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 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!

12 Days of Christmas: Day 7


Guest Blogger: Melissa Clinton with Barking from the Bayou

On the 7th day of Christmas my dog gave to me 7 sweet spins! 

Teaching your dog to turn around is one of the easiest tricks for them to learn. Even my 8 year Basset Hound was quick to pick it up. He still turns in slow motion but he does turn!

You begin this trick by having your dog face you. Hold a high value treat just above their nose and make a circle. The dog will usually follow the treat. Be sure to say, “Turn around” while they are rotating. When they have made a complete circle, be sure to give them the treat and a lot of praise. Continue this routine with the treat until they are certain of the “turn around” command.

You will soon be able to use you voice and a circular motion in front of the dog and they will turn around on their own. It is a fun trick and looks very impressive.

A funny thing happened when I was teaching my Basset, Bentley how to spin. Our Westie, Pierre already had this trick mastered and would watch while Bentley was learning. Each time I told Bentley to turn, Pierre would quickly spin around!

The main thing about any training is to make it fun.

Merry Christmas!

Check out the Michelle’s other 12 Days of Dog Training Tips or the Pet Holiday Zen Tips!
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Pet Holiday Zen Tip #5



Recently, my niece and I were talking about athletics. She is a distance runner and can go many miles. I told her that I am not a long-distance runner, that I sprint and do interval training. As she was unfamiliar with the concept of interval training, I explained that, for my workout, I run as fast as I can for a specific distance, and then I walk for a specific distance and then repeat that pattern. My training is an example of how you need to manage your dog’s time with family—in intervals. He spends time with you and the family, and then he goes into the room of his own. Spending time in his room is equivalent to my recovery walk time when I am doing my regimen. This slowdown gives me a second to collect myself before I go at it again. Providing intervals of exposure for your dog is important because it will help set him up for success so that he does not become overwhelmed in an effort to “run the distance.” It gives him a chance to regain his Zen.

Written by: Michelle Huntting

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

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