Training Tips

Dog training teaches me to control my emotions.

If a dog misbehaves,
I do not have to get angry,
I can be calm and act rationally.

If a dog threatens me,
I do not have to be afraid,
I can be prepared.

If a dog is cute,
I don’t have to let it melt me into a love puddle and spoil them,
I can still be steady and hold them responsible for what I have taught them.

If a dog is dense,
I do not have to get frustrated,
I can go slow and be patient.

I take this practice and apply it to all forms of life.
(To the best of my limited abilities.)

Happy New Year!!!

Martin Wright

From: The Unwritten Book of Mostly Useless Ideas Pertaining to Dogs and Dog behavior.


The Leash Is A Safety Net

The leash is a safety net. It is not a tool to make things happen. The ultimate goal is not to NEED the leash.

So, notice everything that you do with your leash.
Don’t pull your dog around with your leash.
Get your dog’s attention and convince her to do what you would like her to do without using your leash man handle her, or to force her. Use your leash as little as possible.

The leash is a tool, the word leash here can be substituted for any tool. (treats, head halter, etc.)

Be aware. Be curious. Be manipulative. Be convincing. Be grateful. Be strong. Be smart. Be in-charge.

I am not saying take your dog-in-training off the leash. I am saying keep the leash on but use it less and less to get your way, because the less that you do the more your dog has to do.

Martin Wright
From: The Unwritten Book of Mostly Useless Ideas Pertaining to Dogs and Dog Behavior.


Fireworks & Dogs

I will predict the future.

People will set off fireworks before Fourth of July and stop lighting them around the start of fall. More dogs will run away around 4th of July than any other time during the year. Lot of dogs will suffer from anxiety and stress throughout the fireworks season.

One solution.

Get a app or recording of fireworks sounds. Start playing it when you get home from work or when your dog is eating dinner. Start with it quiet and play with your dog, or massage your dog and help them to relax while hearing those sounds. Keep the mood fun and light. Turn up the volume a very little everyday until one day you are blasting it. Then start to play it quietly and loudly at random times, always while doing things that are enjoyable to the dog. When your dog notices the sound you ignore the sound and Enjoy Your Dog!!! Learn what is to loud and set your dog up for success.

That is how associations works, we have the power to take a negative and make it a positive by our will and behavior. We have a lot of influence over associations if we are conscious and prepare. The problem is most people don’t. Most people will read this think is a good idea and do nothing.

That to me is sad.

Martin Wright
From: The Unwritten Book of Mostly Useless Ideas Pertaining to Dogs and Dog Behavior.



Dog training is about communicating with a dog. It is letting a dog know what you would like it to do, and then getting compliance from that dog. There are three skills that I use when I train a dog or help a person modify their dog’s behavior. The three skills are awareness, patience, and practice. Anybody can be aware, anybody can be patient, and anybody can practice.

Part 2: Patience

“Do you have the patience to wait 
Till your mud settles and the water is clear?
Can you remain unmoving 
Until the right action arises by itself?

The Master doesn’t seek fulfillment.
Not seeking, not expecting,
She is present, and can welcome all things.

Lao Tzu 
Tao Te Ching, Chapter 15

Patience, as I define it here, is the ability to not mind when things (temporarily) do not go as intended and the confidence to know that things will ultimately go as intended. When training and living with animals, patience is very important.  Being patient is a practice and a skill. To be patient is to be stubborn. Since I started actively practicing patience in my dog training, I noticed that I am more patient in other areas of life. Nothing rattles me any more. 

I think about patience a lot, because it is my natural tendency to be impatient. I will briefly outline some of the strategies that I use to remain cool, implacable (implacability is also key part of getting things done) and patient while working with any and all dogs. 

Self-awareness is the first step in remaining patient. My last entry covers awareness. So I will skip over that and you can check it out here.

When patience is lost, the first emotion to arise is frustration. Frustration tends to lead to anger, and anger often leads to action, and angry action can cause guilt. There is no use for frustration, anger, or guilt in dog training. Anger, frustration, and guilt are detrimental to interspecies communication, will harm any relationship and must be eliminated from the training process. 

So, in order to avoid frustration and anger, I separate myself (or my ego) from the result and I put it into the process, the actions that I am doing in order to communicate with the dog. In other words, I train myself not to care if the dog sits, but to care a lot about what I do to get the dog to sit. I focus in detail on my actions so that I can replicate it precisely at anytime. I also notice the results of what I am doing. So that I know what I can expect if I do that exact thing again. This is difficult to do as a professional dog trainer, whose reputation and success depends on the dog’s obedience and ability to do as asked. When I am training a dog I cannot afford to think of reputation or success, because those are results as well. Instead I focus on process. Knowing that if the process is correct, the sit will happen, the success will come, and the reputation will grow. 

Another thing that I do to remain patient when practicing with dogs is to set a time limit. This is important. A time limit allows me to make the sometimes-emotional activity of training a dog into a job. I am punching a clock. A lot of times training a dog is about repeating the same action over and over again. By setting a time limit, I can know when the exercise will be over before I begin. It also gives me a quick and soothing way to take a break if I start to get frustrated. I breathe and check my time.

The final thing that I do to remain patient is, acknowledge the beginning of frustration decide I will not go that route for the remaining minutes in the training session. This can only be done by practicing self-awareness. I am always looking for signs of frustration in my mood and emotions.  

Ultimately, my patience in dog training comes from awareness, mental preparation, and trust in the process. The rewards of patience in dog training are good communication with the dog, a better relationship with the dog, happiness and success, and a good reputation as a dog trainer.

Thank you and keep practicing. Your canine communication skills are very important in improving your relationship with your dog. Enjoy Your Dog!!!


Awareness & Communicating With A Dog

slide-reliable-dog-trainingDog training is about communicating with a dog. It is letting a dog know what you would like it to do, and then getting compliance from that dog. There are three skills that I use when I train a dog or help a person modify their dog’s behavior. The three skills are awareness, patience, and practice. Anybody can be aware, anybody can be patient, and anybody can practice.

Part 1: Awareness

Awareness simply means attentiveness. Awareness is the act of paying attention. We influence the world around us through our own behavior. The awareness that we need to develop first is self-awareness. To be aware of myself, I question myself about my own self-awareness. Before I work with any dog client or human client I ask myself, “How do I feel physically and emotionally, and what is my energy level like right now?” I am not always looking to feel great, that would be unreasonable. I just want to know does anything hurt? Or is everything healthy? Am I happy? Distracted? Anxious? Nervous? Relaxed? Calm?  I also need to be aware of my desire and what I would like to communicate, and what I would like to see done, as well as my goals. Then I will be aware of my actions, and how I feel physically, my mood, and how my energy levels at this time will affect my actions. I am also aware that my actions are bringing me closer to my desired result. The point is to acknowledge and accept the facts of the present moment, not to change, or even judge.

We also need to be aware of our dog. I ask myself, how does my dog feel? Do I see any signs of physical or emotional comfort or discomfort? What is my dog’s energy level right now? Is my dog tuned in and paying attention, or is she distracted? Does she look nervous, anxious, over stimulated, or calm and attentive? How does her physical state, mood, and energy affect her current behavior? How am I affecting my dog, her mood and her behavior? I ask myself, how is her current behavior different from the behavior that I would like to see? Again, the main point is not to judge but to simply to be aware.

We also need to be aware of the environment that we are currently in. The environment as I am defining it here is everything that is not me or my dog. What are the facts of the current environment? Is it hot, cold, wet, or dry? Are there a lot of distractions? Is it quiet? What is the feeling that I sense from the environment? What is the energy level of the environment? How does this environment affect me physically? How does it affect my mood, feelings, and energy level? How does this environment affect my dog? Are there things in the environment that my dog is aware of but that I am not? How influential is this present environment on my dogs behavior? Is this the right environment for training my dog?

These are the types of question that I ask myself whenever I am with my dog. I try not to be distracted away from these types of questions. Distraction is everywhere. I developed a program that I go through when I am with my dog to help me stay focused on my dog.

  1. I have time limits for activities. That way if someone calls or texts, or if my mind wanders to a worry or a thought, I can always tell myself that this time is for me and my dog.
  2. Before interacting with my dog, I check in with myself. I ask the self-awareness questions that are listed above. If I find myself too excited, I take a few breaths and calm down.
  3. I check in with my dog. I assess her body language, and energy level. If I am doing a lower energy activity like walking I look for her to be calm before proceeding.

Developing this awareness can be difficult. There is a lot to be aware of, and no matter how hard I try, there are times when I am with my dog and I am not giving her the attention that the situation requires. All I can do is trust that she will forgive me, and try to be more aware the next time. With patience and practice I am sure that there is room for improvement. I have done it and I have seen others do it. So I you can do it. Thank you and Enjoy Your Dog!!!