Monthly Archives: August 2013

At What Age Should I Start Training My Puppy (Dog) -Northern Virginia

At our dog training facility in Northern Virginia, we do a puppy training/consultation program as early as 8-10 weeks old. However, we really do not put too much focus on “obedience” per se at that age, we focus on things that we consider more important for puppy development; such as, bonding, socialization, pack leadership, crate training, confidence building such as object desensitization and noise desensitization , and if you have a dog who interested, properly playing tug with your puppy.

In my experience, when you have a puppy who is not yet old enough to enroll him/her in a formal obedience training program, those things I listed above should be your focus! As I say all of the time, I would much rather take in a 6-month old dog who is highly confident and well socialized than I would a 6-month old dog who is skittish and low confidence but knows 25 commands. As you will see in our before and after videos on Youtube, we can take a dog who knows absolutely nothing and give them amazing obedience in a very short time. However, fixing aggression, low confidence, skittishness, etc can take much more time. So, with your puppy, focus on the fundamentals and the actual obedience portion is the easiest part.

With a puppy, everything should be fun, positive, and motivating! There should be little to no corrective based training, at all. You should always end your training sessions leaving your puppy wanting more; meaning, you should never keep pushing your puppy until they lose interest in whatever you are trying to accomplish with them, always stop when they are still wanting more. This is a simple technique we use in order to build motivation and drive with your puppy.

Once you have all the developed all of foundational-based training with your puppy that were mentioned above, it’s time to bring them into a formal obedience training program. At Off-Leash K9 Training, we do not start our dog obedience training programs in Northern Virginia until the dogs are least 5-months old.

By the age of 6-months, you are left with a well socialized, highly confident, motivated, driven, problem-free, and well-trained dog that you can enjoy for the rest of your life!

How To Fix My People Aggressive Dog – Northern Virginia

On a daily basis at our dog training facility in Northern Virginia, people contact us and ask if it’s possible to fix their people aggressive dog.

When working with dogs that are people aggressive, I believe the first step is understanding what the aggression is based off of before you can properly create a training program to begin to rehabilitate the dog. People aggressive is a general and “overused” phrase in my opinion. Most of the people we work with who describe their dogs as people aggressive, show up for our dog training lessons in Northern Virginia and we quickly discover that the dogs aren’t people aggressive at all. Most of the time the dogs are “fear aggressive.”

The way I look at it, if your dog will go out of his way to bite someone, he’s people aggressive. If he/she will generally ignore people and stay away from them, and only react when that person overwhelms them, they are probably fear aggressive (again, this is a generalization).

Last month, we just finished working with a Leonberger who his owner described as a “people aggressive dog,” after working with him and evaluating, we learned that he wasn’t people aggressive, at all. He just liked, “his space.” Once he was comfortable with you, he would come up to you on his own, and loved being pet! However, if someone “forced themselves” on him, then he would respond with the only way that he knew to tell you to leave him alone, using his teeth. So, after using our 5-part approach and telling the owner to not let people force themselves on him, and instead, let him go to them (when he was ready); they have been problem-free since their last lesson over a month ago.

The root of people/fear aggression can stem from many things such as: lack of confidence, lack of socialization, mistreatment, bad breeding (which can be read about on my blog on How To Pick A Dog), and poor pack leadership. Additionally, you can have a combination of these many factors, as well.

When working with people aggressive/fear aggressive dogs at our training facility in Northern Virginia, I always preach that we do a 5-part approach to this: Obedience, Confidence Building , Positive Association with People, Pack Leadership, and Proper Correction for the Negative Behavior. I have found that this is a fundamental approach that is imperative to start working a dog towards rehabilitation, and all 5 components are necessary to be successful.

With people aggressive or fearful dogs, we do a drill I call “positive association with people.” What we do is find something that your dog is highly motivated or driven for (often we use hot dogs) and have every person your dog meets give him/her this highly valued reward. After this goes on for a week or so, what is your dog learning? “Every time I meet a new person, they give me something awesome!” Imagine if you weren’t a people person, but every person you met gave your $50.00, they would rapidly grow on you, correct? Same with the dogs, they slowly learn to associate people with something positive. If need be, you can do this drill with your dog still muzzled (dependent on the severity of his/her issue).

The WORST thing you can do (and the thing that many people do) is keep them separated from people, this will only progress the problem. You are not fixing anything, you are just avoiding the problem. It’s like a person who is afraid of high places, their solution cannot be, “Stay away from high places.” You have to constantly put them in those environments and make their experience with it positive, fun, and motivating!

On a weekly basis someone will call and say, “I watched all of your amazing dog training videos on YouTube; however, all I really care about is fixing the aggression in my dog.” I always tell people, it doesn’t work like that. My famous quote is, “You cannot fix any issue in a dog that doesn’t listen to you and that you have no control over.” Once we gain obedience/control over the dog, which is a NATURAL confidence builder/pack leadership booster, we can start addressing the specific issues with the aggression. I find myself saying on a daily basis, “I have never seen a highly aggressive dog that was amazingly obedient, and I have never seen an amazingly obedient dog that was highly aggressive.” So, that has to mean what? They kind of go hand-in-hand, right?

Just like I speak about in my blog post about dog-on-dog aggression, you cannot “guarantee” that you can fix do aggression or fear aggression; however, sometimes you can completely rehabilitate the dog and you can almost always make the dog more manageable. Recently, we did a 2-week board and train for a Doberman named “Doris” who was very fearful of people, when she was dropped off, we couldn’t even touch her. Using this 5-part approach, look at Doris’ progress before/after just in 14 days.

So, if your dog is displaying some of these issues, start with some professional Obedience Training, Confidence Building Drills, Pack Leadership, and Positive Association with People.


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Dog Aggressive Dog Training – Northern Virginia

Literally every day owners contact us and ask, “Can your dog training program in Northern Virginia fix our dog aggressive dog?”

I always respond with the same answer, “It’s impossible to guarantee that our training will make your dog love other dogs. What we can guarantee you is that you full CONTROL of your dogs when other dogs are present.

I always give the analogy to people that aggression in dogs is a psychological issue, just like issues with certain people. No psychiatrist in the world will tell you that he can take a serial killer, pedophile, etc and guarantee he can fix their issue. So, the analogy I like to use is, “If you cannot guarantee it with a highly intelligent adult human being, there is no way you can guarantee it with a domesticated animal.”

With that said, I like to give a 70/30 rule dog aggression at our training facility in Northern Virginia. The equation I generally find is that 30% of the dog aggressive dogs you can completely fix and rehabilitate and 70% of the dogs you can make much more manageable and controllable. Meaning, 70% of the dogs we train who used to see another dog and bark, lunge, and growl, will NOW walk by that same dog without any reaction. Also, he/she will listen and perform flawless obedience with other dogs being present. Below, is a good example of this. See this 1.5 year old Golden Retriever “Guinness” who could not be around other dogs or would react violently like you see 1:40 portion of the video, then, you will see the same two dogs at the 2:00 minute mark of the video:

To point out my 70/30 rule, those Golden Retrievers still could not be left alone in a kennel together overnight; however, this is just after 14 days of training and you can clearly see the difference in their behaviors.

So, this is an example of what 70% of the dog-on-dog aggression cases will look like at our dog training in Northern Virginia. They still won’t love each other and sleep on the same bed together; however, they are clearly much better and more manageable than they were prior.

To clarify, of the 70% of cases like this, some of them “could” shift over to the 30% with more time, patience, training, and consistency.

The key to getting your dog over his/her dog aggression is confidence building drills, obedience, pack leadership, and getting him/her around other positive dogs (muzzled if needed). You will never get a dog over their dog aggression by keeping them isolated from other dogs, generally this will only make the problem worse.

You can click here to see the importance of socialization and confidence building drills such as object desensitization and noise desensitization you can start doing with your dog.


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What Are The Best Dog Training Methods – Northern Virginia

Many people have tried many different tricks and techniques with their dogs and they still wonder, “What is the best dog training method for training my dog?”

There are several training methods that can be used to train your dog. One of the most common and popular methods is reward-based or treat-based training. This training involves finding something that your dog really likes (ball, hot dogs, treats, tug) and using that as an incentive to get the dog to perform the desired command. The marker and treat training we discussed in the previous chapter is based on this method.

The pro to using this system with a dog who already knows the commands is that you have a dog who is very motivated for the reward. Therefore, they are voluntarily complying with your verbal commands in order to obtain the reward. The benefit of using this method to teach a dog a new command is he is very motivated, focused, and eager to please in order to obtain the reward. Often when using a food reward, the dog will be eager to continue training and learning for long periods of time. Look at it as giving a small kid one small piece of candy at a time every time he or she does something good. It is not enough to get full, but it is enough to make them want more. Another major pro to this system is that anyone can do it with no special knowledge or devices needed. Simply watch a video, grab a pack of hot dogs, and you are all set. That is why this is the most common method of training—any amateur can use this method to train a dog.

Anyone who has used this method for training can tell you that despite its numerous benefits, there are also several problems with it, as well. One of the main complaints with reward-based training is reliability. Remember, this system is based on the dog complying because he wants to get the reward. However, there will come a time when your dog does not want the reward or he is distracted by something more interesting than the reward. At that point, you have lost all obedience because your dog is no longer enticed to perform for the reward. As an example, if you are outside, off-leash with your dog and he spots a squirrel, a bird, or another dog, it will be much more interesting than the treat in your hand. When he is faced with a decision to go for the treat or take off after the squirrel, almost always the “prey” object will win. He will take off running to get the better reward and return when he loses interest in the item that initially distracted him.

The other problem with this system is that there is no consequence for disobedience, meaning, when your dog takes off down the road and will not come back, there is not much you can do in order to give him a consequence for bad behavior. Imagine training a child solely based on positive reinforcement; you get a treat if you do well, you don’t get a treat if you misbehave. The child would disobey fairly regularly. Your dog will do the same.

However, reward-based training is fun for you and your dog and it is a cheap, easy, and fast way to start teaching your dog a wide variety of commands with almost no expenses or specialized experience needed. You will be able to teach your dog commands and get decent results with obedience, but you will never have an amazingly obedient dog with this system.

Another popular training method is the prong collar. The prong collar is lined with metal prongs along the interior of the collar. The prong collar is designed to replicate the way the mother would correct her pups in a litter. Or how the alpha-male dog in a pack would correct lower-ranking members of the pack, which is giving a quick nip on the neck. When your dog does not comply with a command, give a quick jerk on the prong collar. Increase intensity of the jerk until your dog complies.

The pro to the prong collar is it is more reliable for obedience than the reward-based system. Using the prong collar, you can still use the reward-based system to motivate the dog, however, now you can use the prong collar to give an instant correction when the dog doesn’t listen with the reward-based system. A scenario would be if you had your dog’s favorite ball and you tell him to sit. If he doesn’t, you give a quick jerk on the prong collar and repeat the command. The prong collar gives him a less than pleasurable feeling and he complies with the command. If he does not comply with the command, increase the intensity of the jerk on the prong collar and repeat the command. This is done until the dog complies. Once he does, give the reward. The dog quickly learns, “If he says sit, I have to do it, so I might as well just do it the first time and get the reward.”

In my opinion, there are a few flaws with using the prong collar. One of the biggest is consistency of the correction given, meaning, is your dog being corrected at the same level of correction each day? If you correct your dog with the prong collar, is your correction (jerking on the prong collar) harder or gentler than when your wife corrects your dog with it? Or, when you corrected your dog when he really started to get under your skin, did you correct him much harder than you did yesterday for doing the exact same thing? When it comes to training, there has to be consistency in order for the dog’s learning to be maximized.

The second major problem with the prong collar is when your dog is off-leash and away from you. If he is 100 yards away and you call him to come and he doesn’t, what do you do? Now, you are back to the same problem you had with the reward-based training—off-leash reliability. Even with the prong collar, neither an instant correction nor a consequence can be given once he is out of your reach.

Overall, prong-collar training is safe, cheap, effective, and very humane when done properly. It is much more effective and reliable than reward-based training, however, it still has a couple of shortfalls.

My preferred method for training dogs is the electronic collar (e-collar). The e-collar comes with a remote control that the owner carries. It is based on almost the same premise as that of the prong collar. It gives a subtle stimulation to the dog’s neck area that can be increased in intensity until the dog complies with the command. Modern e-collars are very safe, reliable, and effective when used properly. In fact, almost all police, military, and personal protection dogs are now trained using the e-collar. When using the e-collar, we also use reward-based training for the dog, generally in the form of a toy or praise.

The e-collar has numerous levels of stimulation so its use can be tailored to a specific dogs’ temperament and the level of distraction encountered. When the e-collar is used properly, the dog does not view it as a punishment, but views it as a training tool, much like a leash. More important, they actually grow to love it because they associate the e-collar with going outside, off-leash, and having fun. Where other training systems fall short, the e-collar picks up. The range of e-collars vary from 400 yards to two miles. With this system, if your dog is off-leash and you call him to come and he does not, you still can give an instant correction that increases in intensity until he complies with the command.

The e-collar is safe, very effective, and humane when properly used. The shortfalls of the e-collar is that they are much more costly than the other training methods; an average e-collar costs around $200. It is highly recommended that you seek a professional trainer before utilizing this training device. The e-collar can make a disobedient dog perform with amazing precision in a very short time, however, in untrained hands it can completely ruin a dog.

Overall, when choosing a training method for your dog, decide what is most important to you—cost, functionality, or reliability. Whatever method you choose, keep in mind that practice, patience, and consistency are important to achieve great results using any method.

What Is The Best Breed Of Dog To Get?

Many people ask, “What is the best type of dog to get?” or “What is the best breed of dog to get?” In order to raise the perfect dog, you have to pick the perfect dog—that is, the perfect dog for you.  Unfortunately, I cannot answer that, only you can. The question you should ask yourself is, “What am I looking for in a dog?” Are you looking for a very energetic dog that needs a lot of exercise, attention, and work (German shepherd, Belgian Malinois, Lab, etc)? Or are you looking for just a good dog to have as a companion who is completely happy just lying around the house all day? Or are you looking for something in between? Are you looking for a hunting dog, a protection dog, or just a companion? All of these are questions you have to ask yourself; your answer will help you decide what dog is perfect for you. There is no perfect dog. The Belgian Malinois is a very high–energy, high–maintenance dog and therefore is not meant for everyone. Pugs and poodles aren’t meant for everyone, either. So it really depends on what you are looking for. Also, look at the expectations you have for a dog, then ensure the dog you pick is capable of meeting them. Meaning, if you want a dog to do protection, do not get a beagle; if you want a dog as a running partner, do not pick a bulldog. There is not one that would be perfect for everyone, but there is a dog that would be perfect for you and what you want.

Once you decide on the dog you want, now you have the task of finding a good breeder for that specific type of dog. You should go to a good, qualified breeder, not who many refer to as a “backyard breeder.” These are often people with no knowledge, training, or handling of dogs who just so happened to have two dogs, one got pregnant, and now they are selling the puppies. These puppies can have a wide variety of problems, such as temperament, nerves, aggression, and medical concerns. I always recommend finding someone who is an American Kennel Club (AKC)-certified breeder; meaning, their dogs have been tested and come from good, proven lines, genetically and medically. An AKC breeder should have your puppy’s family lineage for at least a few generations back, often further.

If you are against breeders because you think they are just in it for the money, you are mistaken. Often they make very little profit off their dogs after they pay for food, medical care, and shots. Keep in mind, you cannot put a price on the eight weeks of headaches, loss of sleep, and messes made in the house by the litter of pups. I love dogs, however, for the very little profit per dog, it is definitely not worth it for me to take care of six to 12 puppies for eight weeks.

Now that you have some great breeders lined up, ensure the breeder can deliver the specific type of dog you are looking for. A big misconception people have is that if they have a German shepherd, a Belgian Malinois, or a Rottweiler that we can turn him or her into a great protection dog. That is far from the truth. Generally, protection dogs are bought from breeders who breed specifically for this type of work; meaning, they will take two high-drive, high-confidence, good-nerved dogs (usually former protection dogs) and breed them together. Not every dog out of their litter will be successful in this line of work. So, ensure the breeder you are using is breeding for what you are looking for in your dog. If you want a Lab to be used as a hunting dog, ensure you are getting a Lab that is bred from a working line. People breed for families/companions, for looks and show, and for working lines, so you have to ensure the breeder you choose is breeding not only the breed of dog but also the type of dog that you are looking for.

Once you’ve really narrowed it down to a specific breeder, do your research. Breeders are like any other business in the world, you cannot take their word for it just because it is their business. Ask for references, talk to other people who bought the same type of dog you are looking for and contact them. See if their dog is what they expected, if they had any problems, how their dealings were with the breeder. Remember, getting a dog is around a14-year commitment, so it is important to ensure that you are getting exactly what you want. A good breeder will ask you as many questions as you ask them, so red flags should go up if you can just show up with the money and take their dog without any questions from either side. Generally the breeder will have an application with a questionnaire, they will want to meet with you in advance, and they will want to find out as much about you as possible. Also, they should tell you that their dogs are not available until they are eight weeks old—this is another good indicator to look out for. Up until eight weeks, the puppies are still with their mother, learning to interact with their siblings, learning vital things such as bite inhibition (what is acceptable and unacceptable play, etc.). Great breeders want to ensure their dogs are going to great homes.

I realize that many dogs are bought from shelters and rescue organizations, so maybe you are thinking that none of this guidance applies to you. Believe it or not, it still applies, just in a different way. If you want to purchase a dog and you do not want to get it from a breeder nor pay the high price that often comes with many purebred dogs, then a dog shelter or a rescue organization is a great way to go. As I stated earlier, do not get a dog from a backyard breeder—someone who is in it only for the money and does not care about the dog’s health or well-being. Remember, often they are having a litter in the first place due to their negligence and irresponsibility. So go to a shelter or a rescue organization. These people truly care about dogs and want to ensure their dogs have a good home. Once you find a good, reputable, nonprofit shelter or rescue organization, you can apply the same guidance for picking a happy, confident, and friendly dog.

Now that you have found a great breeder or shelter, you need to pick the perfect pup from that litter. No matter what any breeder tells you, you cannot pick a pup that is right for you online or through a photo. Actually go to their location and choose a dog, even if it’s out of state. If you talk to anyone who has picked pups out of a litter, they will usually tell you the pup picked them. I am not saying you will get a horrible dog if you pick one online, I am just saying you will feel much more comfortable and confident about your choice if you go see them in person. Generally, at eight weeks, you can tell a lot about the pup. If they are shy, skittish, and hanging out away from everyone in the litter at eight weeks, there is a great chance that’s how they will be when they are older. However, if they are confident, very open and affectionate, and love to play tug at eight weeks, there is a great chance that’s how they will be when they are older. These are things you would know only by actually going and observing the litter for yourself. Then, based on what you are looking for, you can pick the pup that you think best suits your needs.

When picking dogs for personal protection, we use a breeder who breeds specifically for that type of work, as I stated above. Once we identify a reputable breeder, we go to their location and put their litter of puppies through a series of tests. Even if you are just looking for a regular household pet, this is still a great test to ensure your dog has an overall good temperament. First, you do not want a puppy who is away from the litter; meaning, off by itself and not socializing or playing with the others. We are looking for the puppies jumping at their gate in order to great us; this shows they are happy to socialize with people. Second, we will test their “drive,” in other words, how motivated are they to go after something? We are looking for dogs that have a great prey drive, so when we roll a ball, we want a puppy that will chase after it and preferably bring it back. This shows they have a high drive, which is essential. Additionally, we are looking for that same level of motivation when they play tug; for protection, your dog must have a great tug drive. As we go through these steps, we are slowly eliminating the pups that do not have these characteristics.

For their second phase of testing, we will take one-on-one the pups who have passed the prior steps in order to evaluate them further. One of the things we do is get them really excited by playing with them and then rolling them over to their backs to see how easily they submit. Ideally, you want a puppy that is fighting to get up. This shows they are not very quick to submit. We follow that with a drop test, which involves us playing with the pup and then dropping something loud beside it or making a loud noise (dropping a metal bowl, a loud clap, etc.). Ideally, you are looking for a puppy that does not overreact to a loud noise. If they do overreact, we are looking for a quick recovery, meaning, you can quickly get them to come back and engage them back into the play. One of the final things we do is the pinch test. While playing with the dog, we give them a pinch on the side until they give a little whimper. This is done to test their ability to forgive the handler for giving them a correction, meaning, how they react when the handler gives them an unpleasant feeling. Do they shut down and run away or do they quickly forgive and come back? We are looking for a puppy that does not immediately run away from us. For those that do run away, we want one that we can quickly get to come back.

If you are getting a dog from a shelter or rescue organization, add in the additional step of taking the dog out and around other dogs, people, and kids in order to see how they behave with them. This is done to ensure you are not getting a people- or dog-aggressive dog before you take him home. Often, people get a dog from a shelter or rescue organization and a week later they have their first encounter with another dog or child and find their dog is aggressive. An additional step you may want to take is seeing how the dog from the shelter is with food and toys. While the dog is eating and playing with toys, touch the dog, the food, and the toy to determine if there is any possible food or toy aggression. Be proactive and find all of this out before you choose a dog.

This is the basic guideline we use in order to find a good, well-balanced, good-tempered, happy, and friendly dog. Just to clarify, there are no guarantees in dogs, however, we have found that this is a great process to follow and it is generally very accurate when trying to predict how a dog will be as it gets older.

Then, once you find the perfect dog, start looking at training options for your puppy.

Will Shock Collar (Electronic Collar) Hurt My Dog Or Affect Their Personality?


People ask us all of the time, “Will shock collar training hurt my dog?” Or, “Will shock collar training ruin my dog’s personality and turn him into a robot?”  

All of these statements and questions could not be further from the truth.

Anytime I hear the term, “Shock Collar, ” it literally sends chills down my spine.  The term comes from the very old collars which essentially had 3 settings, “High,” Very High,” and “Insanely High.”  Those type of collars are outdated, inhumane, and no longer produced.  However, modern electronic collars do not “shock” at all, they provide a very subtle stimulation that many people equate to “stim” pads that physical therapists use.  Additionally, modern collars have a very wide pattern of stimulation that is safe, humane, and effective for dogs as small as 5lbs.   If you visit on YouTube Channel, you will see everything from Yorkies to Great Danes that we have trained using our electronic collar training system.

When electronic collar training is properly done, it is used to achieve amazing obedience, build confidence, and create more happiness with the owner and more importantly, the dog.  For example, check out this video of this 5-month old very shy/skittish Doberman “Doris” that we just recently trained using e-collar training. Ask yourself, which dog looks more happy, confident, and have more personality, the Doris before or after?

My business, Off-Leash K9 Training, we are the official trainers for ABC’s the Pet Show, on Board of Directors for Prince William County Humane Society, Official Trainers for Southeast German Shepherd Rescue, Official Trainers for Fort Hunt Animal Hospital and many many more.

Why? Simply because all of these organizations have seen first-hand the work we have done changing problematic, aggressive, and low confidence dogs into highly confident, obedient, and problem-free dogs.

Think about it, the top special forces military and law enforcement agencies in the world use electronic collar training, and that’s why they have the most obedient and confident dogs in the world.

Many people ask, “Will My Dog Hate the Electronic Collar?” 

No! Almost everyone is VERY surprised that they receive quite the OPPOSITE reaction from their dog. Because the dog knows the e-collar means that they are going outside (to run, play ball, be free, etc) AND they know they are going to do training! A bored dog is a destructive dog; a trained/exercised dog is a HAPPY dog. They look forward to their training sessions because it stimulates them and gives them something to do. Imagine being at work on a slow day, the day drags and you feel sluggish. When you are busy, it goes by fast and you are energized! Now imagine a dog with no friends, no Facebook, no television, and no internet. Their only REAL stimulation is the training you give them and their time outside to run, play, and bond with you!  As you will see in all of our videos, when we release the dogs the jump up excitedly and come over for their praise.

What does the ASPCA say about electronic training collars?

Randall Lockwood PhD, Senior Vice President, Anti-cruelty Initiatives and Legislative Services, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) was quoted in a 2007 White Paper titled “The Facts About Modern Electronic Training Devices,” produced by Radio Systems, a manufacturer of electronic collars, “We recognize that older products were often unreliable and difficult to use humanely. But we feel that new technology employed by responsible manufacturers has led to products that can be and are being used safely and effectively to preserve the safety and well-being of many dogs and strengthen the bond with their human companions.

What if I have a small dog?

Modern electronic collars, have such a wide variety of range, they can literally be used on just about any size of dog.  Check out this 6lb AGGRESSIVE Chihuahua that we just recently finished training with the electronic collar.  Again, ask yourself which dog appears to be happier, more confident, and more stable: the dog before or the dog after?

Ignorance on electronic collar training:

I have seen a lot of ignorance on electronic collar training, myths, and things that are just completely untrue.  When I read these, it’s immediately apparent that these individuals have no knowledge whatsoever in the practical application of ecollars nor any practical knowledge of dog training.  Recently, I saw someone say, “There is never a good reason to use one, I do not know any real trainers that use electronic collars.”  I literally laughed to myself, did this person mean a “real trainer” as in a college kid who went to a Pet Smart training course on giving dogs hot dogs?

Because almost every REAL trainer I know DO use electronic collars.  Many are my personal friends and who are widely considered some of the top dog trainers in the world (Trainer Michael Ellis, Andrew Ramsey (former Lead Trainer at Lackland AFB), Bob Solimini (Most Accomplished French Ring Decoy in the US), my good friends at Vohne Liche Kennels (show “Alpha Dogs” and official training hub for the majority of the military and law enforcement agencies, in the United States), Las Vegas PD, US Secret Service, US Navy Seals, and the list goes on and on.

**So, I would love to see who the “REAL” trainers are that do not use them!** 🙂

Let’s think about that for a minute, we have already discussed that the most confident, obedient, and well trained dogs in the world are who? Military Special Forces Dogs, Police Dogs, and Ring Sport Dogs (Mondio, ScH, French Ring, etc), almost ALL of them use electronic collars for their training and not one of them solely use positive reinforcment.  Literally, not one. Amazing, right? The most obedient, confident, and well trained dogs in the world do NOT use the methods they are preaching, but all of them use the training methods they are speaking out against.

Dogs are much like children, you need a “balanced” approach of training.  I have never seen a dog (or a child) that completely amazed me in listening (outside, off leash, distractions, etc) that did it “solely” through a positive reinforcement.

Additionally, we fix and train dogs every single day that “other trainers” could not fix (like Izzy and Doris in the videos above).  Where would these dogs be now (and many others) if it were not for electronic collar training?  We have been many dogs (and owners) last hope, where other trainers told them they couldn’t be fixed, behaviorists told them to euthanize them, etc.  All because of these individuals ignorance, they almost ruined a dog’s (and their families) life.

In summary, if you want to build a closer bond, give your dog off-leash obedience (freedom) in any environment, and build your dog’s confidence to a high-level, I would recommend training with an electronic collar.  The key is to seek out professional guidance from a certified trainer in this specific training system.  Unfortunately, when it comes to using a training collar, there is no “trying,” you are either an expert and will make your dog amazing, or you have no idea what you are doing and will probably cause many problems with your dogs.

Anyone who has gone through our training knows that most of electronic collar training is teaching the owner how to PROPERLY use it, how to properly train the dog, and knows there are many “ins and outs” to the system.  It is MUCH more than simply pressing a button and giving a command.

So please seek professional help before using an electronic collar to train your dog.

How Do I Train My New Puppy – Northern Virginia


Bringing home a new puppy is like Christmas every morning, until you realize that you need to house train your puppy. You know, those mornings when you wake up to a mess in your floor. Many people wonder, “How do I train my new puppy?” House training a new puppy can be emotionally and physically exhausting. Between getting up at night to take them potty, to learning proper ways to teach them how to potty outside, and not in the house, it can become overwhelming for new owners. At our puppy training classes in Northern Virginia, we do a puppy consultation to help get you and your dogs on the right path.  Here are some helpful hints to ease the transition from new puppy to house trained pet.
Hint #1: Practice Makes Perfect: Like little kids, potty training a puppy is all about perseverance. If at first you don’t succeed, try try again. Taking your puppy out once an hour, and more often they smaller they are, will give your puppy a chance to relieve themselves outside. It will also teach them, with continued success, that going potty outside is preferred. 
Hint #2: Be Prepared: Have a crate readily available when you bring home your new puppy.  A crate is imperative in the house breaking process.  Your dog should be in the crate unless he/she is being “directly” supervised.  A new puppy should spend a good portion of their life in the crate.  So, ensure during the phase of house training your puppy, if you do not have DIRECT supervision, they should be crated. As I say all of the time, “A crib is just a crate for a baby.”
Hint #3: Get Help: Like most humans, we all think we need to be the doers of everything. We don’t want to appear weak, needy or incapable; so instead of asking for help when we need it, we overload ourselves. If you’re schedule is packed, and you don’t have time; or if this is your first puppy, get some professional help. Find a puppy trainer in Northern Virginia to give you some advice on how to get your puppy trained and house ready. You may find you even want to give your pup a few obedience lessons as well just for good measure. 
Hint #4: If He Goes, You Go: Puppies usually aren’t the only ones who need a little training. Especially if you’ve never had a pup before, it will inevitably do you some good to learn a lesson or two. Your best option, and your first one, should be to find a qualified dog trainer in Virginia, who can coach you and your new pup on how to interact with each other. While your puppy is learning everything he needs to know to be a great pet, you’ll be learning the tools you need to be a great master and companion.

Hint #5: Cut Off Water Early:

If you are average person that goes to bed around 10:00pm or so, you should cut off your puppies’ food and water around 6:00pm-7:00pm.  This ensures that almost all of the food and water has passed through his/her system before bed.  This way you don’t find yourself waking up as much in the middle of the night.

Hint #6: Start Confidence Building Drills and Socialization:

If you look throughout the blog, you will see our articles on confidence building drills such as How To Get Your Dog Over A Fear Of Noises, Object Desensitization, and Socialization and why they are imperative with a young pup.


Whether this is your first attempt at training a puppy, or you’re an old pro, it never hurts to have some help along the way. Whether that’s an extra pair of hands to clean up, a pair of legs to run your pup outside or a trainer to help you both out, you’ll both be better off in the end. To find a qualified professional in your area, try an internet search for K9 Trainers in Virginia, or go to

Nick White

What Is The Best Dog Training Program in Northern Virginia?

At Off-Leash K9 Training, we are considered the best dog training program in Virgina and even far beyond, as you will see in our reviews, 400+ videos, and celebrities who have flown their dogs to us from all throughout the United States.

What Can You Expect during Dog Training?

Are you excited to have your dog trained? We are too! So you will know what to expect, read the following:

Your dog will be off the leash.

As much as possible, we want you to feel comfortable and secure that your dog is not on a leash. It is a win-win situation for you both: your dog can have a lot of time and space for himself or herself while you do not have to worry about your dog’s getting lost. He or she easily responds to your commands.

However, we are also aware that almost all dogs do not react to commands when they come to us. So we are going to let the dogs wear an e-collar. This is a special device that works similarly like an electronic fence. Using a remote control, it generates a beep or a vibration (picture a ringing phone). It is a way of communicating to the dog and catching his or her attention to the training, you can see over 400+ dogs we have trained on our youtube channel.

The e-collar won’t hurt them at all.

Many people refer to it as a “shock collar” which always send chills down our spine, it does not “shock” at all, it’s a very subtle stimulation (like stim pads physical therapists use).  We actually make every client of ours try it on their first lesson, they are always pleasantly surprised on how subtle it really is.   In fact, when a dog is properly trained, they are eager to wear them and become excited when they see them. This is because they have learned to associated the e-collar with lots of time outside, training, and play.  See our blog posting on, “Will the ecollar hurt my dog?”

Your dogs are trained by professionals.

Our dog training Northern Virginia is now found across the country. We already have trained and licensed dog trainers, so all you have to do is to contact us so we can give you the best persons or training school to talk to. Though you can buy DVDs and other training materials for dog modification behavior, personal trainings are still the best. The trainers can easily adjust or even customize the sessions according to different factors such as your own schedule, the dog’s temperament, etc.  We have trained the dogs of some of the top celebrities in the country, as you can see on the testimonials page of our website.  We range from former military, law enforcement, and private sector experience, as well.

There are different packages to choose from.

Our Northern Virginia dog training includes various packages like the Basic Obedience Starter Package, which already includes individual lessons and some tools for training. This costs $350. After that, the succeeding sessions will be worth $100 only. There are also some advanced lessons. We can recommend the best package for you based off of your needs and expectations.

We can also train puppies.

In fact, we highly recommend our puppy training Northern Virginia. We want to make sure that your puppy grows up following only the correct behaviors. We train puppies as young as 5 months old; however, we also has a special Virginia puppy training for those that are below such age. Instead of an e-collar, we’re going to use marker and treat training to begin shaping your dog’s behaviors at a young age.

You will play a huge role during the training.

Hey, it’s your dog, after all. We make sure that our leash training in Northern Virginia includes the owner. You can watch at first, and as the sessions go on, you will then take the lead. Our clients love this setup as they can also bond some more with their dogs.

How Do I Be The Pack Leader? Dog Training in Northern Virginia

Many people hear everyone constantly say, “You need to be the pack leader.”  However, many of you ask, “How do I be the pack leader for my dog?”

What does it mean that dogs are pack animals? This means they always roam and stick together in a pack. Lions are the same way; you will very rarely see a lone lion because they travel in packs. Anytime you have a pack, there has to be a leader in charge of the pack. Think about a pack of dogs like a small business in America. There is no successful business that does not have someone in charge of it. There has to be someone in charge in order to make the decisions, ensure the employees are taken care of and have everything they need, reprimand an employee when he or she does something that goes against the policy of the company, and ensure the overall success of the business. The pack leader, or “alpha-male,” of a dog pack essentially has those same responsibilities.

It is imperative that you become the pack leader in your household with the addition of the new member of your pack (i.e., your puppy). It is important that you teach your new puppy that you are the pack leader. You must teach him that you are the one who is in charge of the pack; you make the decisions; you have the best of everything; you decide when to play with him; and out of your entire family, you must demonstrate to him that he is the lowest member of the “pack.”

Many people wonder why this is important. This is another very important process to ensure that you have a happy, confident, and well-trained dog. Dogs are much happier and stable when they know their place in a pack, and there is no question about who is the dominant individual in the house. As some of you may have already experienced by having dogs, people often say, “My dog listens to my husband really well and does not listen to me at all.” Or “My dog will listen to my husband and me, but he will not listen to the kids.” Again, this is because your dog knows whom the pack leader is, and listens to him or her. Generally, the person the dog listens to the best is the one who has displayed the best pack leader characteristics and he knows that person is in charge. We are going to discuss many things you can do in order to show your dog you are the pack leader.

One of the most basic things that I always stress to people during their puppy consultations at our dog training facility in Northern Virginia is: Do not let your dog get on the furniture. This is something a lot of people do not like to hear. However, this can and often does lead to major problems in the future. One of the problems with letting your dog get on the furniture is you are bringing them to your level. Essentially, you are teaching them they are on the same level as you and your family. Remember, dogs should be treated as the lowest members of the pack, not as equals. Having them sleep on the floor and on their dog beds is just one more thing to reinforce to them that they are lower members of the pack. Hence, they get the lowest and worst spots to sleep and lie.

Another problem that can be caused with letting them get on the furniture is territorial aggression. I have talked to many clients who tell me that if they try to get their dog off of the couch, he will growl and snap at them—again, because now the dog sees this as an invasion of his space. I have talked with numerous people who tell me that when they try to get into bed with their significant other, their dog will growl at them. Again, by bringing them to your level, you can create numerous problems with the order of your pack. You are demonstrating to your dog that he is equal to you; this can lead to many problems.

You should be the first one to do everything. What exactly does that mean, you ask? You should be the first one to eat, then you feed the dog. You should be the first one greeted when a family member arrives home, or if you arrive home first, the family members should be greeted and then the dog. Again, you are reinforcing to him that every member of the family is higher on the pack structure than he is. You should be the first one out the door and the first one up or down the stairs. Simply put your dog in the sit position and then allow him to come after you have gone, or hold him back so he cannot pass you. While walking on the leash, your pup should walk beside you, not in front. Again, leaders walk in the front of the pack. Just keep in mind when you start to work with your dog that you and your family should be the first ones to do everything. The dog always comes last.

In military and law enforcement, generally, our dogs do not have any toys that belong to them. This is done for two reasons, one of which I discussed earlier: Your dog will never be motivated for something to which he has constant access. The second reason we do this is to show the dog that he owns nothing; all toys are ours, and he plays with them when we allow him to. He gets them for doing something good, the toy becomes the treat. Many dogs become toy-aggressive because they have learned that the toys are theirs and you are trying to take their toy. Again, you are the leader, so you control everything in the house. Just like my father was our pack leader, so he controlled the remote control, and he only let us have access to it when he wanted to. Just one more small thing of the many that reaffirmed he was indeed the leader of our household. Get in the habit of touching and playing with your dog while he is eating, or has a bone or a toy. This is done to desensitize them to any possession issues that could arise in the future. Again, they learn that you give the food, toy, bone, or ball, and that you can take it away; it is yours and you are just letting them temporarily have it.

Another important thing about which I get asked about is when dogs try to force their owners to play with them or pet them. For example, you are sitting on the couch and your dog comes over and drops his ball in your lap or lifts up your hand to make you pet him. Those are both examples of your dog trying to make you interact. As hard as it may be, never give in to this forced interaction. Once you give in, your dog will always try to force you to interact. If our dogs do this, we simply pay no attention to them. They learn that their efforts did not pay off and they will no longer try to engage. If you feel you must give your dog a toy, and he keeps dropping it in your lap or next to you, simply put away the toy. This shows them that by trying to force you to play, they lost their toy. Again, they will stop doing this because they will equate this action with getting their toy taken. We teach the dogs that we decide when it’s time to play, not them.

Never feed your dogs from the table. This is a common mistake. If you do this, you will have a dog that begs, drools, and stalks you and your family at the table. By handing them food from the table, you are teaching your dog that the table is a great source for amazing food. Imagine if every time you hung around the table, your father offered up $100. How much would you be waiting at the table? Your dog has the same mindset as you. If you feel compelled to give your dog table food, wait until everyone from the family has finished and gotten up from the table. Then you can place some of the leftovers in your dog’s bowl. By doing so, you are teaching that food never comes from the table and it will only come from his bowl.

Make your dog listen. I always tell our clients when doing our training in Northern Virginia, “Never give your dog a command that you are not going to reinforce.” That is one of the most important things when it comes to advanced training. If you give a dog a command that you know he knows, you must follow through with it and make him do it, with no exceptions. If you tell him to sit, down, or come, you must ensure he does it, even if you have to physically make him do it. Your dog must learn that once you issue a command, there is no way out of it. Just like with kids, if you let them get away with not doing something you told them to do once, they will try to get out of it the next 10 times. I always tell my clients, “You will never hear me tell a dog something that he doesn’t end up doing. Once I say a command, it’s not if he will do it, but whether they do it on their own. Otherwise I will make him do it.” To me, this is an essential principal in training and being the pack leader. If my father told me to clean my room, it was getting done and there was no way out of it and I knew that, so I rarely even tried to get out of it. Apply those same principles to training your dog—if you cannot back it up, don’t give the command.


How Do I Get My Dog To Listen with Distractions – Northern Virginia


Many people quickly realize that their dogs will listen great inside, but then they wonder, “How do I get my dog to listen with distractions?”  Off leash dog training Northern Virginia, ensures that a dog behaves just as well when off the leash as they do when they are on it. If you attempt to train a dog to be obedient off a leash without passing through the on leash training, you will be faced with a hard task.
As I tell people on a daily basis, “If your dog is not near flawless without distractions, why try doing distraction work?”  That is literally just setting your dog up for failure.
Dog Obedience Training Northern Virginia
By the time you finish off leash Northern Virginia Dog training, the dog should be good at responding to basic commands when on the leash such as come, place, sit, and heel among others. The key is for the dog to respond to basic commands even when there are distractions around on and off a leash. The leash should be on the dog at the beginning to ease it into the off leash training session gradually. There should be a successful and gradual progression from one command to the other.
Introduce distractions
The last step is to introduce distractions into the off leash K9 training session. You can choose a place where there are other dogs, cats and people such as a park. Follow the same pattern outlined above and if the dog gets distracted then get back to the earlier training ground until you are sure they have regained focus, before getting back to training in the area with distractions.
If your dog isn’t focused when in an off leash distracted area, than that means you need to go back to the basics of on leash or an area without distractions.
Remember, if your dog isn’t near flawless on a long leash or with distractions, then you shouldn’t even attempt off leash or distracted training.
Nick White