Top 9 Things Your Dog Trainer Would Like You to Know

Thanks Guerroink for the photo

As a dog trainer I spend a lot of time working with dogs and clients.  Some of it is great and some of it is frustrating.  Thank goodness I love doing what I do.  But if you are going to employ someone to train your dog (first be very careful who you employ for more on that click here) read this to understand what your dog trainer wants you to know.

9. Many of Your Dog’s Problems Are Caused by You

I know that many people don’t mean to cause problems, but dog owners spend so much time spoiling their dogs and almost worshiping them without making them do any dog obedience.

Obedience and making your dog listen is crucial to a good relationship.

Sometimes we inadvertently encourage bad behaviors.

AND, your current relationship is probably going to have to change for a while until you get your dog’s behaviors in control (this is mostly why I mention this).

I may tell you to keep your dog off of your furniture, out of your bed or on a leash for a period of time, you need to be open to making some changes to reap the rewards of your dog’s good behaviors.

Your dog will not make these hard changes by himself and things need to change for you to see change.

8. Your Training Collars Are Making Your Problems Worse

Thanks train humane for the Photo

Thanks train humane for the Photo

Not every training collar is for every dog; and that prong collar, choke chain, or shock collar may be making your dog’s problems worse.

Even gentle leaders and no pull  harnesses can be misused or cause damage to dogs.

Let us help you make the correct decision by seeing you and your dog and making the choice based on your behavior together.  All dogs are different and by seeing your dog I can see how confident he is and what kind of training he needs to make him thrive.

And, remember that all training collars are short term (if you even use them) and you should wean yourself from them.

A well trained dog can be controlled on a loose leash and a buckle collar.

7. Your Dog is Not as Well Trained as You Think He is

Many dog owners think that attending one puppy class or dog obedience class has made their dog a well-trained companion, no matter how long ago they attended the class.

Dog training is a continuous process; it is not something those of us with advanced training do once for 8 weeks and then stop.

Your dog training needs to be maintained and worked on every day!

Chances are if you are having big problems, your dog is not as well-trained as you think he is…

6. Your Dog is Not Getting Enough Exercise

Along with not getting enough training/mental stimulation, your dog is also not getting enough exercise.

Exercise is crucial to good mental health and physical health, but what people don’t realize is that it is also crucial for good behavior.

Dogs are athletes!

A simple walk for a few blocks or even a mile is not enough for your dog (even little dogs or puppies).

Your dog needs serious running and playing and structured exercise and when he does not get it he acts out in your home.   For more on what I mean by exercise click here.

We can tell when your dog is anxious, hyper, acting out and wound up that you are not giving him enough exercise!

5. We Can Tell You Are NOT Doing Your Homework

Thanks Flow Casting Book for the Photo

Thanks Flow Casting Book for the Photo

I can tell immediately when you are not doing your homework.  It is obvious.

When I can make a change in your dog’s behavior in a few seconds, but he has not improved at all since last week when I came over; it is obvious that you are not working together every day.

I understand that life gets busy and it is hard to find time to make your dog a priority; but in order to make your relationship work you need to place your dog above some of the other things in your life.

Get up early, stay up a little later, skip “The Bachelor” or whatever your favorite TV show is and actually spend some time working with your dog.

If you work with your dog 3-5 times a day for two weeks I guarantee you will see a difference in your dog’s behavior and your relationship.

4. I Do Not Have a Magic Wand

I do not have a magic wand, I cannot magically make your dog’s behavior better.

My job is to help you see how intelligent your dog is by working him when I am there and then by putting you on the right path of behavior modification.

BUT, dog training takes WORK and TIME and ENERGY.

I don’t live with you, I can’t change your dog for you.

Your dog and your relationship with him and his behavior is a direct reflection on the amount of time and energy you are devoting to his behavior.

Again you need to make him a priority in your life, no one can “fix” him for you.

Beware of dog trainers who offer boarding and training for more on that click here

3. Stop Listening to Everyone Else

Stop asking for advice from and listening to everyone else!

The internet is also not always your friend.  I can find a “pro or anti” training article for just about anything, and remember your dog is an individual!

The guy who works at PetsMart or your neighbor’s girlfriend doesn’t have the 20+ years of experience that I have.

A prong collar or a harness may have worked “great” for her but it may not only injure your dog it might also make your problems worse or lead to aggressive behaviors.

You pay me for my opinion and experience so please listen to me, and if things aren’t going well let’s discuss why and come up with another plan.

For information on finding the right trainer click here.

2. We Cannot “Cure” Aggression

Thanks Getty Images for the Photo

Thanks Getty Images for the Photo

I cannot cure your dog’s aggression.

This goes back to my magic wand, that I don’t have but wish I did!

I can’t cure your dog’s aggression.  I don’t believe in curing aggression, I believe with aggressive dogs you always have to be careful to control their environment and take steps to watch and keep aggression from happening.

Those TV shows that makes the aggressive dog look like he loves everyone after a few sessions with a famous trainer are not real.  Many times these clients continue to have problems or their problems become worse after these shows and the owners are ashamed to ask for help because they are blamed for their dog’s behavior.

I can teach you how to control your dog and I can teach you how to stop the outward signs of aggression through behavior modification and positive reinforcement, but I cannot promise you that you will never see it again if you are not diligent.

#1. I Don’t Have a Crystal Ball

All of my clients want to know what their dog is going to be like in a year, 5 years, etc. but I can’t see into the future and don’t have a crystal ball.

There are so many variables in dog training, whether you are doing your homework, whether he is getting enough exercise, whether you continue to train with him 3-5 times a day after I leave, whether you enforce commands, and what kind of training techniques you have adopted that go into how a dog develops.

I can’t see into the future, nor can I control your dog or you.

I tend to be pessimistic when I deal with aggression, because too often I have seen owners do some work and then think their dog is cured to only have it revert back to it’s old behavior and actually do more damage biting someone because the owner thought the dog wasn’t aggressive anymore.

Aggression is something that needs to be monitored and avoided for the lifetime of the dog.

I wish that everyone stuck to their programs, but they don’t.

Like anything in life you get out of dog ownership what you are willing to put into it!


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  1. Veronica McKeown says:


    I enjoy your dog care tips very very much. I wish you lived in Australia, I would love to attend some of your programmes very much.


  2. Bob says:

    My son has a wired hair fox terrier he still poops and pee in the house. He is 5yrs old. Can you give us some tips on how to stop this?


    Jeanne Reply:

    crate training is perfect for this. I know some people think it is unkind. It is not. I would just say to try it. You will be surprised how well it works.


  3. Therese Fryksdale says:

    I own 2dogs, boyh are young, but not puppies. I am looking for suggestions about how to “train” both dogs at the same time. Any suggestions?


    Minette Reply:

    Read this and I think it will explain a lot


  4. Kate says:

    Hi Minette,
    I’m currently in the process of training my almost-two year old German Shepherd to become a well-behaved house pet. I love reading your articles and I was wondering:are there any other commands I should be working on with him? So far he knows and can reliably sit, down, pretty good at stay – still working on it – and he is very reliable on the come and “watch me” commands. Anything else I could be doing?
    Thank you!!


  5. Mike MacDonald says:

    You are so right about not curing aggression but controlling it.
    My seven-year-old Airedale Terrier is very well trained but still shows signs of aggression towards other dogs, never humans.
    I am able to divert her attention when I see the signs and can stop a fight with a simple command.
    It is not with all dogs, and she readily plays with most…it is new dog she meets and immediately establishes her ground, basically by doing nothing but standing there. It is then that I watch carefully for the signs and can break whatever process she is going through and avoid an incident.
    Her standing very erect and not interested in sniffing is a sure sign of trouble.
    Always look forward to your emails.


    Pamela Frame Reply:

    It is very true that you need to spend time with your dog everyday training, exercising and establishing the ground rules from the beginning. I spent about 2-3 weeks when I got my 3 1/2 mo old Dobe puppy house breaking(which only took 2 weeks) , to basic commands, leash training, obedience training. She was awesome and knew what was expected of her and she wanted to please me. Keys are consistency, establishing boundries, becoming the alpha(someone in the pack has to be and if its not you it will be your dog). She is already off leash and a it is a pleasure when you and your dog can both enjoy quality time together. Hopefully your dog will be around for a while so why not put the time in it deserves. You both will be much happier for it!


  6. Doris Stoks says:

    i was housebound due to health issues when i got my puppy. She will be 2 years old July 5 and has separation anxiety. i think because i was with her 24/7 for over a year. i cannot leave the house without someone staying with her. My neighbor walks her when weather permits as i cannot do that. i have tried to take her a few yards on a pathway to the mailboxes but she strains and pulls so hard on the leash, i’m afraid of falling and I am still getting over a broken back. I can’t attend training classes and cannot afford a private trainer to come to the house.
    Any suggestions or help you can give me will certainly be appreciated. She also steals things she shouldn’t have – any paper, cardboard, socks – and she’s even chewed a pencil apart.
    Right now, i am ignoring her as she got a top of a mini pen and i can’t find it. I am 80 years old and i cana’t handle a lot of this as she is on the hyper side sstill doing a lot of puppy stuff.
    She is half yorkie and half maltese called a morkie – she barks when someone comes, but can’t wait until the get in the house as she loves all people and most other dogs. She even lets the dogs play with her toys or eat her food. The only good thing is she stays at the doorway when someone leaves.


    Minette Reply:

    Dog training and dogs are an investment. I personally would go without a few things than have a dog that isn’t happy and doesn’t listen.

    I can’t see you or your abilities to put you on the right course. But you can hire someone to come out and work with you both.

    Just like different people have different abilities when it comes to working out, so do you when it comes to working your dog out and you might be able to find someone to do it probono or at a reduced rate if you ask.


    julie roberts Reply:

    I have the same problem. My disabilities prevent me from being as consistent with my dogs, and I became discouraged with their behavior. However, I discovered that when I continued to do the best I could with training them, even though it is taking much longer than it ordinarily would, they are eventually learning. One who is now two years old is turning out to be quite a well behaved little dog. That gives me hope that the other one, who is only one year old, will eventually learn, as well. I wish I knew someone who could take them outside for training recall, and off-leash.

    I wish I had gotten one fully trained before I got the other one, however, I felt that the first dog needed someone to play with, and exercise with, besides me, because I am disabled.


  7. sue kelton says:

    After the mail man had me to sign the paper to get the mail, mymedium sized dog nipped her on leg, as I was trying to get the dog back the mail man wanted the letter signed then the mail man stepped away, it happened so fast but yet scary for me.I think what I could have done to have prevented this.


    Minette Reply:

    leash, leash, leash!!! don’t open that door without a leash and teach your dog manners like to sit or lay down on command so there is less of a chance of chasing and biting.


  8. Doreen Braverman says:

    I really appreciate your articles.

    I love my fox terrier and she loves me. Her bad habits are: barking at the postman and the paperboy. You know that terriers have loud barks. Our neighbours can hear her! I have tried many ways to stop her: repeating NO BARK, squirting her with water, offering her treats when she stops – but nothing works.

    I walk her three times a day. She goes crazy over skateboards, bikes on the sidewalk (not the road), squirrels, small fluffy white dogs, and little birds (not crows – there are too many of them in our neighbourhood.)

    Any suggestions to stop her barking? Miss Daisy is 5 years old.


    Doreen Braverman


    Minette Reply:

    Read this

    and I would work on getting her eye contact and focus on command so she isn’t looking at things you don’t want her to. We have a whole program that revolves around this and more advanced obedience if you are interested contact customer service at to find out when it will start again.


  9. medina says:

    My Rottie is 2yrs. He listen except when we come home from the
    park. He will stay in the car up to 2-3hrs. Before I have to push
    him out. It is had he weighs 145,


    Minette Reply:

    Start feeding him AFTER your walk.

    I had Rotties and I know they like to eat and if he only gets fed if he comes out of the car… he will learn to get right out of the car 😉


  10. When the doorbell rings my Corgie gets excited and is very difficult to grab his collar so that I can answer the door. I have to have him on the leash to be outside. Your training on having someone else ring the doorbell to hold him in training can’t be done in our home. Any other suggestions. Also, he tries to bite my hand when he wants to play and if I hide them or turn my back, he barks. I ignore him but it doesn’t stop him from the next time. Is there another way????


    Minette Reply:

    Get a doorbell hook it up inside your home so you can sit on the sofa or in the chair and ring the bell, this way you can ring the bell and be inside training.


  11. Brit says:

    Just adopted a 12 year old beagle who had severe dental surgery 2 days before I brought him home from shelter. Realized he was in severe pain. He constantly howls in the house. Realized they didn’t give me strong enough drugs so Called surgeon and he is now on painkillers. He is ignoring all of us even cat. But tried to attack big black dog when we went on a short potty walk (see the heighborhood. Begin to learn leash walking.). Am I starting his training too early because of his medical condition?


    Minette Reply:

    It is never too early


  12. Patricia Tamman says:

    Oh my! That told me!!
    Some of the things you mentioned I sat and preened! But 50% of them I pointed my finger right back at me, because I have a B.C. and they really need to have challenging things to do, and a job.
    I need to try and print this out and put it on the fridge!


  13. Reita Ash says:

    I am so fortunate that i have a perfect (haha) baby i got at the shelter when she was about 6 months old. It didnt take her long to train me (a few days)and then when my vet was laughing at how well she has me trained on our first trip to him, I began to question my methods. I cooked for her and if she didnt want that, i cooked her something else. She mostly eats dog food now. She was my first and only furry baby so I did a lot wrong but kind of did a few things that must have been not so bad as she really is wonderful. First I put her on a leash all day and kept her within my sight and attached at my hip. When she started looking like she wanted to find a place to potty I took her outside and repeated “outside” to her as I grabbed her up and took her out. When she did her business I always rewarded her with praise and at first a little treat. After a while I discontinued the treats. She was completely house trained within less than 2 weeks. I nearly croaked the first time she gave a little ruff to go out to potty. Thereafter the only time she had an accident was when she was left alone for more than a couple of hours in the bathroom. Once she unrolled an entire roll of toilet paper. She is almost never alone as I waited til i retired to get her so that she would not be alone. My son and daughter and i share a house and have different hours so there is always someone at home. She does get a little anxious when i leave the house for more than an hour or 2 and will not eat until i get home. I make it a point now to get out without her a little more and have either my son or daughter to take her to the park or just a little car ride almost every day. Even so she still comes searching the house as soon as she gets in the door to find me. If I am sick in bed she will not leave my side except to go potty. I feel very fortunate to have found this website a few years ago and Chet Womack’s hands off training course. I have not been really faithful with all training of her but the important things I have been pretty good with. It is very hard to be strict with YOURSELF when you you love your baby so much but it is very important. MY baby is now 10 but we still have little training sessions daily and she just loves learning new tricks and is quite a performer. I admit that I have not used the clicker faithfully because she does listen really well and really loves to please. She is also very treat oriented. She loves the dehydrated duck and chicken and would probably kill for them. I probably just got really lucky and got the most lovable, gentle dog in the world. She has a stubborn streak, common to the Dandi-Dinmont Terriers, so I have read, but we work on that a lot with the obedience training still. You really do have to stay on top of it and practice with your babies on a regular basis. I dont think they forget so much as they will push the limits just like a child. I can only speak from my very limited experience with dogs but I think mine is much happier when I spend more time with her training and practicing what she already knows. Children are happier if they have a structured environment and so are pets. At least this has been and is true with my children and pets.


  14. It all sounds to good to be true, I have never trained a dog before and we have an 8 week old mini foxie X Chihuahua : mum was mini foxie X Chihuahua dad was mini foxie X mini collie . When she arrived home she was toileting on the paper mats , I don’t know what I’ve done wrong but now she goes where she wants but I’m thinking at 8 weeks old it’s just a matter of consistency I surely hope so maybe start training to go out in the yard here’s hoping


  15. Karen Seeley says:

    IHave a2yr. old Minnie Aussie and we worked hard from 6mo-1yr. Now that she’s turned2 it’s like she forgot ALL
    her training.Is this possible?Or is she just testing me like a terrible 2 does?We are together24/7,even in car!


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