Rules of Engagement or My Rules for Dog Training that is…

Thanks to Dog Training Show for the German Shepherd Photo

I always have rules, even if I don’t have rules that is the rule.

Okay, that doesn’t make sense ha ha but I often get questions about what one person should or shouldn’t do with their dog.

And, the answer can be sincerely different dependent on the dog and the person and the situation.

I have different rules for each dog. And if you’d like to see how I’d do that, I made these videos.

I know that sounds bad, but I base rule on the dog’s temperament, personality, and age and the privileges they have earned.

For Instance

If you have possession issues and you don’t like to share with me, you will never find yourself sitting on my sofa, chair, or in my bed.

You will probably also have to eat alone in your crate.

But if you don’t have possession issues, and you listen to my commands and want to please me, then chances are I will allow you to get on the sofa.

If you begin to challenge me or not listen you will lose that privilege.

But I have specific rules of what I expect from all of my dogs.

And, I know that my rules will be different from your rules; but the important thing is that you set some rules.  Dogs thrive on structure and knowing what to expect! 

For example

I had a client ask me today; my dog wants to sniff while we walk; how can I let him be a dog but not allow him to pull me on walks.

This is a great, GREAT question!pull

I want my dogs to be DOGS but I also don’t want to need shoulder surgery while they pull me from one bush to another.

So where is that happy medium?

This is where you have to establish rules of engagement or rules of dog training.

My rules?

You can be a dog when I tell you that you can, and that means you can sniff if you’d like.

But, you have to adhere to obedience the moment I give you a command (say I see a skateboarder coming).

And, you are NOT allowed to pull me NO MATTER WHAT!!

Sometimes I work on structured obedience while I walk or hike and sometimes I don’t, it depends on the day and if I have upcoming trials etc.

In the Beginning

puppy training, labrador training

Cute Lab Puppy

Of course you need to start at home teaching your dog manners and obedience commands.

Remember that it is more difficult for your dog to learn away from home.

If you need help with leash manners click here.

I walk to a park or somewhere that I can let my dog sniff a bit.

I require obedience and manners on the way to the park, and then I allow my dog to sniff at the park, and we do obedience on the way home.

By starting out with obedience you are better setting your dog’s mindset and his ability to be successful.  You start out with work, reward with a little sniffing, then end with some obedience.

If you can’t get obedience all the way to the park, then your dog is not ready for the reward of sniffing while he is there!

What if he Pulls

puppy training, pitbull training

Pitbull puppy

By now, you have obviously been working on obedience and he knows some manners.

So he should know a command for no, or ehh, or stop when you want him to end a behavior.

When my dog begins to pull, I say “ehh” and I turn the other direction (so he doesn’t get the reward of sniffing whatever he wants.)

Most dogs will learn not to pull while they sniff, but it is an art to be able to follow your nose and still be obedient so be patient.

If, however, he won’t listen to you once his nose goes to ground then it is time to turn around and go home.

Sometimes the worst punishment is having to go home and not getting what you want.

If you allow the pulling and the sniffing you are rewarding that behavior, however if you go home (quickly)… this loss of privilege.

Think of it from a child’s perspective you want to go for a walk but your 5 year old wants to stop in the park, you don’t have time (whatever the reason) so she throws herself down and has a tantrum.

If you go to the park you are rewarding the tantrum.  If you continue on and let her scream and cry you are also rewarding the behavior.

But if you turn around and go home and stop all the fun, you have made a statement about what you will and won’t tolerate.

Next time, she will be much less likely to tantrum.

I Know The Rules Before I Leave

I always know what I will and what I won’t put up with when I leave the house.

Like with my children, I don’t threaten with something I am not willing to do.

If I spent 250 on concert tickets, I am probably not going to “not go” because of something one of the kids does, so I wouldn’t threaten that.

If you are say training for a marathon and you absolutely can’t turn around and go home but you think your dog is going to pull, maybe running solo is a better choice at least for a while!

Dogs should be treated the same way.  Know in your mind what you want the scenario to look like, and if your dog wants something different then you know you need a different strategy.

puppy training, boxer training

When Trained Correctly Even a Child Should be Able to Walk Your Dog!

Some Times it’s All About Training

Sometimes you just need more obedience training before you can take leisurely walks.

Obedience is something that needs to be structured and worked on daily to see changes!








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  1. Mark Bradley says:

    I am working on training my dog and got an e-collar more so for the positive rewards. It beeps when he does a good deed. He is afraid of the beep and will even refuse the reward of food with the beep on the lowest setting. What do I do from here?


    Minette Reply:

    e collars aren’t positive, not the sound (which is made to be shrill for dogs) and not the buzz (unless your dog is deaf)… all of it is made to be corrective!

    Try using positive reinforcement and not an e collar.


  2. John D says:

    You talked about Potty Training. I have a 3.5 year old Border Collie mix. Although he goes to the bathroom outside, every so often he will pea in my daughters room or one other spot in our house. We walk him a mile and a half in morning again at night , he plays in the park , does his business , but still occasionally will pick two or three spots to pea in the house, just out of the blue, . What am i doing wrong?


    Minette Reply:

    My guess is he is marking,


  3. Jeannie says:

    I have dogs that I trust to hike with me off leash. What they stop to sniff is their business. We have a large fenced property, and when the dogs are in the yard, again, it’s up to them. When a dog is on leash it’s up to me, period, and they all understand that. It isn’t really hard to communicate that. It does help to walk fast (or run), to walk with another dog who gets the rules, but mostly it just requires that you believe that a leashed dog is automatically under your control. Because they are.


    Jules Reply:

    I totally agree with Jeannie! I have an 8 month old Groenendael Belgium Shepherd. We walk to the woods or the park and he has to listen and can’t pull me to sniff, then in the woods or park he is let off the leash and can sniff all he wants but he still keeps close to me. If he gets too far away I just call him back and he gets a reward or attention for listening. He never wanders off. Then on the way back he has to walk with a slack line and listen again. If he pulls on the way there (because he wants to get to the park) or on the way home (because he knows breakfast follows a half hour after we get back), I stand still and only continue to walk if he comes back next to me and looks up into my eyes. I’ve been doing this since he was a small puppy and my partner uses the same method so not to confuse. It’s all about being consequent, and letting the dog know you are happy for good work. If he has been following to heel for a long while and looking at me, I praise him with a high excited voice and you should see how he prances next to me as if he’s the best thing since sliced bread! He kind of walks as if he’s a horse doing dressage! Very cute!


  4. Phyllis says:

    my 18 month old dog will come for treats inside but will not if there is not a treat and will not come at all if we are outside. What do I do?


    Minette Reply:

    read this


  5. Mark Bradley says:

    I asked about the e training collar. What is so different from a slight ding as versus a clicker to show reward or praise. My dog is also afraid of the clicker. To me the ding is just a strong, actually it is much quieter than any of the clickers that I tried.

    As I recall most of this is based on Pavlov’s operand (spelling there) training with the salivating dogs.

    Is the clicker not a part of dog whisper training or am I missing something?



    Minette Reply:

    they make the beep on the shock collars to be shrill so that the dog also has an adverse reaction to the noise.which is paired with the shock. The collar is also right by your dog’s ears so there is no real way to make it quieter.

    It is like the “ultra sonic” or noise bark collars or bark eliminators, the sound is suppose to be adverse to keep the behavior from happening.

    The clicker has a low tone and just a click. For the clicker you can put it in your pocket and change the loudness of it or wrap it in a towel, or even use the head of a pen. You can also click from a distance.


  6. Kaz says:

    Hi, I have a 10 month old GSD lad, I am working hard with him, he is my 3rd GSD, but he has started lunging at me and attention seeking. He becomes a complete pain for about an hour 6.30 – 7.30 at night. Usually if I sit down, and need to do something. I do get a toy, or do some scent work with him, but when he is being a pain, it always ends up, him on the lead, to be put in his bedroom, there is no way he will go on my command. Help, any ideas please?



    Minette Reply:

    Get him out and play a long game of fetch with him at 530 or take him for a several mile walk at about the same time.

    He needs exercise and he is trying to tell you that!! He is a 10 month old baby and his needs are growing, you need to meet that with physical exercise or training! or both!


  7. Debi London says:

    I am getting VERY frustrated with my 35# Australian cattle dog mix. She is VERY Strong, she lunges after squirrels, lizards, cats, sometimes cars, motorcycles are A HUGE problem, and some trucks. She could care less about a bicyclist or a lawnmower though, go figure. I got her from the streets of Texas when she was about a year old.
    I have been trying for 6 months! We’ve been doing a LOT of training – with and w/o treats, with and w/o clicker, with the training collar and w/o, I even tried the harness – no good. Sometimes it talks me a half hour just to get to the end of my street cuz we keep turning around everytime she pulls…I feel like an idiot walking down the street going “eh eh” all the time.


  8. Ihave a dog, her name is Bella she is 3 years old,she is part terrier,i rescued her at 6 mos. old her previous owner was abusive with her,she is so dedicated to me,she does not like people, especially if they come near me,she growles at them,and i fear she will bite someone if i dont stop her,please help me to break her of this bad habbit,if someone comes to my house i have to put her in the room after they are in than i can let her out,she than goes near them and smells them,eventually she warms up to them,but i tell them just put your hand down, she than allows them to touch her,but when they go to leave i have to restrain her. PLEASE HELP.Thank you Frank


    Minette Reply:

    contact customer service at

    our aggression program is starting on the 23rd


  9. Mary Kay Yancey says:

    I rescued a Shiba Inu three months ago. Immediately I established a routine.
    We live in an apartment building, so it is a walk to the exit. On that short walk, I allow just enough leash for him to walk by my side.
    When we get to the first exit door, he sits, waits for the “come in”. When we get to the final door, he sits and waits for the “come out” command. Then I let him lead me in the Pet Area with the length of the full leash. As we approach different path ways, I again let him lead me where he wants to go, until his business is done,
    This works well. The does his sniffing, choosing, and gives him freedom to not feel controlled outside.
    I feel giving him the ability to keep his nose and mind working, being in the lead, keeps his mind stimulated without focusing on signals I’m giving from the leash. It’s now time for me to shorten the leash, and be back in walk mode. Then I take control again as we head for the door, making it clear what our mission was.


  10. Chizuko says:

    Thank you Chet ,I enjoy very much! Chizuko


  11. Chris says:

    I have a 10 month old pure bred husky. He does all of the basic tricks for obedience, but he has a hard time with the pulling. We will go walk, and he’ll pull for the first 15 minutes. I will bring him to a halt until he sits and then we continue. Also, at some point I’d like to walk him or have him outside the house off a leash, and he is not very responsive to come or his name unless it’s a hushed tone. He comes to come in doors most of the time, and positive reinforcement is the only form of training we use. Are we training him properly? Im not sure if there are different methods for the energy and lack of attention span of huskies..


  12. Kim M. Young says:

    My Lab breaks so many rules, but the one that urks us the most, is counter cursing and finding a box of tissues or any paper will do. She eats whatever is finds on the counter and any paper item, she tears it up into a million pieces/ Any successful ideals you have and if they work. I will buy your whole set of trainor videos.


  13. ZClark says:

    I click my tongue click click. you can change volume based on the distance to the dog.


    Minette Reply:

    Still not scientifically as effective! And most clickers are quite loud


  14. Effie Vail says:

    dog 7 mo toy poodle bites jumps on guests will not listen do not take him out side only on leash or he gone will not come back,but we love him he os so smart but do not know how to train him


  15. Renee says:

    I had my shoulder ligament torn because my son’s 7 year old resue pit pull decided to go and greet to unfamiliar dogs. When she started to pull me I slipped in ice and let go of the leash. My son paid for boot camp for her. How do I begin to walk her again. I am still healing and it win’t Be for some time till it heals.


    Minette Reply:

    I would recommend a gentle leader.


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