Puppy Coach 101 App for iPhone – Puppy Training

Hello All,

Today I’m thrilled to announce the launch of my new App on iTunes. Puppy Coach 101 is a video based App for puppy training. It will run on the iPhone, iTouch and iPad.

Check out a preview of the App below:


Here’s a direct link to the App on iTunes:


I know many of you may not have iPhones but please spread the word. For those of you who do, please check out the App and if you are so inclined, please give it a 5 –Star review!!

This App is geared towards helping a new puppy or dog owner with the basics. It provides a quick and easy reference by allowing users to have bite size reminders at their fingertips. It is not intended to provide comprehensive training but is a great way for owners to get started on the `right paw’. As always, I encourage owners to continue training to ensure a happy lifetime with your puppies.

With much appreciation,


Joanne Lekas, CPDT-KA

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Teaching Your Dog to Say Please – January 26, 2011

In any home, whether it has dogs in it or not, good manners are appreciated. Things like pushing past your parents to rush outside or bugging them for candy while they were working were probably not allowed when you were young and they show that your relationship with your dog is not as strong as it could be. There’s no need to yell at your dog when he does things like bark or whine at you for attention or defend his dog food dish. What you need to do is teach your dog how to SAY PLEASE.

As with all of the training methods that we recommend, we want you to set your dog up for success. Tell the dog what you want her to do (in words that she knows or by reinforcing behaviors you like), and ignore the tricks you don’t want in your dog’s attention-grabbing toolbox. You get what you pay for with dogs. If it works for them, they’ll keep doing something, even if you don’t like it.

The Say Please Protocol is also called “Nothing In Life Is Free,” because you allow the dog to earn his keep. It’s a way of living with your dog that will help him behave better because he trusts and accepts your leadership and is confident knowing his place in the family.

How to teach your dog to Say Please

First, teach your dog some behaviors that he can do on cue. Use positive reinforcement methods to teach him some cues. At first, SIT is quite sufficient. This will be your dog’s default way of asking you for something. DOWN and STAY are also useful behaviors. “Bow,” “Speak,” “Sit Pretty”, and “Roll over” are fun tricks to teach your dog.

Once your dog has mastered one or more cues, you can begin to ask him to Say Please. Before you give your dog the things that it likes most in life, (food, a treat, a walk, a pat on the head) he must first respond to one of the cues he has learned. One way is to simply have your dog sit for everything, so that he his default method for getting what he wants is to sit. Soon, you won’t have to ask for it; you can just stand there waiting and he’ll offer a polite sit, to see if it works. You can ask him to do other cues as well, although the sit is your dog’s primary way to Say Please. Play a game of fetch after work

Once you’ve given the cue, don’t give Fido what he wants until he does what you want. If he barks at you or knowingly refuses to perform the behavior (unlikely – he probably just doesn’t understand), walk away, come back a few minutes later, and start again. Keep in mind that he may not actually know the cue in the context you are asking, and may need extra help at first. Or he may be so excited about the toy/treat/leash that he temporarily forgets everything he knows. “Extra help” includes a visual signal or even a lure. If you think the dog knows the cue and you end up using a lure, don’t feed the dog the treat that you used for the lure at that time (we don’t want to reward non-compliance!).

The Benefits of Teaching Your Dog to Say Please

The best benefit is that your dog practices the cues that you have taught in many situations, with many different kinds of rewards. Instead of having to do a long training session, you can practice behavior that the dog already knows throughout the day. Your dog no longer has to ask, “Why should I listen to my human?” because the rewards are things that he wants in his everyday life, not just food.

Some dogs display affectionate behavior that borders on being “pushy,” such as nudging your hand to be petted or worming their way onto the furniture to be close to you. Dogs don’t do these behaviors because they are mean or bad dogs. They do them because they work. Period. Requiring your dog to Say Please first shows your dog the polite way to get what it wants. If you simultaneously ignore the unwanted behaviors, they will disappear and be replaced with a nice sit.

Fearful dogs may become more confident by ‘obeying’ cues, because it allows the dog to understand some of the rules of the game. Making your dog or puppy Say Please before dashing off to do what she wants can help keep her out of harm’s way (in the car, at the door, et cetera). In a multiple-dog household, making each dog Say Please and releasing them by name can bring some peace and order to your life!

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Building the Perfect Recall – January 22, 2011

Using the following methods, you can increase the probability that your dog will come to you, each and every time you call.

This is achieved by building a solid foundation of them doing just that. You must be diligent, and make sure that the number of times your dog comes to you when you call, is far, far greater than the number of times your dog chooses not to come when called (ideally you don’t ever want that to happen!).

Here is a strategic approach to help you shape a more reliable response each and every time you call your dog:

– Make up a list of situations, people, toys, places, other animals, food, objects or odors that
your dog finds distracting, to the point of not listening to you.
– Rate these distractions on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most distracting to your

Now, for the next week, make a point of having your dog on lead or long line at all times when they are around any distractions that are “2” or greater.

You are going to avoid any “10” distractions for the next 2 months. This means you are not going to allow your dog freedom to choose not to come to you, when number “10” distractions are in their environment. This may mean keeping your dog on leash for the duration of this program or until you are confident in the reliability of his recall.

In order to have success with recalls, you must put in the groundwork. Make a plan of doing recalls with your dog, three sessions a day — 5 minutes per session. Use different motivators to reward your dog when he comes to you. Your motivators may be toys, different types of food or anything else your dog goes gaga over. Choose a word that you want your dog to understand means “come to me”. It may be “come”, “here”, “com’ere”, “front” or anything else you choose.

Try to pick a word you haven’t already attached meaning to (ie, if you choose “come” and you have been using “come” with your dog and your dog comes sometimes but not always, this word already means, “I have a choice” to your dog).

Do not use your dog’s name before the cue “come” when playing the recall game. In two months, once they fully understand their new cue “come”, adding their name will be a bonus.

Be sure the motivator is being used as a reward and not as a bribe. Call the dog, click them for coming and then present the reward. Do not hold the motivator out like a lure out in front of their nose as then you are teaching your dog to come to you only if they can see the toy or food first.

In your five-minute training sessions you should be able to get in between 15 and 25 recalls with your dog. In your initial training sessions, make certain there are no distractions around, so your dog will want to come to you. You may even have someone help you by restraining your dog. Walk a short distance away and call out your cue “come” and run back, your dog chases you — click and reward. Be sure you vary your body position. Some times call your dog and when he starts to come, you run away so he can chase you. Sometimes start to run away but then stop and let him come to your while you are standing still. Occasionally don’t run at all. Be unpredictable.

As the week progresses add a few of the distractions that rate a “1” on the distraction scale. Remember to only call your dog once, if your dog chooses the distraction over you, score one for them, minus 20 for you. You then need to execute at least 20 additional recalls before you can progress with your homework. By the end of the week your dog should be doing a successful recall with distractions of “2” or lower.

If your dog does not come with one cue at any time during the program lower your criteria. You may need to lower the rank of the distractions, if you are working with distractions. You may need to move closer to your dog or get more attractive rewards.

Progress up the distraction chart as your dog allows you to, but not too fast. You want to try to work your dog in the presence of their number 10 distracters, but not until you have diligently done your homework of at least 8 weeks of recalls. After eight weeks you should have put in an average of 20 recalls per training session, 3 times per day, 7 days per week.

Over the two months of work you would have done at least 3360 successful recalls with your dog.
If your dog has a long history of not coming when he is called you may need to extend this program. It may be more difficult for you to work up your distraction list, be patient and only move forward with success. Rather than 8 weeks your schedule may be 16 or more. The program will work if you are methodical and DO NOT let your dog have his freedom to ignore a recall at any other time.

You may not have thought of every possible distraction your dog may encounter but if you have worked through as many distractions as you can think of in as many different locations available to you, your dog will start to generalize his recall to all locations.

Following through with daily reinforcements for coming will give you a solid foundation of shaping your dog want to run to you, each and every time you call, regardless of what distractions are in their environment.

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Training Reminders – January 18, 2011

1. Work=play=work. All play is fun and so all work should be as well. If your dog makes a decision during play (example he grabs his toy without being invited to do so) you are reinforcing his right to make decisions during working with you as well (ahh, maybe I will chase the cat rather then practice A Frames right now!).

2. POSITIVE does not equal PERMISSIVE. This is the guiding principle of Say Yes Dog Training. You must be consistent. If a behavior is acceptable at home (example the dog choosing not to lie down when told) it is also acceptable during work. Approach training and home life with a patient disposition and a strict application of what is and isn’t acceptable. Training happens 24 hours a day 7 days a week; your dog is always learning regardless if you are actively training or not!

3. Behaviors are shaped by CONSEQUENCES. Be aware of what is reinforcing your dog. Review and alter your list of reinforcers as your dog grows up, especially the “activities that reinforce” section.

4. Use your RECALL, to evaluate your relationship with your dog. Be diligent at making improvements each day in the level of intensity your dog has for working with you. Work at building a better relationship with your dog rather than making excuses for his performance. Work with the dog on the end of your leash — and turn him into a dog other people wish they had!

5. Be aware of what RESPONSE you are rewarding each time you give out a cookie or toy. What did you click—did you see eyes? Did you want to see eyes when your dog is performing that skill? What did you intend to reinforce? Does the dog know?

6. VIDEO at least one training session every second week. More if possible. If progress isn’t as fast as you think it should be for one particular skill, video three or four consecutive training sessions of that one skill (each video clip should be no longer than 3-7 minutes). Review each video individually upon completion – then view and evaluate the entire series. What did you reinforce? Can you pick out why your session isn’t progressing as fast as you would like? If you can’t critique it yourself, ask a friend to review it with you.

7. THINK, PLAN, DO, REVIEW. Plan your work and work your plan. Time your session or count reinforcements so you don’t train your dog to exhaustion. Do not begin to train until you have worked through your mechanical skills and planned where you will deliver your rewards. Keep your training session short! After each session, write in a journal recording your progress and plans for future sessions. Do what will assist you reaching your goals; do not get wrapped up in “finishing as sequence or exercise”. Do what is best for your dog!

8. MIX UP YOUR REINFORCEMENTS so that you are working with toys and food. Only offer a reward you know your dog will want. Once a reward is offered, do not accept your dog not taking it. You can use food to reinforce an attempt to play (or the other way around) but never use food to reinforce a dog that has declined the opportunity to play or decided to stop playing. What would you be rewarding? Of course you would have rewarded your dog for making the decision to NOT play with you (and remember work=play).

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Playing Tug with Your Dog – January 15, 2011

Playing with your dog with toys enhances your relationship. People hear different pro’s and con’s about playing tug. If your dog is easily excitable and gets too mouthy too quickly, tug may not be advisable. But for most dogs, playing tug is a great way to play and train at the same time. Playing Tug is less about the tugging and more about teaching Sit, Wait, Take It and Drop It before and after a few seconds of tugging.

Here are the rules of the game:

1. Never leave the ‘tug of war’ toy lying around. Keep it put away so you initiate and end play
2. Make sure that the game only starts when you invite your dog to play by saying ‘take it’ and letting the dog grab one end of the toy
3. Teach your dog to drop the toy by saying ‘drop it’ while playing tug of war. Trade with a treat to start
4. Once your dog is hooked on the tug of war game, you can institute the 3 ‘fouls’. The 3 fouls occur when your dog:
• Tries to take the toy before you say ‘take it’
• Any mouthing of your skin, clothing or hair in the dog’s excitement to get the toy
• Not dropping the toy when asked
The foul is a brief 30 second to 2 minute ‘time out’ meaning your stop playing the game by saying ‘too bad’, and put the toy out of reach and ignore the dog
5. Always end up with possession of the toy
6. Start throwing in obedience exercise before inviting the dog to ‘take it’ or after ‘drop it’ – Commands you may practice include:
• Sit
• Down
• Stand
• Wait-you can toss the toy and have the dog wait until you give the release “OK” for them to go get it. This is also a good way to start the ‘fetch’ command, as most likely your dog will bring it back to you to continue the game.

Always have the session end when the dog still wants to play – initially just play for a couple of minutes.

Also, only keep a few of your dog’s other toys out for play and rotate in different toys each week.

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Time Outs – January 13, 2011

There are many ways to do an effective time-out. The most important element is good timing. As soon as your pup begins to jump up on someone, bites too hard, barks for attention, or is heading for food on the kitchen table, say something that informs him that he just earned himself a time-out (like “Too bad” or “Time-out”), and then swiftly escort him to his time-out place. The whole idea of a Time Out is to withdraw attention. All attention is very rewarding for your dog and withdrawing attention is a very effective negative consequence. None of this should be done in anger – just a neutral “Too Bad” and then either remove the pup or remove yourself for 30 seconds.

• To do a time-out when you and your pup are in a puppy-proof room, you can just leave the room and shut the door.

• If your puppy is ok being left alone in the kitchen or family room, you can be the one to leave. Say “Bye” and walk into another room and close the door behind you.

• If your pup is in an area that will be fun or dangerous, you will need to tether or crate him for his time-out. To crate him, simply place him in his crate and leave. A small utility room or ex-pen serves the same purpose.

• A utility room makes a good time-out place. If you are using a bathroom, make sure that toilet paper and shower curtains are out of your pup’s reach. The more puppy-proof the room, the better.

• Tether stations can be used for time-outs and to keep your puppy out of trouble when you are nearby but unable to supervise him closely. It is handy to have several tether stations around the house, so that one is always nearby. Tether stations are simple to set up. Screw an eyehook screw into the wall or the floor and attach three feet of clothesline cable, with a clip at the end to attach to your puppy’s collar.

• A good option for time-outs when you are out and about with your pup is to put the leash under your foot so that pup cannot go anywhere or jump up on you, and to wait for a few minutes, ignoring him completely. You can do this for pulling on leash if you are unable to change directions (because of traffic or pedestrians).

• Regardless of what type of time-out you do, only release your puppy from his time-out when he has been well-mannered for at least one minute (no tugging, jumping, whining, pawing, etc.).

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Teaching Your Dog to Wait – January 10, 2011

How wonderful to have our dog believe that calmly “staying in position” is how to make his person give him what he wants (food, toy, play, or just going out the door)! Teaching your dog to ‘Wait’ helps build impulse control which is important for ‘self-control’.

Getting Started
1. Ask the dog to sit, and then hold a treat about 2 feet away from him. You are NOT standing in front of your dog facing them. Instead stand with one shoulder toward your dog (sideways.)
2. If your left shoulder is closest to the dog, hold the treat in your right hand (the hand furthest from your dog). Begin to lower the treat straight down to the floor. As you are lowering the treat, if the dog moves or gets up, you should say very matter-of-factly “TOO BAD OR OOPS” (your No Reward Marker) AND at the same time move the treat away and out of reach. Then ask the dog to sit again (you may need to step out of position so you can face your dog and body block him back into position if he has scooted forward)
3. If the dog maintains position, then give the dog the treat – while he is in position.
4. You are bending down with the treat and pulling back with the treat until you can place the treat on the ground about 2 feet from the dog and the dog HOLDS POSITION.
5. You want the dog to hold position AND to make eye contact, before you lift the treat and move to your dog to give it him. Remember we want the dog to realize that to get us to give them the treat they must:
a. Hold position and
b. Look at us (not the food or toy)
6. Now when you have progressed so that you can put the treat on the ground you should start moving away from the dog while treat or food bowl is on the ground. Of course you have to be ready to pick it up if the dog moves. You are now developing duration of the holding position behavior. You can try this with a ball or toy too.
Keep it fun, laugh at your dog when he hopes and tries to cheat, reinforce for trying.

Permission to Move Game
DO this is many places during this next week
1. Stand facing your dog.
2. Hold the leash fairly tightly.
3. Take out 3 treats.
4. Give a treat saying “Take It”
5. Repeat again.
6. Now, saying nothing, toss the remaining treat right past your dog’s ear to a spot on the floor behind him. If the dog moves to get it take a step away saying, “TOO BAD.” Leave the treat and make sure dog can’t get to it.
7. Go back to the standing in front of your dog position, and take out 3 more treats.
8. Repeat 4-6. You are waiting for your dog to figure out that sitting and looking at you is how to get released. IF the dog holds the sit you may then say “OK Get IT”!
9. Continue and find ways and places to challenge your dog’s duration and distraction skills.

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Waiting at Doorways – January 7, 2011

Waiting at doorways helps reinforce good manners for your dog but more importantly, is an important safety precaution. The goal is for your dog to learn that just because the front door is open, that does mean he charges through it.

Definition: The dog should wait in an area of your choice, but does not have to freeze in that position (as in the Stay). For example, if you tell your dog to wait at the front door while you exit, the dog can move about in the room, but cannot go through the door.

Phase One:
• Begin with the dog sitting or standing in front of a closed door. Stand between the door and the dog, holding onto the leash and the door handle. Before the door is opened, give the cue “Wait” and the hand signal for “Stay” (fingers pointed down, palm toward the dog’s face).
• Now open the door a crack. The dog will probably begin charge through the door in delight! As he does, bar the door with your body and/or GENTLY close the door in the dog’s face. Repeat the sequence until the dog does not try to barge through the door. You don’t have to say anything negative; your presence in his way is saying all that is necessary. No treat is required in this exercise — just going through the door is enough for most dogs!
• Once your dog is waiting at the door, you step through. If he tries to follow, your body is back blocking the entrance, or the door again closes (gently) in his face. Put him back, and tell him “Wait” again. There is no need to put him back in the exact spot.
• Go through the door. When the dog is on one side and you are on the other, count to five slowly to yourself. Then release the dog – he can go through the door!

Phase Two:
Some doors, such as car doors, front doors, and perhaps the back door, should be designated “permanent” wait doors. This means that the dog is taught not to go through them at any time unless someone is there to give him permission. To teach, make sure the dog understands Wait. Then, without giving the command, open the door and start to step through. When the dog goes with you, tell him “uh-uh,” and block the door. Repeat until the dog understands he has to wait to go through this particular door even though no command has been given. When it’s obvious he understands the concept, step through the door, wait a few seconds, then release him.

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New Puppy Guidelines – January 4, 2011

Don’t Expect Your Pup To Understand Sentences
It’s okay to babble along to your pup as you care for it, just don’t expect it to understand anything you’re saying. It will only understand the tone of your address. Dogs can learn a number of word cues (“commands”) – even hundreds of them – but they are just that, word cues. A pup can and should be taught at least a few words of human language. In English, “Sit!” and “Dinner!” are a couple that might be useful on occasion. But if you tell the dog, “Sit in your Dinner”, the meaning is lost. Dogs do not have a language center in their brains like humans do, and they cannot fathom syntax. Use one-word commands when communicating. Say the word clearly. Say it only once. And say it with importance. Reward the desired response immediately. Do not use the pup’s name when addressing it (unless the pup is at a distance). Do not repeat commands. Dogs hear even better than we do. Their “deafness” is usually not attributable to poor hearing. It is selective – they choose not to obey. Remember that if a dog does not respond to a verbal cue it should not be punished. The opposite of reward is not punishment – it is no reward.

Don’t Allow Young Children (Under 6 Years Old) To Interact With Your Pup Unsupervised
It comes as a surprise to many people to learn that children and puppies, though both cute, cannot be trusted alone together. Bad things can happen. Children are naturally curious. Often a child will do “something bad” to the pup by way of experimentation. In one case, a dog bit a child and the dog had to be euthanatized. On post-mortem it was found that the child had jammed a pencil into the dog’s ear, snapping the end off after penetrating the dog’s ear drum. If accidents like this are to be avoided, complete supervision is necessary. It’s not usually the dog that starts the trouble, it’s the child. If you can child-proof your dog, there should be no cause for concern.

Do Not Feed It Human Food: Do Not Feed It From The Table.
Puppy food is best for pups (AAFCO approved, is most desirable). Adding an assortment of human foods in who-knows-what quantities will not only detract from the optimal (proprietary) food but will encourage fussiness. Also, if the human food is fed from the table, you will wind up with a dog that mooches around the table at mealtimes, always begging for food. Start out the way you intend to continue. Set limits and be firm about them. Make sure that you feed your pup a good quality food. This is essential to his good health.

Do Not Expect Love And Attention To Substitute For Good Puppy Parenting .
Young pups are so adorable that it is very tempting to always give them all of the love and attention you possible can. But it is also important to set limits of acceptable behavior. This is especially important as they go through the canine equivalent of “the terrible twos” at about 4-5 months of age. Bad behavior, like excessive or hard nipping, should be punished by immediate withdrawal of attention (following sharp exclamation of a word like “Ouch” or “No-bite”). This is how puppies communicate their likes and dislikes to each other. Spare the “Ouch” and spoil the dog!

Do Not Supply All the Good Things in Life for Free
One simple rule is to make the pup work for food and treats. “What’s work?” you ask. It’s having the pup “Sit” or “Down” in order to receive food and treats (like Grace). This will make sure that the pup always views you as its true (resource rich) provider and, therefore, leader. Problems of owner-directed aggression downstream can be all but completely addressed by this simple measure. Don’t give everything away. Insist on good puppy manners: Manners maketh the pup.

Do Not Ever Get Angry with Your Pup
Work hard to remind yourself, whatever happens, that this is a baby you are dealing with. If you lose your cool, you will act incorrectly, your puppy will think you have gone crazy, and you will lose its respect and trust. Be a good puppy parent. Think cool.

Following these simple rules of what NOT to do can help create the dog of your dreams as opposed to a canine nightmare. The basics are the same as in child raising. Be fun, be fair, but be firm (the 3 F’s) and set limits. Children are happier when their parents are obviously at the helm, and so are dogs. Dogs need strong leaders if they are to be model canine citizens.

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