Train Fido

Be Your Dog's Pack Leader

Be the Pack Leader

Your dog is happiest when you are a calm leader. Lead your dog with love and confidence. Transform your dog and your life by understanding how to communicate effectively with your dog. You are the role model for your dog and I will give you all the information you need to be the best role model ever!

The Whole Dog

Your best resource for all your dog's needs. From nutrition to training - you will find lots of articles, tips and training advice, as well as my reviews of various popular dog training techniques and product reviews. Updated daily, so come Back often.

Dog Training Basics

The Goal of Training: The goal of training is to have a well-mannered dog who is confident and relaxed. Training helps set you up for  your role as alpha and this makes your dog more comfortable with his place in the pack. The goal of training is not to rob your dog of his quirky qualities such as mischievousness and clowning. It is the best basic thing you can do to have a well trained and happy dog
Age to Begin Training:   Training begins the minute you get your dog, while formal training can begin training as early as three months. P. Training a young dog can be a challenge at first but if you start with basics such as "Sit!" and "down," your pup will learn quickly. Older dogs can certainly be trained and though they may be slower with the uptake, their calmer demeanor makes training easier.
Your Role as Student and Teacher:   It is essential that you   have a calm demeanor when training your dog. This will relax your dog and give him confidence. As a student, listen intently to your trainer and also observe what she does. Do not be afraid to ask questions or ask for extra help. As a teacher, be consistent and establish a training routine for you and your dog.
The 15 Minute Rule: When training your dog yourself, keep in mind that they can only hold attention for about fifteen minutes at a time at the beginning stages of training. It's better to do two fifteen minute sessions per day than one half-hour session.

Different Training Techniques

Some obedience training methods today use positive reinforcement. Some use it exclusively while others combine it with correction. Choosing a method depends on which technique you are most comfortable with, keeping in mind your dog's personality. Different breeds have different temperaments and different dogs within a breed have different personalities. Though the commands are similar amongst various training methods, one method may be better for your dog than another. For example, a timid Yorkie is less likely to respond well to a corrective technique while a bull-headed Pit Bull will probably need a combo of positive and corrective reinforcement. The key is to remember that training your dog is fun and a great opportunity for you to bond. Leave the day's frustrations out of the session.
Traditional Dog Training: The modern version of traditional training really began with Barbara Woodhouse in the 1950s. This method uses physical corrections to train a dog. For example, if you tell your dog to sit and he stays standing, you might give a gentle jerk on his collar or choke chain while pushing down his rump. Rewards for a completed task include an encouraging "Good Dog!". This method is considered to be outdated by many modern trainers but you'll find that some dogs (like that bull-headed Pit Bull) might respond to this after failing with positive reinforcement training.
Clicker Training: This is one of the most popular recent types of dog training and was introduced by Karen Pryor.  It can be used for everything from basic commands to potty training to behavioral problems such as excessive barking. The theory behind this type  of training is that animals learn best from "operant conditioning."  Operant conditioning means that an animal learns from his environment and that he is more likely to respond to a positive consequence than a negative one.  This is pure positive reinforcement training - the clicker indicates to a dog what he has done right.  This method is well-liked because it is gentle and offers a good experience for both dog and owner.
Reward Training:   This is another positive reinforcement technique but the incentive is not the association with the clicker, but some sort of reward. The reward can be a favorite toy, food, or anything he loves . When you give the reward, you should praise your dog in an encouraging voice. Enthusiasm is encouraged in both you and your dog.
Dog Whispering:   Though Cesar Millan, the inventor of this method, sometimes comes under criticism because of the use of correction, it can be a very useful technique with some dogs. ( and my personal favorite method)   The foundation of dog whispering is the connection with and understanding between you and your dog.   The key is that you have to be able to read your dog's body language and to use your own body language to train him.   This does often involve correction but the corrections are based on dog behavior.   For example, a dog who is being aggressive toward another dog can be corrected by applying a clawed hand to his neck.   This mimics what his mother would have done in the wild.   This method requires some study into the behavior of dogs but it can create a very tight bond between you.
In addition to actual dog trainers, you can get advice from a dog behavioral specialist. You might also be interested in learning about the cognitive functions of dogs. There are books on the subject and Cognitive Canine Centers around the country. This will help you understand how your dog thinks and will make training easier. Remember that the most important aspects are to be calm and consistent and try to have some fun, too!

Dog Parks - Good or Bad

In a perfect world dog parks are great. The world is not perfect and neither are dog parks. Here are some of the good and bad of dog parks.


  •   Dog parks are a good place for your dog to burn off some steam
  •   Your dog can socialize with different types of dogs
  •   You can meet new friends and arrange doggie play dates

  • Dog parks can be a place to spread diseases and flea infestation.
  • Dog parks are dangerous because you never know what kind of dogs come there.  This is especially dangerous for young puppies.
  • Some owners may be lax at watching their dogs.
  •  You often find more small dogs on big side of the park then big dogs. A small dog can be literally stomped to death in a dog park.
  • Dog parks are bad if it is the only place the dog is exercised.  Some dogs may be too excitable.

These are just some of the pros and cons.  Choose your dog park wisely

If you do want to go to dog parks, try to pick time in a day when there are not a lot of dogs and you know the dogs. With trained dogs and responsible owners dog parks can be great fun for any dog, but sadly in some cases they are not.

Training the basics before trick training for your dog

All of the basic obedience skills. Your dog must be obedient before he should be taught to do tricks. This is the a foundation to all other training,  As you become the pack leader you will be training your dog to sit, stand, lie down, respond to his name and more!

All of the basic tricks. Training a dog to do the basic tricks is an excellent way to gain experience as a dog trainer. Many of the basic tricks will challenge you in some way that obedience training does not. Amongst the tricks, you can be training your dog to do: spin in a circle, rolling over, shaking a paw, crawling and more!

Advanced training techniques. There is a point in time when experienced dog trainers start to wonder the extent which they can train their dogs. Our most advanced lessons will teach and challenge you to train your dog to do anything that you want. Maybe it is getting a beer out of the fridge or playing chess, bringing in the groceries....the sky is the limit!

Service Dogs - training, tasks they perform, standards of obedience

 Assistance canines are broken down into three categories:  Guide Dogs, Hearing Dogs, and Service Animals (everything other than guide or hearing dogs). In the United States, the term Service Animal is used generically to mean any kind of assistance animal, including both guide and hearing dogs.

The Codes of Federal Regulation for the Americans with Disabilities Act defines "service animal" as "any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including, but not limited to, guiding individuals with impaired vision, alerting individuals with impaired hearing to intruders or sounds, providing minimal protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, or fetching dropped items."

There are some good organizations that will help with placing a service dog.  But there are sometimes long waiting lists and great expense involved.  There are approximately 15,000 service dogs across the U.S.

That is why some people, like myself, have trained their own dogs.  My standard poodle, Jazzy, does some handy things for me.  She picks up anything you drop or that she feels is misplaced - she is quite particular and likes things in order.  She will help carry in the groceries, put her toys away, and assist with removing jackets, socks and shoes.  Her services are quite handy.

Some advantages of training your own dog are:

1 - no waiting
2 - more cost effective
3 - you can train for your specific needs

There are  some minimum standards for Service dogs including:

1 - must respond to command 90% of the time.
2 - demonstrate basic obedience
3 - must perform at least 3 tasks to help the client's disability

The most important factor is picking the right dog for your needs.  Most service dog tasks require a dog to take things in their mouth.  Certain breeds are much more willing to do this.  For example, my rottweiler hates to carry things while my poodle loves it - a  poodle is a retrieving type dog.  Use your dogs natural abilities and tendencies.  Traditional breeds for service dogs have been German Shepherds, Labradors, and Golden Retrievers.  But almost any type of dog that has the temperament, skills, and willingness to work can become a service dog.

In the United States there is no special license or certification required.  While a business cannot require certification as a condition of allowing a team to enter their facilities, they may ask what the dog has been trained to do and whether it is required because of a disability.

What makes a dog a real service dog is being trained to perform tasks that assist a person with their disability.

What do you think of the Dog Whisperer, Cesar Millan?

Whenever you mention The Dog Whisperer, Cesar Millan, you are sure to get a definite opinion.  Most people you run into either love him or hate him.  Which one are you?

I am feeling the love.  He has such a great energy and such  a common sense approach when it comes to dogs.  As he is quick to point out, he teaches dog psychology as opposed to dog training.  His favorite mottos seems to be "no talk, no touch, no eye contact" and "calm, assertive energy".

I used to live in Southern California and if I still did, I would do everything in my power to be around his facility.  Especially the new one  - that is in the high desert, I think, around where I used to lived.  Back in the 80's when I lived in California, I was impressed with Mathew Margolis and did go to his training facility.  But Cesar Millan would be even much better to meet.

I believe most everything he says, but I do have to admit, I am still a little unsure about the pit bulls.  Just last week in the local news I heard about a police officer getting attacked by a pit bull and they had to shoot him.  After the dog was dead it still took 20 minutes to get his jaws unclenched. 

I know it is not about the breed, but how they are raised.  But the thought of a dog not letting go is still scary.

I have studied the Dog Whisperer shows and have adopted many of Cesar Millan's techniques and strategies.  He has a natural instinct when it comes to dogs.

What about you? What do you think? 

Dog Swallows three carat diamond ring - watch video

A golden retriever swallowed a three carat diamond ring estimated to be worth $20,000.  This happened in Rockville, Maryland inside a local jewelry store.

The owner of the dog was looking over the big rock when the diamond ring was dropped on the floor.  The dog, Soli, made a bee line for the tasty rock and swallowed it before the owner to grab it.

So after consulted with their vet, Soli's owners waited patiently for three days before the stone reappeared.

How fun would that be to examine each bowel movement everyday for three days?
Watch the story here:

Off Leash Training for your dog provides Safety - obedience train

Off leash training serves more than one purpose and I think it is a necessity for any dog owner.  There is such a freedom for the handler, knowing your dog has reached such a high level of obedience.  But there are other reasons to train your dog off leash.

1)  Freedom for the dog - this is the first thing people think about when wanting to train their dog to walk off leash.  The joy of seeing their dog running and playing on there own.

2) Exercise for your dog.  Your dog can get more exercise if it is not restrained.  Most people cannot get up to "dog speed" unless they are rollerblading or riding a bike.

3) Easier for the handler - no more pulling on the leash, no more getting the leash wrapped around a tree or a person's legs

4) Safety - this is the most important one - it is safer for your dog to be under your control  on or off the leash - no more worrying about your dog bolting out the door and getting lost, or roaming the neighborhood and getting hit by a car.. Just the peace of mind knowing that your dog is safe, even if someone drops the leash or hold the front door open.

Now don't misunderstand.  There are many instances when you should not have the dog off a leash.  Many cities have leash laws that require you to have  a leash on your dog anytime you are outside with your dog in an unfenced area.  You should abide by all local laws.

There are also other areas that are too busy or crowded with too many chances of injury to your dog or others.  You should consider other people when you are outside off leash with your dog.  Many people have phobias about animals and could be traumatized by a dog running toward them off leash.


I have found it best to start training your dog at a young age is the easiest.  The puppies natural instinct is to follow your lead.  If you use this instinct when he is a baby, you are well on your way.  Just walk in a safe area and call the dog to you anytime he is starting to stray. Be sure to have a treat handy at the beginning to help entice him to you.  Repeating this process is all it takes with a puppy.

If your dog is older or your puppy starts wandering too far and not wanting to come back you can follow these steps.

Get a light line.  This is a extra long line - 12 to 30 feet that is strong, but lightweight.  Attach to your dog's collar.  Warning:  watch so you don't get tangled around anyone's legs and wear gloves to avoid rope burns because the dog will be able to gain more momentum with the longer lead and the rope burns are quite painful.  I learned the hard way with a German Shephard.

Walk the dog and call him back to you frequently.  When the dog comes eagerly, reward with pets or treats.  If the dog does not turn and come instantly, reel him in with the light line.  Praise and treat the dog when he is sitting or standing in front of you.

It is your preference how strict or precise you want to be.  Some people want the dog to sit directly in front of you each time the dog returns to you.  For general off leash, I just want the dog to come back to me and then we can continue on our walk.

Do not rush through this step.  Keep working with the light line until your dog comes to you every time without hesitation.   It is very important that your dog does not learn that he can disobey the come command.  The dog must come EVERY time you call.

When your dog is at this state it is time to take them to an enclosed area and test the waters.  A school yard when school is out or a large fenced tennis court are great places to test.

That is all there is too it - reward and reinforce often.  If the dog regresses, go back to the light line for a few weeks, then to the enclosed area for testing and try again.

For those of you with remote collars, the off leash work is much easier and twice as reliable - I will be developing the full remote "ecollar" training part of this blog as I go along further.  Check back often.

Barf - the bones and raw food plan for dogs - feeding your dog food

BARF stands for "Bones and Raw Food" and there is great controversy about feeding your dog this way. However, many say it is the most natural and healthy way to feed. Dogs are only fed natural, whole foods.

The BARF diet consists of raw meats, raw bones, eggs, dairy products, supplements, fruits and vegetables, and eliminates processed and commercial foods which usually have grains as their main ingredients.

Some of the benefits of the Bones and Raw food diet

* Natural and nutritionally-balanced diet
* Healthy coat and skin
* Better digestion and stool
* More energy and a healthy immune system
* Free of preservatives, sweeteners, additives and filler

* Less carbs and wheat products then commercial dog foods

Some of the controversies are:

* Benefits are not scientifically proven
* Potential for bacteria, including e.coli and salmonella
* Possible choking or puncture a dog's gastrointestinal tract
* Can be costly and time consuming

Follows of the BARF diet say that dogs have a different digestive system and will not get e.coli or salmonella poisoning and that all bones and meat are safe if served raw.

Dr. Billinghurst, author of the books 'Give Your Dog a Bone' and 'Grow Your Pups with Bones', describes the BARF diet this way:

“BARF is about feeding dogs properly. The aim of BARF is to maximize the health, longevity and reproductive capacity of dogs and by so doing, minimize the need for veterinary intervention. How do you feed a dog properly? You feed it the diet that it evolved to eat. ... Artificial grain based dog foods cause innumerable health problems. They are not what your dog was programmed to eat during its long process of evolution. A biologically appropriate diet for a dog is one that consists of raw whole foods similar to those eaten by the dogs’ wild ancestors. The food fed must contain the same balance and type of ingredients as consumed by those wild ancestors. This food will include such things as muscle meat, bone, fat, organ meat and vegetable materials and any other foods that will mimic what was those wild ancestors ate.”

Since dogs are descendants of the wolf, the Barf diet can make sense.  Wolves are very hardy animals with no packaged dog food, chefs or disinfectants.  Worth looking into.

MckLinky Blog Hop

Remote Dog Training eCollar - Invisible fence - Obedience remote

 A remote training dog collar, also called an ecollar is a tool to teach your dog from a distance.  The remote training collar consists of the dog collar and a separate hand held remote.  There are settings  on the remote to allow the trainer to adjust the intensity.  Most remote collars also have a tone only mode, that simply sounds a tone to let the dog know that the behavior is unwanted.

The collar with the transmitter has two probes that deliver the "tap" to the dog's neck.  The collar has to be quite snug to be effective, usually allowing on one finger to be inserted between the dog's neck and the collar.  Always start on the lowest level.  Continue to use the lowest level necessary to get the desired behavior.

There are different methods of ecollar training.  One method is called the avoidance method - this method involves holding down on the button until the dog completes the desired task.  In this way the dog will do the desired task as quick as possible until you get to the point that the dog will "beat" the button.

Another method is to simply "tap" the button when the dog is doing an undesirable action.  A quick tap is given and additional taps at increasing intensities until the dog stops the behavior.

There seems to be much debate about training your dog with a remote collar.  Many have used this method with great success.  Others call it cruel, however, I have rarely heard anyone call the invisible fence pet containment system cruel.  I wonder why people don't make the connection that they are the same thing.

E-collars are definitely getting more popular among the general dog owning public, because  they can produce such a high level of obedience in such a short amount of time.

One thing to remember is that these collars are a very effective training device and are usually only necessary during the training process.  Once the dog is trained, the collars are rarely used.

Clicker Train your dog - Obedience Training 101

  Clicker training your dog can be a lot of fun. It is a way of training called "operant conditioning".  Operant conditioning is a scientific term that describes the way animals learn from the consequences of certain behaviors.  It goes to the root of how animals learn in their natural world.  One type of operant conditioning  used in dog training is positive reinforcement.

The first people to take operant  conditioning out of the laboratory were Keller and Marian Breland, two students of B.F. Skinner, way back in the 1940's- the used dogs. Later the same technique was used to help train dolphins.  

The Clicker is a small plastic box with a metal strip that makes a sharp, clicking sound when pushed and released. Its value is that the unique sound doesn't get lost in the babble of words we are constantly throwing at our dogs.

It is faster than saying a command and allows the trainer to mark the behavior  being reinforced.  Paired with something the dog finds very rewarding, the clicker becomes a powerful tool for shaping behavior.

Clicker training is a very good method of teaching your dog a new trick.  For example, if you want to teach your dog to touch his nose to an object, you can simple watch him and every time he touches something with his nose, click and treat.

The most important thing with the clicker training is timing - this is what makes this type of training so effective.  You can click simultaneously with the desired action.  The dog gets the association much quicker this way.  Clicker training does not really focus on the clicker or a food reward, it depends on the correct timing and reinforcement.

This type of training mimics Ivan Pavlov's Classic Conditioning.  Pavlov was the first person to discover the correlation between stimulus and response.  He found that if a particular stimulus in the dog’s surroundings were present when the dog was presented with meat powder, then this stimulus would become associated with food and cause salivation on its own. In his initial experiment, Pavlov used a metronome to call the dogs to their food and, after a few repetitions, the dogs started to salivate in response to the metronome whether the food was present or not.

You can teach your dog advanced techniques using the clicker, just remember to teach each new step slowing.  If you want to teach your dog to jump on a chair, pull a string, jump back down and sit.  First teach the dog to jump on a chair - when the dog has this step learned well, add the next step - having him jump on the chair and touch the string - etc, etc.

The steps to Clicker Obedience:

1. Get your clicker and a few treats - the best treats are tiny pieces - like jerky treats, chicken or cheese that you can tear into tiny bits.  

2.  Click then give the dog a treat - this begins the dog's understanding that the click sound means a treat.

3.  Then stop clicking and just wait for the desired behavior. If you want the dog to look at your - click when the dog looks at  you and give him the tidbit.  If the desired command is sit, wait until the dog sits, then click and treat.

Your First Days with your new dog

Training your dog begins as soon as you bring him home. One of the biggest mistakes people make is being too lenient with their dog and then trying later on to enforce the rules. Step one is setting the rules from the beginning.

Here are some simple things you can do. A good pack leader always goes through the doorway first, eats first, and leads the way on the walk. Invite the dog on the furniture if that is your preference, but don't allow them to jump up there without being invited.

Use your body language to convey what you want instead of your voice. A strong stance and confident manner signal strength to your dog. These simple actions give a strong leadership message to your dog.

Your tone of voice is very important. Many dog owners make the mistake of speaking to their dog in a very high excited voice. This only makes the dog excited and anxious. Talk in a normal tone, and generally the fewer words, the better.

When you are it the pack leader it helps your dog feel calm and secure. He knows what is expected of him and he can trust you to handle situations in a calm, fair way.

* exercise your dog regularly and lead the way
* wait until your dog is calm before you reward
* use calm energy
* always be fair
* do not be harsh
* do not yell or hit your dog