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30 Days to a Well-Mannered Dog

I use positive reinforcement to teach my dog not to barge through doors. When Ace makes the “human-like” decision to wait at the door, he is rewarded with praise, treats or a walk. If he barges ahead, we go right back inside (no fun).

Ace is the type of dog that will get bored with a routine very quickly. He will sit politely at the door, but he is not having fun. So, every now and then I reward Ace with a “jackpot” of extra special treats (bits of hot dogs) just for waiting at the door. Now that’s fun!

Or, how about every time the doorbell rings, he gets a tennis ball if he chooses to focus on me instead of the door? That’s pretty fun, too!

This is the kind of dog “coaching” Tamar Geller uses in her book “30 Days to a Well-Mannered Dog: The Loved Dog Method.” I received a copy from Gallery Books in exchange for a review on this dog blog. You have a chance to win a copy by leaving a comment below. You can also buy a copy on Amazon.

Use fun and games to train your dog

Tamar Geller's dog training book 30 days to a Well Mannered DogTamar’s Loved Dog Method is all about gaining fast results with your dog by making training fun. She is by no means implying that your dog will be perfect after 30 days of coaching. Her book teaches dog owners how to build a good relationship with their dogs – something that takes the dog’s lifetime.

Below are several dog training ideas from “30 Days to a Well-Mannered Dog” that I found helpful:

1. Reward specific actions.

Phrases like “good boy!” and “good girl!” are nice, but marking a specific behavior with “good sit!” or “good shake!” will help the dog learn exactly why she is being praised. This will also help your dog learn more words and phrases.

2. Repeat the names of things you and your dog come across every day.

Dogs can learn the names of different objects, people and other dogs if we take the time to teach them. They enjoy the challenge of learning new words. For example, Tamar suggests repeating “drink” or “water” a few times every time your dog drinks. Your dog can also learn the names of his friends if you say “Buddy” every time you see Buddy and “Eli” every time you see Eli.

3. Give names to your dog’s unwanted behaviors.

If your dog has an annoying habit like barking, you can use that as an opportunity to teach the dog a word for the behavior such as “speak.” He’s already doing the behavior, so why not teach him a word for it? From there, you can teach him “no more” or “quiet.”

Ace has an annoying habit of crying in the car once he realizes we are going somewhere “exciting.” Since I’ve taught him the words speak (bark) and sing (howl), I can use that to our advantage in teaching the word “quiet.” Since he already gets a reward for barking on command, I will take it a step further by telling him “quiet” mid-bark and then rewarding him with a treat once he’s quiet. This is where I would say “good quiet!” Perhaps I can even teach the mutt a command for “cry” – he sure does enough of it!

“30 Days” is a repeat of “The Loved Dog”

I enjoy Tamar Geller’s books, and I think every dog owner can take something useful from her suggestions. But you know how if you’ve read one Cesar Millan book, you’ve read them all? It’s the same with Tamar’s books. “30 Days to a Well-Mannered Dog” is basically a repeat of her earlier book, “The Loved Dog.” Both are very good books on their own, but if you read them both, you will find a lot of the same information. I’d stick with one or the other.

I’m also unimpressed when dog trainers make sure to mention all the celebrities they’ve worked with. Tamar is very good at what she does because she has a lot of experience and knowledge, not because she’s trained Oprah’s dogs.

We’re going to be hearing more and more about positive reinforcement dog training as though it’s some kind of new concept. Tamar and many other trainers act as though they’ve come up with some kind of new breakthrough in training. Giving a dog a treat for doing something right is not a new concept, whether you call positive reinforcement training, reward training or “The Loved Dog Method.”

That being said, “30 Days to a Well-Mannered Dog” is a good read. I especially liked how Tamar addressed how we are over-vaccinating our dogs, covering them in pesticides to prevent fleas and overlooking the simple concept of feeding them natural, raw diets. It’s obvious Tamar has true compassion for animals, and we can all learn something from her.

Win your copy of “30 Days to a Well-Mannered Dog”

Gallery books has several copies of “30 Days” to give away to lucky readers of That Mutt. For your chance to win, leave a comment below. Winners must have a U.S. mailing address, and no P.O. boxes, please. Several winners will be chosen at random, and I will contact the winners by email after Nov. 13.

What are some positive reinforcement techniques you have used to train your dog?

Note: I received a free advance copy of “30 Days to a Well-Mannered Dog” in exchange for a review on this blog.

Nancy Hoffman

Friday 12th of November 2010

I have done all positive training with my Jack Russell Terrier. In puppy kindergarden we are introduced to using a clicker, and it has been a wonderful tool for obedience, and agility. One thing we learned was Stewie not getting out of the car until he was released, and this has been helpful every day of the last seven years! Stewie is very food motivated and is easy to train. Another thing I trained that has been wonderful long term is laying on a mat. Now he lays on his mat every night in the kitchen when I am cooking, and I know where he is and he is not begging or underfoot. I just give him cookes/carrots once in a while to keep him interested and happy.

Sound like a fun book with lots of good ideas.


Lindsay Stordahl

Friday 12th of November 2010

Aw, Stewie is such a good boy! You've done so well with him. The not barging out of the car until released is a big one that every dog should learn. I have taught Ace the word "out" which means "stay out of the kitchen." He sits right on the boundary and begs from a distance. If I don't want him staring at me, I tell him to go to his bed, which is in the other room. He does this so well. I should reward him more for being so good.

Peggy @Peggy's Pet Place

Wednesday 10th of November 2010

I'm trying to teach Kelly not to bark at the mailman. Actually, I don't mind so much if she barks, but she loves to relax on the enclosed front porch, and barks and runs to the front door, pawing at it, when the mailman comes. I try to keep her inside until after the mail has arrived, but she loves being out there. I'd like to use positive reinforcement to help her respond calmly to the mailman's arrival without scaring him to pieces.

Lindsay Stordahl

Wednesday 10th of November 2010

Well let me know how it goes! You just have to find something that's higher value to her than barking at the mailman.


Tuesday 9th of November 2010

This was a really good and honest book review. You were not afraid to say it was repetitive. I agree positive reinforcement is not a new idea, but Tamar has tweaked it a bit I guess. I really like the reminder about teaching our dogs more words because I know they can learn more if we take the time to teach them. I should use treats to work on healing with Sophie. She doesn't pull, but wants to be out in front no matter what. She needs refocusing. Elsie would probably try to learn anything for food!

Lindsay Stordahl

Tuesday 9th of November 2010

When Josh walks Ace he always complains how Ace's nose is out in front, or his shoulders are too far forward. Yet, Josh has not spent one minute training my dog and I have spent hours.

I find myself getting really upset with Ace when we are out on walks if his nose is not exactly even with my leg in "perfect heel position" just because one person thinks my dog isn't heeling right. Ace can then sense my frustration, and his tail goes between his legs and he doesn't enjoy our walk.

I actually find that if I have Ace heel off leash, we have a more enjoyable walk because there is less tension and we have more fun. I have to really communicate with Ace with my voice and energy rather than jerking his choke collar. It also requires me to carry treats and tell him how good he is. And he pays attention much better and that tail is wagging because he's having fun!

You have to find what works for you and Sophie and not worry about what anyone else says is right. Keep in mind that humans bred springers to run out in front of us tracking and flushing birds. Don't take it personally if she doesn't want to heel.


Monday 8th of November 2010

I attended a week-long seminar on operant conditioning (ie clicker training) years ago with Bob & Marian Bailey (who studied under B.F. Skinner). We trained chickens using clickers and treats. So I know that these "celebrity" dog trainers have not come up with anything new. They are good at applying the principles of reinforcement and they also have really good marketing and PR people! And in Tamar's case, being gorgeous doesn't hurt. BTW, I did read her first book and thought it was pretty good. I checked it out of the library, so winning a copy of her new one would be great!

Lindsay Stordahl

Monday 8th of November 2010

Yeah being gorgeous doesn't hurt at all, right? Good point! I'm glad you had the chance to read her first book (I checked it out from the library as well).


Monday 8th of November 2010

I came across this book at Borders over the weekend and I was interested in getting it as I'm planning to get a dog for our family. I thought reading up on techniques before the purchase would be a good idea. I decided to go home and check on the reviews first which is how I ended up on this blog! It'll be great to win the book instead :)

Lindsay Stordahl

Monday 8th of November 2010

Glad you checked out my review. I hope you win a copy! If not, it is worth buying. Good luck planning for your new dog! I highly recommend the book Katz on Dogs by Jon Katz. It is the best dog training book I've read.