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Why Calm Assertive Energy is Bullsh*t

Why Calm Assertive Energy is Bullsh*t

Last year a woman came to me for help. Before that she had been desperate to stop her Rotti mix, Mason, from behaving badly and found a “boot camp” style trainer that promised to rehabilitate her dog. Upon meeting Mason, the man put a choke collar on the dog, and after Mason growled, the man hung him from his neck off of the tailgate of a truck. Amazingly, his only physical injury was tracheal damage, but emotionally Mason was heavily scarred. He suffered through a handful of sessions, as the woman still believed that a heavy hand was needed for such a big and powerful breed.  Eventually though, she realized that the man was abusing Mason, and she filed a complaint with local humane society.

When Mason came into my office, he was broken. He was completely shut down. Not understanding which behaviors caused the man to hurt him, Mason simply stopped doing any behaviors. (We call that “learned helplessness” in dog training, and unfortunately I see it all too often. Mason’s was the worst case I’ve ever encountered, though.)

Over time, with a complete change in working WITH Mason rather than AGAINST him, not only did he make significant positive changes, his owner was relieved that she didn’t have to use force and punishment to address his fears.

So, why am I telling you this story, if this blog post is about “calm assertive energy?” Well, one popular television icon associated with dog training has coined the phrase and his reach is far and wide. I often see the phrase splashed on websites and marketing materials from those that follow that belief. In fact, if you’re a dog, you’ve likely heard the phrase “calm assertive energy,” because it is so readily used—especially when talking about fixing behavior problems, as it was with Mason.

If you’re looking to actually make lasting behaviour changes with your dog or a clients’ dog, allow me to walk you through the reasoning behind why you should tuck tail and run the other way if someone tells you that you should have “calm assertive energy” with your dog.


What does “calm assertive energy” actually mean?

You tell me. It leaves for a lot of interpretation. Calm could mean one thing to one person and another thing to someone else. The definition of assertive is “having or showing a confident and forceful personality.” So, if I remain calm and confident but I am forceful with my dog, they will change what I want them to change?


Which leads us to …


It isn’t quantifiable.

When I train any dog, I craft a training plan that spells out exactly what the dog can do today and what I need him to learn to do at the end of it. We come up with clearly defined steps outlining how to get from A to B. For effective behaviour change we need a desired and measurable outcome. How do we quantify “energy?”


Your dog doesn’t care about your energy/aura/mystical presence.

While we’re on the topic of “energy,” let me relieve you of one burden: severe behaviour problems are not due to your energy. It doesn’t help things if you are extremely stressed or anxious when trying to work with your dog; however, your aura is not what got you to where you are today. If your dog reacts aggressively towards other dogs or toward people, it’s not because you weren’t being Zen enough around him. There are so many variables that contribute to reactivity, and the way we fix it is to address and modify the way your pup feels about things that set him off. We fix the problem by teaching him that something he once perceived negatively is now a good thing. Change the emotional response, and the problem goes away.

A thorough behaviour change program including training plans and, often times, working with both a veterinarian and a behaviour consultant is necessary. Asserting your presence or strength by using force will only weaken the relationship you have with your dog and often times suppress true behaviour which will result in worsening the issue—just like we saw in poor Mason.


It perpetuates a dangerous behaviour myth.

Assertiveness relates to the dominance myth—that we’re in a power struggle with our dog, and we need to show him who is the boss. This is not only a falsehood; worse than that, it leads us down a dangerous path of using force and coercion to change behaviour. There is plenty of scientific evidence to accurately identify that dogs are NOT trying to assume an alpha position and that asserting dominance will not solve your problems. Beyond that, it can actually cause your dog to become aggressive, as a study led by University of Pennsylvania researcher Meghan E. Herron demonstrated.

In her study, the following techniques elicited an aggressive response from the percentage of dogs indicated:

• hit or kick dog: elicited aggression from 43 percent of the dogs studied,
• growl at dog: 41 percent,
• physically force the release of an item from a dog’s mouth: 39 percent,
• alpha roll (physically roll the dog onto its back and hold it): 31 percent,
• stare at or stare down: 30 percent,
• dominance down (physically force the dog down onto its side): 29 percent
• grab dog by jowls and shake: 26 percent.

“This study highlights the risk of dominance-based training, which has been made popular by TV, books and punishment-based training advocates,” Herron said. “These techniques are fear-eliciting and may lead to owner-directed aggression.”


It doesn’t help you, or your dog.

My goal as a trainer and behaviour consultant is to help you define the problem you are having and to give you a clear training plan to get there. We change parameters based on measurable results. There’s nothing murky about how this is executed. As a client, you deserve to spend your hard earned money on a service that actually gives you a clear path for behaviour modification.

Otherwise, it’s bullsh*it.


Edited by Tracy Krulik

Socializing an Adult Rescue

Socializing an Adult Rescue

via The Academy for Dog Trainers, J. Donaldson

The field of applied dog behavior is replete with disagreement on every topic. Every topic but one: socialization. Everybody agrees that the highest priority when you acquire a puppy is socialization. Get the puppy out to experience sights, sounds, people and dogs so that, as an adult, he’s comfortable and relaxed around strangers and in novel surroundings. There is also good agreement that, between the socialization mandate and training, puppies are time-intensive, to the point that people with jobs outside the home are encouraged to get adult dogs. Couple this with the desire to save a life, and the net effect is a lot of conscientious people with adult dogs from shelters and rescue groups. So, what’s the deal on socialization now? Do you need to maintain it? What if you’ve adopted and your new dog is shy or skittish – or defensive – around people? Is it a lost cause? If not, what can you do?

Most dogs who are shy around new people – and even those who are specifically hand-shy, head-ducking when reached for – are the way they are through errors of omission rather than commission. Fearfulness is a genetic default setting in animals that has been shaped over eons, and that domestication has softened but not eliminated. Erring on the side of avoiding new things served the ancestors of all dogs very well. We can push back against fearfulness in two ways: genetics and environment. If we cease pushing back, default fearfulness will re­emerge, which is why shyness and fear-aggression is so prevalent. So, while it’s possible a shy dog has had traumatic experiences, such a history is far from necessary to produce fear. In fact, this is why socialization of puppies is such a high priority endeavor.


Play it Safe and Gather Information

When you bring a new dog home, don’t take it for granted that he will be friendly to all people, even if he took to you on your first meeting. Socialization is specific: dogs who are comfortable around adults are not necessarily well-socialized to children, and dogs who like women won’t necessarily like men. So gather intell while playing it safe around new people. The rule is this: nobody should reach for or touch your dog if your dog hasn’t moseyed up to them first. This is called “pro-social” behavior, and is in contrast to anti-social behavior (frank fight or flight) and the less obvious “asocial” behavior, which is a dog giving you no read: no wagging and approaching but no fight or flight either. Still waters running deep. Careful.

If your new rescue dog is pro-social to all groups, first celebrate – this is quite glorious – and, second, think maintenance. Get him out regularly, and avoid bad experiences. Some dogs do “de-socialize” if they are allowed to get rusty. And a really bad experience – think a self-proclaimed expert alpha-rolling your new kid – can create a lifelong fear in an instant.

If he’s not pro-social to all groups, then the fight-flight-still-waters details come into play. If he’s frankly aggressive, don’t despair, as this is no longer a death-sentence. But you do need good professional help, so engage a competent trainer or veterinary behaviorist to get you on a therapeutic regime. Professional help is also good if he’s an offense-as-defense kid. But because the moral and legal stakes are not so high here, DIY training is an option.


How to Socialize a Spooky New Dog

The technique of choice is classical conditioning: associate the presence of people with incredible snacks, something the dog never, ever gets except when strangers are around.

Shoot for a 1:1 ratio between strangers and the super-high value treat. Maintaining a 1:1 ratio means not missing opportunities, and this is the hard bit. However well-intentioned you are, and however much you understand classical conditioning in theory, you need a practical system to ensure you’re always armed with diced chicken or pecorino Romano cheese when there’s a situation where the dog might encounter strangers. Prep zip-lock baggies full of ammo . Put some in the fridge and some in the freezer so you’re never caught without. You could also have freeze-dried liver or dried chicken strips in a bag that lives with the poop pick-up bags or the leash, as a back-up plan. It’s that important to be armed all the time.


The Right to Say No

Some dogs are “asocial” – no frank fight or flight, just no interest in people, that is until they get too close. If anyone makes a move to reach for or touch your asocial dog, slow them down, which may take a bit of doing. People are notorious about thinking they are “good with dogs” and may ignore your instructions. The worst case scenario if you don’t keep a dog whisperer at bay is a reach forcing your uncomfortable dog to aggress, which will indeed work like a charm to back the person off. And so he learns in one trial that offense does work as defense. Much better if you keep the person at bay tossing or hand-feeding treats without any attempts at patting. If your dog wants contact with the person, he’ll vote with his feet. All dogs have the right to say “no” and we want them doing this without their teeth. To keep your dog on the road to believing the world is in fact a safe place, prove to him that people don’t make contact unless he initiates it. Empower him to have the choice.


Confidence Building Activities

The best one is reward-based training. Even if he’s a model dog and doesn’t need training, train him anyway. Enroll in a non-force method obedience course, or a tricks class. Or get hold of one of the wonderful, accessible books on clicker training, such as Karen Pryor’s “Don’t Shoot the Dog!” and shape tricks in your living room. It doesn’t matter if you’re not much of a trainer, as we’re after the process of training here, rather than the product. Another great activity is playing with the dog using his toys. If he doesn’t seem to be much of a fetcher or tugger on the face of it, don’t give up. Persevere at trying to engage him. Finally, work-to-eat endeavors are excellent for behavioral wellness. A huge variety of sophisticated puzzle toys now exist that can accommodate part or even all of his daily meal ration. Dogs are descended from wolves, who are consummate problem-solving predators, and free food in a bowl is against the grain.


The Prognosis

With good management, which means protecting them from those pushy people, shy dogs tend to continue making gradual improvements over the course of their lives. With classical conditioning treatment, the pace is accelerated and the ceiling (best outcome) is a dog who actively likes strangers rather than tolerates them.

New Dog Introductions

New Dog Introductions

The biggest mistakes you can make introducing your new dog to the resident dog(s):

  1. Not preparing
  2. Rushing introductions
  3. Not having prevention and management in place


The best place to set up a meeting for the first time with your resident dog is at a neutral space. This would be an area that is quiet and not a place you frequent often. Even a block away from your home could be considered your dogs “territory” so choose somewhere you don’t go very often and won’t have a lot of other dogs.

Set up separate spaces in the home by using baby gates. We can’t just throw the dogs into the deep end and expect them to share the space peacefully from the get-go. Using some gates allows the dogs to sniff each other and get used to each other slowly without pushing the limits. It also allows you to give lots of snacks for good interactions through those gates and test the waters in a safe way. The more time you take during this process the higher likelihood that you will create a long lasting positive relationship with the dogs.

  1. Arrive separately, one handler for each dog
  2. Meet at a distance first, as soon as the dogs notice each other give them snacks to make a good first impression
  3. Slowly get closer and watch their body language. If there is any reactive behaviour such as lunging or barking immediately walk the dogs parallel to each other starting approximately 50 feet apart. Get them moving and gradually bridge the distance which giving treats whenever possible. Give them space and TAKE YOUR TIME. If it doesn’t look like it will go well
  4. If body language appears relaxed then let them do a quick 3-second sniff, move away and give both dogs treats
  5. Repeat #4 a few more times and then head out on a parallel walk together

Since you’ve prepared separate areas in the house using gates, bring the new dog into the home first and into the gated space (could be a bedroom, kitchen area or office). Get him/her busy with a stuffed Kong and let them start decompressing. Next bring in your resident dog. There is less likelihood of your resident dog guarding the space if the new dog is already inside.

Keep in mind that doorways, narrow halls and doors entering and exiting the home are “hot zones”. This means that scuffles are likely to happen here so please time leashing up dogs, taking them in/out carefully.

You should not rush getting rid of the gates until you have had plenty of good experiences in the yard and on parallel leash walks.

Always feed your dogs separately and behind the baby gates. Food guarding can rear its head with even the most well adjusted dog so being preventative means giving the dogs their own space. Pick up bowls afterwards and ensure they both have their own water bowls. Sharing can come later (if they would like that). Rotate their feeding locations as well to ensure no space guarding happens.

Be cautious leaving toys and high value food items such as bully sticks. This can often cause fights and until the relationship between the dogs has solidified and is more predictable it’s not worth setting them up to fail. It’s normal for animals to squabble over such items, especially in stressful or new situations.

People squabble and argue, so do dogs. As long as no one needed a trip to the vet I would do your best to move on and analyze how the fight could have been prevented. Punishing the “offender” will only affirm to that dog that the other dog is bad news. He won’t make the association that us humans don’t like dogs fighting (even though we argue with each other all the time, we just don’t use our teeth). Take them on a walk together and use plenty of treats to build those good associations again.

Know that nothing typically goes as planned however, when you have a plan things can sure go much smoother!

Dog Friendly North Shore

Dog Friendly North Shore

It’s great when businesses are dog friendly, it makes taking your new puppy out socializing or giving your adult dog something stimulating to do. In the summer, if you must take your dog with you, it means not leaving your dog in a hot vehicle. 🙂  Ensure your dog is tended to at all times as the privilege of dog-friendly locale’s isn’t something to be taken for granted! Please email me if you’d like to be added to this list.

Note: restaurants and cafes typically request dogs to be tethered to outside railings of their patio’s, each one may vary so please check ahead of time or ask when arriving.

North Vancouver

Alberello Pizzeria
Browns Social House (tethered to outside of patio)
Bridge Brewing
JJ Bean
Lionsgate Pizza
Moja Coffee
North Vancouver Hotel
Pinnacle at the Pier Hotel
Shortstop Brake & Muffler
Tap & Barrel Shipyards
TD Bank
The Hurricane Grill
Travelodge Lions Gate
Unity Clothing

West Vancouver
Home Depot

Top Ten Dog Behavior Myths

Top Ten Dog Behavior Myths

#1: Dogs are naturally pack animals with a clear social order.

This one falls apart immediately, because all the evidence suggests that free-ranging dogs
(pariahs, feral and semi-feral populations) don’t form packs. Dogs actually form loose,
amorphous, transitory associations with other dogs. And males do not participate in the rearing
of young as occurs in a wolf pack.

#2: If you let dogs exit doorways ahead of you, you’re letting them be dominant.

There is not only no evidence for this, there is no evidence that the behavior of going through a
doorway has any social significance whatsoever. In order to lend this idea any plausibility, it
would first need to be ruled out that rapid doorway exit is not simply a function of their motivation
to get to whatever is on the other side combined with their higher ambulation speed. Dogs walk
faster than us.

#3: In multi-dog households, “support the hierarchy” by giving presumed dominant animals patting, treats etc. first, before giving to presumed subordinate animals.

There is no evidence that this has any impact on inter-dog relations, or any type of aggression.
In fact, if one dog were being aggressive toward another, the laws governing Pavlovian
conditioning would dictate an opposite strategy: Teach aggressive dogs that another dog
receiving scarce resources predicts that they are about to receive some. If so practiced, the
aggressive dog develops a happy emotional response to other dogs getting stuff, a helpful piece
of training indeed. No valuable conditioning effects are achieved by giving the presumed higher
ranking dog goodies first.

#4: Dogs have an innate desire to please.

This is a concept that has never been operationally defined, let alone tested. A vast
preponderance of evidence, however, suggests that dogs, like all properly functioning animals,
are motivated by food, water, sex, and like many animals, by play and access to bonded
relationships, especially after an absence. They are also, like all animals, motivated by fear and
pain and these are the inevitable tools of those who eschew the use of food, play etc., however
much they cloak their coercion and collar tightening in desire to please rhetoric. So when a
trainer says s/he is relying on this, make sure it’s not code for some sort of metal collar.

#5: Rewards are bribes and thus compromise relationships.

Related to #4, the idea that behavior should just, in the words of Susan Friedman, PhD, “flow like
a fountain” without need of consequences, is opposed by more than sixty years of unequivocal
evidence that behavior is, again to quote Friedman, “a tool to produce consequences.” Another
problem is that bribes are given before behavior and rewards after. And, a mountain of evidence
from decades of research in pure and applied settings has demonstrated over and over that
positive reinforcement – i.e. reward – makes relationships better, never worse.

#6: If you pat your dog when he’s afraid, you’re rewarding the fear.

Fear is an emotional state, a reaction to the presence or anticipation of something highly
aversive. It is not an attempt at manipulation. If terrorists enter a bank and order everybody
down on the floor, the people will exhibit fearful behavior. If I then give one of the bank
customers on the floor a compliment, twenty bucks or chocolates is this going to make them
more afraid of terrorists next time? It’s stunningly narcissistic to imagine that a dog’s fearful
behavior is somehow directed at us (along with his door dashing).

#7: Punish dogs for growling or else they’ll become aggressive.

Dogs growl because something that is upsetting them is too close. If you punish them for
informing us of this, they are still upset but now not letting us know, thus allowing scary things to
get closer and possibly end up bitten. Ian Dunbar calls this “removing the ticker from the time
bomb.” Much better to make the dog comfortable around what he’s growling at so he’s not
motivated to make it go away in the first place.

#8: Playing tug makes dogs aggressive.

There is no evidence that this is so. The only study ever done found no correlation between
playing tug and the incidence of aggression directed at either family members or strangers. Tug
is, in fact, a cooperative behavior directed at simulated prey: the toy.

#9: If you give dogs chew toys, they’ll learn to chew everything.

This is a Pandora’s Box type of argument that has zero evidence to support it. Dogs are
excellent discriminators and readily learn to distinguish their toys from forbidden items with
minimal training. The argument is also logically flawed as chewing is a behavior that waxes and
wanes depending on satiation/deprivation. Dogs without chew objects are like zoo animals in
barren cages. Unless there is good compensation with other enrichment activities, there is
actually a welfare issue.

#10: You can’t modify “genetic” behavior.

All behavior is a product of an interplay between genes and the environment. And while some
behaviors require less learning than others, or no learning at all, their modifiability varies as
much as does the modifiability of behaviors that are primarily learned.

What It Means To Be Your Dog’s Leader

What It Means To Be Your Dog’s Leader

It May Not Be What You Think!

If you’re a dog person you’ve likely hear the term ‘Leadership’ more than once. We’re told as dog guardians that we need to be the Leader of the Pack and let our dogs know who runs the show.  But, being a true “Leader” when it comes to our dogs may be very different than what you’ve been led to believe.


1. Be Consistent & Get On The Same Page

Often times we make one set of rules for our dogs but then change our mind about when we follow through or not. Unfortunately dogs can’t read our minds and understand when it’s ok to be on the couch and when it’s not. They are constantly trying to put together patterns because we are so inconsistent. Make it easier for your dog remaining true to what you ask them to do such as not rewarding jumping up by giving attention or sitting before leaving for walks out the front door. If you have multiple family members this is where a family meeting would be a great idea so everyone can agree on what the rules are and how important it is so that your dog isn’t confused. Are dogs not allowed on the couch? Then everyone needs to be on the same page. Not allowed food from the table so your dog doesn’t beg? Get on the same page.

2. Be A Clear Communicator

Dogs do not understand our verbal communication very well. As mentioned above we are very inconsistent, and when it comes to talking to them we often use different tones of voice, we use longer sentences sometimes and then other times we only use one word! But, we expect them to understand what we are saying… all the time! Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. That’s why it’s very important when you are training basic obedience skills that you:

  • don’t repeat your verbal cues
  • use the same verbal cue consistenly
  • use a marker word like “yes!” when they get it right, and reward consistently
  • use a happy tone, your dog will pay much more attention and be happier to comply

3. Be Kind

“Be the leader you would follow” ~ unknown
The days of using a firm hand and the “alpha” theory have long been denounced as having a negative impact on our companion animals, there is no need. Being kind is not a sign of weakness. And being kind does not mean being permissive of everything either. What it does mean is that if you are not happen with certain behaviours from your dog then make the effort to teach them what you would like them to do INSTEAD. And REWARD them for it! Nuisance behaviours such as jumping up, pulling on lead, barking for attention and more can all be changed by teaching them something in place and using rewards to let them know when they get it right.  Points 1 and 2 will help you get there! Punishing after the fact often won’t change the behaviour and many times can make it worse. Keep in mind that dogs are not humans and the way we communicate with them will often times not mean what we had intended!


Honing your communication skills will show a deeper understanding and a better connection with your dog, and THAT is what makes a true leader.


Adoption Made Easier

Adoption Made Easier

dog-adoptionAdoption Made Easier

After spending a considerable amount of time thinking about adding a new family member to your household you’ve decided to adopt a dog…. congratulations! Whether you adopt through a shelter, a reputable rescue group or perhaps a situation in which someone is rehoming a dog, you’re making a difference to an animal in need.

After you bring your new family member home you may feel overwhelmed. Guaranteed your dog will feel the same way. He’s in a new environment, with new people and not sure what to expect.  He may have had a rocky past and can’t trust you quite yet. Here’s how to make the transition easier for you both.

Take the Pressure Off

As mentioned, an animal in a new environment has no way of knowing whether they are safe. Naturally, an animal will be worried about this unknown. YOU know you already love this dog but he has no idea! The proof will be in your actions, or lack thereof. What I mean by this is instead of bombarding him with affection, take the pressure off and let the dog explore his new environment without worrying about this new person constantly forcing interaction. Let him come to you. When he does, break out some snacks. It’s all about associations for animals, if you are associated with a necessity (food) this is going to warm your dog up quickly!

Be Patient and Proactive vs Reactive

Accidents in the house should be expected. Even a “house trained” dog put in a stressful or new situation will likely have accidents. He may even chew or destroy things. If this happens don’t get angry, just do better. That means providing plenty of items your dog is ALLOWED to chew on (think antlers, bully sticks, stuffed Kongs), put things away that you don’t want damaged, ensure counters are clear and shoes are put away. You may want to baby gate a confinement area in your home while you are testing the waters. Take your dog out frequently for bathroom breaks and party and reward with snacks just as you would house train a puppy.  Don’t assume an adult dog will know. And punishment after the fact will only prevent your dog from bonding and trusting you.

Multi-Dog Households

If you have another dog it will be important to introduce the dogs on neutral territory. Let them sniff for a few seconds on leash, move them away for plenty of treats and then get them moving on a parallel walk right away. Give both dogs plenty of snacks to make good associations. Before you bring home the new dog ensure you have a baby gated area to keep the dogs separate, this is very important. Dogs should be fed and sleep separately during this adjustment period. Over the days you can gradually integrate both dogs into the general living environment. Most arguements happen over resources (food, toys, spaces) and doorways can be a real hot spot so be preventative. Take it slow. Make good associations with both dogs.

Lower Your Expectations

Your last dog was PERFECT… smart, easy to please and irreplaceable. That’s correct, you cannot replace dogs you’ve had in the past so ensure your expectations aren’t that your newly adopted dog will be anything like another dog. Dogs are individuals comprised of a different set of genes, a different personality and history (yes, even puppies are reared very differently from litter to litter). You may be setting up your new family dynamic to fail from the get-go. This doesn’t mean that an adopted dog will be riddled with “issues” but you have to be realistic that you will have to put work and effort in for the transition to be a success.

Remain Open-minded

There are so many possibilities once you get to know your dog. He may have a super-sniffer and you could eventually enroll in Nosework. Perhaps he has field lines and can run like the wind and you can take up trail running together. Maybe he is a couch potato and will be your perfect Netflix buddy. There is an outlet for every single dog on this planet and it can be your project to find out what that is and enjoy it together!  Keep an open mind going into adoption and you’ll be more aware of the fantastic traits every dog no matter where they came from, how old they are or any limitations they may have.  Kind of like people.

We Don’t Get To Choose

We Don’t Get To Choose

We Don’t Get To Choose

The Fallacies of the “No Food” Training Camps


reward-training-calling-your-dog-to-come-4It’s true that animals find all different types of things rewarding in their day to day life. Working breeds often find toy/play rewards motivating when learning whereas the majority of other dog breeds/mixes consistently find food rewarding. When changing associations, such as a dog that is fearful of strangers, potent and novel food reinforcement has been proven very effective (think steak!). You may have heard of Pavlov and how he used food to associate the sound of a bell, which elicited an emotional response of salivation.

I often find it interesting when I come across a dog trainer that makes the following statement: “No treats, only praise!” If you think about it that would be like me saying to you, “Sorry, you cannot find money rewarding for your hard work, I am only offering you hugs and praise. BUT… I expect you to work just as hard as you would for money!” Hmmmmmm, probably wouldn’t go over very well NOR would it be effective.

What an animal finds rewarding is not something that humans have the luxury of choosing. If that were the case I would save a bundle on dog training treats and food! I use what has been researched and proven in the scientific community to be effective and won’t have harmful side effects. It’s unethical to motivate an animal using intimidation, force and pain. The side effects from that approach are one I see in clients frequently and it’s not because people want to hurt their dogs. They are counting on the “experts” they are paying to give them the most accurate information!

scienceIf you are worried that using food in training will spoil your dog or become a bribe I would encourage you to think about food as reward for a good job or payment. Dogs unfortunately do not do things because they’d like our respect or love. They are selfish in that they do what works for them or has worked in the past. It may be disappointing once you learn the truth but understanding animal behaviour means that fallacies about animals thinking the way humans do only means we can work and live with them more effectively.

When it comes to changing fear and negative associations there are many specifics to the process in which a qualified trainer will be able to coach you through. It is a long road but the use of high value food (to the dog, not you) is a key component in the process as well as timing, consistency and a well-designed training plan.

Ask trainers questions. LOTS of questions. If they make a statement then ask them where they learned that or if there is research to back up those statements. It’s a murky profession with no regulation. Please do due diligence. You and your dog deserve the best.

Where to find a qualified trainer:


Harness the Love

Harness the Love

Harness the Love

Quick & Dirty No-Pull Walkies


The first thing I suggest to clients that are having a hard time walking their dog because they are pulling so much is to change the equipment. We want to be mindful about the equipment we choose to use with our dogs to ensure that no pain is used…. after all, it’s not necessary!

Front clip no-pull harnesses come in a variety of sizes and styles so it’s best to try a few to ensure a comfortable fit.  The reason front clip harnesses work so well is that they redirect the dog sideways when they pull; not the direction they would like. At first it seems a tad awkward, and it is! But eventually the dog gets the drift and things go smoothly with much less pulling.

Training Still Matters

While changing equipment helps it isn’t the WHOLE picture. Rewarding your dog with snacks when he is walking nicely and not pulling is going to let him know that we want more of that good stuff AND he will often give you check ins (looking at you) in case a snack may be about to come. Reward those! This means less pulling!

My standard go-to for walks with my dogs is a front clip harness and my treat pouch (oh, and don’t forget poop bags!). I’ve got it ready to go for all walks and it makes it much more enjoyable. I don’t spend my whole walk getting frustrated, I train!

“He Still Pulls!”

It may be time to bring in a professional so that you can get the coaching you need to fast-track leash walks. A few tweaks and demos of how to do things right often helps.  And remember… it takes time! It’s not an overnight process and often times after a week or two it may seem like it’s taking forever but if you throw in the towel and change things your dog will only become confused. Dogs do what works and if pulling worked for the first year or more it’s going to take time and patience to teach him a more rewarding behaviour.

For Breeders

Puppy Culture represents a gold standard
in puppy rearing and early socialization.


Puppy Culture has done the research for you and distilled down a hundred years of combined experience into easy to follow protocols. You’ll receive week-by-week and step-by-step instructions, proven by science and experience to ensure the best outcomes for your puppies.

You have more power than you think.Puppy Culture DVD

Breeders have more opportunity to make a dramatic impact on a puppy’s ultimate personality than anyone else ever will. By the time the puppy goes to his new home, much of that opportunity has already been lost. Puppy Culture shows you what you need to do, when, in order to take advantage of your power as a breeder.

Preparing your puppy buyers is as important as breeding good puppies.

Nothing’s more frustrating than sending a perfect puppy to new home only to get a phone call months later that the puppy is acting out or having problems. We give you check lists and key points to share with your puppy buyers which will prepare them to follow through with the Puppy Culture program after you send their puppy home with them.

Something you can share with your puppy people.

Puppy Culture answer a lot of the questions puppy buyers commonly have and help them set reasonable expectations for their new puppies. From basic training to finding the right puppy class, your puppy owners are in good hands with Puppy Culture!

We put your passion on film.breederemblem

Whether its your first litter or your fiftieth, when you look in that whelping box, you see a history of all the dogs you’ve loved, and your hope for the generations to come. You’re not putting puppies on the ground, your putting new relationships into the world. Puppy Culture tells your story in an emotional narrative that will allow anyone who sees it to understand who we are and why we breed dogs.