Stop!

“Stop!” is a great obedience command.

When your dog is running for the road, when your child is running toward a cliff, sometimes “stop!” becomes the most important word in the world. 

It’s also great for marking boundaries, which I’ll get to in more depth later.

How To Teach Your Puppy Toddler To Stop On Command

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Walking Off Leash

So, leashes for toddlers: that’s a thing. LicenseAttribution Some rights reserved by rocketjim54

And believe me, I can sympathize.

After all, if you’re in a crowd and your child is desperately trying to get his face onto the next Amber Alert, a leash seems like a great idea.

You probably think that, as a dog trainer, I’m all for putting your tot on a leash.

Isn’t that the ultimate in treating your toddler like a puppy?

But you’re wrong.

I don’t find leashes to be useful training tools, but for dogs I recognize that they are a necessary evil.

First of all, the leash is legally required outside your own yard unless you’re in a designated off-leash area.

There’s also the slight detail that the average dog can book it at 30 km per hour, or faster, which is a bit of a problem unless you’re Usain Bolt (and I’m really, really, not).

If my dog is dragging a long leash, I just need to get within 20 feet of him and step on it. BOOM. Dog caught.

Finally, if you want to keep your dog close for safety, you can’t just, like, hold their ear. They dislike that. So a leash gives you a handle.

But it doesn’t TEACH him anything.LicenseAttribution Some rights reserved by r.nial.bradshaw Candid Approach Project - The Kodak Library of Creative Photography

Teaching a dog to walk close to you is actually taught best without the frigging leash.

I find owners use the leash to drag the dog around, instead of teaching their dog what they actually want. It distracts and frustrates the dog, who feels trapped.

Now, tell me – when YOU feel trapped, does that make you feel cooperative and ready-to-learn?

I feel the same way about leashes for kids. Sure, it’ll keep them safe in a crowd but it doesn’t teach them anything.

It’s not  bad parenting, although people tend to equate it with that.

It’s just a sign that the parent doesn’t trust their kid not to take off on them.

But I’m a trainer.

I’d rather train my kid to stay close to me. I also have faith in the ability of young children to learn seemingly-impossible things. So I believed I could teach my son to stay close, even though at the time he seemed hell-bent on taking off for Abu Dhabi.

I mean, I had to teach him at some point, anyway. I can’t leash him when he’s 16 (although I’m sure sometimes I will be tempted).

Besides, my reasons for leashing my dog don’t exist when it comes to toddlers:

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  • No legal requirement to do so.
  • Even I can outrun someone who can barely walk.
  • We have these nifty dangly things called HANDS.

Hands? Are great.

We don’t need to use them to walk, which means that they’re just swinging free, which means that we can grab them and still be able to perambulate.

…Which means that there is absolutely no reason for my son to get away from me, so long as he holds my hand.

We instituted hand-holding as a rule when we first street trained him, basically from the moment he could walk.

But it was a trip to Vegas when he was 20 months old that brought us closest to considering The Leash.

The thought of your tiny one year old taking off into a crowd full of drunken, smoking gamblers can do that to you (no offence intended to any drunken, smoking gamblers who may be reading this. Well, maybe a tiny bit of offence, but just a tad).

Instead, we used it as a training opportunity.

How To Train Your Puppy Toddler To Walk Off Leash 

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Street Training: Because, You Know… SAFETY.

Roads are DANGEROUS, yo.

Over a million dogs are killed by cars in the U.S. each year, and cars are also one of the leading causes of death in children, with thousands being struck each year.

That’s why I always, always recommend street training your children and puppies.

I’m always surprised by how many people people DON’T street train.

Freedom is beautiful... except where it could end with a SPLAT

Freedom is beautiful… except where it could end with a SPLAT

Oh, I’m pretty sure every sane parent tells their kid not to run into the road, but I don’t think the rules are consistent, because they still seem to do it.

I see both dogs and small children joyously straying into the road on walks, while owners/parents panic (or don’t, which seems even stranger to me).

It’s worth the effort, trust me.

How To Street Train Your Puppy Toddler

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Coming When Called

A solid recall is one of the most basic and yet also one of the most vital aspects of obedience.

If your dog doesn’t come when you call, then chances are he won’t do much else you tell him to do, either. A dog who doesn’t come when called is saying “there are more interesting things out here than you” and “I don’t think you mean that”. If your dog isn’t thrilled to approach you and doesn’t assume you mean what you say, you’re doomed.

I think it goes double for children.

A strong recall is not only a good sign of how much control you really have over your beloved dependent, but it is also incredibly vital to safety.

You might be calling your dog because he has decided to chase a bear. You might be calling your toddler for the same reason.

And while you’re trying to convince your puppy/toddler that the bear is NOT, in fact, Winnie The Pooh, you’re going to be desperately wishing you had worked on a solid recall.

So, now’s the time.

Three things drive a good recall – a strong history of reward, a lot of encouragement, and giving the impression that there is no choice in the matter.

How To Train Your Puppy Toddler To Come When Called

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3 Reasons To Raise an Obedient Toddler

“Obedience” sounds awful in the context of parenting, doesn’t it?

At least, to the North American ear it does. We want our kids to be free to discover themselves, to think for themselves, to feel loved and valued.

“Obedience” makes us think of stern 1950s style fathers holding belts in a threatening manner, or Von Trapp family style repression of all things joyful.

You vill obey me and you vill be miserable about it!

You vill obey me and you vill be miserable about it!

But in dog training, obedience is pretty standard. Everyone wants an obedient dog.

In fact, stern dog trainers like Cesar Millan have built multi-million dollar businesses around teaching people to physically and mentally dominate their dogs.

I have always wondered why people seem to value letting their kids act like drunken yahoos, but then worship a dog trainer who often kicks, strangles and otherwise bullies dogs into submission.

Be assured that when I talk about obedience, I’m not thinking of applying any of that crap to our children.

I wouldn’t even apply that to a dog.

Obedience is not about cowing the spirit out of someone.

It isn’t about using special choking equipment or punishing them for simply doing what comes naturally to them.

Reasonable dog trainers mean this when they talk of obedience training:

Von trapp better

Much happier. Still obedient.

  • Setting high but reasonable expectations.
  • Maintaining firm but loving boundaries.
  • Rewarding appropriate behaviour.
  • NOT rewarding inappropriate behaviour.

Not only can obedience be achieved without any whistles, forced marching, or grim frowns, but it should be achieved if you want your toddler to become a tolerable human being who wins the Nobel Prize and can afford a really swanky old age home for you some day.

Three Reasons Why Obedience Can Change Your Puppy’s Toddler’s Life

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