About Good Dog Training


I see a need to develop a system to help dog owners better handle their dogs - to walk, learn and work off lead.

My personal dog training has had two influences: 

  •  Training dogs to hunt, stalk, point, flush retrieve
  •  Obedience exercises where they morph into Agility Training

Both systems work to a degree but neither is ideal.  With training hunting dogs there wasn’t a shared system of information and those that built up a good training method didn’t seem to think it necessary to pass it on, and with Obedience it was a total system of on leash learning which was somewhat slow and pedantic and bored so many people that they really didn’t seem to want to pursue it to a good final outcome.
Subsequently, I found that on leash training had a degree of negativity that I was not prepared to continue with.  A leash is a good thing when you need to keep a dog safe when walking and running for exercise for you both.  But in terms of training a dog for other work using the leash as a means of control and then trying to reward the dog with hands that have just pushed and pulled is not a positive method for me.  Especially as we know that elimination of confusion and doubt from training is paramount to fast results.

I set about developing a set of exercises I call ‘control’ which relies on a handy treat food pack to reward the good behaviour and a horse lead or similar rope attached to the collar of the dog which is left on the ground.  I will then use my feet to guide him to obey simple commands and reward him with voice and treats.

Once the set of exercises are in place at home or in a (fenced) place where dog feels safe, then you can go to other places and do the same thing.  Go to the park, the beach, on a walk in your neighbourhood.  If the dog is completely sucked into this set of exercises and getting treats and being told what a ‘good dog’ he is, then you have a handle on your dog towards your control program.

What is Treat Food:  Treat food should be very small pieces half the size of your fingernail.  It should be very high quality.  Smoked chicken , ham, cheese, fried liver, mix them up and store them in the fridge in containers ready to go.

Once you start using my eight steps to dog training, you will enjoy spending time with your dog each day increasing his understanding of you and what you want.  This is training for dogs six months plus. It is not puppy training.  Puppies under six months need to learn, where to toilet, where to sleep, how to play chase the toy, tumble with other dogs, children etc.  They need to feel secure and learn a routine while gradually increasing and growing their circle of information.

Most people give their puppies emotional overload, too many people introductions, no fixed schedule of activities, too much time alone, too much exercise all at once, too much food, collar on too soon, leash on too soon.  All these things lead to a shaky insecure fearful pup who may not ever recover even if it ends up in a really good home where dogs are understood.

There is no advantage in teaching a twelve week old to sit and stay.  Puppies are naturally heel followers, so we will allow him to follow and praise him for following.  We will tell him what a ‘good dog’ he is when he piddles in the right place and goes outside to do his business.  Ignore the accidents on the carpet, remember it is your choice that he is in the house.  Take him out every hour to the ‘right place’.  Toileting accidents will happen for some months and puppies should never  be hit or have their nose rubbed in it.  Those old fashioned methods are cruel and confusing.
All dogs need to work.  Dogs are defined by the jobs they do as we are. 

What would I train my Chihuahua to do?
First he is my companion so he needs to be able to be with me as much as possible.  I need to teach him how to travel by handbag, how to sit quietly in his harness in the car.  How to sleep in his travel crate when he flies with me; how to accept all those huge hands and faces that will be thrust at him constantly.  Teach him to find car keys and cell phones, how to turn the pages of a newspaper, and endless games of tug to relieve the boredom.  Yes, my Chihuahua would be a true working companion.
If I get a Border Collie I really need to step up the work, preferably with a herding job.  Sheep, chickens, ducks, children can all be reliably herded by a well trained collie.  Obedience and Agility are wonderful work plus all the retrieving of things, hats and items of clothing, balls, and all the normal good dog work; walking quietly at heel - on and off lead, being kind to all other animals.

What about Guard Dog Breeds.  Yes, of course they need to learn to be reliable guards.  Guards are usually pretty big guys so they really need to learn not to bowl everyone over or jump up unnecessarily.  They need to learn - barking only on command, standing squarely at the gate looking straight ahead with no noise, running forward on command, stopping on command and coming back on command, boundary checks on command.  All of these activities are innate natural abilities.  It is the control of the master that sets a good dog/handler team apart from the loose crazies who run around aggressively achieving nothing and damaging the reputations of whole breeds of intelligent animals.

Every individual dog will have personal skills and talents to entertain you and to be of use - skate boarding, surfing, kayaking, running marathons, dog sledding, jumping through hoops or whatever you desire.
The time you spend training your dog will bond the two of you together as a working team.

Don’t waste your dog.  Get some training.  Read some of the articles following this introduction; email me, come training with me.  Your dog is only limited by you.  It is never the dog who is the stupid team member.  
Learn Passive Dominance and Play your way to Good Dog Behaviour.


Food is the number one tool of passive dominance.  Think of food as the pay cheque for your dog for good work, and good companionship.

Dogs living in the wild are structured so that the majority of the pack are at the bottom of the food chain.  Hierarchy means the most important pack members get first choice of the best food.  If that order is challenged then the challenger will very likely end up with no food at all.  So unless prepared to fight for the top job it is better to keep quiet and accept what’s on offer.  What then are we telling the dog if we allow it to eat a lot of really good food on its own, as much as it can stuff down its neck?  ‘Hey I am top dog, I am boss of this outfit.  I can do what I like and still get as much as I like as often as I like.  I own you, I own your bed, I own your doorway, I own your gateway Grrrr’.

Let’s start with puppies and dogs under six months.  If you do not have other dogs for them to feed with then you should be hand feeding your pup.  Your hand should be in their bowl with their mouth.  Take bits of food away and put them back. Do not interfere with the pup’s body, i.e. stroke it or pat it while he is eating, just hand feed and keep your hand there.  That’s a lot different to putting down the bowl and making him wait till you say he can have it and then walking away and leaving him to it.

I worry about lone dogs in human families.  They tend to become neurotic trying to make themselves fit into the human pack.   They also try to manipulate their owners and families in strange ways by pawing at them and herding them.  Having a second dog is little more trouble than having one and it does keep the dogs on their toes and functioning as dogs.

Puppies need multiple feeds a day.  At 8 weeks they need five meals a day, at 12 weeks three meals a day and by the time they are six months two meals a day.  I tend to stick with two meals a day for the rest of their lives.  By the time the dog is nine months old you should be looking at their body and making sensible choices about the amount they should be fed.  Basically their growing will be slowing down and it is easy for them to become overweight.  I like to be able to see an outline of rib, not individual ribs, a good tummy tuck up and a sleekness about the build of the dog.  Of course this is dependent upon dog breed and/or combination of breeds, so it’s a bit hit and miss as you would never compare an English Bulldog with a whippet/greyhound there builds are completely different. But, if you look carefully  at a nine month old dog you can see that he should not have bags of fat hanging on his body.  If your dog becomes overweight you need to cut down slowly.  You will know when your dog is a perfect weight because he will be listening to you and keen to see if you are going to give him a tid bit.  Because you have had your hand in his food bowl from day one when you brought him home he relates food to you.  YOU NOW HAVE THE POWER.
Breakfast for adult dogs 9 months plus:  half tsp honey melted in a couple of tablespoons of boiling water.  A small clove of garlic (crushed) half an egg, quarter cup of milk.  Shake together.  One quarter of a slice of bread with about half a teaspoon of quality vegetable oil on it.  Once a week I put sardine into the mix as well. Evening meal is a juicy piece of meat with bone and/or gristle/fat.  It is a recognisable piece of animal.  Once a month or so I do a brew of table scraps as a boil up of vegetables, soup mix fat and leftovers.  I am likely to put the whole pan out on the lawn and let everyone do their own thing.  The chickens, ducks, wild birds, cat and even the goats will come for a look and a pick at the food.  Everyone shares. 

TREAT FOOD.  Treat food is part of the whole diet for the dog.  It is not extra to, it is part of the number of grams the dog needs each day to maintain good health and appropriate weight. If you know that you need to feed 300 grams per day to maintain your dog’s good athletic form and attitude, then that must be broken up into 120 grams of meat/veges, 80 grams breakfast and 100 grams treat food, dependent upon how much training you are doing.  Treat food should consist of top quality flavour to get the desire going.  I use fried bacon rind and fat with fried offal, fried leftover chicken, mixed with cheese pieces (when the meat is cold).  The actual treat size should be miniscule.  Just enough to half cover your little finger nail or smaller depending on dog size. Dogs Training time with me each day is anticipated with eagerness by the dog.  At the start it is ‘What ya got what ya got’, followed by ‘ O boy the Toy’ and finally ‘Are we working now I wanna work’.

With appropriate eye contact treat food is at the core of this work ethic.  Treat food is given within three seconds of correct behaviour or within three seconds of clicker or rattle training.  There are numerous books on these subjects to tell you how to click and treat.  Treat food is for learning new things, Treat food is replaced by game playing and working and is not on the agenda forever.  As soon as the dog knows the new rule move on from food.  Continuous long feed regimes for correct work stops the dog from working correctly.

Please do not over feed your dog.  It is expensive for both of you.  It hurts your wallet and it is not in the best interest of your dog’s health, overfeeding can result in diabetes and heart disease. 

Your Dog’s Diet by Ernest H. Hart – English Breeder and Show judge 1968

    • Protein: Meat ,dairy product s eggs
    • Fat:  Butter, cream, vegetable oils, meat fat, milk, cheese, suet
    • Carbohydrates: Cereals, vegetables, honey
    • Vitamin A: Peas, Beans, asparagus, carrots, eggs, milk, garlic
    • Thiamine: Peas, Beans, soupmix legumes, eggs, redmeat, organ meats(kidney, liver, heart) milk and yeast
    • Riboflavin: Leafy greens, Liver, eggs, wheat germ, yeast, beef, chicken.
    • Niacin: milk, meat liver, yeast.
    • Vitamin D: Salmon sardines, herrings, fish liver oils (Codliver)
    • Iron, Calcium, Phosphorus, Milk, Dairy Products, Eggs, Bones, bone marrow, Liver, Oatmeal



Time is something most people don’t factor in to puppy acquisition and dog ownership.  Somehow this new being is going to tack itself onto and into a busy 21st century household life all by itself.  A lot of families are so busy that the needs of a dog cannot possibly fit into their timetable – so why do they do it – why get a dog.

Eight week old puppies take up three hours a day.  It is a good idea to get your new puppy/dog as a planned addition when your family are having a holiday at home so that time can be dedicated to settling it in.

In saying that, the worst thing that can happen is that noisy children and partying adults fall about handling, exercising, feeding, grooming and doing everything at once to the new dog.

I knew a couple who picked up a dog from the SPCA and took it on a five kilometre walk.  The poor terrified thing didn’t know where it was going, or with whom and the next time they tried to put a leash on it, it bit them both – so would I.

Quiet Time

One of the first things we learn about dogs is their need for unmolested time - time to go and chew a bone or snooze alone on a hot afternoon.  Nobody should interfere with the dog at these times. If your dog lives completely in the house or apartment you need to make sure there is some place, a wardrobe a large box or a crate that is his alone to go to when he needs to be alone.

Teaching a dog to ‘love’ his crate is a wonderful game that needs to be worked on bit by bit in the first few weeks of ownership.

Toilet Time

Learning to go to the toilet where we want dog to toilet is a time consuming matter.  Puppies need to be put either on paper or kitty litter (Indoors) or grass outdoors every hour.  You have to be there to say – good dog straight away that he achieves what you want.  Puppies cannot hold water and will liberally sprinkle wherever they are.  Don’t growl at your pup for inappropriate choice of pee spot, or swat it with a newspaper or rub its nose in it.  As soon as  an accident occurs take pup to the place you want him to do it and say good dog.  Now go back and swab up the carpet and sprinkle with baking soda.   You are likely to have piddle accidents for up to five months, can you handle it. Most dogs get over it by five months but some do go on.  It’s like children really nothing is normal.  When you rehome an adult dog they will often revert to accidentally piddling in the wrong place.  The solution to this is to make sure that your dog has a warm and cosy or cool in summer house and run outside where it cannot get into trouble for toileting in the wrong place ‘cos it’s his place’.  Then you have half to three quarters of an hour per day cleaning the kennel and run so that he can do it all again .

Exercise Time

Puppies do not need exercise.  Exercise in terms of walking on lead or to the shops needs to be built up in small stages from the time the dog is six months old.  Too often I see very young dogs being dragged along the pavement on a lead by some ignorant handler.   On the other hand adult dogs will need a minimum of four kilometres per day on lead.  It takes one hour if you are fit.  It includes toilet stops and socialising with other dogs and walkers and neighbours.  Once a week - a good one hour free run in an appropriate park is great.  Playing ball and tug is important exercise time as well.

Grooming Time

Ten minutes per day with brush in hand and checking the body of your dog bit by bit.  Wash the dirty bits, look for lumps and injuries.  Apply flea treatments, check teeth and feet.  Gently let the dog get used to being prodded and poked by the whole family in a scientific sort of way so that the dog is happy when it comes to being groomed and handled.

Vet Time

I know it is good to call by your vet’s practice once every couple of months with your dog and some treat food.  Let everyone fuss and coo over him so that in an emergency this is not a strange place or a traumatic event.  Strangely some dogs love going to the vet, and others just absolutely hate it.  One of my dogs has been jabbed, shaved and stitched many times and still licks the vet all over.

Games Time

Always look for mischief with your dog.  Start the Tug Game as soon as possible.  Seven week old pups love to chase a bit of fluff on a string just as much as kittens do.  Use old T shirts, socks, towels and have a ripping time.  It’s great fun and gets rid of everyone’s frustrations and is very bonding.  I love tug as much as my dogs.  Sometimes I go to bed at night wondering why my arms are aching while my contented dog snores his night away.

School Time

Take your dog to puppy school, take your dog to Obedience, Agility, Flygility, Canine Good Citizen, anything and everything.  Join or make a neighbourhood dog walking group, a joggers group with dogs. Advertise on your Community Notice Board to form a Dog Tramping group.  Do things with your dog.  Learn about Gun Dog Clubs if you have a retriever breed or spaniel or sheep dog training for your collie, or sled dog training for the big bold cross bred or husky.  Go out there with you family  and do dog things.  You and your dog will be enriched socially.  You will learn the wonderful thing that is Dog/Human Team work and why this partnership has lasted many thousands of years.

Some people are lucky and can have their dogs with them 24/7 – this brings its own challenges as the dog may take full possession of the owner and not admit any other person or animal to the partnership. Training makes sure that you are the boss of the relationship – not the other way round.

Training Time

This is the time set aside to play and train with your dog EVERY DAY.  Think of your puppy as you would a kitten as mentioned above.  Make a piece of newspaper into a bow on string and tow it around just in front of him.  Let him grab it and say ‘good dog’ do it two or three times before you hold up a tiny treat.  Make eye contact and put food on the ground with your finger beside it.  Training time should be just before meal time so that your dog is a little bit hungry. This is also the time you would practice the exercises taught at Obedience School, puppy class or my Control class.  Training time should grow from a few minutes with pup to a good half hour with your adult dog.

So how much time does it take to keep a dog - three hours a day.  Do you have that time for this necessary demand.   Please don’t buy the puppy if you don’t have the time - because this good idea to add a dog to your lifestyle will turn into a nightmare for your family and the poor dog.




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