Daycare: Wednesday 1/31

We are still working on Lucky's down. If you are able to work some repetitions at home as well on his off daycare days that will really help him progress a bit faster. 

He has been doing well with his basic skills and focus. Once we can tackle the foundational skills we can get them for duration. Getting the down we could then lead into sending to a mat/bed and also luring into heel, his stay, and impulse control. All of this will help with walking and his self control. 

He has been awesome!

Daycare: Thursday 1/25/2018

We worked on a few things at once. Introducing the treat and train dispenser, and also going more into the down. Being outdoors is a bit distracting, so nest time we work the down it will be inside since I over-faced him outside with a lot going on. He is getting it, but it is a new behavior. 

Daycare: Wednesday 1/17/2018

Reflection: Progress & Goal Setting

  • Where do you feel your dog is now compared to where you would like it to be?
    • Have you taken into account behaviors that have been created/allowed vs. behaviors you have actively and consistently worked on? Example: leash pulling. Do every time you go out on leash are you consistent to not allow the dog to pull, or do you allow the dog to pull to get it where it wants to go, reinforcing this behavior? How long has your dog been getting away with behaviors you do not like? Have you done anything to change those behaviors?
  • Do you feel the time, energy, and consistency you are putting in on a regular basis lines up with your long term goals?
    • What is a realistic amount of time per day or per week that you are willing and able to set aside to set up specific training sessions with your dog? Do you have 5 minutes per day to choose a skill? Can you only commit to a few times per week?
  • Do you have a clear understanding and specific plan for your short term goals leading to your end behaviors


  1. Continue working basic skills in the gentle leader to get Lucky used to wearing it. Do not leave the gentle leader on and Lucky unattended. 
  2. You can keep walks short just to practice in it (while you both get used to it) opposed to setting out on a trek for miles not knowing how he will react in it. My suggestion is to get a leather leash so you have better control and he is not able to get a running start on the retractable where all of his momentum is pulling you. 
  • Practice putting on and taking off the gentle leader
  • It is good for you and for the dog
  • Do not leave the leader on unless you are using it
  • I turn into and turn away from Lucky as I want him to move out of my space when I am walking. This keeps him paying attention
  • When I stop, I want him to sit. Automatically. 
  • He only gets about 1 foot of leash. There is no reason for him to be 10 ft away from me. If you are ARE going to let him be that far away I would not have the gentle leader on him.

Daycare: Friday 1/12/2018


  1. Work on flat out focus with Lucky. Inside & outside, on leash in both locations. If you end up getting a gentle leader you will need to simply reward just for being in it. While it is not "training" him to walk, it is "managing" his walking as it disables pulling. The more he wears it, the better. I would allow people to pet him ONLY if he does not pull you to them and if he is offering a nice sit for you. 

Board & Train: Tuesday, December 12th - Saturday, December 13th

Private board & train stays are able to take advantage of one (1) $50.00 in-your-home follow up session ($25.00 savings off regular priced in-home, 60 minutes). You are able to redeem one follow up session at the discounted rate per private board & train stay your dog books. This will allow you to review skills from the private board & train and address any questions and work the dog on the skills completed.


  • incremental crating (potty training, bladder control - giving increments of time to take advantage of pottying)
  • impulse control (waiting to be pet by sitting opposed to jumping, waiting at doors for the human to exit
  • focus, focus focus (inside and out, off leash and on)
  • understanding name means "look at me"
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My indoor video would not load. I started with his meals in a tret pouch and each time he looked at me, I rewarded. If he jumped or was too rambunctious he was gently given a treat. 

I say his name ONCE, and wait for him to decide to look at me. 

The more you can do his "name game" the better focus you will have down the line. 

Puppies are puppies.

A great drill would be to take a long line (or find a safe fenced in area with minimal distractions) and allow him to sniff and explore but when HE CHOOSES to interact with you, reward. 

This will help value build with you because you are rewarding for his choice to return to you or stick with you. 

Once you have strong focus and the dog understands to check in with you, you can start adding in minimal distractions and start working through those. At times you may need to reinforce checking in by calling the dog's name just to remind them.

Once you've worked on value building and your dog or puppy has an understanding of how valuable you are, you can bet they are going to be much more ambitious to interact with you. 

When teaching a cue we name the cue as the behavior as happening. When I called "come" Lucky was on his way already and I was excited and positive when calling him. 

Many times people are irritated and their tone changes...which makes it not very fun for a dog to come to us. This also can give a dog a negative association with its name if it is used negatively too often. 

Daycare: Monday 12/11/2017

If you have not yet reviewed this page (I encourage you to read and watch the videos), please start at the bottom (Daycare from 12/6) so you have an understanding of the foundations required to get results for the behaviors following)

  • Incremental crating
    • please, please, please crate incrementally while you are physically present at home 
    • dog should have the ability to stay calm and stay relaxed while you are doing things around your home, company is present, you walk outside, you are watching tv, etc.
  • Release cue
    • make sure you are ALWAYS releasing from crate. Never allow the dog to release himself (applies for crating at home, releasing from door, crate door in car, etc.
  • Understanding his name
  • Sit
  • Down

Understanding His Name

Before you can begin ANYTHING, you must have the foundation of focus. In order to achieve focus it must be taught. If you are asking anyone to do something (kids, adults), first you must have their attention. If someone is not evening paying attention to you there is a good chance they are not listening to what you are saying. 

You want Lucky to understand that "Lucky" means to look at you. Please feel free to review videos from 12/6 with explanations and samples. 

Start inside. As he understands more of what he is supposed to do, distractions can be added. 


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.

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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

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Daycare: Wednesday 12/6/2017

  • Incremental crating
  • Waiting to be released
  • Giving attention and praise for SITTING FIRST
  • Ignoring barking


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

  •  Foundational behaviors


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. 


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. 


Begin with Crate Games

From this point forward:

  • He should never be allowed to bolt out of his crate. He must control his impulses and wait (even if just for a split second in the beginning) and wait for his release "OK."

  • Work this drill 3-5 minutes at a time and be consistent. If you can work multiple times throughout the day, shorter sessions are much better than one long drawn out session.

  • It is critical that you incrementally crate your dog while you are physically home - not only at night or when you leave the house. If you are not actively supervising your dog, he should be crated. This will help with potty training as well since your dog will be crated and not free roaming without supervision. 

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.