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Storm (Noise) Fear – worth revisiting

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Some ways to help!

Stay calm. Adopt a neutral, matter-of-fact attitude.Our dogs reflect back to us all of our emotions and are highly affected by how we feel and behave. If we appear “freaked out” you are telling your dog that you are not in control and your dog will suffer the added stress of a “WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!” thought process because he or she is certainly not in any shape to be in control either!

Comfort your dog but be careful not to “coddle” them.  Remember, dogs perceive human emotions on a very literal and basic level.  If you are using a voice that is full of sympathy and worry, it translates to your dog as weakness and, yes, even instability and fear.  Be confident or appear that you are, even if you are not.  Use a calm and confident tone of voice and be sure to hold your body in a confident posture!  You’d be surprised how much difference your body stance and language can make with animals.

If your dog has a spot in the house where they like to go and hide and they seem to feel calmer and safe there, LET THEM! Do not try to force them out from under the bed (or whatever spot they go to for safety) if they are able to go there and get relief from the fear. If they go and hide but constantly whine, shake, whimper, etc. that’s a different situation and you need to intercede.

Helping a dog get over fear of storms or other loud noises (like any other modification of behavior or emotional response) is a process.   Download, buy or Youtube thunderstorm sounds and play them at a volume just below your dog’s trigger threshold.  Simultaneously play a fun game or do a little obedience and give a few treats occasionally in order to keep your dog engaged.  This is counter conditioning through positive association and it is a powerful tool. It must be started when no storms are on the horizon. You can raise the volume in increments and the amount of time it will take depends completely on your commitment to the rehabilitation and your dog’s commitment to the fear.  Every dog is different just like humans and each learns, un-learns and changes how they feel about things at their own pace.  Please, please, be patient and empathetic.  Remember, animals, by instinct, search for comfort and safety from storms.  They are by no means meant to be “storm chasers.” 🙂

There are some natural supplements and “tools” you can try:  Lactium (sold by Swanson vitamins under the label “Women’s Anti-Stress Formula”, dosage 15 mg/kg, and L-theanine, dosage 5mg/kg. Once or twice a day. Very large safety margin, no particular side effects — basically they either help or don’t.  ESSENTIAL OILS! Learn about them and use them!  They are amazing!

Some recommended music/sound therapy:  Through A Dog’s Ear series of CDs  and/or a “white noise” machine. There are recent studies indicating that many dogs respond positively to audio books.  The sound of a calming human voice, for some dogs, may be more effective than music.

Some dogs are comforted by “swaddling” and for those dogs adding a Thunder Shirt or a T-touch wrap may be helpful.


Remember, if you try to “coddle” your dog during thes

well before the storm begins.

Above all, be kind and patient throughout the thunderstorm. Do whatever you can to calm your pet without adding to their stress and anxiety. If they need to follow your every step, let them. That means being close to you makes them feel better and, after all, they make us feel better all the time without even being asked. Unconditional love deserves the return of same and this is an easy one. 🙂e times, it can be counter-productive. They sense the upset and emotion in your voice. Instead, reassure them in a confident manner to let them know “I’ve got this. It’s fine.” Be the leader and let your dog know that you are not afraid.

Let’s Talk about German Shepherds

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German Shepherds were originally bred to be herding dogs.  Just before World War I, Captain Max von Stephanitz, began training the dogs to protect German soldiers because he foresaw that the ware was going to reduce the need for working dogs since so many of the men were at war.  Strephanitz eventually brought about standardization of the breed and created the training protocol that would later become known as Schutzhund training.

When bred properly, GSDs are highly intelligent dogs and therefore require a lot of mental stimulation. Mental exercise for an intelligent dog is just as important, if not more important, than physical exercise.  That is not said to minimize in any way the importance of plenty of exercise.


Basic obedience training is a must for GSDs and should start EARLY.  It can be extremely beneficial in establishing the proper foundation for the human/dog relationship.  If you do not set yourself up as the one in charge (in my house I call myself the CEO ha) you can expect some behaviors from your dog that will most likely cause you some serious stress and anxiety.  This directly causes the same emotions in your dog!  This is not to say that every GSD will exhibit negative behaviors if the human is not clearly the leader.  Some dogs are born with “soft souls” as I like to call them.  Some are so laid back that they just roll with whatever without any negative reactions.  These dogs, in my experience, have been the exceptions and not the rules in GSDs.  No matter the breed, you cannot and should not ever assume to know the personality of a dog based strictly on breed, or even blood lines.  Every dog has their own personality.  Breeds are predisposed to certain behavioral “traits” but they certainly are not clones or robots and each dog is as individual as you and me.   If your GSD does not know that you are in charge, he/she will take on the job and will exhibit all manner of behaviors that you will find unacceptable (by human standards).  I often say that I believe we expect our dogs to be better humans than we are.


German Shepherds are very social and require plenty of attention and companionship.  They are also very athletic – unless they have been bred with extremely sloped backs which causes early onset of hip dysplasia.  (This causes me to see red because it is 100% the fault of humans.)  Moving on, this athletic prowess makes it necessary for them to get plenty of structured, interactive exercise.  I often hear “well, we have a big back yard and my dog runs around the fence line 100 times [insert laughter by owner].  Sadly, that running the fence line – unless it’s running with another dog on the other side – is the equivalent of human pacing.  This does not leave the dog tired and ready to rest but, rather, frustrated and anxious.  Structured, interactive exercise means a human is involved or at the very least another dog buddy with a human present and involved to some degree.

GSDs are bred to be devoted and loyal to their “pack”.  Pack simply means family and nothing more.  Humans are “group dwellers” and typically live in “pack” situations.  They are also very often somewhat aloof and even standoffish with strangers until they are deemed to be a “non-threat”.   However, responsible breeders take care to make sure that they breed for temperament that is stable so that they are safely approachable and outgoing.  Often, people who get GSDs inadvertently mold them into overly aggressive, over-protective, anxious dogs, which can become extremely dangerous.

German Shepherds, being originally bred for forward herding, tend to want to walk in front and turn frequently.  Unless you are well versed on the breed, this can become quite frustrating when attempting to train the loose leash walk. 😊  GSDs are also prone to be constantly “checking in” on their human or humans.  This is exhibited by the dog often looking up at their human while walking together, or coming back into their human’s space often if they are out of sight to make sure the human is present and accounted for, so to speak.


Some wonderful games to play with your GSD are “Find It” which is nose work and GSDs have terrific noses!  This game is simply sniffing out a particularly aromatic treat that you have hidden, somewhere in sight at first until they understand the verbal cue and rules of the game, and then made increasingly more challenging in order to provide the mental stimulation they require.

“Find Me” (much like Hide and Seek):

Again, you must start out making the game simple and easy until they understand the verbal cue of “find me” and the rules of the game.  I typically put the dog I a sit and then turn my back.  If it is a very young dog I often use a treat lure to bring them around to face me and sit in front of me looking directly into my eyes.  This requires solid “sit” and “watch” skills but those are easy squeazy!  Then you add distance and higher levels of difficulty in finding you.  You can go hide in another room or behind a treat if you’re outside.  Be Creative!  It’s Play!

“Tug of War”:

Tug is fine to play with your dog as long as you are the last one with the toy in possession.  Your GSD, as well as any other dog, should be taught the “drop” or “give” commands as well as the “leave it” commands to ensure that this game is played safely and stays fun and is not accidentally turned into a real competition.  Sometimes – and guys I’m not picking on you – men will get right in their dog’s face and growl and say things like “Give it To Me!” while making a real [play] serious face.  I have known some to get bitten in the face because of this behavior.  Please remember that your dog is not a furry human.  They are dogs which means they are animals and they act on instinct.  If we trigger purely instinctual responses from them with our behavior, that is on us.  We have a duty to learn their language at least enough to know what NOT to do so that we can keep both our dogs and other humans safe.

Nea and Susan :) A Success Story

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I just had to share this wonderful picture and story with you. Nea and I went with Carolyn and Djibril to Puppy Mugs at UALR on Saturday after training. I was very proud of Nea and the staff there. We walked up a flight of stairs AND down the flight of stairs. Nea was terrific! She didn’t pull and was only a little nervous on the way down. She paused halfway and looked up at me!! Yahooo!! I just calmly said “good girl! You’ve got this!” And she continued down the stairs. It was a surprisingly narrow stairwell! We waited for treats until we were on solid ground. When we arrived, there was a full hallway of people and dogs. I about had a panic attack. But I remembered MY training and knew I better change my attitude quickly!! Several people nearby tried to reach for Nea to pet her. I just said please don’t, she tends to be nervous and they backed up. Thanks to Carolyn’s quick thinking, Nea and I were allowed to wait in another empty hallway that others just passed through until it was our turn. As people and their dogs steadily streamed by us, Nea just sniffed and watched. I lavished her with treats! There was only one dog that she growled at. But it was quietly, brief and the owner had stopped to talk and was not paying attention to her own dog that was in Nea’s face. This was fantastic since, as you know, Nea doesn’t usually give a warning growl. When it was our turn to have pictures, the workers asked everyone to make a path, that a nervous dog was coming through. Then I told Nea, “with me” and walked my Queen of the world walk straight through the crowded hallway. Shoulders back, head up. People and dogs on both sides. Not one bark. Not one tug on the leash! We Rocked the Walk!! And look how relaxed she looks in the picture!! She sat and stayed for pictures and down stayed for more! Notice the leash laying flat on the ground! She wasn’t startled by the flashes but did want to investigate. The photographer did a few practice flashes and took the time to let Nea look through the room before we got started. And then walked back through the crowd like a champion!! I was so very proud of her!! And the staff was made up of students!!! Not professionals! They were so fantastic!

Thank you for all you have taught us!! Without you, this awesome Puppy Mug survival story wouldn’t be possible!!

Sincerely Amazed and Thankful!!

~Susan and Neakita

How Susan Became the Queen of Her World and “the Walk”

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Learning the art of “Queen of my World” Walk

I was surprised at one of our first training sessions when our trainer, Ms. Charlotte, said to stand without slumping, shoulders back, head up, like you are Queen of the World! She wanted us to pick a destination like a tree or fence post and walk our dogs to that destination with a walk of pure confidence, even if we didn’t feel confident. Well, I wasn’t feeling confident at all. My 90 pound pocket puppy, Nea was misbehaving while Ms. Charlotte talked. Really???? I’ll be honest. My first thought was, “Are you crazy!?!?” I was concentrating on keeping my unruly toddler under control. Nea was barking her big bark and lunging at Ms. Charlotte when she came near. I felt I barely could keep my feet on the ground because I was literally leaning backward with the strain of controlling Nea’s mammoth strength. Nea appeared to be intent on threatening everyone and everything in sight. I was afraid; really afraid. I had a horrible mental image of Nea actually getting away from me and harming a person or dog at class. My nerves were frayed to say the least. It seemed out of the realm of possibility to comply with Ms. Charlotte’s request that I be aware of my body posture when all I could focus on was keeping Nea’s body close to me so that everyone was safe. I now know that my Nea was more afraid than me! Ms. Charlotte says it’s not misbehaving to Nea! She says that “good” and “bad” are human concepts and we force them upon our dogs.

But ok, I thought. My mother always told me to stop slumping, stand straight. So I did it. What could it hurt? And it doesn’t cost anything. Nea seemed to do better…but was it just that she got tired of barking? Ms. Charlotte asked us to please just give her 48 hours of holding our bodies that way when we were with our dogs and that didn’t seem impossible to me.

A little later, I had a chance to talk with Ms. Charlotte about my fears. She said something that really got my attention. She said that I was thinking negatively and I needed to stop it or “You’ll get me hurt”. Whoa!! I’m trying hard to keep everyone safe including my precious dog. And MY negative thoughts and fears are going to “cause” trouble?!? She also told me that if I thought Nea was going to hurt someone, she probably would. She said that everything we think and feel travels down our arm and down the leash, straight into our dog’s mind. I was setting Nea up for failure and that was the opposite of my goal. I wanted her to succeed with all of my heart.

Two days later, I was pondering all of this on my drive to work. I pulled into the parking lot and sat in my car a moment with the Monday blahs! I wasn’t looking forward to the week ahead because the prior week had been extremely stressful. I really didn’t want to be there!! I hear Ms. Charlotte’s voice in my head: “Negative thoughts = Negative results” or something to that effect. Fine! No more “Negative Nancy!” I squared my shoulders, held my head high and put on my positive attitude face as I got out of my car. I was thinking “Okay, here we go!” I walked with purpose. Not hurried; just focused on the goal/destination. Like Ms. Charlotte said. Queen of my world! Queen…not prissy princess…Queen! Two of my co-workers literally chased me down wanting to know whether I was okay. They had noticed my newly found confidence and I can only assume that it worried them. Ha! I laughed and told them about the training class. I now have a new nickname…yes…Negative Nancy! But I don’t mind. It reminds me to Walk my new Walk!

That evening, I decided to put Ms. Charlotte’s theory to the test. I began my walk with Nea just as we always did … sloppy, slumped and no real direction or goal. It was AWFUL. I was not walking with Nea at all, rather she was dragging me! She stopped at every tree to sniff and pulled me everywhere she wanted to go. Finally, I just stopped, took a deep breath and stood still for a long time. Eventually, Nea got bored because and sat down to stare off into the woods. I looked at my wonderful dog who I love with all of my heart and said “”Nea, this isn’t how we walk. You heard Ms. Charlotte.” So, [deep breath] we began the walk again. This time I walked with squared shoulders and my head high [more deep breaths]. I chose a focal point as our destination and started to walk, just the way Ms. Charlotte said we should. I didn’t make a sound or give Nea any command. I just walked. Halfway to the destination, I started to panic just a little. I couldn’t feel any resistance on the leash and for a few seconds thought that Nea had slipped out of her collar and was gone. Then I realized that she was right beside me. We were experiencing our first real “loose leash” walk. I had to fight hard to resist the urge to drop to my knees and cry!!! We finished our journey to our destination and had one of Ms. Charlotte’s silly puppy parties and Nea got lots of treats and praise!

Feeling pretty bold, I decided to play Ms. Charlotte’s “crazy lady walk” game with Nea and it made me laugh … a lot. That night we had a great walk and were both feeling pretty happy. We played games until dinner time.

We are still working on the loose leash walk, as well as lots of other new skills. My training and Nea’s training will take some time to perfect but we are committed! Nea has days when she tries to buck the system and control the walk, and some days she is just distracted. But I am confident in my ability to get her to focus on me and listen to me while I let her know, in a way she understands, what I expect and actually get that behavior from Nea. My beautiful, head strong, somewhat anxious and insecure, dog and I made a huge leap forward that night. All because we listened to a trainer named Ms. Charlotte, who walks a crooked and confusing crazy lady walk!!

~Susan and Neakita

Breed Specific Legislation – Effective? Statistically Absolutely Not!

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Dealing with Reckless Owners and Dangerous Dogs in Your Community

Dogs permitted by their owners to run loose, and dogs who attack people or other animals, are real and often serious problems in communities across the country; but how to best address dangerous and potentially dangerous dogs can be a confusing and touchy issue.

“Breed-specific” legislation (BSL) is the blanket term for laws that either regulate or ban certain breeds completely in the hopes of reducing dog attacks. Some city/municipal governments have enacted breed-specific laws, as has the State of Ohio. However, the problem of dangerous dogs will not be remedied by the “quick fix” of breed-specific laws, or, as they should truly be called, breed-discriminatory laws.

It is worth noting that in some areas, regulated breeds include not just American Pit Bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers, English bull terriers and Rottweilers, but also a variety of other dogs, including American bulldogs, mastiffs, Dalmatians, chow chows, German shepherds, Doberman pinschers, or any mix of these breeds – and dogs who simply resemble these breeds. On the bright side, many states (including New York, Texas and Illinois) favor laws that identify, track and regulate dangerous dogs individually, regardless of breed, and prohibit BSL.

Are Breed-Specific Laws Effective?

There is no evidence that breed-specific laws, which are costly and difficult to enforce, make communities safer for people or companion animals. For example, Prince George’s County, MD, spends more than $250,000 annually to enforce its ban on pit bulls. In 2003, a study conducted by the county on the ban’s effectiveness noted that “public safety is not improved as a result of [the ban],” and that “there is no transgression committed by owner or animal that is not covered by another, non-breed specific portion of the Animal Control Code (i.e., vicious animal, nuisance animal, leash laws).”

Following a thorough study of human fatalities resulting from dog bites, the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) decided not to support BSL. The CDC cited, among other problems, the inaccuracy of dog bite data and the difficulty in identifying dog breeds (especially true of mixed-breed dogs). The CDC also noted the likelihood that as certain breeds are regulated, those who exploit dogs by making them aggressive will replace them with other, unregulated breeds.

What’s Wrong with Breed-Specific Laws?

BSL carries a host of negative and wholly unintended consequences:

  • Dogs go into hiding
    Rather than give up their beloved pets, owners of highly regulated or banned breeds often attempt to avoid detection of their “outlaw” dogs by restricting outdoor exercise and socialization and forgoing licensing, microchipping, and proper veterinary care, including spay/neuter surgery and essential vaccinations. Such actions have implications both for public safety and the health of these dogs.
  • Good owners and dogs are punished
    BSL also causes hardship to responsible owners of entirely friendly, properly supervised, and well-socialized dogs who happen to fall within the regulated breed. Although these dog owners have done nothing to endanger the public, they are required to comply with local breed bans and regulations unless they are able to mount successful (and often costly) legal challenges.
  • They impart a false sense of security
    Breed-specific laws have a tendency to compromise rather than enhance public safety. When limited animal control resources are used to regulate or ban a certain breed of dog, without regard to behavior, the focus is shifted away from routine, effective enforcement of laws that have the best chance of making our communities safer:

    • Dog license laws
    • Leash laws
    • Animal fighting laws
    • Anti-tethering laws
    • Laws facilitating spaying and neutering
    • Laws that require all owners to control their dogs, regardless of breed
  • They may actually encourage ownership by irresponsible people
    If you outlaw a breed, then outlaws are attracted to that breed. Unfortunately some people take advantage of the “outlaw” status of their breed of choice to bolster their own self image as living outside of the rules of mainstream society. Ironically, the rise of pit bull ownership among gang members and others in the late 1980’s coincided with the first round of breed-specific legislation.

What’s the Alternative to Breed-Specific Laws?

In the aforementioned study, the CDC noted that many other factors beyond breed may affect a dog’s tendency toward aggression—things such as heredity, sex, early experience, reproductive status, socialization, and training. These last two concerns are well-founded, given that:

  • More than 70 percent of all dog bite cases involve unneutered male dogs.
  • An unneutered male dog is 2.6 times more likely to bite than is a neutered dog.
  • A chained or tethered dog is 2.8 times more likely to bite than a dog who is not chained or tethered.
  • 97 percent of dogs involved in fatal dog attacks in 2006 were not spayed/neutered.
  • 78 percent were maintained not as pets, but rather for guarding, image enhancement, fighting or breeding.
  • 84 percent were maintained by reckless owners-these dogs were abused or neglected, not humanely controlled or contained, or allowed to interact with children unsupervised.

Recognizing that the problem of dangerous dogs requires serious attention, the ASPCA seeks effective enforcement of breed-neutral laws that hold dog owners accountable for the actions of their animals. For help in drafting animal control laws, contact the ASPCA’s Government Relations department.

more on crate training

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Remember you are the CEO, the minute you give in and let him call the shots, then you’ve lost the respect of your dog and it will be an uphill battle to train him from that point forward. As long as your dog sees you as the one in control at all times, then the task of teaching a new behavior (such as staying in a kennel for hours at a time) becomes easier over time, rather than harder.


#1.  Stick to your goal. And don’t be intimidated by your dog.

Introduce your dog to the crate by placing it in a ‘people’ area (kitchen or family room). Use an old towel or blanket for bedding. Put your dog’s toys and a few treats in the open crate, allowing your dog to come and go as he wishes.

Feed your dog in the crate with the door closed. Clean up any spills promptlyit’s very important for the crate to stay clean. Your dog doesn’t need to stay in his crate long, but should get comfortable eating his meal there.

Put your dog in the crate when he is tired and ready for a nap. As soon as you hear him start to wake up, go to him and take him outside. Do not let him out if he is barking or whining because this will reward him for being noisy.  – Never let your dog out until you give the release word!  He should stay inside even if the door is open until he hears the release cue.


#2.  Resist the urge to change things inside the kennel.

If they tear up their bed or any other “comfort items” leave all of the old shredded bedding inside his kennel (after closely inspecting and removing any small or dangerous parts).  Often this will stop them from shredding stuff in their kennel! Perhaps because is very little left to shred. Perhaps it was because it makes them finally feel in control and comfortable with their environment.


So, this may be one time when a little messiness doesn’t hurt… in fact it may HELP!


#3.  Slowly increase the amount of time you leave your dog in the kennel.

Leaving your dog for 4 hours in the first week or so of crate-training may be too much too soon.

Several smaller increments of time spent inside the crate, as opposed to just 1 or 2 long spells in a day is very often much more successful. To achieve this, you may have to disrupt your usual “routine” a bit.


#4.  Make your dog stay in the kennel when you’re home sometimes, too.

This is to teach them that:

  1. A) You call the shots; and
  2. B) It isn’t a bad thing to have to be in the crate.

To do this, you have to make them spend time inside the kennel for no reason — several times throughout the day. Since you will be home and they will know it (sometimes seeing you and sometimes not), it can help them begin to feel more comfortable inside the crate. Of course they always get a BIG reward any time they stayed in there quietly for a long period of time.

You can change up the things you stuff the Kong with and change up the “only in the crate” treats, adding an antler or hoof, etc.

These “positives” help to make it a pleasant experience for your dog.  


#5.  Never use the crate as a bargaining tool or as a form of punishment.

No matter what, you can never use the crate as a form of punishment… or, as a bargaining chip whenever you’re communicating with your dogs.

“Stop it, or you’re going in the crate!” will set you back a few weeks in the course of your crate-training process. Especially if you carry out your threats and make the dog(s) go in the kennel at a time when they were being “bad”.

It’s simply confusing to the dog.

So remember, time inside the crate should always be a positive experience.


#6.  Don’t force your dog inside the kennel.

This could mean that you have to adjust your personal schedule (or arrive late sometimes), simply because you haven’t allotted enough time to properly crate the dog, stuff the Kong with dog treats, put his favorite toys in the kennel, etc.

Your aim is for your dog to have a good experience with each and every aspect of the crate — from entering, to lying down, to standing up, to playing with *new* or “all-time favorite” dog toys, to snacking on his most favorite dog treats, to spending long hours inside the kennel, to the moment the door is opened and he’s eventually let out of the crate.


#7.  Never set your dog up for failure.

As with everything you want to train your dog, you should never set your dog up to fail. Forcing your dog inside the crate only increases his anxiety, and puts him on edge right from the start. This increases the likelihood that he will perform some form of destructive behavior inside the crate. You are setting him up to fail.


Instead, try this:

Set things up so that your dog always views himself as having succeeded. With crate-training… you should go through a series of baby steps where your dog is rewarded for spending even milliseconds inside the crate without barking or digging. This is setting him up to succeed! Your dog should always enter the kennel of his own free will. That is the first sign of success, and he should be rewarded dearly (with a special treat) for that tiny bit of success.


 #8.  Praise & reward like crazy whenever you spot even the tiniest bit of progress.

Give TONS of praise for being good in the crate. (“Good” is a relative term… “good” if he’s made some improvement over his past behaviors.)



  • Every time you see LESS destruction inside the crate than the time before, you give MORE praise than the time before. It can start with the basic (unemotional) “Good boy. Good dog in the kennel.” This was immediately followed by a big bear hug, at which point, you both go outside for frolicking and fun in the backyard.
  • The next time, if there is even less destruction, you raise the pitch of your voice to sound even happier with the dog’s progress and physically show them with longer hugs (or whatever form of affection they love the best – some don’t like being hugged) and bigger smiles that you are very proud of him for being a “good boy inside the kennel.”
  • You get the picture.  The better the behavior in the crate, the more wonderful the rewarding praise, treats, fun games, etc., until your dog knows, without question, how incredibly proud you are of his achievement and how this FUN time together of hugging and praising will happen every time that he’s good inside the crate.
  • In the end, despite the fact that this process of crate training an adult dog can be actually torturous sometimes, the end result will be worth it.  


Boundary Training Your Dog

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1. Carefully consider where you want the boundary line to be and don’t change it once you have decided. Walk the perimeter without your dog and make sure the area inside is safe. It is helpful to use visual markers like small flags (I suggest you get the ones with metal stakes rather than plastic). If you have a dense tree line around the boundary, or shrub line, you can use those natural landmarks. If you want your dog to stay out of certain areas like gardens, flower beds, etc., put the flags around those as well. Dogs are extremely visual and have a remarkable ability to remember visual markers. Be sure to incorporate their sense of smell. For safety purposes are sure to keep the boundary line two or three feet back from the “real” boundary. This is especially important if the real boundary is at the edge of a street or sidewalk. Everyone in the household needs to be involved and be consistent! I cannot stress that enough.
2. After the boundary is established, start walking your dog along the boundary line on leash. Do this at least four to six times a day for 3 days to a week (depending on the dog). Be sure to encourage them to sniff along the line. Never let them cross the invisible line with a paw or even a nose – not even an inch. If they do, give them a verbal correction like “EH EH” or “TOO FAR!” and if necessary use a quick leash correction. You can use “No” which is the universal human-to-dog correction word if your dog knows that word and responds to it for any behavior you do not want.
3. When your dog is no longer attempting to investigate anything outside the imaginary line, begin walking him up to it and stopping. It is beneficial to teach your dog “wait” “stay” and “stop” for many reasons but particularly useful for this training. Don’t forget to continue walking your dog around the boundary line every day while advancing the training! Work on this every day until your dog is consistently stopping at the line.
4. Usually within a week you are ready to cross the boundary line while instructing your dog to stay behind the line and knowing he will do just that.  Step over the line just a few feet at first after giving the “stay” command. How consistent your dog is with “stay” will determine how long you wait before returning to your dog, giving them their release word or phrase to let him know he can break the stay and then praising and treating. Remember, stay isn’t finished until you have released your dog and he has broken position. Just like with training “stay” you will want to begin to “proof” your dog’s understanding of the boundary and ability to respect it no matter what is going on beyond the mystical, invisible barrier. You can begin by tossing treats or a favorite toy or ball just a few feet over the boundary. Hopefully, you have taught your dog the “leave it” command and he is solid with that one! If you have, it will aid in helping him understand that anything outside the line is off limits! If he looks at you rather than trying to get the treat or toy or whatever you have tossed IT’S PUPPY PARTY TIME! Use a DIFFERENT treat or toy reward and lots of praise!
5. It is imperative that you are consistent and that he is never allowed to cross the boundary line without your permission (using his release word or phrase or a separate one just for the boundary line like “Lets go walking” and only use that one when you are taking him outside of the boundary at the ONE designated spot that you have predetermined. If you want to use his leash, start early so his advanced cue can be simply presenting the leash. It is imperative that he only learns egress and ingress from ONE spot, so determine that spot early on.
6. After a couple of weeks of reinforcing the boundary over and over every day, your dog should be catching on. It is time to drop the leash and let it drag. In fact, I suggest making yourself a very light weight lead (strong enough to stop your dog if you have to step on it of course) so he feels “free.” Using the lightweight long lead, repeat Step 4 and let him impress you with what he has learned.  Use lots of treats or whatever rewards motivate your dog most and praise when they remain inside the boundary or ignore items tossed over. Be sure to reward ONLY INSIDE the boundary line so you are not tempting them to cross.
7. Once your dog is consistently respecting the boundary line and ignoring treats, toys, etc., raise the stakes. Begin to incorporate more tempting distractions, like a neighbor or friend walking outside the boundary line, having someone (kids if possible) tossing balls and playing outside the boundary, someone riding a bike, etc. When you think your dog is ready for the “ultimate test” have someone walk their dog on leash outside the line. It is also good to leave your dog inside the boundary line while you walk past it, i.e. into a neighbor’s yard, and have a conversation while your dog waits for you inside the line. Don’t ruse the advanced steps! Remember set your pooch up for success by making each goal attainable!
8. If your dog struggles or makes a mistake at any point along the way, don’t get frustrated, just simply go back a step or two and continue to consistently reinforce the rules. You must lead by example when teaching your dog. In other words, you must make sure you are always, without fail, consistent. Never harshly punish them for making a mistake; just go back a little and reinforce from the point your dog was successful.
9. Practice walking toward the boundary as you FOLLOW your dog, walking behind him. The goal is for him to stop at the line on his own. You can use the “Stop” command if necessary. It is a good command for your dog to learn anyway, especially for this training. Call him to “Come” to you, away from the boundary. Remember to use lots and lots of praise and treats when your dog returns to you on command. This command can save your dog’s life and should be reinforced for their lifetime.
10. Make it fun and be creative with your temptations to cross the line and be sure to work at different areas along the boundary line. This training is something you must reinforce over and over throughout your dog’s lifetime if you want it to become so deeply ingrained that it is a natural behavior and nothing in the world besides your permission cue will get them across that line.
Solid boundary training can take a few MONTHS so please do not rush it! Have fun with it and celebrate each victory, as you should when training your dog any new behavior. Once it is successfully and fully trained, your dog can run around outside without a physical boundary and you can feel safe knowing he will stay inside the “safe zone” you have created with your dog.
Boundary training is important even if you have a real fence or an invisible electric fence. Those types of containment methods do not teach dog boundaries. They simply confine them and many a dog has learned to escape those containment barriers. If your dog understands boundaries and respects the boundaries you have determined and taught him, he will be happier and have much less desire to “break free” so to speak.
NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER tie or chain your dog to ANYTHING as a means to contain your dog. This only creates a stronger desire to break free. This is largely because they are forced into a situation of being a sitting duck and they absolutely know that if any danger approaches they have no ability to flee to safety and that is cruel beyond words. Your goal should be to teach, not just restrict your dog.
Remember, boundary training does not keep unwanted visitors – whether it is animal or human – outside of the boundary so never leave your dog outside when you are away.
Also, remember that some dogs can become more territorial of the space inside the boundary line so be sure to invite friends, neighbors, family and friendly dogs (with their human guardians of course) into the space while working on the boundary training. 