Heel – Part I

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In this video I start work on teaching the pup to heel.  For now, I just want him to come to me, walk around behind me and sit at my side.  Because I always walk him on my right side, I’m having him come around and sit on my right side.  I believe in showing the dog is usually on the left, but this is what works for me.  This one is definitely going to take some work.  Bentley likes to jump up at the treat rather than just coming around nicely, and he pulls back if I try to guide him with the leash.  But I’m sure he’ll get it eventually!  Just takes patience and practice!


No, It’s Not Okay.

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Bentley on the bed where he's not supposed to be

Bentley on the bed where he's not supposed to be


As evidenced in a few of my videos, while Bentley is very smart to pick up on “tricks”, he’s still got a ways to go in learning good doggy manners.  We’re working on it though!  But one of the things that drives me crazy is when I try to instill in him good behaviors, and other people contradict me.  For example, I’ll be walking him, and we’ll see a person on the sidewalk, and he’ll jump up all excitedly.  I tell him “no” and “off” and try to get him to sit and behave.  But because he’s a smaller dog (and downright adorable if I do say so myself) people are often “oh, it’s okay!”


Um, no, it is NOT okay.  I’m the dog’s owner.  I don’t want the dog exhibiting this behavior, thus this behavior is not okay.  And it’s not okay for you to be undermining all the hard work I’m putting into training him by actively encouraging him to engage in behaviors I clearly am trying to dissuade.


Please, if you see someone trying to get their dog to do/not do something, don’t tell them “oh, it’s okay!” and go ahead and let the dog do whatever.  It’s not your dog, not your choice on what it can or cannot do.  You might think you’re being “nice” but you’re just sending an inconsistent message and confusing the dog, not to mention frustrating the owner.

Touch – Part I



I’m working on teaching Bentley the “Touch” command.  I like to think of this as a gateway command.  Once you can get your dog to reliably touch on command, you can change what he is touching and gradually change the command to get him to do things like ring a bell or turn on the lights.  In the video I use a sticky note as a target so that Bentley learns that he needs to touch the little piece of paper and not just my hand.

Leave It – Redux

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So I mentioned in an earlier post how I’ve started coupling correction with positive reinforcement when training Bentley.  This has lead to him understanding and learning much faster what I want from him, and I feel this has led to much lower frustration on both our parts.  Previously I was trying to teach him the Leave It! command.  We got to the point where he would stop licking and pawing at my hand and look up at me, but any sign of a treat and he would go for it.  Using this new technique though, we’ve achieved much better results!  I can now put the treat down in front of Bentley and remove my hand without him lunging for it.

Positive Training vs. Corrections

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So I have been trying a new tactic with Bentley lately.  Previously, I was trying to use ONLY positive reinforcement with him for training.  This works brilliantly for teaching commands and tricks such as “sit” and “go crate“.  But it doesn’t work quite as well with general behaviors such as getting him to stop jumping or to be gentle when taking a treat.  So I have started using corrections with Bentley.  Out in the wild, wolves don’t learn everything by positive reinforcement.  They are corrected, first by their mother, then by litter mates, and then others in the pack.  You cross a line, you get a correction. Life goes on and the pup learns not to do that again.

So I’ve started working on using some corrections with Bentley.  They are sharp, but not harsh. It is very interesting to see the reaction. He is VERY surprised at being corrected, as I don’t think his previous owners ever did. He also doesn’t quite like it. He tries to fight back. But it is absolutely amazing the difference in him when I don’t back down.  You will recall I previously tried to teach him the “leave it” command.  It was kind of working, but he would still jump and lunge at any treat.  Using correction, I was able to within 5 minutes get him to lay down and I could put a treat on the floor and he would not go for it.  I can also now walk him with a loose leash about 80% of the time.  (Still working on ignoring neighborhood dogs, cats and squirrels)

The corrections I’m using are either a snap of the leash or a quick jab/poke in the side of the neck. They are sharp and startling to the dog, but they don’t hurt him at all.

Now, I’m not giving up on the positive training methods for teaching him his commands.  But for a well-balanced dog, you need a mix of both types.