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Basic Dog Training —

Entries Tagged 'Basic Dog Training' ↓

Getting Your Dog To Listen To You

Hi Julie,


Our family recently came into owning two dogs quite suddenly.

One is a pure bred German Shepard (Prince) that a family member bought then decided they simply didn\’t want him after a year of ownership and lack of training. They rescued him when he was roughly 2 years old, so I think he is about 3-4 years old now.

The other is a Rottwieller that we rescued. She is 2 years old. She is sweet and loving but you can tell her previous owner\’s didn\’t want to take the time to train her or give her love.


I haven\’t owned dogs since I was a little girl so I feel quite lost. Both dogs seem to understand simple commands like stay and down. Getting them to obey consistently is another story.

Taking them on walks is somewhat frustrating. They both are so large and powerful it\’s hard to control them. When we walk them, we stop them often and make them sit patiently (or as patiently as they can) then start the walk again.

The GSB acts as though we don\’t exist when he is off the leash though. It\’s like he loses all ability to hear, see or obey us and will take off running. A few weeks ago he wiggled out of his collar while on a walk and took off running and we couldn\’t do anything to get him to come back. We chased him for such a long time before he was simply too fast and was gone. We ended up picking him up at the pound the next day (and almost $150.00 later).

The rottwieller (Ruby is what we named her) seems anxious to want to please us, but she gets so excited and has a hard time sitting still long enough for us to teach her basic obedience. When she is in a calm state she seems more willing to listen, make eye contact and obey.

How do I get Prince to listen consistently even when off a leash? And how do I get Ruby to calm down long enough to listen?

I see that you mention the gentle leader for walks, but if Prince can slip out of his collar easily, will he be able to slip out of the leader?


I am committed to keeping and loving these dogs for a lifetime. They both have such gentle hearts and I couldn’tt bear them being sent to yet another home, I just need some training so I can train them.

Also, is it ok for us to have our children be an active part in training the dogs?




Hello Rachel,


Thank you for making the commitment to these dogs, it is a great thing you are doing and the dogs are lucky to have you!


Off-leash training:  It is common behavior for dogs that haven’t been trained to “act like you don’t exist off-leash”.  They actually aren’t doing anything wrong in their mind because you haven’t “trained” them otherwise.  In order to later be successful off-leash you will want to begin to teach the come while on-leash so that you can back up the command with good timing.  What I mean by this is; imagine you have called your dog to come to you while off-leash and they don’t come; you have now begun to ruin that word for them because they realized they really don’t have to come to you.  But if the dog was on leash when you called them you could have made sure they came to you no matter what which makes the command itself have more meaning.  Of course you will later have that off leash control but if you do not first practice it on leash you cannot have the proper timing to make it extremely successful.  Use treats and praise for positive reinforcement. 

My online training program has exact step-by-step directions on how to do this the most successful way and there is too much information for me to put in this one note so I encourage you to join and you’ll be amazed how easy it is when you know what to do.  I’ll be there for you along the way as well to answer any questions you have.  Because you are taking on rescues: Here’s a $10 off promo code:  10DOLLARSOFF which means the training site will only cost you $25 right now and here’s the link if you are interested:

Listening calmly to obedience instruction: Because you are having trouble getting your dog to be calm enough to listen to obedience I would recommend that you exercise your dog BEFORE the obedience practice.  Some dogs need this.  Think of it like a little kid who has tons of pent up energy and you are forcing them to sit still and concentrate on work-that’s why schools invented recess! Ha.  Drain their unreleased energy and they’ll be able to concentrate better.

Dog collar:  To answer your question about the gentle leader, I highly recommend it and if you attach it appropriately it should not slip off.  I also have photos and descriptions of how to fit it and how to introduce successfully on my training site.  But, if you want to you can go to the pet store or Vet with the dog and have someone who knows about the head collar help you attach it properly.  This head collar will help prevent the pulling and give you more control over large, strong dogs instantly. 

Children part of the training: Yes your children can be involved in the training!  Use positive reinforcement with praise and treats and supervise and teach them how to do it properly and it you will see great reward!  Dogs generally tend to listen to whoever trains them so everyone can be involved so the dogs respect and listen to the whole family!

I think it is wonderful you are seeking out information on how to train the dogs well.  Best of luck to you!  Let me know how it goes!



Help walking a large dog

Here's Askim, who is learning how to walk without pulling-Cute!



 After about of month of visits at a foster home, we have adopted Askim.  Askim is a large white male dog that had his ears cut off when he was a puppy.  He had been abused.  He has been to a few homes and is now in his 4th year of life.  We adopted him because we were looking for an older dog.  He is very good as far as being in the home, housetrained, very loving. My husband and son walk him and Askim does need some refreshing on this.  I can\’t walk him because he is too big and strong for me at the moment.  Do you have any suggestions on this besides weight training for my arms LOL!!

Thank you,  Laura


Julie’s Answer:

Hi Laura!

That’s wonderful you have rescued a older dog!  They can be wonderful companions.  Have you heard of a Gentle Leader Head Collar?  They are absolutely amazing tools for walking large, strong dogs.  I’ve had many clients who couldn’t walk their large dogs and when they tried this they were instantly walking them, even children can walk large dogs with this.  It is a HEAD collar, not a neck collar so it gives you control over the whole dog when you have control over their head.  Dog’s necks are very strong which is why it is so hard to walk a dog using neck collars.  IT IS NOT A MUZZLE.  It may look a bit like one, but dogs can eat, drink, bark, etc with one; it is just a head collar.

 On the first walk or two it can feel a little messy.  Don’t give up on it though because the reward is WELL worth it.  I’ve helped hundreds of clients with this gentle leader who have had life changing experiences being able to walk dogs well (without pulling) for the first time in their lives.  If you can just get past that messy stage initially they will understand they HAVE to accept it and you will both be happier on the walk.  Just keep your goal in mind and don’t give up.  Don’t let them take it off and then give up, or they will win and think they have a choice.  It should be your decision to remove it.  I find it helpful to take it off right away when you stop, so they don’t have the chance to remove it.  Remember, it will get easier and eventually they’ll be able to hang out with it on even and leave it alone.  It is NOT harmful or hurting them. In fact, quite the opposite, studies show that it pushes on certain pressure points in the head that can be calming. 

Get the Gentle Leader fitted properly before you even begin the walk, you can have someone give a treat while you distract them to fit it well.  Once you get the fit right you can try to go out on the walk.  Expect that your dog may buck like a horse, tear at it with their paws, rub on your leg to get it off, etc..this is all common behavior at first.  They are not used to the feeling yet.  Let your dog know they do NOT have the choice to take it off.  Your goal on the first walk is to keep them moving (sometimes jogging can help for the first couple times) and EVERY TIME they try to remove it you quickly stop them, “No, Leave it” with a stern commanding sound and physically removing her paws from her face, etc…work quickly…then begin to move again. 

 I also find it helpful to mentally prepare yourself before attempting it for the first time.  The first attempt you should do it at a time you feel strong and are not too tired.  Think of someone who you admire that is REALLY strong both physically and especially mentally and pretend you are that person.  Go into the walk being that person.  You have strength and determination and you will NOT fail.  I KNOW you can do it!

 Good luck!  You are really going to enjoy the results!



Testimonial from webDogTrainer, learning the stay command

Hello Julie:

I am so grateful that I found you.

I am impressed by your insight, especially about the ’stay’ command. I now understand why none of my previous dogs ever truly understood this command. My goal is to have an extremely well-trained dog who is a joy to be around. I have always had the greatest respect for service dogs. My highest goal would be for Josie to be a certified Good Citizen and become a Pet Therapy Dog.

I am relieved that I found your website.

Thank you!!!

South Carolina

Q & A (Who should do the Dog Walking/Training?)

At this time, can my husband and I share in the training or does all of the dog walking have to be done by just one person?

It is a important for both of you to do the training. All humans living with the dog should be the leaders and share consistent techniques together.

Preventing/Solving behavior problems in your dog

Preventing/Solving behavior problems in your dog, the first step.

Exercise your dog to drain their energy.

-One of the most common problems dogs experience is that they do not get enough exercise!

We tend to think that having a backyard is enough exercise for them. But it isn’t! When a dog doesn’t have enough exercise or enough “energy drained” as I call it, they will experience many different kinds of problems. Think of it like this, each dog has a certain amount of energy and when that energy is not drained, it will come out in ways we do not want; like aggression, separation anxiety, and generally being too much to handle, along with many other behavioral problems. If you want to have a well-trained dog or at least a dog that will listen to you and behave in a way you want, then the very first step is to drain their energy on a daily basis. It is absolutely essential. Every single dog that has come to me with behavioral problems is a result of having too much energy stored and not enough of it released!

-Dogs also like to leave the house.

Can you imagine what you’d feel like if you never got to leave the house? You’d go a little crazy too! If you look at their history they were travelers! They need to get out of the house and experience life with you! A walk down the street and back is not enough. So, we’ve learned the very first step you need to take in order to have a dog that can become well trained is to drain their energy. How do we know how much energy our dog needs drained?

-Expect to take the dog on about a 30-45 minute walk twice a day.

Your goal is to get the dog tired out. You need to base the intensity of your exercise on your own dogs energy needs. Some dogs are high energy and take a lot to tire them out and some dogs will need less. How do you know if it is enough? When you are on your way home from your walk, does your dog drag a bit behind you? When you get home, does the dog immediately lay down? Then you know they’ve been tired out. Success! If you are on your way home and your dog has as much energy as they did at the start of the walk then you know it isn’t enough. You should expect that the dog would feel tired out when you get home and go lay down.

-What if you don’t have the energy or time to tire out the dog?

There are some other possibilities for draining your dog’s energy that go beyond the walk. But, remember, the walk is not to be substituted by anything else. The walk is an important way for you to establish and maintain yourself as pack leader. We will talk more about that in later articles. If you can only make yourself do a minimum of a 20-minute walk, there are some things you can do to make the dog more tired.

-Buy a doggie backpack!
It is a backpack specifically designed for dogs. They carry it on their back and it has two straps, one strap wraps in front of their chest and the other under their belly. The goal here is to add weight to the backpack that the dog will carry and thus, feel more tired out because they are carrying the extra weight. A doggie backpack has 3 huge benefits; the first being, a 20-minute walk can feel more like a 40-minute walk to a dog carrying the extra weight. You can put about 10-20% of their body weight by pounds into it. So for example a 50 pound dog can carry anywhere from 5-10 lbs, depending on their energy level and age. Gauge it by your particular dog and talk with your Veterinarian to approve it for your particular dog. Have the weight evenly distributed on either side of the backpack, so if you want to add 10 pounds, make sure you add 5 pounds on each side. You can use anything you want to add the weight from bags of dried beans to canned goods.

There are two other added benefits to using a doggie backpack. Dogs love to feel like they are important and have a job to do in their life. When a dog is wearing a backpack they feel like they are performing a job and it gives them a sense of pride. I’ve had a lot of clients comment on the fact that they feel their dogs are almost prancing when they have the backpack on, like they are happy and proud. It is similar to when we’d see Guide Dogs wearing their harnesses or Search and Rescue dogs wearing their packs. These dogs that have jobs feel important and proud and the backpack is a symbol to the dog in the same way, that they have a job and it is important! I can still remember when I would visit the homes of blind people with Guide Dogs; the dogs would get so excited, wagging their tails, when they would see the harness was about to be put on them! It was a beautiful sight to see! They were performing an essential duty and they loved it!

The third benefit, besides the draining of energy and making them feel proud is that dogs usually can only concentrate intensely, on one thing, so when they wear the backpack they tend to have a more focused walk. A dog that generally tries to sniff and pull on a walk will be more likely to walk in a controlled manner when wearing a backpack. They are focused on that extra weight they are carrying and balancing the pack so you’ll see that it helps them be more composed.

Some dogs feel a little odd when you first put the backpack on and may show physical signs that they feel uncomfortable, like balking or laying down. Don’t worry. The most important thing for you to do is be positive about it and just start moving. Getting them walking right away will make them forget about it and just get used to it. They should be fine within a couple minutes. Just encourage them to get moving. If needed you can add the weights later after your dog has become accustom to wearing the pack for a while.

-Another thing you can do is put a dog on a treadmill to drain more energy than you have the ability to give them.

Remember, your walk is still important and a treadmill should not be a substitute but only an addition to the energy drain. When introducing a dog to a treadmill there are some important things to consider. First of all, you want to put their leash and collar on them and guide them up onto the treadmill when it is NOT moving initially. Do this several times until the dog feels totally comfortable standing up on it. Then when you’ve accomplished that goal you can start the treadmill VERY slowly while they are standing on it. It is important to do it very slowly initially until they get the idea they need to walk on it. Try to support them and not allow them to jump off. If they jump off, lead them back onto it. Eventually when they get very good at it you can increase the speed. It is common for dogs to even enjoy this and when introduced properly they will jump right on it!

-Other ways of draining energy

There are many other ways of draining a dog’s energy in addition to the walks. You can throw a ball or Frisbee for them. Or you can even go running, roller-blading or biking with your dog too. Or if you have a motorized type wheel chair or something similar they can run along beside you. All of these types of exercises are possible to do in a controlled manner. Just to be safe, check with your Veterinarian to approve all exercise for your particular dog.

So, as we’ve learned, throughout this guide there are some important steps you can take to ensure your new life together is a happy and fulfilling one.

Having a well-trained dog will be a very wonderful experience! Enjoy!

Imagine life with a well-trained dog…

webDogTrainer is a popular website that offers Consultations with Julie, the dog trainer, about any dog-training related questions you may have! Also on the site you will find more in-depth information on how to train your dog to be the kind of dog you always wanted and how to fix problem behaviors should they occur. Check out the site to learn more!