Tag Archives: training

No More Harmful Punishment in Pet Care & Training –

Niki Tudge

Ziv (2017) notes that there is “no evidence to suggest that aversive training methods are more effective than reward based training methods” and that, in fact, studies suggest “the opposite might be true – in both pets and working dogs.” Ziv (2017) suggests a new line of research to “examine how humane, reward-based methods can be improved in order to facilitate better communication between humans and dogs. In turn, such outcomes will allow dogs to modulate their stress, and at the same time improve their ability to effectively understand and respond to the behavior displayed towards them.”

No More PunishmentWe already have enough research to conclude that using fear or physical punishment in the name of training or care of our pets is ineffective and potentially harmful (in some cases, lethal). We also know that countless professional organizations and industry experts condemn physical punishment and urge pet owners to seek professionals who advocate for and, instead, practice positive behavior modification.  

However, there is a third reason to advocate against the use of physical punishment, and that is a moral one. Most pet owners, if asked, would most likely say they do not punish their pets, or deliberately place them in frightening situations to try to encourage new, or more appropriate behaviors. Yet the same owners will unwittingly take advice from training professionals who practice “methods” such as hitting, shocking and physically correcting a pet using a leash, or an array of aversive tools. By using different terminology, a professional may feel justified in physically punishing a pet while dispensing corresponding advice to pet owners, without acknowledging that he/she is, in fact, damaging the pet’s physical and mental well-being.

In civilized society, it is generally agreed that physical force is not an effective or acceptable way for adults to resolve their differences. Bearing this in mind, it should come as no surprise that physically correcting pets, like hitting children or adults, causes more problems than it solves, such as the many outlined above. It is time to stop physically harming our pets in the name of training. By working together, professional animal training and behavior associations have the ability to achieve this, and successfully reach the ultimate goal, which must be to do no harm to the animals in our charge, and improve the welfare of pets all over the world.


Ziv, G. (2017). The Effects of Using Aversive Training Methods in Dogs – A ReviewJournal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research (19) 50-60. doi: 10.1016/j.jveb.2017.02.004


The DogSmith, Teaching a Really Reliable ‘Coming’ When Called

‘Coming’ When Called Rules

Rule 1: NEVER call your dog to you and then do something to him that he does not like. For example, do not call your dog to you and give him a bath if he hates having a bath. Avoid calling your dog to you and then clipping his nails. Do not call your dog to you and then take him to the vet. Avoid calling your dog to you and then giving him yucky medication.

Rule 2: Generously ‘click’ and reinforce your dog when he comes to you. Even if it takes your dog an hour to ‘come’ to you, reinforce the ‘come’. Don’t throw him a ‘party’ or give him steak, but reward him in some way.

Rule 3: Do not stare at your dog when you want him to ‘come’ to you. Staring is rude behavior in dog culture and may actually keep your dog from coming to you.

Rule 4: Use your body to help your dog be successful: stand sideways or turn your back toward the dog to invite him to play a game of chasing you.


Why does it matter if your dog looks at you? Why teach attention? Attention, when your dog is actively looking at you and waiting for a cue, is the single most important behavior to train.

You can’t give your dog a life saving cue if he is not paying attention. You can’t get your dog to sit when the doorbell is ringing if he is not paying attention. Without attention we have no control over our dogs.

Attention is key to all dog training

Attention Guidelines

Never give your dog a cue until you have its attention. Simply do not say anything to your dog until you first have its attention. This will teach the dog to watch you carefully since he can only get rewards if he looks at you first.

If you lose your dog’s attention, immediately go back to working on attention before training anything else.

Make attention a game for you and your dog. Who wants to just stare at you if it’s not fun? Look for intensity, tail wagging, and click it!

Attention Games

  • First, the dog looks at you, then the games start!
  • Handler counts 1-2-3 then calls the dog. The handler should build excitement for the run to the handler and reinforce eye contact.
  • Handler counts 1-2-3 and then cues “get it” to play a game of tug.
  • Eye contact starts any form of retrieving such as playing fetch.
  • Eye contact and then a game of ‘catch me if you can’ where the dog chases you.
  • Be creative. Invent as many games as you can!

Name game

You want fast responses when your dog hears her name. Teach your dog to respond to her name by pairing her name with a ‘click’ (or say yes) and a reward, ideally food or a tug toy, so that she moves to you. Say her name with excitement in your voice. As she snaps her head toward you, ‘click’ (or say yes) and reinforce with food or a tug toy. Finally, add distance to the game and ask your dog to run toward you when you say her name.

Hand Targeting

Most dog bites occur on human hands. To help prevent this we want our dogs to understand that hands are good. Human hands should always indicate something pleasurable to your dog. If your dog is fearful of human hands, please tell your instructor so your dog can be evaluated and we can let you know if you might need private instruction to prevent your dog from possibly biting a human hand.

One way for your dog to learn that hands are good is to teach hand targeting. You can prompt hand targeting by hiding your closed hand behind your back and then quickly opening your hand and flashing it in front of your dog’s nose. Most dogs will sniff your hand or move toward your hand. ‘Click’ and reinforce this. Gradually require that your dog touch her nose to your hand. Once you consistently get the dog to touch her nose to your hand, begin presenting your hand from a variety of angles. When your dog is consistently successful from a variety of angles, you can name the behavior “nose.”

If you are not successful with this, speak to your instructor. Your dog may be afraid of hands which is a potentially serious issue.


Mini recalls
Place your dog in a small room or small fenced yard. If your dog is overly distracted by being outside, do not begin working on the mini recall exercise until he notices you and is done exploring. Put a leash on your dog. In an excited happy tone, say your dog’s name and “come”. When your dog responds, ‘click’ and reinforce. Do this three times.

Now wait until your dog is momentarily distracted, like sniffing a blade of grass and then call him to “come” to you. As you call your dog, turn your back to it and run away from your dog, inviting it to chase you. Use high-pitched tones and smile! You are playing a game with your dog. When your dog comes to you, ‘click’, reinforce and tell him he is a genius.

If he does not ‘come’, find a way to set the dog up for success—make it easier. Continue to make it easier until the dog can succeed. Build on success. Add distractions like toys and food in enclosed Tupperware container. Use these to call your dog away from. Start out with very easy distractions, like a rock, and gradually build up to more tempting distractions.

At least 50% of the time, withhold your ‘click’ and reinforcement until you are holding the dog’s collar in your hand. This avoids accidentally training a “drive-by” when your dog comes to you but then zooms past you not allowing you to make contact with his body.

Restrained recall
Person ‘A’ holds the dog back as person ‘B’ runs away from the dog. The dog will strain to get to person ‘B’, as picrestrained recalltured at left, and when the dog is straining, person ‘A’ releases the dog so that it runs full speed to catch up to person ‘B’. When the dog gets to person ‘B’ the partying begins!

Ping pong

Played with two people and one dog. Person A and person B both have treats. Person A and person B stand 50-feet apart. Person A calls the dog, clicks and reinforces, then Person B calls the dog, clicks and reinforces. A variation of this game is when one person starts hiding while the other person is reinforcing the dog. Increase distance and level of difficulty as your dog progresses, building on success. The most important thing is for both you and the dog to have FUN!!!!

Hide and seek

The beginner version is played with two people and your dog. A helper holds on to the dog while you hide. Then after a few seconds your helper releases the dog while telling the dog “find (insert your name)”! When the dog finds you, ‘click’ and reinforce with food or a toy. The advanced version is played with only one person and your dog. Ask your dog to stay. Then you hide. When you are hidden, release the dog with “okay,” and ‘click’ and play when he finds you. It may be necessary to give the dog some help by sporadically calling its name.

Emergency recall

‘Coming’ when called is potentially life-saving. No cue is more important. It is a great idea to teach an emergency recall. To train an emergency recall, give your emergency cue and give the dog a handful of her favorite treats. Sporadically repeat this throughout the week. Slowly build up to giving the emergency recall cue in more challenging situations, always setting up the dog for success. Training your emergency recall is a life- long commitment. If you want the cue to be effective, you will need to practice it at least once a month for the life of the dog. Some trainers use the word “emergency” as an emergency recall while others use a whistle and still others use a certain tone and volume of their regular ‘come’ cue. We recommend you use a word rather than a whistle.

Retrieving Games

If your dog knows how to retrieve you can use playing ‘fetch’ as a means for practicing your recalls. Toss the toy away from you and when the dog begins to bring the toy back to you, run away from your dog as fast as you can. This will make coming to you fun and encourage the dog to run after you at full speed.

Proofing Games

Proofing is the art of teaching a dog to perform a behavior regardless of what is happening in the environment. Proofing always sets up a dog for success. If the dog fails, you cut what you just attempted in half and try again. Good training avoids failures and sets up the dog for success.

Recall Past a Toy

Ask the dog to ‘sit-stay’ and then walk away from the dog placing a toy far away from the dog. The dog, you and the toy should form a triangle. Call the dog to you, and ‘click’ (or say yes), when the dog passes the toy. When the dog reaches you throw a ‘party’. Gradually build up to more toys and, as the dog is successful; you can start placing the toys in the dog’s path. The toys represent distractions and you are teaching your dog to come to you despite them!

Recall Past a Food Bowl

Same game as ‘Recall Past a Toy’ but instead you’re using food. Place the food in Tupperware containers that have holes in them so the dog can smell the food but not eat it. Alternately, have an assistant hover over the food so a foot can be placed over the food, covering it, preventing the dog from eating it.

Set up your dog for success. If your dog doesn’t care about toys, start with the toy game above and build up to the food game. If your dog is crazed for toys, start with the food games. Throw a party when your dog makes the choice you want!

Handler Body Position Game

Teach your dog to ‘come’ when called regardless of your body position. Start with the easiest body position and build up to the more difficult ones:

  • back turned, running away from dog
  • back turned, standing still
  • side of body facing dog, running away
  • side of body facing dog, standing still
  • facing dog, running backward
  • facing dog, standing still
  • sitting in a chair
  • laying on the ground

Parallel to Other Dog

Recall your dog to you as another handler with another dog does the same thing. Both dogs are moving in the same direction. Start with more distance between dogs and build up to less.

Opposite Direction as Other Dog

Same game as above, but this time the dogs are moving in opposite directions. To set up for success, start with a lot of distance between the dogs. Gradually build up to closer distances.

Come Over or Through an Agility Obstacle

Dog recalls to handler over a jump or through a tunnel. This is a fun way to practice “coming when called” and to make things look different to the dog.

Recall set ups (Leslie Nelson’s game)

This is an advanced game only for dogs that know how to ‘recall’. Leslie Nelson developed this game. Play this game only if the dogs understand the cue “come”. Dog ‘A’ will be asked to recall and she will be dragging a leash on the ground during this game. Dog ‘B’ is on a leash next to the anticipated area of reinforcement (where the handler will run to or be standing after calling the dog). The handler of dog ‘A’ has highly desirable food treats. Instructor has dry and less desirable food treats. Instructor allows dog ‘A’ to sniff the treats she has and immediately after, handler of dog ‘A’ calls dog to “come”. The moment the dog is called, the instructor breaks eye contact and stops feeding dog ‘A’. Dog ‘A’ now has a choice to recall to her handler or to stay with the instructor. If the dog recalls, ‘click’ (or say yes) and jackpot treat the dog. If the dog does not recall, the instructor steps on leash and the handler of dog ‘A’ goes and feeds the highly desirable treat to dog ‘B’, while lavishly loving on dog ‘B’. If it is possible to see a dog’s jaw drop, this game can prompt that behavior. After one failed recall, some of our clients’ Jack Russell Terriers must have vowed to never let that happen again and their recalls have been perfect since (with proper maintenance training).

Happy Clicker Training From Angelica Steinker.

DogSmith Feats Graduation Celebration

The very first rescue dogs graduated from The DogSmith FEATS program on Friday  November 30th 2012. The graduation party was hosted by the North West Florida Reception Center and the dogs who have now been adopted were officially handed over to their new owners. The DogSmith FEATS program is one of three complimentary community dog training programs The DogSmith Franchise offers to support and assist rescue animals.

This force free educational program also helps  inmate education. One inmate, Robert Feiss says his particular dog that he helped train was “completely shut down, wouldn’t move around or do anything,” when he first met her. But now, Feiss says the dog named Cami, is different. He says Cami isn’t the only who has transformed. “You don’t have that in prison very often when you have a purpose to wake up in the morning,” says Feiss.

Bethany Jordan The DogSmith of The Florida Panhandle and Southern Alabama did a fabulous job. We are proud to have her on The DogSmith team. Watch the video here
WMBB News 13 – The Panhandle’s News Leader

Why Choose The DogSmith?

We created The DogSmith for pet owners like you who are looking for a real relationship with their pet and for pets to be an integral part of their daily life.  We are dedicated to solving the same problems you have with your pets and providing for your concerns and their needs.  In fact, I started training dogs many years ago because, to be honest, like you I was frustrated and confused by the lack of good information on dog training and pet care and the ineffective training methods that seemed to be everywhere.  Some of these training methods made popular by TV either didn’t work or were dangerous for me and my own pet dog – harming our relationship.  None of these ‘fashionable’ training methods were based on modern research in scientific learning.  So I was very frustrated and didn’t know where to turn but I knew I wanted more from my relationship with my dog.  I wanted my dog to be a true member of my family.  Since I had many accomplished years of training corporate executives in the work world I somehow knew that I needed to learn to truly communicate with my beloved dog in a way my dog would understand and that would strengthen my relationship with it and not be physically or mentally damaging.  But most of all the methods had to be easy to learn and teach and could be effectively included in our busy daily lives with NO negative side effects if my husband or a child misused the techniques (imagine the damage to a dog if a toddler got a hold of the control for a shock collar and started playing with it).

The DogSmith MTR training method is the result of years of training and study combining the most advanced research in learning theory with everything we know about teaching people and animals. And the training is fun for you and your dog.  Learn more about The DogSmith and our MTR system on our website 

Dog Training In Oxford MS

What I watched in PetSmart yesterday evening was not the training the corporate office believes is going on

I witnessed a trainer grabbing a dog, pulling it almost off its feet and holding it by the neck while she starred aggressively into it face. Can somebody help  me. i am not sure where this fits into the corporate message as stated below, straight from the PetSmart website


PetSmart Corporate website July 201

Positive Reinforcement

There are quite a few different methods that people use to train dogs. Some techniques that trainers use are based on methods developed before modern science helped us understand how dogs learn best. PetSmart’s training is based on the scientific principles of operant conditioning, which concentrates highly on positive reinforcement. In the simplest terms, positive reinforcement means rewarding the dog for doing the behaviors you want in order to get him to do those behaviors more often. By linking visual cues to motivating rewards, your dog learns that good things come to him when he responds to you. Not only is it is scientifically proven to be the most effective way to train, but is also the most humane and fun for both you and your pet.

One myth about reward-based training is that it amounts to nothing more than a “bribe.” The reward is not used as a bribe. It’s used as a tool to shape behavior in the form of being able to communicate, “Yes! That’s exactly what I wanted you to do… thanks!” Think of it as providing your dog with a paycheck after his work has been completed. Learning should not be painful or harmful, and many of the “old-school” training techniques were based on using pain or the fear of pain to get dogs to respond. Clearly, this is not how we train at PetSmart.

All of our classes help you understand the “why” of what they are doing to train their dogs. This knowledge enables you to teach your dog to consistently perform on cue those behaviors he has been taught. And with this information, you can build a stronger bond through better communication and lifelong learning.

DogSmith Franchise Services and Pampered Paws Pet Resort Merge in Oxford MS

News Release

Contact:             Rick Ingram

DogSmith Franchise Services


1-888-Dog-Smith (364-7648)

DogSmith Franchise Services and Pampered Paws Pet Resort Merge

DogSmith Franchise Services National Dog Training and Pet Care Company announces its merger with Pampered Paws Pet Resort & Spa of Oxford Mississippi.

Oxford, MS, April 13, 2011 – DogSmith Franchise Services proudly announces the merger of the DogSmith Training Center with Pampered Paws Pet Resort & Spa, a deluxe full service, luxury pet facility in Oxford, MS -collocated with Pampered Paws Animal Hospital.  The merger combines The DogSmith’s comprehensive group and private dog training services, specialty programs, canine behavior counseling and dog agility classes with Pampered Paws’ exceptional doggy daycare, grooming, luxury services and deluxe accommodations.

Dr. Jennifer Stobbe, DVM and owner of the Pampered Paws Animal Hospital says, “I am excited that the DogSmith has partnered with Pampered Paws Animal Hospital to take the Pet Resort & Spa to the next level.  Not only does the DogSmith bring exceptional new services to our community but also the DogSmith is owned and operated by individuals who are compassionate and dedicated to improving the lives and relationships we share with our pets.  The DogSmith and Pampered Paws share a commitment to excellence for services offered to patients and guests whose care we are entrusted with.”

In 2001, The Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science reported that when people give up their pet animal to a shelter it may “represent a breakdown of the human-animal bond” and that a majority of animals are given to shelters or abandoned because of “behavioral characteristics of the animals.”

According to Niki Tudge, Master DogSmith and President of DogSmith Franchise Services this is exactly what the DogSmith programs target.  “Our DogSmith programs perfectly complement the full service luxury accommodations and amenities offered by Pampered Paws Pet Resort & Spa.  Our mission is to provide affordable and professional care to family pets so that pet ownership is never a burden.  Our programs are designed to improve the bond we share with our pets and to make our pets a joy to live with.  We pride ourselves on ‘helping pets become family.’ Whatever you need, the DogSmith has an affordable program for you.  We also have specialty training like dog agility,” says Tudge.

For additional information on The DogSmith call 1.888.364.7648 or by email; info@Dogsmith.com.  You can also visit their website at http://www.DogSmith,com

About The DogSmith https://www.dogsmithfranchise/

The DogSmith Franchise Services Inc. is a Florida based company whose mission is to enhance the lives of pets and their owners by improving their relationship, and the quality of the life they share, through providing professional support and training to pet dog owners, supporting and assisting animal shelters and rescue organizations to minimize the number of unwanted animals and offering affordable and professional care to family pets so that pet ownership is never a burden. To learn more about the DogSmith or become a DogSmith Dog Trainer, visit www.DogSmithfranchise.com or call 1-888-364-7648.

The DogSmith MTR Training Skill # ‘Watch Me”

Teaching your dog eye contact exercises are very effective for a) getting their attention if you are about to give them a cue and b) dogs do not naturally stare into each others eyes. This exercise helps to reinforce your dog for looking directly at you.

The full set of DogSmith MTR cards can be downloaded from our website. www.DogSmith.com

If you would like to take this behavior to the next level and build a strong duration ‘watch me’ behavior then contact your local DogSmith, they will be happy to help you