By Sean O’Shea

1) Thou shall only pet, soothe, and share soft energy with a dog when they are in a healthy and positive state of mind.

We learned in The Ten Commandments Of Dog Training (Don’t!) that sharing soft energy or soothing interactions with our dogs when they’re in an unhealthy state will likely reinforce and strengthen the unwanted behavior. Remember this phrase to help you:

What you pet is what you get!

So be mindful to use your interactions to cultivate positive mental states rather than negative.

Instead of coddling and soothing your dog at the first sign of distress, let’s learn to ignore minor stress and moments of uncertainty. Trust that your dog is a creature designed to overcome challenges, and that she is much more resilient than you give her credit for. Like kids, your dog will take cues from your level of reaction as a guide for how strongly they should feel and be concerned about situations.

For more serious behavior issues, embark on a balanced obedience/training program which will instill confidence and growth. With the right training approach, even serious issues can be successfully tackled. Check out my basic free how-to videos HERE or my Foundation DVD HERE.

So think of it this way: if there’s a behavior that you would like your dog to do less of, don’t do something that will increase the frequency of the behavior (petting, soothing, etc), and instead do something that will reduce its frequency (ignoring, correcting, or training).

2) Thou shall keep your on-leash dog safe by not allowing interactions with unknown dogs, who are also on-leash.

We learned in the previous post that dogs meeting on-leash tend to be in a compromised state, either due to stress from excitement and frustration of anticipating a meeting; or stress from nervousness and insecurity from trying to avoid a meeting (and, of course, some dogs are conflicted and vacillate between both). Either way we know that even really social dogs may end up in a negative interaction when on-leash due to these factors.

So what’s the right approach to dogs meeting on-leash?

Well, in my opinion, you shouldn’t let it happen. I just create a simple rule for my clients that they aren’t to let their dogs interact on-leash with other dogs on the walk. The only exception to this is if the other dog is a well-known friend to your dog, you’re certain they get on great and have no issues interacting – and your dog doesn’t act like a knucklehead dragging you across the street to meet his buddy! For all other situations, I’d suggest simply deciding to avoid the possible drama and trauma of on-leash greetings, and use my favorite line to keep other owners and dogs at bay:

“Sorry, my dog is in training.” (It works every time!)

Most of the motivation behind our desire to have on-leash meetings stem from our belief that our dogs need to meet every dog they see. That in order to be fulfilled and happy, they need to have interaction with all the neighborhood dogs. Believing this to be the case, and, of course, wanting our dogs to be happy (and not wanting to be a social outcast who says ‘no’ to other owners), we allow them to drag us over to random dogs at their discretion and peril. But the reality is that your dog needs structure and guidance from you on the walks much more than he needs to meet every dog in order to be happy and balanced – not to mention, safe.

Remember that it’s our job to advocate for our dogs and to keep them safe, sound and balanced when on-leash and off. Simply put, your dog needs you to make the smart decisions and understand what’s best for him when it comes to safely navigating through our world.

3) Thou shall ensure that your dog waits patiently at thresholds, heels politely, and obeys the rules of the structured walk.

Previously we learned that allowing these behaviors oftentimes creates relationship issues, teaches your dog to ignore you, trains pushiness, and often creates stressed out little monsters. So let’s not go there!

Instead, focus on creating respectful, calm behavior at thresholds with your dog stopping and waiting for permission from you to move through. This simple exercise can dramatically change your dog’s behavior on the walk and elsewhere. The trick is to not use a tense leash to hold your dog back from moving through the threshold, but, instead, use a quick pop on the leash if your dog should try to move past you. You can also ask your dog to sit first, but the way I do it, without a verbal command, actually challenges the dog more and encourages better focus and more respect.

Check out my Threshold video below for step-by-step instructions on how to create better behavior and a better state of mind at thresholds:


Same goes for the walk itself. Many owners use constant pressure (holding the dog back with a tense leash) in an attempt to control the dog. This only makes for a tense, frustrated, struggle for both of you. What we’re looking for is a short, but not tight, leash, that always has a little slack in it, except for the moments when you correct with an instantaneous leash pop and release. These leash pops are conversations to your dog that communicate where your dog should be position-wise.

Check out my Walk video below for step-by-step instructions on how to create a calm, structured walk:


Also, see my post called Why Heel Matters.

When done correctly, the structured walk (with relaxed leash and using leash pops to communicate) will keep your dog from pulling, keep him/her calm, and will prevent many of the outbursts and reactivity (barking and lunging).  These outbursts typically come from dogs being overly-stressed due to straining, frustration, and feeling disconnected from you. As for the actual rules of the structured walk, don’t allow your dog to pull, sniff, mark, or target other dogs. Your dog needs structure and rules from you in order to feel comfortable, respectful, and safe on the walk. You can allow your dog to have potty and sniff time on your release, not when your dog simply decides to pull you to something of interest.

Owners often struggle with feeling bad about asking their dogs to walk in a more structured fashion. They feel they’re denying their dogs the fun and joy of exploring and being dogs, but the reality is that your dog will actually enjoy the walk much more if he’s calm, relaxed, and stress free.

We recommend a 90/10 ratio of structure to freedom. Shoot for a 90% structured walk with your dog walking at your side with zero pulling and then 10% of freedom, potty time, and/or sniffing, spread out over the duration of the walk, as a reward for great behavior.

If you will set the tone from the beginning of the walk at the thresholds, and then create a respectful, calm, structured walk, you will find your dog becoming a much more relaxed and comfortable dog, who looks to you for information and guidance, and is far better behaved in all other aspects of life, as well.

4) Thou shall always supervise and direct the interactions of dogs who are new to each other.

In the previous post we learned that allowing dogs to work their relationships issues out on their own can be a recipe for disaster. Because there are so many variables and dynamics at play when dogs are being introduced to each other – territorial issues, excitement issues, competition issues, bad manners, trust issues, owner nervousness, etc – it’s prime time for dogs to make bad choices and create bad blood right from the get-go.

So, instead of leaving our dogs to sort things out when the deck is stacked against them, let’s help set them up for success through some simple structure, rules, and guidance. If we will take the time to move slowly, be aware, and to create a calm and relaxed state where both dogs can comfortably get familiar with each other, and over the initial hump of newness, novelty, stress and pressure, we have a great chance to create a harmonious, safe, and happy relationship.

Click HERE to read my post that gives step-by-step details of how to create this harmonious introduction.

5) Thou shall utilize the dog park at your (and your dog’s) own risk.

We learned in the last post that while dog parks are a really cool idea in theory, unfortunately, the reality can be something very different. Many dogs develop trust issues with other dogs after having been bullied or attacked at the dog park, or off-leash, and this often spills over into creating dog reactivity and dog aggression issues down the line.

Personally, I don’t ever go into dog parks, and I recommend my clients avoid them as well. My suggestion is to find safe, balanced dogs that your dog can play with – create play dates with friends or neighbors who have good dogs, or take hikes or other excursions off-leash in a safe environment. Treadmills can be a great addition for helping higher energy dogs to expend some of that energy. Bike rides or jogging with your dogs are also awesome activities.

If, for some reason, you’re unable to utilize these other options and feel the dog park is a necessity for you and your dog, then here are a few tips to think about:

  • When you arrive, check out the vibe: Is it chaotic, are there too many dogs in a frenzied state? Are there any dogs who are engaging in bullying behavior or anything else that makes you nervous? If so, honor that feeling and skip the park or wait until later.
  • Having a rock solid recall on your own dog gives you a big edge in being able to manage and mitigate trouble.
  • If your dog is being chased or bullied and appears nervous, insecure, or that the play doesn’t appear reciprocal, calmly go and intercept and get him/her out of there. A Pet Convincer is an awesome tool for helping with situations that could be problematic at the dog park – like interrupting an escalation or breaking up a fight.
  • Monitor the situation as you would if kids we’re playing or wrestling. Don’t allow things to continuously escalate and intensify – these escalated intensity/adrenaline moments are the perfect opportunity for trouble to break out. Work to maintain a fun but in-control vibe.

Remember, it’s your job to advocate and protect your dog. Many owners use the dog park as a place for their ill-behaved dogs to run wild, and many other owners are totally unaware of what their dog is capable of and may not even be aware that their dog is dangerous. Once again, I don’t recommend the dog park, but if you going to use it, be sure to be as safe, aware, and prepared as possible.

6) Thou shall use a calm and relaxed tone and energy when interacting with and correcting your dog.

In the previous post I talked about the fallout that can occur when we use raised voices, anger, or emotional intensity in our interactions with our dogs, and how it’s the natural by-product of the frustration that occurs when we don’t use proper tools and strategy that let us communicate effectively.

As a trainer I see this all the time: Good, smart, emotionally-balanced people losing their cool and falling apart because they feel that they have no other way to effectively communicate and control their dog. I also remember how I would lose MY cool back in the days before I had any understanding of training or tools – it wasn’t fun or pretty.

The good news is that this is easily avoided and/or rectified by utilizing some simple training concepts, and using tools that empower you.

If you’ve been to my website or Facebook page, you know I’m a huge advocate of prong collars. I know many people have strong feelings about them, and that’s okay, but as someone who’s tried most of the methods and tools out there, and who’s only goal is to help the average dog owner be successful, I’ve found few things that are able to turn an unhappy, frustrating, and dangerous dynamic around as quickly and effectively as a well-used prong collar. It’s also extremely safe and very easy to use. So I almost always recommend owners who are struggling start here.

Another part of the problem that leads to crazy owner syndrome is not using tools that help inside the house. As owners we instinctively understand that we need a leash and collar to safely control our dogs outside on walks, but for some reason (and trust me, I was included in this group some years ago!) we don’t think to put a leash on in the house to help us direct, control, and train them. So our dogs run roughshod over us and everything else in the house. They bark, jump, mouth, destroy, and drive us nuts – and we, because we have no ability to control them without tools, lose our minds, yell, fuss, and fume.

Most owners would be astounded by how much the “crazy” factor – for you and your dog! – is eliminated by simply leaving a leash and training collar on your dog in the house, and having the most rudimentary grasp of training skills on board. Suddenly you have the ability to give information, give direction, and also give corrections if needed, all without raising your voice or losing your cool. How cool is that? When we have tools that work and empower us, communication that is valuable, and dogs that actually listen and are safely controlled, we’re able to stay calm, relaxed, and emotionally balanced.

So have your dog wear a training collar and leash in the house, only when you are home supervising. Use this simple setup to empower you to calmly and confidently guide and train your dog in what you want as well as to correct the behavior you don’t want – no yelling or frustration needed. :)

7) Thou shall pick a dog who’s physical energy and state of mind is compatible with your own.

In the 10 “Don’t”s, we learned about all of the possible fallout when humans and dogs start off with physical (energy) or mental (attitude/demeanor) incompatibility issues. When these divides are great, the outcomes are oftentimes frustrating, sad, and heartbreaking. The best way to avoid this unhappy situation is to become highly conscious of finding a dog that is a good match in both temperament and energy levels.

If you’re a highly active person (think hiking, running, adventuring etc), then a high energy dog can be a great fit. If you tend toward quiet, low-energy activities (think reading, web surfing, gardening, and relaxing walks), then a lower energy dog who will be comfortable in a lower gear would be a great fit. Imagine putting runner Usain Bolt in an office cubicle for eight hours a day and you can probably picture not only the frustration, but the lack of fulfillment and sadness that would occur. Athletic dogs need an athletic lifestyle – to choose one and not provide that lifestyle is dooming your dog and yourself to a very unhappy existence. This existence usually looks like barking, destruction, escaping, obsessive behavior etc.

The other factor to consider, and one that can be harder to gauge, is mental disposition. Dogs, like people, come with all different types of attitudes and dispositions. You can have assertive golden retrievers and sweet, soft German Shepherds. Of course there are breed tendencies, but what I’m suggesting is that you focus less on breed and more on individual attitude/demeanor of the dog in front of you. A soft owner, a laid-back owner, an emotionally-fragile owner, or a sweet and overly-loving owner can all get themselves into serious trouble if they’re attempting to cohabitate with an assertive, confident, bratty, or otherwise strong-minded dog. When dogs feel a serious assertiveness/strength/leadership discrepancy between themselves and the human that thinks they’re in charge of setting rules and limits for them, you can see major friction arise. Some of the behaviors that can manifest from this friction are: resource guarding, bullying, territorial/protective issues, dog aggression, limits/rules being set on humans, and of course biting, if the human makes the mistake of breaking these rules or pushing these limits.

Knowing all this, be sure to carefully observe the dog you’re thinking about adding to your life. Watch for the attitude behind the cute exterior. Does the dog “feel” assertive, bratty, pushy, or stubborn? If so, honor that. We’re able to easily sense these traits in people, but we often let the cuteness and love of dogs obscure our animal ability to objectively assess dog-attitude. Instead, check in with your inner human animal and let it tell you how the dog’s attitude and demeanor “feels” to you.

At the end if the day, it’s all about compatibility. If you’re a softie, try to find a softer dog; if you’re confident and assertive, you have more leeway to work with firmer dogs. If you’re a couch potato, try to find a low-key, chilled out dog; and if you’re a high energy, action person, go find yourself a suitable partner in crime.

Remember, to think that dogs are a one-size-fits-all is a recipe for struggle and heartache.

8) Thou shall always have control of your off-leash dog and prevent him from harassing other dogs and owners.

Okay, so in our original post we learned that even though we may have a super awesome dog that is friendly to all – or at least we think we do – our dog running up to another owner with a dog on-leash is highly unfair and highly selfish. This simple act can create serious dog reactivity issues for that dog, can undo hours and hours of progress and trust building for dog and owner, and can easily end in a serious dog fight (and maybe even a human to human fight!). So here are some suggestions:

  • Train your dog! Work on creating a bombproof recall at the very least. You can train this with a long line and training collar, with treats and toys if your dog is super mild and motivated, or the best and most dependable suggestion – E-collar recall. E-collar or remote-collar trained recall is the closest thing to 100% recall there is.
  • If training isn’t your bag, then invest in a simple long line. You can get them from Amazon or Petco for a few bucks, and you can get 15, 25, or 50 feet lengths. This way you have freedom for you and your dog, but still some control. This doesn’t guarantee your dog will come when called, but it offers a much higher level of control and safety.

Most importantly, I want you to simply be aware that even if you have a friendly, easy-going dog, many other owners aren’t lucky enough to be in the same position. Ignoring this reality, and allowing your dog to pressure and stress out other dogs and owners is highly disrespectful and irresponsible. Your fellow dog owners and their dog’s comfort, security, and enjoyment is just as important as yours. So get that dog trained, get him under control, or get him on a leash or long line.

9) Thou shall honor your dog at the highest level and keep him balanced and healthy by treating him like a dog and not a human.

In the previous post we talked about how indulging ourselves – sharing too much unearned affection, humanizing and babying our dogs, and not sharing the necessary structure, rules, and guidance – while feeling awesome for us, is almost always the greatest contributing factor to bad behavior and uncomfortable and unhappy dogs. As a professional trainer, I see this one almost constantly – and attempting to repair the behavioral fallout that occurs from it is a daily focus.

When we baby, spoil and humanize, we not only create bratty and entitled dogs, but we also create stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed dogs. When dogs feel like they’re without a strong, guiding presence in their world to lean and depend on, they begin to take on more responsibility and stress, and serious behavioral issues are often the result. So what’s a conscientious dog owner to do?

First, just becoming aware of the reality of this dynamic and the power of our affection and interactions is a good start. Understanding that our affection can be used to both help or harm, and then being mindful of wielding that power wisely is where we need to go. And it’s not about one or the other – affection or discipline, all or nothing – no, it’s all about balance.

It’s about being as believable in your discipline as you are in your affection.

It’s about being able to gift your dog with guidance that is as fluid as the real world is. We need to be able move between both worlds of lover and leader effortlessly and intelligently, being mindful to correct negative, unwanted behavior effectively and convincingly, and reward positive, healthy behavior. This doesn’t mean reward for every simple action your dog makes that isn’t negative!! Like anything else, that which is too easily obtained is not valued or appreciated. And if you reward constantly, and for everything, your dog will see you as needy, soft, and not to be followed – and he will likely become spoiled and entitled – expecting the world to revolve around him.

A great approach to keep things between you and your dog on the harmonious path is to use obedience commands to have your dog work for your attention, for food, and for other valued interactions. This is a simple and effective strategy to help keep your relationship in balance and ensure your dog is in a heathy frame of mind, seeing resources comes from you at your discretion, and patterning a healthy habit of respectful, obedient behavior.

A quick reminder! Be sure that you are the one who sets up these interactions, not your dog. In other words, you decide when to give affection, not your dog. You decide when feeding/treat time is, not your dog.

Remember, what your dog needs and wants most is a balanced world where you fulfills all his needs – his need for structure, leadership, rules, discipline, guidance, play, adventure, exercise, and love. When you truly care and are truly aware, you doesn’t just share the stuff that is fun, fulfilling, and pleasurable for yourself – you also share the stuff that is sometimes hard, sometimes not easy, and sometimes not fun. That’s the true responsibility of raising dogs. That to me is real love.

10) Thou shall appreciate and cultivate your dog’s ability to be quiet, still, and relaxed.

Okay, so in the last post we talked about how many people mistake excited behavior for happiness and calm behavior for sadness. We also talked about how dogs that live in a perpetual state of excitement and adrenaline tend to be stressed and anxious and almost always have behavioral issues as a result. These issues can run the gamut, from mildly annoying, to the very serious and dangerous. So if we understand that excitement, adrenaline, stress, and anxiety are actually where problem behaviors come from, and that calm, relaxed, stress-free dogs tend to make great choices on their own, we can hopefully see the value in perceiving these states for what they truly are rather than what human emotions we project onto them.

Of course I’m not suggesting that every dog who is excited is stressed, or that every dog should be constantly calm and chilled out – absolutely not – but dogs who live in constant motion and who are unable to access calm and stillness when requested, are often dogs in trouble.

So the only action step needed for this commandment is a perspective and awareness shift. Once you understand that many of the behaviors we associate with happiness are actually stress and anxiety, and many of the behaviors we associate with sadness are actually calm, relaxation, we can start to feel differently about what we’re seeing from our dogs. With this understanding we can also start to prioritize some activities and exercises that actually condition our dogs to comfortably access both the active world and the still world, and in doing so, cultivate better mental health and stability.

Read about this simple but incredibly powerful exercise that will teach your dog how to be calm, relaxed, and comfortable in a chaotic world HERE.


Thanks for reading! Coming soon, a very special condensed Ten Commandments printable graphic PDF with both Do’s and Dont’s! Subscribe to my blog or keep on eye out on my Facebook page to get your free copy.


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Our groundbreaking do-it-yourself training video/PDF training booklet Learn to Train The Good Dog Way: The Foundation is now available – check out the teaser below! 


By Sean O’Shea

In the world of training and rehab work, few things have such a profound impact and cause such profound transformations in dogs as does duration Place and Down commands.

Because this all appears so deceptively simple, and it’s not exactly action packed, it’s easy to dismiss the incredible value and impact duration work can have on all manner of canine behavioral issues.

Let me see if I can help explain what’s really going on behind this exercise. Most dogs live in a state of almost constant reactivity and alertness to all stimuli in their environment. The bicyclist, the skateboarder, the mailman, the squirrels in the yard, the construction across the street, the neighbor kids running around and playing out front, the family kids running around and playing inside, the dog next door barking and beckoning, and on and on. All of these goings-on cause our dogs to be constantly on edge, tense, concerned, worried, wound up, and freaked out. It’s akin to your dog being an overworked stock broker working on the floor of the NY stock exchange – overstimulated, and stressed out. And the more fundamentally nervous/insecure your dog is the more susceptible and vulnerable he/she will be to these stressors.

And here’s the thing, just like us, when stress in an ongoing, never ending merry-go-round, behavior issues are bound to develop. For us, it might be excessive drinking or eating to cope, or just general irritability, unhappiness, and anxiety – we snap at our kids or spouse or co-workers. For our dogs, they too will attempt to cope, they will attempt to turn off the noise and discomfort – but their approach – barking, fence fighting, chasing, biting, nervousness, obsessive behavior, will only make them worse.

But just in time, in comes duration work!

With duration work we’re actually patterning our dogs not to care about all the noise in the world. We’re desensitizing them and conditioning them to disregard and let it all go.

How can duration Place and Down create this? It only works when these commands are trained to be completely non-negotiable. Once these commands are solid enough, and our dogs learn that pushing against them doesn’t get them anywhere, they will finally relax and surrender into the exercise. This takes patience, repetition, and almost always corrections to be able to override the more intense emotional state. The training will actually begin to override our dog’s knee-jerk desire to respond to whatever is provoking or making them exited or uncomfortable.

When we train properly, we actually teach our dogs to prioritize our requests over their initial impulses, and over time, the training and patterning will cause the actual emotional feeling that originally was paired with the stimulus in the environment to change. Your dog will actually start to not care or worry or be stimulated about many things he cared, worried, and was intensely stimulated by.

We like to refer to duration work as enforced meditation. And if you think about meditation for humans, it’s goals are virtually the same: to teach your mind to disregard the incessant noise of your thoughts, and simply let them appear with no reaction, and then disappear, leaving you relaxed and calm and peaceful. We’re looking for the same effect on our dogs. We want them to hear or see what originally bothered or excited them, and let it simply occur without them feeling the need (or initially the ability) to react to it. By conditioning this over and over, we teach our dogs to be relaxed observers of their world rather than stressed participants to all of it.

Over time, through duration work, and other training, we condition our dogs to exist at a much lower stress baseline in general – and when your dog is relaxed and less stressed in general, he will make much better decisions – even without your help or guidance. And that my friends is the promised land!

I know it seems to good to be true, and far too simple to have such a profound effect on your dog’s life, but take it from someone who works with highly anxious, highly stressed, severely dog-reactive, dog aggressive, and human aggressive dogs constantly, it’s an absolute game changer and godsend. But remember, the magic only happens when the commands are 100% non-negotiable, non-flexible, and the dog completely surrenders and relaxes into the exercise – eventually even in the face of intense triggers.

So give it a shot, and let me know what kind of results you get. I think you’ll be amazed at what this simple exercise will give your dog.

P.S. If you would like to get a start on duration work, here is a link to our free how-to Place command video:


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By Sean O’Shea

When leadership is soft and rules are negotiable, the ability to push against and resist that which our dogs are unsure about, afraid of, or simply dislike, generates more uncertainty, more fear, and more dislike of the situation. It intensifies and magnifies whatever the issue is.

The lack of believable, dependable, non-negotiable rules and leadership forces our dogs to attempt to sort out uncertain and unnerving situations on their own. (It can also create empowered little brats that quickly learn that resisting allows them to get away with whatever they wish!) For our dogs, the feeling of being the most powerful presence in their world – in a world that often is overwhelming, confusing, and scary – can be a deeply frightening place to find themselves, and one that is the cause of much anxiety, stress, and bad behavior.

Resistance is simply the knee-jerk reaction to something our dogs are uncomfortable with or dislike – an attempt to quickly create comfort in their world – but often this resistance is short sighted, superficial, and ultimately harmful. Because this resistance is much more about the avoidance of problems rather than the resolving of problems, it is up to us as their guides to help them move past resistance that doesn’t serve their long-term welfare.

The bratty dog who successfully resists offers more brattiness in the future, the nervous dog who successfully resists offers more nervousness in the future, the aggressive dog who successfully resists offers more aggression in the future, the fearful dog who successfully resists offers more fear in the future. This successful resistance reinforces that the dog is alone in this uncomfortable situation, that he needs to sort out on his own how to create comfort, which creates more stress due to the added layer of multiple options/decisions/indecision.

Think of it this way, when you have to be up at the crack of dawn to catch a super early flight, your alarm goes off, you immediately jump out of bed and get to cracking. No hemming or hawing, no let me hit snooze for the hundredth time, no putting off. Why? Because it’s non-negotiable. There is no wiggle room or flexibility in this situation. If you’re late, you miss the plane and incur all the consequences that go along with that choice. The lack of ability to resist creates an immediate and negotiation-free (read: stress-free) response. Conversely, on a day where you’re trying to create a new habit of getting up early, so you can get more done with your day, but you only have your own guilt as a consequence, you’re much more likely to hem and haw, and snooze it up. This ability to resist or negotiate creates more resistance, negotiation, and stress. In both situations you equally didn’t want to get up early, but in the first example where resistance isn’t possible, your make the better choice straight away. Another example is the child who doesn’t want to leave a store he is enthralled with. When the child protests and is met with negotiation from the parents, his awareness of the lack of non-negotiability in this moment ensures the parents will receive tons more resistance and negative reaction from their child who senses the opportunity. The parent who has patterned their child to understand that rules and decisions are non-negotiable will see the child immediately adjust his or her desires and easily comply. (Same with dogs!) What you will also see is a lack of stress and anxiety in the child due to the comfort that certainty of non-negotiable rules and leadership (parenting) create. Yes, he still wants to stay in the store, but he has learned that his desires have to be curbed when requested. We all quickly learn whether resistance gets us more of what we want in the moment, and if it does, you can rest assured we will use it.

Back to the dogs!

When our dogs are unable to resist, due to believable, consistently enforced rules and leadership, they are compelled (through us guiding them in healthy directions) to find new and better ways of coping and behaving, even if it is uncomfortable at first. Left to their own devices they will almost always choose the easier but often less healthy route that offers immediate relief from discomfort but also avoids long term transformation. The real magic is in the patterning of non-negotiable rules and leadership consistently, rather than just attempting to enforce here and there, which creates more resistance and challenge due to lack of consistency and believability.

Because our dogs aren’t always able to understand how best to move through our world, and because they often can get stuck in behavior that doesn’t serve them, it us up to us to provide the atmosphere of believable, consistent, and non-negotiable leadership and rules that our dogs can emotionally lean on, depend on, and derive comfort from.

Our leadership, when consistently shared and believable, can actually help our dogs learn to deal with and accept things that are scary, unnerving, and uncomfortable. We can actually help them override their initial negative knee-jerk response to a problem or challenge, and help them develop a better, more healthy response. And that my friends is where the magic is!

Remember, the leader (or parent) who can’t be trusted to lead when faced with resistance creates mistrust, insecurity, and ultimately more resistance.

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Our groundbreaking do-it-yourself training video/PDF training booklet Learn to Train The Good Dog Way: The Foundation is now available for pre-order at a discounted price – click on the picture below to watch the new TEASER video, and click HERE to order your copy!




By Sean O’Shea

When you lavish your dog with constant attention, praise, and affection, and you not only allow your dog to be constantly near you, but you reward and reinforce it, you’re very likely creating separation anxiety issues.

Our dogs can often become like drug addicts. They get used to an intensity and consistency of emotional interaction and physical closeness, and then when you’re not present they go through withdrawals of physical and emotions pain and discomfort.

Our dogs don’t know what’s being created, they just react to what feels good in the moment. In the same way they will eat ten pounds of food and need a vet visit, they will also take on all of the petting, the holding, the treating, the needing, the following, the longing and loving glances from you – simply because it feels good in the moment – and they will put themselves in harm’s way simply because they don’t know any better.

Because our dogs are unable to understand the gravity of what’s happening, the responsibility for striking that balance and creating a healthy environment and relationship falls on you. Your job is to do what’s right for your dog, even if that sometimes means denying yourself what feels good for you in the moment.

Just as you advocate and ensure that your dog doesn’t run into the street, doesn’t play with dogs that are dangerous or unbalanced, doesn’t eat toxic plants or food, doesn’t become dehydrated from lack of water, and doesn’t sit in a car that is too hot and dangerous on a sunny day, you also need to ensure and advocate for him that he doesn’t become emotionally and physically unhealthy due to too much love, too much affection, and too much of you.

What feels good and rewarding to you just might be hurting your dog.


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By Sean O’Shea

Oftentimes I see dog owners allowing tons of monkey business to ensue on walks – their dogs are pulling continuously on leash, darting here and there, marking this and that at their discretion, and all in all being disconnected, disrespectful, and stressed out – but then when their dog sees another dog and starts to freak out, the owner tries to address/correct their dog by vainly tugging on the leash, talking or yelling at them, and getting frustrated.

This is the “address the dynamite rather than the fuse syndrome” and, as you can imagine, trying to stop the explosion is way harder than trying to put out the fuse. :) This isn’t how you want to go about getting rid of reactivity issues on the walk!

The trick to fixing this stuff is actually simple: it’s all about setting the proper tone and state of mind before you encounter the target or trigger, not once you’re in the heat of battle.

Dogs who are allowed to pull you through thresholds, pull on leash, veer to trees and grass to pee and sniff when they choose and, in general, disregard their owner, are being taught that they are in charge. This creates stressed-out, fearful/anxious and/or entitled/empowered nervous wrecks who feel unsafe and overburdened with the responsibility to figure their world out.

Not a fun place to be for your dog.

And this is where dog reactivity on-leash comes from: Frustration or fear (and sometimes a combo of both!) from a lack of believable guidance.

Dogs with believable leaders, enforced rules, and structure are confident, relaxed, and comfortable dogs. And dogs who are confident, relaxed, and comfortable aren’t stressed and reactive! :)

So let’s have a look at a few very simple steps to change the dynamic of stressed and reactive into one of calm and cool.

Here’s your no monkey-business/reactivity/stress/anxiety prescription:

1) Dog waits patiently at thresholds (with zero pulling) for permission to move through. (Watch my “Thresholds” video HERE.)

2) Keep the leash short but not tight, always leaving a small amount of play. The short leash helps you keep your dog out of trouble AND allows you to know the instant he becomes disconnected. (Watch my “Walk” video HERE.)

3) Oftentimes a firmer conversation/correction for bad behavior/poor choices at the top of the walk will set the tone for a much more respectful and deferential walk. Setting the tone with a firmer consequence for a smaller infraction can be counter-intuitive but highly effective.

4) Never use constant pressure to hold your dog back from pulling. Instead you use corrective leash pops with instant release to give your dog information and allow him to be responsible to hold himself in position. Let your dog tell you the right level of leash pop needed. If you pop at a level two and the behavior persists, you’re likely using too mild of a correction, so try a level four. Again, let your dog tell you what works.

5) If leash pops aren’t breaking through and your dog is continuing to be intense and pulling, brisk 180’s when your dog gets out in front of you (walking the opposite direction while holding the leash firmly to your chest with two hands) can be a very helpful conversation. Always only use as much pressure as needed. Helpful video HERE!

6) Never allow pulling to trees/grass/flowers etc for marking. Instead you release your dog to pee and sniff when you decide. It makes no sense to your dog if you allow him to pull and disregard you 90% of the time, and then expect him to listen during the 10% when it matters to you most.

7) Manage and cultivate a healthy/positive state of mind by using the leash pops to address/correct your dog at the split second he begins to escalate or become excited when he sees or hears a dog. Do not wait for the explosion – correct your dog when they are at a 1, 2, or 3 and you will never see a 7, 8, 9, or 10!

8) Use space as a buffer with oncoming dogs. Don’t put your dog into “the pressure cooker” with another dog. The closer your dog gets to another dog the more the pressure increases. If your dog is nervous – like most reactive dogs are – the closer you get the less safe he feels. If your dog is bratty and excited, the closer you get, the more his frustration/excitement increases. In either case the less the space the harder it is for you and your dog to be successful. (Note: Super naughty, spazzy, bratty, reactive dogs coming towards you need more space than sedate and relaxed dogs do.

9) Focus on creating polite, courteous, and relaxed behavior at all times, and this will become your dog’s default state.

Remember, if you will proactively create a relaxed, respectful, and stress-free state of mind before the bombs start falling you’ll have a very good chance of avoiding the explosions of reactivity altogether. :)

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By Sean O’Shea from The Good Dog Training and Rehabilitation

While I’m a big proponent of using and leveraging the very best tools available for you and your dog to be successful, the reality is that the greatest tools in the world mean nothing if your head, heart, and energy aren’t in the right place.

The greatest tool you have at your disposal is always yourself. Your mind and your intention. If your emotions and outlook regarding your dog (and yourself) are out of balance, you will both likely struggle, regardless of what tools you use.

If you have an out of balance dog and you’re: still babying and spoiling because it feels good/fulfills your need to nurture, feeling guilty for working long hours so you only share freedom and affection when you get home, shunning structure, training and discipline because it feels yucky or un-enjoyable, being too soft with a firm dog because that’s simply who you are, substituting dog relationships and connection for human relationships and connection, or using your dog to fill unattended to emotional voids and needs, you and your dog will likely still struggle.

The way you feel about yourself and the world, and the way you think about your dog and his training and lifestyle is what fuels the tools and your training strategy to either be powerful and transformative, or to be superficial, unconvincing, and powerless.

Whether you’re aware of it or not, your human animal is having a constant, 24/7 conversation with your canine animal about who you are and what role you wish to play in his life. You cannot tell your dog 23 hours of the day that he’s your little cuddle bug and that you’re his doting mommy or daddy and then on your walks where he misbehaves and acts likes a monster try to tell him you are the big pack leader. :) That ones not going to work. We have to give our dogs more credit than that.

Every moment is valuable. You build credit towards good behavior by creating believable leadership long before you’re going to need it when the chips are down. If you want to turn behavior issues around and get your dog into an awesome space state of mind wise, you have to cultivate a believable energy, and a believable presence your dog is able to buy into and follow as an ongoing lifestyle – not just in the moments you need it or that are convenient.

These awesome creatures have a special knack for highlighting and exposing our personal gaps, camouflaged shortcomings, and internal struggles. How awesome is that? You live with your very own personal therapist. :) That’s the awesome challenge and opportunity of dogs: you can’t fool them with tools or a momentary decision of commitment or fortitude, no, they’re looking and waiting for the real stuff. Your best stuff. If you want them to change they’re ready for it – just as soon as you are ready to change yourself.

So remember, the tools are important, no doubt, but it’s your presence, your intention, your emotional balance, your energy, your decision to treat and view your dog like a dog, your force of will and desire and determination, and the constant conversation that your human animal is having with your canine animal that fuels and empowers the tools and the training strategy to actually create the possibility for transformation and change.


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By Sean O’Shea

Hey guys, I often get asked about introducing new dogs to your house/pack. There are many approaches to create initial introductions (walking together for example), but I wanted to share my best secrets for creating long-term, full comfort when new dogs are freely interacting and living together.

What are those secrets? Ready for it? Time, structure, and leadership. (I know, I know, you we’re probably hoping for something more exotic, but this stuff is simple. :))

Dogs want and need to know a few things so they can be comfortable. They want to know what the other dog is about. Does she mean me harm? Is he someone I can trust? Am I safe? Do you belong here? What’s your story? Are we going to be friends or enemies?

It’s your job as their leader to create the environment and the state of mind, throughout your pack, which will allow positive, tension-free relationships to flourish.

Most of the issues I see that go down with new dogs being introduced to each other in the home are totally avoidable and stem from dogs being let loose far too quickly, in a chaotic, stressed, nervous, and excited state to figure things out on their own. Dogs in these states are ripe for the fighting and bad-choice-making. And here’s the thing, once dogs have had a serious squabble you’ve got a very good chance of a grudge and long-term distrust being created. That means lots of trouble and tons of work to even attempt to resolve it and create harmony again.

So instead of chaos, here’s what I recommend:

-Don’t be in a rush. Take as much time as needed. This could be two days, two weeks, or two months. It all depends on the dogs. But I want to make sure you understand the time parameters I’m suggesting as possibilities.

-Teach all dogs in the pack the basics: Walk politely on leash, be polite at thresholds, wait calmly for food, have a rock solid “place” command, be polite around humans and their space.

-Get ALL dogs (not just the new guy!) used to being consistently in a good, relaxed, obedient state. Crazy, disobedient, “out of their tree” dogs are just asking for fights with the wrong dog.

-Be aware of whether you have a resource guarder in your midst. This can be guarding you, guarding food, guarding toys, guarding space etc. If you have one of these guys, you will have to be hyper-conscious about removing points of competition and contention, and may have some heavy-duty management in your future. (I recommend working on the guarder and your relationship to remove as much of this as possible.)

-Have dogs learn to simply exist around each other. Being in “place” is a great way for dogs to very comfortably get used to each other’s presence without the pressure of having to make decisions about each other. (Decisions = stress. Stress = bad choices.) Consider mutual “place” commands as a low-impact meet and greet. You can slowly add more movement with one dog at a time and gauge the reactions to see your progress.

-Be patient! And when you think you’ve been patient, be patient some more. :) You’re going to have these dogs for a long time, there’s no rush to create magic instantly.

-Be aware of if you have a nervous, insecure, or just plain scrapper in your midst. These guys need way more time than the average dog to relax and trust. Add a few more of my “be patient” reminders to your list. (Note: some dogs with serious fighting issues might not be safe around other dogs even after a protracted introductory period. If you’re unsure get a pro involved to help you assess.)

-Keep excitement, affection, and chaos to a minimum during the initial period. All of these things can create stress, competition, tension, and fights.

-Use crates to ensure all dogs are safe when unsupervised. Do not leave dogs alone together who are new to each other. Many things in the home can trigger excitement, stress, competition, and ultimately fights (doorbells, delivery people, squirrels etc) even in your absence.

-Use crates to have dogs simply get comfy around each other. You can crate dogs near each other and help remove novelty, uncertainty and concern. But you have to ensure that that all dogs in the crates are practicing awesome behavior. If one or more of the dogs are stressed, barking, whining, carrying on, trying to escape, panicky, demanding or bratty, then you’ve got a recipe for disaster brewing. (Imagine living next to the worst neighbor in the world and how stressed, angry, and unhappy that makes you feel. Same goes for your dogs.) If you can’t ensure great behavior, crate in different rooms.

-Walk the dogs together. They don’t need to be right next to each other to benefit from the walk together. As they show more comfort in each other’s presence you can slowly close the distance.

-Don’t feed new dogs close to each other. Food, like affection creates competition and stress, and by now we know what that leads to :)

-Be careful with play and toys. As you get more comfortable, remember that dogs who are cool with each other in one context and environment can lose their cool when excitement and competition (toys and play) are introduced. Watch for tension and serious intent and address/diffuse it quickly.

-Here’s the big Kahuna: Dogs are constantly assessing each other and you. If one of the dogs (doesn’t matter if it’s the new dog or your long-time dog) sees the other dog or dogs misbehaving, being bratty, out of control, pulling on leash, barking/being reactive at other dogs on the walk, demanding attention from you, guarding space or objects, barking in the house incessantly, able to push into your personal space, and that you the human do not have control of and over him, you have another recipe for disaster brewing. Just like you see a dog that is out of control and say “good grief, what an annoying, out of control, dangerous, pushy, little so and so” so do the dogs in your life. If you won’t create and demand polite, respectful, comfortable, courteous behavior, then you can be almost guaranteed that one of your dogs will. Take control, create a respectful, calm, and polite environment and all the dogs will feel more comfortable and they will thank you with nice, non-fighting behavior.

Ok, so it sounds like a giant pain in the butt that’s going to take forever, but it’s not really that bad. It’s a little pain, and it does take a little time, but it’s so worth the pay-off of long term comfort and safety with your dogs. Of course there are many dogs that you could throw all this out the window, you could turn them loose instantly and have zero issues…forever! But unfortunately I get all the calls for the dogs where it didn’t work out that way. :)

If you know you’ve got a dog that isn’t perfect and has some issues, follow these recommendations very closely, be super patient and prepared for a longer haul. Watch the dogs to see how the comfort level looks, and then you can assess where to move from there. If you have an easy dog and you’re bringing a new dog in, use these recommendations as well, and watch your dogs. They will tell you (absence of tension, staring, side-eyeing, growling etc) when they feel comfortable and ready for more freedom and interaction.

Just remember, it’s so much easier and takes far less time (and money!!) to create a great relationship with new dogs from the get-go than it does to try to undo nasty tension and animosity down the line. :)


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Our groundbreaking do-it-yourself training video/PDF training booklet Learn to Train The Good Dog Way: The Foundation is now available for pre-order at a discounted price – click HERE to order your copy!



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