Monthly Archives: September 2013

Why We Do Not Train Multiple Dogs At Once – Dog Training Northern Virginia

At our dog training facility in Northern Virginia, we always get the question, “I have two dogs, can we train both of them together?”

Anytime I get this question, I have always told people no that we do not train that way, and explained that the dogs would have to be trained separately. In this blog, I will attempt to explain “why” we have this training mentality.

First, I would highly recommend you reading my blog, “Why Are Private Classes Better Than Group Classes,” this will help give you a good foundation of our training and mentality.

Why We Do Not Do Multiple Dogs At Once:

-While doing our dog obedience lessons at our facility in Northern Virginia, we tell everyone to practice about 30-40 minutes per day in the week between lessons.  This is done to ensure that the dog (and owner) have the commands down really well before coming back to their next session.  If you do two dogs at once, know your doubled your practice time per day, now, you are committing yourself to approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes per day of training.  A lot of experience working with 65 dogs/owners per week, show me that owners almost ALWAYS fail at this commitment.  Therefore, both of their dogs are being neglected in the training program and not accelerating as fast as they should be.

-Everyone who has gone through our training program, can vouch for the fact that our training style takes some practice, coordination, time, and consistency.  Generally, it takes new owners about 1-2 weeks to get pretty good at our system with ONE dog; therefore, it would almost be impossible to try to master our with trying to learn with two dogs at once.

-If doing two dogs at once, it’s generally the same as a group class.  As anyone knows, we are very anti-group classes, you can read about this in our blog on group training.

Solution: We do the first dog and once they complete their lessons, then we do the second dog.

When using this training method, you and your dogs get the most of out of the training.  The first dog is going through the first four (or eight) lessons, and on a daily basis they are getting your undivided attention.  Additionally, you are getting better and better with our training system as the weeks go on.

So, at the end of your first dog’s training, YOU are good with our training system and your first dog is great in obedience.  Now you do not have to work with that first dog on a daily basis anymore (you just maintain it by using it on a daily basis throughout the day) and you can focus that 30-40 minutes per day on your second dog.  Once the second dog finishes, you are great in our training system and your dogs are both great in obedience.

Once this happens, now you can start working the two dogs together, which is NOW much easier because you are very fluent in our training system and the dogs are great on their own.

Below are two Pit Bulls that we trained separate of each other, this video is about 10 minutes into us working them together for the first time:

This is a much more simplistic transition to make than trying to get the dogs good together while you are trying to learn the system, too.

How To Get Focused Obedience Out Of Your Dog – Dog Training Northern Virginia

focused obedience northern virginia

At our dog training facility in Northern Virginia, on a daily basis we work with getting dog’s behavioral issues fixed and their obedience flawless.

Once your dog has a solid foundation on obedience, I always recommend that you start building their focus during their training.  In many of our videos, you will see that the dogs, while performing the commands, will not take their eyes off of us.  Often times, this isn’t something that comes natural to the dogs, this is something that you have to teach them.

As you will see in some of our videos, you can teach the dog the “watch” command, which will give you a dog that will ignore distractions and maintain eye contact with you.  So, this is one option in order to start building focus in your dog.  You can see an example of this in the video below:

Another very simple option is to not releasee your dog from the command they are in (sit, down, place, etc) until they are making eye contact with you.  Stick to doing this every time you place your dog in any stable dog.

When you start doing this, as soon as your dog makes eye contact, release them.  As you do more repetitions, make them keep eye contact with your for 3 seconds before you release them.  Repeat and 5 seconds, 10 seconds, 15 seconds, etc.

If they do not make eye contact, and they leave the position they were in, immediately put them back in that position and repeat.

Your dog simply learns, “You do not release me from this position until I maintain eye contact with you.”

You would be surprised in the difference this can make in a very short amount of time.  If you do this correctly and consistently, you will notice that as soon as you place a dog in any command, they will stare at you intently, because they have learned this is what triggers you releasing them.

How To Stop My Dog From Running Out The Door – Dog Training Northern Virginia

dog runs out northern virginia

On a daily basis at our dog obedience training facility in Northern Virginia, we work with dogs so they stop running out of the door.

This is what we call “door manners.”  In my opinion, teaching your dog door manners is essential for numerous reason, you will see I discuss this in my blog on Pack Leadership.

Importance of Door Manners:

Pack Leadership: It teaches your dogs that you are the first one to do everything.  You go inside first, you go outside first, you go  up the stairs first, you go down the stairs first, etc.  This is a very simple thing you can do to help show pack leadership with your dog.  As I explain to our clients, “You never see pictures of ducks lined up and the mother is in the back of the line.  You never see packs of lions and the biggest alpha lion is behind all of the  small ones.”  Why? Because it’s very basic pack leadership, the alpha male and dominant member is always in the front.

Manners: Doing door manners does just that, it teaches them manners.  There are few things I hate seeing more than a dog literally almost knocking someone down trying to go out the door before them (or in the door).  This should never be acceptable for you or your dog.

Safety: By doing door manners, you have taught your dog that “just because the front door opens, does NOT mean you are free to run out it.”  So, when you incorporate door manners in your obedience training they become desensitized to the door opening; therefore, it prevents them from running out it like many dogs do.

Did you know that in 2012, approximately 1.2 million dogs were killed from being hit by a car?  Many of them from running out of the front door or chasing something into the street.

ANYONE who has trained with us, has seen us incorporate the door manners into our training, we literally do this with every single dog we train.  That’s how important door manners is to us, we do it with 65 dogs per week.

I have included just a few clips of our door manners training in the video below; however, if you look at our YouTube Channel, you will literally see this in over 200+ of our videos.




If you do not have access to a really good obedience training program, this is something you can start doing at home on your own.  Put your dog into the sit position and “slowly” open the door, as soon as he jumps up, shut door and put him into the sit again.  Repeat this until you get the door all the way open, then release him.  If you do this “every single time” you come to a door, I can assure you within a few days you will see a huge difference in your dog’s door manners.

Initially, you will feel this is very tedious, because they will probably get up a lot; however, just stick to it.  Each time you do it, you will find that you are having to make them sit less and less.

The biggest key is never let them win!  As I say to our clients on a daily basis, “You must be more stubborn than your dog, as soon as you let them get away with it, you just taught them that it’s acceptable.”

How Long Should I Work My Dog On Obedience Per Day – Dog Training Northern Virginia

obedience training northern virginia

A question we get on a daily basis at our dog training facility in Northern Virginia is, “How much time per day should I spend working my dog on obedience training?”

When working your dog on obedience, there should be a few elements that you keep in mind:

-Incorporate the obedience into play sessions; therefore, the dog does not really even look at it like work.  I just recently posted a video on our Facebook Page showing this.

-Keep the sessions at about 45 minutes max, per session.  Generally, most dogs are pretty wiped out after about 45 minutes of solid obedience training.  There are exceptions to this with working dogs, etc; however, that’s a good general rule to follow.

-Give “breaks” throughout the training sessions.  See the first rule, there should be a lot of “play” throughout the training, as well.

What is the maximum amount of time per day I can work with my dog?

To be honest, you can work your dog each day more than you probably WILL work with your dog each day! To give you an example, with our 2-week board and train program, we work the dogs over 3 hours per day!  There are very few people who will dedicate this much time to working their dog every single day.

Again, sticking to my training rules I listed above, their average schedule is around 45 minutes to 1 hour in the morning, 4 hour break, 1 hour afternoon, 4 hour break, 1 hour evening, break, and some more training at night prior to them going to bed.

What is the minimum amount of time per day I should work with my dog?

While your dog is “going through” a training program, you should work with them at minimum 30 to 40 minutes per day.  This should be done to ensure that your dog has a really good concept of the last command that was learned, and they are prepared for the next training session.

What is the best way to work with my dog every day?

At our dog training facility in Northern Virginia, I tell people that in order to gain the most benefit from their training, it’s best to just use the dog’s obedience everyday throughout their daily routine.  Doing this is FAR more effective than you just going home, going in your backyard, and doing come, sit, place (etc), repeatedly for 45 minutes.

Example: When it’s time to feed your dog, have them sit, walk away, sit their food bowl down, make them wait a minute, and release them.

Example: When you go out a door, make them sit, you walkout, and make them wait until you release them.

Example: When someone comes to the door, “place” them on their dog bed, make them wait patiently, and the release them.

By just using the obedience in real-life/day-to-day scenarios, your dog will get far more benefit out of the training than if you just walk them into your background and practice for 45 minutes straight.

If you want maximum results, practice the 45 minutes IN ADDITION to using the obedience daily in real-world scenarios.


Solution to Dog Barking in Crate – Dog Training Northern Virginia

dog barking northern virginia

At our dog training facility in Northern Virginia, we always get asked about problem solving for their excessive barking dog.

Seemingly, often times the dogs are displaying this behavior while locked in their crate/cage.  Generally, this is a common sign of Separation Anxiety; additionally, many of these dogs try to Escape Their Cage, as well.

One of the most important things to do is never let your dog out of the crate “while” they are barking or whining.  If you let your dog out of the crate while they are actively barking or whining, you have just taught them, “When I bark and whine, this door opens.”  This is one of the biggest mistakes that owners make on a daily basis.  We realize that an excessively barking dog can be very annoying; however, you must wait them out.  Just wait until they are quiet, “then” let them out. You want to reward the positive behavior, not the negative behavior.   Again, if you let them out while they are barking, you have just taught your dog that barking is what releases them from their crate.


One of the biggest solutions for this behavior is obedience training.  At our dog training facility in Northern Virginia, this is a very common behavioral issue that we deal with almost daily.  Utilizing whichever dog training method you have been using, correct this behavior.  By giving the dog a correction when the negative behavior is displayed and rewarding the positive behavior, your dog quickly learns to outweigh the pro’s and con’s of the situation, just like a person does.  For example, we use the “off” command at our dog training facility, “off” is used to correct any unwanted behavior (barking, jumping, digging, etc).

A very simple solution for an excessive barker is getting a No Bark Collar.  These are amazing devices that work wonders for  dogs (and their owners).  The one I recommend is the Sport Dog SBC 10R or the Einstein Bark Collar.  A bark collar is a collar that your dog wears that automatically corrects them when it picks up the dog barking (vibration and audible detection built-in).  When the dog barks it gives a subtle correction, if they bark again, a higher level correction, and then it repeats.  These collars work amazingly well for some of the worst barkers.

Bark collars are a win-win for everyone! It’s a win for the dog because they cannot bark, and by them not being able to bark they cannot get themselves worked up and frustrated.  It’s a win for you because you (or neighbors) do not have to deal with an excessively barking dog for prolonged periods of time.

So, if you have a dog who is constantly barking and driving you and your neighbors crazy, look into getting obedience training and a no bark collar for your dog.  You will not regret it.

Should I Allow My Dog To Sniff The Ground During A Walk – Northern Virginia


Heeling with Dog Northern Virginia

During our heel lessons at our facility in Northern Virginia, we always get asked, “Should I allow my dog to sniff the ground while we are walking?”

The short answer is, “No.”  While we are working a dog on heel, I want their attention focused on me, my pace, and my direction.  It’s impossible for your dog to pay attention to all of these Fundamental Things That Make A Good Heel if they have their nose and their eyes to the ground.

Dogs are very sensitive with their nose (as any dog owner in the world can tell).  They can be walking with purpose, pick up on a certain scent, and all of the sudden take off in the completely opposite direction in order to follow this new scent.  The same thing will happen on your walk.

At our dog training facility in Northern Virginia, I literally say on a daily basis, “Your dog sniffing the ground during a heel, will ALWAYS lead to your dog not being in a heel.”  To me, the dog sniffing the ground is essentially a precursor to him breaking the heel, for a few reasons:  a) he’s not paying attention to you, so if you slow down or speed up, he is now out of the heel position b)  he will undoubtedly catch a scent he likes and that will draw him out of the heel c) you will do a direction change, he will not catch it, and that will put him out of the heel.

I tell people that when I release the dog with the “break” command, that’s the dog’s time to sniff around, play, run around, and do whatever they please.  However, when I have a dog in the heel command, that’s now my time.  I give the dogs plenty of “breaks” to do whatever they please; therefore, I do not let them do this while they are in the heel.

I can honestly say, “I have never seen a dog in my life that was allowed to sniff the ground during the heel, who was amazing at on/off leash heeling.  Never.”  That’s a pretty powerful statement, and it’s 100% true.

If you look on our YouTube Channel, we have numerous heeling before and after videos, so you can see the difference this (among other concepts) make in your dog’s walk.

So, in summary, do not let your dog sniff the ground while in the heel command, correct them using whichever dog training method you are currently using.  Sniffing the ground during the heel command will always lead to your dog leaving the heel command.


How Can I Stop My Dog From Chasing Animals – Northern Virginia

Dog chases animals training northern virginia

On a daily basis, at our dog training facility in Northern Virginia, we receive emails from dog owners saying, “If you can get my dog to stop chasing the cat, rabbits, squirrels(etc), it will be  a miracle.”

Essentially, what they are saying is that they have a high prey drive dog.   Some dogs that are very common for having a very high prey drive are Belgian Malinois, German Shepherds, Australian Shepherds, and many more!

What is Prey Drive?

Prey Drive is a natural dog instinct because dogs are predators and hunters, just like humans are, as well.  So, essentially it’s their natural instinct to pursue and capture fleeing prey.

Can I Eliminate My Dog’s Prey Drive?

No, you cannot eliminate it, but you do not want to!  A dog’s prey drive can be manipulated and used to your advantage which we will discuss later.  You can never eliminate the prey drive in your dog; however, you can most certainly control it through obedience.  At our dog obedience training in Northern Virginia, this is something we literally do on a daily basis.  Prey drive is easily controlled through a structured obedience training program by training the dog to a level that their obedience overcomes their instinctual prey drive. Your dog will still have the “want” to chase the animal; however, his obedience will overcome his want to chase.

A great example of this is a Tamaskan named “Ivan” that we just recently finished training.  A Tamaskan is a wolf-looking dog with ancestors  being the Siberian Husky and Alaskan Malamute, so, you can imagine they are very “hunt-driven” and “prey driven” dogs.

See the last part of this video (3:45 mark of video), where you can see an amazing example of obedience outweighing a dog’s prey drive.  If this was just a week prior, that fox probably wouldn’t have escaped this ordeal; however, with training, we were able to make his obedience and control outweigh his prey drive.

How Can I Use My Dog’s Prey Drive To My Advantage?

If your dog is a high prey drive dog, generally that means they are very ball motivated.  So, you can work your dog on obedience, using the ball (prey item) as the reward for the obedience.  So, you will give your dog some commands, once they comply, you will release them and throw the ball (activate the prey).  This is a fun and healthy way to give your dog an outlet for using his prey drive.

Additionally, at our dog training facility in Northern Virginia, we also do detection training.  Almost all military and police detection dogs in the country are very high prey drive dogs; meaning, we manipulate that prey drive and use it to benefit us (and our country).  While doing detection work, they are searching endlessly for hours on end (at times) in order to get that “prey item” (ball, kong, tug) as a reward.


Do not view your dog’s prey drive as a bad thing, in fact, the most prey driven dogs in the world are police dogs, search and rescue dogs, detection dogs, etc.  So, essentially, the most amazing dogs in the world are dogs with very high prey drive.  Prey drive is a good thing, you just need to find a qualified dog trainer to help teach you how to control it, harness it, and use it to you AND your dog’s benefit.  I recently wrote a blog titled, “Do Not Make Training Your Last Resort.”  So, if your dog is actively chasing things, pulling you down the street, or running off; find a trainer in your area sooner than later.

Are Tennis Balls Dangerous For My Dog?

Northern Virginia Dog Training

A common question our dog trainers in Northern Virginia get asked is, “Are tennis balls dangerous for my dog?”

The answer is yes and no, it really depends on how you view this subject.  After reading below, you decide.

Do Tennis Balls Contain Toxic Dye?

No. Know that tennis balls no longer contain toxic die which are bad for your pet’s teeth and overall health as they use to.  Now, modern tennis balls are made with safe dies that will not impact your pet’s health.

Is It True that Tennis Balls Wear Down the Enamel In My Dog’s Teeth?

Yes, but please read on.  Some say it’s the glue, some say it’s the texture, some say it’s the rough felt combined with the dirt the ball picks up causing a sand paper effect, etc.

Tennis balls do indeed wear down your dog’s teeth, but not to an alarming level says Dr. Tony Woodward.  Dr. Woodward is one of 104 board-certified veterinary dentists in the world, so he knows animal’s teeth better than anyone.  Dr. Woodward says he can always tell anytime a dog comes into his clinic who is a “compulsive tennis ball chewer.”   He says their K9 teeth start to wear down a little causing the tips to be more blunt.

In his opinion it’s not as alarming as many believe it is, he estimates only approximately 1 out of 200 dogs actually need to have dental work done because of this compulsive tennis ball chewing habit.  He is quick to point out that those 1 of 200 are generally dogs who  have a tennis ball in their possession almost non-stop.

If you read my blog on Playing Tug with Your Dog, I wrote about how your dog should only have the tug when actually engaged in playing with you.  It should not be an item that is left around the house and they have 24/7 access to.  If you follow that same principle with your dog and their tennis ball, this will never be an issue for you.  Only give the dog the tennis ball when you are engaged in a supervised game of fetch, but do not let them allow to chew on it or have it 24/7.

Is There A Choking Hazard With the Tennis Ball?

There is a far greater risk of your dog being affected by choking on the ball or getting a respiratory issue from the fuzzy-like substance of the ball, than there is with the enamel eating their teeth.  On a recent list of the top 10 foreign objects ingested by dogs on accident, tennis balls were #5.

You see numerous pictures on the internet (like the one at the top of this blog) of dogs with multiple tennis balls in their mouth, this is a major choking hazard/risk for your dog.  Try to limit your dog’s tennis ball to “one.”  It’s just like with children, you don’t let them shove multiple hot dogs in their mouth at once, same with dogs.

Again, as I stated above, that’s why it is recommended your dog only have these toys during supervised play.  If you find your dog chewing on the fuzzy-like material, correct him so he avoids this behavior.  Additionally, if your dog punctures or breaks the tennis ball in half, immediately throw it away.

A tennis ball can easily be caught in the throat of a dog, blocking off their breathing.  One of Oprah Winfrey’s dogs died awhile back from this same occurrence, so it’s far more common than people think.

I personally would recommend not using a tennis ball at all, instead, use something like a Kong.  These are hard (almost impossible to break), large (much harder to get caught in throat), durable, and they do not wear down your dog’s enamel.

Other Toys That Are Choking Hazards:

-Toys with removable parts (animals with small eyes, buttons, etc)
-Toys with squeakers (The squeaker is generally a small plastic piece than can be accessed and swallowed if the toy is ripped open)
-Bones and Rawhides (Small pieces can be broken off and lodged in your dog’s mouth)

Summarization on Tennis Balls:

In summary, tennis balls are an object that many dogs have always loved (and their human counterparts).  If you want to use tennis balls for your play/training sessions, keep it supervised, do not let them chew on them, and do not give them non-stop access to them.  If you follow this simple guidance, you should generally have a trouble-free and fun filled time with your dogs.

How To Help My Dog Lose Weight

dog training in northern virginia


At our dog training facility in Northern Virginia, we always get asked questions about how they can manage their dog’s weight.

I am always quick to point out the fact that I am not a veterinarian, and you should seek guidance from them; however, there are easy/general changes you can make to your dog’s diet to begin seeing results.

I will start with the very simple concept and principle that dogs get overweight for the same reasons that people do: overeating and under exercising. It’s important to point out that there is an estimate that roughly 35-40 million dogs in the US are considered obese or overweight.  This is the number one nutrition related problems in dogs throughout the United States.

How To Tell If Your Dog Is Overweight?

1. Rib Test: Run your hand down the sides of your dog.  If you cannot feel their ribs, they are overweight.

2. No Tuck of the Abdomen: You should see your dog’s abdomen tuck up from the underneath (once it gets passed their chest area).

3.  When looking from an overhead view of your dog, you should see their sides indent in (making a waist).  If should not be just broad and wide from their head to the rear-end.

How To Weigh My Dog?

1.  Take them to the Vet.

2.  If you have a smaller dog, one easy method is for your to stand on a scale and capture your weight.  Now, pick your dog up, stand on the scale, and capture that weight.  Now simply subtract you and your dog’s combined weight from your weight, now you have your dog’s weight.

Once you have your dog’s weight, you can compare it to a reputable breed website, to see what the standard is for your breed:

How To Start Helping My Dog Lose Weight?

1.   Use a measuring cup, so you can see “exactly” how much food your dog is getting per day. Do not just “guesstimate.”

2.  See how much food is recommended for a dog the size of yours, and compare that to how much you have been giving them.  Like a person, slowly reduce their portion sizes.

3. Do not “free-feed.”  Your dog should not have 24/7 access to food.  You should feed them 2-3 times per day.

4. Increase activity in your dog.  Take them on walks, runs, throw the ball, play tug with them, do scent detection, or some other type of sport.  As your dog is doing better, slowly increase the speed and the duration of the activities.  This helps keep them mentally and physically stimulated, promotes weight loss, and speeds up their metabolism.

5.  Cut out the treats and unnecessary snacks!  Just like with a person on a diet, it’s not okay to have ice cream or twinkies on a daily basis, even if in minimal amounts.  Small amounts on a daily basis adds up to be a lot of calories.

Monitor Your Dog’s Progress Weekly:

Every week, weigh them and monitor their progress.  This will help you decide if you need to increase or decrease their caloric intake.

At our dog training facility in Northern Virginia on a daily basis we hear, “I don’t know why is overweight, we go on walks daily.”

Remember, dogs are just like people, one of my good friends Dave Shulter who owns Shutler Fitness always says, “Abs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym.  You can workout every day of your life, but if you do not change your diet, you will never major see results.”  The same is true for your dog.

Is My Dog Too Old To Learn? Does Age Matter With Training Dogs?

Training an older dog northern virginia

At our dog training facility in Northern Virginia, we always hear, “Is my dog too old to benefit from your dog training?”

This is an old saying that its’ exact origins cannot be traced; however, one of the first time it is noted of being in a print version was in 1534 in The Boke of Husbandry by John Fitzherbert. Fitzherbert wrote, “The dogge must lerne it, whan he is a whelpe, or els it will not be: for it is harde to make an olde dogge to stoupe.”

“Stoupe” was an older way of spelling “stoop.” Fitzherbert used this word to essentially say, “put the nose to the ground to find a scent (aka tracking).”

Anytime I hear this or people ask this question over the phone, I always reply with, “Whoever said you cannot teach an old dog new tricks either: a) was not a dog trainer or b) they were not a good dog trainer.

I’m not sure why this saying started, maybe it was a metaphor that was really meant to apply to people. Possibly, when it started, dog training wasn’t as fine-tuned, researched, and utilized back then. It’s really hard to tell the origin of the saying.

With that said, many studies have shown that many dogs over the age of seven do have a decline in brain cells because they lose the ability to use energy-boosting glucose as efficiently as when they were young.

Their was a study at Toronto University, that was published in the British Journal of Nutrition, which showed that dogs who were regularly given an “anti-age diet” containing special dietary fats found in some natural vegetable oils such as coconut oil, can improve their memory which in return helps improve their learning skills.

These special dietary fats, called medium chain triglycerides or MCTs, are unique in that they have been shown to be converted into energy that can be absorbed by an older dog’s brain, providing the necessary fuel that it needs to help maximize their brain function.

For a specific example of how an older dog can learn new things, we just recently finished training 8-year old Golden Retriever “Skeet” who came to us for obedience and he was dog aggressive. As you see in this 8-year old dog’s video, he was clearly able to learn new things, and keep in mind, this was only in 14-days in our 2-Week Board and Train Program.

If you want a little more proof, Mythbusters recently put this old saying to the test with their, “Can You Teach An Old Dog New Tricks” Episode. Keep in mind, they were able to and they are engineers, not dog trainers.

So, unarguably, you most certainly can teach an old dog new tricks, and if you add in a good well-balanced diet and exercise, you can even expedite this process further.

So, your dog is never too old to learn or benefit from dog training. However, I still encourage people to get their dogs’ training process started sooner than later, just so you and your dog can start your relationship with effective communication and expectations, you can read more about this in my blog on “Do Not Make Dog Training Your Last Resort.”