The #1 Thing That Will Change Your Puppy/Dog Training

Thanks Warren Photographic for the Photo

Thanks Warren Photographic for the Photo

So there I was having a conversation with a good friend of mine the other day about their puppy.

He is getting to that age where jumping and naughty behavior is starting to overload the good behavior he had when he was tiny.

Most people luck out and their tiny puppies are pretty good.

They follow them around inside and outside and don’t necessarily need a leash, they listen and want to cuddle; and then the "teenage" dog begins to let loose!

They start jumping up for attention.

They want to run away and explore their environment.

And, they don't sit still long enough to cuddle anyone anymore.

Cuddling turns to nipping and biting and running and stealing.

We happened to be discussing the beginning of jumping behavior and I suggested rewarding the puppy for good behavior and sitting.

She assured me they made the puppy sit prior to giving him a treat.  Want to know the difference... read on...

Reward Puppies for Good Behavior and Laying Down, even if it is for sleeping!  Thanks Genesis B for the photo

Reward Puppies for Good Behavior and Laying Down, even if it is for sleeping! Thanks Genesis B for the photo

The Difference

In her mind, she was reiterating what I was saying "They did make him sit"

In my mind, they aren't even close to being the same thing….

Let me Explain

Making your puppy or dog sit before you feed him or give him a treat is GREAT and is a wonderful thing to do!  I recommend making your dog do something for a reward, absolutely!

But, this teaches him to sit for (something) his food, a cookie you have in your hand etc.

It also teaches him to wait for the command to do the deed; which is obviously fine and also important.

Let's face it, we want our puppies to listen to us!!!

But I Have a Different Take on Puppy/Dog Training

I want my puppies to feel like they are in control of their environment and ultimately ME.

We all like to feel like we are in control, even your dog does; and you can use this to your advantage if you are smart… without commands, simply by rewarding good behavior.

After all; ALL puppies show good behaviors some times!  Even wild puppies sit and lay down when they are tired!

You see, I wait until my puppy settles down and sits on his own; then I pop out a reward (toy, game, or treat) and reward him.

In the beginning, I mostly use treats (toys and games can be over stimulating and can cause jumping and some other bad behaviors), I want a calm puppy or dog around the house.

So my puppy learns that when he sits, he will be rewarded.

Sometimes I jackpot him by giving him a bigger or better treat, and sometimes I just give him a little treat, and once he gets the idea; sometimes I just praise him.

By rewarding a behavior he is already showing (a good behavior) you infinitely increase the likelihood that you will see this behavior more often.

So instead of my puppy running over and jumping up on me; he runs over and sits in front of me.

This is a delightful behavior and one I want to continue to see, so I reward him.

I eventually put it on command and ask him to do if for me also, but I want him to CHOOSE to show this behavior without a command or a cue.

The same goes for laying down.

I don't care if he spent the last hour attempting to be naughty and chase the cat…. When he lays down, he is a good dog so I am going to reward him for that behavior.

-Don't get me wrong I am going to try and correct the problem of chasing the cat (exercise is probably a good fix).

I want my dogs to chill in the house, I don't want them climbing walls, chasing cats, stealing underwear.

I want them to actively seek my attention and show me what a great down stay they have, and when they do that I will jackpot and reward and praise them.

My Dogs

This is a Great Behavior!  Reward it!  Thanks thecute for the photo

This is a Great Behavior! Reward it! Thanks thecute for the photo

My dogs think they are controlling me and their environment by doing the things that I like.

They think I HAVE to reward them for sitting, laying down, staying (and doing other good things); and in the beginning I am OKAY with that because it increases the behavior and the good behaviors become habit.

I don't have to shout commands, or worry about correcting bad behavior (very often) because my dog is so busy trying to figure out what behaviors I like and showing me those behaviors.

See the Difference?

My dogs know the difference and it shows!

If you want a good pet and house dog; reward them when they do something you like.

Train them and teach them also, but reward good behaviors when you see them!!

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  1. Cheryl Giles says:

    How encouraging! Sometimes I feel like all I do is give commands. Ugh. I tried to correct my children as little as possible and be as positive as I could – forcing them to think through situations according to their mental capacity. For me that is the hard part about dog training, the constant correction, the required consistency. I am not a steady as she goes personality and it is a real stretch to be consistent. Rewarding natural behavior is a much more intuitive style for me. It seems like one equation that is missing from the whole dog training scenario is the consideration of the owners personality, not only the personality of the dog, especially since it is ultimately a partnership: I.e., I see that clicker training is highly effective but I can’t stand that sound, neither can my dog.
    So I would love to hear anything else you would have to say on this topic. Do you recommend any books or other materials?
    Thanks so much!


    Minette Reply:

    The clicker is the most useful tool you can use, they make clickers that make a variety of sounds or use the head of a pen if a clicker is too loud for you.


  2. Teresa says:

    I love your training tip, I have told my client for years that dogs already know how to sit, down, and be calm, so yes lets reward good behaviors, and keep training fun and rewarding for all…Because a happy dog make’s for a happy owner, and your friends will be amazed and appreciate how wonderful you and your dogs are. All of your training advice is always right on….



  3. Minette says:

    I disagree, actually.

    Some dogs will literally fight if you mix up the pecking order of how things are done.

    My female always comes first, she would be angry if she didn’t get trained first etc.

    I, however, am a trainer so I ultimately have control over who gets what first but some people will be up for a brawl if they change this and they are not careful


  4. Ellen says:

    My dog is spooked at the least little thing. I tell her it is OK and nothing will hurt her, but she is very nervous. She saw a garbage can outside that was not there before and she would not go outside to go potty, I had to take her around the front.

    What do I do?


    Don Reply:

    When your dog acts spooked & you respond with words of encouragement and then assist her in avoiding the garbage can (and her fear) by using the other door, you are reinforcing her timidity. And if you behave similarly in other situations where she shows anxiety she may generalize her fear to these formerly safe situations. I would suggest reintroducing her to these situations slowly & gradually and reinforcing her for courage when she shows any approach to the object she fears. Then gradually require more courage lending your support and encouragement as she does. But do not reward her timidity by withdrawing. This will not likely be a quick cure but your dog will gradually learn to trust you in these situations again.


  5. rose says:

    my Brittany is now 7 months old. my husband spends all day with her I cannot do that. of course she is pretty good with him, but still things im her play toy. she still will do the bitey bitey with me, and doesn’t listen well to my discipline but will with his. I would like to spend more time with her and have play time and cuddle time with her but I cant take the bitey bitey.


  6. Sandy B. says:

    I have been trying to train my cavalier king to ring the bell to go potty. I have done this faithfully every time for 3 weeks. He is five yrs. old, we just got him about 4 weeks ago. He will touch it lightly when I tell him, but he will not do it on his own. Urrrggg. I had a fairly large bell, so I decided to get 5 smaller bells so easier to ring. I do not know how to get him to ring it louder. He never barks, even when stranger comes to the door. I would like to know how to teach him to bark about 3 times when someone is at the door. He is very dossel and quiet in nature.

    Any suggestions, also, he is a stud, I catch him marking my furniture sometimes…he will poop and pee outside too, any suggestions, I am sure other dog owners have these problems. Thank you kindly for your time.


    Susan Ruiter Reply:

    I am in the process of doing the same exact thing with my 10 month old puppy. She also rarely barks and took me a long time to get her to go to the bathroom outside. I got the bells – about 6 of them and tied them to the back door. Then, I sat by the door and repeatedly took her foot and her nose and rang the bells and gave her a treat. We did this many times for many days. It didn’t seem to work very well and this has gone on for about a good month or 2. However, since the weather has turned cold, last night she sat by the door and rang the bells 4 different time. I about died. She actually didn’t go to the bathroom, but she knew she wanted to go outside.

    I also did something unconventional this summer that really helped to train my dog. I got so tired of letting her out, that I cut part of the screen between the two openings in my screen door so she would have a doggy door. It only took 2 times of my pushing her through the opening and she had it perfectly.


  7. Ann Sullivan says:

    how to stop my 4 yr old boxer from jumping when guests come into the house especially the grandkids please help


  8. Eddy says:

    I need help if anyone knows what this is my dog After licking a plastic bin for 20 mins losing a lot of saliva. My dog came to me and totally lost his focus he stared at the ground and started to shake and lost his balance. He didn’t know what he was doing and looked lifeless. After I picked him up and put him on the couch 2 mind later it was like nothing ever happend what going on with him


    Minette Reply:

    Sounds like a seizure go to your vet


    Edward Rodriguez Reply:

    Yea I know I did before and she didn’t really know. He does it after being really active with his ball or licking and losing a lot of salvia or eating or drinking to fast. He did it again today and I kind of yell at him and he snaps out of it . I’m scared


    Karen M Reply:

    These are symptoms of epileptic seizures, take your dog to the vet.

  9. Glenna says:

    I need help too. Dolly is my 8th collie. But my hardest one. She was 12 weeks old when we got her and she knew nothing. So many new things for her it has been a little overwhelming but we are dealing with the new. Our problem is biting. I don’t mean a nip it is a full out bite that draws blood. We go outside, play with the ball and come in. Usually she is worn out. All of a sudden she will jump up, run over to me and grab my arm. Just can’t figure it out. I do award her for good behavior but what do I do to stop this. Thank you for your kindness in helping me.


    Minette Reply:

    Read this


  10. Dianne says:

    Brilliant article. I have adult 4 dogs and I have trained 1 using this method to sit. It was an experiment to see if it would curb her jumping on people habit. It didn’t take as long as I thought it would, solved the jumping issue and I absoulty love the results. Nothing makes me happier than when she comes running to see me and joyfully plunks her butt down. She’s happy – I’m happy.
    I tell all my guests to wait until she sits before they pay any attention to her. Now, I’m working on dog # 2.
    Thanks for sharing your insights I love your articles.


  11. Suzanne says:

    I don’t think dog’s are that complicated. They live in the moment, that is one thing we humans can learn from them.
    Dog’s are great problem solvers, we should be too!


  12. Sue says:

    HELP! I just bought a 3 month old Havanese puppy and am having a really hard time potty training him. I used a soft canvas crate, but he would get so upset that he would pee and poop in it. I take him outside every hour and most times he will go both. But when he’s in the house, he still has accidents – even right after we were out! Thanks for your help.


    Minette Reply:

    Here is a search I did on potty training; read the many articles here provided


  13. Irene Hollister says:

    Dear Minette: Can you point me to any articles/books/blogs/whatever on how to treat multiple puppies? We rescued a now 5 months old brother/sister Chi/Dachs mix and I have been looking but cannot find any info anyplace on how to treat basic stuff in twos like house training; the brother is getting it, the girl is playing games, how to train, they become frantic when separated but don’t feel that training in pairs is a good idea? How hard to nudge them towards maintaining an individual persona? Any direction much appreciated! Best, Irene


    Minette Reply:

    you need to separate them they need to get over being frantic and needing each other to that degree, it isn’t healthy for any of you. So start by doing that… if you can’t get training in for a week or so because they are throwing a fit; that is okay let them get used to being separate.

    Read this


  14. Bonni says:

    It’s been a long time since we had a puppy around( our yellow lab is 10) Morgan has gotten so ornery. He is a 5 month old Shitzu/Maltese mix. I have to hold him back from the door when someone comes, he’s nipping and snarling when he plays, he doesn’t seem affectionate at all, hates to be held. He is potty trained, sits and lies down for a treat. He does walk well on his leash. When I get him neutered will he calm down ?


    Minette Reply:

    I would get him neutered ASAP not having testosterone will most certainly help.

    It sounds like you are misusing treats if he only listens when you have one, read this

    He needs to be reliable obedience-wise so you can ask him to sit and down when people come over. I would also make him lay on a bed for down stays and keep him on leash when you have visitors. Search our articles for the Place command for more information. There is a search bar on the right side of the page about 1/4 way down.

    And, I think he needs more exercise. Most dogs act out because we are not meeting their needs physically with exercise and mentally with training.


  15. Jerry Hanson says:

    If I waited for my 10 month old giant schnoodle to stop jumping up on new visitors, stop chasing cars, and come when she wants to, then I would have beat up guests and maybe an injured or dead dog chasing cars and not coming on command. Sounds like you prefer the Montesori technique to training. Eventually it will work, to the distress of anyone else around until they do.


    Minette Reply:

    Actually NO I believe in leashes and training!! I would never allow my 10 week old puppy to jump on someone much less a 10 month old!

    and I would NEVER allow my dog to chase cars, eeekkk


  16. Sally Negri says:

    I want to thank you for your article. My dogs, I now have 3 wiemaraners, will spot something outside and all three, the youngest leading the group, run to the windows/doors barking their hearts out. No matter what I say or do will stop them until the object is gone. This could be a squirrel, another dog, postman, trucks/motorcycles etc.. After reading I tried a new tactic…When they took off barking I would reward the one that came back to me, then the others when they came. Before long they got it. Bark and find “Mom”. It’s such a treat to have them stop the barking. I don’t want them never to bark. It allows me the opportunity to check what is causing the ruckus…My husband feels it is a safety thing and I agree. Thanks again. I will be using your advice with a smile on my face.


  17. Sally Negri says:

    My daughter has a shitzu/cocker mix (Zuille) and a german shepard mix (Sammy). Her problem is at mealtime or whenever they are sitting at the table. If Sammy comes near the table, for any reason, Zuille will attack her, snarling, barking and biting. If you try to stop him, he will bite furiously. I keep telling my daughter he has a problem which needs to be addressed, but she thinks its cute. Is there any suggestions I can give her so this little black devilish imp learns to behave himself around other dogs. i have been snapped for just petting Sammy. This behavior is selective.


    Minette Reply:

    You can’t force someone to see a problem they don’t want to; they both need a veterinary behaviorist before someone is bitten badly ans sued or hospitalized.


  18. Nicole says:

    How do I break my dog from barking like crazy whenever someone approaches the front door or rings the doorbell? Ordering her to her crate works only occasionally, as does the use of treats if she quits barking?


  19. Susan says:

    How do I stop my 6mo old puppy from tearing up the other dog’s bed? She doesn’t touch her bed., but destroys the older dog’s bed. Now he has nothing to sleep on, she has torn up many blankets and at least 3 rather expensive dog beds.
    Help me to stop her from doing this.


    Minette Reply:

    Keep an eye on her, and exercise her more!


  20. Lorraine Simcox says:

    I need serious help with an 11 month old male malamute that has decided to be aggressive toward an older schnauzer who is exceptionally possessive of me and would attack the malamute when he came around me from the time I got the malamute Feb 1 2015 until mid October 2015. Now the malamute is very aggressive toward that particular schnauzer to the point of unprovoked attacks that draw the schnauzers blood. I am guilty of over bonding with three dogs and have a terrible situation on my hands and causing extreme tension in my household because of trying to keep the two dogs that fight apart. The third dog I have is also a schnauzer and the senior resident of the three dogs and gets along with both of the other two dogs. The malamute is also very jealous if another dog comes near me. Is there any help you can give me other than re-homing one of the two dogs that do not get along.


  21. Patricia says:

    I have a 2 year old Pomeranian that I rescued. He is mostly a very sweet and loving dog, but very, very hyper. Do they ever get over being so hyper and having separation anxiety? He barks and howls every time I leave the house, and I’m afraid this will just make him more hyper. Please give some ideas to correct these behaviors if there is any help for these problems.

    Thank you so much!


    Minette Reply:

    He needs to be exercised prior and you must work on crate training while you are home! If you only do it when you leave he associates it with bad things and you can’t reward for good behavior. And, if he is so exhausted he can’t keep his eyes open it will make the process easier


    Minette Reply:

    Hyper dogs are telling us they need more exercise too!


  22. Lena says:

    I have people come to my house. My Shitsu is a little timid, but likes to nip or push people out the door. How can I stop her from doing this? I have a 3 month old Cairn terrier and I don’t want her doing the same thing. The puppy likes to jump and bite, which is annoying, but how do I get her to stop. When reprimanded she lets out a growl and bites, how do I train her so young?


    Minette Reply:

    Use a leash and teach them your expectations! Sit and stay while people leave!


  23. Laura says:

    Hi Minette.

    Great advice here and I do find it works however i have a 1 year old ESS.

    He barks a lot.
    He barks every time we leave the room. Sometimes due to anxiousness as he scratches at the door too but other times i think it is just attention as he just sits and barks repetitively. He gets a good run as well as mental stimulation through training and puzzle games.
    He doesn’t seem anxious when outside so that is our best option. He does fence bark sometimes but rarely, that is until now. At this time of the year there are cows in the field behind our house and when they come up close to the fence he barks incessantly at them. As soon as he hears us open the back door he stops and runs back towards us so it is difficult to teach him to stop, and they don’t come up often enough for us to desensitise him to them, plus we cant do anything when we aren’t at home. Otherwise I have tried everything, for inside and to help with his anxiety I have tried placing him in a crate and gradually moving further away. Then I have tried teaching him the ‘quiet command’, a stuffed Kong for both inside and out, I have tried squirting him with water, obedience classes, and even a ciontrella collar I am at my wits end and just don’t know what else to do.



    Minette Reply:

    first you must get barking on command then you can control quiet. Use the search bar at the top of the page and search for my articles on bark and quiet


  24. Cynthia says:

    I took in a rescue dog who was a terrible jumper when company came to the door – she didn’t jump on me because I didn’t allow it but people coming in the door would get the whole drama of barking and jumping and not everyone would know to give her the knee and ignore her until she stopped. I devised a strategy that really worked. I had friends who came over for a weekly meeting so we got to practice this regularly: I would put the leash on her before they were to arrive, and before opening the door I would take the leash, walk to the door, and step on the leash to gently but firmly force her into a lay-down, but I wouldn’t say anything to her. I would open the door and she would struggle and bark against the shortened leash, but she could not get up. My guests were instructed to ignore her and we would do our greetings and hugs without looking at her or acknowledging her – I did not need to give her any attention at all to have total control. Finally she would give up and relax and quiet, and then I would release my foot and let her say hello. It didn’t take but a couple of times before she would relax very quickly and get to say hello, and after a period of time I didn’t need to leash her at all for ever more. I go into people’s homes and share this with frustrated dog owners who are embarrassed by the jumping/barking drama as guests enter their homes. Most people handle it by giving the dog a lot of negative attention (yelling, yanking, grabbing, swatting, chasing) which feeds the bad behavior. This way, there is literally no feedback until they relax, and then they get to be part of the joy of welcoming a guest. It just works.


  25. Gisela Boderke says:

    I really love this insight about training, it changes my perception of training my dogs and I see the training thing their way. I can build the confidence in my shy dog, just concentrating on what she does well, I can see our relationship improve already, because she always picked up on my irritations about her.
    Also, now I don’t worry about my wonderful GSP wanting to control me, he is so smart, the glass is half full is better than the glass is half empty.


  26. Sharina Whiteford says:

    Dear Minette

    My puppy has a travel problem. She salivates just seeing the car and is sick when she travels.
    I have tried different things, associate the car with meeting a puppy play mate, food distraction, ignoring, driving slowly avoiding bumps and sharp turns, traveling with her puppy friend that likes cars, my other dog that is not faced by any thing, you name it. It works for a while but inevitably a trip to the vet or holiday comes around. As a family we drive a lot so this is a big problem for us and not very nice for the puppy. It stops me training and socialising her something she sorely needs. On all other occasions she is a very confident puppy. Any good advice would be greatly appreciated. S


    Minette Reply:

    This can be fairly normal in puppies


  27. Claire DeLaughder says:

    Try blanket wrestling, my toy poodle loves this and it doesn’t hurt their humans hands. Mine will drag her blanket over to my chair and drag it up on the chair, which is so amusing.
    She tires of it after a few minutes and no worse wear and tear on me. Lol!


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