Things you MUST know once you finish your dog’s training!
How do I determine what level to correct my Dog on?
Finding the appropriate level for your dog can be challenging due to how frequently it changes and is usually the number one issue we see people face if they’re struggling with almost anything with their dog. In order to answer this we have to categorize the two types of corrections we will likely be giving out dog. Corrections for non compliance of obedience commands and corrections to inhibit behavioral issues when we’re not working on obedience commands.
Generally for obedience command work our rule of thumb is to use as little pressure as we can but as much as we need to. Meaning whenever you correct for an obedience command you should always be striving to find a level that you can visually tell the dog cares about and alters their behavior right away but isn’t causing them to jump out of their skin. I follow an approach of every single time I use the ecollar with a dog I ask myself did they care too much, too little, or just right. Depending on the answer to that question I go up or down in increments of roughly 5-10. This allows you to be fluid with the dog and always match their arousal level with a proper level on the ecollar.
With Behavioral issues we take a slightly different approach. Because the goal is completely inhibiting the behavioral issue we work at a slightly higher and more motivating level. We are trying to create the association that doing X behavior = bad. Because of this, we usually recommend starting roughly double what you would typically work at for your obedience commands. From there take an honest look at if it still was too low. We will commonly see dogs that may work in the 20-30 range for general commands that wind up needing the ecollar in the 70-90 range for higher arousal behavioral issues like jumping or getting into things.
How tight should my collar be?
The tension of your ecollar is another make or break to the success of your dog. Plain and simple, if the collar isn’t tight enough the dog will either not feel the sensation at all or will feel it inconsistently making it very unfair on the dog level wise. We follow an approach of roughly two fingers snug around the neck. To test if it’s tight enough you can try to squeeze two fingers between the contact points and the dogs neck. If you can easily get them between it is too loose.
Keep in mind that we sell replacement collars for the ecollar that you can purchase here (https://www.miraclek9training.com/shop) that allow you to set the tension of the collar and just put it on and off with a buckle so it will always be the exact same tightness. This helps for households where many people will be putting the collar on the dog to keep consistency.
What if my dog isn’t listing to my commands?
There can be many reason why your dog isn’t listening to commands but it will usually boil down to three big things.
1.) Do you have the proper equipment on the dog? For the first 6 months or so post training it is expected that if you do not use the training equipment with your dog they will not listen as well as you’d like. At least until proper behavior starts to become habitualized to the dog and to you. How long would you go to work for if there was no paycheck? How long would you follow the rules if there was no consequence? Make sure that before you go to ask your dog to do ANYTHING that you are in a position to enforce it using whatever technique we’ve coached you to use.
2.) Are you being CLEAR!? Clarity is another reason why we see dogs seemingly “blow owners off”. All of the little details as far as how we give commands, the proper order that we say things in, and making sure we're maintaining the standard in which we’ve taught things all add up. And if we start slipping on the clarity in the way we’re communicating you will see your dog act as if they have no clue what you’re asking of them…. because they don’t. For more notes on tightening up this side of things, watch some of our youtube videos or reach out to your trainer for a follow up where we can help isolate the problem!
3.) Are you being MOTIVATING!? Clarity without motivation also does nothing. You can be saying and giving the most perfect information to your dog but if they aren’t MOTIVATED by the consequences you’re providing for not doing it or aren’t MOTIVATED enough by the reward FOR doing it you will also get nowhere. This usually is as simple as increasing you’re level on your ecollar.
When can I let my dog sniff on walks?
We are by no means “anti sniff on walks” BUT if we try to enforce some degree of leash manners WHILE we’re allowing sniffing privileges you will always end up with a confused dog and sloppy walking skills. Because of this we recommend that you are either heeling your dog very strictly where the expectation is that they are not sniffing and maintaining focus on you OR they are totally free to go and sniff and have no expectation of doing anything else. In addition to this, since the majority of issues people have are struggling to get the dog to pay attention to them out in public, we recommend structuring your walk out into three sections. First 40% of the walk should be heeling and making sure that they are starting off on the right foot. second 20% of the walk can be free time sniffing, using the restroom, or running off leash at the park (my personal favorite with my dogs). This is essentially their reward for doing a good job with the heeling at the beginning. Third 40% ending with heeling. This allows you to make sure after their freedom you can get your dog back in the groove and focused on you and lets you end on a positive note.
Keep in mind, the point of the walk is to not just burn physical energy but MENTAL energy. Heeling your dog for 15 minutes will be more draining than an hour of a walk with them doing whatever the heck they want. Heeling also helps you build a strong working relationship with your dog and keep you both tuned in with each other.
We had a bad training session what can we do next?
Bad training sessions happen. I have them to this day with my personal dogs. That being said, it’s always a clear sign telling you to slow down and isolate the problem that made it go wrong. Did you rush through things and try to cram too much into one sessions? Slow down and pick ONLY the thing the dog struggled with for your next session. Did you think your dog was ready for a really challenging environment before you mastered that behavior in a less distracting one? Go back to the simple environment and get it better first. Did you let your frustrations from things going on in your personal life bleed into the session? Wait to do the session another time when you’re in a better headspace. The key here really is ask yourself what REALLY was the problem and ALWAYS look internally at what you can do next time to better set the dog up for success.
Why don’t you use a Stay command?
Stay is one of the most redundant words in the dog training that a lot of people use every day. There are a few reasons for this.
First and foremost is from a logical standpoint, there is never a situation where we will tell our dogs sit.. but you can get up whenever you want. All commands are and should be implied stays because they are given a clear beginning (the command) and end (the release). Sit means sit until released or given another command. Period. Down means down until released or given another command. Period. Having them mean anything else leaves our dogs in an awkward grey area where we aren’t being as clear as we can be to them.
The second reason is the psychological aspect for the human. Stay is most commonly used when the dog is about to make a mistake. When it looks like our dog is going to break command, we constantly remind them with “stay stay stay” holding them back from making a mistake.
It’s important to realize that mistakes are where the most learning happens. Allowing our dog to make those mistakes and helping show them what we want them to do will create a far more clear understanding for the dog. Blocking that ability will do nothing but slow your training down.
How can I reintroduce my dog to other dogs or people?
This is a semi loaded question as it is very contingent on the dog itself and the diagnosis of what that individual dog needs in order to thrive in new social situations. A couple of key points to go hand in hand with the advice that your trainer may have given you would be..
1.) know when and where to socialize your dog. All socialization with new dogs or people should be done in a way where the dog is able to express themselves freely. That means only EVER when they are off leash and can move around and give themselves space if they get uncomfortable. Dogs that do not have “flight” as an option will almost always resort to “fight” if push comes to shove. This is why we NEVER do on leash greetings.
2.) Know the people and dogs you are intending to socialize your dog with. This is why we never use dog parks and why we never socialize our dogs with new people when were out in public. If you don’t know that other dogs temperament or know that person well enough to make sure they aren’t going to do something stupid that will put them or the dog in a vulnerable position you are setting yourself up for failure socially. By setting rules prior to the socialization with dogs or people you can make sure things go smooth and your dog has a productive encounter.
3.) Make sure that if your dog has a history of injuring any dogs or people that you are using any safety measures you need to that your trainer has instructed you to use to make sure everyone stays safe. This usually is a muzzle and some sort of training tool to discipline the dog if need be.
4.) DON’T FORCE THE INTERACTION. If your dog has a history of attacking other dogs or people and the first few times you have reintroduced to your dog to them they just stay away in a corner by themselves LEAVE THEM BE. Don’t tell the person to go approach them, don’t have them try to feed them treats, don’t force your dog over to the other dogs. They are learning to self regulate and will come out when they warm up on their own.
5.) Weigh the risks. You’re trainer will instruct you when it is or isn’t appropriate to socialize your dog on your own. For some dogs, it may be deemed too unsafe to do on your own. You doing so past that judgement opens yourself up to a lot of liability and the emotional burden if someone or someones dog gets hurt. In some cases it just isn’t worth it.
What are three essential things for safe socialization?
Here are three of the most important tips for successful dog on dog interaction.
1.) No human interaction. I’ve talked about this time and time again and made videos on this topic you can find on our youtube channel. Human interaction is AWFUL for your dog when you are socializing them. It can create unnecessary arousal and an association of you as a resource creating a higher likelihood of a dog fight over you. Removing the human interaction allows the dogs to do their own thing with each other without the interruption of us or expectation of them getting anything.
2.) Advocate for ALL dogs. This is HIGE. Almost every single dog fight can be predicted light years before it actually happens. 9/10 times that is because one dog is getting stressed out by another. When socializing, wether it’s with 2 dogs or 20 dogs, it is your responsibility to play lifeguard and communicate boundaries and always be ready to step in and address a problem. This all starts with being aware at all times of what is going on to predict these things before they happen.
3.) Be safe. If you are planning to socialize your dog with dogs that they have never met before make sure to discuss with the owner what you are looking to get out of your dogs social experience with them. If they are not on board with the rules you would like to set, or they have a mentality of “ow well just let um figure it out” that’s likely not the dog and owner you want to socialize your dog with. Find people that respect the fact that socialization should not be a free for all and you guys are running the show still.
Remember! One bad social experience can REALLY set your dog back in their behavior. So be careful and play it safe!
How do I get people to stop petting my dog out in public?
This one can be a real pain in the ass at times.. When you’re first starting to do a lot of public access work with your dog be fully prepared to have tons and tons of people ask to pet your dog. Also be prepared to have some completely inconsiderate folks just run up and try to pet them without even looking at you or asking for permission (we call these people assholes). Listen, I understand that some people have dogs where it isn’t going to be the end of the world if someone out on a walk pets them. But for the vast majority of people who have signed up for our training programs, teaching their dog to be calm around strangers or teaching their dog to be less reactive to strangers is already challenging enough and having people constantly come up to them will completely de rail their training. So with all this in mind it really is pretty simple.
Just. Say. No.
To the people that ask politely, be polite but firm enough where you’re taken seriously. To the idiots that try to just do it without asking because they think they are entitled to your dog, say it with some ‘Tude and get them to back off (the key with this one is to preemptively predict them doing it before it actually happens. This may take a bit of inner confidence to get past the first few times as it may be a bit awkward. That being said, just remember. It is YOUR job to protect your dog.
How to deal with two dogs in a house when only one is trained.
Having two dogs in the house but only one trained can be a little more challenging at times but when looked at the right way is not as hard as you would think to manage. First, lets debunk the common misconception that your trained dog will learn all sorts of bad habits from your untrained dog or will develop jealousy issues because one may be allowed on the furniture or have other privileges that your trained dog can not do. Though it may make it a little more challenging for your trained dog to not do those things, in the end of the day it is ultimately just a distraction that they need to work through. This is no different than the example of if you’re walking down the street with your dog and see a neighbor who’s dog is pulling, barking, and lunging at everything it is still not an excuse for your dog to do those things because they see that dog doing it.
The key here is to have black and white expectations and rules for each dog and forget what the other is allowed to do. If you expect your trained dog to hold a bed stay while guests come in but the other dog is loose they are expected to do that as long as you enforce it. If you don’t want your trained dog on furniture but your other dog can come up it’s expected that they follow that rule as long as you enforce it.
Can I take my dog to a dog park to socialize?
Short answer.. No. The dog park is one of the worst places that you can take your dog to socialize with other dogs. In theory they sound great. A singular spot that you can bring your dog for them to romp and play with new dogs and make friends. But in reality they are a completely un regulated no rules wild west dog socialization spot. You don’t know if any of the dogs are vaccinated so they are breeding grounds for infection and disease. You don’t know the true temperament of the dogs that are there (neither do most of their owners) so there are dog fights happening all the time. And there is no central authority figure who says whats ok and isn’t ok there making it completely up to the discretion of each owner to not do dumb things that will cause issues there. Avoid them at all costs because it just isn’t worth the potential issues you’ll run into by going there.
My dog loves my parents because they give him treats all the time. What should I do?
So personally I don’t find this to be that much of an issue. My dogs LOVE my parents way more than they probably even love me haha. And I learned very early on that there was not a whole lot that I was going to do in order to completely change that. That being said I set some mutual rules with both the dogs and parents to help keep things as manageable as possible.
For my parents, i understand that they love my dogs and love getting to spend time with them when they come over. I don’t want to restrict that and since it isn’t creating a massive issue I don’t mind that they I’ve them toys and treats from time to time. That being said, they know that if i’m actively trying to get them to do something like hold a down stay or bed stay while they’re over that that is the dogs time to CHILL and not be messed with.
For the dogs, I set a similar boundary of no matter what my parents are doing they are expected to still follow the rules. That means no matter how excited they are there is no jumping. No matter how excited they are if they are given a command they are expected to be compliant to that.
By having these rules set we are all able to enjoy each other to the fullest!