Dog Training is Like Dieting!

April 21, 2015

Analogies are often useful to help us see a different perspective. My analogy that Dog Training is Like Dieting goes like this…

The basic principles for each activity fundamentally are pretty straight forward:

  • Dieting - Reduce caloric intake, increase caloric expenditure
  •  Dog Training – Reward the positive behaviors, prevent or ignore the negative behaviors

So why is it that so many people fail at both or either one? Simplistically it really is because we do not or cannot follow these simple rules. The reasons why we can’t follow these rules can go something like this:



Dog Training

Genetic Limitation

Some people have different metabolisms that do not easily shed pounds

Breed characteristics and drives can be strong motivators to overcome

Unreal expectations

We want to lose weight fast

We want instantly perfect dogs


We want our bodies to be something they are not meant to be

We obtain a dog for their looks, not temperament


We don’t want to give up the things we love to eat

We really don’t have the time it takes to train to our expectations

Quick Fix Temptation

We pop those pills or drink those shakes because of the promise of a quick fix

We purchase those magic collars and harnesses and purchase those pet corrector gadgets for an insta-fix


We think going to a 6 week fitness boot camp will solve the problems forever

We think sending our dog to a 6 week training class will make our dogs completely “trained”

The devil’s in the details

Reducing calories alone can make you sick if you don’t also maintain the proper nutrient intake

Who is to say what’s rewarding to any particular dog


Are you generally healthy otherwise or is there an underlying medical condition

Is your dog physically healthy and properly socialized from the beginning or are you struggling against pre-existing issues


Is the rest of your life in chaos as well, too much work, not enough rest, personal issues

Are you able to provide structure to your dog’s life or are they locked in a kennel for 14 hours a day

Consequences for doing it wrong

You can create serious health issue from yo-yo dieting or taking too many diet pills

Your dog can become shut down and learn to suppress negative behavior only to have them show up “unexpectedly” and possibly do damage.

In order to have permanent success in dog training, you need to take a complete and consistent approach. This complete approach is summarized in the Human Hierarchy.

It is easier to start out with a complete approach and understanding to both our health and our dog training. Unfortunately in both cases we often wait until it’s too late and we need “emergency” interventions. You don’t change your eating habits until your doctor tells you you have diabetes. You don’t train your dog early in life and then consider surrendering it to a shelter when it bites someone or destroys your furniture. Also in both cases we sometimes need some help or coaching. If you at least identify you cannot achieve your goals on your own, it’s best to find some help whether it be a dietitian or a dog trainer.


So You Say You Have to Be the Boss?

February 4, 2015

With the popularity of celebrity dog training these days that preach the idea that you have to be the pack leader, that you have to be the boss, what does that mean? We all have bosses. Children’s bosses are their parents, parent’s bosses are their employers, citizens have bosses which we call governments, and the religious have the highest level of boss, the all mighty one. So saying that you have to be the boss of your dog is a pretty meaningless statement. We all have bosses in some si...

Continue reading...

The Power of Food

December 4, 2014
To all of you out there that have a problem with using treats for training your dog, here’s what I have to say to people who make comments along the lines of:
  • I don’t believe in bribing my dog!
  • Cookies won’t work on aggression, high drive, or working dogs.
I’d like you to first imagine a really happy memory in your life such as a birthday, a visit to grandma’s house, a family gathering, or wedding etc. Now think about what all of these have in common. You guessed it, there was most lik...

Continue reading...

Food for Thought

June 4, 2013

Even though food is more of a veterinary/medical issues, I often get asked about food and what to feed your dog so here is my opinion:

1) What do you eat? Are you a health nut? Do you buy organic, low fat, high fibre this that or the other thing? Then care about what your dog eats too.
2) Are you a couch potato that eats fried food, chips, and soft drinks as "part of a healthy breakfast"? Then don't worry about what your dog eats! You might want to worry about yourself first.

Basically I recomme...
Continue reading...

Suzzane Clothier Seminar

December 1, 2012
I recently attended a Suzzane Clothier Seminar on Reactive Dogs that I must say blew me away. The reasons why, however may surprise you. It's not because she performed miracles, it's not because she cured a dog of anxiety within a 1/2 hour consultation... it was because of such a marvelous insight into the minds of not only dogs but other domesticated animals and how we humans handle them. The way in which she broke down the training progressions was insightful and right on the mark. One very...
Continue reading...

Beating the Heat

August 9, 2012
Wow is it every hot these days! Are you and your dog keeping your cool? If you are feeling hot these days, your dog is feeling it even worse.  Here are some things to know about your dog to help keep them cool:
1) dogs dissipate almost all of their heat by panting and evaporating moisture from their tongue. They do not sweat like we do so are more prone to overheating. They need lots of water to keep their tongues and bodies hydrated to support all that panting.
2) some coat types can not only ...
Continue reading...

Puppies for Christmas

December 21, 2011
We've all heard that giving or getting a pet for Christmas is not a good idea. But if you have fallen into that situation because that puppy was just so cute and you fell in love... well... let's make the best of it. Here are a couple of tips to help you through the excitement and into the hard reality.
1. Try not to give your new puppy too much attention or excitement and try to get into as much of a normal routine as soon as possible. If you set unrealistic expectation for your puppy you cou...
Continue reading...

Confessions of a Dog Trainer

November 21, 2011

So here's my confession.... my dogs are not perfect! OK I've said it.

For all of you struggling with your training, you're not alone. I have two special needs/rescue dogs and I have to admit that my dedication to training them sometimes falters. Shortly after I got my first dog I registered in my Dog Trainer Certification Program with ABC. I diligently trained my first dog according to the lessons I learned, step by step, and basically used him as my training guinea pig. The results were great...

Continue reading...

Training is a Life Long Endeavor

September 6, 2011
I am often asked questions like,... how long will training take, when will my dog start behaving, is there a faster way to train my dog, when can I stop these training exercises...

Or I hear comments like,... he used to listen to me before, I tried that and it didn't work, I didn't think training my dog would be so much work...

I alway wonder why we don't ask those same kinds of questions of our children's teachers, coaches, and parents. Training a dog can be compared to raising a child in many...
Continue reading...

Welcome to PetSteps Dog Training

August 5, 2011

Started in April of 2011, PetSteps Dog Training hopes to help the many dogs and owners in Fort McMurray live happier, healthier lives together

Continue reading...

Vicious Breed Legislation

August 5, 2011

Continue reading...