Dog Training Philosophy

Positive Reinforcement

Training based on using positive reinforcement and being proactive rather than reactive goes a much longer way to getting lasting results. This approach develops a close bond and a level of trust and cooperation between you and your canine companion that training based on punishment or correction does not. Always try to set your pup up for success. Be creative in turning negative situations into positive ones.

Benevolent Leadership

Be a strong (benevolent) leader. This is true for dogs of all sizes. Act like a parent rather than a grandparent. Develop a bond of trust with your canine. Your dog will learn to look to you rather than to take matters into her own “paws”.

Clarity and Consistency

Dogs learn very quickly what they must do to get what they need or want. Dogs quickly discern which behaviors reap rewards and which do not. Therefore, we must clearly and consistently show our dogs (1) which behaviors work and (2) which do not in getting what they need or desire. For example, jumping on me does not get my attention: sitting calmly and “requesting” will get my attention; lying around calmly playing with toys will get my attention. Plowing through me to get to your food bowl does not get you your meal; calmly sitting and waiting until I have given you permission to approach your bowl does. Rushing the door does not result in the door opening and you going outside; calmly sitting while I put on your leash and exiting when I say does. In these cases, you merely withhold or withdraw whatever your pup desires when she exhibits undesirable behaviors. Only desired behaviors reap the rewards. No need to chastise or “correct.”

Be consistent. Just as for children, when you set the rules for your pup, stick to them. If your pet is not allowed on the couch and you have followed through and removed her from the couch the last 19 times when she has gotten up on it and this is the 20th time, and you are exhausted from a hard day at work, and you decide you are too tired to follow through just this one time, you have set your efforts back exponentially! This just keeps Rover in the game. “One time in 20 they let me stay on the couch. Maybe this is that one time.” Dogs don’t do well with the gray area; it is either “yes, it is allowed” or “no, it is not.”

The Role of Food Treats in Training

Be sure you understand the role of food treats in training. If you use food treats, be sure you are not inadvertently reinforcing unwanted behaviors when using them. Remember, too, that rewards come in other forms besides treats: praise, play, massage/petting can be effective motivators as well for many dogs.

Don’t Ignore Unwanted Behaviors

Don’t ignore unwanted behaviors thinking that they will go away once she matures. Often, they don’t.


Zero tolerance: Human body parts do not belong in a dog’s mouth. Don’t make excuses for her unwanted behaviors. “My dog nipped my son because he tried to take her bone away” or “my dog didn’t mean to nip me when she grabbed the dog biscuit from my fingers” may be correct assessments, but her behavior still warrants modification. She needs to learn that biting someone that is taking her bone away is unacceptable or that she must be gentle when taking that treat or toy from your hand (i.e. she doesn’t get the object she desires when she acts this way). A dog can and should be taught always to have a “soft mouth.”


Socialize your dog early on and as often as possible with other (non-aggressive) dogs of all types and ages and with humans of all types, sizes, and ages.

Mental Stimulation

Don’t make your dog into a couch potato. Give her responsibility and an active place in the household.


A tired dog is a happy dog (and human!!). Exercise, exercise, exercise.

Formal Obedience Training

Enroll her in an obedience/companion class that uses positive reinforcement. Most behaviorists today feel pups should start in a class at about 10 weeks of age.

It is never too soon or too late.
Melvin the Magnificent
the Magnificent

Akita, Therapy Dog

Therapy Dog International
AKC/Canine Good Citizen

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