per mile, however, every single practice session is in a different setting with different distractions — on quiet streets and busy sidewalks, leafy trails and open fields, near schools, and in park playgrounds. Thus, your dog learns to heed your instructions and quickly and happily comply no matter where he is, what he is doing, and what is going on. Your dog generalizes the "Sit" command to mean sit everywhere and at any time.

If you train your dog on every walk, you will soon have a puppy that will sit quickly and settle down promptly with a single request, no matter how excited or distracted he may be. Moreover, your dog settles down willingly and happily because he knows that being told to lie down is not the end of the world and not even the end of the walk. Your dog will have learned that "Settle Down," for example, is just a relaxing time-out with gentle praise before his exciting life as Walking Dog resumes.

With your now-mannerly dog, you'll find that it is quicker navigating country roads and suburban sidewalks than with your previously hyperactive hound. Now you can follow your intended itinerary without being pulled every which way but loose.


Adapted from AFTER You Get Your Puppy by Dr. Ian Dunbar


Training:  Training on Walks

Training in the Car


Don't forget to practice in the car. It's the same technique as on the walk. For a couple of days, read the newspaper in the car, having instructed your dog to settle down with a stuffed Kong. Have a short training interlude every minute or so to practice some body-position changes —sit, down, stand, etc. —or place changes — back seat, front seat, seat belt, crate, etc. It is much easier to do this when you are not driving and the car is stationary. Once your dog promptly responds to each request, repeat the exercises with a friend driving. You'll soon find your dog happily responds to your requests when you are driving. Once you have a dog that will settle down anytime, anywhere — in the car and on walks — it's time to get him out and about. Be sure to take a bag of kibble with you. Take your dog everywhere — on errands around town, to the bank, pet store, Granny's, to visit friends, to explore the neighborhood, or maybe just for the ride. It's time for picnics in the park, walks, and more walks. And again, always have kibble on hand to give to your dog whenever dogs or people approach. Also, give kibble to strangers to train your dog how to greet them, that is, to sit for a food reward.

Training:  Training in the Car

Training in the Dog Park


Letting your dog play uninterrupted in the park can be one of the quickest ways to lose control over your adolescent dog. Allow him to play uninterrupted and you'll quickly lose his attention and have no control over him whatsoever. On the other hand, if you integrate training and play, you'll soon develop reliable, off-leash distance control over your dog.

How to Train Your Dog Not to Come When Called

Many owners let their dogs off-leash without so much as a "please" or a "Sit." Often the dogs are excitedly bouncing and barking in anticipation of playing. Thus being let off-leash reinforces their boisterous behavior. They delight in their new-found freedom, running around, sniffing, chasing each other, and playing together like crazy. The owners look on and chat. Eventually, it's time to go. One owner calls her dog, the dog comes running, the owner snaps on the leash, and the play session is over.

This sequence of events is likely to happen just once or twice, because on subsequent trips to the park the dog understandably will not be quite so keen to come to his owner when called. It doesn't take much for the dog to make the association between coming when called and having an otherwise utterly enjoyable romp in the park abruptly terminated. On future trips to the park, the dog approaches his owner slowly with head down. The owner is now doing a fine job demotivating the dog's recall and is inadvertently training the dog not to come when called.

Indeed, slow recalls quickly become no recalls, as the dog tries to prolong his fun by playing Catch-Me-If-You-Can. The irritated owner now screams for the dog to come, "Bad dog! Come here!" And, of course, the dog muses, "I don't think so! In the past I have learned that that nasty tone and volume mean you're not too happy. I think it would be a mite foolish for me to approach you right now. You're not in the best frame of mind to praise and reward me appropriately." But you are not going to do this with your dog, are you?

How to Train Your Dog to Come When Called

Instead, you are going to take your dog's dinner kibble to the park, call your dog every minute or so throughout his play session, have him sit for a couple of pieces of kibble, and then let him go play again. Your dog will soon learn that coming when called is an enjoyable time-out, a little refreshment, a kind word, and a hug from you, before he resumes play. Your dog becomes confident that coming when called does not signal the end of the play session. Your dog's enthusiastic recalls will be the talk of the town! When it is time to end the off-leash play session, I like to soften the blow by telling my dogs, "Let's go and find your Kongs!" Before going to the park, I always leave stuffed Kongs in the car and back home as a special treat.

In addition, you might consider teaching your dog an emergency sit or down, which is often better than an emergency recall. Teaching a reliable sit or down is much easier than maintaining a reliable recall. With a quick sit you instantly control your dog's behavior and limit his movement. Once your dog is sitting, you have several options:

1. You may let the dog resume playing. (Either you were just practicing the emergency sit, or the danger has passed.)

2. You may call your dog to you. (The surroundings are changing and it would be safer if your dog were closer; other dogs, people, or especially children are approaching.) Your dog is more likely to come when called if he is already sitting and looking at you, that is, if he is already demonstrating willing compliance.

3. You may instruct your dog to lie down and stay. (The setting is likely to be unstable for a while and it would be safer if your dog were not running around or running toward you. For example, a group of schoolchildren may be passing between you and your distant dog. To call your dog now would scatter the children like bowling pins.)

4. Walk up to your dog and put him on leash. For added stability, it is good practice to hold your dog's attention with your hand in a policeman stop signal and continually praise your dog for staying as you approach. (Do this when danger is imminent and a recall or distant stay would be unwise. For example, a herd of one hundred goats is being driven towards your dog. This once happened to my Malamute in Tilden Park in Berkeley.)


Adapted from AFTER You Get Your Puppy by Dr. Ian Dunbar


Training:  Training in the Park