Go In The Room.
When it comes time, you need to walk calm into that room with your dog, and if you need someone to help come with you, call me. My entire life has been shaped by one single dog. He saved me, showed me how to love and gave me a purpose to my life. He was with me for every single one of my successes, and even more important he was with me for every single one of my failures, always right beside me. That is the way he went up to Heaven too, with me right by his side.
Trigger was 10.5 yers old when his time came up, and I had to make the hardest and easiest decisions entire life in the same day. Trigger was old, and his body just couldn’t keep up, and I was not going to let him suffer out of my selfishness. Making the decision to put your old dog down is heartbreaking. Even when you know it’s time, when you know it’s the right thing to do, it tears your soul apart. When it came time for his final day, guess where he was? Right by my side, doing the things we love one last time. Trigger and I went for a car ride to visit my farm, and see my dad. The old bear couldn’t walk, but you bet your ass he tried jumping out of the car to see my dad and run on the farm. We got to hang out, peacefully. Remanence about the decade that I was so lucky to have spent with him, and then head to McDonalds. I had to go through the line twice, boy was all about those sausage patties.
This time one thing was different. I’m older now, and while death still affects me the same, I waited to get emotional. He has been there for me, as a steady rock my entire life, I could do the same for him today. I wanted him to know that everything is okay, that dad is okay, and it’s a great day. When we finally arrived at the vet hospital, that’s when I got to make the easiest decision of my life.
“Do you want to go in the room with him?”
Your dog is there for you, every single day. On this day, be there for them. Hold their paw, kiss their cheek, and pat their heads. Go in the room with your dog, and be with them the same way you are on day 1.
Dog’s are not just pets, and by God they never will be. Trigger was the greatest thing that has every happened to me, and I have so many lessons learned from our experiences that still resonate with me to this day.
Training dogs for a living is one of the greatest jobs in the world, and offers more emotional fulfillment, challenges, and excitement than most jobs could ever dream. I believe that to my core. For someone to be lucky enough to have the skill, been taught the knowledge, and have the feel for training dogs (and that feel is something that you are born with) they need to count their lucky stars because it is a great gig. If you are a dog trainer, or thinking about getting into this industry, here are some things I would think about and reflect on below.
This job can get hard, and it is not for everyone. The first time a dog bites you, attempts to bites you, or bites someone in front of you, it’s a shock to the system. I think it’s important for everyone to see what a dog is capable of, and the power that these animals have. It will give you a great respect for how powerful they truly are. That being said, not everyone has to work with dog’s that are struggling with deep behavioral issues, and no where near everyone should. It’s an art, that takes a very long time to develop and nurture. In addition, all dogs do have the potential to bite, don’t ever forget that.
The potential to get bit, and get seriously hurt is not the hardest part of this job, it’s not even close. For me, the hardest part is the emotional toll dog training can take on you. If you really care about your job, and about helping people and dogs, you pour your entire being into every single dog you see, every single day of the week. The amount of passion, and the amount of compassion that you need to have and put into your work can become at times overwhelming. This gets amplified because people love their dogs so much. Think about, that during the last recession the pet industry was one of the only industries that continued to grow, not fall. Our dogs, cats, and other pets are so much more than just a pet, they are a huge portion of our family. In some cases, they are the only family that people may have. Owners have such an emotional attachment to our pets, that sometimes what may be necessary, is clouded by what we feel.
Sometimes being a dog trainer, also means being a great salesperson. You really have to sell and get the point across why what you are doing is necessary, and the importance it has to helping their dog’s life. I know some trainers who will simply tell it, and if owners don’t want to do it that’s on them. I get it, I understand it, especially because I’ve been in this game for a decade, but here is the thing. If you do a great job at selling what you know will help the owners dog, the dog’s life will improve! That is what keeps me going, and what is so damn important about this job, and why I try to be a wordsmith. Remember, the goal of our job is to improve the quality of life for the dog, improve the relationship of the dog and their human, and ease the stress for the human imposed by their dog. Simply telling a human to do this, do that, don’t do this, isn’t enough. They need to understand why, how, and what this will do, and the benefits of the work you want them to follow through with.
There are such limited numbers of great dog trainers, and such large numbers for dogs that need trained, that it causes a very big demand issue. The last two years have exasperated this as well. I want to help everyone in the entire world, but there is only 24 hours in a day, and you aren’t Superman. While you will help thousands of people in your life, you are going to run into a few people in your life that demand help immediately. Remember, if no one takes care of you, you won’t be able to take care of others. Make sure you give yourself necessary breaks and time for you. Whether it’s hiking, lifting, or painting, find outlets for you to decompress.
To add more into the mix, as a dog trainer you are going to find out that every other dog trainer on the planet hates you, and thinks you are a moron. Okay, that might be slightly exaggerated, but it’s a tough world. You are going to need a group of people to bounce ideas off of, discuss difficult cases, and add in new insights to your training program. I am blessed by being surrounded by a tremendous team, and without them I would fail. A quick shout out to my staff, Anthony, Michelle, Rachel, Erin, Travis, Donna, Bree, Josh, Jake, Cassidy, Emma, R2, and Joyce for being a part of the best training team on the planet. Also, Jenilee, Jenny, Andy, and Megan for everything that you all do too. I continue to appreciate and respect how amazing you all are at the work you do. I would also urge you to connect with dog trainers who may not do everything the same as you. It will give you inspiration and creativity, as well as new tools in your toolbox.
Another large issue that you also run into when training dogs is, believe it or not, owners don’t let you steal their dog when you think they are cute. It’s extremely rude.
Dog trainers, and future dog trainers, continue to help people help dogs. Continue to educate and be educated. Continue to love what you do.
Owner - Say It Once Dog Training
With family visiting, or with you leaving town to visit family, your dog will pick up on the added stress and act accordingly. A few tips that will come in handy during this Easter weekend.
If you plan on having family over, set your dog up for success. Make it easier on yourself and take a 30 minute walk the morning that your family is due to arrive. Remember, the goal of this walk is for your dog to check in with you, to focus and engage with you. Walk with a purpose, don’t let your dog walk aimlessly or they will carry that same mentality into the house. After your walk, give your dog a good 10-15 minute play session, but make it rigorous. You want to end with their tongue out and panting! When you are wrapping up your play, put your dog into the “place command” which will give them time to cool down and chill out. During this time, keep your leash on, which I highly recommend that you keep on during the days activities.
When your guests arrive, reiterate to them that your dog is in training, and it would be best if no one talked or pet them for the first while. This will give your dog a chance to sniff them, and stay relatively calm. If you have a jumper keep that leash in your hand. Remember, a dropped leash is off-leash!
You also want to remember that it’s one hundred percent okay to put your dog in the crate if they, you, or your guests are going to be overwhelmed. Meet your dog’s needs in the morning, and allow yourself to take a break from training your dog. Have the crate in an upstairs bedroom so you are not to disturb your dog, and even have a TV on in that room if necessary.
I hope you have the best Easter weekend, and get to spend quality time with your family. Give your dog some extra play and love during this time, but don’t forget to follow all the rules 😜
Have you had that dog that changed your life? Don’t get me wrong, I love each and everyone of my dogs, but there is something about that special one that can connect with you on a level that no one can understand. My 10 1/2 year-old mastiff trigger, he’s that one. Tell me about your dog that was “the one”, because I want tell you about this amazing dog, Trigger, too. I hope this story can resonate with you, and show how and why I got into dog training, and how the bond between man and dog can be so important.
When I was 18 I moved out to Chicago to follow my dreams of playing hockey. I was actually a pretty good athlete back in the day (when I used to be in shape believe it or not) and I thought that was my life path. College athletics, and who knows after that. Unfortunately at the time, God had a different plan. I suffered some pretty bad brain injuries when I was in Chicago that ended any chance of playing hockey again, and suffered severe symptoms for a few years. These symptoms led me down a terrible path of crippling anxiety, binge eating, depression, 22 different prescription medications, and a very lost kid. After a year, and trying everything under the sun, my parents thought it would be helpful we got a puppy, with the stipulation that I learn how to train dog’s from my Uncle Andy, who trained dog’s earlier in his life. It took me all one day to become fascinated with the world of dog training, I was hooked. I would have daily, hour long conversations with my Uncle, (still do to this day) and watch my idol at the time Cesar Milan about 5 hours a day. After doing my homework on what breed I felt would be best, having a mentor to guide me, and ready to fully commit to a puppy, I picked up my boy Trigger. This saved my fucking life.
You want to know what happens when you give a human purpose? The same thing that happens when you give a dog a purpose. They thrive, they become more confident, less stressed, and that 19 year old boy started to smile again, started to make jokes again, started to enjoy life again, all because of the love of his dog. I hate writing about him sometimes, because every time I do I cry my eyes out, and now this is embarrassing because I’m crying on a plane to Miami. Trigger taught me so much about life, giving 2nd chances, what it means to truly love someone, the importance of patience and calm teaching, I could go on for weeks. What he really taught me, is that a dog is so much more than a dog. Trigger has been with me every step of my life, and watching him grow old has been an absolutely blessing. He’s the coolest old dog in the world, (I can’t stop crying again Jesus). That is what I mean when I say “the one”. A connection that cannot be explained, cannot be understood by those who have never experienced it. I’m so blessed in this life, and thankful for Trigger and everything he has helped me achieve. Without him, I wouldn’t be here. Thank you baby boy.
Tell me about the dog that changed your life.
If you ever get the chance to catch my videos from 10 years ago of me training Trigger on my facebook page, you should watch them.
When you hear the word socialization, the first thought that comes up in peoples head is dogs playing together. Because there is such a huge weight of importance placed on socialization, it’s common for the average dog owner to take their dog to play with as many dogs as possible. Whether that means taking our dog to the dog park, or over socializing our dogs with other dogs on the leash during the walk. This is something we need to chang our mindset on, and I’ll explain why.
When you take your dog on a walk and allow them to greet all of their dog friends on leash, we make two mistakes. First, we give all of the excitement and we allocate it to other dogs on the walk, instead of allowing ourselves to be the distributor of excitement. If you want your dog to focus on you more, don’t allow competing motivators to interact with your dog during the walk. This doesn’t mean that you can’t have doggy friends, this just means that the more dogs that you allow your pup to meet during your walk, the less attention your dog will pay to you. One step further, the moment that you try to hold your dog back from greeting other dogs during the walk, is the moment that they get frustrated. The more frustration youre dog has because they are not allowed to greet another dog (especially now that they believe they should be able to) is where most friendly dogs turn reactive. Their excitement turns frustration, which gets taken out in barking, whining, and eventually lunging. Remember, you want your dog to see you as the greatest thing on the planet, especially at a time when you take them on a walk. Don’t give that power away.
The other scenario we think about when we hear the word socialization is taking our dog to the dog park, which quite frankly it’s just a mistake waiting to happen. I wish I could tell you the number of times I work with an insecure or nervous dog, that had one single traumatic incident happen at the dog park that set their dog in a downward spiral of behavior. It only takes one bad incident to mess with our dogs psyche.
The hardest part about the dog park, it’s not only that people dot not pay attention to their own dogs, nor do they correct them for mistakes they may be making, but it’s like a box of chocolates. You really never know what you’re going to get. You put your dog in with a group of dogs with all different energies, play style, comfort level, and the dynamic of the pack of dogs can influence your dog in a negative fashion.
Don’t get me wrong, I love allowing my dogs to play together, as well as playing with friends dogs that they know really well. But that’s the difference, they know each other so well, and they’re so comfortable together that they can read each other tremendously well. In these smaller group play sessions, I can also stop it at the drop of a hat if I feel like the play is escalating to a level I would deem too much.
The issue is, once again, if all I do is allow my dog to play with other dogs, and I never teach them to just exist in a neutral way with dogs/people/different environments, they will always be overexcited around those specific triggers. Your ultimate goal should be to socialize your dog with the intention of teaching neutrality, teaching calmness, and putting your dog In a position where they would rather be with you, than those specific triggers. For me, I see socialization as a way of taking my dog to a local café, sitting outside with him while I drinking a coffee, and allowing my dog to lay down next to me and watch the world go by. It doesn’t matter if people are rushing to their table, or if other dogs come in or out of the café. I want my dog to be completely comfortable hanging out. If you can get your dog to do that, you’re going to go extremely far.
That is the entire point of our group classes. When you bring 30 dogs together, and you work them on specific drills on how to get close to one another, walk away from one another, and turn and walk right back towards each other, it will teach your dog that just because we see other dogs on our walk, does not mean that we have to play with them, lunge at them, bark at them. The point of class is to teach a neutral setting. If you have friends that have dogs, You can re-create the same atmosphere by going on a walk with each other, and trying to capture as much of your dogs attention as you can, What the end goal to go sit at a picnic bench and have a conversation with our dogs in a down. Existing, calmly and content. That is happiness.
Our Group Classes run all year long, and as long as you have had an initial session, you are welcome to sign up and bring your dog. They are a great way to “socialize”, as well as to keep you honest and test your skills. For your dogs benefit, I hope to see you soon!
A Christmas Puppy: Thoughts by a Dog Trainer
Here are some things to think about.
Sometimes your love gets in the way of your dogs growth and potential. As a dog trainer, there are zero dogs that I see that have behavioral issues from a lack of love. The same cannot be said from giving “too much love”, always at the wrong time.
We put every human emotional onto our dogs, hell most of you have a separate dog voice for each different dog you have. The issue is, when we make up emotions, feelings, that our dogs are not even having.
“Awe he looks sad.” As the dog calmly walks off the couch and lays on his dog bed.
“Look how happy he is!” As the dog has a stress face, frantically barking at the Squirrel on the other end of the window.
“I don’t want him to not want to cuddle me tho” When a dog gets kicked off the bed because they are protective over it.
“He doesn’t like that” When the dog finally lays his head down during a stay command, whilst the family eats dinner.
WE make up so many scenarios inside our head, and we overthink (go figure) everything!
Something I want you to think about. Love is not affection. Affection is a part of love, but it’s just a piece of the puzzle. Your dog needs more than that. Honestly, your dog would be happier working than they would be sitting on the couch getting affection.
“But I love him” is a line a hear all too often. If you love him, you’ll do what is necessary, and what he needs. Not what you want.
Now we are here, what was the point of this post.. ⬇️
I’ve been in this industry 9 years, and I’m not sure if it’s just me, but it seems that dogs are getting more and more worse behaved. I believe it is because our perception of love. If you think back, it was fairly common for all dogs to live outside not too long ago. I’m absolutely not advocating for that by any means, but we have made a huge directional change in the way we interact with dogs, an animal with 42 teeth, in a very short period of time.
The market and the media have twisted love. It’s not only about cuddle time, new toys, bones and other materials. It’s about meeting their instinctual needs. Your dog was bred to work. Bred for a purpose, and the average dog doesn’t have that in their life. We took a German Shepherd Dog, painted his toe nails, and give him a 15 minute walk a day, and wonder why he’s an absolute psycho in the house. He’s not fulfilled, he’s not loved, in the way he needs to be.
I want you to do me a favor. Research your dog breed today, and dive into a little. Look at what they were bred to do, and used for in the past. When you make the commitment to bring that breed into your house, make sure you are doing enough to meet their needs, physically and mentally. Also make sure you meet their needs by giving them direction, by leading them. I can promise you this, your dog will love you significantly more when you take the driver seat.
You have to make sure you stop humanizing him. Love him, but love him as your dog, not as your child. However, in the same instance that you would with your child, you need to create rules, and more important stick to them! I know your dog is cute, but that cuteness is not a get our of listening to rules free card.
Change your mindset, and it will change your outcome. Happy Training.
You’ve booked, or are preparing to book your first session with the Best Dog Training Company in the area, Say It Once Dog Training as seen on Good Morning America. What do you need to do, know, and have for your special day. In this blog, we will go over everything from the equipment that you'll want to have ready for our training day, how to prepare, and how to pay for your dog training lesson.
First off, breathe. You don’t need to be nervous for your training session. Remember, we are absolutely NOT coming to your house to judge you. We are coming to your house to help you and your dog reach your potential, build your relationship, fix the behavioral issues you are having, and give you the confidence it takes to be the leader your dog desperately needs. I have so much respect for owners who know when it’s time to call for help, and we cannot wait to be the help you desperately need.
What do you need to have for your session?
Every dog is different, as well as every household environment, but there are a few things that should be in every house. Whether you have a puppy, or a dog with a behavioral issue, you will benefit from having the following.
Two very important notes! Make sure you don’t over exert your dog before our training session, and do not feed your dog directly before our training session. Even if they miss a meal, or only eat half, it will help. Remember, in order to train, we need some energy, and we definitely need food motivation!
What should you do when your trainer arrives at your house? If your dog is a bite risk, we put these particular dogs in the crate, or a back room when we get there. Remember to condition your dog to the Baskerville Muzzle before the session! If your dog is human friendly, even if they are a pain in the butt at the door, let them do their thing! We will coach you through it, just have a leash handy. The first 10-15 minutes your trainer will sit down with you and have a conversation at the kitchen table, get to know you and your best friend, and explain the layout of the session before starting the hands on portion of your training.
As the owner of the company, and having been training dogs for the past 10 years I want to thank you very much for trusting our team with your dogs. I know how much they mean to you, and it’s my honor to help you and your dog achieve balance, and reach their true potential. Happy training!
Our payment process is very simple, pay only for what you need. You don't need a one size fits all package, because your dog and situation is unique. You pay after your session, and we take payments via a card reader on Square. You can use both debit and credit cards.
We know your time is valuable, and ours is too. Please understand that we only have limited availability, and out of respect for our employees and our other clients, we kindly ask that you give us at least 5 days notice if you need to cancel or reschedule an appointment. We will always contact you with a reminder 7 days before your appointment via the cell number you signed up with. I understand that life happens, and it’s not always possible to control your schedule 5 days in advance, however cancellations made within 48 hours of your scheduled appointment will result in a $50 fee to get rescheduled. We will do our very best to reschedule your service for another time that is convenient to you.
If you are struggling with your dog’s reactivity towards dogs, prey, or people on your walk, understand you are not alone and help is right around the corner. This is something that we, Say It Once Dog Training, are known for solving. I want to break it down for you. Welcome to Part 1.
There is a huge difference between leash reactivity, and aggression, and the difference lies in the behavior your dog displays without a leash. We see countless clients who talk about how well their dog plays with other dogs at the park, or family and friend’s dogs, but as soon as they are on a leash they turn into Cujo. This, is the prime example of frustration related reactivity. If our dog is seeking to cause physical harm and attack a dog, on or off leash, this is considered, quite obviously, aggression. Now, you’re going to take a similar approach for both of these reactions, but for people who are struggling with frustrated reactivity, you need to understand why your dog is frustrated, how it started, and how to fix it moving forward.
What does a typical walk look like for the average dog? We stroll down the street, often they drag their human quite a while, and sometimes they meander from side to side, sniffing the grass and spacing out as we walk them. However, they rarely check in with their owner because the owner rarely asks much of their dog when they go out on a walk. Most of the time the owner will only try to ask their dog to stay close if they see another dog, which is a clear signal to your dog that they should focus on to them. That other dog is now providing me with tension (because you have physically put tension via the leash, and the only thing that has changed is the addition of the other dog) If the only time you try to get your dogs attention is when another dog is around while walking them, you are in for a world of hurt.
From the dogs perspective, as soon as they see another dog on a walk they become very interested. Ears perking up, head lifts high, tail starts to wag with a faster pace, their chest puffs out, and all of this body language happened in the blink of an eye. Within a few seconds, there is tension on the leash, and Fido begins to pull towards the other dog. The average owner takes one of two routes here.
Option 1. Because the dog owner knows the other dog and their human, they allow fido to pull towards the other dog until they get up to them for a greeting. “They are friends, so it’s not that big of a deal.” Here is the problem with this scenario. When you allow your dogs to meet as they’ve been pulling, you are reinforcing their pulling, but also the state of mind which is the big issue. The other issue with this option is when you come across you do not know, and you do not want to greet them. Your dog doesn’t understand why you won’t let them greet other dogs, which forces them to pull harder. You’ve probably noticed the trend, the harder they pull, the harder it is for you to physically hold back, and the more they try (opposition reflex) On-leash dog greetings are not something I recommend, but I’ll talk about that in another post.
Option 2. You see a dog, and you immediately tense up. You wrap the leash around your hand 4 extra times until your hand starts to turns purple. You start to pull your dog closer to you for “more control”, and cross the street to get as much distance between each other. In this scenario, this is where dog owners believe their dog can all of the sudden speak the English language, and we start pleading with our dog to not pay attention. “Fido, come on now, leave it, leave it, leave it, keep it moving, he doesn’t want to be friends, he could eat you, why do you do this to me?” A full on conversation, until we physically drag our dog 30 feet past and can regain the small amount of control we had to begin with.
Now, where did you go wrong in this scenario? The answer is not on the walk, it always starts well before you even saw the dog. When you opened up your front door to go for a walk, I can all but guarantee your dog ran out the door first, excited, without permission. It’s not about being “the alpha”, it’s about not rewarding your dogs frantic and overexcited state of mind. Pay attention to that line, “state of mind”. If you allow your dog to walk out the door while they are overexcited, you are teaching them that their crazy behavior is going to get them what they want. (As it does when they react when they see another dog) Just like a child who is kicking and screaming in the grocery store because they want chocolate bars, and gets rewarded for it, your dog will do the same. I don’t want you to only focus on the obedience commands you are asking your dogs to do, I want you to focus on the state of mind of your dog. Our goal, is to have a dog be as calm as possible while we walk.
Some other steps to take before taking your first steps on your walk is the way you put your leash on. Do not put the leash on your dog if they are jumping up, bouncing around, barking and whining. Once again rewarding a behavior that we hate. Ask them to sit, wait until they are sitting CALMLY, and put the lead on. Try not to make a huge fuss over the fact that we are doing this, because truly it shouldn’t be that big of a deal to your dog.
Before you grab the leash, if you catch yourself hyping up your dog by asking them, “Do you want to go for a WaLk?” Stop it. Remember, do everything in your power to keep your dog calm while getting them ready to go for a calm walk.
Once you’ve made the appropriate changes, does this mean your dog is now going to calmly pass other dogs on the walk? Heck no, but it’s the start of you asking more from your dog. It’s the start of the relationship change that is required to lead your dog. Sometimes, leadership is uncomfortable, and most always leadership takes patience and calmness. Now, lets go over how to teach our dogs to heel on lead.
Part 2 next.
It’s funny, when yo mention dog park to a dog owner, you’re only going to get one of two reactions. “MY DOG LOVES THE DOG PARK!” OR “Absolutely Not Will Ever Go To The Dog Park Again!”
Personally, I’m a huge anti dog park guy. I’ve seen way too many things happen inside the park to ever go back. However, I’m also a dog owner who has a fairly big fenced in yard, can take his dog’s off leash in fields for running, and have the liberty to meet many friends and clients with their dogs to socialize my dogs with. I understand the appeal to dog owners have to take their dog to the dog park, and honestly on paper it sounds amazing. Here is the problem with the dog park. You have to rely on other dog owners to watch, and correct their dogs behavior as needed, and that just doesn’t happen. Too many dog owners will go to the park and either sit on their phone, converse with the other owners, smoke a cig, bring Chik-fil-a inside the park, or try and take a nap instead of being an accountable dog parent. Yes, I’ve seen all of this happen, and if you’re a regular you’ve seen it too. Without this lack of accountability and oversight from owner to dog, issues are bound to flare up more frequently than they should.
The dog park should be a reward for your dog for being well behaved, but it should not be your outlet to get rid of your dogs energy in order for your dog to be well behaved. That just doesn’t work. Over and over again you’ll hear me talk about the importance of mental exercise over physical exertion. That is what Say It Once Dog Training is built on. If you are relying on purely physical means to get your dog calm, this tends to be an issue. Multiple dogs who are high strung in the same area competing for the same ball, affection, water fountain, new dog coming into the gate, will eventually lead to a mistake. Once again, a mistake isn’t the problem, how you react, or a lack of reaction to the mistake is a problem. This is where dogs get learned behaviors, and where big time problems appear. If everyone was committed to stopping their dogs ill behavior and working with their dog to be better behaved, it would be a beautiful process, but that’s not the case. Some people don’t care enough, and that’s okay! I’m just not going to put my dogs in a position where a mistake can be made.
If you are going to go to the park, that’s awesome! Let me give you some quick pointers on how to have a better behaved dog at the park.