Five tips to make the most of train your dog month

San Diego Dog Training - Train Your Dog Month - clicker trainingJanuary is the Association of Pet Dog Trainers‘ (APDT) National Train Your Dog Month. Falling smack-dab in the midst of our New Year’s Resolutions, Train Your Dog Month is a month dedicated to making dog training a part of our everyday lives. People are busy, and, if you’re like me, your greatest wish may be for “more hours in the day”. So, as the month continues, here are some tips to help us all continue to work dog training into our lives each day.

  1. Set small goals. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the goals we set for our dogs’ behavior. Start small. Think about something you know your dog can handle, and focus on a behavior that’s just slightly harder. [Read more…]

The easiest way to train your dog

My students often ask me what is the best way to ensure success in their dog’s training.  In my experience, the students who seem to be the most successful are those who find ways to integrate the lessons they teach their dog into their lifestyle.  This ensures the dog is getting regular practice in real life situations, and the message is very consistent.

My recent article, The Easiest Way to Train Your Dog, was published on DogTV’s blog and has some simple suggestions for reinforcing the great behaviors your dog is probably already doing during the time you are already spending with her.

Happy training!

Rainy day dog training games using free shaping and positive reinforcement

As the San Diego winter rolls in with rain and chilly weather, some dogs will be short-changed on long walks and trips to the dog park on bad weather days.  Free shaping with your dog can be a great way to burn off some of your dog’s mental energy, especially on rainy days you spend inside together.  Free shaping is an exercise that empowers your dog by teaching him to think, make decisions, and focus on a task.  It involves teaching your dog tricks by capturing behaviors he performs as he moves incrementally toward your ultimate goal for the trick.

This game is best played with a clicker (small box that makes a “click” sound to mark correct behaviors).  Visit for more information on clicker training.  If your dog is not clicker trained yet, you can still play this game.  If you have a clicker, spend a day clicking the clicker and following it with a treat so your dog learns to associate the click sound with receiving a piece of food.  The click will then mean, “you have done the correct behavior, and you will soon receive a food reward.”  If you do not have a clicker, you can still play the game by using a word such as “GOOD!” or “YES!” to mark correct behaviors, and follow that word with a treat.  In either case, you will want to be very specific with your timing by clicking your clicker or saying your word right at the moment your dog performs the behavior.  The treat always follows this mark. [Read more…]