- Behavior Problems
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June 1st, 2012
By Eric Letendre
“Why You Should Never Give Your Dog A Bone,” by Ben Settle
I came across this book yesterday on Amazon.com
When I saw the title I had to check it out.
Then I read the “secrets” it contained and had to order it.
* Why yelling at your dog when she misbehaves actually makes her more likely to misbehave in the future. (Page 142)
* How turning off your cell phone in the summer time can help prevent your dog from getting heat exhaustion. (Page 117)
* Why one of the best times to check your dog’s hearing is when you (or someone in your house) comes down with a cold. Page 57)
And my favorite:
* How to almost completely eliminate your dog’s farting. (Page 35)
Sounds like good stuff and I’ll give you a full review after I read it.
Anyway, I agree that you should NEVER give your dog a certain type of bone.
Would you like to know what kind of bone your dog should never get?
Excellent, the type of bone your dog should never get is…
I never give my dogs cooked bones because they become brittle and can easily splinter as your dog is chomping on it.
I have given my dogs raw bones for years and believe that they are very healthy for dogs.
The best advice about dog nutrition I ever got came from an Australian vet. The vet said we need to look at the diet of the dog’s wild cousins.
Look at what they eat in the wild and it will give us the best advice on how to feed our dogs and keep them healthy.
Dog nutrition became a HUGE concern of mine years ago when I could not help my little sheltie.
Everything we tried either had no effect or backfired and she became worse.
I finally looked into her diet, changed the way I fed her and watched her health dramatically improve.
Improve to the point that she lived to 18 years old and passed away peacefully in Rachael’s arms one summer morning.
A lot of dog owners have questions about canine nutrition and it’s the reason we have a whole section on the topic and a forum devoted to canine nutrition questions on The Dog Training Inner Circle.
Check it out here:
All the best,
December 12th, 2011
By Eric Letendre
Last night I picked up a book that I read about ten years ago. The author is one of my favorites, he’s the kind of rare writer that will have you laughing your head off on one page and on the next have a tough guy like me almost in tears.
The author’s name: James Herriot. His real name was James Alfred Wright, and he wrote about his experiences as a country vet in England. Keep Reading…
August 21st, 2010
By Eric Letendre
How It Changed Everything
You can learn how to train your dog using a simple, easy, and
effective training system.
You’ll discover how to use The Amazing Dog Training Man’s very unique
Reverse Dog Training Method.
Now, I must admit, I was starting to have some serious doubts. When I called the number on the card I got an answering machine saying someone would get back to me shortly. A few hours later I received a phone call. It was a pleasant sounding lady, letting me know that Eric would meet me at The Barn restaurant in Adamsville, RI for our first lesson. She said to just tell any of the waitresses that I was there to see Eric. They would point him out for me.
After I hung up the phone I could not help the weird feeling I had about all of this. Why would a dog trainer meet me at a restaurant for our first lesson? Don’t get me wrong, The Barn is one of my all time favorite restaurants. I discovered it shortly after moving to Westport. It’s a quaint little place, tucked away in a remote corner of Rhode Island. The staff is friendly and the food is fantastic.
In fact, if you ever find yourself in this part of the world, I highly recommend stopping in. They only serve breakfast though, so make sure you get there early. But back to my story, I still couldn’t understand why I was meeting a dog trainer in a restaurant.
When I arrived at The Barn at the designated time, I asked the waitress if she knew of a dog trainer named Eric? She pointed him out and I walked towards his table. I have to be honest here, I was not too impressed by what I saw. He looked kind of young to be some kind of dog training guru. And, dressed in baggy shorts and sandals, he looked more like he was heading to the beach than a dog training lesson.
After shaking his hand I sat down and ordered some coffee and toast.
“So, I’m a little curious,” I began after the waitress had taken our order. “Why are we meeting in a restaurant? I’m not quite sure how is this going to help train my dog? How we can we possibly train Peanuts without him being here?”
“Would you like to know the secret to having a well-behaved dog?” Eric asked.
I nodded my head.
“It’s very simple,” he said, taking a sip of his coffee. “But the simple things in life, for some reason, always seem the most difficult to do. Let me give you some examples. Losing weight really is simple, don’t eat as much. If you want to feel better mentally and physically, it’s easy, exercise.
What do you do if you want to have more money in your bank account? Don’t spend as much, right? Anyways, I’m getting off topic here.” He paused again, letting some of this sink in. “Basically, what I’m trying to say is that the simple things aren’t always easy. But, before I digress again, here is the ultimate success secret for a well behaved dog.”
My eyes were now wide, waiting for some great truth to come from his lips.
“If you want a good dog, you have to learn how to become a good dog owner.” He sat back, taking another sip of coffee, waiting for my reaction.
“That’s it?” I asked him. I was waiting for something more; more complicated, more profound. It couldn’t be as easy as that.
“Yes. That really is all there is to it. You see, I know that my card says The Amazing Dog Training Man, but what it should really say is The Amazing People Training Man. Most dog trainers are really good at instructing the dog, but it is really the owners that need the training. What I am going to do over the next few weeks is show you how to get great results with your dog. I’m not going to train your dog, you are. I am going to train you to train your dog. Understand?”
“I think so,” I replied, not really sure, but willing to give it a try.
“A successful relationship with your dog requires you, the owner, to take some steps,” Eric began to explain. “If these steps are followed, they should help you and Peanuts have a great relationship. Any dog training program that you take part in with your dog should be fun, safe and easy.”
I completely agreed, especially after that disastrous first training class Peanuts and I had been through. I continued to listen.
“Let’s face it, we all lead busy lives. Any kind of routine that is difficult or hard to do probably won’t be followed. That is why I have developed a dog training program designed to give you all of the above; a fun, safe, easy, and effective way to train your dog. It is also a program that will help you learn how to deal with behavior problems. Does all this sound OK so far?” Eric asked.
I nodded my head.
“Good. Before we start I want to make it clear that I put most of the attention on you. I call it the Reverse Dog Training Method for a reason. Most dog training programs focus on the dog. I focus on the owner. That is one of the reasons that I use the word Reverse.” He paused to take a few bites of his breakfast. “I developed the Reverse Dog Training Method after studying many dog owners and trainers,” he continued, “and it is a completely different approach to dog training.”
Here is an explanation of what the Reverse Dog Training Method stands for:
R= Responsibility: Taking responsibility for your dog’s behavior and training
E=Easy: Having a dog should be fun. A training program should be easy and fun.
V=Viewpoint: An effective training program is established by looking at training through the dog’s P.O.V. (Point Of View)
E=Effective: The training program needs to be effective
R=Reward: Reward training based on the principles of behavior.
S=Safe: Safe training method that does not harm the dog.
E=Efficient: Training must accomplish the desired results efficiently (in just ten minute sessions)
“So, once you understand the Reverse Dog Training Method you will begin to look at the whole training process differently.”
“Alright, when do we start?”
He smiled at my enthusiasm. “We’ll start training soon enough, but I still need to explain a few other important things.”
“Okay,” I said, sitting back in my chair, ready for more.
Then Eric took out a piece of paper and a pen. He drew a line down the middle of the paper and put plus signs on one side and minus signs on the other. I wasn’t sure exactly what I was supposed to be looking at.
He began to explain his drawing.
“Positive and negative experiences have a lasting effect on the dog. One theory of mine is what I like to call the chalk board theory. Imagine that there is a large chalk board in front of you with a line drawn down the middle. Label one side positive, and draw little plus signs next to it. Label the other side of the chalk board negative with little minus signs next to it.” Now his drawing made a little more sense.
He continued, “Every experience and interaction that you have with Peanuts will place either a plus or minus sign on the board. So, every time you do something positive with him…you give him a treat…a pat on the head…throw a ball, that is a plus sign on the chalk board. Every time you do something negative to Peanuts like scold him…slap him on the butt…give a leash correction, you will put a minus sign on the board. Do you understand so far?”
“Yes, I think so,” I replied. “When we do something good with Peanuts, he gets pluses, for everything bad we do, he gets minuses. Is that right?”
“You’ve got it!” said Eric. “If your chalk board has more minuses than pluses you have big problems. You want a chalk board filled with pluses, so that when you do have to do something negative, it will not have a detrimental effect on your dog.”
- – -
“Here’s another way to look at it. This is an excellent way that I heard it explained to me once: Think of the relationship between you and your dog as a checking account. In this case we’ll call it Peanut’s social account. Imagine all the different interactions between you and Peanuts. Every positive experience between you and Peanuts is a deposit in his social account. Every negative experience is a withdrawal from Peanut’s social account.”
I nodded my head.
“What happens if there are more withdrawals than deposits from your checking account at home?” Eric asked.
“I bounce a check,” I answered.
“Right,” Eric said with a smile. “Is you bank very happy when this happens?”
“No,” I responded quickly.
“Right, and what happens if you keep doing it?” Eric kept pressing on. Before I could even answer he said, “If you keep doing it, you will ruin the relationship you have with your bank.”
“Wow!” I was amazed. “This would work with my wife and daughter too.”
“Yes, the best way to fix any relationship is to focus on deposits and minimize withdrawals.”
“I think I’m going to go buy my wife some flowers,” I said with a grin on my face.
“Great idea, but for now let’s get back to Peanuts.” He continued, “Your bank becomes aggressive. First it’s minor, but if it happens again and again, the bank eventually becomes more and more aggressive, until finally the relationship between you and your bank comes to an end. With your dog we want to make sure that when you do need to make a withdrawal, you have made enough deposits that the relationship doesn’t bounce like a bad check.” Eric said, sitting back and taking a sip of his coffee.
“Alright, I’ve got it. I will focus on making deposits.”
“Great! Now, do you know why so many new dog owners have problems with their dogs?” Eric asked when he put his coffee cup down.
“Well, I guess I have idea,” I began, a little hesitantly.
“Let me explain one of the biggest problems,” said Eric, and he started to go into more detail.
“Confusion is probably the biggest problem faced by new dog owners. I see the look of frustration on the faces of dog owners coming through my doors very often when they decide to bring their little terror in for training. The sad fact is that confusion and frustration often lead to anger. Anger often leads to punishment. Punishment often leads to problems between the dog and owner. Once the relationship between the dog and owner goes sour, things quickly disintegrate.”
I could tell that he was genuinely troubled when this happened.
“Over the next few weeks,” he went on, “I’ll show you how to develop a great relationship with your dog. I am not a guy that is going to regurgitate the same old theories and methods that you read in most dog training books. Instead, I am going to explain the reasoning behind why I train the way I do, and why you should apply the same methods.
I am a trainer in the trenches week after week working with real dog owners that have real behavior problems. I spend a great deal of time working in animal shelters. All the time that I have spent working with shelter dogs has taught me to condense training and deliver it with as little fluff as possible. Working in a shelter you have to become efficient and effective. You don’t have a lot of time.
“Many dog owners simply do not understand why their dogs behave a certain way. They become confused and it is my job to clear up the confusion and help them to train and understand their dog.”
I took all of this in. After a moment, eager to get started, I asked, “What are we going to do today?”
“Today you are going to learn The Reverse Dog Training Method. Like I mentioned before, it is a training program that I developed with the typical dog owner in mind. Believe me, when you learn The Reverse Dog Training Method, you’ll look at dog training very differently.”
“Sounds great. Let’s get started,” I said.
As I sat there with my toast getting cold, Eric asked me another question. “Do you know what the biggest mistake dog owners make with their dogs?”
I shook my head.
“The biggest mistake dog owners make is that they expect dogs to think like humans. The definition of anthropomorphism is when we humans attribute human characteristics to plants, animals, or objects, and unfortunately, most dog owners are guilty of this. Instead, we have to learn to think like our dogs, because they truly are not capable of thinking like us.
It’s not fair to put all the blame on our dogs when they don’t respond the way we want them to. The blame has to be put squarely on our shoulders. Once you take that responsibility, once you decide that it is your job to think like a dog, then and only then, will you get a trained dog. If you keep blaming the dog, you’re guaranteed to continue having problems.”
“Wait a minute,” I exclaimed. “I didn’t teach my dog to bite or jump.”
“I’m sure you didn’t intentionally teach your dog,” said Eric, “but we are getting ahead of ourselves. I promise I will make things very clear to you in the next few minutes. Before we go on though, remember what I said about success in dog training. In order to have a good dog, you have to learn how to become a good dog owner. Very simple, but very true.”
After the waitress came by to refill our coffee cups he continued. “Alright, let me explain a little further. As dog owners, we need to set our dogs up for success. Unfortunately, we usually set them up for failure. For example, giving a young pup too much freedom is setting him up for failure.
The puppy is going to chew on anything and everything, he is going to pee and poop anywhere and everywhere, he is going to knock things over, steal items off the coffee table, and in general make us mad. By taking some simple steps we can make a few changes and always try to set the pup up for success. Do you understand?”
“Yes,” I answered, thinking about what he just said. “By making a few changes around the house, I can probably alleviate a lot of the problems we are having with Peanuts.”
“Before we get into the four steps of the Reverse Dog Training Method, I want to go over what I think are the five biggest myths about dog training.
“You see,” said Eric, “New dog owners become confused about what is the best way to train their dog because there are so many dog training myths out there.”
This came straight from my notes:
Here are the top five:
1. Never train a dog until six months of age.
2. Never use food to train a dog.
3. Always train a dog using a choke chain.
4. Never play tug-o-war with your dog.
5. Dogs will calm down after they are neutered.
These myths have been floating around for so long they are considered dog training laws in some circles. Eric explained each one in detail to me, and why I would want to ignore much of what I had heard about training. One myth that he did leave out was housetraining. He said he would cover that one later, but just for the record; no, never push your dog’s nose in his own mess if he has gone on your floor.
Age has always been a big concern for traditional dog trainers. Conventional wisdom said that a dog could not start their training until six months of age because the methods being used were too harsh for a young puppy. A new dog owner would be told that they had to wait until the dog was six months old. This is a huge, huge mistake. Waiting until your dog is six months old only allows your dog to develop behaviors that could have been prevented, not to mention the fact that early socialization is crucial for a dog’s development.
What is the poor dog owner supposed to do? Sit there and watch as their dog destroys the house? At six months old, does the dog magically start to learn? No. Here is some of the best advice you can take. As soon as you get your dog, start training, preferably in a good puppy class. If you go to Eric’s website, www.AmazingDogTrainingMan.com, you can read his special report, “The Consumer’s Guide To Choosing A Dog Trainer”. A good puppy class will show you how to housetrain your puppy, they will let your puppy socialize with other puppies, and they will help you with obedience training.
Food should never be used in training. That is the second biggest myth. Dog trainers have told dog owners that their dog should perform the command because the owner is “alpha”. Don’t listen to it. The absolute best way to train a dog is to use reward-based methods. In the long run, your dog will be a better dog because of it.
The whole alpha theory has been blown out of proportion. A dog is like every other creature on the face of this earth. Dogs either work to get something or they work to avoid something. Your dog is working to get a reward or your dog is working to avoid a correction, period. When used properly, food can be a great way to train your dog. It speeds up the training process. Food helps you motivate your dog. Without some type of positive motivation, you need to resort to negative motivation. Negative motivation always has side effects.
Choke chains are not only a big myth but they are a sad myth. Choke chains are a very bad training tool. Trainers have collapsed dog’s tracheas by using choke chains. Dogs have been strangled by their trainers for not performing a command.
A much better piece of equipment is the gentle leader head collar. Gentle leaders have been called power steering for dogs. In fact, the great thing about gentle leaders is that they work as soon as you put them on. They work by controlling your dog’s head, not your dog’s body, much the same way as a horse bridle.
Another problem with choke chains is that they trigger your dog’s opposition reflex. Anytime you apply pressure, whether it is mental or physical, you are triggering your dog’s opposition reflex. Here is a little experiment for you to try. Call your dog over and push down on his shoulders. Most dogs will resist and lock up. The harder you push, the more the dog resists. This is opposition reflex. It happens every time you put the choke chain on and pull back.
“Never Play Tug-O-War” has always been a huge myth dog owners have been ordered to follow. How many times have you been told to never, under any circumstance, play tug-o-war? Tug-o-war is one of the best games that you can play with your dog. It is a great way for you to structure the relationship, and it is a great reinforcer. You can use it to reward for obedience.
The most important point to remember when you are playing tug is this: always, always win the tug game. We will go into detail a little later, but remember to always get the tug toy back from your dog at the end of the game. One of the big reasons that tug is such a great game is that it gives the owner control over the most dangerous part of the dog; his teeth and jaws. By playing tug on a daily basis, your dog will learn to have a soft mouth and to drop anything that he is holding onto.
It is not a matter of never doing certain activities with your dog, it is a matter of controlling what you do with him. If you cannot control the game when you are playing, don’t play the game.
Dog owners have always been told that neutering a dog will calm him down. Many dog owners have been very disappointed to find that after the surgery, they did not get the expected results; the dog was not any calmer. Spaying and neutering your dog is a good thing to do, but in most cases it will do nothing to calm him down.
When a dog is out of control, it usually has more to do with not getting sufficient exercise and/or it has more to do with little or no training. The neutering theory probably became popular to entice more dog owners to have their dogs neutered, but in most cases, you will not see a dramatic change in your dog’s behavior.
Please let’s make one point very, very clear: Unless you are a professional breeder, you should have your dog spayed or neutered. Breeding in the United States is awful. Not because of the professionals, but because of the back yard breeders. All too often dogs are bred with no forethought put into it. This leads to all sorts of problems.
Eric took a sip of coffee. “If you are going to successfully train Peanuts using the Reverse Dog Training Method, then you have to eliminate these myths from your thinking. Confusion over the topic of dog training has led these myths to become truths with some dog owners and dog trainers.
“In order for you to get maximum results from your training, it would be best to take a fresh look at what I share with you over the next few weeks. The only goal I have when helping a dog owner is to get results. There is no reason to hang on to old theories and opinions about dog training. Many times, when we start to believe in a certain way of doing things, it can be difficult to see from a different perspective.
“The training methods I am going to share with you are not old, worn out opinions. They are tried and tested methods that will help you get maximum results in a lot less time. The other great thing is that none of this training relies on hurting Peanuts. Negative reinforcement and punishment always, always have side effects. These side effects will have a long term impact on the dog and on your relationship with him.”
Stay tuned for chapter 3 or get the whole story by clicking here: “The Amazing Dog Training Man Book”
August 19th, 2010
By Eric Letendre
Guy walks into the vet’s office with a cross eyed Rottweiler…
The vet picks up the rottweiler and looks into the dogs‘s eye. After looking into the dog’s eyes, the vet looks at the guy and says: “I’m going to have to put the dog down.”
Shocked, the man says: “Put my dog down? Just because his eyes are crossed? I can’t believe this. Why?”
The vet replies: “I have to put your dog down because he’s heavy.”
Okay, bad joke, but you can never accuse me of sending boring emails.
Whenever I am offering advice on dog training or any other topic, I always try to deliever it in an entertaining and fun way.
Sometimes I fall short but at least I always try to deliver. I was thinking about this yesterday when someone asked me about my book “The Amazing Dog Training Man.”
The person I was talking to told me that she had read volumes of dog training books and wanted to know what made my book different.
Like her, I have a huge library of books on dog training and behavior.
Some good, some bad, some real bad.
When I decided to sit down and write a book on dog training, I decided that I was going to deliver the information in an entertaining way.
I wanted the book to be packed with information but I did not want it to be like every other dog training book, so I came up with the idea to write the book in story form.
I came up with the idea to write a story about a guy that adopts a dog and everything goes wrong. He is at the point where he is about to bring the dog back to the shelter.
Instead, he finds a trainer that can help him and learns the secrets to dog behavior and training.
He discovers that the first step is to learn how to become a good dog owner by looking at the world through the eyes of his dog.
He learns that in order to have a good dog he has to become a good dog owner.
Anyway, over the next few days I am going to share some chapters from the book. Here is chapter one:
My First Dog…How It Almost Turned Into A Disaster
I felt confused, frustrated, and embarrasses to bring
my dog to an obedience class
I moved to Westport, MA about three years ago. I was living in Tolland, CT working for a large insurance company in Hartford when I got a transfer to Providence. I was lucky enough to find Westport, located about twenty miles south of Providence. Westport is a quaint, beautiful, little seaside town tucked right between New Bedford and Fall River.
When we moved out here, my wife and I agreed to get our daughter a dog once everything was settled. Three years had passed and my daughter had patiently waited for her dog. I have to admit, I was looking forward to getting a dog, but I was just a little concerned about my abilities. I had never had a dog and wanted to make sure that we had enough time to spend with him.
One Sunday afternoon my little family loaded into the car and drove off to the local shelter. When we arrived, the shelter employees showed us around. After spending about thirty minutes looking at dogs of all sizes and shapes my daughter decided on a unique mid sized dog of about thirty five pounds.
The shelter employee told us that the dog was a beagle/chow/shepherd mix. After spending a few minutes with the dog, my daughter had her heart set on him. We filled out the necessary paperwork, gave the shelter a donation, and we were on our way.
The ride home was exciting. My daughter was smiling from ear to ear and my wife even looked happy about the new addition. We spent most of Sunday walking with our new dog on the beach and trying to decide on a name for him. My daughter suggested every name that she had ever heard in a Disney movie.
She wanted to call him Simba, Mickey, Goofy, and on and on. My wife added that when she was a little girl, her dog’s name was Peanuts. Everyone seemed to like that name, so we agreed that our new dog would be Peanuts. Everything seemed so easy that first day, everyone was happy. As you will discover in the next few minutes, it didn’t stay that way. What started out as a happy beginning went quickly downhill.
The first signs of trouble cropped up that evening. We decided that we would let Peanuts sleep in the kitchen, but as soon as the lights went out, Peanuts started to howl and bark. We figured that he would stop after a few minutes, but no such luck. Peanuts went on for about forty five minutes until my wife and I couldn’t take it anymore.
We let him into our room where he quickly made himself at home on our bed. My wife said she thought she had heard somewhere that you were not supposed to let the dog on the bed. I told her that anything that kept him quiet was fine with me. Our daughter had school in the morning and we could not let him keep us up all night.
What happened over the next few weeks is a blur. I don’t know how to describe it. What started off so good was quickly becoming a nightmare. Peanuts was wrecking our lives. He was causing so much trouble that my wife and I were starting to argue with each other.
We quickly learned that Peanuts loved to steal anything off the counters or coffee table. He would steal tissues, pens, eye glass cases, the TV changer, anything that was left there. He also had a terrible habit of chewing everything that he could get his mouth around.
The corners of our tables and chairs were ruined, creating a lot of tension between my wife and me. Taking him for a walk was almost impossible. He would pull me in every direction and there was no way that my daughter would be able to handle him. I could not believe that a little thirty five pound dog could pull so hard. Our backyard had holes all over it, and if that wasn’t bad enough, Peanuts was not housebroken. He would go anytime and any place he chose.
The tough part was that he could be a great little pet at times. He was very lovable and my daughter was crazy about him. Before things got too out of control, I decided to call the shelter and ask for some advice. They must know how to handle these dogs.
When I called the shelter the people that I spoke to were very helpful and tried to give me as much information as they could. They told me that I should get a crate and use it; they also said that maybe a choke chain would help. After speaking to them, I headed right off to the local pet store to purchase the necessary equipment.
When I put the choke chain on Peanuts it did not seem to do very much good. When we walked, he pulled so hard on the choke chain that I could hear him struggling to breathe. The crate was an even bigger disaster. Whenever I tried to put him in the crate, he would fight and resist me.
Once I finally got him in it, he would not stop barking, howling, and scratching at the door. Everything we tried seemed to backfire on us. It was starting to feel hopeless.
But I did not want to give up.
I figured my next step would be to enroll Peanuts in an obedience class. Looking through the phone book, I found a dog training school that was not too far away. I called and signed up for a class that was starting in a few days.
The class didn’t exactly go as I thought it would. On the first day, the instructor rudely informed me that my dog was unruly and badly behaved. I didn’t need her to tell me that. After all, that’s why we had signed up for the class in the first place. After I had been told that my dog was not well-behaved, the instructor said that she was going to put a choke chain on my dog.
When I told her that we had already tried that, she informed that I was not using it correctly. The class started and needless to say, I was thoroughly embarrassed by the end of it. Peanuts was awful, he would not stop pulling and barking. I was yelled at by the instructor more than once to control my dog.
I didn’t understand what she thought I was doing. Of course I was trying to control my dog, that’s why I was there. But instead of giving me advice, I was berated in front of everyone. At the end of class I waited patiently so I could ask the instructor a few questions.
When she saw me waiting I got the feeling that I was facing the principal, just like when I was a kid. The look on her face was not pleasant. I quickly asked her about some behavior problems that I was experiencing. The instructor informed me that whenever Peanuts was doing something I didn’t like, I had to show him that I was the boss, or as she referred to it, the
“How do I do that,” I asked?
“It’s simple,” she replied. “Grab your dog by the scruff of the neck and shake him while loudly saying NO.” If that didn’t work she advised me to do what is called an “Alpha rollover”.
She decided to demonstrate on Peanuts. She grabbed him with both hands on either side of the neck. She lifted his front paws off the ground and flipped him onto his back. It happened so fast that the poor little guy didn’t know what hit him. As she was demonstrating she told me that this is what the alpha dog does to subordinates in the wild.
Then something strange happened. Peanuts began to fight her and tried biting her hands while she held him down. The more he fought the harder she fought back to keep him under control. The situation continued to escalate until Peanuts and the trainer were in what looked like mortal combat. The trainer finally let go, but not before getting bit. I was horrified as I stood there looking at what had just happened.
I was at a complete loss for words. I asked the trainer what she would like me to do. She said that Peanuts was highly dominant and dangerous. She then told me that I would have to come in for some private lessons; just Peanuts, the instructor, and me.
I left the training class feeling crushed. Peanuts did a lot of things that we did not like, but we never felt that he was dangerous or a threat. There was no way I would have a dangerous dog around my family. I thought the training class was the solution, but now, in just an hour’s time, I felt like things had gone from bad to worse.
A week later I showed up for the private lesson. The instructor told me that we needed to teach Peanuts who the boss was. She said we would accomplish this by using a prong collar. She showed me what it looked like and I was more than a little uncomfortable. It was like some kind of torture device. It was a steel collar with spikes coming out every few inches. She put the prong collar on Peanuts and I was apprehensive about what might happen next.
Peanuts was a mischievous dog that had definitely thrown a monkey wrench into my quiet life, but overall he was a good little guy. The instructor took the leash from me and commanded Peanuts to sit. Before I knew what was happening she had yanked on the leash and Peanuts yelped from the correction. When Peanuts still refused to sit, she yanked again. I could see that Peanuts was stressed.
He was starting to pant and his eyes were wide open. He had a scared and confused look on his face. When Peanuts continued to refuse to sit, she yanked on the leash a third time. Peanuts now started his revolt. He grabbed the leash with his mouth and started pulling back. This really made the instructor livid; she grabbed the leash with both hands and lifted Peanuts off the ground.
I could only watch in horror as Peanuts was just hanging there, and I knew that this could not be right. I immediately told her to put Peanuts down and give him back to me.
What happened next is still a blur. When Peanuts regained his footing he attempted to bite the instructor. She lifted him off the ground until he almost passed out. When she finally put him down, he was too disoriented to put up a fight. I quickly took Peanuts from her and made for the door.
As I was leaving the instructor told me that I had a dangerous and dominant dog. She added that I should have him put down. As I drove home I could not bear the thought of bringing him back to her for more training. At the same time, things needed to change. I could not put my family at risk. I didn’t know what to do. Di
I just drive right to the vet’s office, or continue to try and train him?
On the way home, I made a quick detour to the town beach. I thought maybe a walk would help and I could think things over. I took Peanuts out of the car and we started off toward the dunes. I had thought for sure that obedience school would be the answer to my problems. Instead, it seemed to only make matters worse. While walking, I noticed a women and her dog about a quarter of a mile down the beach.
As I watched, I could see that her dog was off leash, running in the water, chasing sticks that she was throwing. At one point, I even saw her dog do some commands before she released the stick. She gave her dog a command to lie down and the dog dove into the position.
Then she told the dog to sit and the dog popped up so fast I thought he was going to launch straight up at least three feet. I think she then told her dog to stay because when she threw the stick her dog didn’t budge. A few seconds later she made some kind of gesture and her dog raced off after the stick.
I watched in envy, wishing that I could let Peanuts run and play in the water like that. At one point her dog noticed Peanuts and started to run straight for him. Peanuts was only too happy to greet the other dog, but then the most amazing thing happened. The strange dog was within twenty feet of us when the women yelled out the dog’s name and commanded him to come.
I watched in awe as the dog came to a full stop, turned, and trotted back to his owner.
If only I had that kind of control over Peanuts, if he would just listen to me a little I know that things would get better. Maybe she was a dog trainer. Maybe she could show me how to control my dog like she does hers. Even a little help would be better than the disaster of a training class that I went through. I decided that I was going to approach her and ask for some help.
“Hello,” I called out, a little tentatively.
“Hi,” she responded, friendly enough it seemed.
“Can I ask you a few questions?” I was feeling more comfortable now.
“Sure you can,” she replied.
I then introduced Peanuts and myself. I told her how impressed I was with her dog. I added that I really thought it was incredible how she could let her dog off leash and call him back to her. When I asked if she trained dogs, she said no, she didn’t. She also added that her dog had been out of control as a puppy.
“But he’s so well behaved,” I said, amazed. How could an out of control puppy turn into such an obedient dog?
Then she told me about a man that she had met when her dog was just a few months old, and she added, he was an amazing dog trainer.
He showed her all the little known secrets of dog training. After just five lessons with this man she had all the information she needed to train her dog, and just a few weeks later she and her dog had a great relationship.
Excitedly, I asked if she could tell me how to contact this guy. She said that she had his card in her car. As we walked back towards her car I asked if she thought this guy could help me with my dog.
“His training is different,” she said. “The training program that he developed is something he calls The Reverse Dog Training Method.”
“Reverse dog training method,” I asked, a little confused.
“Yes,” she replied. “The success of any training is not dependent on the dog it’s really dependent on the owner. You’ll see once you start to work with him, he makes things very clear and easy to understand.”
“Can I ask you one more question,” still not completely sure I was getting it.
“Sure,” she said.
“Will this guy also help me with all the other problems that I am having? My dog is chewing, digging, peeing in the house, you name it and my dog is doing it.”
“Yes, absolutely. He has a unique way of showing dog owners how to deal with all those problems. He will show you what he likes to call the M.U.T.T. Method for dealing with behavior problems.”
When we arrived at her car she handed me his card. When I looked at it I was surprised. Here’s all the card said, his phone number was on the back:
I thanked her and started back for my car. As I walked I felt a glimmer of hope. Maybe this guy can help me. Maybe we will be able to keep Peanuts. At the same time, I felt confused. Reverse training method? Fix behavior problems using a mutt method? What did it all mean? Either way, I was going to call this guy as soon as I got home.
Stay tuned for chapter two…
…or get the whole story by clicking here: “The Amazing Dog Training Book”
August 27th, 2009
By Eric Letendre
Not too long ago, I was with a client helping her with her dog. She was convinced that the dog was "dominant" and it was the source of all her training problems. As I watched the dog, I observed a friendly, active little guy that just wanted to have fun.
When I asked her why she thought her dog was being dominant, she stated:
"I was watching a dog trainer on TV and he said that a dog going through a door in front of me is displaying dominance."
I tried to explain that going through a door is not a sign of dominance – it’s a dog that wants to get out and party. I informed her that I had a book for her to read and that it was written by one of the smartest dog trainers in America.
I dropped the book off later on that day with one of the pages dogeared. The book, "The Culture Clash," by Jean Donaldson, explained one of her favorite myth’s on page 19…
"My favorite myth is the going the doorways first thing. What deranged mind came up with the notion that a dog would understand, let alone exert dominance by preceding his owner out the front door."
She goes on to explain:
"When dogs are rushing through doors, they are trying to close distance between themselves and whatever is out there, as quickly as possible because they are excited, because they are dogs."
The dogs owner refused to believe that her dog was doing it for any other reason than dominance and fired me. I was okay with getting fired, but I was worried about her dog. You see, the best way to train a dog is to understand dogs for what they really are. A dog that is labeled "dominant" is often subjected to harsh training methods. The whole dominance idea has been blown way out of proportion, which as Ms. Donaldson states:
"This is dangerous. Not only does it mean that incredible amounts of abuse are going to be perpetrated against any given dog, probably exacerbating problems like recalls and biting but also real issues, like well-executed conditioning and and the provision of an adequate environment are going to go unaddressed, resulting in an a still untrained dog, prepatuing the stupid dominance program."
As you can see, she does not pull any punches but it is a great book. Check it out if you get a chance.
All the best,
P.S. Then again, another great dog training book, "The Amazing Dog Training Man," by yours truly is included with a membership into the