Find the right dog

Okay. Before we get into all that good stuff, I want to just take a moment to say thank you to everyone who went over to iTunes and rated and reviewed this show. Thank you so much. Because of the big traction we’ve gotten early on and really only after a week we’ve been showcasing the New and Notable Section in iTunes, which is really important because it helps other people find the show. I’m really grateful for everyone who went over and left the review and for just 2 seconds I just want to read a couple of them out to technology people who took the time.

First off, we have 5 stars from Claudia Silva says, “Great advice. I am so happy. Now we get to hear Fern share his wisdom about the world of dogs on a regular basis. As a dog trainer, he is one that I trust not only when it comes to business advice, but also all the great information about dog training and behavior he shares. I recommend you all go listen to this podcast, it will definitely help you improve your relationship with your dog, enjoy.” Thanks so much, Claudia. I really appreciate the support.

Let’s read another one real quick here by Jen Taylor, 5 stars, titled Fern’s treasures. “Fern has the amazing way of explaining and sharing the best practices in training or as he compares it to parenting, raising your dog. So helpful and always makes … he makes me smile with his candor and honesty, great podcast.” Thanks so much though.

We got a bunch of reviews there. I’m still looking for more always because it really helps the show and I love the feedback. I love to hear that you’re enjoying this stuff. If you get a moment, head over there and leave a rating and review. I really do appreciate it.

Okay, so let’s get into it today. What we’re talking about today is how to find that perfect dog, the right dog for you. Now this is the decision that I find that too many people take way too lightly and don’t put enough thought into all the aspects and all the different variables about getting a dog. It’s much more complex than just running over and falling for that cute little face in the window or something. You know, it really is, really is much more detailed than that. We really got to go into some information and look to see is this the right … first of all, should you be getting a dog, and then find that perfect match, the perfect fit.

This is very important stuff because most people who hire me, they just got the wrong dog for them. It’s not that a dog is bad. It’s not that they’re doing something horribly wrong. It’s just that it’s a mismatch and they just didn’t know or they didn’t think about getting this little ball of fur into their life and now they’re knee-deep in it and they realize they’re in trouble. So after listening to this podcast I hope you have a really good understanding about what would be a good fit for you and what things you need to think about and what questions you need to ask yourself and others that’ll make sure that you find the perfect dog that will be with you forever.

First thing we need to talk about is, is a dog right for you in general? Are you ready for a dog? Like I said, some people that I work with make should never have a dog. I usually say, “Why’d you get a dog? You really want a fish. You’re not … Your lifestyle can’t handle a dog. You really don’t want a dog.” So a lot of people get just caught up in this feeling of, “I should have a dog,” without realizing that, you know, maybe they really don’t want a dog. You have to think about everything that comes with getting a dog.

What most people think about when they think about the prospect of adding a little furry friend to their life, they think about cuddling on the couch and sitting outside on a nice day frolicking. They don’t think about getting up with a puppy at 2 in the morning to take him out. They don’t think about trying to satisfy a dog’s endless energy. They don’t think about things like barking, which hey, dogs do. Dogs bark. It’s what they do. But they don’t think about that. I want you guys to think about that. This is all the stuff that comes with a dog and there’s no way around it, so think about not only the fun stuff, but the obligations, the responsibility of it.

Also, this is a long-term commitment here. This isn’t just a little quick thing that’s going to be over, if it doesn’t work out it’s no big deal. We’re talking about another life here. You could have this dog, depending upon the size and the breed anywhere from 9 to 20-plus years. That’s a big commitment so we want to make sure that you are aware of that commitment and are prepared to take care of this dog for that length of time. Not only is it that responsibility long term, there’s also a daily responsibility, a time commitment that comes daily with a dog. You’re going to have obligations every day that go beyond his feeding.

There’s walking and how much you walk is probably more than what you think you should, so got to … whatever you think [inaudible 06:02] length of time you think you should walk your dog, I want you to multiply that probably by 2. Then you’re kind of getting there, maybe in the right ballpark. Probably still not close, but that’s good enough. Think about that. You got to walk. You have to take … you can’t … Think about it, you can’t just go on vacation on a whim, you know. Now you got to figure out, okay, well what are you going to do with the dog? Where are you going to go? These are things you need to think about. There is a really big responsibility here and a big commitment to you and you have to ask yourself these questions before the dog is sitting there in your home because at that point it’s too late.

The last big consideration is the expense, you know, dogs cost money. If you’re not financially capable or prepared for the expense, it’s probably not the best time for you to get a dog. You’re going to have food. You’re going to have vet bills. You’re going to have, maybe, boarding costs. You could have grooming costs. There’s a lot of different expenses that are going to come up. Consider those things in advance and make sure you’re okay with them. If you do kind of consider all these things, then at least you’re making a good, sound decision. You don’t want to … You know, dogs are not impulse decisions. They really need to be thought out. It cracks me up that I find a lot of people put more thought into buying a pair of jeans than bringing a dog home sometimes. This is a little bigger commitment than those jeans, so let’s make sure we’re really thinking about it.

All right so now you’ve decided, “Yes Fern, I’ve asked all those questions and I definitely want a dog.” All right, cool. The next thing we need to know is what kind of dog is best for you, your family, and your lifestyle and in … So you want to think about what is your lifestyle and you want to pick the dog that will fit in and complement that lifestyle. This is a biggie here because a lot of people, you know, recently in my rescue, you know, I have a rescue organization, The FernDog Rescue Foundation, where we help re-home dogs and find good homes for dogs, for homeless dogs.

Recently someone came to me and they adopted a Pit bull from a shelter, like a year-and-a-half-old Pit bull from the shelter. This couple is in their si- … I think they were around sixty-ish and they were both disabled, unfortunately, and they got a pit bull, a young, teenage pit bull. Now if they came to me before they got that dog, I would’ve begged them not to adopt that dog because I can tell already their lifestyles are going to clash because they’re disabled. They’re not going to be able to run the dog, to walk the dog, and they may not be able to even handle a dog of that size and strength.

What happened is, they said, “No. We can do it. We want a pit bull,” and after a month they realized in no way could they take care of this dog. They were not qualified for it. Their lifestyles did not match up so we had to re-home the dog and Max now has a great home with a great family and they run him daily and it’s a good match. So think about your energy level and how much exercise you can provide this dog. That’s usually the biggest thing that people mistake, you know, make the big mistake on.

I mean, I don’t know if any of you guys remember that show, Frasier, which was on a while ago with Kelsey Grammer. It was a sitcom that was on. On that show was a little cute Jack Russell named Eddie and Eddie was awesome. He just kind of hung out all day and sat there with the dad on the show. People thought it was so cute to get Jack Russells and they ran out and got them not realizing that … Eddie? They’re not like Eddie. Eddie is a character on TV. I’m sure Eddie’s not like that all the time. That’s when he was working. He was training. Jack Russells need about 3 hours of sprinting a day and if you’re not prepared for that, your life is going to be hell. You’re going to have all kinds of behavioral issues because of that.

So look at your energy level. When I look back, you know, when I got my Pit bull 11 years ago I was single. I was living with a bunch of guys. I went hiking every weekend. I wanted a dog to run and I did those things with my dog and we had a great time and she really … we matched perfectly. If I had gotten her when I had my kids … so when I … when my kids were born my dog was about 7. So if I had my kids at that … when they … instead of having … instead, I mean when she was in a different stage of life, when I … I adopted her at 1 year of age. If she was 1 when I had my kids she would’ve … it would’ve never worked because I couldn’t give her the exercise or attention because I was busy with twins, so it wouldn’t have matched. But for me at that time it was perfect, man. So really look at your energy level and then that’s what you want to do. You want to kind of match up a dog with your energy level.

So then you’re going to look at some breeds and you’re going to see what kind of breeds match up. Do not use appearance and the cute factor as your first distinguishing characteristic to pick your dog. It’s good if you think some dogs are cute, but that’s not the qualifications you want to go for initially. Cuteness is important, yes, but you don’t want to be that the determining factor as to why you get your dog. Put that way down on the list. So first start with, let’s look at some breeds and let’s look at, “Hey, what kind of energy level do these breeds have? What kind of commitment do these have?”

And then you’re going to look, you know, each breed is a different size. You got to think about how big a dog do you want? Do you want a big dog? Do you want a Great Dane? Can you handle it? You know, are you physically capable of handling a big dog? Is your living situation capable of handling that? You know, you may say, “Well I have an apartment so I can’t get a Great Dane, and …” But research the breed and you’ll find Great Danes are actually couch potatoes. They like to hang out with you on the couch. It’s got to be a big couch, but you know, they’re actually cool with that.

So figure out what kind of dog you like and then research the breeds and figure out what one might match up with you. Start with … Size is a good place to start. Do you want a big dog? You want a little dog? How big …? Also consider your living area. A lot of … If you’re renting, you know, a lot of people won’t let you get a dog over a certain size, or unfortunately, I know this may seem sick, a lot of them have breed restrictions. They don’t want any of the bully breeds, which is ridiculous, because you know, dogs … the breed has nothing to do with training or how good they are and … so, but if you have a Pit bull, a lot of people … a lot of places will not do it just because it’s a Pit bull. You have to check with your landlord and you know, documentation if you live in a condominium or townhouse development. Figure out exactly can you have this dog. Is it possible?

Then I want you to think what age of dog do you want? Do you want a puppy? Everyone thinks they want a puppy but I can guarantee you most people don’t want a puppy. Puppies are exhausting. When someone says they want to get a puppy, I say, “Okay. You’re going to get a 2 …” basically it’s a 2 year old and you know, I just … I had just not … a couple of years ago I had 2 2-year olds in my house and it … I can’t believe I survived it. It’s exhausting on a daily basis. You want to shoot yourself because it’s a lot going on there and that’s what it’s like having a puppy.

So you have to really be prepared for it and understand that this is a huge time commitment. You’re going to have to be taking it out like every 2 hours in the beginning. You’re going to have to be getting up in the middle of the night. It takes a lot of you to put a lot of time and effort in it in the beginning. A sad statistic is 1 out of 4 puppies … they’re … they’re given up by the time they’re a year old because people don’t consider all this stuff that goes with puppies. If you’re saying you want a puppy just because you want a dog, you want a clean slate, you know, I would say that’s not the first thing you should be thinking of because there’s plenty of just a little bit older dogs that are great and you don’t have to do all the work.

That’s why I adopted my dog at 10 months of age. I didn’t want to do all the puppy work. I didn’t want to house train him. No way. I was in my, I think, late 20s at the time. I was going to be 30 years old and I didn’t want that. I had stuff to do. I want to go out and stuff. I didn’t want to … There was no way that was for me and it went perfect. I got a fully house-trained dog. I didn’t have to go through that. Someone else had to go through that, so think about that. A lot of puppies end up getting [leave 14:36] home because people don’t consider these things. Older dogs are great, you know. Older dogs can be awesome. You kind of know what you’re getting. You may have behaviors that have been shaped by past events, but you kind of know their temperament. You kind of know what you’re … what they’re … you know, what they’re capable of and stuff so I think an older dog is a great choice for a lot of people.

Then of course you want to think about long-haired dog, short-haired dog. How much shedding you want to put up with. Are allergies a factor? If you have allergies you’re going to have to look more towards the, you know, the hypoallergenic dogs. Also your geographic location is going to matter a lot. If you live in Phoenix, Arizona, where probably average is a hundred degrees in the summer, I’m not sure an Alaskan malamute is the right dog for you. Why put a dog through that who can’t go outside for most of the year? Same thing if you live in Canada, in the Great White North and you want to get a Chihuahua, just know that in those long cold winters, that poor little dog is not going to survive outside for … He’s got to be bundled up. He’s got no hair almost. No body fat. He’s made for Mexico. He’s not made for cold weather. So think about your geography and what it means to the dog you’re going to bring in. A lot of people love these … like these Huskies and stuff like that and if you live in a lot of warm climates, that’s really not fair for the dog, so thing about that.

Lastly, think about the personality because breed is one thing and all this stuff I described, but you got to find a personality that matches yours. So look for that comparable personality. If you’re not like … an again, you’re looking at this with energy level too. If you’re not someone who is very active, you’re going to look for the personality of a dog that’s not very active and that doesn’t necessarily … only breed, I mean breed and characteristics are a guideline. I’ve met, believe it or not, I’ve met lazy Beagles and stuff that might be happy to chill on the couch with you. But just think of all the … You got to think about these things. It’s so important.

Okay so those are the considerations before you bring your dog in. Now there are some considerations also if you have a dog at home. If you have an existing dog there are some extra considerations you have to think about because you have a dog already there. What I recommend if you have an existing dog and you’re looking to add another dog to your pack, first try not to make a huge difference in age. If you have an 11-year-old dog and you want to get a 6-month-old dog, puppy. That’s a lot of energy. Your existing dog is in a different stage of life and may not be signed up for dealing with an obnoxious puppy.

Now sometimes a younger dog can kind of put a little pep in the older dog’s step and stuff, but you got to look at your existing dog’s personality. How tolerant are they? Do they put up [with a 17:44]? How well socialized are they? Now if your dog hasn’t been around dogs for the last 7 years and now you want to add a new dog, I’m not sure he remembers how to socialize. We got to some- … re-socialize him at that point. So consider your existing dog and watch out … if there’s older dogs a puppy may not be the best choice because that energy difference is going to be big.

What I usually recommend for people who are bringing a new dog in, I usually recommend try to pick a dog that’s maybe just under the energy level of the dog you have, so maybe around the same energy or just under. If it’s over you can have some problems depending upon the personality of your existing dog. That’s just a rough guideline, you know. The personality is best. You got to find 2 personality with that that match up. Sometimes an older dog can be very tolerant with a young puppy and like I said, it could give them a little spring in their step.

On paper, I usually recommend bringing in opposite sex dogs so if you have a male dog I would highly recommend you look for a female dog and vice versa. Just because if they are status-speaking dogs, at least they’re not going to compete over a status too much without … when just like one resource is present because male and females can occupy kind of parallel hierarchies, so given that there is plentiful resources, they really don’t have any reason to compete.

Now if there’s one bone and two dogs, yeah, they’re going to probably figure out … they’re going to try to figure out whose bone that is, but giving unlimited resources they usually don’t have a problem. Sometimes, it’s not always, if you have same sex and they’re both status-speaking dogs, they may have a little … some conflicts. But that’s not always … I know plenty of people who have 5 female dogs or a bunch of male dogs. Again, you’re looking at personality over all these other characteristics, but if I was just going to go on paper, I would say … I would shoot for an opposite-sex match, but this is all guidelines.

So that’s it. So that’s … those are the things I want you to consider before you’re bringing that dog in to find the right dog for you. What I want to also talk about a little bit is where are you going to get your dog. There’s a couple of different options. You can go to a breeder and get a pure-bred dog, you can go adopt a dog at a shelter or rescue group, or you can go to a pet store. Now if you’re listening to this I’m going to guess you know my feelings on pet stores. Anybody listening to this, I don’t ever want to hear you going to a pet store. Any dog that’s in a pet store is a puppy-mill dog, probably 99% of the time, which means if you’re not familiar what a puppy mill is, it’s a factory where they breed dogs. They’re stacked in cages. They’re in horrible, horrible conditions and they are very inbred. So you get … You pay a lot of money for a very unhealthy dog, usually. It’s just cruel. I’m not even going any further than that. I assume if you’re listening to me and this podcast you are not a fan of pet-store dogs either. So please do not get … do not … Do not get a dog from a pet store.

Okay now as you can probably imagine also, having my own rescue, I’m a fan of rescue and adoption and that is true. If you want a very specific breed you may not find them in a lot of shelters and rescues. So if you’re looking for a Pug, as you can … might imagine, there’s not a lot of Pugs running around shelters or a French bulldog or something. Those specific breeds that are a little more unusual, you’re probably going to have to go to a breeder. But the problem with pure-bred dogs is their gene pool is much smaller so there’s a much higher tendency to get breed-specific limitations, health limitations.

For me, I would … I love mutts, mixed breeds because usually it’s a healthier gene pool because you’re going from a wider gene pool so you don’t have as much health problems. Typically I think I find that mixed-breed dogs are actually a little bit healthier than pure-bred dogs just because the gene pool is a little bit bigger. Now if you are going for a breeder, what I recommend is you meet the breeder and meet the dog. See where they live. Go there physically. It drives me nuts that people will buy a dog over the internet, despite unseen from a place they don’t know where it is. How do you know this dog is health? How do you know the dog’s personality? How do you know that they’re taking good care of the dog? How do you know what the parents are like? Because it’s the parents you like, that’s probably what your dog is going to be like a little bit. So if you’re going to get a pure-bred dog I highly recommend you go to the breeder, meet them, see where the dogs are kept, make sure it’s a healthy environment. If you can meet the parents see what their temperament is like. See what … you know, what … that’s kind of g- … you’re getting those genes. Let’s take a look at what they’re like. Really do some research and go out there and meet the breeder and ask a lot of questions.

Now no matter what you do, I recommend you kind of don’t fall in love with the first dog you meet or see. I recommend you meet a few dogs. You may say, “Wow, I met this dog. It’s the best dog ever,” and then you meet another dog and you’re, “Oh my god, this dog is the best dog ever. I can’t believe it,” and then meet another one and go, “Wow. This is the absolute best dog I’ve ever met.” Don’t fall for the first dog you encounter. Meet a few dogs and then you can make a decision on which one is the best hit for you and I recommend you spend some time with them.

Understand that when you first meet a dog you may not really be seeing true behavior. Because depending upon where the dog is, if you’re meeting outside in like an outdoor area there’s a lot of overstimulation or they may not be as attentive to you if they’re coming from a shelter. Just remember they probably haven’t been exercised all day so they’re going to be a little crazy. That’s not really the real determination of what the dog is actually going to be like when you get them in the home. So I recommend you take them for a walk. Spend some time and come back multiple times. Meet them a few times so you can get a kind of a little window into what they’re really like because you want to make sure that this is the right fit.

Wherever you’re getting them, a breeder or whatever or an adoption shelter, what is their return policy? If, for any reason, this doesn’t work out will they take the dog back and if they don’t, if they say no like a pet store, once they get your money they don’t want to see you ever again. Actually some breeders can be like that as well. Good breeders and good rescuers want to know where their dog is at all times and if they ever come back, if at ever, now or a year from now you decide you can’t keep this dog they want to know. So that’s how you find a good breeder and a good rescuer. They always want to know where their dogs are and if it’s not working out, they’re happy to come take them back. Make sure you find out that what is that return policy.

Here’s … If you’re adopting a dog, I think one of the best things to do is just foster to adopt. Say, “Listen, can we foster him and if everything works out we’ll keep him.” You know, that way it’s a trial period, you know, we have a couple weeks or so and usually the first couple weeks the dog is in your home you’re really … it’s adjusting. You haven’t really seen real behavior yet, it’s what I call the honeymoon period where the dog is kind of adjusting. At somewhere around 3 or 4 weeks the dog goes, “Ah, home. I can be myself,” and he lets his fur down and then you see his true behavior. You may not get a change but often you see that’s the case so how about fostering during that month and just see if this is really the right fit for you.

Okay so real quickly I want to talk about how to prepare yourself before you bring this little guy home. Number one I want you to get educated. Don’t go in blindly. Don’t assume you’re going to figure it out as you go along. It’s best to be prepared and to do as much as you can to set yourself up to succeed and to set your dog up to succeed. This is a mistake I made with my kids where I just assumed I would figure it out on my own and then I would just, this instinct would kick in and then I would automatically know what to do with my kids and boy was I wrong. I had no idea and I don’t know what would make me think I would ever be prepared for taking care of little people.

Same is true of when I got my dog. I just got my dog and I started to make it up as I went along. I don’t know what made me think I could do that. I had no experience prior that would make me come to that conclusion. So get educated. Read some stuff. Ask some questions on basic dog behavior and training. Know what you got to do when you just start out and I recommend a lot of structure in the beginning anyway. I’ll get to that in a second. Then you want to research your breed. Whatever breed you picked you want to start researching them like crazy so get some breed books or look online. There’s plenty of resources online where you can look up breeds. Find out what their needs are, what you’re going to have to do, have all this stuff in mind before you bring them home.

Then what you want to do is you want to be prepared with getting all your local dog services in line. Find a local vet. Start asking around to other dog owners in your area. Find out what that you like. Go there. Talk to them so that you’re all ready to go. If you have a dog that’s going to be groomed find a groomer, a doggy-daycare, a boarding facility, a dog walker. Kind of have these relationships already set up to people you trust and you’re going to … you know, they’re waiting to help you so that when a time comes you don’t have to make a quick decision that’s not right. Research this stuff in advance so that you’re all prepared.

Okay so you’re all prepared. You picked your dog. He’s coming home so what do you do when you first bring him home? So let’s just … this will be the last thing I talk about today is just what do you do when you first get him home. So as I mentioned I like a lot of structure in the beginning. [More 27:45] freedoms now is better. It’s much easier to give freedoms later than to take them away and your dog is adjusting. Wherever they’ve been before your house, your environment is totally new. They may or may not have encountered stuff in your home or the way you like to do things.

The best way to set them up to succeed is to supervise, confine … I recommend using a crate unless the dog has some behavioral problems with the crate … because you need a crate. You need some place where they’re not going to get into trouble. So many people just give the dog the run of the house right in the beginning without teaching him anything. That is setting him up to fail. If you don’t intercede and train him, he’s going to act like a dog and that is not going to fall into [argument 28:30] agenda. The only way that he’s going to learn is if we teach him and the only way we can do that is to supervise and train him. We need to be there every step of the way.

My roles with puppies and new dogs coming to a new home is eyes on the dog at all times because you cannot correct what you cannot see, so always keep that in mind. I recommend crating and I also recommend hand feeding. No matter what the dog, for a week just hand feed him. I want to make a great association between you and food, also to really bond you guys together with some positive stuff there. And lots of rules and structure, you know, even if you want your dog on the furniture I recommend starting with him off. He earns those freedoms.

He’s doing really good? Awesome, let’s give him the couch now. Doing really good? Awesome, let’s give him the bed, if you choose to do that. I like to start off with that rules and structure first and then as he’s doing good he earns more freedoms as you go along. Again keep in mind that honeymoon period. Three to four weeks you probably haven’t seen the dog’s true behavior and then what’s going on after 3 week and you say, “Wow, he never barked before. Now he’s barking a lot, all right.” You see him finally comfortable in your home. So remember that transition period.

Now if you have an existing dog, the best way to introduce them would be outside on neutral grounds. So if it will be outside your house I would do I like you know, like in front of the neighbor’s house and I would immediately take them for a walk. Now I’m assuming before you bring your dog here they’ve already met a number of times and gone through a whole bunch of walks so they already have this great association. But I want to start off coming in to the new house together as a team instead of a stranger coming in your existing dog’s house.

So take them for a little walk, you know, the longer the better but even a 5-minute walk is fine and then walk everybody in the house together and then you really … I would keep your … What I would do is keep the new dog on a leash and let him sniff around and explore, but with you right there to make sure he’s going to make some good decisions and he doesn’t get into trouble right away, so again, supervising everything. I would also recommend you not leave the dogs alone by themselves … together by themselves for a while, you know, we don’t know them and you just met this dog so you don’t know anything about them and maybe you don’t know what your dog … maybe your dog has never been left alone with another dog. I don’t know how your dog feels about another dog being in your home.

You want to separate them initially and then supervise their encounters together and then over a period of time, usually I say over a period of weeks, you start to experiment little by little, once you … there’s no problems and you feel comfortable leaving them at home. The more supervision, the better, again this is setting them up to succeed and you’re just letting your dog get adjusted, letting the dogs get to know each other. When you bring a new dog home, be smart, don’t have any big parties. Don’t invite 30 kids over to meet him. We don’t know this guy. We just adopted this dog. We don’t know him. I don’t know if that’s going to overwhelm him. I don’t know what he’s going to do.

It drives me nuts when I get calls because a dog reacted and they just brought the dog home and they happened to bring him to a party with 50 people with kids running around and the dog snapped at someone. That’s a lot to give a new dog, you know, give it some time to adjust and you take some time to learn if he has any triggers and what they are so we can be sensitive to them and try to help them. Also, you don’t know the dog. Even though he’s your dog now, I would hold off on the big hugs and kisses and jam in your face and his face until you let him adjust and get to know him a little bit. Then you can do all that stuff, but you know, think about it.

If you didn’t know someone and then if I just went up and just said, “Hey, come on in. How are you? Have a seat. Hi, I’m Fern,” and then just start hugging and kissing them? Dogs love that usually. But we don’t know this dog. Maybe he does, maybe he doesn’t. So again, I just want to recognize if there’s any triggers or sensitivity so … and this is a tough one for kids because they just want to love and hug a dog right away, but I would try to teach the kids, “Okay we have to let him adjust. We got to meet him. We got to start to get to know him a little bit before we start to do all that stuff.”

So if you do all of this stuff, you’re going to be making a smart decision about what dog you’re going to add to your life and you’re setting yourself up to adjust together perfectly so that you will be together forever. Keep in mind this stuff, don’t take it for granted. If you’re not looking to get a dog now just go to the webpage of this, go to and bookmark this and then re-listen to it when it’s time to bring … when you’re thinking about adding that dog. Because if you do this stuff you will never need to hire a guy like me because you set yourself up to succeed, maybe to do some fun stuff or troubleshoot just some minor things, but you’re kind of really ensuring that you’re going to be with your dog and you’re going to make it a good adjustment and a good experience for everybody.

There’s nothing worse than getting your dog home, falling in love with him and realizing it’s not going to work and then breaking your kid’s heart because you have to re-home the dog. Think about this stuff and a good resource that I use a lot is a book called The Dog Bible, I think it’s in a second edition now. What I use it for the most is, they have a really good index of breeds and what kind of family lifestyle they do best with, what kind of training they need, so it’s a really good place just to get some information on maybe what breed might be a good match for you. In addition, they have a ton of information there. They go into some of this stuff about how to find the right dog and some training. It’s really a wealth of information. I think it should be pretty much in everyone’s home who has a dog so I’ll link to that in the show notes as well. But that’s it. Do that stuff and you’re going to ensure you’ll be … you’ll find the perfect dog for you.

Okay now let’s get into today’s training tip.

I promised you a goodie and this is a goodie. It’s simple, yet very powerful and I find often the most useful training tools and tips are the most simple that people take for granted. This is teaching your dog how to take a treat. This … It sounds simple but so many people don’t do it and I think the implications of not doing it kind of bleed into the whole dogs behavior everywhere. So the thing is we want to make sure your dog has a very good and calm association to food and if you remember from last week’s, or the last episode’s tip I talked about the power of calm energy.

We want to make a calm association to food. So if your dog sees a treat, something it loves … let’s say freeze-dried liver … and automatically gets so excited, “Oh my god, food, food, food, food. It smells so good. I love it, love it, love it, love it,” and starts going crazy, he’s going to get a little forward, maybe try to snap the treat out of your hands, leaning forward towards it. He’s going towards what he wants. Now if you give him that food, even if he sits but he’s still all amped up and he’s leaning towards the food and stuff, if he gets that treat what are we rewarding? We’re rewarding excitement and him moving towards the food.

What we want is we want your dog to have a calm association to food so that when he sees food, instead of going nuts, and when he’s very excited he’s going to make that decision like snapping for that food or snapping at the granola bar out of your 5-year-old niece’s hand, we want him to make good decisions and know when he smells something he likes the food always comes to him. We have to teach him some impulse control. We want to make sure we never give him the treat until he is calm and he’s in like a neutral body orientation. He’s not … not even going to lean forward, not even like that.

If you do this and you can get your dog to patiently wait for the food to come to him you’re teaching him great impulse control that is going to … this is the … these are the dogs who have this impulse control that don’t try to steal food. This is stuff I did with my dog early on and now I know that my kids can run around with food, they’re going to tip over Cheerios or whatever on the couch and I know he won’t take them because he knows the food always goes to her, she never goes to the food. And the quickest way for her to get food is to wait for it to be delivered. So it’s very powerful.

So I’m going to do within the show notes I’m going to link to a video that I made of showing how I teach dogs to take a treat, and then I show the implications of that with my kids and how they’re running around with my dog with food at my dog’s nose and she’s just sitting there waiting for them to give it to her and not have a dog that’s kind of trying to snap food off the table or out of hands and stuff. Nobody wants that dog and if you just teach them to have a good, calm association to food and that the food always comes to them, you’re going to get that and I think you’re going to find … It’s going to be … The things you can do for your dog’s behavior long term are pretty powerful. So give it a try and let me know how it goes. You can always leave a comment back on the blog, back on the website to let me know.

So that’s about it. We’ve come to the end of our time here today. Thanks so much for hanging out and I really appreciate it and I will see you next week where we continue our Great Dog Adventure.

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