Farewell To Another Good Dog

A friend and colleague of mine lost his beloved Malinois last week. I asked permission to write about him because his passing hit closer to home than many of the other dogs that have crossed my path in this career.

It was personal because at one time, this dog had belonged to me.

I honestly don’t remember what his name was when he first came to me. I only recall that I’d been through a string of Malinoises over the course of 18 months or so in search of the “perfect” (for me) dog. This young male was the final in a string of dogs that eventually gave way to me getting Tommy, my heart dog.

But for a while, he was mine. When I first acquired him I was frustrated from searching for the right dog. I was hard pressed to even put much effort into naming him, I just wanted to figure out if he would work for the job I intended him for.

But having a name behooves the building of a relationship so I requested input from a group of students that were attending my professional dog trainer program. One of those students happened to be a police officer. He shared the inside joke that when a new kid came on the force he was referred to as the “Funewgy”, an acronym for the New Guy…and yes, you are correct when you guess what the Fu part of the abbreviation stood for. 😉

That story resonated with my appreciation for sarcasm and the name “Newgy” got put into use. It was never intended to stick but it did and he carried that name for the duration of his 15 years.

As the new guy, he got put through the paces. He was learning the basics and being challenged to excel. I worked with him for a few months but ultimately decided he wasn’t the perfect fit. Once again, I was in the situation of having to find the right home for a dog.…

And that is when Matt showed up. A student that also attended my program for trainers. This guy was young, funny, kind, good with dogs, and laidback. Laidback being one quality I didn’t possess that Newgy would benefit from. He needed someone that would give him the outlet and activity that a Malinois needs without the pressure for performance that I would require.

It was a match made in heaven. From time to time Matt would check in with a photo or a quick story. I’m sharing those here because it is important to witness relationships as they should be. Newgy had a good life. A full life with an owner dedicated to fulfilling his needs.

When we fulfill a dog’s needs before our own, we’ve done right by them. My heart is content when I know a dog is with the right person and Matt was Newgy’s right person.

I don’t know if Matt would refer to Newgy as his heart dog, but from the outside looking in, it was self-evident. God speed Newgs.

Hugs to you Matt. Relish what you had and know a part of him is always with you.

Are the Stars aligned for you and your dog?

I’d like you to answer the following question with the FIRST response that comes to mind.

Do you have a stubborn dog?

Over the years, it has been my experience that many people respond with an affirmative, yes. Many times, the yes is accompanied by either a sigh of frustration or a defeated sense of acceptance.

I celebrated my birthday recently and it got me contemplating the mindset we have about personalities that are “stubborn”. A friend of mine wished me a happy birthday and noted we were fellow “rams”… meaning we both fall under the astrological sign of Aries.

Please, don’t stop reading! I promise not to go down a deep rabbit hole about birth signs and their perceived impact on our personalities. However, the perception that the Ram personality type is quite fitting isn’t lost on me.

Some people might describe me as stubborn, aggressive, or obsessive. I know, at times, I can be brash and quite headstrong in getting my way. In fact, as I think this through, I realize that I gravitate toward those same qualities when picking my personal dogs. The old adage: “dogs resemble their owners” rings pretty true, at least in reference to personality!

The good news is, there’s a flip side to the negative connotations that go along with my character traits. If we play with some synonyms, I’d say that persistent, bold, and determined are some of my best assets. I’m certain those traits are keys to the success I’ve had in helping others better understand their dogs and build stronger relationships.

So what if we switched the adjectives we apply to our “Stubborn” dogs to have more positive connotations? How much easier would it be to stay the course in training if we understood our dogs to be persistent in their pursuit of the cat, rather than stubborn in their resolve of not listening? Perhaps our dogs have their own motivations for chasing small animals (or herding the kids, or barking at the intruders in their home, etc) and they aren’t deliberately disobeying you.

What if you began to look at behaviors from your dog’s point of view? Try to be in his head for a few minutes and consider what he was originally breed to do? What might his perception of the world around him be? What motivations does he respond to and what does he tend to tune out?

Now evaluate how much time and effort you’ve honestly put into teaching the dog exactly what acceptable behavior you would prefer to replace the ones you don’t like. Have you taught your dog how to simply observe the cat and let it pass by, rather than stalk and chase it? Have you taught the barking dog how to Be Quiet? Let me point out that standing across the room hysterically yelling “Quiet” is probably just convincing the dog that you are in full support of his behavior and you’re joining in the noisemaking!

I don’t want to draw conclusions for you. After all, only you know how much effort you’ve invested in training and whether or not you’ve really taken time to understand behavior from your dog’s perspective. I do think it is fair to say that most of us draw conclusions about our dog’s behavior based on human perceptions and experience, because, after all, we’re human and it is the experience we are most familiar with! Just be mindful that human perception and experience is not the same as a dog’s.

So perhaps your dog isn’t so “stubborn” after all.

Perhaps they are determined, persistent, or feisty because prior to us acquiring them to fill our own needs for emotional support and companionship, they actually had a purpose. Perhaps that purpose is part of who they are. Perhaps those character traits are built into their DNA. You can either decide to fight against those traits or change synonyms and start channeling natural behaviors in a direction that will bring you both satisfaction.

….or you can start subscribing to your dog’s horoscope and hope things turn out for the best! 😉

E-Collars for Dog Training: In the Spirit of Valentines Day

E-Collars for Dog Training


Using e-collars for dog training is often a common debate among dog owners and trainers. I have seen a few petitions in the past about banning e-collars and prong collars, a shop owner being targeted at Crofts in a campaign to slander and harass his company for even selling such tools. I saw a petition to not allow dogs wearing certain tools such as e-collars, be allowed at a dog event in a public park in Indiana. I read a piece written by a YouTube dog trainer lambasting “shock collar trainers” (his words) and calling one individual by name saying he  “deserves to be corrected very publicly.”

Is it just me or does it strike anyone else as ironic that some of the self proclaimed all positive types have so much venom in them? Their own professed ideology doesn’t seem to hold up when it comes to interacting with human beings.

I mean if you really, truly, in your heart of hearts believe that the MOST effective way to modify behavior is to reward what you want and ignore what you don’t want than how come that latitude is not extended to your own species?

After a bit of surfing I scratched my head, took a deep sigh and then proceeded with my usual course of action when I’m disgusted by the lack of common decency that is so often present on the internet. I clicked off the computer and went out to work with the dogs and our clients who love them.

That is when reality set back in. The internet is just a whole lot of noise. My life is about the dogs and their people. About trying to create a relationship that works. It is what I will continue to focus on. I don’t care what tool any person or trainer chooses.

I care HOW a tool is used and I care that ultimately we are helping dogs stay in their forever home and strengthening the bond between owner and their companion animal.

I am going to continue to chose a loving approach to my dealings with my clients, their dogs, my fellow trainers and even those of you who hate me.

Yes, I get your e-mails and your You tube comments that call me all sorts of ugly names.  I’ll continue to respond by inviting you here to my facility to see things for yourself. And you can continue to ignore those invitations. You can continue the war, for apparently you get some sort of reward from the feud itself. Not me my friend, the fight isn’t worth it. My rewards are far, far greater. Here are just a few of them from this week:

shock collar for dogs

remote dog collar

dog training collar

shock collars
Lincoln & Sawyer

remote collar dog training

Everything was summed up pretty darn clear early yesterday morning when I was out shoveling the parking area and one of our clients arrived to drop off his dog for our Day School program. We exchanged a few words of greeting and he said “this is so amazing, I love my dog now. We were both so stressed before, now we can actually enjoy each other.”

I don’t care how you travel that path folks. As long as you get their humanely. If that kind of dialogue is the outcome, then we are all playing for the same team.

Happy Valentines Day.


*Updated 2/1/2016

Professional E-Collar Dog Training Classes

Professional E-Collar Dog Training Classes: Education and Implementation

Angie Scharpf is a fellow trainer who attended our That’s My Dog! E-cademy Professional E- Collar Training Classes created specifically for dog trainers.

Angie signed up for our professional E-collar training several years ago and has been successfully implementing e-collar training into her dog obedience programs ever since. We chatted recently and she was telling me of a compliment she received from a client so I asked her if we could share the story here on my blog.

Professional E-collar training done right provides that ability to maintain control because tactile cues gain attention reliably even when the surrounding environment jumps into full throttle energy. And that gives everyone more peace of mind.These words seemed like the perfect short and sweet summary of why e-collar training is so popular among pet owners and trainers.This also proves to me the importance of offering professional E-Collar training classes to dog trainers around the world, emphasizing proper education and implementation.

“I have done obedience training with my 115-pound puppy before, but as soon as we were faced with any distractions, it was nearly impossible to get his attention. The ability to adjust the intensity of the e-collar depending upon the distraction level was fantastic and made us feel like we had options when things got chaotic! The ability for Alvie to understand what we want from him makes our relationship with him so much better. We love our puppy more than anything, and are so happy to be able to communicate with him effectively : Thank you.”

-Rebecca Dirks

If you are interested in chatting with Angie about training for your dog contact her at Pack Leaders Dog Training in Marion, Iowa. Angie is one of the many talented e-collar experts listed on our referral page. Angie has attended and graduated our E-Cademy Professional E-Collar Training Classes and now shares her expertise with clients in Iowa.
To learn more about finding an E-Collar trainer click here and you can find an E-Cademy Graduate near you here!

*Updated 1/31/16

Otis: The highly intelligent Airedale Terrier

An Airedale Terrier can be a handful and Otis is no exception.

But his owner is the one who really causes me to smile. Charlie is a retiree taking his young charge through my current class to learn a few manners. He’s doing the work and making good progress, but he’s also a guy who’s got enough years under his belt to understand not to sweat the small stuff. His wry sense of humor keeps me guessing what he might say next.

There are eight dog handler teams in my current basic obedience class. We have a Lab, a Golden, a Yorkie, a GSD, a GSP, a Pit mix, a Rottie and the Airedale Terrier. It is a fantastic group and a great mix of personalities.

The course teaches some basic manners like loose lead walking, sit-stay, down-stay and place behaviors. I teach Place to mean “go onto your bed or mat and stay there until you have permission to get up.”

For all of these active breeds, including the Airedale Terrier, the behavior is extremely useful around the house for teaching the dogs to chill out in one spot for a while. It is a great option rather than having to crate the dog when you want a little down time.

It is also valuable for use outside the house. It is nice to be able to go to the park and ask the dog to place on a bench or boulder for a moment if you want to be able to step back and take a photograph. Or it is great to drop a towel in the back of the car and have the dog place on it so they aren’t constantly moving to and fro causing a distraction to the driver.

But in order for the dog to generalize the concept of place from the dog bed or mat to other locations we have to go through the practice time of teaching other possible items.

This was the challenge I gave to my group class last week. “Go out and find one unique or new object and teach your dog to place on it.” I figured it makes the work more interesting as we add some challenges to the training course and it is great for the dogs because it actually builds self confidence to move up and onto weird or unusual objects.

I also told the class I wanted photographic proof they’d taught a new place to their dogs. I got back pictures of dogs on chairs and step stools, old tree stumps and park benches.

But the photo I got back from Charlie made me laugh out loud. It was titled, “Self taught place”

Given the fact that we’ve had mostly negative temps all week here in Iowa Charlie decided that Otis’ new behavior of taking over the couch counted as a new place and he was pretty content with Otis’ initiative of teaching it to himself so he didn’t have to travel outside to learn it!

Plus, he sent me the photographic evidence to prove it.

Leave it to the Airedale Terrier to outsmart me! 😉



Dog Aggression rehab? Commitment is the keyword.

Dog aggression is not a fun topic.

I know some dog trainers probably see it as sort of sexy and seem to take a lot of pride in repeating the phrase “I work with aggressive dogs” There has been a good deal of television culture and drama built around the buzz concepts of dog aggression, dogs that bite, and rehabilitation.

There is nothing sexy or exciting about it, IMO. It is sad. It breaks my heart a little bit each time I have to respond to a client inquiry about a dog that has bit someone.

The reality is, at that point, the dog human relationship is going through major breakdown and the real, day to day work that needs to be done to fix it isn’t all the glamorous.

The process of changing the behavior can be draining and often tedious. I don’t like to sound like a Debbie Downer because most of the time dog aggression CAN be changed. However, I like people to realize up front there is no quick fix.

Changing the behavior of a dog that is having problems with aggression means changing the behavior of the human(s) who live with the dog.

I want to introduce you to Si, a white GSD that some of you may remember seeing on the That’s My Dog! Facebook page back in the fall of 2014 when he came to us to start working on changing his mindset about the world he lived in. This is a picture from his first week in training.

white gsd

Si was under socialized, anxious and reactive to any sudden change in the environment. He had 3 bites in his short history when his owner found us and committed to a training program to try and help him.

I’d like you to focus in on the word committed in the sentence above. That has been the key to the story I’m about to tell. Si’s owner didn’t just commit to spending the money to have someone “fix” his dog aggression. She committed to doing the work and making the changes that would be needed. Without that firm intention being in place, we would have been doomed to fail.

A talented dog trainer can get most dogs to behave perfectly for them, but there is no magic pixy dust we can sprinkle or put in the animals food that will keep the improved behavior in place. The owner must learn to replicate the process and behave in a way similar to the trainer if we are going to succeed. And the commitment must last for the lifetime of the dog.

Si spent a couple weeks with us in a board and train program. The B&T program provides us a clean slate to start new routines without the interference of the dog being in his comfort zone at home where the inappropriate learned behaviors started. It gives the trainer an advantage because the dog is off kilter for the first few days. He doesn’t know the people, doesn’t know the terrain and doesn’t know the daily routine in this new place. That means he’s often a bit more hesitant and doesn’t react as confidently as he would on his home turf. It is the same reason kids are often better behaved at school then they are at home.

So, with an insecure dog who has learned to use his teeth to take care of anything “scary” the first things he learns with us is; if you want to eat, you eat from us, if you want to pee, you pee while out on a leash with us, if you want to walk and play, you play with us. You want an enticing treat, you must tolerate being touched before we will release it. Through successive approximation of closer and closer proximity, we build the dogs trust in humans by not giving the dog an option to do the daily necessities on his own.

Then we layer in obedience. We teach the dog that if: You want to go out the door, you must sit/stay first. You want us toss the ball, you must come when called and sit nearby before we will sling it again. You want to go for a walk, you will walk nicely by our side. Obedience builds the foundation for taking direction from humans.

Next we begin to take the obedience skills and expose them to more pressure in the real world. Pressure is the one thing an anxious dog has never been taught how to cope with. It is pressure when a dog who has never been off the farm, goes into the city.It is pressure when a dog that lacks confidence is approached on the sidewalk by a passer-by. Exposure to the ‘real world’ with the guidance of a calm, stable leader using obedience to communicate how he should respond in the moment actually takes the pressure OFF of the dog for making his own decisions. If I insist the dog sit when someone passes, he can discover that the bogey man in the big winter coat just passed on by, or maybe the bogey man even dropped a juicy tidbit to be enjoyed.

The other thing that obedience can be used for is to build exploratory behavior and confidence. I want an anxious dog to become more comfortable in his surroundings, not by using his vocalizations and teeth to drive everything away, but rather by learning to explore and trust more of the world around him.

Using obedience for “urban agility” is what I’ve found to be one of the best ways to get this task accomplished. Taking an insecure dog and teaching him to sit/walk/down/place and recall, all while going over, under and across obstacles in the world (picnic tables, downed trees, retaining walls, park benches, etc.) brings a dog out of his shell in the same way that teaching a kid to swim, bike and climb trees creates body awareness and confidence in oneself.

This was the essence of Si’s weeks with us at That’s My Dog! Each day was the layering on of just a bit more learning and confidence building. I took these pictures on Si’s first field trip away from the training facility.

si3 si4

You can see how difficult it was to get him to focus on me with the camera. His tight facial expression and his head was on a swivel concerned about any possible new thing or change in the environment. There were days of frustration, for both of us. But we kept at it. Each day, new outings, new experiences and we also used integration with other stable dogs to help expedite his processing.

In a few weeks we felt he was ready to go home. The key would be that his owner now follow through with all the new expectations. Once Si walked back onto his familiar turf, mom needed to make sure that the rules had followed him home and not allow him to fall back into old patterns of behavior. This is the critical stage.

We believe it is only natural for a dog to revert to behavior that was once acceptable. The solution is the human becoming aware and intervening before those patterns emerge again.

Si’s mom did her best not to let that happen and the photo at the beginning of this article is a testament to her commitment. He is so improved and you can see it in his face and expression. This is a dog that is learning to be comfortable in his own skin. A dog that is learning to trust more and react less. It is the visual reminder of why we do the work we do.

We are so proud of both Si and his owner!

It is so important to remember that commitment to change is the biggest factor in resolving dog aggression.


Dog Obedience Matters

Dog Obedience : High Expectations Needed

Dog obedience is important for both the dog and owner to fully understand. I wanted to share video from a recent training class at That’s My Dog!. Well, truth be told, it is more like a fun outing we do with our clients a few times a month rather than an actual class.

We invite our clients to participate in our traveling classes once they have completed the basic introductory course of dog obedience. Our classes are called On The Go! because the goal is to get out and about in the community to help ensure that our pet owners are comfortable fully integrating their dogs into their lives.

It is the skill set of obedience commands we teach that allows this full integration. Once a dog  understands the meaning of words like Heel (which means to remain on my left side whether I’m stationary or walking) or Down, (which means keep your belly to the ground regardless of what exciting things you might want to participate in)…THEN the dog can become a welcome guest in most environments. These simple skills, when truly understood,  enhance the human-dog relationship by providing us a means to communicate in a clear and concise way. It is that kind of communication that allows us to develop a greater partnership with our dogs.

Here are the steps we adhere to.  First, TEACH the dog a behavioral meaning that is attached to a cue. For example, the word Sit means put your rear to the ground and keep it there until further notice. Next, PROOF the meaning of the words so the dog comes to understand commands are not just situational or optional. The words have a purpose and are not something to be ignored just because there are other exciting things distracting the dog’s attention. Once that process is well underway UTILIZE this language and the new skills so that dogs can be welcome members of society and not a nuisance to others around them.

So back to the video…we had a large turn out for our recent On The Go! class.  After a short walk and a bit of practice we made our way to an outdoor cafe for dinner and drinks. Several in our group grabbed a table to socialize and get a bite to eat. They had their dogs politely lay down next to them for the duration of their meal. I got engaged in conversation a few yards away and was pleasantly surprised when I turned around to find several of our group were still practicing with their dogs. 🙂

Such great follow through from everyone in our group! It is that kind of commitment that makes these dogs perfectly welcome canine citizens in the community.

Take a look.

It was also impressive because it demonstrates exactly what is possible for the average dog owner who is willing to do the work.

That level of possibility should be the goal for all pet dog training professionals. So I’ll also pat myself and my staff on the back because we adhere to a philosophy to never sell our clients short.

I think this kind of expectation is being lost in the pet training world. Too many pet dog trainers have watered down the standards for themselves, their clients and what the dogs are capable of.

Fortunately this belief is shared by a number of other individuals and some are beginning to speak out about it.

I recently attended two days of workshop and seminar time with Ian Dunbar, who has long been considered the backbone of lure -reward training. While he and I may not agree on everything regarding dog training, I was nodding my head in full agreement when he expressed dismay at what has been occurring in the pet training world the past 10 years.

He and numerous others I know are frustrated by the lack of standards. It is a shame that there are fewer and fewer trainers who believe it is important to have a higher degree of expectations from their clients and their dogs.

I believe many ‘professional’ trainers need to step it up. Using the excuse of “just give em the minimal of what they want” is selling the future of dog obedience short. The average pet owner doesn’t know what is possible until they have witnessed it. I’ve yet to find watered down versions of anything to be admirable in terms of effort or outcome.


A Hero’s story

We lost a friend today. His name was Hero. A Belgian Malinois of 13 years and 5 weeks. It doesn’t seem like he got to stay with us long enough, but it was enough to turn me into a different person and enough to help two kids grow up.

He came to us on a flight from California in July of 2001. A young pup who’s future I envisioned would be full of all sorts of ‘greatness’, thus his name. He was my first Malinois and I expected he would fill big shoes transforming me from Podunk dog trainer into a name that would be noticed in the industry. Perhaps I should have been more concerned when his shipping had to be delayed because he had Demodex, but I had high aspirations and started right out from 9 weeks old taking him everywhere, including on his first of many family vacations. We even made it to the Leinenkugels lodge by the time he was 12 weeks old. 🙂 That was also a flash moment in time I noticed more than average apprehension about noises and ‘strange stuff’. The fluttering of a ‘buried wire’ flag marker was pretty disconcerting and we made a game of it to help him realize it wasn’t much to be bothered about.

And we continued on and trained and traveled and within his first year he’d been to several workshops and learned to retrieve and started bite work. But those trips were never without some event, some car backfire or other disruption that caused him to quiver or begin to pant. He’d carry on but always with some concern that maybe, just maybe the sky Would fall.

By two years I was a bit beside myself that somehow I had ruined this dog that I had intended for greatness. Why could I not overcome this issue of quivering when ever there was environmental stress?  So I traveled to Long Island New York to a seminar given by Bart Bellon, someone whose work I admired and who probably knew Mals better than most anyone on the planet. On day two of the workshop Hero and I had our turn in front of the audience to discuss my struggles…just as a plane took off from the nearby airport and my Hero turned to jello! Imagine my shame. And after the noise subsided Mr Bellon announced to the audience, ” I observed this woman and her dog training in the parking lot last night and she may think she caused this but she didn’t. The work was sound. This is a Beta dog.” And he looked at me and explained if you want a top dog you must start with a top dog and explained the importance of genetics and how nerve is inherited and then built upon.

And after that both Hero and I were free. I was free to find another ‘demo’ quality dog and free to allow Hero to have the life he was intended to live. The life of family companion, nanny to children and holder of secrets. He could lick away tears of disappointment or send them streaming from laughter. His animal impersonation tricks of Be an Alligator or Be a Kangaroo were party favorites and his gentle demeanor allowed him to accompany my daughter trick or treating when she went as Red Riding Hood and him as the Big Bad Wolf in grandmas cap and nightgown carrying her basket through the entire town and collecting the candy.

He was my go too for teaching young pups the rules of behavior. A playful bow if they were shy and a gentle squish if they needed to be brought down a peg or two. Always fair and always patient. Thunderstorms made him shiver but he could hunt and swallow shrews and other small rodents in a single gulp. He grossed us out with his occasional explosive diarrhea but astonished us with his ability to get even the most dog phobic folks to warm up to him. He taught many foster dogs the ropes and held the tears of children’s burdens as they grew into young adults.

He was a Hero to this family that loved him.

And such is the life of a dog. A simple life that touches so much.

Hero was not a dog of strong nerve. He was a dog of enormous heart and the words that “You don’t always get the dog you want, sometimes you get the dog you need.” could not have rung more true. His heart is what ended up teaching me what I really needed to know about this profession. That it isn’t about greatness, or flash or even fearlessness. It is about perseverance and giving your best and remembering each day to be there with a smile and support for those who need you.

It is about heart, and that was the embodiment of a Malinois named Hero.


From Germany to Singapore, Golden Retriever finds training solution that works.

Another dog owners experience with remote collar training. The following note is from Susanne who recently relocated to Singapore and began training with Jeffery Ong. Jeffery owns K9 World and is a graduate of my program for Professional Dog Trainers, That’s My Dog! E-cademy.

To begin with, I am Susanne and my dog’s name is Buddy. We have started our remote collar training with Jeffery Ong from K9 World in December 2013.

Our story is quite simple. Buddy is a 2 ½ year old Golden Retriever from Germany. Before we came to Singapore in April 2012, we had dog training in a group of 10 other dogs, and that only for two months in high winter season with snow and ice. In Germany, remote collar and prong collars are not allowed by law. So what they teach you there is training your dog with pulling the leash at the right time. I found it very exhausting, especially if you have a dog who is really stubborn and strong, even as a puppy. Still I went out with him 2-3 hours per day, always meeting other dogs on a huge nature reserve area. Buddy had fun.

Coming to Singapore things changed. So did Buddy. We took training lessons where the trainer used the prong collar plus clicker. At the beginning it was quite promising. We continued even with agility, but somehow got stuck after a while. Buddy became negligent towards the prong collar, the clicker and me! My back was getting worse. Recall was also a problem, as it was not really on the agenda of the training. And then, one day I was watching one of my friends dog training sessions with Jeffery. I was surprised and impressed, how fast dogs learn with this tool.

I have read a lot about remote collars and at the beginning I was skeptical. Will it hurt my dog, will I be able to use it properly? But then I saw the progress of my friends dogs and was determined to give it a try.

After almost three months dog training (and that also with some interruptions in between) my opinion on remote collar is very positive. Having tried different other tools and methods in dog training, remote collar is the best tool ever! Why? Because you can give the dog instant feedback of his behavior. You don’t have to raise your voice, you don’t have to pull the leash harshly. Remote collar requires only two things from you, which are right timing and setting the right level. For that you have to know your dog of course, his good habits and his bad. When tapping the nick button at the right time at the right level, it makes your dog paying attention to you, so that he learns to take the right decision. This is something which would have taken me otherwise at least 1 ½ to 2 years with Buddy, and that only with tons of treats, if at all.


remote collar for dog
Buddy in Group Class


Another advantage of remote collar I feel is, that you can give your dog more freedom. Off leash running in designated areas is no more a problem, as you can get his attention any time, also from far distance. I feel safer with the remote in my hand, and that is what Buddy feels, too. Even certain fears which dogs sometimes have, can be kept into limits. Buddy for example is very reactive towards German Shepherds. God knows why…I think they look scary to him and we have three (!) in our neighborhood. Meeting these dogs has always been difficult, as holding Buddy tight with all his 34 kg is a challenge, believe me. Plus I was always tensed, as I knew what would happen again.

With the help of the remote and keeping my dog busy, at least one of these dogs we can pass now from some distance without barking. Once even close by. That was not like this before. What a success! It’ll take some time for him to learn, but the stress we had before remote collar is gone, because I have a tool now, which is really reliable. And that makes me more confident, if it comes to situations like that.

Of course there is still quite a bid of work ahead of Buddy and me, but I do think that remote collar under the surveillance of a good trainer is an excellent  tool to bring the best out of your dog in a relatively short time. My goal is a well behaved dog in near future and maybe we will be able to pass all three Shepherds one day.

If you would like to reach out to Jeffry he is at K9worldsg@gmail.com For other trainers in our community, look here.

Thank you to Susanne for sharing her story and thoughts on remote collar training.

A week at SHOT!

I recently returned from a week in Las Vegas where I was working for Dogtra Company helping out at their booth at the SHOT Show. For those not familiar with this venue the acronym stands for Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show.

The show is billed as the largest and most comprehensive trade show for all professionals involved with the shooting sports, hunting and law enforcement industries. It attracts buyers from all 50 states and more than 100 countries. I heard that attendance was over 55,000 this year. It is a big deal and I’m very grateful for the invitation to help host the booth and talk to prospective buyers about the wonderful line of products Dogtra has to offer.

What I want to share is the amazing experience of spending time visiting with so many great people in the training industry. I finally got to meet Tom Dokken which was of course WAY cool, and I also chatted with one of my personal business hero’s Steve Snell from Gun Dogs Supply. Two super accomplished men in the industry, check out their sites.

Also, a number of canine handlers stopped by the booth to visit. I was able to help one handler in particularly by going over in detail how to train the Out command without creating the conflict that had been occurring with the previous advice he’d been given about electronic training. Rather than just putting an e-collar on the dog and trying to blast them off the sleeve and helper we discussed the systematic approach of TEACHING the dog to out off of alternative objects of lesser value first (tug/KONG, etc) and then upping to the sleeve and offering a back bite as a reward for the out. (be aware; there is more involved in the process but for the sake of brevity, that is the short description)

It was a wonderful opportunity to clear up some of the myths surrounding remote collars and help someone understand how to apply them in a way that would reduce frustration for both the dog and the handler.

remote dog collar
Robin & Chad James

Chatting with Chad James was another highlight. Chad is a man who has been in this industry almost longer than I’ve been alive. What a wealth of information and insight. We both share the common passion of understanding how low level stimulation can be used to teach and create clarity between canine and human.

If everyone could view the use of remote collars the way that we do, the days of the word “Shock collar” might finally come to an end. But there is still much education to be done as I was reminded each time someone stopped at the booth to inquire, albeit jokingly, if they can “get one of those for their spouse, kids, employees, etc” Sadly it is too often the prevalent thought that stimulation be used as a punishment for undesirable behavior. While I can’t deny that punishment works in some circumstances, it is the more effective approach that modern e-collar trainers are taking to help others learn how tactile cuing can be used to redirect a dog’s attention to more appropriate behavior. That of course was part of the discussion Chad and I shared.

Perhaps the greatest high of the week though was that all of us from Dogtra, Sport Dog, Garmin and DT Systems had a bit of time to visit and talk dogs. It was, well, it was fantastic! These are some incredibly kind and generous people who all share the same passion for helping people enjoy a better relationship with their dogs.

remote dog collar
me & Brian from DT Systems

remote dog collar
Clay, Me & Chris from SportDog

It is always impressive to see a group come together with a shared goal of what is in the best interest of dogs and the industry. The fact that major competitors can reach across lines to do so gives me hope that perhaps individual dog trainers can do the same. When we quiet our preconceived notions about one another, learn to ask questions and listen more than we speak the focus is allowed to shift to find common ground.

It is there that the real and larger problems can be addressed. We can make strides to help those thousands of dogs who lose their homes and their lives daily because owners simply don’t have the tools or knowledge to make the relationship work. Whether it is through remote training, lure and reward training, clicker training or any other methodology we do share a common ground of helping dogs and their owners enjoy a better life together. That is a goal worth working together on. The SHOT Show reminded me of that and I’m already looking forward to next year.

As a side note to making a relationship work; my partner, Ron, and I decided 7 years was enough of a relationship test drive and we decided to make our status more official. Thanks to Graceland Wedding Chapel and Elvis for being our witness.

Viva Las Vegas! 🙂