Holiday Survival Kit: For Your Dog

I am excited to announce my newest book, “Holiday Survival Kit: For Your Dog”!

The holidays are nearly upon us. Is your dog ready? I know you probably want to push out all the thoughts of the travel, future visits from in-laws, and all the baking ahead of you, but it’s the perfect time to start preparing your dog.


Think about how stressful the holidays can be for you. Why would it be any different for your dog??

How to help your dog great people politely
How to prevent bolting (both from car and home)
How to help your dog maintain his Zen
How to successful set up the home environment

My book is available in paper back and also with Kindle.

Because I want to set all my students up for success, I put together a holiday survival kit that includes not only my book, but also easy to follow how-to training videos!


Holiday Zen Dog Training Packet includes:

Ebook written by Michelle Huntting PACKED full of exercises, how-to’s and a better understanding of your dog!

Video lessons that covers:

Greeting people politely
How to communicate dog
Calming skills
Setting your dog up for success with guests
How to Prevent bolting
and Impulse Control exerises





Pet Holiday Zen Tip #7



Plan ahead. There will likely be doors that are opened and closed more often than if it were just you and your family. You may be busy making sure the turkey doesn’t overcook or putting the egg in the nog. You need to plan ahead for the possibility that your dog may inadvertently pass through an open door. Management is key, and as a professional trainer, I will tell you (ahem), you need to work on bolting before the guests arrive!!! Please train this important skill. However, with little time before the big events of the season arrive, in-depth training may not be possible, so management is essential. (For additional training information, please see my previous blog on bolting and also in my book Come, Boy!.)

One possibility to ensure your dog will not “escape” is to keep him tethered to you (leash attached to something in the room you are in, or to you or a designated person) while you are going about your hosting responsibilities. Or, an x-pen works well in a specific room, or a kennel so your dog is still able to view the activities but is safely confined. Be sure to communicate to all guests your concerns for your dog’s safety if he should get outside through an open door, but remember it’s your responsibility to keep your dog safe.

Nonetheless, even if you have taken the precaution of advising everyone of your concerns, more than likely someone may forget, and I would rather have you err on the side of caution by using these management techniques. After all, once the bell is rung, you can’t unring it. If your dog escapes, he can easily become lost or worse.




Michelle Huntting




Check out Michelle’s other 12 Days of Dog Training Tips or the Pet Holiday Zen Tips!
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12 Days of Christmas: Day 12


12 Silent Nights

For those of you pet guardians that have forgotten what it’s like to have a silent night and for others that have a dog that barks at people or other dogs passing by your house, this blog is for you.

When I work with dogs on barking I don’t teach a “no bark,” but I focus on getting dogs to stop when I ask. I feel that the word “thank you” is extremely appropriate since, after all, my dogs keep watch over my family.

Teach the Thank You Cue
The thank you cue will allow your dog to bark, but asks him to stop when cued. You are welcome to use any word that you’d like for this cue. Some of my clients have used that’ll do.

Outside of training sessions it’s important to have stimulus control. That is just the trainer’s fancy way of saying, “Keep the blinds pulled!” Barking at people works really well for your dogs. Think about it. Humans walk by your house, your dog barks, and the people (because they continued to walk past your house) left your yard. In your dog’s mind, barking worked. Your dog’s behavior served him, so he will continue to do it and the more he does it the more it’s reinforced.

So outside of training sessions, make sure the environment (like keeping the blinds pulled) will set him up for success so he won’t bark while you are gone or when you are not focused on training.

During your training sessions open the blinds. During this time you will be waiting for stimulus (like a dog/person walking by), so he will bark. When I train the thank you cue, I set aside a block of time and multitask like working on my computer while I wait for my dogs to bark.

Also, have a lot of pea sized treats ready to roll. I like using Charlee Bears.


As soon as your dog barks say, “Thank you!” and start delivering several treats one right after another.* Don’t be afraid to deliver several (5-10 pea sized) treats. Typically after a few treats your dog will sit in front of you. After he is focused on you,  go back to your work and repeat the process as the barking occurs.

Do one session five days a week for two weeks.

*If you have delivered several treats, gained his focus for a few seconds and he starts barking again, repeat the process. Re-cue “thank you” and deliver treats. If he continues to bark after you have gone through the process two times, redirect him with something to chew like a stuffed Kong or bully stick.

Outside of Formal Training Sessions
If your dog barks at a noise or something else outside of training sessions you can cue “thank you” and deliver the treats just as if you are in a formal training session. Be sure to have your treats ready to go.

During this week’s training sessions (week three), after your dog starts barking cue, “Thank you!” and wait for him to move toward you. As soon as he gets to you, start delivering treats. Deliver treats until your dog is sitting in front of you and focused.

Formal sessions are no longer needed for the next two weeks. As you are going about your day and your dog barks cue “thank you” and deliver treats. I recommend that you give treats after every thank you for the following month.

Fading the Treats
After this month, you can start giving random rewards (fading the treat). In other words, sometimes you say, “Good boy!” and other times you deliver treats. It’s important that you are still randomly reinforcing from here on out, but treats are not needed every time you cue thank you.

Happy Training! And cheers to future silent nights (and mostly silent days).




Michelle Huntting
Building the bridge of communication between dogs and pet guardians



Check out Michelle’s other 12 Days of Dog Training Tips or the Pet Holiday Zen Tips!
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12 Days of Christmas: Day 11



Boy and I both enjoy the “shy” trick. He feels that he is meant for the big screens and, you know, he has a large enough personality for me to agree with him.


Place a small piece of rolled tape on the top of your dog’s snout.

Cue your dog to lie down so he will have to use his paw to remove the tape rather than shake off or rub it off.

As soon as he take his paw to brush off the tape you will mark the behavior with a word (like “good”) or a clicker. (For this particular trick I personally prefer the clicker because micro behaviors are better captured.) You will mark any sort of paw movement; no matter how small. Take the tape off after each click.

When it looks like how you want it to look start adding the verbal cue, this will allow for the word association of the behavior (you will still continue using tape).

Then you will start generalizing the positions like having your dog in a sit (you will still continue using tape).

During the last step you will stop using the tape. You will start by acting as if you put the tape on his nose even though you didn’t and wait for him to move his paw to cover his face. As soon as he does, mark it and say your verbal cue. My verbal cue for Boy is, “Are you shy?” 

Phase out the non-verbal cue of touching the nose by simply pointing to the dog’s nose and eventually fading out the point. You will still mark your dog for covering his face. Once he is consistently responding to the verbal cue 80% of the time, start fading the clicker (or verbal marker).

Happy Training! Let Boy and I know how it goes!




Blog written by Michelle Huntting
Building the bridge of communication between dogs and pet guardians 



Check out Michelle’s other 12 Days of Dog Training Tips or the Pet Holiday Zen Tips!
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12 Days of Christmas: Day 10

10 Solid Recalls

Come. It’s the most important cue for a dog to know because it could save his life.. Please put the time, training, and effort into making this the most solid cue in your dog’s command repertoire.

Training “come” doesn’t have to be boring either. The following game still is one of my favorites:

2 Man Game

  • Leash your dog. 
  • One person holds the leash. The other person (I will refer to as “the runner”) will take a handful of treats and make a fist around the treats. 
  • The runner places the treats in front of the dog’s nose to let him smell. 
  • The runner  jogs several steps away from the dog (dog is still being held on the leash). 
  • As the runner moves he will say something in a high pitch voice like “puppy, puppy, puppy.” 
  • After several steps the runner stops, squats down and says dog’s name and “come.” 
  • The person holding the leash lets go.
  • The runner will deliver his handful of treats, one at a time. With each treat, the runner will praise the dog, telling him how handsome he is, what a great job that was, and how smart he is.

Caution: During the game do not say his name or the cue “come” as you are running. Also do not say “come” multiple times. Come is a treasured cue that needs a response on the first time it’s cued for a matter of safety.

Remember, dogs do not generalize easily so work on this exercise through the front door, in the front yard, and the side gates where bolting could potentially happen. If you want to read more about generalization you can check out my blog: Your Dog Really Doesn’t Know.

Make a choice to commit to working on the “come”cue with your furry bestie, so you have your 10 solid recalls.



Blog written by  Michelle Huntting
Building bridges between dogs and pet guardians



Check out Michelle’s other 12 Days of Dog Training Tips or the Pet Holiday Zen Tips!
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12 Days of Christmas: Day 9


9 Hugs – Performed by Earl and Ethel from Earl’s World!

Teaching your multiple dogs to hug on command is an impressive, adorable and incredibly talented trick to teach. The final result will never seize to impress your friends and family, and will come in handy when you need a party trick to entertain your guests!

To teach this trick, you need to teach at least one of your dogs, preferably the larger one, to give their paw and/or teach them the paw target command.

Once this has been mastered, replace your hand with the presence of your other dog. Encourage your dog to place his paw on your other dog’s shoulder, by placing your hand there to begin with. Once your dog is confident doing this, slowly move your hand away, pointing to your other dog’s shoulder instead. Every time your hugging dog places his paw in the correct place, reward your dog with your dog’s favourite reward. Keep practicing, then replace your paw giving command with the ‘hug’ command, until your dog is happy to place his paw on the shoulder of your other dog with the simple command.

If your dog is anything like my older dog, he may start placing his paw on your other dog whenever the dogs are in each other’s presence, in anticipation of a reward! This causes a good deal of hilarity and laughs!

Enjoy training!




Blog written by Guest: Earl’s World!

Check out Michelle’s other 12 Days of Dog Training Tips or the Pet Holiday Zen Tips!

Pet Holiday Zen Tip #6

new dog


Occasionally, family may bring along their own dog while they are staying with you. Depending upon your dog’s history of comfort with other dogs, you will need to carefully consider and monitor his ability to tolerate their presence in “his territory” especially during this time of otherwise high stress. Pay attention to his cues of stress. Some dogs will do great and genuinely enjoy the presence of a playmate while others not so much. If you sense your dog is becoming overly stressed by the presence of another dog, make necessary adjustments by using baby gates or allowing him some Zen time in his private space. (For more information on signs of stress,



Michelle Huntting



Check out Michelle’s other 12 Days of Dog Training Tips or the Pet Holiday Zen Tips!
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