Tag Archive: dog behavior training


People frequently ask me for advice about their dog or their friends’ dogs’ behavior. I don’t mind and I really want to help but it’s not so easy to give accurate information without more details and a first-hand look at the situation. It’s also irresponsible to give advice without more information. Just the other day, a friend emailed me that her friend recently started dating a man and whenever they hug, her dog barks at them. She wanted advice to give her friend. How would you answer this request?

Behavior issues can be complicated and require knowledge not only of dog behavior but more importantly, people behavior. Unless you have education and experience, it can be tempting to give advice without looking further into the situation. In this case of the dog barking at the hugging couple, my first question back to them would be – what do you do when the dog barks at you?  This is such a key question because dogs are usually reacting to our actions. Are they yelling at the dog when he barks? Ignoring him? Giving into him and not hugging??!!   Each one of these scenarios can result in a very different behavior from the dog and different advice from me.

Do you find yourself giving behavior advice to others? Be very careful, for what worked for you and your dog may not be the right solution your friend’s dog. My neighbor has a small but mighty Chihuahua who growls and snaps at other dogs. She was telling me that another neighbor told her to jerk the leash and scream “No!” to the dog. It worked for the neighbor’s dog but obviously wasn’t working for the Chihuahua. She was biting for my dog’s nose as we talked. While I would NEVER give this kind of punitive advice, the reason it worked for the neighbor’s dog was probably due to personality differences in the dogs. Softer, more mild-mannered dogs can be scared into stopping some behaviors while stronger-willed dogs will feed off of punishment and get worse.

Dog behavior and human behavior is not black and white. There are so many factors to consider. It’s a lifelong learning experience with every dog teaching us something new.  It’s humbling yet lots of fun!

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Having lived with a dog for 10 years who was very reactive when he saw another dog and quite aggressive if another dog came up to him, I understand the challenges faced by people who have dogs with this issue. Many people have asked me why some dogs simply don’t like other dogs and react so strongly. 

There is no easy answer because it could be a learned behavior (something that has happened over time). But we do know that four things can possibly make a dog react to other dogs. 

  1. Genetics – Heredity is a powerful thing for humans as well as animals. Just as we can inherit traits and characteristics from our progenitors, so can dogs. Aggression can be inherited from the lineage of either parent. This is one reason why I am so passionate about choosing a good breeder if you are considering getting a puppy. The best breeders will not breed a dog with known aggressive traits. Puppy mill breeders and many backyard breeders, on the other hand, do not care or may not even pay attention or be aware that genetics plays a role in behavior traits.
  2. Lack of socialization – If a puppy is not consistently exposed to other dogs at a young age continuing throughout adolescence, the dog may not develop good social skills with other dogs. Because he hasn’t learned dog-to-dog communications, the pup might fail to recognize signals from other dogs resulting in a possible fear-based reaction. If dogs are not socialized, they may be fearful or misinterpret another dog’s intentions.
  3. Attacked by another dog – A perfectly happy, non-reactive dog can change to a reactive, aggressive dog with just one scary incident with another dog. An attack that makes the dog feel vulnerable or resulting in a painful injury can permanently scar a dog and alter behavior. Consider yourself in a similar situation. If you get attacked by a certain breed of dog, you will more than likely fear that breed whenever you see it.
  4. Shock collars/prong collars/choke chains – Dogs learn by association. When aversive (punishment) training techniques are used, detrimental effects are sure to occur. The use of shock collars, even for electric fences, may result in inadvertent aggression. Here’s why. The dog sees another dog across the street and runs to see it. The shock collar from the electric fence delivers a zap. The dog learns to associate getting the shock with seeing another dog. The same scenario applies for people who use prong collars or choke chains, especially incorrectly. The dog sees another dog and gets yanked around the neck. The feeling is uncomfortable and the dog will associate that feeling with seeing another dog. People love to argue that prong collars and choke chains are appropriate, but they fail to understand the associative issues that may cause or amplify aggression.

It really does not matter how a dog came to be reactive to another dog. What matters is how to work with the issue. Use of counter-conditioning techniques with a qualified trainer or behaviorist is the only way to help the dog overcome the problem and learn how to be around other dogs. My dog was able to live with other dogs because I diligently worked with him. It took time and patience. There are no quick, easy fixes like some TV show trainers lead you to believe. And if you are getting a puppy, remember to be aware of these things that can create a reactive dog.

Walking With Dogs Who Pull

As a trainer, one of the most-requested problems to solve is how to get a dog to walk nicely on a leash. Some dogs just naturally want to stay close to the person who is walking them while others are completely oblivious to the fact that there is a person on the other end of the leash. That’s the case with my two foster hounds, Brooks and Zoë. They not only pull hard but they also don’t walk in a straight line. They zigzag to wherever their noses lead them. I needed to find some equipment to help me.

A flat collar or even a Martingale just will not cut it. The hounds will sputter and choke themselves in desperation to get to the next scent or to chase the squirrel that just crossed their paths. And of course, it goes without saying that I would never, EVER use a choke chain or prong collar. If you want to know why, please read my article on the reasons why:  http://www.chrisshaughness.com/why-not-prong-collars-and-choke-chains/

I have successfully used both the Easy Walk harness and the Gentle Leader on other dogs but the Easy Walk does not fit the Bassets’ physique. It slips right off of them. The nose-loop on the Gentle Leader may be dangerous for as hard as the Bassets pull. I’m afraid they may hurt their necks when they do one of their 90 degree zigzag routines.

I asked some of the other Basset owners for recommendations. From one woman, I learned of something new called The Canine Connector. It’s the invention of a woman who lives near Reading, PA and it has helped considerably. The Canine Connector is a thick, long rope that loops around the dog’s chest and under the front legs, then ties on the dog’s back. It takes the pressure from around the dog’s neck and uses the concept that when a dog pulls, something that goes around their chest stops the pulling.

I have found that The Canine Connector has made it easier for me to walk both dogs together and they are much easier to handle. But it’s not a panacea. When they see another animal, they still can pull very hard even with this apparatus. That’s where training enters the picture. I am working on counter conditioning them to look at me when they see another animal. Yes, it’s a challenge! Hounds think with their noses! But it’s possible.

I do recommend The Canine Connector but be warned, it takes a few minutes to put it on the dog and to take it off. If you are accustomed to just snapping a leash on your dog’s collar, you will need to add a little more time to your schedule. If your dog likes to dance around in anticipation of their walk, you will need lots of patience to put The Canine Connector on your dog. Taking it off also takes a little more time because you need to unknot the ends of the rope. With as hard as my hounds pull, the knot is really, really tight!

Check out The Canine Connector’s Facebook page and give it a try!

Association, Emotion and Training Dogs

A couple of weeks ago, as we watched the commemoration of the September 11 events, some people posted comments on Facebook that they could not remember what they did the week before but could vividly remember where they were and what they were doing ten years ago on 9/11. There’s a very good reason for that – association and emotion. The more intense the feeling we have with an event, the better we remember it.

As I explained to the audience at Groom Expo recently, dogs learn the same way that people do. We form associations using our feelings. Because September 11 was such an intensely emotional event as we watched the tragedies unfold, our brains developed deep pathways that help us better remember the details of that day. We effortlessly resurrected the same feelings as we watched again.

Dogs have feelings too. They feel joy, pain, pleasure, and fear just as we do. If a dog strongly feels one of these emotions while in a certain situation, a deep association will be built into their memories. Think: A visit to the veterinarian where a painful shot was administered, a trip to the groomer when nails were quicked, an attack by a neighbor’s dog as he walked past their yard. All of these fearful situations will form fear associations for dogs that they will remember and feel again when they revisit these locations.

Pleasant experiences and associations are what we aim for – dogs and humans. And happiness forms neural pathways that are just as deep and enduring in our memories. We all remember the fun events just as vividly as tragic events like 9/11. Our birthdays, wedding days, graduations, the day we met our sweethearts, etc.  The happiest days of my life were the days I adopted my dogs! Boy, do I remember them.

In my teachings about dogs, I strive to communicate that we want dogs to feel strong emotions of pleasure and happiness when doing training and behavior modification. When dogs associate good feelings with what they are learning, they will be more likely to remember it. Using high-value foods that dogs rarely eat helps to form very deep, happy associations. If you only got to eat your favorite food once a year, you’re sure to remember where you had it and what you were doing, right?

When dog owners or trainers use fear or punishment, the wrong associations may form. The dog may learn not to pull on the leash when the trainer yanks the choke chain, for example, but the dog also may form a fear association as well which may be deeper-rooted than the learning. I frequently see a woman walking her yellow Lab in my neighborhood. I saw her training this dog as a pup – with scary leash pops. Now, as an adult, the dog walks behind the woman with his ears pinned back, anticipating the next pop. Walks have an association of fear for this poor pup; instead, walks should have formed fun, pleasurable associations. His owner deprived him of this should-be-happy experience because she failed to understand the principles of learning and association.

So the next time you remember an event and feel the emotions that accompany it, realize association is at work here and your dog’s mind operates just the same way.

This is the fourth of five posts about dog barking. It really is a complex problem, not easily corrected with just a tip or two. It needs to be understood in the context that it occurs because the reason for your dog’s bark can be very different – and so should the solution. 

There’s a veterinarian who writes a pet column in my local newspaper and she has a blanket solution to barking – squirt the dog with a spray bottle.  Ack!!  Not only is this no way to treat your best friend, this punishment technique teaches the dog nothing and may in fact cause the dog to become fearful.  In today’s post, I will focus entirely on territorial barking when dogs are outside – and positive ways to stop it.

As I said in my first post on barking, the dogs who are behind fences, physical or electric, can easily develop the habit of barking at anyone or anything that passes by. This type of barking is self-rewarding because the object they are barking at often is walking by the property and will eventually disappear down the street. In the dog’s mind, he is thinking, “I bark to get them to go away…and they do!” Once a dog has established this pattern, it can be very difficult to reverse it. It will take time, patience and a lot of management. When I say management, I mean being with the dog at all times to either ensure that you catch your dog in the act of barking so that you can work with him, or being there to ensure that the dog never starts to bark in the first place.

The number one criterion for stopping territorial barking is consistency. While you are in this training period, never, ever allow your dog to be outside without someone there who will work with him. I can’t say this enough: You will want to be there to catch your dog in the act of the behavior. If you don’t, your dog will always be presented with the temptation to bark. I can hear many people who are reading this say, “My dog loves to be outside, so please don’t tell me that I need to bring him in!”  While this may be true, please consider that if your dog is doing something that you or your neighbors do not like (barking), focused training is required. Think of it this way: If your dog was having housetraining issues, you certainly wouldn’t leave him unattended in the house and expect him to learn without guidance. Same thing applies to outside barking.

As my previous posts about barking discussed, the idea is to keep your dog’s excitement level down – never allow the adrenaline to surge. Keeping that in mind, I suggest you try some exercises with your dog by enlisting a friend to help you. Bring your dog outside on a leash and have some high value treats (canned chicken, cheese bits, cut up hot dogs, etc.) readily available but don’t let your dog know you have food. Or, if your dog is toy-motivated, put his favorite toy in your pocket (again, without your dog seeing it). Now, have your friend slowly begin to walk past your property. At the very instance that your dog sees your friend, begin to feed your dog or give him his toy. The idea is to ensure your dog does not get excited and start barking when he sees your friend.

If your dog stays calm and does not bark, calmly praise him and motion for your friend to walk out of sight. Stop feeding or playing with your dog once your friend is out of sight.  This maneuver is counter-conditioning at its best.  We want your dog to think that “great things happen” when someone walks past your property.

If your dog gets excited and wants to bark, remember, do not scold or call attention to the behavior.  Instead, take him inside. His privilege of being outside is denied.

Practice this exercise over and over until your friend can walk past your property without your dog barking. (Yes, I know, it’s tough!  But all habits are tough to break, as we humans know who try to quit smoking, drinking or improve our diets.) I suggest you do these exercises in short sessions so that your dog does not simply get accustomed to seeing your friend walk back and forth and get bored with the exercise. Try doing it a few times a week – provided you have a really good friend who can help.  And you can ramp up the stimulus by having your friend walk by with a dog! Continue doing the counter-conditioning technique described above.

Once your dog seems to be getting the hang of it, you can attach the “Watch” command that was discussed in the June 21 post.

I fully realize that I make it sound simple. It’s not. That’s why trainers are paid to come to people’s homes. If you have a problem barker, I strongly suggest you enlist the help of a qualified trainer (who only uses positive methods- please). Any trainer who suggests anything like water sprays, smacks on the nose, or other punishment techniques has not fully learned and understood dog behavior and learning principles. And I sincerely hope that you will invest the time in training instead of taking a shortcut by using a bark collar or other punishment technique. 

The next and final post on barking will focus on fear barking and play barking.

What if people told you to shut up every time you tried to speak?  As you run up to a friend you haven’t seen in a while and exclaim, “I’m so happy to see …,” your friend shouts, “Quiet!” Doesn’t feel so good, huh?  Well, that’s what we do so frequently to our dogs when they bark. Barking is a natural behavior for dogs and it’s very unfair to ask them never to bark. Our job as dog-parents is to teach them when it is appropriate to “speak” and when to stay quiet, no different than guiding a child who is just discovering his voice.

We frequently are the perpetrators in teaching our dogs to bark and making it worse.  I recently watched a 4-week-old litter of nine puppies and the alpha male whimpered persistently for attention. His whimpering escalated to the cutest little puppy bark I’d ever heard. I also watched the natural human reaction as my friend picked up and coddled him, thinking that he would stop once he received attention. Not!  It made him worse – the behavior was reinforced and no doubt this puppy will grow up to be an attention-seeking barker.

My first dog would bark when she saw a car going down our sleepy street, and she went into a frenzy when our next-door neighbor turned into their driveway.  But I was a novice dog person back in 1988 and I encouraged her. I would run to the window when I saw my neighbors coming home and shout their names. My dog would come running, sounding the alarm. Very quickly, my dog would come on command when I called my neighbor’s names excitedly.  She barked out the window even though nobody was there. I thought it was funny and made it a game.  Her barking at anything out the window was fine because we lived in a quiet country setting. However, when I moved to an apartment a few years later, her barking was not so funny. We had a lot of activity around us and her barking brought complaints.

Barking is a complex problem and not easy to correct.  Sadly, for that reason and because many people don’t want to bother investing time into training their dogs, several punishment-based collars have been invented.  Shock collars, citronella collars and collars that emit a tone can be purchased.  I found a very distressing web site that claims to help people stop nuisance barking.  They sell these kinds of collars and advocate methods such as shouting “NO!!!” when the dog barks and spritzing him in the face with a water bottle and even smacking him on the nose with two fingers.  Ack!!  I not only don’t advocate any of these methods, I abhor them and the people who sell, recommend and utilize them. Talk about destroying the trust in your relationship with your dog

Dogs bark for various reasons and to address the problem, we need to break it down into situations. Not all barks are the same.  Before we can address how to stop barking, the source needs to be understood. Here are a few general categories of barking.

Excited or Alert or Fear Barking: Many dogs bark when they hear noises, see people or other animals. I don’t know of very many dogs who will not bark when they see someone out the window or hear the doorbell or knock on the door. This barking is often driven by cortisol and adrenaline which are emitted as the result of the classic “fight or flight” response. Or the dog could simply be excited to see someone, which also creates an adrenaline response.

Territorial Barking:  The dogs who are behind fences, physical or electric, can easily develop the habit of barking at anyone or anything that passes by. This type of barking is self-rewarding because the object they are barking at often is walking by the property and will eventually disappear down the street. In the dog’s mind, he is thinking, “I bark to get them to go away…and they do!” 

Attention Seeking: I covered this often-annoying habit that some dogs have of barking to get attention in a post on May 2.  See that post for solutions.

Boredom and Separation Anxiety: In my post on separation anxiety, I discussed how it is a sad fact that so many of our dogs have to be left alone for hours every day due to our busy lifestyles. They don’t get the exercise and mental stimulation required to keep them happy and bark-free.

Play Barking: Some dogs express their delight by barking. And we humans can inadvertently reinforce this habit when we laugh at them and encourage the behavior. Unless the barking annoys you too much, I would hate to squelch your dog’s happiness by trying to eliminate the barking during play.  This is a tough one to tackle!

In my next couple of training tip posts, I will discuss methods – all positive! – to help extinguish nuisance barking. Woof!

It’s so, so cute when they are puppies.  The nose nudge, an occasional paw smacking your arm, the look of love, the undivided attention to you – the one they love. So irresistible and appealing to our need to be loved. But when they grow up, so annoying! Some dogs learn at a very young age that if they ask to be petted by barking or nose-nudging or any other clever means, they will get attention. And they will never stop. That wonderful feeling of being loved turns to annoyance just as quickly.

I’ve met quite a few dogs through my behavior consulting business who have caused their owners to reach the breaking point. They simply could not stand the constant neediness of their dogs.  And I had to be the one to inform these people that they actually created the problem. When their dogs asked to be petted, they petted them. Yes, it sounds reasonable but it’s so easy to create a behavior issue when the dog is placed in the position of leadership.  And how is this leadership? Simply put, when the dog asks to be petted and gets petted, the dog has trained his person. The dog is in charge. 

I’ve said it so many times – the smartest dogs can often be the worst-behaved.  They quickly learn how to get what they want. When you combine an insecure dog with a very soft-hearted human, you get an attention-seeking dog. Attention-seeking is also very difficult to eliminate if you do not understand how a dog thinks. Most people will try to stop their dog’s insistent need to be petted by giving in to them.  But they do not realize that giving in rewards and reinforces the behavior.  The dog knows that if they bark or nudge, they will eventually get attention.

Just like begging which we covered in the Dog Training Tip of the Week on January 24, once the dog learns that their behavior results in the response that they want from their humans, the dogs will continue doing it.

Attention seeking behavior is very, very difficult to eliminate. It takes a great deal of consistency and persistence. My advice often seems cold-hearted to some owners but it‘s very necessary in order to restore the relationship.

Attention seeking can be stopped if the owner withdraws attention to the dog when the dog asks for it. Simple, huh? Not really. Most people will get annoyed and frustrated with their dogs when they are constantly pestering them. The people will yell at the dog and push them away, as well as other corrections. Well, that’s the problem with corrections. You are still giving attention to the dog – which rewards the behavior.  Behaviors are rewarded when the dog receives attention, regardless if the attention is intended to be praise or punishment.  The dog only sees it as attention. So the dog continues to attention seek.

Ignoring the dog when he asks for attention is the first step in extinguishing the behavior. The other step requires that you reverse the relationship. Instead of your dog asking for your attention, you need to be calling the shots. You initiate the petting instead of your dog.  And if your dog seeks attention, first ignore him, then have your dog sit or do some other activity. By doing this, then you are in charge, not your dog.

 So the next time your dog nudges you for attention and you can’t stand it anymore, here’s what you do:

–          Completely ignore your dog. Do not talk to him or touch him.

–          Stand up and walk away if necessary.

–          After ignoring your dog for a few seconds, call him to you.  Ask him to sit or do something else. Then you can pet him.

As with most behavior modification plans for your dog, everyone who interacts with him must adhere to the rules. It’s not only unsuccessful but confusing to the dog if someone allows the dog to attention seek. Consistency is the language of dog!

A recent reader’s comment saying that anyone can be a dog trainer is absolutely correct.  There are no governing bodies to control it. I visited my local pet store and saw business cards for almost a dozen trainers hanging on the bulletin board. It’s become a very popular profession. But are they good trainers? I’ve heard people say that they want to be a trainer because they were able to teach their dog how to sit. Is that enough? What are the attributes of a good dog trainer?

I started my career working with animals as a pet massage therapist and I am glad that I did because through that training and experience, I learned how to read dogs’ body language and communications signals. This was important for two reasons: I needed to see where the dog was experiencing pain so that I could focus on that area but not hurt the dog, and I had to avoid getting bitten. Because I did a lot of my practicing on shelter dogs, I had no idea if they had behavior issues or not. It was a quick and invaluable lesson on reading dogs. Every dog trainer needs to learn how to read dogs. That’s probably one of the biggest criteria for making a really good trainer.  It’s not something you can learn in a classroom or by reading a book.

The next attribute of a good trainer is obviously being able to work effectively with the dogs using humane and scientifically sound techniques. This too cannot be learned in a classroom.  Every dog is unique, and getting to know the various breeds and their characteristics comes with practice and experience. For instance, teaching a Golden Retriever to “come” is quite different from teaching an Akita.  It also involves staying current on the latest research about behavior and learning theory.  Reading books, blogs of experts and attending seminars or conferences is advisable.

Most trainers teach classes and provide one-on-one consultations with clients. It is not enough to have excellent training skills with the dogs if the trainer cannot convey information to the clients; a really good trainer has great people skills as well. I’ve seen some really talented trainers who work wonders with dogs but they lack the personal communications skills to help the dogs’ owners learn how to work with the dogs once they get home. As we know, most dog behavior issues come as a result of things that owners do or don’t do.

And finally, probably the least important skill is writing ability although I do believe it’s still necessary. If trainers want to teach classes, they will need to prepare written handouts and a curriculum.  This information must be conveyed clearly and accurately to the clients. Also, many trainers who do private lessons or consultations will follow up with a written behavior plan. It will be useless if not written well.

So, yes, anyone can say they are a dog trainer but do they have what it takes to be a good one? Can you think of anything else that makes a dog trainer stand out from the “pack”?

It’s not enough nowadays to just be competent, compassionate and honest. It seems that controversy is the only way to garner attention. Politics and show business depend on creating controversy.  Haven’t we had enough of that lately with Charlie Sheen?!  Sorry, but being controversial is not my style.  I’m not looking for attention and do my best to steer away from confrontation and the limelight.  But I inadvertently stepped right into it, last week when I posted about Cesar Millan.

When the post was crossposted on Facebook, it became the most read entry of the entire year that I’ve been writing my blog.  On Facebook, a lot of people voiced their opinions about what I tried to convey: Most comments were from people who had taken the time to fully read and comprehend my message, while there were a few who either didn’t read it entirely or failed to comprehend what I wrote and they rushed to judgment.  I’m so happy that I was able to reach some people. As for the others who either didn’t read the post entirely or just didn’t understand it or didn’t want to understand it, they had various things to say about me, not about the facts that I presented. Interestingly, not one person challenged the validity of using counter-conditioning instead of force.  It was easier to condemn me.

One person said it was “tacky” that I compared Millan to Michael Vick. Huh??  Please reread my post; I made no comparison made between these men. I said that each one brings controversy.  Yep, they certainly do, as evidenced of the number of hits and comments on Facebook and this blog!

Someone else said that my post showed a “desperate attempt” to boost my own agenda.  Hmmm, my agenda? To help animals and to educate people about positive, loving training methods. Okay, I’m guilty!  Desperate?  Sorry, that’s simply not worth commenting on.

If it takes controversy to get attention for messages that will help animals, then I probably have no choice than to embrace it. In our current society, it seems like that’s the only way to get noticed.  I’m a pretty shy person. If I want to continue writing about helping animals, I’ll need to get thick-skinned and get used to the attention. Bring it on – for the sake of the animals.

Getting your dog to come to you reliably and consistently can be one of the most challenging and frustrating things to teach your dog. Entire books are dedicated to this subject! It’s not easy and requires a lot of practice and consistency. I will tackle this topic in several posts. Today, let’s review what types of things we do that encourage dogs not to come to us.

When dogs are puppies, we have the opportunity to shape their behavior in order to get the very best behaved dog. Or…we can do things that will forever make your dog difficult. I see many people inadvertently discourage their puppies from coming to them by doing several things:

–          Because pups can be so wild and active, many people will call their pup to them and once the pup finally comes to them, they will grab the pup, mostly by the collar, and restrain the pup.

–          So many times, people will catch their pups doing something wrong and they will call the pup to them and scold the pup.

–          People who use crates to train their pups will call the pup to get him to go into the crate, usually against the pup’s will. The pup quickly learns that “come” means playtime is over and he can no longer have fun.

These incidences all create negative feelings because something bad happened when the pup came to his person. In the pup’s mind, he’s thinking, “I don’t want to come to you because I won’t like it!”

Back in the early 2000’s, I used an accountant for my business who had a very lovely Lab.  She was a sweetheart!  A very soft and loving dog. When we finished with our business meeting one day, the accountant and I went out into the yard to play Frisbee with the dog. She was a wonderful Frisbee girl!  Most of the time, she brought the Frisbee right back to us.  She knew that she would get her reward in another chance to catch it.  But one time when my accountant called to her, she didn’t come back to us and instead decided to sniff around.  He called to her again. After four tries she finally trotted up to us with tail wagging happily.  My accountant scolded her and hit her repeatedly on the rear. She was visibly upset and fearful. I was mortified. I tried to explain to him that if you hit your dog when she finally comes to you, she will never want to come to you again. In the dog’s mind, she’s thinking, “I come to him, I get scolded and hit.” Yes, I quickly changed accountants.

So, tip number one for training your dog to come to you: Make it an enormously happy and wonderful thing whenever your dog comes to you. Always, consistently. It’s obviously best to start as a puppy but any dog can be shown that coming to you is a good thing. After all, if a puppy mill survivor can learn to come to people, any dog can!