Dog Training – Stop Making it a Chore


Michael Baugh CDBC CPDT-KSA

The best way to train your dog is to stop thinking about it as training.

That might sound weird at first. I teach people how to train their dogs. Right? Yes, I do. I’ve also learned over the years that what we call training is really about much more than teaching our dogs routines and tricks.

Our dogs are always learning. We are too. Our dogs and we are also constantly teaching each other. I used the words always and constantly with intention. Sure, training sessions are great (let’s build some skills together). But, let’s also remember that the learning and teaching doesn’t stop at the end of a session. We are communicating with our dogs every waking moment we share with them. And each moment is an opportunity to learn and teach.

Here are some ideas to get us started.

Pay attention to your dog’s bids. John and Julie Gottman coined the term “bids” in interpersonal relationships. A bid is a request to connect. Bids can be big and overt or subtle. A bid from our dog can be a look, an approach, physical contact, or even the offering of a learned behavior.

Reinforce. It’s up to us to notice our dog’s bids and respond. To grow and foster a relationship, we should respond positively, accept the request for contact. The Gottmans call this “turning toward” the bid. We can (and should) take it a step further with our dogs. Reinforce behavior we’d like to see more of (e.g. polite greetings or our dog approaching when we call). Use food or play along with verbal praise. Turn towards your dog’s bid in a big way.

Place a bid of your own. It’s far too easy to ignore our dogs. We expect them to be good, and darned if we don’t miss “good” when it’s staring us right in the face. Stop. Smile at your dog. Talk to them. Get down low and invite some contact. Place a bid. See how they respond. Reinforce the responses you like most. See what happens next.

Now, you’re having a conversation with your dog. You’re learning. Your dog is learning. You are teaching each other. If you do this throughout the day, every day, training stops being a chore. It becomes something joyful you do with your dog. You play. You train. The line between the two becomes blurred. Both are just part of the partnership you and your dog have forged, day after day, little by little, one bid at a time.

Michael Baugh teaches dog training in Houston, TX. He specializes in aggressive dog training

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Aggressive Dog Training – Communication with Your Trainer is Key to Success


Michael Baugh CDBC CPDT-KSA

Working with aggressive dogs demands attention to detail. We are setting our dog up to succeed, protecting him from known triggers, and keeping people safe around him. That’s a lot right there. We are also teaching our dog new skills and new patterns of behavior. We’d like our dog to learn better ways to relate to people, dogs, or other stressful situations.

Whew! Okay, let’s get started.

I love teaching this stuff, seeing dogs become more confident and relaxed. Even more, I love seeing people change how they think about and interact with their dogs. The process always works. That’s a big promise. Almost all my clients enjoy significant progress with their dogs.

Some, unfortunately, do not. The difference between successful and unsuccessful clients seems to hinge on staying connected with me between consultations. Clients who post updates and question in their online journal (we share a doc on google drive) do well. Those clients report more satisfaction and most require fewer consultations. Clients who do not journal, email, or text assimilate information more slowly and falter in training.

Why is this so? I have some ideas.

We need the repetition to get it right. Dog training is detail oriented. This is especially true when working with dogs who behave dangerously. My Aggressive Dog Training Foundations course is chock full of information. Live consultations are a great way to learn and practice training techniques. Still, it’s easy to forget some lessons. And, once we practice on our own, it’s easy to go astray. Journaling (or emailing or texting) is a great way to solidify lessons and fine tune training skills.

We need accountability. Many clients tell me they train more regularly because they have to report back to me in the journal. Okay. I like to think of the training journal as a way I serve my clients, a means of supporting them and helping build on their success. But, if some clients see it as homework that adds structure to their day and encourages their work with their dogs, that’s great! Who am I to argue?

We thrive on reinforcement. It’s true for our dogs. It’s true for us. We want to know if we’re getting it right. I have a great time serving as both coach and cheerleader for my clients and their dogs. Reinforcement is the engine that moves leaning forward.

Clients who do not communicate via journal, email, or text between visits lose all of this. There’s no repetition of key ideas or fine tuning of techniques. The acquisition of knowledge and skills slows down. There’s no built-in accountability. Training becomes less frequent. They miss out on reinforcement. The dog training process sputters or stalls altogether.

Make me earn my money. Journal. Text. Stay connected to me between our consultations. It will enhance your success, speed up your progress, and save you money.

And, if it matters to you at all, I love hearing from you.

Aggressive Dog Training – Getting Through the Hard Parts


Michael Baugh CDBC CPDT-KSA

Living with a dog who has aggressive behavior can be hard. There are all kinds of emotions involved: human emotions and dog emotions.

Taking on the project of helping a dog change his behavior feels complicated sometimes. It’s a process. There are details. We have to work at it. All the while, there’s the risk our dog will act out, maybe even bite.

How do we get through the hard times of aggressive dog training, especially the early days when we are just getting started?

Depend on your trainer. If you aren’t working with a trainer, hire one. Choose someone who understands how to use positive reinforcement dog training to change unwanted behavior. Pick someone who is properly credentialed, a dog trainer with a CPDT or CDBC certification. Both is better. When training feels hard, turn to your trainer for help between sessions. Let them clarify your training tasks and the overarching plan. Make sure they explain how your training relates to your specific goals with your dog.

Trust the process. Easing or resolving aggressive dog behavior doesn’t happen all at once. There are steps and incremental successes. Stick with it. Don’t give up. And, again, turn to your trainer. That person should understand dog behavior. They should also be a good human teacher and coach.

Practice. Practice. Practice.

Be safe. Protect your dog from aggressive outbursts. It’s okay to avoid triggers of aggression (it is preferable, in fact) while you train. Keep things calm and stress-free in the early days of training. You’ll add stressors as you progress under your trainer’s guidance.

Focus on your wins. Attitude in dog training is everything. How you think about your dog and the training process affect your outcome. All of us tell ourselves stories about our dogs, what they might be feeling or thinking, why they are behaving the way they do. If you’re going to tell yourself a story, let it be a hopeful one. You’re smart. You’ve got this.

Remember, behavior is always changing. Sometimes it changes for the worse. More often, when we guide and influence it, behavior changes the way we want it to. That one bit of truth is so empowering. Let that inspire you and keep you going. Behavior changes. We can, and do, affect how it changes. There is hope, alway.

Michael Baugh teaches dog training in Houston, TX. He specializes in Aggressive Dog Training.