Losing the battle before the war starts –

Is the procedure of taking your dog out becoming more of a burden than an enjoyment? Are you finding that you dread taking a dog outside but it’s not the outside part that bothers you? Many people contact me in Poughkeepsie, NY and they state that they have issues such as leash reaction, fear aggression, aggression, etc. but will probably never address that first comes having a battle with the dog while trying to put their collar on them.

So you have to take your dog out to go to the bathroom or you want to go on a trip with them or maybe even hike with them. You call your dog with the collar in your hands and he doesn’t come to you or he does come to you. But when he can see it, he’s jumping he’s moving not staying still, sort of like trying to catch a jumping bean, making yourself tired before you even go outside. You try to wrestle with your dog and then after going through all of that fight you are still struggling outside. Your dog jumps, pulls, and barks at other dogs. You are asking yourself why this is happening, what can you do to stop this behavior. Essentially you are losing the battle before the war starts.

Everyone wants the perfect dog but a lot of times they miss the small pieces. By small pieces I mean calling your dog and having them come to you, then putting a collar on your dog while they are calm. If you start out on the right path you will continue on the same path. If you start out bad then things will only get worse and worse. So if you can’t put a collar on your dog, there is no way you going to build to have control over your dog outside.

Make an event a good experience, not a bad one –

Have you ever drove with a friend and they drive in such a way that it makes you car sick? Afterward, you don’t want to do that again, well dogs are the same way. If you make something a bad experience, then that’s what it will always be for them. But if you make something fun and enjoyable things will be a lot easier.

The following three steps will help to make a good experience before you even walk out of the door.

  1. Call your dog to you – One of the biggest mistakes is owners will go to the dog to put the collar on. Step one: call your dog and have them come to you.
  2. Reward before – Put each end of the collar in your hands and when your dog is next to you, reward your dog by rubbing them with both hands, make sure your dog is calm and staying still for you.
  3. Reward after – Clip whichever collar you decide to use (flat collar, E-collar, prong collar, fur saver, etc.) and then repeat step two: with both hands reward your dog by rubbing them. Now you will be ready to go outside and have some fun.
Poughkeepsie Dog Trainer

Poughkeepsie Dog Trainer

The following two steps will help to make a good experience after you come back home from your outdoor activity.

  1. Reward before – Before you take the collar off after coming back home. Reward your dog by rubbing them with both hands. Once again make sure they are calm when you give them this reward.
  2. Reward after – Unclip whichever collar you had on your dog. Then repeat step one: with both hands reward your dog by rubbing them and still holding on to the collar with both hands. At that time you may release them with whatever command you normally use.

After doing this for many weeks and many months that experience they were having before, or should I say the battle you were having before, will cease to exist and pleasure will emerge for both you and your dog. This is what I like to call the magic trick, between the two reward rubbings. You are sliding in putting on/off the collar with tons of goodness, just as a magician does sleight-of-hand.

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Doing a Job Without Being Paid

Do you struggle with your dog? Does your dog brush you off with every command that you ask them to do? Are you having trouble when you ask them to come to you or to stay? Well, you’re not alone, this is a very common issue. People always ask why doesn’t my dog listen to me? No matter what I do my dog does something else.  All of these dog owners have no clue what is going on. But the answer is very simple, you are not paying your dog.

Paying my dog? What do you mean by that? It is very simple – after your dog does a command or a task, they need to know that they did something good or something that they will work for.  Obviously money does not mean anything to dogs. So what is money in dog terms? There are three basic reward systems that you can use to build a better relationship with your dog.

For us to understand this the best way to think of it is this example. We all go to work and we get paid afterwards, whether it is every week or every two weeks. We are doing a job and a reward as humans is money. Now to extend this example, when we do a really good job we get bonuses. A bonus is extra money given at the end of the year for doing excellent work, or if we do the job really well we get promoted, which is another form of receiving an award.

We do all these of things to reward employees but when it comes to dogs we forget that they need rewards too. What can happen if they are not rewarded is the opposite reaction. So if you have a dog and you don’t reward them for the good behavior they will show more bad behavior and get attention for that behavior. So in other words, they are getting rewarded for that behavior more than for good behavior.

The following are rewards that you can use to promote good behavior or teach your behavior/command:

  1. FOOD

hudson valley dog trainer food treats

hudson valley dog trainer food treats

Food is one of the top rewards that you can use on any dog. It is very useful in teaching puppies new behavior, but it can teach any dog good behavior if they have what is called the food drive. Food drive is a term that means that the dog is willing to do a task or behavior for that piece of food. Every dog is different. Some dogs will have more food drive than others or sometimes you have to develop a food drive. A simple way of doing that is only feeding your dog when you are working them, in other words when you are teaching them a new obedience command or behavior. You will start with using food all of the time to teach that new command or behavior and then fade away the food. After the dog has been trained you can still use the food to make them work and that will strengthen your leadership with your dog. Lastly, food does not work on every dog, especially dogs that are insecure. If the dog is insecure, in some situations that dog will not take any food. In that case, the best strategy is to go to is praise.

  1. TOY

Toy is the second best reward because all dogs like to play. As mentioned before every dog is different

hudson valley dog trainer dog toy

hudson valley dog trainer dog toy

and some dogs will have more toy drive than food drive. The definition of toy drive is the willingness to learn or do a command/behavior for the chance to play with the toy. Then there are also dogs that are willing to do both: work for food and toy. Many sports dogs and working dogs are trained on both.

Safety tip on toys: I highly recommend a ball with a rope than without. Many dogs have choked on balls that get stuck in the throat.



The praise reward can be used anytime and anywhere. So if you don’t have food and you don’t have toys with you, you can give them a “GOOD BOY!” or pet them. Many dogs love the rubdown, so if the dog does what you asked them to do, make them feel good by rubbing them down. This reward can be done after food and toy. This is an especially good reward for dogs that are insecure and will not take food or play with toys.

Please keep in mind if you don’t give them any good rewards and you yell at them every time they do something bad, they will do more bad stuff to get the attention that they are looking for.


All of the rewards up to this point are physical items (except for the verbal). But sometimes you can use an item or a willingness to do something as a reward. For example, when I am training a new dog not to run out the door when it opens, their desire reward is to go outside. They do not get that reward until they wait for the door to open and I release them to go out. So to review that example again, going outside is the reward.

Unconventional items can also be used as a reward. I have seen a trainer use a balloon as a reward. It all comes down to what the dog desires to do as a behavior.

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The Fight Begins

One of the most common issues that dog owners have is an issue they don’t realize. Many owners will go through this struggle from the moment that they get their dog and they don’t do anything about it. This very common issue is putting a collar and leash on your dog. There are two steps that you can do to stop the struggle between you and your dog. By following these steps, you will end the fight that many times you will have with you dog and gain more control over your dog.

New Dog Owner The Fight Begins

One of my recent dog owners had rescued a new dog and even though he was very loving dog, he had very little control. Every day she would go to work and come home and want take the dog out to use the bathroom or even to travel to Dutchess County to visit friends. Every single time she had an issue putting the leash on her new dog. The moment she grabbed the leash to the moment she walked out with her dog it was a battle. She was not in the position to wrestle with a young dog. Wrestling with a young dog that weighs 60 pounds can be very tough for anyone. When she told me about the issue, I gave her the advice below which stopped the fight before it began.

Now before discussing any of the steps please keep in mind that you can do this with any leash and collar, whether it is a flat collar, prong collar, first saver, etc. The techniques and steps are the same no matter what you use. – Poughkeepsie Dog Trainer


Many times owners will walk to the dog and as a leader that is a failure. Leaders do not go to others; others go to leaders. So if you want to gain more control over your dog you call them over to you and not the reverse. With this one step alone you are doing a couple of things. First, you are breaking the dog’s focus on something else. Second, you are having the dog focus on you which results in more control of the dog. When people have a fight with a dog is because the dog is excited or focused on something else. So to break this you asked them to do the same, in this case come to you.




Poughkeepsie Dog Trainer

Different collars use by owners – Dutchess County NY Dog Trainer

One of the main components is the leader’s preparation and that is done before the dog comes to you. This is very simple: hook the leash on to the collar before you even call the dog. By doing this you are converting two steps to one step. For example, instead of putting the collar on the dog and then trying to find the ring on the collar and hook the leash on to the collar you simply have it all done already and the leash is connected to the collar. So when your dog comes to you, you will simply put the collar on.


As with anything else, this will take some practice. You will also work on obedience and behavior. How is that? Well, the obedience part is the dog coming to your when call. Behavior comes in when the dog is next to you and not start wiggling around. Last is the practice of you doing all of the steps over and over without having to think about it.


Want to learn more and train with Poughkeepsie top dog trainer?  Contact us today: