The Secret to a Great Dog

There are some jobs that no matter the results, the people get paid. For instance, we all know that if we see a doctor and we remain ill, he still gets paid for his time and efforts. If you see a therapist and are still troubled, he still gets paid for the sessions to which you went. When you pay me, you pay for my time and effort spent with your dog and my knowledge, expertise and hands-on skills. But, when it comes to obtaining results, much like taking the doctors advice and doing the things the therapist asks, this is where you and I need to work together. I can produce results from your dog. But, in order for you to achieve the same results, you need to participate. You need to read the handouts provided to you, you need to watch the videos I send, and you need to practice what I show you over and over again to learn the hands-on skills. You need to put in the time, the effort and bring the enthusiasm and care to your dog during training time,.

It is said that “training is in the environment.” The training that your dog receives from me does not live inside the dog. and remain there for you whenever you want to access it. Behavior changes with each interaction and each environment the dog experiences. When I am with your dog, I am all in. Everything I do is to achieve the most change in behavior as fast as possible, which means that I reward almost every single thing the dog does that I like. I spend the time focused on your dog, knowing that the more I can help him do the right things, the more rewards he will get and the stronger and more frequent the behaviors I am training will occur.

I don’t usually feel frustrated or angry or disappointed in your dog’s behavior. I don’t try to figure out why the dog does what he does. I focus on what I want to achieve and I reward that, a lot. I leave handouts because some people learn through reading. The handouts serve to fill in whatever you may have missed during our time together; or if I am training your dog without you present, they help you understand what I am doing during the videos and direct you on what you should do with your dog. The videos are provided (or taken by you) because some people learn by watching. They also serve as proof that I worked with your dog and am achieving results. I talk to you in the videos. The videos are also valuable, as you can save them and use them later for another dog if you like, or use them to review things you slacked on.

It is my job to deliver information to you and the dog. I am a teacher and a coach in the subject of dog behavior. I will repeat myself. I will make things simpler. I will alter my usual routine if I feel it will help. My job is to teach you skills to manage your dog’s behavior and to advise you about things you may not know about dogs. I will do my best to motivate you to work with your dog. To try again. To keep going. What isn’t mine, is the responsibility for what happens to your dog’s behavior after I stop seeing your dog or even between sessions. The dog belongs to you and so does the responsibility for his behavior. If you don’t understand something I show you, I will keep teaching you until you get it., but there is nothing I can do if you do not put my advice in place and you do not practice the training.

I have heard every excuse in the book. I know when a client is exaggerating, lying and avoiding answering a question. I know who reads the handouts and who watches the videos. I know who really wants a well-behaved dog and who just wishes for one. I know when people lie to themselves because they are too busy to have a dog, yet they do. I know why people tell me their dog gets plenty of exercise, but it never leaves its property. I know that many people simply have a dog they are not equipped to handle. I know when people have too many dogs. I know when people really don’t want their dog anymore but can’t say it out loud. I know when a client just wants me there to listen to him complain. I know that when a client is upset it isn’t always about the dog in the room. I know when possessing a dog is soothing a need in the human, but the human doesn’t even know it. I know when a client gets a puppy to lessen their pain of losing their other dog. I know when people try to recreate a cherished memory by getting another dog to be just like the previous dog. People get dogs for many reasons, but the only good reason to get a dog is because you like dogs and want to spend time with a dog doing dog things.

One time in a weak moment, I spent $1000 on a diet plan. I allowed myself to fall for the talk and the testimonials. The salesman said everything I needed to hear and I wanted to lose weight without doing the actual work sooooo badly, I was willing to spend the money. The plan was for 2 weeks. I made it 6 days and couldn’t do it anymore. I knew that if I followed the plan, I would lose the weight, but I couldn’t do it. It was too many pills and potions at too many times and was too specific about what I could eat and when. And, I was STARVING!! I didn’t ask for my money back or even blame the salesman. I blamed myself for knowing better and dishing out the money for something that I already knew how to do. It’s no secret. Eat less and exercise more.

So here is the secret to a well mannered dog…..

First, only get a dog if you have the time, money and energy to care for it properly.

Second, choose a dog that is right for you -don’t try to squeeze a square through a hole. If you aren’t going running, don’t get a Weimeraner. If you have never had a dog before, don’t get a Malinois. If you want to take your dog everywhere, don’t get a Bulldog! It’s too hot here.

Third, you must be honest about what your dog needs and then you need to meet its needs immediately and continually. If you do not train it when you first get it, it will develop behavioral problems and problems never get better by waiting longer to deal with them.

Fourth, do not hire someone to do what you should be doing. There is no magic in the expensive board and train places. They spend A LOT of hours with your dog and deserve to be paid, but you won’t get what you pay for -YOU didn’t do anything. If you want a well-socialized dog, don’t drop it off at the daycare around the corner, because there is nothing good or social about 40 dogs running around with no purpose in an enclosed space all day with a person supervising them who has no particular knowledge about dog behavior or the care of dogs. Quality care is something you must pay real money for and in order to influence your dog, you must spend time with it.

Fifth, do not blame your dog or your dog trainer or dog walker or dog daycare person or anyone else who handles your dog for you, if the dog does not please you and your wishes for its behavior. It is YOUR dog.

And lastly, when all else fails and you are unhappy or sick of the dog or need to “get rid of” your dog for any number of made up reasons - please do not dump it on some poor, generous rescue organization with no money, no resources and too many dogs already in their care. If you bring a dog into your home and do not care for it properly, it is your responsibility to figure out what to do with it when you realize you made a mistake.

I love helping dogs and people. I will go to the ends of the earth to help someone who admits to a lapse in judgement or admits to being lazy or admits to simply not knowing any better. I will not work very hard to help someone who got a dog he shouldn’t have, for not taking care of it and for not providing for its needs. oh…and for goodness sake, I will help you when you ask for it, but if I help you, you better listen to me! Good coaches know who is coachable and who is not!

Puppy Socialization; The Good, the Bad and the Just Don’t.


The Critical Period of Development is between 8 and 16 weeks for a puppy.  This period is like an open window in the dog’s brain for new experiences and learning about his world. Your growing puppy has many developmental windows and if you are aware of them and use them to your advantage and training timetable; the behavioral outcome of your puppy will be amazing. What your pup is exposed to, in a positive way, becomes normal and acceptable. What your pup is exposed to in a negative way or not exposed to at all, becomes something to fear and avoid and maybe even fight. Most dog owners these days are aware of the need to socialize their puppies, but unfortunately, many owners go about it the wrong way and their efforts, however noble, have the opposite outcome than they hope to accomplish.

Socializing your puppy means exposing him to the world and what it holds in a positive way; in your puppy’s time, and by his opinion of a good time, not yours.

A pool can be fun if the pup can dip a toe in when he chooses, but being tossed in or falling in a pool can give the experience a whole other flavor.

Ten minutes of play with one other puppy might be fun versus an hour in the dog park with questionable company.

Sitting in the vet’s waiting room being barked at by bigger dogs or sitting in a vet’s waiting room getting bits of chicken for looking at you is a very different experience.

Simply exposing your puppy to people, places, things and other dogs does not make him socialized. In fact, many well-meaning owners make this mistake. In a daycare, your dog will meet many people and other dogs. Does your dog like it? Do the handlers care or know about good socialization? Do they make playgroups according to play styles or just put a bunch of dogs together? How do they supervise play and do they know how to prevent a fight? Does your puppy get punished? How long is a good play session? Will he be able to get proper rest at daycare? A quality daycare can answer all these questions and more. I am not aware of this kind of daycare… is rare if it even exists.

How about the dog park? To me, it’s a gamble at best. You don’t know anyone there. You don’t know the dogs there. There is no supervision by a professional. How do you know what is good play versus bullying? Do you know what to do if your pup gets in a fight? If your pup doesn’t come when called and you do not read canine body language, you are entering a place where the dogs may work things out themselves. What if the other dogs guard their owners, a ball, the gate? What if the other dogs have no rules and are not under their owners’ control? What if one person brought three dogs? I could go on and on. You need to know what you are doing if you go to a dog park. Fights happen all the time. Bad ones. You cannot go back and undo a dog fight. If one occurs when your pup is young, it could leave a permanent result emotionally, creating a real fear of other dogs.

So how do you make sure your puppy is getting good socialization?

Get enrolled in a puppy class with off-leash play that is supervised by a professional. Learn your puppy’s body language. Know how to help your puppy grow in confidence and develop play skills that are good and safe. Teach your puppy a solid come when called. Look for a quality trainer that uses positive reinforcement training methods. Classes should have clear rules and you and your puppy will learn a lot. Ask if you can watch a class before you enroll, to see if it meets your needs.

Choose playmates for your puppy and invite them to your backyard to play. Make sure they take frequent breaks before they get over-aroused.

Avoid meeting other dogs while on a walk. We don’t encourage our kids to play with strangers and you shouldn’t let your puppy either. You may need to be firm with people who run up and want to pet your puppy, especially if your puppy is shy. If you don’t protect your puppy from a bad experience, he will fend for himself. Don’t give your puppy a reason to learn how effective aggressive behaviors can be! Each puppy is an individual. Respect your puppy and his space. Don’t force him into things if he is reluctant. Coach him, encourage him and help him conquer challenges at his pace. Take your puppy to places where you want him to be comfortable. Take him in your car, your boat, to meet your brother’s dog, to the farmer’s market, to the vet and groomer, etc. Take him to these places for short periods of time, frequently, until you observe the kind of behavior you want for him as an adult. Bring some chicken and feed him for being confident and for paying attention to you. If he gets overwhelmed, leave and return with a plan to help him feel more comfortable.

Your vet may warn you about Parvo and other contagious diseases that are dangerous for your puppy. Some say wait until the puppy receives four sets of shots -which is usually by four months of age. Your vet’s role is to give you the best medical advice to keep your puppy healthy. My job is to give you advice to obtain the best results behaviorally. These two viewpoints may be in conflict. YOU must decide what is right and what is safe and what the risks are to socializing your puppy immediately or waiting until four months of age. If you wait until your puppy is fully vaccinated, you may compromise his optimum developmental window for socialization. He may be less confident, less adapted, and fearful of some things. If you begin the socialization process at eight weeks, you may expose your puppy to a disease that he could catch.  

You could compromise by exposing your puppy to safe ways to socialize. Puppies can safely interact with vaccinated adult dogs. Quality training facilities do not allow unvaccinated dogs into the building. They also use a specific cleaner that kills Parvo and other viruses to improve safety. You can walk your puppy in your neighborhood with little risk. You can take him to well-kept parks and friends’ houses without dogs or vaccinated dogs. You can invite people and dogs to visit the puppy at your home. Many people take their dogs to Home Depot, Lowes and the pet store. Remember -lots of people do this too and there is no one at the door asking for vaccine records. The big pet stores have a vet clinic in the store where sick dogs are, which makes the whole store a potential hazard. Stay away from obviously sick dogs, stray dogs, areas that are saturated with feces, aggressive dogs, anything likely to scare a puppy, like fireworks.


The American Veterinarian Society of Animal Behavior has a Position Statement that states: “The primary and most important time for puppy socialization is the first three months of life. During this time puppies should be exposed to as many new people, animals, stimuli and environments as can be achieved safely and without causing overstimulation manifested as excessive fear, withdrawal or avoidance behavior. For this reason, the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior believes that it should be the standard of care for puppies to receive such socialization before they are fully vaccinated.”


Lastly, do not stop socializing your dog after puppy class. This is a process that needs to continue throughout your dog’s life. You can lessen the intensity and frequency, but do not think you are all done at four months. Your puppy needs to get out and about often to maintain the good you provided as a puppy.

Six month old, Rio is at a hotel in Miami.

Six month old, Rio is at a hotel in Miami.

15 year old Callie is happy at the vet.

15 year old Callie is happy at the vet.

Maggie introduces adult, Josie to puppy, Snoop.

Maggie introduces adult, Josie to puppy, Snoop.

Just two adorable puppies at Puppy Play ~n~ Learn

Some of the greatest people and their dogs maintaining socilazation at Dog About Town.

Some of the greatest people and their dogs maintaining socilazation at Dog About Town.

Adolescent, Tommy, at Losco Park.

Adolescent, Tommy, at Losco Park.

Two adults dog playing nicely.

Two adults dog playing nicely.

My Dog Knows He is Wrong and Other Stupid Stuff People Say

I know I am ignorant and uneducated about many things that don’t come up in my life or that I am not interested in knowing about, but I know a whole lot about dogs. I hope this inside (from a trainer) perspective helps to educate you too.

I have been a trainer for 10 years. I work about 60 hours a week with dogs of all shapes, sizes and behavioral issues. When I am called in to help, I assume the family wants my advice, opinion and a plan for training, so it always shocks me when they argue with me about what the dogs knows and doesn’t know and how I’d like to address the problem. The following are things people say that need to be checked at the door.

My dog knows he is wrong.

Oh really? Wrong and right involve some sort of moral code, of which a dog does not have. If he knows he is wrong, why does he keep doing the wrong thing? How does he know?

He does it to show me he is mad at me.

Oh really? So when you leave for work, the dog comes up with a premeditated plan to express his dissatisfaction about being left home? He plans? He shows you?

My dog understand what I say to him.

Oh really? Then why are you saying sit 5 times and he is still standing? oh right, to spite you.

My dog doesn’t listen to me.

Oh really? Have you taught him your language? Are you listening to him?

My dog is Alpha.

Oh really? I feel like a broken record here -read my other blogs…

My dog bit me but it was an accident.

Oh really? Dogs are masterful with their mouths and bodies. They can barely swipe your face with their teeth if they want to warn you, but if they bite, it was on purpose or it would not have happened.

I want my dog to be friendly to everyone.

Oh really? How much money and time are you willing to put in to make that happen? Is that realistic?? Please stop getting me all excited about your dog’s potential with your grandiose lies. If you really only want to spend 15 minutes a day with your dog, tell me so I can make a plan for that!

My dog is stupid or stubborn.

Oh really? It may be you. If you haven’t taught him anything, he can’t respond to you. Who is stupid?

My dog doesn’t have a good appetite.

Oh really? Maybe you are feeding him in such a way that he is bored. Dogs like work, not a free meal.

My dog loves the dog park or daycare.

Oh really? How do you know? Does he come home and rave about his day and his friends?

Please ask yourself what is true about dogs . People are highly influenced by television -which has nothing to do with real life - they believe what they read no matter the source. They see what they want to see. They absorb opinions from all over and form their own not based on fact, but often on frequency. Myths are heard to make go away.

Dogs do what works. Dog function in a world of safe or dangerous. Dogs express their emotions, thoughts and everything else through their bodies. They do not speak English or any other verbal language. It is a lot easier for YOU to learn your dog’s language than for him to understand yours. Dogs behave like animals -they scratch, jump, growl, bite, roll in dirt, dig holes, grab unattended food, pull the leash to get to stuff, kill small animals, and react one of three ways to almost everything -they fight it, play with it or avoid it.

Stop putting your human junk on your dog! If you don’t enjoy dog behavior, don’t get a dog. I cannot turn your dog into a furry human or a furry statue. If you take the time to understand the dog you have, you will be a lot happier than fighting nature.

So if you call me to your house, please listen to me. You are only wasting your own money by arguing with me on your dime. Tell me your issue and I will help you and I will show you the results, not talk about them.


Understanding Labels in the Dog Behavior Field

This is not a paper to be graded -this is off my mind writing as what i know and understand about my field. I may have missed several titles and schools as there are many. Anyone can say he or she is a dog trainer : the field is unregulated, which means one does not need any special training to be a “trainer.” This is because society does not understand dogs and therefore cannot understand those who work with dogs. This is amazing to me, since dogs have lived beside us for so long. There is a great discussion among professionals for the need to regulate the industry.I do not feel it will help much. Charlatans will always find a way to do what they want. Most consumers are influenced by what they see in front of their faces - commercials, ads and Facebook posts. Only people with significant dog behavioral issues do any research about who they hire to help them. Until the general population is properly educated about dogs, dog behavior and who can help them -regulation will not help.

Obedience Instructor: a person who teaches dog owners how to train their dogs. She may talk and/or display the steps to teach the dog obedience cues such as come, sit, down, stay, etc.An instructor teaches a group of students and may or may not ever handle her clients’ dogs.

Dog Trainer: Anyone who says he is one. He may teach classes, or offer private sessions or anything in between. A Dog Trainer may use any method or methods to train a dog -which means make it obey or behave in the desired way and solve behavioral issues.Some Dog Trainers have received schooling from somewhere, but have not been tested for knowledge by an independent organization. There are endless ways to become a Dog Trainer.

Certified Dog Trainer: a person who has received some schooling and passed a test to become a dog trainer. These are often basic level trainers. Some may have no experience, some require 2 years. Each certifying body determines the qualifications needed for this title. ABCDT -Animal Behavior College Dog Trainer . This is a year long program that has book study, testing and 18-30 hours on hands on experience under a mentor. IAABC-CDC - International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants -Certified Dog Trainer. There are also Certified Dog Trainer Advanced and Professional Dog Trainer Instructor certifications. There are many ways to become a Certified Trainer. There are many other schools and organizations that issue a certification in some for of trainer or technician.

Professional Dog Trainer: A person who works part or full-time and has some credentials, which may be a Certificate of Dog Training from a school or organization. A Professional Dog Trainer’s role is to teach the dog and/or owner to practice the proper behaviors to teach the dog to listen to commands or cues and modify minor behavior problems. Education and experience varies greatly. Top organizations to get certified through are CCPDT, IAABC and The Academy for Dog Trainers and Karen Pryor Academy.

Certified Professional Dog Trainer: All of the above, but has a Certification from an independent professional organization that proves at least some level of knowledge and documented hours of training dogs. two biggest are CCPDT and IAABC as well as Karen Pryor Academy and The Academy of Dog Trainers.

Certified Canine Behavior Consultant: A person who has worked with fearful and aggressive for at least 500 hours and has passed a test from an independent organization. A person with this title has expertise and experience working with difficult cases and has skills working with people and follows ethical guidelines.

Veterinarian Behaviorist:Veterinary behaviorists are trained to address the relationships between an animal’s health, environment, experiences and its behavior. They have extensive knowledge of psychotropic medications, their uses, potential side effects and interactions with other medications, and are licensed to prescribe them when indicated. These are the Psychiatrists of dogs. The closest Vet Behaviorist is in Gainesvile at UF.

Animal Behaviorists: Behaviorists are certified through Animal Behavior Society or have a masters degree in Associate Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists have a Master’s Degree in a biological or behavioral science and at least two years of professional experience in the field. Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists have a doctorate in biological or behavioral science with five years of professional experience in the field. Most do not practice, but teach, do research and provide evaluations and recommendations that then get implemented by a good trainer. If we have one in Jax, I am unaware -possibly working at the zoo?

These labels fly around Jacksonville. Go to the person who has the qualification for your dog issue .You do not want someone with not enough nor so you want someone with more qualifications than you need. Look up the letters after their names. Look up the schools they’ve attended. The responsibility is on each dog owner -YOU decide who to hire for YOUR problem.

I have the following - ABCDT -Animal Behavior College Dog Trainer - One year of book study and tests as well as 30 hours with a mentor.

CCPDT - Certified Professional Dog Trainer - 300 hours of working as head trainer with dogs as well as a letter from another CCPDT recommending me for the test and passing the test. To maintain this certification, I am required to earn CEUs from continuing education.

CCBC -Certified Behavior Consultant - 500 hours of working directly with fearful or aggressive dogs, a letter of recommendation and passed the test. To maintain this certification, I am required to prove that I have continued my education by earning CEUs.

In addition to the above, I had the best mentor of all time, Bob Hammesfahr -of which no organization can quantify and why I do not believe regulation will make the field better. The best trainers seek the best education!

I am not the trainer for everyone. I charge a lot to go to a client’s home because I have a lot of hours and dollars invested in my job and I am one of only two people in Jacksonville to hold a CCBC. I am not trying to toot my horn, but to answer the many questions and misconceptions about dog trainers and help you better choose the right one for you.

Beyond the Bone -Enrichment for Dogs

Beyond the Bone

Walking your dog around the streets of your home is one of the best things you can do to keep him physically and mentally healthy and well socialized and well adapted to normal things like strangers, vehicles and other dogs. But sometimes, we can’t get out there for various reasons or our dog needs a little more activity. Here are some alternative ways to exercise your dog’s body and mind.

1.     Hide toys, food stuffed toys or chewies in your house or yard and allow your dog to find it and enjoy it.  This can be done very simply while the dog is watching or can become a whole other level of challenge for the dog to sniff it out.

 2.     Build your dog a digging pit. My dogs have one and all their dog friends love it too. We dug up a space that gets some shade, removed about a foot of grass and dirt, created an edge with spongy things that look like bricks and dumped in some fine sand to fill it up. We later added a mini palm tree for more shade and aesthetics. It keeps the dogs cool when they lay in it and digging provides exercise and enjoyment in a location that I don’t mind holes! You can even spice this pit up by burying bones and toys in it once in awhile to keep the dogs interested. An indoor digging alternative is the iDig.


3.     Try a Tether Tug ( if your dog loves tug-of-war. This toy entertains your dog without you being present. Other like items that cost less are a Tumbo Tugger or the Highland Farms Select Dog Interactive Training Tug Toy


4.     A Tail Teaser ( is a great toy for all ages and all types of dogs, so even a small child can play safely with the dog and tire him out quickly. Keep the toy on the ground to prevent injuries.


5.     For about $10, a kiddie pool can be a great addition to your dog’s exercise and enrichment, especially here in Florida. Fill it with water, balls, or any size cardboard items and toss some kibble in there for search and find.


6.     Find an enclosed space that is rarely used and let your dog run free while you sit and watch, walk alongside or use a chuck-it or tail teaser in the open space. Tennis courts, baseball fields, even playgrounds are often empty if it’s during school hours or drizzling.


7.     Invite a friend with a friendly dog over to play.


8.     Put your dog’s bowl away and feed him only from toys like a Kong, Kibble Nibble, Squirrel Dude, Snuffle Mat or anything that food can be put in. There is a feeding toy for every type of player. My dog’s favorite is simple – put her food and some scraps in a solo cup, cover with broth and freeze. When I tear the cup away, she has a frozen treat. On a really hot day, fill a large Tupperware with water or broth and stick some treats or toys in there, cover it and freeze. Dump the frozen treat in the yard and your dog will be cool and entertained for hours.


9.     Toss your dog’s food all over your backyard and let him go. Free, simple and your dog will take a long time to find each piece.


10.  Sit on a park bench or in your car with a  nice view and play a simple, but profoundly effective training game with your dog. Let your dog sniff the air, watch things pass by and generally ignore you for as long as he wants. When your dog looks at you, feed him a treat. Repeat each time he looks at you. This teaches the dog to focus his attention on you, that you are highly valuable, and gets the two of you out and about.


11.  Doggy IncrediBUBBLES taste like peanut butter and are ok to injest.


12.  A LickiMat Soother is a very inexpensive and soothing activity. Smooth on some pureed meat, canned dog food, smashed banana, Greek yogurt or anything you can think of that your dog will like and let him lick to his heart’s content. These are made to stick on your bathtub too to assist with bathing by keeping your dog stationary and entertained.


13.  Don’t neglect the simplicity of a good chew. Your local feed stores and online stores have lots to offer. Bully sticks are healthy, digestible and come in all sizes. No-Hides are pricey, but digestible and dogs really like them. Real marrow bones from Publix are cheap and a good teeth cleaner -feed them raw! Duck heads, chicken feet, tracheas, dried fish….you name it. The stinkier, the better.


14.  If you have games you play that I haven’t mentioned, please share them with me at my email below.




The History of Dog Training

Dog training originated in the early 1900s to train dogs for war.  After WWII, it came out of war and into civilian homes. 

The methods used then are called Traditional Methods.  The main methods to teach dogs behaviors were negative reinforcement and punishment.  The main tools used were choke chains, prong or pinch collars and shock collars.  The tenets of Traditional training are that dogs learn through consequences or operant conditioning.  To teach a “sit”, a traditional trainer may pull up on a choke collar to encourage the dog to sit, and when the dog complies, the trainer releases the pressure.  The bad goes away.  It can be condensed to the saying, “do it, or else.”  Traditional training is still thriving today.

Since the 1940s, another kind of training has developed which is based on animal ethology or studies of the dog’s natural behavior and what it means.  This kind of training is often referred to as Pack Theory; Dominance based training, or dog whispering.  These trainers believe that dogs establish dominance in hierarchies in the pack and in order to have control over your dog, you must achieve the Alpha Status.  This gained popularity in the 1970’s and 80’s and continues to be very popular and very misunderstood.  The big names responsible for this type of training are The Monks of New Skete and Cesar Milan. This kind of training is based on popular belief and not on scientific studies.  A lot of this thinking claims to be based on studies on wolves, but recent information has found that dogs and wolves don’t really have all that much in common and the whole premise is shaky.   Dogs have been domesticated for thousands of years and there are significant behavioral differences between dogs and wolves.

Positive Reinforcement Training also began in the 1940’s but didn’t gain popularity until about 20 years ago.

The first positive reinforcement trainers were students of the great psychologist, BF Skinner who coined the term, operant conditioning. Operant conditioning is a method of learning that occurs through rewards and punishments for behavior. Through operant conditioning, an association is made between a behavior and a consequence.

The first positive trainers couldn’t compete with the very successful traditional trainers and ended up training for performances on TV.  Compared to the Traditional Methods, It wasn’t taken as a serious method of dog obedience. 

Ian Dunbar is the most recent pioneer of Positive Dog Training. He is the founder of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) and created the first off-leash puppy training programs that made training fun, easy and safe.

More and more scientific studies have been done and the findings are very heavy on the side of being positive.  There seems to be an overwhelming amount of research suggesting that not only can dogs learn new behaviors effortlessly through positive reinforcement training, but major behavioral problems like fear biting and food aggression can be addressed very successfully.  What’s more is that it is fun and easy for dogs and people.  Now service dogs, police dogs, competitive and performing dogs are all being trained using positive reinforcement and all are very well trained.

So if traditional methods and positive reinforcement are both based on operant conditioning and both are successful, why have I chosen the Positive over the Traditional?

The most important reason is that I train family dogs, not competition or performing dogs, but dogs that live in houses with real people and often children. 

I don’t want to do anything that could make things worse or endanger the people in the household. The use of punishment in training has been studied a lot and the studies show that most dangerous situations involve dogs that are stressed.  Punishment further stresses a dog. 

Several studies have shown that dogs that were shocked after a bad behavior had cortisol levels up to 300 times the normal levels.  Punishing an already stressed out dog creates a ticking time bomb.  It would be irresponsible to recommend anything that could be potentially dangerous or possibly cause a bad behavior to worsen.

 I also believe that we are smarter than dogs and should be able to teach them in a way that isn’t harmful.  I have had great success with an array of dog behaviors without ever having to force or punish a dog to convince him to do what I want.

I’ll end with this thought….all the Orcas at Seaworld are trained with positive reinforcement methods because they couldn’t get those whales to perform using any other method.  I use Positive Reinforcement because it works.

When Can You Trust Your Dog Free in Your House?

There are two main reasons to put your dog in a crate; to assist in speedy housetraining and to avoid destructive chewing. For owners of multiple dogs, there are other reasons to keep using a crate, which this post will not address. Deciding to give your dog freedom in the house when you are not home can cause a lot of worry. Here are some pointers to help you succeed.

When should you let go of the crate? My preference is to allow your dog to sleep out of a crate around 4-5 months and to be free completely before a year. Your dog should be housetrained; which means you know how long your dog can hold his bladder and he knows how to ask to go outside to go. Your dog should know the difference between household/human items and things that he is allowed to chew. And lastly, your dog should be ok when left alone.

I like dogs to be housetrained completely by 4 months -any longer and you are creating a problem. Dogs can be “chew toy trained” at the same time that you housetrain. Your dog is housetrained when he/she has not had an accident for at least 3 weeks and knows how to communicate to you that he/she needs to go outside. This is a rigorous schedule for some, but in the long run, a little more work in the beginning means a lot less work later. Puppies need a lot of attention and supervision or they make mistakes. Mistakes teach them the wrong information. Setting your puppy up to succeed is the key!

The two most important tenants of housetraining are very simple: 1) Get your puppy outside when it needs to go and reward it heavily when it does. 2) Prevent your puppy from going inside. How you do this is up to you -but that’s all you really need to know.

The fastest way to chew toy train your dog is to feed him all his food from toys and from your hand for good behavior. My favorite toys are: Kong, Kibble Nibble, Squirrel Dude, and a muffin tin with 24 holes and 24 tennis balls. I also use food tossed in the grass, along the toe-kicks in the kitchen to prevent counter surfing, and from my hand for lots and lots of reinforcement to tell the pup what I like and will pay him for doing. I also provide many other ways to chew: Bully Sticks, Tail Teaser, chasing any toy that I toss, raw real meat bones, cow hooves, Virbac chews and Whimzees. If you feed your dog his meals from toys 2-3 times a day, reward him throughout the day for good behavior and occupy him mentally and physically, you teach him what to do each day. You also prevent him from learning fun things on his own and from making mistakes.

All young dogs need at least 3 periods of exercise per day that is at least 20 minutes and structured -which means, he isn’t just put outside and not monitored, but you are with him, actually making sure he is exercising for at least 20 minutes, 3 times a day. This can be a walk, playing fetch, in a field off-leash, playing with another dog, using a Tail Teaser or Tether Tug, etc. Keep in mind, this is a minimum amount. Most dogs benefit greatly from a lot more exercise! Take your dog to trails on a long leash and let him sniff to his heart’s content on the weekends. Find an empty baseball field or tennis courts and play fetch until he can’t go anymore. Dogs need this! They need freedom and to drain their energy.

The last piece of feeling confident when leaving your dog alone in your house is knowing you’ve taught him how to feel secure when you are not around. This is easily accomplished by not spoiling your dog and giving into his every desire and demand. Ignore you dog when you need to and don’t feel bad about it! If he asks rudely for your attention by pawing at you or barking, do not reward this with talking and petting. Set rules and boundaries and enforce them. This makes a secure and confident dog. Make your comings and goings very nonchalant. Reward your dog for calm behaviors rather than getting all excited with him.

If you’ve missed my chosen times for training, you can still get there, but you’ll need help and a commitment to your dog. Dogs do what we teach them or what they are allowed to do.

I love you....

I met Bob in 2010 when I was first trying to start my own dog training business. I didn’t like him at first; I had respect for him, but I thought he was arrogant. I didn’t read him correctly because I never met anyone like Bob. He could come off as arrogant, curt, even rude; but he wasn’t any of those things. He was a man who knew who he was, what he was good at and that he had something valuable to offer others.

I was lucky that Bob saw something special in me. I didn’t know it at the time, but he changed my life and gave me a huge gift.

I was very lucky to be one of the few that he believed could learn from him. Bob was a rare breed – a person who knew he had something special, something valuable, yet was willing to give it away to another.

When I train dogs, I frequently ask myself what would Bob do? Bob’s way of teaching was simple -he expected me to pick up what he put down. After a training session, Bob would always ask me the same question: what did you learn? When I called him with questions about one of my cases, he would ask me, what do you think you should do? He taught me to think for myself, to trust my abilities and to know my worth. He inspired me. When I watched him with a dog is was like watching someone walk on water. I wanted to be like him – to do what he did. Bob believed in me and praised me. How many people can say they had a friend like that?

After years of training on my own, my relationship with Bob changed. In the beginning, I would always have a dog question, but as time went on I had more questions about people. Bob understood the limitations of humans and accepted them. He lived in peace that I wish I had. Our mentor/apprentice relationship turned into friendship and then I really saw him. His business was business, but his friendship to me was so much more. He could be a very soft person, very loving and sensitive. He genuinely cared for those he let into his life. The last thing he said to me was “I love you.”

Our relationship revolved around just 2 things -dogs and family. Here are some things that Bob taught me that apply to both:

Every moment is an opportunity to learn. Good experiences can inspire and motivate and bad experiences can cause one to shut down.

Proper motivation works wonders.

Praise the good and ignore the bad.

It’s not personal.

Anyone can change, if they want to.

We really only need a few things to be happy.

Be patient.

Trust my gut.

One can learn so much by just sitting and quietly observing.

If a task is too hard, break into pieces and master one piece at a time.

There is a fine line between punishment and retaliation.

Timing is everything.

Take time to rest.

Fairness has nothing to do with life.

There is nothing better than being in the company of those you love.

Bob was my mentor and my friend. I feel lost right now without him, but I know he has taught me everything I need to know to be as great as he was. I am so thankful to have known him.


Dogs and Suffering

I am only competitive in one area of my life. My business. I guess it’s a good thing -not 100% sure. I don’t care about materialistic things at all and don’t care to keep up with the Joneses, but when it comes to my business, I will do whatever it takes to be the best. It’s my baby. It’s me in business form. The business name is Maggie Marshall Dog Training. I am not concerned with how much money I make or how the public views me; only what my clients think. This is what keeps me going. I want each and every client to feel that he or she is the only one. This is incredibly hard to pull off. At one point, I have had 31 clients, and most of them are quite complicated and needy. I live with my husband, who also owns his business, my son whom I homeschool,  my almost two year old grand-daughter, my dog and I dog sit for 5 of my clients year-round. Time is a commodity that is precious in my family.

I give this background, not for empathy, but for understanding. I am juggling a lot and I am not a juggler. I’m not sure anyone truly understands the life of a business owner unless he is also a business owner. Personal life and business life happen at the same time, no matter how hard we try to keep them separate. It’ s impossible. I have taken a client’s call while on route to a funeral. I have stepped in my backyard while on the phone, so I could hear my client speak above the dogs and kids in my house. I took a call this morning in my bed that awoke me after an 11 hour work day the day before. I receive calls, texts, emails, Facebook messages, twitter messages, Instagram messages, Linked in, Next Door, you name it…I get it. It’s not easy folks. There are no boundaries unless I set them.

This was a hard week. Two clients of mine put their young dogs dogs down this week after several sessions with me. How do I I feel? Much like the owners of the dogs I imagine….guilty, like a failure, sorry, responsible. You name it, I feel it. They called me for help, paid me and their dogs are gone. No nice way around that fact. Doesn’t feel good.

I did receive the most amazing and generous notes from each of the owners telling me how thankful they are to have had my help.  My help?? Your dog is gone. How did I help?

Dogs are animals that have behaviors. Behaviors are encouraged or discouraged by the environment. I am part of the dog’s environment for about 2 hours every other week. My influence is greater upon the owner than the dog. I can’t live in the house with the dog. I can’t take the dog to my house. I have to help in a way that makes sense. I coach the owner to live with the dog she has chosen. I get called in when the problem is too much to handle. I begin working at the worst possible time – I am working against the current the whole time. I’ m not a miracle worker -there are no miracles with dogs. It’s hard work. It’s schedules and protocols and work. Then there is reality. The soft, furry, cute puppy you have fallen in love with is growing up and you are afraid of it. You took at it at 6 weeks because you didn’ t know it was too early. You felt bad when you heard of its rough beginning and thought a good home would help it, you bought it from a “breeder,” so it must be a good pup. Good people make what seem like good decisions; only it doesn’t work out.

Getting a dog is complicated by all kinds of stuff -the knowledge and feelings you have about your previous dog(s), the way you think dogs should or should not behave, the relationship you had with your previous dog…these all dictate the way you think and behave with your new dog, only the new dog has NO idea about all that stuff.

I train about 100 dogs and families a year. I see things you can’t imagine. I am covered by bruises and bites on a regular basis. What you think about dog ownership, I do not. I think the worst. I think about the bites, the claws, the unexpected. I see it. You don’t. Then we meet. You have one to 6 dogs in your life. I have over 1000. We aren’t even on the same wavelength. Then, the worst happens. Your dog tries to bite you. This changes everything. Dogs are aggressive. People are too. It’s normal. We don’t want to see it, but it’s part of life with anything that is alive. Until we take it seriously, we will never learn. When you enter a relationship with a person, a dog, an employee, what have you; you risk being hurt. When you bring a dog into your home, no matter how you prepare, the outcome is in nature’s hands.

I hate a sad outcome, but it happens. We are not in control of much in this life. How we think about acquiring dogs and their roles in our lives needs to change. Dogs are dying. People are suffering. We put more effort into buying our cars and houses than we do the thing that share our lives and our beds and this needs to change. If we truly value what an animal brings to our life, then we must honor it by choosing our animal carefully to fit into our lives.



A Diamond in the Ruff

In that first meeting I felt instantly at ease. I didn’t feel judged because Nora was slightly out of control, and I didn’t feel embarrassed that Nora had little to no manners. All I felt was supported. Maggie calmly evaluated Nora for her temperament to see if being a therapy dog was possible, and helped lay the groundwork for her training.

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Polite Greetings

If your puppy jumps up and receives attention, whether it’s good or bad, it will learn that jumping works too. For good manners, your puppy should sit to earns treats, its food bowl, toys and access through doors.  Now we will add greeting people to that list. Your puppy should be offering lots of sits now to earn the good things in life.If your puppy jumps up and receives attention, whether it’s good or bad, it will learn that jumping works too. For good manners, your puppy should sit to earns treats, its food bowl, toys and access through doors.  Now we will add greeting people to that list. Your puppy should be offering lots of sits now to earn the good things in life.

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Dominance - What it is and What it Isn't

Lots of dominance displays arise when an owner brings home a new dog and neglects to demonstrate proper leadership.  When dogs are given privileges freely, they can get the wrong idea. They don’t view free treats and sleeping next to you in bed as love.  They view this as very weak leadership and an open invitation to demand things.  Spoiling a dog can lead to big behavior problems. 

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Interested in Having Your Dog Become a Therapy Dog?

The owner and therapy dog are a team and must work well together. The handler must want to be a part of the therapy too. Being part of a therapy team takes time and commitment. Things one should ask: Do I have time to train my dog for this job? Do I have time for visiting (there are time requirements)? In what kind of setting would I like to volunteer (hospitals and nursing homes can be a downer –kids in libraries could be fun)? Is my dog also suited for that environment (does my dog like people and attention)? Would my dog sincerely enjoy this kind of activity?

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Ways to Exercise Your Dog Without Walking on Leash

Walking your dog around the streets of your home is one of the best things you can do to keep him physically and mentally healthy and well socialized and well adapted to normal things like strangers, vehicles and other dogs. But sometimes, an owner can’t get out there for various reasons. Here are some alternative ways to exercise your dog’s body and mind.

1.    Hide toys, food stuffed toys or chewies in your house or yard and allow your dog to find it and enjoy it.  This can be done very simply while the dog is watching or can become a whole other level of challenge for the dog to sniff it out.

 2.    Hide yourself and call your dog to find you. This can easily become a great way to practice coming when called. Put your dog in a crate or on a leash in the hands of another person while you hide. When ready, call your dog to you! Reward with food or play when your dog finds you to reinforce the command.

 3.    Build your dog a digging pit. My dogs have one and all their dog friends love it too. We dug up a space that gets some shade, removed about a foot of grass and dirt, created an edge with spongy things that look like bricks and dumped in some fine sand to fill it up. We later added a palm tree for more shade and aesthetics. It keeps the dogs cool when they lay in it and digging provides exercise and enjoyment in a location that I don’t mind holes! You could even spice this pit up by burying bones and toys in it once in awhile to keep the dogs interested.

 4.    Try a Tether Tug if your dog loves tug-of-war. This toy entertains your dog without being present.

 5.    A Tail Teaser is a great toy for all ages and all types of dogs.

 6.    For about $10, a kiddie pool can be a great addition to your dog’s exercise and enrichment, especially here in Florida.

 7.    Find an enclosed space that is rarely used and let your dog run free while you sit and watch, walk alongside or use a chuck-it or tail teaser in the open space. Tennis courts, baseball fields, even playgrounds are often empty if it’s during school hours or drizzling.

 8.    Invite a friend with a friendly dog over to play.

 9.    Put your dog’s bowl away and feed him only from toys like a Kong, Kibble Nibble, Squirrel Dude or anything that food can be put in.

 10. Toss your dog’s food all over your backyard and let him go. Free, simple and your dog will take a long time to find each piece.

 11. Sit on a park bench or in your car and play a simple, but profoundly effective training game with your dog. Let you dog sniff the air, watch things pass by and generally ignore you for as long as he wants. When your dog looks at you, feed him a treat. Repeat each time he looks at you. This teaches the dog to focus his attention on you, that you are highly valuable, and gets the two of you out and about.

 Here are my favorite toys and chewies as well as some videos to help you further.

Get out there and exercise your dog! You will both be healthy and happy.

My opinion on Boarding

I am a dog owner before a trainer. I stress about leaving my dogs in the care of someone else. I have never boarded my dogs. I have invested many hours into their care and training and I simply don't trust anyone to care for them where they will be just one of many dogs. There are dogs that do well in boarding and there are others that come home with stress induced, bloody diarrhea. If you choose to board, here are some things to look for:

You should ask for a tour of the facility and be given one. It should smell clean, but not with an overwhelming odor of bleach. 

Dogs that are let out in yards should be in small groups that make sense. Small dogs with small dogs; large with large; old dogs and dogs with special needs should be separated from others. Groups should be supervised by a trained person. This person should be able to read dog body language, know how to prevent fights, how to properly intervene and how to play with the dogs to encourage good behavior. This person should not do anything to negatively affect your dog. No spraying your dog in the face, no air horns, no throwing things at your dog, no hitting or kicking and absolutely no use of a shock collar. You must ask about these things -they will not voluntarily tell you how they discipline your dog. The person supervising should have a slip lead attached to him -on his belt, around his neck or at least within reach. The yards and kennels should be kept clean and fresh water and shelter/shade should be available at all times.   Dogs should not be free to play for hours at a time. An ideal schedule is 30-60 minutes three times a day. Puppies and seniors should be let out for short period of times more frequently; 15 minutes every two hours.

If your dog gets hurt or sick, you should be notified immediately and be told what is going on. If you are unable to return, your dog should receive medical care with your permission. If your dog is injured, the staff should know how it happened.

Most kennels close at 6 and the staff goes home for the night. Ask how many hours your dog is unsupervised. Ask what the emergency plan is -what if there is a fire in the night? Ask if the staff knows the signs of heat stroke, kennel cough, stress.....there is so much to ask to be sure your dog is in good care.

When I find a facility in my area that meets this criteria -I will shout it out to all my clients, but the search continues.

A Sample Schedule for Your Puppy

This is a sample day that hopefully you can adjust to meet your schedule and your puppy's needs. You can change the time frames, but try to keep the daily stats the same as below for the best outcome. When puppies needs are met, they are be happy, thrive and grow and to turn into dogs that you love to be around. Each day includes the following: (1) Food -2 meals and hand-fed as rewards throughout the day. (2) Sleep. (3) House training. (4)Training, manners, learning to live in house with people. (5) Mental Exercise(6) Physical exercise. The following schedule will meet puppy's needs within a schedule for a working person with a 9-5 job Monday thru Friday. Evenings and weekends are time to step up puppy's socialization and training time. Take your puppy in the car at least twice a week. Find a training class or a safe place for puppy to meet other dogs (Invite friends with social dogs to your house, take your pup to friends with dogs' yards). Take your pup somewhere new -a park, another walking route, a store that welcomes dogs, etc.) I recommend having the following things on hand: an appropriately sized crate, an ex-pen or gated area; 2 Kongs, a Kibble Nibble or other treat dispensing toy (s); bully sticks, cow hooves, safe dental chews, plush toys that squeak, a tug-toy, something to chase -tennis balls, Jolly Ball, frisbee, Tail Teaser; a dog bed; a water bowl which is always accessible; a collar, harness and leash; poop bags; high-quality puppy food; and some various healthy treats -boiled chicken, freeze-dried liver, etc. 

Daily Schedule

6am - Wake up and take puppy outside to toilet. Deliver treat within one second of puppy eliminating. (3, 4)

6:10am - 7am  Feed puppy in a gated area from a Kibble Nibble filled with dry, loose kibble and a Kong stuffed and frozen (which you prepared the night before) while you shower and prepare for work. Don't forget to wait for puppy to sit before giving him his food. (1, 4, 5)

7am- Take puppy out to toilet again. Treat when he goes. (3)

7:10-8am -Puppy is loose in house under your supervision. Spend time tossing a toy for puppy while you have coffee. Ask your puppy to come, sit and down 10 times each and reward with a treat. Ignore puppy intermittently (while still watching him!) during this time and answer emails, check phone, do dishes, etc. (4, 5)

8-8:30 -Walk puppy. Treat within one second when he eliminates. (5, 6, 3)

8:30am -12:30pm -In crate for nap and confinement when you are at work. Leave puppy with a safe chewy toy (Kong with a liver treat stuck deep inside, a bully stick, a nylabone). (2)

12:30-12-50pm -You are on lunch break or have arranged for someone to tend to your puppy. Puppy is taken outside for a 20 minute walk. Treat within one second when he eliminates. (5, 6, 3)

12:50-1:15pm: Play with puppy free in the house. Tug-of-war, Tail Teaser, toss a ball, and/or play and train with treats when puppy responds correctly. Eat your lunch while puppy if free. Take pup out one more time to toilet before you head back to work. Treat him if he goes. (6, 4, 3, 5)

1:15pm-5:15pm: In crate with a safe chew toy. (2)

5:15pm -5:30pm: Take puppy out to toilet and reward him when he goes. (3)

5:30 -6pm: In gated area with a food stuffed Kong and a Kibble Nibble. Good time for you to wind down, check in with family, and cook dinner. (1, 5)

6pm-6:30pm-free in house -play, train or love your puppy. Watch puppy for signs of needed to go out! Eat dinner. (4, 5)

6:30-7:15 - Evening exercise time: Play in the backyard, walk pup around neighborhood, take him to a local park, find empty tennis courts and let him run free, walk on the beach, etc. (3, 5, 6)

7:15 -9:30 -free in house with supervision. Watch pup for sign of needing to go out. Respond to any cues you see. Good time for a chewy like a bully stick or other safe chew. Spend 5-10 minutes training whatever pup needs -come, sit, down, on and off couch, etc. (4, 3, 5)

9:30-9:45 -short walk outside or time in yard to toilet before bed. Treat if he goes. (3, 5. 6)

9:45-10pm: Snuggle your puppy. Measure tomorrow's daily food portion and use it to load Kibble Nibble, 2 Kongs and leave the rest in a Tupperware on the counter for toileting treats and training. There should be no food remaining from the day after 9:30 pm. Prepare Kongs and pop them in the freezer for the next day.

10-6pm -In crate for the night. No chewy, no big fuss. Only attend to pup in the night if he cries out to toilet. (2)

Daily stats:

8 scheduled opportunities to toilet outside as well as appropriate supervision and confinement to assist house training.

16 hours to sleep in crate

2 scheduled feeding times and treats throughout the day for toileting and training. The feedings are completely from toys to encourage acceptable chewing, to decrease mouthiness and to provide mental stimulation and keep pup busy for longer than eating from a bowl.

Training and manners is happening all day with several specific opportunities to practice in 5-10 minute periods. Walking, sitting for toys and food, rewarding proper toileting and proper supervision and confinement all teach pup how to behave.

6 opportunities for mental exercise -eating from toys, playing with you and training time. There are also other chances to chew with also count as mental stimulation.

Three scheduled walks totally 95 minutes as well as anything else you add during pup's free time in the house with you.

8 hours a day pup is free in house, semi-confined in a gated area or is outside.

5 specific opportunities to chew appropriate items.

This is a vigorous schedule, but you have a puppy! This won't last forever. The more you rotate toys and exercise your pup physically and mentally, the easier it will be. Some of your personal goals may have to be put on hold while you raise your puppy. You may need to hire a neighbor or a dog sitter/walker to help you. Make friends with dogs and trade off sitting time. Hire a trainer for more help with anything that isn't working for you...sooner than later!

Between 4 and 6 months your pup should be able to sleep freely in your house, which will eliminate 8 hours in his crate! Between 8 months and 14 months he can be transitioned out of his crate and into the house without supervision, eliminating another 8 hours in a crate. By the time your puppy is a year, he will only need one or two good walks a day to maintain him physically. Mental exercise and training should continue throughout your dog's lifetime.









The Proper Use of a Crate


A crate can be very useful if you own a dog.  It is very helpful for house-training, home alone training, to prevent destructiveness and may serve as a dog’s safe area. It’s good to train a dog to be comfortable while confined in a crate to help it at the vet, groomer, during travel and if the dog needs to be confined for any other reason.  A crate should not be where the dog spends most of its time.

A crate should be purchased to fit your dog when it is fully grown.  It should be big enough for the dog to stand upright, turn around and sleep in comfortably.  If the crate is housing a puppy, a portion can be blocked off to suit the size of the puppy and more space can be given as it grows.  Some crates come with a divider, or a cardboard box can fill up the space nicely for dogs that don’t chew.  If a puppy or dog eliminates in a crate, it has most likely been left in the crate longer than it could hold its bladder.  The crate only encourages puppies to hold “it.” It’s not a magic teacher. Many dog owners make the mistake of leaving the puppy too long in the crate when no one is home, causing the puppy to have a negative experience in the crate.

A puppy should only be left in a crate for as many hours as its age in months plus one. If you have a three month old puppy, it shouldn’t be confined to a crate longer than four hours without being given the freedom to eliminate and get some mental and physical exercise.  The crate is a tool and its use should be adjusted with the age and progress of the puppy.  It’s proper to use the crate to teach a puppy to hold it bladder while indoors.  As the puppy learns this, it should be in the crate less and less over time.  By six months, most puppies should have earned their freedom in the house and going in the crate should be a choice, not a necessity. 

When puppies are crated for too many hours and for too many months they, as well as their owners, become reliant on the crate to control the puppy’s behavior. This is very detrimental.  Dogs are not meant to be caged.  Crating a dog for a workday of 8-10 hours often results in an under exercised, mentally and physically under stimulated dog.  This can lead to hyperactivity, destructiveness, mouthing, barking and jumping as a means to get the attention and stimulation dogs crave. It becomes a vicious cycle. Owners crate the dog to prevent such things, but crating the dog also causes these behaviors to develop.  As soon as a puppy is crate trained, there needs to be a plan to give the puppy more freedom and teach it how to behave in the house. 

If you are interested in more information on crate training or need more information on raising a puppy, you may call me or read Before and After Getting Your Puppy by Dr. Ian Dunbar or Perfect Puppy in 7 Days by Dr. Sophia Yin.

For dogs that do not like to go in the crate, here is a video of me helping one dog re-learn to like his crate.