Why do dogs guard naturally?

Many dogs seem to want to guard their humans especially at home. Why? There is a theory out there. Humans do provide food, a home and an overall sense of security. A dog could find us not well-equipped to protect us against potential intruders. We humans don’t see movement as well and to a dog, we are both nose blind and deaf. They see us as providers of resources and that needs to be protected.

How to get your dog to hang with you in the front yard

Have you ever wanted one of those dogs that hangs out with you in the front yard while you mill about and not have your dog wander away? Here is a quick tip to work towards that goal.  

1. have a great training relationship with your dog. You should train your dog to a point where he/she is deferent to you. This includes a solid stay and come off leash in different environments.
2. bring treats with you outside and keep an eye on your dog during this training period.
3. simply reward your dog for simply hanging around you. If your dog settles down and lays down, reward a lot for that.
4. Once you have your dog hanging around you for treats, very slowly over the course of several weeks, phase them out treating less and less. 
5. Eventually, only an occasional treat will do.

Note: if you live on a street where your dog would be at risk of getting hit by a car. I don't recommend him being off leash.


Management, the first line of defense

One of my favorite authors in the dog training field is Pat Miller, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA She is always talking about management. Management is simply what you can do with undesirable behavior before any training begins. Sometimes you can manage a situation and not even bother with the training. For instance, one thing you can do with a jumping dog is manage greetings by putting the dog behind a baby gate when people come in. That way people can approach the dog on their terms. With chewing unwanted things like shoes, clean the house, close the doors and put away everything the dog could chew. We, many times, try to manage a situation first before deciding to change behavior through training.


Dogs and Children

Dogs and kids don’t always mix. Classically condition your puppies to absolutely love children of all ages. When your puppy is 8 weeks old, constantly feed your dog in the presence of children to associate them with good stuff. Teach your children to interact safely with dogs.

Loose Leash Walking

This is the dog of one of my recent clients. She sent me this video of Charlie walking beautifully after only a few days of practice. As with all behaviors, treat often during acquisition of any behavior and slowly phase out treats to strengthen the cue. https://www.facebook.com/SouthOrlandoDogTraining/videos/808702352673611/

Cue Once

The name of the game is cue only once. If you feel like the dog needs a second cue for ‘stay” for instance, then you need to break the behavior down into smaller portions so the dog fully understands what ‘stay’ means. Then build the behavior up to a longer duration over time.

Tricks or Cues?

You hear this a lot from old fashioned aversive trainers. They say that positive reinforcement training only works for trick training. This truly makes no sense. Dogs do not know the difference between tricks, cues, or life saving jobs, they simply know what particular behavior is worth doing.

Torture - Say No To Abuse

Horrible Shock Collar Injury

Horrible Shock Collar Injury

Thank goodness that we don’t use torture devices such as the guillotine, the spiked neck torture and the rack to either coerce or kill people. Those devices and techniques are best left in the dark ages. In light of that, why do some people feel like they need to torture a dog to get them to do what we want them to do? I see shock collars, pinch and prong collars, leash jerks, hitting, spanking, slapping and verbal abuse. It’s all bad and antiquated. And this learning method teaches a dog to fear their owner or fear the things that are associated with these pain inducing methods or devices. Unfortunately, there are still “floggers” out there in the dog trainer world and right here in Orlando. Don’t fall for their sales pitches that it is not harmful for your dog or your relationship to your dog. These trainers clearly don’t stay on top of the latest scientific research.

A lot of research has been done in just the last 20 years in dog training proving that positive reward based training is much more efficient, doesn’t hurt the dog, and strengthens the bond between owner and canine.

If you were in school and the teacher constantly beat you when you got the wrong answer, you would probably learn but you would despise the teacher and learning in general. But if the teacher would simply ignore your wrong answers and give you a $20 bill every time you got the right answer, learning would be a lot of fun and you would love the teacher. This is what modern dog training is all about.

Let me help you become your dog’s best and beloved teacher.






The Do's & Don't's Of Adopting A New Dog Or Puppy

Many people feel romanticized when they get a new house or start to have a family. They feel like getting a dog or a puppy rounds off the whole equation. It is a wonderful feeling when you get to that point in your life when you want bring a dog into your home. Others might have just lost their favorite best friend and want to find a “canine replacement” as part of the grieving process. So off they go to the breeder or the shelter. Well here are a few points to keep in mind before you get that first dog or replace your long lost friend.

Do......research on training a dog or puppy. If you are an experienced dog owner, you’d be surprised how the concept of dog training has completely changed.  If you have never owned a puppy before, realize that it will not only take lots of time training but lots of time just keeping an eye on your puppy much like tending to a toddler.

Don’t ....get another dog of the same breed thinking your are going to get the same personality of the dog you just lost. In this case, dogs are like people and can have vastly different personalities. In my experience, no dog of the same breed has had the same personality.  To add to that, many people who have lost their canine loved ones don’t realize that when their dog died, it was likely older and much more well adjusted and mature. It comes as a shock to them when all of a sudden they have a barky, nippy or crazy puppy on your hands.

Do....consider adopting a rescued dog or puppy. Shelters and rescues are brimming with adoptable dogs and puppies. When you do go to the shelter and there is a dog that you are interested in, spend at least an hour with the dog. If you have another dog at home, that pooch should meet your potential adoptee in neutral territory(not at home).

Don’t...adopt two dogs or puppies at once unless you are an experienced dog owner and are well versed in dog training. Some people think the puppies are so cute, “let’s just get two of them.”

Don’t.....choose a dog by breed alone.  You have to take into account the temperament of that individual dog in which you are interested. Breed can determine certain drives and instincts but not necessarily determine whether the dog will get along with the cat or your kids.

Do...think twice about getting any dog when you have very young children and if you must, choose very carefully. To many dogs, children can be a threat. They have unpredictable movements that can greatly put a dog on edge. Educate your kids as to how to properly approach and care for a dog.  Puppies are a great choice if you have very young children. However, you should get a puppy at a young age between 8 and 12 weeks. That way they will socialize well to children. If you wait and get the puppy much older than that, then they tend to have more “baggage” in the form of fear and lack of socialization, which could be a recipe for disaster.

Don’t ...go it alone. Always invest in several lessons with a certified trainer. Whether you are an experienced dog owner or a novice, the field of dog training has changed. A qualified trainer can save you lots of headaches by sharing with you a plethora of new information that you were probably unaware of. That person can also possibly save you money if you have a dog that ends up being destructive in the form of separation anxiety or clumsy and boundless energy. It is well worth the small investment just to get you off on the right foot.

Is Your Dog Reactive To Other Dogs?

It’s embarrassing when your dog all of a sudden wants to lunge aggressively at another dog, a kid on a skateboard or just about anything that moves while you are on your walk. The thought goes through your head, “what would happen if Rover actually got a chance to attack that guy with a hat walking on the other side of the street?”

The fact is, most dogs act out aggressively because they are scared and lunging, barking and carrying on is the way they have learned to make that scary thing go away.

Fortunately, there are positive ways of desensitizing and rehabilitating dogs like this but it takes loads of patience and a good trainer like myself to guide and coach you through that process.

Don’t let your dog embarrass you. Let me help you rehabilitate or manage your dog better.


Potty Training for Adults and Puppies - A quick tip

It's important to get your puppy out often and on a schedule while potty training. A crate is also a fantastic tool for this purpose. When the crate is sized correctly, the puppy won't soil in the crate. But what should you do if you have just rescued an adult dog and you are having soiling issues? My suggestion would be to start the whole potty training process over again. Take the dog out often and on a schedule as if he/she were a puppy again. 

If you have questions about potty training, hiring a trainer like myself is a good investment and fortunately, very affordable.

Two dog training devices- One I love and one I absolutely abhor

Dog Training is my passion and there are a few devices that are used in dog training that really effect me emotionally both good and bad.

The device that I absolutely love is the clicker.  This simple $3 or $4 device has done more for dog training than just about any other thing. A clicker is used to mark a behavior that the trainer desires. It usually takes the place of “Good Boy!” or “Good Girl!” Marking a behavior simply means a sound is made the split second the dog does the right thing. For instance, the split second a dog sits and his butt touches the ground, the behavior can be marked with a click and the dog will know that a treat or reward is on its way. It works better than “Good Boy” because saying words can change with the handler’s mood or personality. The click never changes.

On the other hand, the device which makes my skin crawl is the shock collar. Also known as Electronic, E-Collar or Remote Training Collar. Electric fences also use shock collars. This statement from Trish King says it all. She is well known in the dog trainer community and director of the Marin SPCA in California.

"There are a few videos on You Tube in which men put shock collars on themselves and then roll around laughing when the shock hits, and they fall sidewise.   Maybe this is funny during the videoing, in a perverse sort of way, but what would happen if the shock collars were always on, and they could not predict when the pain would hit – when they took a swig of beer, drove a car, or took a bite of food?  Eventually, they would be afraid to do anything.  They would be under control.   But we don’t do that to people – we do it to dogs, our pets, because we can and they love us anyway." 

If you truly love your dog, don’t use an E-collar or trust any dog trainer that uses them. It stresses dogs out, raises their cortisol levels and many times backfires causing dogs to become aggressive or extremely fearful. Think about how you would feel to get shocked not knowing when it was going to happen. Use the proven reward based techniques. They are equally as effective and quick and most of all, you aren’t harming your best friend. 

Let me show you how to train your dog in a loving and kind way.

Reality TV and Cesar Millan

Reality TV has become so popular over the last 20 years. We seem to relish the conflict and cheer when a bad guy gets booted off and the good guy prevails. But we all know in the back of our minds that even though reality tv doesn’t usually use actors but real people, the reality that you see on the screen isn’t necessarily what happened in real life behind the screen.

It is important to keep this very thing in mind when you watch the popular Cesar 911. We don’t know how many takes and editing it took for a dog to stop lunging at a neighbor. We don’t know how long a dog was trained at the Dog Psychology Center. And even though it seems like Millan has “fixed” a dog in about ten minutes, the reality is dogs don’t learn that quickly. Dogs in a lot of ways learn like us, in small, slow and deliberate steps not in one trial as we see on tv. And in those odd times when a dog does learn in one trial, many times it is unlikely that we could change the habit or a behavior permanently without good solid training.

As a trainer, I have seen many clients who claim to have tried the things that they see on Cesar 911 and they end up calling me because the techniques they saw didn’t work. Almost everyone tries the "tsst!!" to no avail. One thing I like about Cesar 911 is that people are putting training in the forefront of their minds realizing how important it is whether it is Cesar's way or my own. I hope you will come back to reality and let me help you work with you and your dog.


Training takes a lot of time, right?

If you have been to this site often and seen the various instructional or demo videos that feature my dogs(shown above), you might think that I am constantly training my dogs. The truth is, I only set aside about 10 minutes a day to train my dogs and sometimes I skip it all together.  The rest of the time, my dogs and me have to abide by certain rules so bad habits are not formed. The dogs know what or what not to expect from me on a daily basis and I never waiver from that. Mainly, it is making sure that I control all the resources. Resources are not only food and treats but attention, praise, walks, play, tug and petting. I even randomize those resources so they really don’t know when they are coming further putting me up on the ladder. Additionally, I have developed a great training relationship over a long period of time that is always positive and fun for the dogs. I never hit, shake, leash pop or administer any other kind of pain that make my dogs fear me. 

Choosing a Dog Trainer

Recently on Orlando’s Channel 6 WKMG, there was a horrifying story about people who entrusted a dog trainer who would board their dogs and train them. This so-called trainer charged these people thousands of dollars and ended either neglecting or abusing over 40 dogs. This trainer ended up being a huckster with a criminal record and had no formal education in dog training.

I thought it would be good to go through some points as to what to look for in a dog trainer and what pertinent questions you should ask.

1.     What method do you use? If it is anything but positive, don’t hire him.

2.     What is your educational background in dog training? A dog trainer should have some kind of certification that is listed after his/her name such as ABC-DT, CPDT-KA. I am very proud of my education at ABC and proud to call myself an ABC-DT dog trainer.

3.     What kind of continuing education have you attended? If he doesn’t participate in continuing education, don’t hire him. I am constantly viewing and/or attending seminars and reading to stay on top of my craft.

4.     What equipment do you use? If he uses shock collars, e-collars, choke chains,or prong collars then run away. Positive reinforcement is the only effective way to train.

5.     Do you belong to any professional associations and if not, why? Professional associations usually embrace the scientifically based positive method. There is a great organization called the Association of Pet Dog Trainers that I belong to. 

I am very circumspect of any dog trainer that boards and trains dogs in Orlando. Some I am sure use positive methods but many of these businesses use E-collars, i.e. shock collars and they might call themselves a canine boot camp. No dog needs boot camp. Dogs need to be trained with love, respect and a calm benevolence preferably by their owners under the guidance of a certified positive dog trainer like myself.