Board & Train


  • Crate training
  • Potty Training
  • Focus & Engagement 
  • Sit
  • Hand Touches
  • Recall

Crate Training:

Lilli has become increasingly better in her crate as time progresses. She has been crated incrementally (minimal barking/whining if any at all) and worked a lot in and out of her crate. She is fed in her crate (drives right in to it to eat, as that is value building). She is put in bed in her crate at least 30-45 minutes before I go to bed. This is so she understands she can settle in even though I am still up and awake. The same is true in the morning. Because she is the most anxious to come out, she is last (after the other dogs). I also do not let her out immediately when I get up. She has been going out at approximately 6:30am. Since she is so distracted she generally needs to stay out after the other dogs go inside. Since she is not going right onto the grass to potty immediately I know a) she obviously does not have to go that bad b) she is not understanding that is her duty when she gets let out, or goes out. 

Potty Training: 

When she goes out, I walk to the same spot each time to let her sniff, explore..and hopefully go potty. I do not interact with her at all before she goes potty. I am very neutral, do not speak or give eye contact. When she starts to potty I tell her "go potty" so she can match the verbal with the action. After she is done, I will verbally praise or pet. The reason we ignore initially (before she goes) as she needs to understand going to the bathroom is more important. If we interact with her and speak with her, she is then distracted by us. We want her to match her verbal rewards (or praise) with the action of going to the bathroom. 

Down: I found I spent more time negatively reinforcing the paw swatting than I focused on being able to teach the down. Because she is offering a behavior we do not want (paw swatting) we first have to get her to understand there is no value in giving her paw (unless we ask for it). As we continue to lure her into the down position, she will get her down eventually, however there is not a whole lot of value for that position right now (food always comes from up higher). If she is laying on the floor nicely, you can catch her in a down and put a treat in between her paws on the floor to build value for that position. This may help her catch on to the position. However, right now focus and engagement is much more important (as well as potty and crate training) than a down. My video was interrupted due to a phone call so did cut off at the end.

Slow Treat/Sit: Another portion of house training and manners training is ignoring the behaviors we do not want, and reinforcing what we do. We also need to remember that if she jumps, and we pet or give attention to that behavior, that we are actually teaching her to do that behavior. We are making it rewarding. Therefore a lot of time spent here is completely extinguishing any behaviors that I personally would not want to see (as perhaps it then leads to other problems). If you give attention to your dog when they jump, you have taught your dog to jump. What ends up happening is then a dog jumps on a person during a walk to greet them, or on company when they enter your home and all of a sudden you are telling her down. That is not fair to your dog. Down the line you can TEACH your dog to jump when invited, but at this stage that is way too confusing for the dog to put it on cue before she even understands not to jump. 


This is also true for a dog bolting out of a house door, begging at the table, going on furniture, sitting on someone's lap while driving, pulling on a leash etc. If it is allowed...and it works, the dog will continue to do it. This goes for "hyper greeters" especially (which is a common problem) -- dogs being overly excited when they see their owners or a new person. If you reward calm (no matter what) your dog thinks that is the way to behave. And if it is allowed and continues, it manifests itself. Therefore, a lot of times when people pick their dogs up (training clients) I will not let the owners interact with their dog (sometimes 20-30 minutes) because I want the dog to know that behavior does not earn any rewards. 

One of the drills I would highly recommend is collar grabbing. This will get Lilli used to being grabbed as at times she puts her head down and walks the other way. We want her to know that reaching for her (never over the top of the head) is a positive thing. 

At first this was necessary for me to direct her to crate, but as she was here for a longer duration of her time she drove into her crate as she understood the pattern of when we go into the crate. 

At times she did try to be smarter than me - but just remain patient with her and positive with her to get her to come to you first (do NOT chase her around). 

Beyond potty training and crate training...focus and engagement is still #1. 

Progress slowly. Start inside, move to your lanai (have her on leash so she does not potty), then to the garage, then driveway, etc. 

Foundational items - such as name game - and paying attention as we create a more challenging environment. 

She should be able to go to bed at a decent hour and remain crated and quiet until 7:30am - daylight savings kicked in, with no problems. 


If she ends up barking when crated, it should only take her a small amount of time before she remembers she needs to be calm in your home. I had no challenges with her after she settled in her crate. She was crated incrementally EVERY SINGLE DAY. I would work her going to the bathroom in a designated spot with no distractions as still she would choose not to go when she was her and found herself back into the crate. That being said, time is limited if she chooses not to go. 

In Home Lesson: Sunday, March 4th 9am

  • Incrementally crating throughout the day, each day
    • do let let out or address when whining or barking
    • when silent you may tell her good girl or drop a treat (barking may start back up again)
    • let her work through the barking, but try to get her out BEFORE she starts up if she has been crated for an extended period of time
  • Have a designated potty spot on walks (sounds like you have 2 already!)
    • as she is going potty you can say "go pee" or "go poop" as she is going to start associating the verbal with the action
  • When she is scared or nervous try not to coddle. Simply back her up from what is making her fearful. If it is too much for her, remove her from the situation. We want her to be confident - so we do not want to over-face her.
  • Make sure to communicate as a family her potty needs, remember it is not HER FAULT. She is only doing what she knows. 
  • Actively supervise if she is out to extinguish accidents
  • Crate games (video below in initial welcoming information)
  • Start your "down" (video at bottom of page in initial welcoming information)
  • Hand touches (video right below)


Start with your basic hand touch - flat palm, close to Lilli. When she touches a solid touch with her nose to your palm, place treats in the palm she touched. 

This is the beginning to teaching her to touch objects. 

As it progresses (as you can see from the video) you might expect two hand touches instead of one, and distractions being present (I have the ball on the cone and a tug toy and food on the ground). 


Before you begin training, it is important to understand the foundation to your training should be engagement and relationship. Teaching behaviors and cues is a lot easier when a dog is willing and enthusiastic to participate with you. Your training should be force-free with a strong focus on foundational skills.

  • Keep your expectations fair and realistic.
  • Unpredictability is probably the worst trait a dog owner can possess.
  • If you expect something, then expect it every time you ask for it.
  • Think about treats in terms of ‘units of a reward’ for effort.
  • Remember repetition, NOT duration. Five 1-minutes sessions can be better than one 5-minute session.
  • Mark for action, feed for position.
  • Name a perfect behavior, not an imperfect behavior. Get the quality you want before you tell the dog what it is called.
  • Work on generalization to work on getting the behavior to happen in a variety of environments and situations.
  • The challenge level should always be that in which your dog can succeed.

Ask your dog what they are capable of doing. Over-facing our dogs by putting demands on them that they cannot possibly meet will not only mean we make no progress towards our training goals, but it will erode a dog’s confidence and enjoyment of working with us.

Perfection is not a permanent condition. The more criteria, the more maintenance.

It is important to think about the behavior you are training and the tools you may need. Are you "marking" for the behavior and feeding for position? Are you working a release and can utilize tugging when your dog gets up?

What motivates your dog?

  1. Food (what is the least your puppy or dog will work for?)
  2. Toys!
  3. Verbal Praise
  4. Petting

In what order are your rewards most valuable?

  • What does the dog like least?
  • What does the dog like most?
  • What types of behaviors require certain rewards? Ex. placement of rewards and marking for position, calm behaviors vs. high drive
  • What environment are you training in which may require a more valuable reward or motivator?


Recommended Skills for Training to Start With:

  • Housebreaking (generally for new puppies)
  • Crate training/waiting at a crate door, house door, gate door
  • Addressing separation anxiety, attachment and independence/confidence
  • Exposure to noises and the real world/surface exposure
  • Touch sensitivity & collar grabs
  • Marker word/clicker training
  • Learning name, focus, engagement
  • Addressing barking
  • Recall or "come" 
  • Impulse control/leave it
  • Resource guarding/trading objects/"give"
  • Sits & downs
  • Release cues
  • Hand touches & touching objects
  • Heeling & walking
  • Stay
  • Shaping (sending to bed/mat)
  • Socialization
  • Addressing jumping
  • Addressing play biting/mouthing
  • Proofing

Owner's Requested Skills:

*Please note some of the skills requested may require additional skills or behaviors BEFORE achieving a specific skill or behavior requested

  •  Potty Training
  • Crate Training
  • Leash Walking


Keep in mind when you are teaching a behavior, skill, or cue  you must build upon that skill adding elements in such as:

  1. Distance - how far away can you be and ask for that behavior?
  2. Distractions - can your dog perform the same skill outside in a public park as in your indoor kitchen?
  3. Duration - how long will your dog hold a sit, a down, or a stay?

BEFORE ADDITIONAL ELEMENTS ARE ADDED, YOU FIRST WANT TO MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A GREAT FOUNDATION OF THAT BEHAVIOR! If your dog cannot sit in the kitchen with no distractions, do not expect to take your dog outside and get a reliable sit.

How to mark behaviors you want:

In the initial stages you may need to have a collar/harness with a 4-6ft leash attached to your puppy or dog so they do not wander. You can hold the leash or just step on it.

Once you have a strong foundation with the behaviors in a low-key environment you can start building upon the behavior by asking for a longer duration of focus, moving food off your body, reducing the reinforcer, requiring eye contact (not staring at the reward), putting distance between you and the dog, and eventually moving into environments with increased distractions (controlled and not controlled).

In order to communicate with your dog when they are doing something you like or are asking for you will want to have a "marker word" or clicker. If you do not have a clicker you can use the word "yes."

Initially you are just "charging the click" to allow your puppy or dog to start associating your marker with the reward which is to follow. As your dog progresses you can always mark the behavior, but you can reduce your reinforcers (you do not have to give a treat every time).



Skill: Marker Word = YES! (or a clicker)
Exercise: Name Game

Criteria: Call your dog’s name, when they look mark YES and reward
Progression: Offered focus (call if needed) but reward for paying attention. If your dog looks away to sniff, you can call their name and reward for looking at you. Young puppies may only glance up for a hot second...don't forget to reward that! 
*Remember you do not ALWAYS need to use food - think about other types of rewards



How does your dog know when it is "ok" to move out of a cue or behavior?


  1. Dog is in crate (chooses to, or lured in at first)
  2. Door closes on dog
  3. The reward or motivator is coming out of the crate
  4. If the dog tries to bolt or barge out, the dog loses access to that reward and the door simply closes quickly
  5. Very quickly a dog will start catching on to the behaviors that are linked together; dog holds position (even for a second) and is released out!
  6. Repeat

There are many scenarios where a release cue is important. For example: a start-line stay on the agility field. 

Wanting to work one dog, while the other stays until it is released. 

While the Dalmatian is released and worked, the other dog is to stay put until she gets released and it is her turn. 


It's amazing how much can be learned by both human and dog hardly saying anything at all. I can go through an entire training session with my dogs, or my horse, or donkeys without saying many words but rather just praising and reinforcing what I like. 

I want my animals to think for themselves and do things with enthusiasm because they want to, not because they are forced to.

One reason I am a huge advocate of crate training (beyond potty training, confidence building, or ruling out anxiety) is because it is the foundation of my release cue

Time out of the crate or time spent interacting with us is rewarding. Anything that a dog wants can be used as a motivator. A dog will do what works for them to achieve that motivator and it is up to us to set boundaries and be consistent with our messages. Many times we are reinforcing things we do not like and we do not even know it!

"Ok" simply means you are free to move.

Very quick durations to start. No distractions that may cause the dog to get up early. You are with the dog so there is not much distance in between you. 


Impulse Control

If our dog shows a sense of self control, generally we will then allow them a reward or access to their motivator. .

  • a dog sits and waits at the door, the door opens (gains access to the outdoors!)
  • a dog keeps all four paws on the floor, we reach down to pet it (gains access to praise!)
  • a dog holds position when the food bowl is placed on the floor, we release and it eats (gains access to food!)

There was a time when my clumsy self knocked an entire bottle of ibuprofen off my counter and every single pill fell onto the floor. Imagine how dangerous that scenario could be for the dog that has no impulse control and as soon as something falls...well, eats it. 

Had it not been for this specific drill, perhaps that day would have went differently. My dogs understand they need to exhibit self control. When they want to access something they need to engage with me and make eye contact for a release that it is "ok" to move. 

Carrying a plate of food? Kids carrying a stuffed animal or dragging a blanket? A puppy or dog needs to understand that in order to get what they want they should show some patience. Now, of course, we do want to eliminate temptation when a dog is learning as we want them to succeed as many times as possible. 

However, as we teach these behaviors consistently we no longer have to view the behavior as a "problem" or challenge. 

Sits & Downs

If you want your dog to sit politely while company enters the door or a stranger greets you in the streets...first you need a strong sit! 

Build strong foundational behaviors. Does your dog understand sit only when you lure a cookie in front of its face? Or can you spin around in circles with your back facing and cue your dog to "sit?" 

A lot of times the behavior is: owner standing straight in front of me lifting up their hand and that posture and signal means to sit. Perhaps your dog does not understand the word itself.

If you want to send your dog to its bed and down, first you need a reliable down. 

Do your motions trigger your dog to get up and move? Can you walk a fill circle around your dog while they remain in a down? Will your dog hold a down while you throw a steak on the floor?

A large part of the foundational skills of behaviors such as sit and down are proofing those behaviors. 

Proofing: the final step in training your dog any new behavior. It involves practicing behaviors in a variety of situations with different levels of distractions