“Help! My Dog Doesn’t Listen!”

by mindi on May 28, 2023

“My dog comes when I call him if he knows I have a treat; but if he’s barking at something in the backyard, he totally ignores me.” “My dog will sit when my wife asks him to but won’t do it for me!” Sound familiar? This is all too common in dog-loving households, and even trainers have experienced the dreaded “he only comes for a treat” phenomenon. This happens for a VERY large number of reasons but here are the common culprits:

  1. The behavior hasn’t been practiced in multiple situations.
  2. The behavior hasn’t been practiced with distractions.
  3. Treats were faded out too quickly.
  4. The dog doesn’t have enough of a reinforcement history for this behavior (meaning, not enough good things have happened to motivate the dog to do what he’s being asked).

If you find your dog not responding to a cue in a given situation, go back to basics and practice the behavior in an easier situation. Then gradually add in distractions. Don’t start fading out treats until your dog successfully does the behavior a bunch of times over many days. When you do start fading out treats, do so SUPER slowly. The goal is to teach your dog that performing that behavior leads to good things, so that he wants to perform the behavior reliably.

There are so many nuances involved in dog training! Need help going from “he won’t listen” to “he is so well-behaved!”? Contact our behavior specialist, JoAnna, at [email protected]


Written by JoAnna Rogowski, MS, KPA CTP

As you may know, not all foods are safe for dogs to consume. Some of the harmful products may surprise you. Chocolate and grapes are more widely known but did you know that macadamia nuts are on that list? And so are garlic and onions. Each of these food items can cause great harm to your dog. Contact your vet immediately if one of these foods is consumed.

Potty Training 101

by mindi on May 23, 2023

Why Train Using Positive Reinforcement?

by mindi on May 19, 2023

What is positive reinforcement? Positive reinforcement is the process of providing something desirable (like a treat) to your dog in response to him performing a desired behavior (like sitting when you ask him to). Reinforcement, by definition, increases the frequency of a behavior. 

Here’s why I train using positive reinforcement:

  • Positive reinforcement training is backed by university programs, veterinary behaviorists, and animal behavior consultants alike. Those educated in canine learning agree that it is the best method for obtaining reliable results and ensuring dog well-being.
  • Rewarding desired behavior increases the likelihood that it will happen again. It makes the dog want to do the right thing.
    • While punishment does serve to decrease unwanted behavior, it does not tell the dog what we want her to do instead, nor does it address the emotion or need causing the behavior.
  • The way you train impacts the way your dog sees you. Using reward-based training will lead your dog to associate you with good things and will therefore strengthen your bond.
    • Meanwhile, the use of aversive methods (i.e., yelling, swatting, leash pops, prong collars) will not only teach your dog to associate you with something unpleasant but will suppress her communication. Dogs that learn to suppress their communication are more likely to bite.
  • Positive reinforcement training is fun! It makes you both look forward to training.

Want to learn more about positive reinforcement training? Contact our Behavior Specialist, JoAnna, at [email protected]

Written by JoAnna Rogowski, MS, KPA CTP

A Must Read: The Loved Dog

by mindi on May 17, 2023

There’s one book that I recommend to dog families over again and again-  it’s The Loved Dog. It is a short read and well worth your time. The Loved Dog is a comprehensive guide on how to raise a well-mannered dog. Tamar Geller guides her readers through troubleshooting specific problems, teaches readers about dog behaviors, and gives tips on how to teach your dog good manners.  Her approach is highly regarded but the humane society and celebrities alike. I cannot recommend this book enough.