Frequently Asked Questions

Why Train? I Want My Dog To Be Free!

This is not a dog’s mentality. They are pack animals and want to know their place/job in the pack. This gives them a sense of security and purpose. Without a clear job description, dogs oftentimes become anxious or overprotective. Left to their own devices, a dog will come up with their own job description, and it is usually not what you would have chosen.

My Dog Is A 3- Year-Old Rescue And Is Not Potty Trained. Is It Too Late?

No! While it’s always best to develop good habits from the start, with consistency and a high reward-based training program, a dog can be reconditioned to do its business outside. I usually recommend crate training. It is one of the most effective ways to potty train.

You Recommend Crate Training, But I Don’t Want To Ever Crate My Dog. Isn’t That Cruel?

Dogs are naturally den/burrowing animals. As long as the crate is not used as a source of punishment, but rather a safe place with positive associations, most dogs will grow to love their crates. Just like most parents used a crib or playpen when they could not watch their toddler, a crate is a way to keep the dog from doing damage to him/herself or your personal items when you can’t be present.

A dog with separation anxiety, for example, only has a few ways to release the stress of being left alone: digging, chewing, etc. A crate is probably going to be the safest place for him/her. However, dogs should never be left in a crate for inhumane amounts of time. As mentioned earlier, they are pack animals and leaving them alone, or ignoring them for long periods of time, is unnatural and painful for them. Please remember this before even considering getting a dog.

My Dog Doesn’t Like Other Dogs. Should I Bring Him To The Dog Park To Socialize Him?

No. More than likely the dog will get overwhelmed or defensive/aggressive towards other dogs. Think of it this way: If you were terrified of snakes, would it help you to just be thrown into a snake pit?

I Spanked My Kids. Why Don’t You Ever Recommend Physical Punishment For A Dog?

The scientific evidence is out that this is not the most effective training method. Physical punishment can lead to a fearful, neurotic dog (no way to live) or aggression. It is important that dogs build only good associations with hands and feet so they don’t misconstrue an arm or leg as something they need to protect themselves from. While they might tolerate physical punishment from you, the owner, they may not with another adult or child. Dog aggression ends up being a loss for everyone involved. The dog is usually euthanized, the owner is oftentimes sued (which usually leads to loss of home insurance), and the victim tends to live in fear of most dogs from that point forward. Keep in mind, dogs have teeth that could easily crush the bones of your hands. Most show constraint and do not choose to bite, even when they are frustrated. Certainly, as humans, we can come up with more intelligent, creative and effective methods to get the desired results.

My Puppy Bites At My Pant Legs. Is It Becoming Aggressive?

: This is normal behavior for puppies. After leaving the litter, they don’t instantly understand why you don’t have nearly as much fun with this game as their littermates did. Even still, they need to be given alternative behaviors/commands to reduce/eliminate the behavior for your sanity, and to keep your clothes intact!

We Got A Puppy For Our Son For Christmas But He Only Listens To Me. How Can I Get Him To Respond/Bond With My Son?

The son needs to get involved with the training of the dog, as well as walking and feeding the dog, etc. When I come to the house, I make a point to work with kids 7+ years old, to make trainers out of them! Kids are so used to getting bossed around, and when they see they can have some positive influence in the household, training the dog not only builds confidence and leadership skills in them, but also develops the dog-child bond you were hoping for.

My Dog Doesn’t Like Men. Can You Train Her To Like Men?

I can’t necessarily train a dog to “like” men. There is a crucial socialization period, and if the dog had a bad experience with men during that time, it’s hard to undo what damage was done. However, I can recondition the dog to have better associations, and therefore more appropriate responses to men. For instance, if the dog barks and lunges at men on walks, I would never promise you that you can trust the dog off leash, but we would train the dog to walk politely by your side as men pass. The same goes for dogs who bark/lunge at other dogs on walks.

My Dog Should Just Listen To Me Because I’m The Alpha/Boss. Why Do You Do Reward-Based Training?

It has been scientifically proven that reward-based training is the most effective training method. Food is an excellent motivator for dogs and gets quick training results, while making it an enjoyable and bonding experience for both owners and dogs. Since dogs are very habitual, eventually we fade out the food/treats, although I still encourage verbal affirmation/praise.

Do you work for free? Probably not. If you do, you probably still appreciate a verbal reward of “Thank you” or “Good job” now and then. We shouldn’t expect more of our dogs than we do of ourselves.

We’re Getting A Border Collie. Since They Are Such A Smart Breed, We Won’t Need Formal Training, Right?

Wrong! Working dogs need a job to do. Without training THEY will decide what their job is and will probably end up training you! Working dogs often have endless amounts of energy and in order to be well-adjusted/happy, they need healthy outlets/jobs to prevent them from being frustrated, bored and destructive.

Are Any Dogs Untrainable?

Rarely. Dog training is more about training people than dogs. With time, patience, and consistency in training, dogs are fairly easy. Changing old routines/habits of humans is much harder!

Having said that, sometimes genetic disposition, medical conditions or previous trauma can make it difficult. In this case, especially if your dog is aggressive and poses a threat to you or others, a Veterinary Behaviorist would be in order.. They have 4 years of intense training past vet school, and are similar to a human psychiatrist, who can diagnose and prescribe medication.

Even with the intervention of a Veterinary Behaviorist, while it is extremely rare, all cases don’t always have happy endings. It doesn’t necessarily mean you were a bad dog owner or the dog had bad training. The world is an imperfect place in which some things are beyond our control, whether you are a dog owner, a dog trainer or a dog.