It’s the small, consistent decisions we make every day that have the greatest impact on our lives, good or bad.
I’m reading a book called The Slight Edge, and that is the main point author Jeff Olson is trying to make. Essentially, do the work and it pays off in the long run.
This can apply to almost anything. Olson was not referring to dog training, but of course that is what I thought of immediately.
I choose to walk my dogs every day. I’ve done this ever since I adopted Ace in 2007. We walk. Every day.
Each walk on its own is not all that important. We could miss a day and it wouldn’t matter.
But the decision to walk every day over time allows me:
Better health and fitness
A more relaxed mind and soul
Special time with each dog
A break in my day for better overall productivity
And for my dogs:
Exercise = better health & better behavior
Movement for my senior dog = less stiffness
Being out in the world = better socialization and well-rounded, happier dogs
So how does this apply to dog training?
Most of us get frustrated when it comes to training because we want a quick fix to a behavior problem like pulling on the leash or barking when sometimes thereis no quick fix.
I get emails every day with questions from people wondering what magical thing they can do to stop a dog’s resource guarding or jumping or whining.
There’s rarely a quick fix, but the answer is usually fairly simple.
It’s putting in the time, a few minutes a day. This is what’s very difficult for people. Consistency.
For example, my dog Remy pulls on the leash and I’ve been planning this big, elaborate plan to do a 30-day loose leash walking challenge. That sounds great, but in reality that’s not going to work. It’s too overwhelming to plan out 30 days and I won’t even be with my dog for 30 days in a row all summer due to travel.
But that doesn’t matter. Because it’s much simpler than that. All I need is a few minutes each day. And I can start right now.
With loose-leash walking, all it really comes down to is holding the leash loose, not tight, and taking a step back when my dog pulls. The leash loosens, we move forward. No treats needed. No correction needed. Just a few minutes of patience every day.
I won’t see much of a difference in the first week or the week after or the week after that. But over many weeks, I’ll see a big difference!
Another example: Jumping.
My dog Remy jumps on me when he’s excited. It hurts, and I have bruises and scratches from the little weimamonster.
Scolding him and getting mad doesn’t work. He doesn’t take me seriously and he just gets more riled up.
So my new plan is: Don’t engage with him at all when he jumps.
The first day I do this, it will have no impact. He’ll probably still jump on me a dozen times! The second day, he’ll still jump.
But after a few weeks of totally ignoring Remy for jumping, you bet it’s going to pay off! Because his jumping will cause me to become completely emotionless, 100% disengaged from him. I will stare at my phone or leave the room entirely.
What training problems are the rest of you facing?
Could any of this work for you?
Let’s say your dog barges through the door when you want to take him out for a walk. I’m sure you could make some small changes that would add up over time. For example, you don’t open the door until that little butt is on the ground. He might only sit for a second the first day, but he’ll get better.
Or, if your dog has a problem giving up his toys or letting go of other items he steals, you could spend just 2 minutes a day working on “drop” with high-valued treats. This will make a big difference over time. “Oh, you want me to drop the toy and I get hot dogs? COOL! OK!”
This applies to anything. Coming when called, aggression around other dogs, working on tricks.
I want my dog to learn to do a front handstand because I think that’s a cool trick. So I have to start with the most basic movements. It’s not that I have to be a better trainer than anyone else or have a genius dog. I just have to put in the time when most people don’t.
Sure, some dogs are MUCH harder to train than others and some have more emotional problems or bad habits. But that doesn’t mean they can’t make progress too.
So, in the comments. Let me know if you’ve thought of a problem you’d like to work on with your dog and what the first step would be. If you’re having trouble deciding where to start, I’ll see if I can help.
What dog training issue are you working on right now?
Let me know in the comments.
I was inspired to write this post while reading the book The Slight Edge. Order it if you’re into personal development type books.
P.S. Through our Patreon page we have awesome FREE gear to give away, discount codes, automatic entries into giveaways, free stickers and MORE. Check it out here.
Leave a comment below for a chance to win a fold-up crate (any size) for your dog! Click here. *The winner has been notified.
I prefer a wire crate for my dogs because you can easily fold it down for storage or travel. Our crate from Carlson Pet Products fits in the trunk of my small car and I can easily carry it myself. It’s actually fairly lightweight.
So, is it mean to use a crate for dogs?
No! Of course not. I look at kennels/crates as temporary tools for future FREEDOM!
Because my senior dog Ace stayed in his crate years ago while I was at work, he never developed any bad habits like pacing around anxiously or chewing items that were off limits. Instead, he just settled into his crate with his peanut butter Kong and relaxed.
Within a few months, I started leaving him loose for half days and eventually full work days when he was around 18 months old.
Had I not used a crate, I think my dog would’ve felt more anxious and I know he would’ve destroyed something!
Today, it’s the same concept with my 15-month-old weimaraner.
My husband and I both work from home, but if we have to leave for an hour or two, Remy goes in his crate and we have peace of mind knowing he’s safe. It also takes pressure off Remy by removing any opportunities for him to make mistakes (like chewing our couch).
Now that Remy is approaching 1.5 years old, I’m sure we’ll eventually try leaving him loose for short periods. But Remy is a more intelligent, high-energy and mischievous dog than Ace so we’ll be keeping the crate on hand for quite some time I’m sure!
Here are some ideas for helping your dog love his crate!
It helps significantly if you start introducing the crate to your dog as a puppy. We put Remy in his crate right away in the car on the way home from the breeder’s house when he was just 8 weeks old! It was about an hour drive and he fell asleep immediately.
Once home, we spent about an hour with him and then put him in his crate again for a nap. We filled it with some soft blankets and some tempting chews like bully sticks and hooves and he cried for about five minutes and then crashed and slept for another hour.
My suggestions are to make the crate comfortable by:
Padding it with comfy blankets (if your dog doesn’t eat blankets)
Stocking it with tempting chews like bully sticks or Kongs stuffed with peanut butter
Keeping it in a central, comfortable area of the house where you spend a lot of time too (like a TV room, home office or your bedroom)
Look into information on “Crate Games” by Susan Garrett. It’s about using training and games and rewards to help your dog LOVE, LOVE, LOVE his crate!
And of course, provide plenty of exercise, training and companionship throughout the day so YOU DO NOT FEEL GUILTY.
A note on guilt …
When people feel guilty about using a crate, their dogs are more likely to feel anxious too. I believe the crate is no big deal. I see it as a tool to allow my dog future freedom. So, Remy also views the crate as no big deal.
Limiting time in the crate
One concern with crates is that some dog owners might be tempted to use them for too long and too often.
Maybe the dog is crated for 9 hours while the owner is at work and again for 8 hours every night, for example. Sometimes there’s just no way around this, and I wouldn’t say the owner is being cruel.
What I would recommend, though, is that you look for ways to make that arrangementas temporary as possible.
Could your dog sleep in your bedroom on a dog bed at night?
Could she go to daycare once or twice a week?
Could you hire a dog walker or a friend to walk him mid-day?
Sometimes these are reasonable options and sometimes, due to financial reasons or perhaps aggressive behavior, these are not realistic. So you do your best.
Also, here are some other uses for a crate:
You never know when you’ll need to crate your dog in an emergency, at the vet or during travel (like flying with your dog)
Sometimes groomers or pet sitters need to crate dogs
When you’re staying at someone else’s house with your dog, crating him while you go out for dinner removes stress for everyone involved!
Some dogs truly like their crates and prefer to sleep there. My senior dog goes into his crate, for example, if he wants to be away from puppy Remy!
More info on our crate from Carlson Pet Products
How to buy: You can order a crate on the company’s website HERE.
Cost: Our large crate (42” L x 28” W x 30” H) is $89.99 but prices range from $49.99 to $149.99. View all the sizing options here. The large size is plenty big enough for either my 70-pound Lab mix or my 60-pound weimaraner. It has one door at the front of the crate.
Crates from Carlson Pet Products are collapsible, which is so nice for travel or storage. Our crate folds nearly flat and only takes about 20 seconds to fold up or set up, and I can do it myself. It’s built with a steel wire frame with a multi-point locking system that will keep your dog secure and safe in the crate.
If your dog is not used to a crate or might try to get out, I would recommend the heavy-duty option. This was not necessary for my dogs because they are used to their crates.
The product also comes with a removable bottom pan, which is nice if you have a puppy (accidents happen!) or if you feed your dog in his crate and need to clean it easily.
Remy’s new crate from Carlson Pet Products is roomier than his previous “home.” He has more room to stand comfortably now, and he loves his new space! Thank you, Carlson Pet Products!
Giveaway – Win a free crate for your dog!
*The winner has been notified.
Carlson Pet Products is giving away a FREE crate to one reader of That Mutt! Just leave a comment below to enter.
The winner will receive:
A fold-up crate in the size they choose
Just leave a comment below to enter. Let me know why your dog is interested in a new crate!
Must have a U.S. mailing address to win. I’ll choose the winner at random on Sunday May 21 and notify the winner by email.
Everyone signed up for the $7 reward or higher on That Mutt’s Patreon page receives automatic entries into ALL giveaways. There are still 10 spots remaining. Click here.
We’ve had our weimaraner pup for more than a year now. Remy is about 15 months old. This is an update on his training and behavior progress for anyone following along and for myself to re-visit later.
In summary, Remy is still very immature, high-energy, frustrating and sweet. He definitely tests my patience. But he’s getting better!
Half the time I wonder why the heck I thought it was a good idea to get a weimaraner in an apartment (it was a bad idea). But then the next minute he’s blinking those pretty eyes and I’m kissing him on the forehead so thankful for my little buddy who’s always ready to work, learn or go on a running adventure.
I do have to say he’s shown some slight “maturity” in the last 2 months or so. He settles down easier in the evenings and in the daytime while I’m trying to work or relax. He doesn’t bother our senior dog Ace as much, and we’ve moved our baby gate further down the hall to give him more overall freedom.
Here are some additional updates:
Remy is now a running dog!
It’s good to be cautious about running with a puppy or young dog but now that Remy is over a year old I don’t hold back on our miles.
The most we’ve gone is 6 miles in a session, but I know if I wanted to I could take him on even longer runs and he’s be just fine. I don’t worry about his joints at all anymore.
Saturday mornings we run 5 miles on the local trails, and this has become a very relaxing and peaceful part of my week that I really look forward to. It’s a good reminder of why I got a weimaraner in the first place.
As far as training, here are a few things we’re working on:
Remy doesn’t know any tricks other than twirl. He’s very smart and eager to learn and work, so this week I’m planning to start “back up” and hopefully eventually teach him to do handstands with his back legs on a wall or obstacle. I had trouble finding a good doggy handstand tutorial video, but here is one.
I’d also like to teach him to “perch” on obstacles which will start with teaching him to put his paws on a low object like a book. Eventually we’d work up to more challenging obstacles like fire hydrants!
Pulling on the leash.
Remy pulls really hard on the leash. In the grand scheme of things, this isn’t the end of the world but I’m embarrassed when we walk with other people or when other people need to walk him. I have a dog blog focused on TRAINING, and my dog acts like a maniac!
I’m thinking of doing a 30-day challenge for myself this summer where I do not allow him to pull on the leash at all for 30 days as a way to break the habit. This would be more complicated than just “standing like a tree” because we’d be there all day if I did that. I would have to be more creative, taking slow steps backward to get him to pay attention, etc.
Would any of you be interested in following along or participating if I wrote about this for 30 days? Please let me know in the comments.
Canine Good Citizen Test
The CGC test is a test by the AKC that looks for basic manners in dogs. There are 10 elements of the test, things like:
sitting calmly to greet a friendly stranger
coming when called
walking normally through a crowd of strangers, etc.
The dog has to pass all 10 elements to pass the test.
I do not believe Remy is quite ready to pass but we’ve been working towards it since January and have made significant progress.
Back in January I did not believe Remy would ever be capable of passing, and I was OK with that. Some dogs just can’t handle being touched by strangers, for example.
Remy’s main challenge for the CGC test is being able to sit still while a stranger greets him, pets him and touches his ears and paws! He’s not afraid of strangers, he’s just so happy and wiggly that he can hardly contain his little body! So we’re working on that.
Teaching a “place” command and “that’s enough.”
We really need work on “place” or “go to your bed” so Remy has a place other than his kennel where he can just go to on command and relax.
The reason I haven’t worked on this is because he tends to get overly excited and tries to chew, pick up or shake the dog bed, towel or rug he’s supposed to be lying on. I’m pretty sure it’s his version of a tantrum! It’s frustrating for me. It makes me fee like I have a bad dog, so we just haven’t worked on it!
I also need to get serious about teaching him “That’s enough” as in “Stop shoving your damn toy in my lap, no one wants to play with you right now!” (See this post.)
And along with that, we need to get serious about “Off!” as in “Get your paws off me.”
My dog still mouths and bites people’s hands like he’s puppy. A lot! I’m concerned I have done something wrong with him. Why does he still have this habit?
Thankfully he doesn’t bite hard, but he does bite when he’s excited, greeting people, frustrated or impatient. I know weims take a bit longer to mature than other breeds and I’ve heard them can be “mouthy.” But still.
Is this a serious problem? Or somewhat “normal”? Should I put bitter apple spray on my hands? Or consider an e-collar? So far I’ve just shrugged it off hoping he’ll eventually grow out of it.
Remy and Ace are getting along much better. Ace is more tolerant, snarling much less often. Perhaps because Remy is every so slightly less annoying. They will even snuggle up together in the afternoons when the sun is low and hits the living room rug.
On a related note, Remy seems to get along beautifully with other dogs.
He’s respectful of dogs that posture or think highly of themselves. He’s gentle with dogs that seem shy. He’s fun to bring to the dog park, and I don’t worry about much other than him stealing other dogs’ toys.
Likewise, he seems to love every single person he meets. He doesn’t judge. He loves everyone. When he pulls on the leash, I remind myself of this. At least he’s friendly! Some of you have to deal with the problems with fearful or reactive dogs. Mine is just overly enthusiastic!
Rise and shine!
Remy barks at 6 a.m. or earlier every morning ready to start his day. I consider that a minor problem, but some days you just want to sleep in till, God forbid, 6:30!
I don’t know what to do about this other than use a shock collar, which I haven’t done. Instead, I just get up. Sigh …
Remy was neutered at about 11 months, and I noticed a few small changes in his behavior:
He almost immediately stopped trying to hump me!
He stopped trying to hump Ace’s dog bed
He doesn’t mark as much outside or obsessively sniff where other dogs have peed
Other than that, the most noticeable behavior difference is how other dogs respond to him. Unfortunately, when he was intact other dogs would often growl at him or posture around him. They still don’t appreciate his overly excited greetings but they’re generally much more tolerant of him now that he’s neutered.
My dogs Ace and Remy got to play with the leather squeaky toys from Mighty Paw.
Mighty Paw’s leather squeaky toys are made of eco friendly, all-natural materials, and they are hand stitched.
They come in a pack of three animals including a monkey, a horse and a pig! They are very cute, nice-looking toys.
Mighty Paw is a sponsor of That Mutt’s Patreon page.
Everyone signed up for the $7 reward level on Patreon receives a FREE product from Mighty Paw every month! In April, our patrons at the $7 level received the leather squeaky toys shown in this post.
In May, everyone signed up for the $7 reward level will receive Mighty Paw’s brand new long training leash (15 foot or 30 foot). Click here to claim one of the remaining spots!
Mighty Paw leather squeaky toys review
My thoughts on Mighty Paw’s leather dog toys:
The leather dog toys from Mighty Paw are so cute, and I appreciate that they are hand stitched!
The materials are safe for the environment and safe for my dogs. (This is nice to know as so many toys for dogs are actually toxic.) It’s also nice that the toys come in a 3-pack!
I knew right away that they would not hold up to my young weimaraner Remy. His mission is to destroy all toys so we rarely give him any type of soft or squeaky toy.
These toys are a good fit for my Lab mix Ace. He is more of your average to gentle chewer and he really likes playing with these without Remy around! He proudly carries the toys when Remy is in his kennel or if we play outside without the pup!
Ace likes to gently squeak the toys or play fetch in the grass, and he hasn’t been able to ruin them. He would rather play fetch than rip things up.
What is the cost of the toys?
The leather toys are available in a 3-pack on Amazon now for $25.95. You can use code MP20Mutt for 20% off any product in Mighty Paw’s Amazon store.
100 percent natural materials and safe for dogs (no chemicals or dyes)
Made with genuine cowhide leather
My dogs found them very interesting!
Each toy contains two squeakers
Definitely not indestructible (like any soft toy) and some dogs will rip them up in minutes
Two of the toys are made stronger than the third toy
Some of the feedback left on Amazon says these toys are easy for some dogs to chew/shred. I would agree that if your dog likes to destroy soft toys he will probably tear these apart fairly quickly. (However, that is what dog toys are for, correct?)
As with any toy, I would recommend you use these to play with your dog for a few minutes and then put them away until your next play session. That keeps the dogs interested and helps the toys last a bit longer. I do this with most of our toys, but especially any soft or squeaky toys.
In this particular 3-pack of toys, the pig and the horse are made a little stronger than the monkey.
I would recommend the leather squeaky toys for …
These toys are great for dogs who love soft, squeaky toys but aren’t on a mission to destroy them! I recommend them for soft chewers and puppies.
All dogs will enjoy playing with them but they might not last as long for dogs who love to shred toys (like Remy).
If you have a dog like Remy, I suggest playing with your dog.
For example, Remy and I can play tug with the pig or the horse and they hold up just fine. If Remy had the toys all to himself, however, he would ruin them within minutes.
Here he is practicing his “drop” and “wait …” Very challenging for our young guy!
And, since each toy has multiple squeakers in them, I’ve found they’re really useful to keep in my bag if I need to get Remy’s attention while he’s off leash!
I can pull out the toy and—”Squeak-squeak-squeak-squeak-squeak!”—he comes a runnin’!
If your dogs would like to give these leather toys a try, you can order a 3-pack HERE. Use code MP20Mutt for 20% off anything in Mighty Paw’s store.
Get a FREE product from Mighty Paw every month on Patreon
Everyone signed up for the $7 reward level on That Mutt’s Patreon page receives a FREE product from Mighty Paw every month! (In April, everyone received the squeaky toys.)
For the month of May, everyone signed up for the $7 reward level will receive Mighty Paw’s brand new long training leash available in either 15 feet or 30 feet. Click here to sign up for one of the LAST remaining spots. You’ll receive a new product from Mighty Paw every month!
Does your dog have Mighty Paw gear?
We’d love to see pictures of your dogs with their new Mighty Paw products! Post to Instagram and tag @MightyPawDogs or hashtag #MightyPaw
My dogs Ace and Remy got to try healthy, grain-free dog food from a subscription company called The Naked Dog Box.
The Naked Dog Box provides all natural & gluten-free dog food subscription boxes delivered every two weeks at an affordable price!
This post is sponsored by The Naked Dog Box, and we have a deal too good to pass up!
You can use code thatmutt10 to get your first two weeks of food for just $10 regardless of your dog’s size! Yep, your first box will be just $10 and free shipping. Click here to visit The Naked Dog Box.
When you sign up, you fill out a quick questionnaire about your dog, and the food’s formula is tailored to your dog’s needs. Your dog will also receive a surprise toy or treat in each box (up to a $10 value)!
We filled out The Naked Dog Box profile for Remy but of course Ace got to try some of the food too.
The Naked Dog Box Review
My thoughts on The Naked Dog Box:
My Naked Dog Box review
There are a couple of things I really like about The Naked Dog Box.
First, the food is delivered every two weeks right to your door (with free shipping) so you don’t have to think about it. It just shows up!
Second, the food is very affordable for being high quality (more on cost below).
Food from The Naked Dog Box is made with without grain, corn, soy or potatoes and is designed as a “hypoallergenic food” with limited ingredients.
The food is made in California, and you choose from either beef, turkey or salmon as your dog’s protein source.
At delivery, the box arrives with a card listing your dog’s exact recipe. If you’d like to see the ingredients in each formula ahead of time, visit the home page and scroll down to “explore our formulas.”
Surprise item in every box!
Your dog will receive a surprise toy or treat every two weeks (up to a $10 value) to make delivery even more exciting!
Remy received a bag of Cloud Star dog training treats in his delivery – perfect for dog training class. We also received a 2-cup measuring cup to fit Remy’s full meal in one scoop. One of the goals of The Naked Dog Box is to help provide your dog with the right portions and of course the scoop helps with that!
What is the cost of food from The Naked Dog Box?
Use code thatmutt10 to get your first box of food for just $10 regardless of your dog’s size! That’s two weeks of food for just $10 and free shipping. Visit The Naked Dog Box here.
Cost varies depending on your dog’s size but prices start at $18 every two weeks.
To give you an idea, it’s roughly $30 every two weeks to feed one of my dogs (70 pounds and 60 pounds).
Pros of The Naked Dog Box:
Food is gluten-free, grain-free and free of potatoes, corn and soy
Free shipping every two weeks
Affordable (starts at $18 every two weeks)
Cancel your subscription at any time (no fee)
Adjust your dog’s recipe or portion as needed
Receive a surprise toy or treat in every delivery (up to $10 value)
Choose more “add-ons” for a reasonable fee like treats, poop bags or other supplies
Current protein options include beef, turkey or salmon. Some dog owners may prefer additional options due to allergies but I was glad to see chicken was not an option.
I would recommend The Naked Dog Box to …
The Naked Dog Box is great for dog owners looking for a high-quality brand they can trust that’s also reasonably priced and delivered.
It’s truly so nice that you don’t have to think about ordering dog food. Healthy food just shows up for home delivery right on time every two weeks.
This food is grain free and made with limited ingredients so it will appeal to a lot of dog owners for health reasons. You can also choose your formula to meet your puppy or senior dog’s needs.
Naked Dog Box coupon code
I recommend you give The Naked Dog Box a try because we have a great deal that’s hard to pass up.
You can get the first two weeks of healthy food for your dog (and a surprise item!) for just $10 when you use code thatmutt10 at checkout.
I mean, how often can you feed your dog healthy food for just $5 a week?!
Lindsay Stordahl Lindsay Stordahl (with her mutt Ace) is the blogger behind That Mutt.
Julia Thomson Julia Thomson (with her mutt Baxter) writes regularly for That Mutt.
Barbara Rivers Barbara Rivers writes for That Mutt about raw dog food.
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