My dogs are not perfect

My dogs are not perfect. I’m sure you’re shocked!

In fact when a friend and colleague recently mentioned offhandedly that one of my dogs was particularly well-behaved, it took every ounce of poker face I possess not to laugh.

However, her comment got me thinking about the habits my dogs and I have built together, which lead to their practicing nice behaviors multiple times a day.

Do I train my dogs for hours at a time?

Absolutely not!

…or do I?

Every time we have an interaction, somebody is training somebody.

You’d like to go through the door?
I’d love it if you would sit pretty first.

You’d like to go to that food puzzle?
Could you give me your best twirl first please?

You want to chase that squirrel?
A four-second “look at me” is just the thing to make that happen.

This exchange of things we’d like – my dog would like this while I would like that – leads to an exchange of good manners and mutual respect. Rather than yanking them around by leash and collar, peppering your conversation with that annoying “enh enh” sound, or convincing them that their names are “No-no-bad-dog,” try asking your dogs to do something of which they are capable as a way of saying “please”. As you build this pattern of give and take, your dogs will become much more tuned into you when they want access to something of value to them. At the same time, you’ll become increasingly aware of what motivates them, and the level of their skills.


Puppy Politeness Poker
This approach to interactions is based on Suzanne Clothier’s “Puppy Politeness Poker”—a well thought-out game for turning routine interactions into fun training opportunities. She has created an eBooklet building on the “PPP” which you can purchase here.

Connection, Cooperation, and Control™
Joyful Dog is thrilled to be able to offer classes in Connection, Cooperation, and Control™ (“CCC”), a fabulous approach to working with your dog, based on Suzanne Clothier’s Relationship Centered Training principles. These six-week classes start in Great Falls on Saturday, May 27, at 11 a.m., and in Hamilton at 3 p.m. on Thursday, June 1. Read more about our classes here , and about the CCC program here.