How to Train bad behavior out of your dog

2015 6019Even if you only have one dog,

you are part of a pack, and if you are not doing the thinking and training, Your dog(s) is! This is  a very interesting and dynamic opportunity to redirect behaviors that are unsafe and/ or annoying. Here is an example;

I had done obedience training with 3 or 4 dogs before I had kids.. so I kinda knew what I needed to do to live happily with dogs..   Through horses I met a little Jack Russel Terrier named “Bud”.  Best darn farm dog I had met.. short  and stocky with up ears and a brown patch over one eye on his otherwise all white body.  When “Bud” became a dad, my husband had an opportunity to barter for a puppy.. and so “Jack” came into our household.

2015 23662  Jack was way more dog than I expected…

As a puppy Jack was easily over stimulated  and  often wide open, and full grown at 12 pounds, totally portable.! Jack became an important part of our family and went where ever we went.  Like his Dad, Jack loved to fetch and if I had a ball, I had Jacks attention. Jack quickly had me trained to throw his ball through his insistent barking.  Stall cleaning, the quiet reflective chore that it is, became constant barking.. he had done it.. he barked, I threw the ball… over and over.. Finally, I realized what  I had become, and that I was trained..! I knew I needed to fix this and teaching him to not bark was not happening.. I needed to teach him something else. I noticed that occasionally he would push the tennis ball with his nose, and when he did this he was not barking.. Jack quickly learned what “push it” meant, graduated to soccer balls, and went on to become a star soccer mascot for my sons soccer team, but that is another story.  Jack taught me if you have a dog that is motivated,  teaching is a breeze. Jacks motivation was a ball.

 Dealing with bad behavior

Barking was just a small part of Jacks annoying behaviors, and living with a Jack Russel Terrier is not a task for the lazy. Jack was the smallest dog I’ve ever owned, but he had the biggest heart and garnered respect where ever he went. Never mean or aggressive, but always ready to take on the biggest foe if necessary.   Jack could of been a difficult dog, but because we were an active family, and he was able to go with us, he got a lot of exercise.

Exercise makes dogs happy, and happy dogs make for happy owners.

No matter where you live, the size or breed of  your dog(s), or the weather,  there are many options for getting your dog a little physical and mental  stimulation while benefiting yourself as well.

There are dog clubs, breed specific clubs, and training clubs.IMG_5196

Doggie day care facilities, swimming pools for dogs and dog walkers

There are dog parks and retail outlets  that allow dogs.

And all kinds of cool sports and activities that people are doing with their dogs, from dock diving, nose work, agility, fly ball and barn hunts…

And the best thing about getting out with your dog(s) is the people that you will meet. I highly recommend starting out with a obedience lesson at a couple different facilities if possible. Meet the people, watch a class or two before you register and learn a bit about their training methods.  Many times we become so compliant At home with our dogs, we don’t even realize how  alone we are. If you allow your dogs to give you a reason to get out and explore new adventures, you will be amazed at the camaraderie, support and new doors that will be open for you.

Remember, in a multiple dog household, try to find  something that each one of your dogs enjoys, and spend a few minutes of your time daily enjoying life with your dogs using the motivation that your dog enjoys most.


Life is a game: Rewarded by toys and cookies

If you are here, chances are you are living in a multiple-dog household, or thinking about adding another dog.  Hopefully, you are searching for ways to improve the efficiency of your purchases and looking for fun and practical ways to entertain, train, and enjoy your time with your four legged friends.

There is a lot of dynamics that goes on in a multi-dog house, and it is important that you, as the one who pays the bills, remains the Alpha dog among your pack.  Pack dynamics can change for many reasons and managing the dynamics within the pack is an on-going process.


This site will touch on dealing with  pack situations and help guide you on dealing with them. However, every dog and every situation is different, and as pack Alpha it is important to keep an open mind and to remember to look at things through the  dogs perspective. This is not a training site, rather an options site, as there are many products that can be utilized to help keep the peace.   Please know that not all dogs do well in a pack, whether due to prior experiences or breed type, some dogs like people, are just loaners.  If you are having  dangerous conflicts among your pack, please seek private trainers and/or behaviorists that can come to your house and see the situation first hand.

I have been fortunate enough to be able to foster a number of dogs.  Luckily, I  have a large barn with secure stalls and pens where I can first segregate new dogs and assess behaviors, health issues and any prior training.  Dogs come to me from many different directions,  I never seek them out, they come to me.. They may come from the local rescue where they may sit for years, becoming more and more un-adoptable, They may be a stray, or a dog that has just hit hard times.. What ever the situation, all basic training begins in the barn.  Sometimes the hardest decision to make is to adopt these dogs out.  I have had some absolutely great foster dogs, dogs that went on to become incredible members of their new families, dogs that I would of loved to have been able to keep… But all things must be considered first… The first question is: What does the rest of the pack think of this dog?   The second: what does this dog think of my pack? the cats? the other animals? And the third question is : What is the right thing to do for this dog? Once I get the answers to these three questions, my goal is obvious. I am proud to say I have adopted out many more dogs than I have kept, and my current pack of 8, including one foster dog, get along great.  Training is an ongoing process. Three of my dogs, and my foster dog, get kenneled when I am out and at night,  My foster dog still spends some time in the barn pen, but if some infraction occurs when I am out .. I know who not to blame..

Please take the time to check out my first two lessons; “The Leash and the Fence”  and ” Crate training in a multiple dog household”. I would love to hear about your pack and what and how they taught you.

Thanks for visiting!

Shelley Whittington

How to Teach your Dog Respect for a Fence

 Fence Respect Keeps them Safe!

I am fortunate to live on a small amount of acreage, and when  we first moved here, 30 some odd years age,  there was no fence. Letting the dogs out became an early morning ritual of putting on shoes, jacket… basically getting dressed before that first cup of coffee.. My dogs have always had good recalls, but early in the morning you just never know what will be outside your door when you live in the country.. so my dogs were always monitored …  Those that needed to be on a leash, were..!

hold your own leashThe Day we fenced in the yard, My Life Changed..!

Years and dogs later, we fenced in the yard.  We realized that two thirds were already  fenced in now with horse fence, so it became an easy project.  The yard, with access from both the front and back door, became a great asset for both my early morning coffee time, and teaching the dogs about impulse control and fence respect. I am a firm believer that ALL dogs should respect a fence and should not climb on, jump on, dig under or otherwise challenge  its boundaries. Teaching a dog to respect the fence should not involve you yelling or screaming at the dog, nor should it require a lot of “patching’ or rigging to keep the dogs in. My yard is fenced with a four board Horse fence, wrapped on the inside with wire that is 2 feet high.. yes.. two feet high. Dogs could go through, or over… but they choose not to… why..? Because the FENCE said so…

Why a hot wire is the best, kindest way to teach fence respect…

Yes I use an Electric/ solar fence charger. I started using them years ago when my big, itchy butt horse decided that the fence was a good tool to scratch on. After constant repair,  It became obvious that both the fence and myself were getting the worse end of the deal, after all there is plenty of trees and a nice shed in the field that could be used for butt scratching.  Within a weekend I had the insulators and the wire installed, attached the solar charger, and like magic, respect for the fence from a 1500 lb animal, who to this day, still respects the fence even though it has not been on since I added the goats a year ago.

Because many rescued dogs end up homeless due to their ability to get out of a fence, one of the first lessons that my foster dogs learn is fence respect. All my dog yards have been hot wired and are turned on when a new dog appears. Most dogs only have to touch the wire once or twice to get the message, and the best part about it is they do NOT connect it to you.  I have on occasion, had a thinker of a dog, usually a herding breed, that will actually analyze the situation and try a different approach.  For example, I had a corgi mix, named Shorty, he came from a rescue because he got chewed on by a big dog, so he had some attitude and was very, very smart. Once he realized that jumping up on the fence was a bad idea, he decided to dig under.  A low wire along the bottom of the fence fixed that problem.  Shorty excelled in his rehab, healed nicely and was adopted to a wonderful family, where he stays in his fenced yard.corgis go for a walk

What about the Leash?

Your dogs leash is probably the most important tool you have to help your dog understand what it is that you expect from him.  NEVER, Ever go anywhere with your dog/dogs with out a leash for each one, no matter how well behaved your dog/s are. One thing you can never depend on is how well behaved or trained other dogs are that you may encounter.. I never go out without one pocket full of cookies and the other full of a leash. My pack and I take a walk every morning after all the chores are done, and although we are walking in a field that is fenced in with  four board horse fencing, I am always prepared.  Our Free walks are just that, A time for the dogs to run and play, sniff, tug and dig. From my point it is a time to watch, enjoy, and ponder, but to also train, especially recalls.  And the leash? Funny how the leash on our free walks has become the symbol of the chosen one.  When one of the dogs is causing trouble, and the leash comes out, it is not looked upon as a punishment, but because it goes hand in hand with the dispersal of cookies, being leashed is a privilege  and just like a busy child, the dog causing the trouble has been redirected and peace is restored…