Dog Park Training Continued

Thanks for the photo

Thanks for the photo

Oh my goodness!  I’ve been writing this blog going on 5 years and have never had people quite as outraged as they were over my dog park training article!

I guess it kind of proves my point!

I am still not sure why people get so emotional about it, or offended by it; but let’s break it down shall we!

First off I was mostly being tongue and cheek about “clearing a dog park”, my intention is only to train.  However this title seemed more fun and intriguing.  And, it was just my humor (although misunderstood).

People come, people go… this is all normal.

Do some people get upset because they think dogs shouldn’t be trained in a “play” place… yes.

However it is not up to me to make everyone happy.  It is my job to make my dog happy.

But please understand it is not and has never been my intention to make anyone leave.  The more people and dogs, the better the training!

I was trying to be silly, not offensive.

I used to Train at Chatfield All the Time!!!

I used to Train at Chatfield All the Time!!!

I'm actually a very quiet person that would do anything for anyone.  I did work full time for a few years so I could run my own nonprofit and take dogs from shelters and train them, free of charge to my disabled child and adult clients.

I'm not the kind of person that runs around trying to be offensive. 

Let’s Dispel Some Myths

Whereas I do use all kinds of noise during my regular training at home and when I train with club members, I don’t bring guns, shake cans, can curtains or anything else that makes noise to the dog park.

For help getting your dog used to noises click here.

I also don’t bring treats.

I only bring my dog’s ball, and often a chuck it.

Sometimes I bring a video camera so I can get film of her going through the motions at the dog park but it is hard to film and work with her.

I don’t ever yell at her for breaking a command or paying attention to another dog, sometimes she needs to in order to read the other dog that approaches her.

I never yell at the other dog, or shoo it away.

I never keep them from playing (my dog simply prefers to train).

If someone yells an apology, because it is clear that I am training and their dog is soliciting play.  I am always happy and assure them that there is no problem and that is why we are training in this setting.

I wouldn’t take her into the dog park to train if I didn’t think she and her training was ready for that step.

It takes many steps and months of training prior to going into the dog park to train.

This is not where she learns, it is only where she gets to conquer more distractions per square inch.

She is not on leash (I know this scares some people at dog parks and I understand this principle).

For more on off leash training and how to get there click here. 

Although we do some “stays” most of what we do is action based, like attention heeling and turns.

I reward her WAY more often than she gets rewarded at home.  This is what makes it so fun for her.  It is a constant game so she'd actually rather train in a dog park full of dogs than in a boring environment at home.

This is What My Dog Works for!

This is What My Dog Works for!

Whereas I might expect a 5 or 10 minute obedience routine when we are practicing at home; in the dog park she rarely goes a minute or more without being able to play.

Coming when called, heeling, sitting, laying down, making quick corners, and giving me attention is all rewarded speedily and she enjoys every minute of it.

Why Do I Do It?

Why on earth would I want to train my dog at the dog park.

Number one, is because I compete.  This more accurately depicts a dog show or dog trial than any other scenario that I can control.

Anyone who has ever been to an AKC show knows how small the spaces are and how one  or more dogs often runs up onto and sometimes over other dogs.

There may not be other dogs in the ring (the whole time) but there are other dogs barking, playing, playing with toys, sniffing each other and often sit and down stays are done in groups (and if one dog breaks and runs, it looks a lot like a dog park).

So this is an awesome way to prepare.  And, if I am a good trainer, I am more rewarding than anything else that could be going on to my dog.

The Other Reason??

By Training My Dog with Other Dogs I Can Help Avoid These Kinds of Reactions

By Training My Dog with Other Dogs I Can Help Avoid These Kinds of Reactions

You never know when your dog will be bum rushed by another dog.

Just yesterday I was out making my 5 mile run to the lake (I run in the street on the left hand side facing traffic so I can see the cars coming), when a black Lab rocketed out of a yard on the right hand side of the street and straight toward us in the middle of the street (she was of course leashed).

On the other side of the street was a sharp curve and a barb wire fence.

Thankfully, I could tell by the dog’s body language that he was not aggressive or I would have had to defend my dog.

So I had a choice… go toward him so that we could get back on his property and he would not be hit by an oncoming car or risk his death by crossing the street.

I am 100% confident that because of our dog park training, my dog didn’t blink an eye or care.  Nor did she pull me toward him to visit.  Instead she took it all in stride like she does at the dog park.

We went onto his property, I allowed him to sniff her and the dog’s owner came out and thanked me and took him back inside.

If she was dog reactive (more on reactive dogs click here) we might have had a dog fight.

Even if she was overly friendly, I might have had trouble getting them both out of the middle of the road.


If my dog is capable of doing real obedience at a dog park, chances are I have great skills for when she is presented with any other challenge.

20 kids yelling and screaming, probably isn’t as exciting as ignoring playing dogs.

Cows, horses, cats, it all becomes more easily conquered when I can control her in a crazy but yet somewhat predictable environment.

So if she is off leash at the beach or on a hiking trial and I need her to lay down ASAP because I see a car, or another dog, or any other threat she is much more likely to do so.

This is why I frequent many dog parks, otherwise she gets use to the same place or the same dogs and I want her to generalize that she doesn't have to get upset about any off leash dog. 

So You May Think that a Dog Park is Only For Playing

Play can Also be a Good Reward for Great work!

Play can Also be a Good Reward for Great work!

You may be passionate about dog obedience belonging only at home, until you sit back and understand the ramifications of sprucing up your obedience and using this great tool.

Even if your dog likes to play, there is no reason not to add a few recalls, a little bit of heeling, some attention work.

Just think about it, if your dog can ignore the distractions there, wouldn’t it make sense that it would be easier for him to ignore the kids across the street that bark at him when you pass?

It makes for a better adjusted dog!

AND, your dog isn’t on a leash so you can’t FORCE it or correct him, you have to learn to be more exciting!

So even those of you who have had an emotional response… should be able to see, that in all honesty it really isn’t that bad.

It is actually quite beneficial.

Actually, it is a goal I have for any dog that is not dog aggressive, reactive, or fearful!

So get out there and give it a try!!!  It is really fun, and we can help change some minds and how people view dog park training, while strengthening the relationship with our dogs and the other people that visit the dog park! 

Start Calming Down Your Over Excited Dogs Today!

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  1. Iris says:

    Minette, I was so surprised to learn how upset people were because you train your dog at a dog park. I thought that there was nothing wrong – it wasn’t disturbing anyone else. I hope that after reading your explanations of training at the park that people will be more understanding.


    Marina Reply:

    After all i don’t get the problem !!! of course dog park are obvious for playtime and social contact for dogs but it IS NOT its only use and of course if your dog is ready to be trained in obedience while inside a dog park why not??!!! I dont understand people for being upset about it in the end it is your decision how long the lesson goes or if you say after 15 min now my dog can have playtime.


  2. Ian jamieson says:

    There is an old saying from the UK, “There’s nowt so queer as folk”, and people’s reaction to this is a perfect example of something I personally do not understand. Minette was a bit silly in her comment on clearing the park, but it had nothing to do with the training. Keep up the excellant work


    mensamom Reply:

    Love your old saying! There is usually a ton of truth in what the old folks said and did.


  3. Sylvia Kalliski says:

    Hi Minette,
    I don’t think you should have explained yourself, I don’t understand why people were upset about your other blog, but since you did, it was very explanatory. Keep up the good work!


    Gary Martin Reply:

    Hi Minette,

    I liked both of your articles, I sometimes have an Alan Alda moment(s).
    I have trained my Labs at a local High School, after the last bell. Lots of distractions and sniffs. I walk the outside halls, parking lot and then out to the track/football field to play and run. I also use a “Chuck-it” and it is a wonderful tool. One Saturday while walking the outside halls, my Lab alerted to something on the roof of the school. Two teenagers were trying to break into a skylight. I notified the authorities and waited. The boys came down for more tools and were captured. Being a Deputy Sheriff with a 105lb well trained Black Lab helped.
    Keep up the good work!


    Lin Bauer Reply:

    Hi Minette,
    I agree with Sylvia, not quite sure why everyone was so upset!
    I often give a few obedience commands on the beach or on walks and then give the break command. I just wish I could have the level of confidence to this sort of training in busier settings. M


  4. Christine Randle says:

    Hi Minette, I loved your post, I never had any problems with it and cannot understand why people get so upset about stuff like this. I wish I could train my dog in the park, but she is so reactive,its silly. She dislikes people who look different ie, people with hats or umbrellas, and Asian people and African people, she just goes off if we see them in the street. She is more reactive with other dogs, she is a 46 kg Rottwieler but she thinks she is small. She likes small dogs but when we meet a big dog, she will give a wide berth, so as not to have to walk past, but if we have to walk past, her heckles go up and she is on instant guard. She was attacked by an Alsation when she was smaller and has been this way ever since. She travels in the back of the car (we have a 4×4 ) and she rides in the back, but she always barks if anyone comes too near to the car and sometimes if we pass them on our side of the street. This is really un nerving, especially when you are concentrating on the road and she suddenly starts barking… We have tried the “Leave it” for months now but she doesnt stop Any suggestions??? I bought your training videos, but couldnt get past the Eye balling thing, she hates that… She is spoilt I know but she enjoys training if I use cheese, and she has the basics, sit stand Lie Shake Heal and she is pretty good on the leash….Any suggestion would be great…. Thanks Minette, I love reading your email s xx


    Jan Davey Reply:

    Hi Christine, I had a similar problem with my German Shepherd. When she became ill with EPI she became extremely nervous and would bark at the least little sound. In the car she would bark at any one she saw. Once she began regaining her weight she continued to bark at any one she saw in the car or in the backyard. I tried any number of ways to get her to stop to no avail. I finally found a bark collar in my local pet store. The collar works on batteries and you can set it to emit either a slight vibration or sound, no shocks or anything like that, it is very gentle. The first time she had it on in the car and she barked she got a vibration that surprised her and she stopped barking. Then by the time she had barked for the third time she understood the bark triggered the collar and she stopped barking. The rest of the trip was quiet. At home she wears the collar when she is outside and no longer barks at my neighbors or the birds. With my Shepherd becoming quiet, my Doodle took up the barking so I put him on a collar and he too realizes what causes the vibration and he stays quiet. If something has really disturbed them they will ignore the vibration and bark until I tell them all is okay.

    The collars worked for my two they may help you as well. Still working on her reactive attitudes when walking, she is very protective of me now that I walk with a cane. This is still a work in progress.


    Christine Randle Reply:

    Thanks Jan, I will have a look at that, never thought if using a collar like that. Lilly my Rotti is still a work in progress, she is very protective and barks at people who are passing the house or the car, and only this morning we passed a young Asian girl, who just crossed the street to get to the bus stop and she tried to attack the poor girl…It takes all my strength to hold her sometimes and I do have days where I think I just might stop walking her in the street…. Ill try the bark collar Cheers xxx


  5. Sabrina says:

    I was not upset by your first article. To bad people are to sensitive. I fully understand about getting your dog around different settings. That is what is a great teacher because the dog learns no matter what the distraction or the environment he must obey. The life of the dog depends on total obedience. If your dog can’t sit when traffic is coming immediately your dog can get killed. The more your dog is trained with many distractions and still obeys the better for the dog, owner and others around the dog. Most owners buy a dog and rarely spend time with the dog except for once a week and then don’t understand why the dog is disobedient. Training must be done every day.


  6. Gary Webb says:

    I totally agree with you. I assist veterans in training service dogs for their own use. One of the many training areas we use is the local dog parks.

    You ROCK!!
    Keep it up.


  7. Eliza says:

    I agree with Sylvia! I don’t know why people don’t like it. I think it is a great idea!


  8. Joanne says:

    I read the first article and found it very funny. Nothing offensive there. Seems like some like to just pick anything apart.
    Your second article very informative. Keep writing and don’t let a few downers stop what you do.
    p.s. what dog park are you in and you can help train my GS. lol


  9. Claudia says:

    Hi Minette,
    I love your posts so please keep up the good work! I take my dog to work with me most days and there is a dog park near work where we spend some of our lunch breaks. He loves to train there and I’ve never had anyone complain. The park is a large one, so we just find a section and “do our thing”. The distractions really help solidify his training. Thank you for all the good information!


  10. M Foster says:

    Why wouldn’t you want your dog under control in a dog park? And to do training while there shouldn’t even be an issue> Of course the more distractions the better.So they shouldn’t have to worry about your reaction from the other dogs. Obviously that is why you are there, to provide distractions for your dog. It is not their responsibility to be concerned about your dog and her training. Or to interfere with their dog’s fun of being free in the park as long as it is not putting anyone else at risk of injury. If they go home it is probably because they can not control their dog. Nuf’ said.


  11. Laurel says:

    I think your training methods are awesome 🙂
    And yes no guns at the dog parks lol a given
    I don’t understand the people who are opposed to your training
    Keep up the grat work 🙂


  12. Babby says:

    people always have an opinion. right or wrong it’s theirs. you have every right to train your dog when and wherever you want. I think ANYWHERE is a good spot (excluding the middle of the street) however you did a training lesson in the middle of the street when you got both your dog and the other dog to go to his yard. Learning is always happening. Keep up the good work. I enjoy your posts and great tips. thanks


  13. Joanne says:

    Hi Minette,
    I enjoy reading your tips, I have to say that my husband tells me I am in a very small percentage of people who goes to the extent that I do with my dog. I have a german sheperd that I began obedience with 31/2 years ago. And I love training with him, i do it in the park on the street because as you say distraction is the ultimate in training if you can get your dogs attention whith full distraction around that’s the ultimate. I am not there yet, and hope to be one day, my guy is very distracted, We are not ready for the dog park that’s for sure.

    thanks for the tips



  14. Sandy O says:

    I thought the first article was wonderful and informative. I can’t imagine their are some out there who were offended. Weird, but I guess not everyone can have the same point of view. Thank you for the first article. This one clarified/stressed a bit more why it is such a good thing to do. I love reading all your articles, thank you for sharing your doggy wisdom!


  15. trish says:

    Good on you minette,
    I am new to formal obedience but all my dogs in the past were trained to behave well wherever we went and they were go everywhere dogs! As new competitor in the trial ring and a trainee instructor at my local dog club I have adopted the approach that any time, any place can be a training opportunity and that training can be playful and fun! As a result my dog is welcome almost anywhere I am! She is happy, well adjusted and a joy to be with, we both benefit from her being well trained and socialized since puppy-hood.


  16. Sally Jones says:

    You had better STOP USING TENNIS BALLS. We had a German Shepherd die because he caught it in his mouth & we couldn’t get it out because it was lodged & the fabric was a detriment. He died before we could get him to the Vet. He was a trained Police Guard Dog. Think about it!!! Pass on this information. Millions of those possible killers are sold every day.


  17. Bonnie Voyles says:

    I agree with Sylvia…. I don’t really understand why people got upset. I’m jealous of the fact that your dog is obediant, and mine doesn’t listen. I can only wish that I was able to do those things! (yes, I know- it my lack of work that created a dog who doesn’t listen) I absolutely agree that it is soooo important to de-sensatize and to have a dog that listens in any environment is wonderful. Good for you!!! (seriously, I wish you were in IL and could help me!) 🙂


  18. jill hall says:

    I don’t think we have these dog parks in England – nowhere near me, anyway. I can’t understand why anyone would mind if someone was doing training. Isn’t it kind of training to call a dog to you to leave? Or not to pick up rubbish etc? If you’re doing it right, playing and training are much the same, surely?


  19. Vickey says:

    Funny, I’m a dog trainer also and that is where I take some of my dogs that I help train to get socialized and for obedience trainer to listen to me. Great place to do it with all the distraction.
    I’ve been told that the dog park is not the place to train dogs, as their dogs run around them in circles and won’t come to them. Some people told me that this is the place to let your dog just go and do anything they want, not for training. You still have to have some control of your dog at some point. These are the people who’s dogs I’ve seen get in fights and then blame the other owner. I will always do some obedient training in the dog park, before it’s play time. That is probably the best place if your wanting a distraction for your dog and it’s enclosed and safe.
    When I do the training I have some people come up to apologize as they see me training a dog. Don’t apologize, that distraction or social interact is what I came to the park for.
    Funny, how we have to explain ourselves more. Keep up the good work and just go about your business.


  20. Harold H says:

    I just want to say I agree with you completely. You are absolutely right about a dog being good in public is just as important as at home or more so. Just like kids you can tell how they act out in public how they have been trained at home and with others. So as far as i can see you are doing nothing wrong and more power to you.


  21. Sandy Early says:

    I rescue and train Dobermans. So if you think you are unpopular, join the pack! First, dogs love training. Mine would rather train than play as they think they are being sooo good. I train in all kinds of places. However I can tell you why you got that response. At the dog park closest to my house the vast majority of dog owners come in, let their dog go and turn on their smart phones where they then do everything except interact with their dog. (Nor do they see them poo so they can clean it up) I wish there was one part of the park where there was no reception. When I am interacting with only my dog I think they feel guilty. Thats my theory.


  22. Phil Wilson says:

    I thought your article was excellent. People do get carried away, thinking they should do something drastic to their dog , if the dog’s not paying attention to their command of don’t get excited and harrass the other dog so the other dog don’t get too carried away. Your dog loves you, and gentleness should be maintained in a calm manner within self to impart that to the dog. Distracting bby a gentle touch and showing something the dog craves more than the other dog that would excite your own dog would have more than a placebo effect upon the dog’s demeanor and temperament. Keep up your good work and stay the course.


  23. anna tribble says:

    I thnk your training dogs at dog parks is great. There will always be distractions. I’m still getting started with my very smart standard poodle. Back surgery has slowed us down but we’re going to persist. Gandalf will be my companion and hopefully service dog for a long time.


  24. Pamela J Kutscher says:

    I also am dismayed at the negative response to the original article.I thought it was great.
    I have two dogs–both rescued as adults and both have “issues” to overcome so I am constantly using any opportunity to “train” them. I try to make it fun–a game (wish my dogs were as easily satisfied as a game of “ball”–food seems to be their main drive!). I live in a rural area and don’t have easy access to dog parks but I take them into stores where they are welcome and always use any opportunity to reinforce good behavior.
    Periodically I get together with some friends (who also have rescued dogs) and we have a “doggy fun day” where we blend fun with training. Agility and Rally courses work for us. The dogs have time to socialize under supervision and we make the training courses a game. We are a mixed bunch with my Boston Terrier & Sheltie mix (best guess)plus my friends’ Collies, Collie mix, Mixed terrier, Pomeranian, Papillion–we’ve got quite a crew.
    We DO occasionally hit a dog park–but we also take any opportunity to reinforce training there as well.


  25. BW says:

    Really enjoy your “blogs.” Our Dobie is being trained in much the same way. He is all over town and goes to the dog park occasionally. He is well socialized and loves to play with other dogs, but is learning at the same time. This is so important! Some people do get upset – probably because they don’t understand how important it is to have a well trained, well socialized dog that can get along with people, other dogs, and not be afraid of whatever happens to come into his environment. Look forward to more from you, and thanks so much.


  26. Faye says:

    Oh posh on all those idiots. They need to get over it. I applaud your work. You just made them look bad and that’s their problem not yours. Good for you for ignoring negative comments. Smile and keep on walking. As Jesus said, “dust off and keep going”. Oh that I had your tenacity for such things. You go girl. I enjoyed your writings, both of them on this subject.


  27. D. Prentice says:

    I agree with M. Foster about the fact that if the others are leaving it is because they can’t control their dog this well in this situation. They are hurting the dog’s behavioral health and their own stress levels.
    I LOVE this concept and acclimate my 2 dogs around a lot of people and children at no leash dog parks as well. As puppies they are curious of all kinds of every day distraction, and as they are trained in the environments you use as well, they learn that they are safe and needn’t feel scared or threatened.
    Thank you for sharing the second response. Not for those close minded to open training, but because it helped those of us who want to follow in your footsteps so our dogs are even happier outdoors in all situations.


  28. Carol M. says:

    I believe you were spot on! My ultimate goal for training our dog is to keep her safe, happy and skilled in the real world. Dog parks provide us with tastes of the real world. On the same hand not all dog parks are the same. Polishing up training in a dog park will further your dog’s understanding of the joy he/she while listening to you. If one can not find an agreeable dog park perhaps the beach will better suit them but again this is the real world where other people and their dogs roam freely. Please keep up the good work with helping us help our dogs!


  29. Deb P. says:

    I agree that the more distractions your dog encounters in a learning environment, the better behaved and happy the dog is. I take our 2 dogs over to the park where there are not only other dogs of leash, but children playing ball, running, yelling, playing, and riding bikes & skateboards. The chuck it is one of their favorite toys, so keeping them attentive to me because I have control of the chuck it, is a great training atmosphere. They come home happy and tired. They are much more well behaved and listen better no matter where we go off leash. Your training methods are the best style for any dog and those who were upset with you, just don’t get how to be a good pet parent for their dogs! Keep up the great work and sharing your tips with all of us.


  30. Dee says:

    I think the people upset by the blog come from 1 dog families. The multiple dog people understand the need for intense situation traing like that. Keep up the good work!


  31. Luann says:

    I think it’s great to train whenever and wherever opportunities call. I wish that dogs and owners were temperment tested before entering a dog park. I did see a problem when a person did throw a ball and more then one dog became ball aggressive and a fight broke out between the dogs and the owners.
    I was told by trainers not to bring in food because that could also cause problems. I actually stopped going to my local dog parks because of people talking to one another and not paying attention to their dogs and not even playing with their dogs. It seemed like a place to go for lazy people who don’t want to walk their dogs and make them play with each other. Some owners even yell at their dogs to go run…get your energy out…go play and even get away from me.


  32. Kyla says:

    My dog would not find a toy a reward in the dog park. He has a low drive for toys and a high food drive. I can play and train at home with no distractions but even my yard with few distractions and he has no interest in toys. I have tried putting more value on the toys but no success. He is highly food motivated so since it is frowned on to bring treats to the dog park I have nothing to reenforce good behavior there.


  33. heather says:

    I wish I could train at a dog park! But I do have one of those “special needs” dogs who is fearful aggressive. We do rally and at home, he’s great. But take him to a new environment, or even on many familiar walks…and BAM! He’s unpredictable. He’s now 9 years old and we’ve been to every trainer and dog whisperer, and get the same response – “If you didn’t put so much time and love into his training, he would have been put down long ago…”
    So I LOVE that you train in a dog park. I’m so tired of all the off leash dogs on trails and streets that owners say are “friendly” and I have to stand my ground and say “my dog is not and you’ve been warned!”
    I have stopped feeling bad for ZigDog…and bought him a treadmill for exercise. He’s just happier at home. I wish more people would train with distraction – happier pups, happier people!


  34. Chloe says:

    I wish my “mom” could train me in a dog park, so I could get over being afraid of other dogs. We don’t have one.
    Chloe (shih tzu)


  35. Tony says:

    I’m a little put off that you yielded to whatever compliants were received! Just kidding. No matter what you write or say someone, and often many, are going to find something offensive or negative in the comments expressed.
    KEEP DOINg WHAT YOU’RE DOING and don’t look back !


  36. Tony says:

    I’m a bit put off that you would yield to any complaints expressed. Just kidding! No matter what you say or write someone, sometimes many, will complain, disagree or be offended. I don’t think an explanation of your training methods are necessary. Just keep on doing what you’re doing and DON’T LOOK BACK!!


  37. Vickie says:

    I thought both of your articles were well-explained. I don’t understand what people were getting upset about. Maybe they just weren’t thinking things through.


  38. Sue Kilber says:

    I think the idea of training at a dog park is wonderful. Both articles were helpful and informative. I see no rational reason why anyone would object to a dog being trained at a dog park. A well-trained dog is a beautiful sight! We need a lot more well trained dogs—mine included!


  39. Audrey says:

    Hi Minette,

    Don’t change your writing style! The title was what made me want to read the article to begin with. Anyone who didn’t understand that it was tounge in cheek is pretty thick-headed. And I certainly don’t understand why anyone would find training your dog at the dog park objectionable. If they knew anything about dogs and dog training, they’d understand.

    I think the people who got upset are people who don’t bother to train their dogs at all. I read that only about 7% of dog owners ever even attempt to train their dogs!

    Your articles are full of good information. Keep up the good work!


  40. Kate says:

    I don’t think you should have to explain yourself. I think dog-park training is a really good idea! I don’t understand why people would be upset with that. Keeep up the good work!!


  41. Mike says:

    Ones desired relationship should be that you and your dog are always aware of each other. When this is reached, your dog will answer your spoken or signed command right away. I have not reached this yet with my border collie, but I had a collie some years ago that was into that state of obediance. He would answer hand signals frrom a distance of fifty yards, not touch food if commanded not to, not enter any place denied to him, and stay in place for up to 45 minutes. It took constant training for his whole life and he responded greatly to it. Constant training is what builds the loyality in your dog and the joy in your heart.


  42. Nicole says:

    I don’t understand why people were upset with the last article, you made it clear about that fact you compet and you are using the dog park as a distraction,I too compet at obedience, Adility and Flygility, and I too will go to a park or even to the supermarket with people coming and going just for the distractions, the dogs love it they get lots of rewards and to them its not work just another silly fun game we are playing, We need these distraction as you just don’t get it when you train at home.

    You don;t know what you are going to get at another location when you are competing, so the more different places/ locations you can train in the better.

    So for those who where offended, MAYBE you should go back to square 1 or maybe try to compet and see how much focus your dog has on you. when you only train at home.


  43. Hi Minette,
    I also don’t think you should have explained yourself,I thought both of your articles were well-explained. I thought the first article was wonderful and informative. I can’t imagine there are some people out there who were offended and upset by it. I follow your’s & chet’s advice & blogs religiously. My Rusty,(Golden Retriever & Border Collie Mix,he was 3 months old when my husband & I adopted him from a shelter. The shelter told us Rusty was in very bad shape when they received him, As a puppy, he was used as bait for a dog fighting ring.(we lived in Alabama at the time) He is 2 years old now,and has been trained following your advice & info from the beginning. Everyone loves him and says how well behaved he is.Rusty and I have had a few huge stumbling blocks to climb.(1) His Human Daddy (age 71) died 4 months after we adopted him.It was very tramatic for both him & I. (2) I had to sell our house, which had a very large fenced back yard where Rusty & I could play in.(3) moved back to Illinois & lived with my mom for 7 months, who is 87 yrs old with a 14yr old Diva Westie. (4) Now finally could buy my own condo, with a small fenced area, which needs fixing.
    I am now trying to re-establish Rusty’s training while I get things unpacked & orginized. (I am 65) Minette, I believe in your expertise and advice as well as Chet’s. Keep up the good work!


  44. Inge says:

    I loved the humor in your first article, and am in awe of how clearly you explained (to those without the same sense of humor) how you probably saved SOMEONE ELSE’S DOG by training yours in a dog park.


  45. Michael Casey says:

    Hi Minette,
    I have a perfectly behaved German Shepherd at home, that is she is perfectly behaved at home but she is easily destracted when I take her out. There is no other way to get her to behave properly in public except to take her out to public places and teach her what is acceptable behaviour there. I fully understood what you were saying in the first blog and am surprised that it raised so mank hackles. I enjoy your blogs so look forward to many more in the future.
    Best wishes


  46. Wendy UK , says:

    It’s good to train your dog in the park,I took my Scottie to obedience classes and he did very well,but I also trained him in my local park….I think the people who don,t agree with park training are missing out on having an obedient dog…i cant understand why people were offended by your article….my little boy will only work for treats,but loves to play ball for fun…I always look forward to your brilliant tips on training..keep up the good work.


  47. Teresa Juliano says:

    I love how you think about training and using all area’s for obedience and fun. People who got mad just don’t know how much they are missing out.


  48. Paula says:

    What is more annoying/offensive-training a dog in a dog park or having owners allowing their dogs to walk up to you, sniff you all over would not call off their dogs and expect you not to be upset?
    There will always will be persons opposing progress-just do not pay attention to them.


  49. Corrine says:

    I too suffered rude comments while training my female outside a Safeway store. She was on a down stay and a woman came out, saw us and told me to “quit showing off and take my dog home where it belonged.” I was a bit taken aback but ignored her and continued my training as I knew it would benefit my dog and what this woman thought made little difference. People can be very strange and we need to do what is best for our dogs and ourselves. Keep on going and ignore those who don’t really know better or matter in our lives


  50. Tod says:

    Training a dog for obedience competition, most of what she said made sense and I can understand her side of it. But what I really got from both articles is a conceded person trying to explain she knows more then all and she is after to show the world “SHE” is the best in the world and not the dog. Do you really think why she is being disrespectful to other dog owners is for the dogs benefit or for her own?


    Minette Reply:

    You are right 🙂 I am good at what I do, very good, which is why I was invited to compete at a National level the very first year I tried my hand at competition.

    I compete and train for both my dogs and yes for myself.

    I write these articles so I can help others achieve a higher level of obedience and impart my knowledge.

    I need no one’s validation but my own and the love of my dogs.


  51. Carolyn says:

    Hi Minette

    I enjoyed your story. If I could take my dog to a dog park and play with him there I would never be offended by someone training their dog. Unfortunately my dog is extremely reactive because he has been attacked by so many other dogs while he was on the leash. When I have him off the leash I am teaching him to sit quietly while other dogs pass when their owners have them on a leash. He does a very good job. When he is chasing the ball he totally ignores other dogs as long as they are on a leash. If an unleashed dog approaches in a threatening way Rusty is also taught to sit and stay while I handle the situation. I will not hesitate to pepper spray or shock an aggressive dog that is threatening my dog or myself. I am sick and tired of people who will not train their dogs to respect other dogs or innocent people.


  52. Suella says:

    Hi Minette
    I also cannot understand people – there was nothing to be offended about in regard to your first story and I don’t think there was a need to explain yourself. Nothing better than training a dog with many distractions that is what obedience is about. Keep up the good work.


  53. Gayle says:

    Well i am thinking of taking my 7 month old sharpei x staffy to the dog park to train her, simply because at home she trains well, but when we go for a walk and she sees another dog she pulls on her lead wanting to play and wont listen to me. I want to take her to the dog park as she has never been before so she can have a chance to interact with other dogs. but i worry as to what could happen if i have no control over her while at these places. I feel she needs to learn her training with all the distractions then have her freedom to run and play. Seems thr right place to me.


  54. Lee says:

    Hi I have always trained my Weimaraners in parks, on streets and anywhere (where its safe) and where there might be lots of distractions. Other wise what’s the point in training them if they don’t learn to listen to you where ever you are and not just at home. You are more likely to need them to listen to you while you are out somewhere and it might save your dogs life in a situation near danger.
    Great training


  55. mensamom says:

    Wow! People are so thin skinned nowadays! What happened to love thy neighbor (and thy neighbor’s dog…lol)? I really enjoyed both articles and think that you are absolutely RIGHT! And I DID get the tongue-in-cheek about clearing the dog park. People are so wound up in their cell phones and themselves to think clearly. Some of “us” need to get a real life. “And that’s all I got to say about that.”


  56. BlueLou says:

    Dog parks are full of curs and misbehaving creatures that have had no training and have not been socialized. I’m speaking of the dog owners of course. The dogs are not a problem; I think you tapped into the a segment of people who are angry and have inadequate people skills. Your premise is valid. Don’t worry about the Nerds.


  57. REBA says:

    How unfortunate it is when people think that a dog park is for running around and being a nuisance to other users of the park. I too train my dog in all sorts of places like the dog park, the street, close to the trains and buses even at carnivals. Dogs don’t generalize so to be a good dog owner we must train our dogs in as many places as possible so they don’t freak out when someone walks with a stick or are in a wheelchair or wearing different clothing etc.

    i always enjoy reading your blog as it inspires me to do more with my dog.


  58. brenda says:

    I skimmed the article. I am not sure what the big deal was. However it was not clear you were tongue-in-cheek. Not a big deal. My two collie sister play roughly, and if the neighbors have an opinion of it I don’t know what it might be. When Nina ambushed Lucy who was madly running towards me and knocked her off her feet, I did wonder how Nina meant it, but neither dog seemed upset. I asked the vet, (one of the dogs had to have a visit for something else) who told me that collies do that. Kudos to you for your expert dog training. I think you have a gift for it; and a passion for dogs. My dogs listen to me mostly but I don’t know why sometimes. I guess when they come when called it’s b/c they love me. That works for me. There are times when I am working around my home and they are not with me that I get to a point in my day when I actually miss seeing them and being with them. I think that says more about my progress in this life than anything else. Don’t worry be happy. 🙂


  59. Paula says:

    I’m am all for training with distractions. But personally I would NEVER take my dog to a dog park for any reason. Too many people are totally uneducated about dog behavior and go to these parks with aggressive dogs. There are many places to train with distrations without putting the dog in an unsafe environment.


  60. Kate Mickley says:

    I too am baffled by those who are upset about anyone using a dog park for training…. so in kids parks should I not parent my children. To me it is one in the same. I want to teach my furbaby & human children to obey & stay safe no matter what is going on around us.


    Minette Reply:

    That is a good comparison 🙂 I like that!


  61. margie davis says:

    As a dog trainer, I would have to say that a dog isn’t trained if it only obeys in the peace and comfort of familiar surroundings. It isn’t trained until it can focus on its handler and respond to those commands anywhere. The more distractions, the better. Of course every trainer starts in the home, then moves out from there. That said, I will also add that if dog parks have any advantage, it can only be to provide distractions. I would never take my dogs to places like that, it’s just asking for trouble. Happy training!


  62. Jan says:

    I liked your idea of using an area such as a dog park for training because that is a place where I think you can proof your training. After all proofing is conducting exercises where the dog is offered opportunities to make mistakes to test the sureness of your training. It also provides opportunities for corrections. Proofing is a test of previous training and for that you need the right distractions. Serious dog trainers are always on the outlook for such places. Jan


  63. ladyrob says:

    I would have been annoyed if I had taken my big fella to a play park to have fun with some other dogs and their owners as a reward after he’d done well at training only to find it was being dominated by a trainer strutting their stuff (albeit for FUN so is said….but whose fun?)

    The park is for everyone.
    Nobody should monopolise it and indirectly (obviously because someone is training) oblige the other users to make way or not disturb the routine. You say you have space at home and that you train your dogs with the professionals and that you even run five miles every day etc, etc, and achieve wonderful things with the dogs you rescue and train then give away to disabled little children and adults…(Oh bring out the violins and the cheer squad!)

    YES, acknowledged, its great work you do and it would have been very obvious that you knew what you were doing at the park too….but really not the right place.
    Were you advertising Minette? Did you want to be noticed? Were you hoping for an approach for business…or were you really there just so your dog could have FUN?
    That you needed to justify yourself after people objected to having to tippy-toe around you in the park and other objected to your behaviour here tells me you may have been ther for another reason besides FUN.
    Sure its fun training both for the trainer and the dog but a public park set aside for doggy playtime is hardly the right place to advertise. Of course you’ll get people upset!
    And, the fact that you say you were joking about “emptying out the dog park” says it all for me. You knew what effect you would have and that is not funny.
    You have plenty of fans Minette! You can publicise your expertise and athleticism pretty well on your blog and in your work…and tell everyone how much you enjoy rescuing dogs for the poor little disabled children and adults…but give the doggie play park and the ordinary pet owners and their ordinary doggies a break!
    Not everyone wants to be you.
    Not every dog owner is interested in what you are interested in and you can get fans and customers elsewhere.
    Oh, and whilst I am putting in my two penneth worth…how many years ago were you actually “working” with Neos and how many of those deformed lumbering, sad man made creatures have you trained to be real “working dogs..? You certainly wouldn’t have got one of those from a few years back to run 5 miles beside you!
    So let’s be real, MInette. You are a good trsiner, you have a kind heart, you love your dogs and want to have happy dogs, you want to give good dogs away to make other people happy….Other people love their dogs and want to have happy dogs too! Not and necessarily do they want their dogs to be fine tune trained, nor are their pet humans interested in displays. All they both want is a good dog and a good companion. Let the playing dogs have their park and do your specialised stuff elsewhere.
    Let the ordinary folk with their pets have their fun with their dogs and when you go to a park be one of them! Training is not appropriate in a PLAY park…unless its been booked for demos.
    How long ago were you actually “working” with Neos…those of a few years back that could hardly stand up? I’d love to see some pics of your finished work! I believe that you may have lived with a few…the house must have been filled with a lot of very loud snoring.


    Minette Reply:

    Nope, I don’t even bring business cards to the dog park.

    Not everyone needs to be me, I am good enough solo.

    My dog’s find joy in training because that is HOW I train. The would ignore dogs, deer, squirrels just to train with me. They find TRAINING FUN, this particular dog finds no joy in playing with other dogs, so I am not going to force her (that would be silly) I did take my other dogs to play with other dogs.

    While I was running the other day a deer ran out and my dog preferred staying with me cause she knew I would throw her ball. It’s simple, training and games are more fun.

    Not everyone has to train to my level, but this blog is for people who are at low levels of dog training and I have many dog trainers who read this who want to achieve a high level of dog training. This blog shows people what they CAN do with their dog if they want.

    Dog parks are for the community… there is no sign that says for PLAY only.

    I like the person that likened it to children, should children have no respect at a park?? Should they be allowed to do anything they want?

    My dog park training earned me a very nice trophy this past weekend and beat many other professional dog trainers in the sport where I compete, so I am not going to stop anytime soon. She and I enjoy the time we spend together too much to let any naysayers change our plans or routines and I know how to keep her happy.

    Everyone else can choose what they want to do with their dogs.

    I don’t understand your “can’t stand up” question… it makes no sense to me.


  64. ladyrob says:

    So you do take your dog to the play park to advertise your training expertise and maybe get noticed for a “very nice trophy” , beating lots of “other professionals” and you say you are good enough on your own…I think I get the picture, Minette, you are an expert trainer and you want everyone to know it, its your livelihood.
    Hope the trophy is made of doggy biscuit!

    Dog Parks, as far as I understand, are where members of the community can take their dogs to socialise with each other.
    Not everyone is a runner like you and not everyone has access to ‘dog space’. A dog park is therefore mainly for those people and I think I would be annoyed if trainers took over the only place I had to take my dog to play with others, especially if the trainer’s dog was antisocial.
    If your dog doesn’t like other dogs then why take her there where other dogs will want to play with her and other owners will want to interact with you on a common level, and when that doesn’t happen there’s animosity between dogs and owners…and they leave the park because you have taken over? Doesn’t seem fair to me.
    Yes, both children and some adult children with undeveloped social sense or whose social sense is clouded by their own endeavours should learn respect for others in a park with a special purpose! I think I’ve made my point and if I have not let’s put it down to English expression or to egocentricity.

    I’ve posted about my Neapolitan Mastiff and his BONE aggression. You gave me good advice and it sufficed to get him over a phase, so thanks, Minette. You mentioned you do not understand the question here where I refer to Neos “that could hardly stand up. meant literally!.

    You stated on this blog some issues back that you had worked with and lived with Neos time ago.
    Only a few years back, most of those breeding Neos were producing dogs that literally could hardly stand up, walk properly on their poor dwarfish, deformed legs carring their incredible hulks and that could not even see properly.
    Where I come from, making a statement such as the one you made about working with Neos is called “telling furfies”.
    However, pics of your successes with these dogs would be good to see.
    I’d even award you a trophy…made out of jerky… for that achievement!

    To finish – Dog Parks are for socialising social dogs and that’s the argument. Train and love the dogs of introspective nature elsewhere and let the social doggies and people have the pleasure of the park….and the suggestion about the tennis ball being too small was a good one. Can you get those hard rubber ones with the little nipples all over?
    My boy spends hours rolling his around his mouth and its his favourite reward. Your girl might like one pof those.

    Oh, and before I forget, Now,a good many years forward, we have Neos that are healthy, athletic and agile thanks to a scrupulous breeder who has worked for 20 years to bring the mighty Dog of War back to what he is supposed to look like with the temperament of gentle giant at home with the kids and and defender and protector when any member of his family is under threat….and she has trophies from Butch Chappel for having bred the only working Neo known.

    And…if you lived with Neos…you would have had to put up with their very loud snoring too…soooo, I think that your claim to have worked with Neos comes under “advertising”.
    Being “good enough on your own” tell us more about our dogs and how we can fun-train them and less about your achievements on this blog, Minette. Personally, I’d like to hear more from Chet.


    Minette Reply:

    My trophy is GORGEOUS and I worked very hard for it 🙂 and I am proud of it! You are right it is just another form of a resume and each win adds to my resume.

    My dog got a big piece of steak as her reward for a job well done and winning me some hardware.

    I take my dog to the park to play with her and to train her around other dogs as I mentioned.

    I am not going to argue with you. I think that is what you want, but it is hard to understand your tone.

    I am going to continue to post my accomplishments so that people can see my working resume and I will continue to write articles and use my tongue in cheek writing style and also continue to train with a variety of breeds in a variety of aspects.

    My dog dutchie is small and a tennis ball is safe for her, if I had a bigger dog I would use a bigger ball for sure!

    I am not going to post pictures of every dog I have worked with over the past 20 years, that is silly.

    And, I will continue to run with my dogs and trial them and frequent dog parks as they are for the community 🙂 and we are doing nothing wrong, just quietly training in the corner and learning to ignore distractions.


  65. ladyrob says:

    Glad your trophy is gorgeous and is an indication of your expertise and even more glad that you dog got a big piece of steak! Might have been nice if she got a lovely medal to hang around her neck to show people what a good dog she is but a steak would have meant more to her.
    I do not want to argue with you Minette, was making a valid point about what you wrote and about the comments others made most of which I agree with.
    Its hard to understand ‘tone’ by email but I think I have put my opinion across. Training in a park so it clears out others must be inconsiderate on some level…you were the one who made the initial statement that got people upset, I was just commenting.
    I didn’t ask you to post pics 20 years worth of all your dog training. I am not being silly, Minette.Twice now you have suggested I was being silly…and its not about who is silly or not but about being considerate.
    I was with my 10mth Neapolitan Mastiff drying in the sun after a swim in a dog park and he was on lead and sitting quietly with me. Along sprinted a runner with two black dogs off lead running with her. her two dogs tried to engage my big pup in a fight. Fortunately he is not dog aggressive and did not respond. I knew I could rely on him to behave even in the presence of more assertive people who have little regard for others’ using the park. Training, running, swimming, socialising dogs in a park need to be governed by consideration on the part of everyone, not excluding trainers.
    About my asking for pics – I would, however have been very interested in seeing your successes with Neos…if indeed, as you stated on this blog you’d worked with “many” of those enormous,stubborn hulks at some point in your 20 years experience training dogs.
    20 years a trainer? You look really youthful in your profile pic you must have started at a very young age.
    Anyway, as long as your persuits do not interfere with other people’s and their dogs’ enjoyment at the dog park to the extent that (tongue in cheek) you clear out the park…which was the point of this discussion, I guess this run of comments has given your readers some insight.


    Minette Reply:

    I am very youthful thank you!!!

    We have great genetics in my family!


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