Common Dog Training Advice I’m Glad I Ignored

You have to pick and choose what dog training advice, tips and “style” to use for your own dog. Don’t listen to me or anyone else.

With my own dogs (a senior Lab mix and a young weimaraner), I tend to gently guide them to do what I want, praise them and give firm corrections occasionally when they don’t do what’s expected. Update: RIP, Ace.

My focus is on structured exercise, calm and positive leadership, consistency and clear rules so they know what’s expected.

We have never allowed Remy the weim on the couch, for example. Not once, not even as a tiny puppy. Because of this, hopping on the couch is simply not on his radar. Clear, consistent rules make a big difference.

Still, Remy is a big challenge for me, constantly seeing what he can get away with.

My two dogs are very different, and I’m not training or raising Remy in the exact same way I raised my senior dog Ace.

So I wanted to share some of the common training tips – ideas I would normally use and recommend – that I threw out the window when I got Remy.

Let me know if you can relate to any of this! Which tips do you normally use or ignore? And has your dog challenged you to train differently than you’re used to?

Dog training advice I threw out the window when I got my weimaraner

Dog training advice I'm glad I ignored

1. Make your dog work for his food. Feed him as a reward.

Great advice. I say this all the time. It’s actually something nearly all dog trainers would agree on!

However, my weimaraner is so food obsessed that in the morning he’s drooling and shaking and moaning in his kennel for his food.

Frankly, it’s just easier to feed him immediately and get that stress behind us.

Yep, I feed The Prince and then we go for a walk.

For the longest time, I fought this and made Remy “work” for his food by walking him and then feeding him.

This just ended in frustration for both of us.

All Remy could think about on our walk was getting back home to eat. Our walks were not fun. He pulled like a train. He could not focus on me or on anything. I lost my temper every morning, and it was not a good way to start the day.

So, I feed the freaking dog immediately.

Our walks are much more relaxing this way.

You do what works.

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2. Cradle your puppy until he stops squirming.

When I first got my puppy, people told me it was important to “cradle” him on his back and only let him go when he’s calm and stops squirming.

My puppy Remy

This is especially important with a powerful breed like a weimaraner, they said. Not necessarily to be “alpha” but to encourage the valuable skill for a puppy to accept being restrained and to feel comfortable and relaxed being held. I think this advice is generally great!

However … this DID NOT work for Remy!

Even at 8 weeks, he would absolutely not “surrender” to being cradled. He would squirm and kick and bite and as time went on he would become more and more aggressive.

I held him for 45 minutes one time, trying to sooth him and calm him while remaining as relaxed as I possibly could.

He was mad with energy! It was more of a wrestling match than a bonding experience. I was determined not to let go until he calmed down. Well, let’s just say he never calmed down. I had scratches and bite marks on my arms and legs and stomach.

He and I are both stubborn. Apparently him more than me.

So I stopped doing this ridiculous exercise.

3. Positive reinforcement training is best. Science tells us so.

Yes. By all means, stick with positive reinforcement as much as you can.

This means reinforcing the behavior you like by rewarding your dog with food, toys or access to whatever he enjoys. Research says this is the best way for a dog to learn a behavior.

I use a lot of positive reinforcement with Remy, but not 100%.

My dog is very … “willful” and frankly, sometimes I just need to be a Mother Bear and give him a firm “NO.”

I have to say, I’ve even bopped him on the nose a few times for nipping me or jumping on me. It’s not something I’m comfortable recommending, but you know what? It gets the point across.

My dog is not sensitive. He’s strong, fearless, wild and just plain rude at times. My older dog Ace snarls at Remy to communicate, “STOP.” My cats smack Remy in the face to politely as possible tell him to “Fuck off.”

Sometimes when I see my dog is about to jump on me, I step forward and hip-check him.

Yes, positive reinforcement works and we should all use it, but maybe not every second of the day.

My weimaraner Remy

4. Don’t use a choke or prong collar. They’re outdated.

I highly recommend a Gentle Leader for walking (fits over the dog’s muzzle) or a no-pull harness that clips in the front. I have both and use them as much as possible. These limit the pulling for most dogs (even Remy!) and are less likely to cause injuries compared to any collar around a dog’s neck.

However, I use a chain collar for walking Remy about 80% of the time. (This doesn’t mean YOU should. It’s just what works for us.)

I’d prefer to use a Gentle Leader, but Remy holds his breath, puts his head low and pulls like a train. He also paws at it, which causes other dogs to react to us.

I’d also prefer to use a no-pull harness, but when he wears it he “hops” on his hind legs when we pass other dogs. Obviously not ideal in an urban setting. He makes other dogs too excited. It’s embarrassing, and it’s not responsible on my part.

The martingale chain collar or slip chain collar allows me to take my dog just about anywhere and keep him calm and under control. He can pass people without jumping on them. We can take him to breweries and coffee shops. I can take my dog out into the world to tire him out mentally and physically and keep on socializing him. And sometimes I use a prong collar vs. the standard chain collar.

Martingale chain collar
Martingale chain collar

Yes, I’d love to transition to a nylon martingale collar or the Gentle Leader. But for now, the choke chain collar it is.

See my post: Gentle Leader vs. prong collar

5. Use treats often for rewards.

Treats are a great training tool. I use them occasionally and absolutely recommend you use treats for your dog. I recommend Zukes minis.

However, food tends to make Remy extra nutty. He’s generally better behaved, more focused and just all-around a nicer dog when we train with minimal treats and toys. I keep some treats in my pocket, but he only gets them when he’s relaxed (not mouthing my hands, jumping, fixating or trembling with excitement).

An occasional treat is good.

Other than that, my dog has an easier time focusing and learning when I use calm, verbal praise like “gooooood booooy.”

So you can see, general dog training advice is good, but you really need to consider your individual dog and pick and choose what works for you.

Don’t worry what others tell you is “right.” It might be right for their dog, but not necessarily yours.

That goes for everything I say on my blog too.

Every dog is different.

Every environment is different.

Every owner is different.

What dog training advice have you generally used or ignored?

Let us know in the comments! Please be kind to one another.

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Dog training advice I'm glad I ignored

63 thoughts on “Common Dog Training Advice I’m Glad I Ignored”

  1. I like how you shared how Ace and the cats react or discipline Remy. I agree that positive reinforcement is preferred. But if a dog is going to jump on me, I’m going to step into his space or put my hand in the space and interrupt him. I feel like this body language is more consistent with what he “hears” from other animals and can help to counter bad behaviour. Balance that with recognizing good behaviour, but I feel there’s a place for both in dog training.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      My 3 seniors pretty much have zero tolerance for Remy. If he’s in their bubble, he gets told off. But it’s usually well deserved.

    2. Terry Campanale

      Thank you for this. I consider myself well versed and successful in dog training. Though I am not a professional “DOG TRAINER”. I have had 3 different dogs always 1 at a time.

      My first buddy was a BOXER named Aragorn. I got him when he was 8 weeks old. I always say Aragorn trained himself (although I’m kidding) He was that perfect. Never chewed, never made a “mistake” in the house until the day 13 years later when he died.

      My 2nd dog was a RESUE Boxer named Rocky. He died of Lymphoma 2 years after I got him but he was very well behaved also.

      Now I have my first female dog. She is a Lab-Pitt mix and she is a handfull. To the point that people say to me “I feel so bad for you” and “maybe you should get rid of her” As if shes disposable. I WILL NEVER “get rid” of her. She and I are in it thick or thin for life. She may have issues but I made a choice and she is my responsibility…and despite all I love her. That said I need help and advice.
      These are our / her issues:
      She “IS” housetrained and never makes a mistake while I am home. But,m the second I leave, even for 5 mins to take the garbage out she both urinates and poops on the floor. This despite the fact that if I’m going anywhere I take her out just prior. I even time the garbage going out to her walks to minimize this happening. I’m exhausted and cleaning products are my #1 expense next to food. I have tried every positive reinforcement thing and have (just like you) lost my temper and corrected her. She just wags her tail and thinks its a game.
      2. She has a HIGH PREY DRIVE and any animal that is her size or smaller she lunges at. She does this not to play but vicious barking and teeth snarling. She goes berserk and has been crossing an intersection with me and almost got us hit by cars because she sees “PREY”.
      3. She is a highly destructive animal. Only when I’m not around. But, she has destroyed the pillows from my sofa. I have a candy business and she has gotten into an entire box of chocolate wafers and has consumed the chocolate…the entire box. I know what chocolate can do to a dog and yet she didn’t get sick…not ever a burp. It would almost be laughable except I have Cancer and no money and just cannot keep this up.

      As I said before I am not new to dog training but honestly, I am at a loss. She like my second dog is a rescue but, though he had issues we could fix them together He was open to change and I was patient and well versed in fixing things. But, with Lily-Mae (that’s her name) I am frustrated and exhausted. I think I have tried everything but perhaps I have not. So I am open to any help you or one of your Readers have to offer.

      Thanks in advance.

      1. Hanneke Bennett

        I’m so sorry you have such behavior problems with Lily Mae. I realize money is tight for you, but you’re spending so much on cleanup-stuff that I think your money is better spent on a professional trainer. Some can really help in one or two sessions! You’re not enjoying her this way so I think that this money spent is very important for both your sakes!
        Good luck!

      2. It sounds like she has separation anxiety. With mine I kennel him when I leave the house. No matter how short a time. This has meant no more clean up. Also he is calm when I come back inside.

  2. LeeAnn McNeil

    I so agree with you. I have have a total of 7 shelties over the last 47 years and all there training have been a little different. The Cardi I had was if I did it right the first time do not make me do it again. Each dog is different.

  3. I agree with you on all of these! We stopped early with Lucy (weim/chess is) for rewarding her with treats when we’re out in the world. She would sit and focus only on the treats in your pocket and not do anything else until she got them all.
    We also used the choke collar for the pulling, and even after a while, she got used to it and would just brace herself and pull. She now has a gentle leader and it’s amazing, but at a younger age, I’m not she it would have worked!

  4. Jean Patterson

    This is 100% correct. And when I got to the part where you said “when you use calm verbal praise” I thought that’s it! That’s the entire training for me “calm”! I have five dogs and each one is entirely different when it comes to training! I can teach the same commands to each dog but in different ways.

  5. I have 2 wonderful rescues (4 and 8 years old) that are well behaved and needed little training AND I also have a 2 yr old Blue Healer from the shelter (I got her when 10 weeks old) and she sounds pretty much like Remy. She is a 24/7 activity dog. I even hired a trainer to come to the house and work with me and the dog every week for 3 months. She is better but walking her is a challenge because she wants to chase cars. Luckily we live in a development with little traffic but every time a car approaches, I have to put her in the down position until the car goes by. I also take her to doggie day care 1 morning a week so she can play with the other dogs because my other 2 dogs are older and don’t wan to play with her- this has also made a difference in her behavior. I’ve had maybe 20 dogs over the years and never had to have a trainer before. Every dog is different and responds to different training methods.

  6. Totally agree, and thanks for your thoughts! I wonder if you’ve seen Joel Silverman’s book, “What Color is Your Dog?” It was a great starting place for me to understand the way a dog’s personality mixes with various training methods. He even discusses dogs like Remy that are over the moon crazy about food and toys in a way that’s counterproductive in training (‘red’ dogs, in his reckoning), and dogs like my Juno who need food and play mixed into a training session and keep them engaged (‘green’ dogs).

  7. I love this article! We have a deaf red heeler and we were told treats would be one of the best tools to use as a reward factor. Let’s just say after the $$ started adding up and the pockets of all my jackets and shorts started to smell like like liver or duck bits something had to change. I’ve started to limit the amount of times I actually pet her and only give her belly rubs or pet her “sweet spot” as praise for good behavior.
    In terms of discipline, since our dog is deaf and yelling at her wont help, we’ve had to use some physical means such as a bop on the nose when she starts to mouth in a rough manner as well as a little pinch similar to a mother dog’s nip on a misbehaved pup. She’s a true cattle dog so this really gets through her stubbornness.

    1. One thing I found was like gold to my GSD was patting or rubbing her chest. I do it all the time as a freebie just out of affection, but that’s a high value reward for her. That kind of thing works!

  8. Frankly, I think the “positive reinforcement only” camps give absolutely terrible advice.

    Before people freak out on me: It isn’t that positive reinforcement is bad. It’s great. It’s just that it isn’t the only quadrant in operant conditioning that has value. My issue with the R+ crowd is that so many of them refuse to acknowledge the validity of any approach other than positive reinforcement.

    That’s a really bad approach for a German Shepherd, and it sounds like it was equally bad for Remy. My girl is crazy smart, and she figured out as a puppy that positive reinforcement was cool but maybe not as cool as [insert misbehavior here], and all negative punishment meant was that she was free to find some other misbehavior…and she was inventive. She needed to hear in no uncertain terms that X behavior was unacceptable.

    So I corrected. And I used a prong collar. I’m far more comfortable with that than a choke chain/slip collar (I don’t want to damage her esophagus with one of those) or a head halter (holy neck injuries, Batman!), anyway.

    Now that she’s an adult, I only have to say, “Uh!” when she starts down a path I don’t want, and she stops and redirects. Or I might have to give her a command (like, “No bark!”) but I don’t have to correct her for barking. I just remind her.

    I’m new at this. She’s not quite 3, and she’s my first dog. But I’ve formed a fledgling training philosophy that I’ll apply to future dogs: Use the combination of currency and correction that communicates clearly and fairly to the dog what the rules are. A correction should be as strong as it needs to be to get the point across, but no stronger. I can’t imagine it’s always clear right away what that is, but you learn your dog and you figure it out.

    1. KL,
      I agree! I have a dobie who is a wonderful young dog. I tried positive training on her and by the time she was 8 months old I hated coming home to deal with a dog that jumped on me and other bad behaviors that the positive never worked. I went to an e collar and my life turned around! She no longer jumps on me or other people (or my beloved white picket fence!) and she comes to me immediately when called (and comes right next to me and sits). I have taught her “place” command so now I can sit and enjoy my morning coffee. I highly recommend learning how to use an e collar – it saved my (and hers) life!

      1. Lindsay Stordahl

        Yes, an e-collar can be a good option. I’m so glad it helped your dog. I’ve thought about using ours to stop Remy from jumping on me.

  9. Excellent advice. Every dog is different and will respond to a variety of tools/distractions in a unique way. I learned that lesson when working with the many different dogs I’ve walked over the past 5 years. Some things that work for Missy & Buzz will not work for certain client dogs, and vice versa.

    I’ve bopped the pups on their muzzles as well when they were impatient/greedy when grabbing treats from my hand and nipped me in the process. Guess what, they learned very quickly that they have to be gentle when taking a treat from a human hand. We received that advice from our basic obedience trainer and it certainly worked.

      1. No, not at all. I would take my puppy’s muzzle, point it down, and look her in the eye as I said, “NO BITE.” That still wasn’t a strong enough correction to get through to her on being nippy and mouthy, but I’ve definitely tried it.

        When she was little, we taught “touch” so that she would nudge in order to earn the right to take the treat from a flat hand. (I use that now when I want to guide her to move somewhere when teaching a new skill. It’s handy. Asking for a “touch” up high is also our version of a high five and she thinks that’s fun.) As she got older and her impulse control improved, my husband started working her on “gentle.” She’s surprisingly good given that her entire head is like an anvil and her default setting when excited is ram.

      2. It’s never ok to just “bop” on the muzzle. That’s a human unable to respond and to control their reaction. It’s a lack of skills. Never does one lay a hand on any living being.I have scars up to my elbows from when my Alaskan Malamute was a biting puppy. Now she works with disabled children as a service dog. I never once “just bopped” her. And by the way I have no dog training training, I have a brain disability and she was my first dog ever. So goes to show what compassion, respect and a committment to the right thing can do in achieving a well balanced,gentle,kind dog.

  10. Annette Waterhouse

    OMG, in the article you described my 10 mo. Old Airedale exactly !
    (My dog is not sensitive. He’s strong, fearless, wild and just plain rude at time) !!! Amazing ! Our female Airedale is SO rude at times. She will jump up on me sort of drive by ish, and mouth me with her mouth/teeth, at times, tearing into my skin, just running by. That’s very rude in my book. Fearless? Very much so. Wild ? Oh heck yes. She thinks she’s all that and a bag of chips. Wild child one trainer said. Badass another. We’re hoping maturity will settle her down. (fingers sooo crossed). But as it stands, we carefully watch her when we’re walking in our yard. Drive-by Molly ! Grrrr

  11. Thinking about this some more, it never occurred to me to use a meal as training treats. I did, however, use it to teach “wait” and release. I wish I remember exactly how I started shaping the behavior because she’s so solid with it (seriously, I was so sleep deprived that it seems like she must have learned it through magic) – but she did “earn” her meals by learning to sit and wait until I released her. I worked signals, too: I can call her, put her in a sit or down, make her wait, and release all without saying a word. I don’t really think it would have worked for her to earn each bite, but learning to wait until I gave the okay is working for it, in my book.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      One thing Remy does in the morning is wait for his food while I set the bowl down. One thing he actually does pretty well too is “leave it” and I can only believe that’s from making him pause before every single meal. No, it’s not much for work but it’s slightly less chaotic for feeding times.

  12. I think “never do” this and “always do” are good ways to set yourself (and your dog) up for failure. Every dog is an individual and respond to different types of training. my dog is highly food driven too, so sometimes we can’t use food as a reward because it becomes stressful for her. She will frantically try to “earn” her reward to the point she shuts down when she keeps getting it “wrong” and not getting a pay out. Sometimes, a simple “good girl” suffices way more than food will. We’ve pretty much made treats a reward for doing tricks now.

    While we use positive training like 90% of the time, there are just some situations when I am not going to ignore my dog’s behavior, especially if it is a matter of safety. Right now, we are exploring snake training our dog. We recently moved to a part of the country that has rattlesnakes, and we do quite a bit of hiking. She is quite interested in snakes, so we need to figure out how to let her know it’s better to stay away from them. If that means we need to do some e-collar training (which is common around here), then so be it. There is a very slim margin of error when we’re out in the back country.

  13. I agree with you that each dog is unique and it’s best to tailor the training methods to the dog, BUT I think these guidelines are important to keep the average dog owner from doing something inadvertently that will damage their dog physically or psychologically.

    It’s one thing for an informed and experienced dog owner like yourself to use an occasional bop on the nose. The problem is that some people can’t tell the difference between strategic correction and losing their temper at, shouting at, smacking, etc., their dog.

    When trainers advise using 100% positive methods, it prevents less experienced or less informed dog owners from making major mistakes that could have permanent consequences.

    1. I don’t know how to adequately express my disagreement with your last sentence.

      My puppy was mouthy – VERY mouthy. I’ve mentioned above how intelligent and strong willed she was as well. As a less experienced dog owner, I started out using R+ only with her. It did nothing to curb the biting and in fact allowed it to get worse.

      We could not have a mouthy dog. We have friends who have small children and there are small children in our extended family. A mouthy German Shepherd is a liability and a dealbreaker. Having to get rid of a dog for a behavior like that is a pretty permanent consequence in my book – but we could not have responsibly kept and managed a dog who grew up biting, having never learned that’s an unacceptable behavior.

      The R+ only/no correction approach was absolutely terrible advice for our puppy, and I’m positive (ha!) we were not alone in that.

      It’s completely irresponsible to encourage new owners to just use an alleged one size fits all approach that may not work for them or for their dog. A new, inexperienced owner should find a good trainer who can assess their puppy and advise them on how best to approach training and how to responsibly use corrections.

  14. This is a really cool article! We have a 3mo jack russell puppy, and while i love the stuff that the positive training crowd said, (and it did get us to learn sits and stays and lovely waiting behaviors) sometimes there’s no replacing a stern NO. There’s lots of trainers out there that say that even just saying no to your dog is bad, and you should never do it. I guess that depends on the dog, but also on the trainer! I just can’t make my ignoring him to be as strong a message as “mommy growled no” and while that may adapt as he grows older, for now this is how we roll.
    Also, he’s gotten a slap over the rump, little more than a flick of the wrist, and while i’m not sure he felt anything at all (considering the rate at which he smacks himself into walls and furniture) he did understand that he made us unhappy.
    I say this: if it’s between a ‘no’ and a slap, or having to re-home him because he keeps biting my husband to shreds and making him unhappy, he’s getting slapped. I love my dog, but i love my husband more :))

  15. Remy sounds a lot like my Roscoe. He’s a hound mix and a total handful. My husband has to walk him because I can’t handle the pulling. (Back problems.) It’s nice to hear people say it’s ok to throw out the playbook sometimes. Great post.

  16. I ignored “don’t let your dog walk ahead of you”. My dog can be timid and often needs a lot of patience and coaxing to come along on a walk. If he’s out in front of me, trotting along with a grin on his face and his tail up and wagging, it means he’s not afraid, its lovely to see him being brave and enjoying himself and he’s not pulling me so I let him do it. Its actually the best part of our walks.

    1. I also ignored that factor. My “puppy” walks ahead of me most of the time but doesn’t drag me down the street. I purchased a TaoTronics Hands Free Leash and it was one of the best purchases I made. Even my Dakotah likes it. But the walks are primarily for him. To keep him soldiered next to me for the whole walk would be boring and cruel. He is a GSD/Husky with an extreme amount of energy.

  17. I was so blessed to meet another APB Mom in pet store while looking for yet another collar, leader or harness. She pulled on our walks like she was trying out for 1st place in the Iditarod!
    Walking an energetic 75# pit bull with a GO mentality was no fun! Neither my husband or I could contend with her strength (and bull- headedness).
    The lovely lady told me that she used a pronged collar for gentle correction on walks and an electric collar around the house (sound,vibration,shock).
    What a difference!
    She immediately because this wonderful, compliant companion on walks! Just a word or a gentle reminder tug got her right where she needed to be! Only used on walks. She absolutely vibrates whenever we get the walking collar, so eager to walk.
    At home I tried sound after a strong NO which didn’t deter her jumping. Vibration was the key! At first she had no idea where the correction was coming from. When she tested again, I showed her the controller, said NO, and delivered the vibration again. When she cannot control herself (or maybe it’s too fun to want to) I have used the shock on #1. I can hold the collar easily at that level, but she immediately stops her bad behavior and goes to her crate. Most of the time, all I do is show her the control and she settles down, even when she doesn’t have the e-collar on, lol. She is a beautiful mess, and we love her.

  18. Every dog is different. Our heeler loses her mind if we use treats or toys for praise. Our lab responds better when we have treats. The heeler walks better on a harness, and the lab has to wear a prong collar or I will lose an arm. No set of rules or techniques will work for every dog. You have to do what you think is right for your dog.

  19. I agree that it’s important to use techniques and motivators that work best for the individual dog, but it should definitely be emphasized that it’s vital to select a technique that is appropriate for the handler.

    I’m a trainer for an animal shelter, and I have a MASSIVE pile of prong collars that has become a bit of a local legend/inside joke. People with little experience (or, worse, learned from sources like Cesar Milan or some other nonsense), pop them on their unruly or aggressive animals without exploring better options first. When they inevitably make the behavior worse, occasionally getting themselves or someone else badly injured, they relinquish their dog to us…along with their prong collar, which gets added to the pile. (Naturally, we also have an honorary shock collar pile alongside it, ha.)

    …I guess what I’m saying is, don’t encourage the average dog owner to use pain/force as a significant motivator in their training regimen. When it fails, it does so in a BIG way.

    (Although if handlers stopped ruining their dogs, I’d be out of a job!)

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I try not to judge people for the tools they use. People mean well and they may not know of other options or have access to someone they can learn from. It’s also a very difficult and emotional decision to surrender a dog to a shelter and usually more complex than it appears. I try to be supportive of dog owners in difficult positions and suggest resources, whether it’s an affordable trainer or group classes.

  20. Kristin Hoelker

    It’s so nice to read a blog from someone who gives real life advice! Some blogs I’ve read have really left me wondering, “Who’s running the show here? Your dog or you?” Your Remy sounds like the weim twin to my lab Loki! She’s stubborn as hell, and there are days when we have to have a serious “Come to Jesus.” I will admit that I made some mistakes during her little puppy days that encouraged unwanted behavior, so we’re both working on training each other. I’m not comfortable with a “nose bop” either but have I done it? Yes. Do I do it every time Loki is misbehaving? No. I think the best advice for new puppy owners is to follow your own instincts, get advice from trusted experts who share your dog style and realize that raising a puppy, no matter what its background is freaking hard! But so so so rewarding too!

  21. Regarding walking your dog after a meal, I was under the impression this could be dangerous and cause bloat.

    Also, the subordinate exercise you did with your dog should have been done for 30-45 seconds, not minutes! Your poor dog! No wonder you were covered in scratches. This exercise does work on puppies if practiced a few times a day for short intervals, and consistently.

  22. I watched Mama dog with her pups and emulated what she did with my dog Mike. At different times, not just when he did something wrong, I put him on his back and held him there until he relaxed. Once he relaxed, he told me, “I get who the big dog is.”

    Almost 6 years later, he’s unbelievable well behaved. He will wait to proceed through the door until I say, “ok”, even though I don’t ask him to wait. He’ll just sit there and wait for the magic word. He waits to eat until I say, “ok” too.

    My daughter says dogs don’t like hugs, but Mike does. He’s 92 lbs of the sweetest dog I can imagine. He will do a nose touch of my hand in the morning or when I’m stumbling to visit the bathroom in the middle of the night in a dark room.

    While I’d be the first to say it felt draconian in the beginning of our time in the way asserted my position in the pack in the way I did. But looking back, I believe Mama dog knew best.

  23. My Chihuahuador (Labrahuahua?), Griffen, just turned 5. He has terrible leash aggression, made worse by the fact that he’s been in (at least) two other homes and not neutered until he was 3. So the poor guy has a lot of anxiety and fears when he gets outside and spots people or worse, people with dogs (we won’t get into what happens when the bell rings). I’ve tried several things to try to ease this problem and you’re right, positive reinforcement isn’t 100% of the answer. Just this morning, he lunged at some older people while we were walking in the park, and my response was the dreaded “Bad Dog!” curse. Prior to that, I was using chicken treats when anyone passed us and they just weren’t working. Amazing how that phrase pulls Griffen up and fast. After that, he actually allowed people to walk by without reacting to them. So thank you thank you for your honesty. One size does not fit all dogs when it comes to training.

  24. Reading about your dog I found myself nodding my head over and over, I can’t believe how similar he sounds to my Amstaff, Phoenix. She’s a rescue that had an incredible write up on the pound’s website and every word has proven to be a lie. They said she was great on the lead, but not only could we not walk her she was so bad, our trainer suspects she had never been on a lead before. We started using a halti and the difference is incredible. She’s turned out to not only be terrified of children (pound said she was incredible with kids and toddlers) but dog aggressive, scared of the dark and has an extremely high prey drive. We adore her but frankly the ‘positive’ training methods have been unsuccessful. We’ve recently transitioned to methods described in your post and the difference in her behaviour is astounding. She’s thriving because for the first time she has boundaries, knows what is expected of her and knows her rank in the pact. She came to us underweight with ribs showing and we struggled to get her to gain weight as she would ‘stress’ it off, but since changing training tactics 3 weeks ago she’s put in 2kg. I totally agree each dog should be trained based on their individual traits and personality, and if done right can yield so much success. I’m so grateful to read about your experiences!

  25. We have a 19 month old Labrador Skye he is a very strong dog and it’s difficult to hold him back so it’s no pleasure walking him in the street we take him to a dog walk up the road where he can get off the lead and have a run about.
    But reading some of your suggestions I think I might give the prong collar orleader a go to see if that helps,also we are on our own most of the time and if visitors should come we have to put him in the bedroom he just gets that hyper,he is certainly not an aggressive dog at all he just wants to play and is good with other dogs when we are on our walk but I would be very grateful for any suggestions about introducing him to visitors. Pat.

  26. I think that it’s important that a dog should learn to differentiate his spots from the rest of the house right from day one. I’ve been hearing loads of people complain that the dog keeps huddling beside them while they’re sleeping. If he’s new in the house and you let him sleep wherever he wants, he might mistake your bed for a toilet. Having all your dog’s needs closely put in one spot (sleeping, eating, drinking, peeing and defecating) is the best way to go IMO, especially if he’s new in the house.

  27. Having owned a weimie (can you believe I had one as my FIRST dog at 20?). I know they are not like normal dogs and sometimes I felt like he was smarter than I was. I have so many unbelievable stories about this dog and he began my journey to become the dog trainer that I am today. They are beautiful, smart and loyal, but also strong willed, hyper and driven. 40 years later, he remains a singular dog in my heart, but I would never own another one…

  28. I have had 2 weimes that were so bull headed I hated to walk them. I had tried everything available at the time (80’s and 90’s). One day we were on a walk and decided to take a different way home. Didn’t have a leash with me but really needed one. I found a thin 1/8 inch thick string on the ground which I used. By accident the string wound up under his front arm/leg, he started to pull and quit as soon as the string tightened. I was amazed. All the heavy duty stuff did not work for him.
    Had a female weime that would pull and misbehave on a leash. Remove the leash and she would not leave my side. I have owned 5 weimes in my life and not one of them was hyper. The boys were strong willed and the girls just wanted to please their people. They were excellent family members. Just want to be with their people. Thanks for being a real dog owner.

  29. Sandy Weinstein

    i dont think training a dog is all one way, just like kids, some need different methods and rules. i do what i feel is the best way for my girls. i have min. terriers, which can be stubborn like most terriers. i tell them know, they have time outs, i do use treats for reward training, as well as toys, etc. however, the oldest is not a toy enthusiast. i prefer positive training but sometimes you need to take it a step in the other direction, sometimes they just dont listen. my girls are really good and always have been. my oldest who passed away was just a joy to train, she was a very quick learner and never forgot her training.

  30. Carol Pritchard

    This little chat really hit dead on for me as there are a few training items along the way with our various dogs that eventually went out the window even for just sanity sake. Our current dog Lily does very well with treats but I have also had to draw the line at times when I realized the odd thing she wouldn’t do consistently because I didn’t happen to have a treat. I had to change up my approach to that behaviour and consistantly mix it up with treat and just a proud statement of good girl!! Somewhere along the road of doghood we had been told not a good idea to use the no, but with our Zoey and now our Lily that is necessary, where some of other past dogs Tatsa and Jesse an excuse me in a stern manner was enough our Shiva dog now she was an interesting one. Lily being border collie with Newfoundland she has a fair bit of the collie side and still on occasion have had to tap the nose for the collie tap and nip. Enjoy our children and find just like my kids did our dogs keep up our antennae for what works for who. Thank you

  31. Always love your articles past and new and hope you are doing well without your Ace ☹️ One thing I really don’t care about is not letting my pup wait for me to go into the door of my home first, it’s just not that big of a deal to me ‍♀️

  32. I’ve been to all sorts of dog training classes over the years. From ones that used the choke collar yank method to one that had you held hot dogs in your mouth for treats. All I can say is each dog is different and each dog needs different methods. I had a weimie once and the best thing I did was run him for 30 minutes before the class. He got first in his class. I recommend using an older, trained dog if available to help train the pup and have found pack walking one of the best for teaching recall. Each dog is different and each dog responds to different methods, that’s the best advice I can give…

  33. My weim puppy is SO much like Remy and is why this blog makes me feel so much better that I’m not alone in this Weim-teenage-puppy life. I have sought the training of MANY internet trainers and in person ones too. We ended up sticking with 2 trainers in our area.
    When my puppy goes to new places, he is very excited and wants to immerse himself in the environment, smell everything, and drag me along with him. One of the trainers saw this behavior and showed me a method of controlling him which involved stepping on his leash so tightly it forces him to lay down when he doesn’t listen to commands I give to him when excited in a new place. She said to step on the leash clip right at the collar, which forced him to lay down and surrender. He did NOT like this at all and never surrendered. We actually tried this with a pinch collar once (which hurt my heart a little bit during this exercise – I’m usually a fan of prong collars used correctly) and finally then, he surrendered but was VERY upset and nervous about it. I have stopped practicing this exercise with him at home because it doesn’t seem to help anything because it makes him very frustrated, anxious, and upset. When I tried it at home initially, he actually started to get VERY bitey with me and defiant. As soon as I told him to stay in a lay down, his pupils would dilate, he would jump up against the leash pressure then bite my commanding hand or my leg with some decent pressure as in a desperate plea for me to STOP. I’m all for tough training, since like you know, Lindsay, my puppy needs it and sometimes it’s the only thing that he will respect. So instead of this forceful training, if he needs some restraint training, I will hook the handle of a leash to the inside of a closet door and close it, put his bed down next to it, tell him to lay down, and let him learn that if he calms and lays on his bed, he will get a reward. This way it still is teaching him some self control while not being forced to do something he REALLY doesn’t want to do. Thanks for this blog!!

    1. Oh Alena, I know what you mean! The pupils dilating and everything. That is Remy! It’s a fine line because Remy needs tough love but when too tough he does get aggressive as you described with your pup. I know him really well now and how to manage him and when to push and when to be more light. It’s all very situational with him. Always a challenge!

  34. I knew a guy who could ONLY use a prong collar on his dog – a purebred Golden!

    Now, my Lucy (mutt) could get out of ANY collar, so when I wanted to restrain her, I used a harness. She hated it, but never tried to escape it (that I know about).

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