Tuesday, September 22, 2009

7 Social Networking Sites for Dog Lovers

Dog lovers need a way of connecting with other dog lovers, and fortunately there are some excellent sites out there. You can meet others just like you or learn about everything related to your precious pooch by visiting any one of these excellent social networking sites.

My Pet Friends – There’s truly a site for everything, and this is a great one for the dog lovers out there! You can join this social networking site and become a part of a huge community of dog lovers, participating in any number of groups along the way. You can find out about discounts, new tips for your pooch, or just chat with others just like you.

Max & Ruffy’s – As the trend towards natural and organic eating and living continues to increase, so do the sites to support it. Here you can find anything you’ve ever wanted to know about making your dog’s life a healthy and organic one. You can meet other dog owners who care about what their dog eats and how they live. A tight knit community that truly cares about their family dog!

Doggy Space – For the tech savvy dog owner who understands what a social networking site is all about and who wishes to meet other dog lovers. This is one of the best social networking sites out there as it pertains to the dog lover as it is chock full of useful doggie information and owners just like you.

Dogster – This is one comprehensive site! You can learn about different breeds, tips for caring for your dog, or simply chat with other dog lovers. There’s so much information that you can find something new each time you visit the site. Perfect for the dog lover who wants to keep up with everything possible on their beloved pooch!

Wuffstuff – You truly feel like a member of the community on this site. There are excellent features such as a member of the week, a newsletter, and resources to chat with other dog lovers. You can share your stories or find out about local events and resources in your town. This is an excellent site to check out for all things dog!

My Dog Space – A MySpace type of community for dog lovers, it doesn’t get much cooler than that! Here you can treat this as your very own profile page to meet other dog lovers for friendship, connection, or perhaps even romance. You can enjoy a dog lover community feel and learn a thing or two in the process.

Pet Smooch - Though there are features and groups for every type of pet, there is an excellent dog lover community on here. You can create your own profile and truly customize what you do within this community. You can meet fellow dog lovers and learn from the stories and tips of others.
You love your dogs, and so do countless others. Connect at these great sites to share and learn from one another, and add levels of enjoyment to your companionship experience.

Mary Ward is a freelance writer and likes writing about animal-related career topics, such as how to obtain an online Vet Tech degree,job and education tips, and more.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Last night I picked up a book that I read about ten years ago. The author is one of my favorites, he's the kind of rare writer that will have you laughing your head off on one page and on the next have a tough guy like me almost in tears.

The author's name: James Herriot. His real name was James Alfred Wright, and he wrote about his experiences as a country vet in England.

It's been a while since I've read any of his stuff but I was glad I picked up his book and started reading. He writes about cases involving horses,cows, sheep,cats,and of course my favorite stories are about the dogs.

The stories he writes about a Pekingese named Tricki Woo are laugh out loud funny and the best one is when Tricki's mistress explains how Tricki goes "crackerdog."

Mr. Herriot was not only a great writer but also a great vet because his advice for Tricki's crackerdog episodes where right on the money.

You see, Tricki's owner, Mrs. Pumphrey, explained it Mr. Herriot: "Well, he was laying his game, and he does adore it so, when suddenly without warning,he went
crackerdog. He began to run around in circles, barking and yelping in such a strange way. Then he fell over and lay like a little dead thing."

Mr. Herriot explained it as Hysteria, brought on by wrong feeding. His remedy for Tricki Woo was a proper diet.

Mr. Herroit makes such a great point. I have seen a lot of dogs that suffered from behavior problems because of the food that was being fed.

My sheltie Sammi is approaching 18 years old. She is going a deaf and her eyesight isn't as good as it used to be, but she still has a beautiful coat, a great appetite and no health problems.

I started researching dog food about ten years ago and discovered that it makes a huge difference, not only in your dog's health but also in your dog's behavior.

Coming up in next month's updates in the Dog Training Inner Circle, I am going to go into this subject in great detail, explaining what I think is the best diet for your dog and why.

Dog Training Inner Circle

You don't want to miss it!

All the best,

Eric Letendre

P.S. If you've never read any of James Herriot's books, log onto Amazon.com, go to the library, used book store, Barnes & Noble, whatever you have to do to get your hands on his books - they're that good.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Video Newsletter - The Truth About Your Dog’s Body Language

Well the big day is rapidly approaching. I never knew how much work went into getting married, if I did I might have stayed single - just kidding!

I am extremely lucky and blessed to have found someone as wonderful as Rachael. As a guy that went 40 years without getting married, I didn't think it would ever happen.

The funny thing about being in a relationship is how much you learn about the other person. Without her saying a word, I can tell if she is upset, mad, worried etc. and she can do the same with me.

It's funny how non-verbal communication happens with our loved ones. As I was hinking about all of this I realized how much non-verbal communication goes on with our dogs.

Your dog is always paying attention to your body language and tone of voice. ometimes our body language does not match what we are trying to communicate to our dogs and they become confused.

Your dog has three primary drives - Pack, Prey and Defense. Your body language and tone of voice effect which drive your dog is in. When you understand drives you can understand why your dog does certain behaviors.

Here is a video that I put together to explain how your body language communicates certain messages to your dog.



All the best,


Thursday, May 01, 2008

Dog Training - The BIG MISTAKE Dog Owners Make When Dealing With A Behavior

Once you understand the training process you'll see that dog training is all about consequences. There are two types of consequences - Positive and Negative.

When you are training your dog you need to understand when to apply a positive consequence and when to apply a negative consequence. The big problem that a lot of dog owners make with behavior problems is that they apply a negative consequence long after the behavior has occurred

A typical behavior problem that I see a lot is chewing and destructive behavior. Chewing often happens when the dog is left alone while the owner is at work. The dog chews an item that is important to the owner. A shoe, the sofa, the TV remote etc.

The owner comes home and finds the item that has been chewed. Out of anger and frustration, the owner punishes the dog. A negative consequence is applied but the problem is the timing.

You see, a consequence needs to be applied within a second or two of the behavior. If you gave your dog the command "Sit," walked away and came back ten minutes later to give your dog a treat do you think your dog would understand that they were getting the treat for the sit command that they did ten minutes ago?


The same happens when you punish a dog. If you are going to apply a negative consequence it is extremely important that your timing is excellent. If your timing is not that good when you are applying a positive consequence like giving a treat it is no big deal. There are no major side effects when you are using positive consequences.

With a negative consequence your dog can become very confused and the behavior you're are trying to fix may become much worse. If your dog chewed your shoes at 1:00PM and you come home at 3:00PM the behavior occurred long ago.

If you punish your dog long after the behavior occurred, your dog will get confused and here's the rub...

Your dog will start to associate getting punished with you coming home. You see where the side effects of punishment can backfire. Your dog associates the punishment with homecomings, not with chewing the shoes.


The behavior can get worse because every time you leave the house your dog will think that when you come home she is going to get punished. So every time you leave the house your dog gets stressed.

Guess how dogs deal with stress?

You guessed it - CHEWING!

See how our mistakes can make the behavior worse.

All the best,


P.S. Have you checked out the "Dog Training Inner Circle" membership? It's better than ever and gives you the tools you need to train your dog. With over 80 videos, loads of articles and personal one-on-one help from me. It's almost like having me in your house with you helping you train yourdog. Check it out now by going to: Dog Training Inner Circle

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Bad Dogma - How Harsh Training Methods Can Cause Aggression

The dictionary defines the word dogma as: The established belief or doctrine held by a religion, ideology or any kind of organization, thought to be authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted or diverged from.

There is an old saying among dog trainers that goes: "The only thing two dog trainers can agree on is what the third one is doing wrong."

There are basically two schools of dog trainers. On one side you have the old school dog trainers that believe training is done by using a choke chain or prong collar to train, that you should never use food to train the dog.

On the other hand you have the food reward trainers that believe you should never use any kind of force or harsh methods to train.

Both sides will strongly argue for their way of training. I have been on both sides of the issue. I got my start training dogs with an old time trainer that had been training dogs since the 1950's. If you used a treat in front of this guy, you had to be prepared for a verbal eruption that would make a sailor blush.

I have also been with trainers that think anything short of filet mignon not being used for treats is cruel. All kidding aside it can get confusing for someone trying to train their dog. Who do you listen to? Should you just use treats to train? Do you ever give your dog a correction?

The truth of the matter is that positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement can be extremely effective. There is no denying that there are thousands of dogs that are safely confined to their yards with the help of underground electronic fences.

There is also no denying that dogs learn much better when you use a reward based system of training. The important point is this: You want to make sure that you spend more time rewarding your dog's behavior than punishing or getting physical with your dog.

The fact is that all good relationships are based on positive interaction. I once watched a group obedience class where all the dogs were on choke chains. Food was not allowed. In the course of one hour, I watched one guy give his dog over 150 corrections with the leash. They weren't all hard corrections but he did yank on the leash that many times.

Over time, that dog will become tolerant to the choke chain and the owner will have to yank harder and harder and will probably damage his dog's neck and trachea which will lead to one very grouchy dog. There's no denying the fact that a dog being trained that way can easily develop an aggression problem, and here's the rub. The dog is always blamed, never the training method Doesn't it make sense to use a reward based training system?

Unfortunately this way of training has become the established belief or doctrine held by many dog trainers, and not to be disputed, doubted or diverged from.

Too bad for the dogs.



P.S. Have you checked out the new Dog Training Inner Circle yet? Drop what you're doing and go there now. You'll be glad you did: Dog Training Inner Circle

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Avoid Dog Training Disasters

I could hear my Mom's voice: "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."

Easy for her, she was on her way to becoming a Catholic nun before she met my Pop on a beach in Connecticut. She is hard wired to always be nice.


I was sitting at a round table discussion with some other pet professionals discussing dog behavior and care. There was a vet, a couple of groomers, a shelter manager, another dog trainer, and me.

The round table was an informational event open to the public. Dog owners were encouraged to attend and ask questions. There were a lot of training and behavior questions that the vet and the other trainer answered.

I was keeping my mouth shut and I could feel my face becoming red and knew that my blood pressure was rising. As I was sitting there, I was listening to advice that I completely, 100% disagreed with. The other round table attendees all agreed with each other and I was keeping my mouth shut.

I guess everyone noticed because I was asked if I had anything to share.

I sat there and thought about my choices. I could:

1. Get up and leave.
2. Agree with the bad advice and keep things friendly.
3. Voice my thoughts.

I work hard at not being confrontational, but this was too much. With my Mom's voice echoing in my head I opted for choice number three and spoke up:

"I disagree with a most of what's been said here today."

"Would you like to tell us what you disagree with."

"Sure," I said and then went on to contradict just about everyone at the table.

The other "experts" were advising that training a dog should not be done until the dog is six months old. The other dog trainer and the vet completely agreed on this point. They were also telling the attendees that they should use a choke chain for training and that treats should avoided at all costs.

They also said that a puppy should be kept in the house and have limited exposure to the outside world until after the vaccinations are complete.

I almost literally had to put my hand over my mouth when I heard that one. I went on to explain that puppies should start training as young as eight weeks old. That a puppy can start to learn basic commands such as sit, down, stay, come, and walking on leash.

I also added that keeping a puppy in the house and not socializing him can turn into a nightmare situation for the puppy's owners. A puppy has a socialization period that has to be taken advantage of. The more the puppy is exposed to, up to between eight weeks and four months, the more stable she will be as an adult dog.

The veterinarian was none to pleased with my comments and made it clear.

"You are putting the puppy at risk by exposing him without proper inoculations."

I knew that was coming and was ready with my reply:

"Do you know what the number one reason for dogs dying in the United States is
?" Before he could answer I followed up with, "Do you know the number reason for euthanasia?"

I was hot now and still did not let him answer.

"Behavior problems."

More dogs are put to sleep for behavior problems than for any other reason. We don't properly socialize our puppies, we wait until the pup is six months old before we start training, then to top it off, we use negative, outdated, harsh and sometimes cruel training methods.

When the dog becomes aggressive, fearful, or unruly to the point where we can't control the dog, the dog ends up in a shelter, abandoned, or put to sleep.

I added that the chances of a puppy dying from rabies, parvo, distemper etc. couldn't compare to the numbers of dogs that were being put to sleep for behavior problems.

The round table ended shortly after and I was never invited back. When I think back on the whole situation I guess I may have been a little out of line.


I don't apologize for what I said or did. I stand by what I said then and still do today. I not going to sit there and listen to advice that can potentially be harmful to a dog.

Anyway, as I was thinking about all of this I wrote down what I think are the four biggest dog training disasters:

1. Waiting
2. Harsh methods
3. Giving up
4. Follow through

With the advice given at the round table a lot of dog owners wait to start training. By that time their dog has developed some behavior problems. The dog training "experts" recommend harsh methods which often backfire. Because using harsh methods is not fun most people don't follow through with the training. In the end they give up. They give up on the training and sometimes on the dog.

Conclusion: Start training early, use lots of positive reinforcement, don't give up and keep on learning about dog training so you can follow through and have a dog that is well behaved and fun to be around.

Your friend,


Learn more about effective, positive training methods at www.AmazingDogTrainingMan.com

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Eddies Wheels

"Tasha may have a spinal injury."

"Not good," I said.

Jodi was telling me that her little dachshund, Tasha, may have injured her back jumping off the stairs.

Dachshunds are prone to get back injuries, their long bodies are more susceptible to back problems than other dogs.

It was ironic that Jodi told me this about her dog. The night before I had met the owner of Eddie's Wheels. Eddie's Wheels is a wonderful business that provides wheelchairs for dogs that have been injured and can't use their back legs (or front legs).

Eddie's Wheels was started in the basement of Leslie and Ed's house in Shelburne Falls, MA. Within a short period of time, the demand for the carts grew and they now send carts all over the world.

They now have representatives in Canada, Australia, Japan, and the United Kingdom.

It really is an amazing business that is doing a lot of good for dogs and cats. You can check out their website:

Eddies Wheels

Your friend,


Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Amazing Dog Training Man Interviews Best Selling Author

Here is the interview that I promised with best selling author Linda Tellington-Jones. I found the interview that I did with her and have included it in today's post for you to listen to.

The first part of the interview was with a local TTouch practitioner. Linda called into the show from Hawaii about half way through the show.

Here's what you'll discover when you listen to the interview:

* How to improve your relationship with your dog

* How little circular touches can reduce aggression and other behavior problems

* Biofeedback proof that this technique works - The circular TTouch elicits changes in brain wave patterns...different from those elicited by petting, stroking, and massage

* TTouch has helped with increased self-confidence, enhanced communications, and mutual respect. (In other words, both dog and owner benefit from the experience.)

* TTouch does not use force, fear, or pain for handling, treating, or managing animals.

Click on the arrow and you can listen to the whole interview:


If you enjoy this interview and blog please pass it along to all your dog loving friends and family. Believe me, they will thank you for it.

Your friend,


P.S. My wonderful girlfriend Rachael has been working very hard to make some changes to the Amazing Dog Training Man website. I let you know as soon as it's ready.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Revenge is like serving cold cuts

"Revenge is like serving cold cuts"
- Tony Soprano

That saying was the first thought to pop into my head as I hung up the phone.

I mentioned before that I am a big Soprano's fan. I thought the show was very funny and had me rolling on the ground laughing sometimes. Especially when they would mess up common quotes like, "Revenge is a dish best served cold."

Anyway, let me explain why I was thinking about the classic Tony Soprano misquote.

I had just spent about 20 minutes trying to explain dog behavior to a very angry person. This person was upset with his dog because every time he leaves his house his dog destroys something.

Today he was especially angry because his dog ate the TV remote. Add to this that his dog already destroyed his shoes, the corners of his coffee table and his couch cushions.

And guess what?

The behavior was getting worse.

He was convinced that his dog was mad at him and doing it out of spite. I asked him how he handled the situation when he came home and found that his dog had chewed up something.

He was honest with me and told me that he would yell and sometimes smack his dog.

It was at this point that I tried explaining that dogs do have emotions. I don't care what anyone tells you, dogs are capable of experiencing fear, happiness, anger, etc. I strongly believe that dogs do have emotions BUT I also believe that dogs operate on a much more basic level than we do.

When you look up the definition for spite it states:

1. a malicious, usually petty, desire to harm, annoy, frustrate, or humiliate another person; bitter ill will; malice.

2. a particular instance of such an attitude or action; grudge.

3. to annoy or thwart, out of spite.

Spite, revenge, gratitude, etc. are much more complex emotions. Dogs truly live in the moment.

Are dogs capable of revenge, spite, etc? None of us really know. But from my observations we often project our feelings and emotions on our dogs. It reminds me of another favorite quote from J. Allen Boone:

"There's opinions about dogs and there's facts about dogs. We have all the opinions and the dogs have all the facts."

When you leave your house your dog does not sit there and think about how mad they are that you left. What happens is that your dog is an extremely social animal that is hard wired to be with other dogs or humans.

Because they are wired that way they become stressed when left alone. To relieve the stress they chew, usually on something with your scent on it.

The dog owner comes home and finds some item has been chewed. It's not much fun to come home after a tough day and find your favorite pair of shoes destroyed. Out of anger and frustration the dog gets punished.

But here's the rub – and it’s really ironic.

Your dog does not associate the punishment with chewing your shoes your dog associates the punishment with your homecoming. If this happens enough times your dog will learn that homecomings are associated with punishment.

Much the same way your dog can learn when it's time to eat if you feed the same time every day. Much the same way as your dog can learn when your spouse is coming home, if they come home at the same time every day.

Your dog can learn that when you come home they are going to get punished. Now destructive behavior can become a real problem because...

Dogs relieve stress by...

You guessed it.


See how the whole problem can spiral out of control.


I couldn't get the guy I was talking to, to believe me. He wanted to think that his dog was getting revenge. Too bad, I really feel bad for the dog. Unfortunately it's hard for some people to think like a dog which is the real secret to dealing with behavior problems.

Don't think like a human, learn to think like a dog.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe our dogs do walk around thinking:

"How can I get back at him for leaving me here. What can I do? I got it, I'll chew his shoes and then to get him really, really mad I'll chew the TV remote, ha ha, that will make him mad. I'll show him for leaving me here."

The great trainer Jean Donaldson states it perfectly when she said:

"Expect your dog to act like a dog. Don't take it personally when he exhibits typical canine behavior. He's not being "bad," he's just being a dog."



Saturday, March 01, 2008

I was shaking like a maple leaf on a tree in Toronto

I was shaking like a maple leaf on a tree in Toronto.

Well...maybe not that bad but I was nervous. I had just sat down behind the big microphone and the guy sitting across for me did not look to happy. In fact he seemed a little annoyed.

His name was Geoff and he was the producer for my new radio show "Dog Talk".

It was my first day on the radio. The station said they were going to give me some training before I went on the air, but it never happened.

As I sat there I started to get some negative thoughts.

"What if I sound like a complete bonehead?"

"What if nobody calls the show?"

"What if I have nothing to talk about?"

I looked across the room and asked Geoff a question. "What if nobody calls" I asked.

"Do you have some topics to talk about?" Geoff asked.

"Yeah, I have a list of things to talk about," and showed him my paper.

"Good" Geoff said, "just talk about that stuff."

"What if I go through the list and have nothing else to talk about?"

With a really annoyed look on his face Geoff said, "Go back to the top of your page of topics and start all over."


That was the extent of my training for the radio show. As it turns out me and Geoff became very good friends and always have a good laugh when we talk about our time at WSAR.

I had decided to do a radio show on dog training to promote my new book, "The Amazing Dog Training Man" and business at the time.

I relaxed and the show went fine.

Sitting here today in snowy Massachusetts I spent some time going through some old books and tapes that I have and I found some interviews that I did while on the radio and I'm going to share them with you. The first interview was with a best selling author. It was a very interesting interview and should have it ready for you in a day or two so stay tuned...

All the best,


Friday, February 29, 2008

#1 Dog Training Video

Look at this. I went to youtube.com this morning and typed in dog training, lo and behold, your friend The Amazing Dog Training Man was numero uno. Number one out of 12,500 videos.

Here take a look:

Big thanks to youtube.com and a BIG THANKS to all of you who have watched my videos.

Your friend,


P.S. To see all of my videos on youtube.com Click Here and subscribe to my channel.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

American Idol

Okay, let me get this out of the way.

I'm a big fan of American Idol. A couple of years ago, every time my girlfriend would turn the show on I would go upstairs and read. At the time I was living in a house that had a little loft bedroom.

I could lay on my bed and look down into the living room and see the TV. I would sit on my bed and try to ignore what was going on, but I couldn't stay focused on what I was trying to read.

Then one night while I was trying to read, Carrie Underwood started to sing "Independence Day." I remember sitting straight up and saying to Rach, "Who was that?"

Before I knew it I was downstairs watching the show. I got hooked and still am an avid fan. Rach and I look forward to Idol every year. I almost hate to admit it, but I look forward to it almost like I look forward to opening day in baseball.

What has happened to me?

I watch three shows on the boob tube. I watch old re-runs of Seinfeld and The Soprano's and Judge Judy. That's it, I have no clue what else is on TV today, except for Idol.

Anyway, my official prediction this year is that David Archuleta will take it all. That kid already has a huge fan base. We'll see what happens.


Over the Christmas season I shared a great video with the subscribers to this newsletter. I called it "A little lump of coal." It is a video from the English version of American Idol. It really is amazing and uplifting to watch. I've included it here for you:

Have a great day.

Your friend,


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Who Else Wants To Learn A Little Known Dog Training Secret Inspired By A Former Russian Special Forces Instructor?

On a beautiful spring morning a few years back I found myself sitting in a small classroom listening to “The Evil Russian,” Pavel Tsatsouline discuss flexibility training.

There were about 25 people in the room and they were all there to learn techniques that Pavel used to train the elite Russian Special Forces Unit, Spetznaz. Everyone listened intently as Pavel shared his secrets with us, but one person, me, was really amazed at how some of what he said applied to dog training.

What Makes The Difference?

Have you ever wondered, as I have, what makes such a dramatic difference in the way a dog behaves? It isn’t always the person training the dog. It isn’t that one person wants a well behaved dog and the other doesn’t.

The difference lies in how well the person understands a few basic techniques about training dogs.

It’s important for us to understand that we do NOT want to reinforce the behaviors that we don’t like. One of the biggest problems for about 90% of dog owners is jumping and unruly behavior.

We need to make sure that we are not un-intentionally reinforcing the unruly behavior. When a friend comes over and your dog starts to jump, the typical scenario goes something like this: your friend pushing your dog or petting your dog, while you are trying to pull your dog back and yelling, “down,” “get down.”

This all reinforces the unruly behavior. Unintentionally, but still reinforcing.

What The Evil Russian Taught Me

During the seminar that I attended, Pavel made a comment that applies to all of this. As he was discussing stretching he used the term:

Forced relaxation

He added that only the Russians can come up with a term like “Forced relaxation.”

It struck me because that is exactly what we need to do when we are dealing with a young dog that likes to jump and become unruly. We need to force them to relax.

The easiest way to do this is with a leash on your dog. Here’s how it works: when your friend comes over the house, before you let your friend in put a leash on your dog. You then step on the leash to prevent your dog from jumping.

With all your weight on the leash you force your dog to relax before your friend approaches and gives your dog any attention. Your dog only gets your friend’s attention when she or he relaxes.

If your dog is too strong for you, find a place in your house where you can secure the leash to something sturdy. This way your dog is out of the area where he can jump and get unintentional reinforcement.

I'll be adding a video showing how to do this to my website: Amazing Dog Training Man

Forced relaxation is a great way to teach calm behavior. The calmer the dog, the easier and more enjoyable it is to be around your dog. Your friends will like you and your dog much better when they come over to your house and your dog does not jump all over them.

It’s hard to believe, but not everyone is a dog lover like you and me.



Monday, February 25, 2008

Russian Special Forces And Dog Training

I wondered if this guy had ever killed someone?

I mean I was only about four feet away from him and couldn't help but think that as I sat there. After all, he did call himself "The Evil Russian."

Pavel Tsatsouline was an instructor for the Russian Special Forces Spetsnaz, that fought in Afghanistan and I was in the front row listening to him discuss strenght and flexibility training.

I heard that he was going to be speaking in Providence, RI. I had been told that he was a great speaker and did not want to miss the chance to see him. As a guy that makes a big part of his living by standing in front of people and speaking, I always jump at any chance to see a pro.

Anyway, he turned out to be everything that I had heard. Mr. Tsatsouline is an excellent speaker and has a great sense of humor. If you ever get the chance to attend one of his seminars, I highly recommend going to see him.

Anyway, he sprinkled his seminar with a lot of great stories and Russian sayings. Two of his sayings really hit home with me and I have never forgotten them. His first statement was:

"If your only tool is a hammer treat everything like a nail."

I loved that statement because I am a complete moron when it comes to using tools. My beautiful girlfriend Rachael knows that asking me to fix something is not a good idea. In fact when we need something fixed around the house she usually gets the job done.


If you need something demolished I am great with a hammer. It is the one tool that that I can use.

I also loved that comment because when it comes to dog training, a really good dog trainer has a whole bunch of tools in his or her tool box.

I don't talk about this too much but there are trainers out there that only have a hammer in their toolbox. They treat every problem, every training situation, like it is a nail.

Hack trainers think that every behavior problem needs to be dealt with a correction. Dog trainers that have limited tools put a choke chain on the dog and yank the leash and collar for every problem that they are confronted with.

Dog growls around his bone - apply correction with choke chain.
Dog jumps - apply correction with choke chain.
Dog won't sit - apply correction with choke chain.
Dog won't lie down - apply correction with choke chain.
Dog moves during stay - apply correction with choke chain.

A good trainer understands that there is more to training than yanking on the leash. In my book "The Amazing Dog Training Man," I discuss the M.U.T.T. Method for dealing with behavior problems.

You see, when your dog is displaying a behavior problem, there is an underlying reason for it. That is what the U stands for in the M.U.T.T. Method. Here is the complete acronym:

M - Manage
U - Underlying
T - Train
T - Time

When you are dealing with a behavior problem, you need to Manage the behavior, figure out what the Underlying reason for the behavior is, Train or teach your dog appropriate behaviors, and lastly give your dog some Time to learn the new behavior.

Training a dog by using just force will create problems. Sometimes you can temporarily suppress the behavior, but it will resurface.

A few years ago I was attacked by a dog because of another trainer. I was called in to take a look at this dog in Dartmouth, MA. When I showed up I saw an extremely nervous German Shepherd mix and believe it or not, this dog's name was Scar.

As I was talking to the owner I could see that my presence made this dog very excitable. The owner did not tell me that there was a trainer working with his dog the day before.

I did a quick evaluation and noted that the dog did not give me any warning signals. He did not growl, his hackles were not raised, he did not show me any teeth.

I decided that I would take the leash and go for a little walk, try to bond with him a little.

As soon as I had the leash I noticed a change in Scar. He panicked and before I could hand the leash back to the owner he attacked me. The dog bit me on the arm three times before I could get him into his kennel.

As I was bandaging my arm, the owner of the dog told me that the trainer that was there the day before had been very rough with Scar.

Trainer? Day before? I asked.

"Yeah, we had this other guy come in yesterday to help with some training but we didn't like him. He hung Scar with the choke collar. Every time Scar would growl, he would lift up on the leash and hold Scar there until he almost passed out."

"Every time he growled" I asked.


It all made sense to me now. The reason I was attacked was because Scar had been "corrected" every time he gave a warning signal. I knew the other trainer well. He only knew of one way to train dogs.

You guessed it. He treated every dog like a nail and hammered every one of them. I knew this because a big part of my business at the time was following this guy around. I would get calls from dog owners that had hired him and now had bigger problems than before they had him "train" their dogs.

You see, when a dog growls, you at least know the dog is giving you a warning. Now you can try to figure out why the dog is growling and take steps to fix the aggression problem.

A hack trainer that only has a hammer in his toolbox will try to deal with the aggression by overpowering the behavior. The problem is this: When you use aggression to deal with aggression, you escalate aggression.

In the case with the dog Scar, he had been choked every time he gave a warning signal. He growled and was choked and probably thought the trainer was going to kill him.

When I took the leash the poor dog was only thinking about survival. He did not growl at me because the behavior had been suppressed by the other trainer - but...the behavior was still there.

Even though I got pretty chewed up by Scar, I really felt sorry for him. Most aggression is fear based and Scar probably had had a tough life and became aggressive because of how he was treated.

Then, when a so called "expert" was called in, the training methods used pushed him over the edge.

Training is more than leash corrections and physical force. Training is all about understanding dogs and the reasons why they are displaying the behaviors that that they are.

Compassion, patience and an understanding of behavior is what makes a great dog trainer.

My advice to you is to be very weary of any trainer that only has a hammer in his toolbox. If you observe ANY dog trainer that deals with behavior problems by only using a choke chain and inflicting pain on the dog, you can be rest assured that you are observing someone that really does not know what they are doing and it would be wise of you to find another trainer to work with.

As always I look forward to your comments.



P.S. If you'd like more tools than just a hammer to train your dog and change behavior check out: Good K9 Manners

P.P.S. In tomorrow's post I'll share the other great comment that was made during the seminar.