how to use a leash

Happy Friday from us at! Today will be discussing proper leash management when working and training your dog.

I noticed I’ve been lazy of late, so I thought I’d touch on this subject to pass on the importance of staying vigilant as a handler. I reviewed some video footage of my agility training with Scout from a couple days ago and noticed I wasn’t managing the lead properly. In the video you can see clearly the lead is a tangled mess and also has way too much slack in it. Combined, the two equal ineffective corrections and poor communication between dog and handler.

Managing your lead 101

So what does it mean to manage your lead? (Lead also means leash) Managing your lead means taking out enough slack that should you need to apply a correction, theres no wasted movement in utilizing one. At the same time, it also means there is enough play in the lead so your dog can make their own decisions. At no time should the lead be taught. Now the tricky part is managing the slack in your hand. The live part of the lead should always be at the bottom of your hand leading straight to your dog. If you have the lead coming out the top of your hand, you will get a torquing action on your wrist as you apply a correction, making it less effective and inefficient.

While we picture a leather lead below, another important thing to remember when utilizing a double-snap lead is to firmly grasp the metal end not connected to your dog. In the event that you forget to hold on to the ring and unused snap, a firm correction to your dog will also give you quite the trophy on your knuckle. Trust me, been there, done that. I’m quite fond of these types of leads because of their versatility but feel the nylon doesn’t respond as well as leather. I look forward to finding a double-snap in leather to have the best of both worlds!


Can you take your dog to Aloft Hotels?

Hello again from I had the opportunity to go up to Jacksonville for an overnight the other day and I was pleasantly surprised that Ash and Ry could come with me. The only problem was we didn’t know what to do with Scout. Lol of course I didn’t think to plan ahead and see if VIP Pet Resort had room but I remembered seeing a dog at one of the hotels I frequent in Tallahassee and I was willing to bet the dog I saw wasn’t a service a dog. So I looked up to see if there was an Aloft in Jacksonville close to the airport and then checked out the pet policy once I found it.

Aloft Jacksonville Airport allows dogs!

And there is no pet fee. I was very pleased when I found out. It worked out great because free is much less expensive than having to pay for boarding and we got to keep our companion with us. Aloft even has a complimentary dog bed for your furry friend as well.

Pet Policy

Animals are family, too! That’s why the Aloft Jacksonville Airport welcomes dogs up to 40 pounds.* Our pet-friendly arf(SM) program offers a special bed, bowl, and a doggie bag of woof-alicious treats and toys, all complimentary to use during your stay. Please make sure they’re on their best behavior—we don’t want to charge you extra for housekeeping! – direct from Aloft Jacksonville Airport policies found here


Pretty cool huh?

We definitely enjoyed our stay. It was great getting Scout in a new environment with new people, sights, and smells. She even had her first elevator experience. The only problem was she badly wanted to get in the pool to swim with Ry and I while Ash worked poolside.

Truth be told, I was more concerned about Scout’s behavior but Ry was the one that caused the most chaos. The poor little nugget was coming off having a fever and developed a stuffy nose. She was not a happy camper and screamed bloody murder starting at about 0100 and waking up every 30 minutes after that. It was brutal and I was convinced we were gonna kicked out of the hotel. Luckily that didn’t happen.

So next time you get to travel with your furry canine companion, be sure to check to see if your destination has an Aloft Hotel. Use the time together to get some stability training in as well. Remember, every day is training.

Scout, Ry, and Me lounging at Aloft Jacksonville Airport

Scout, Ry, and me lounging at Aloft Jacksonville Airport


Stability in a protection dog

Scout put into obedience on an elevated surface, in this case, a table.

Scout put into obedience on an elevated surface, in this case, a table.

Today on we will be talking about stability of a protection dog.

I’ve been away for the last couple of days so it’s been Ash, Ry, and Scout manning the home front. Ash relayed a story to me about taking the dog to the office with her. Ash was plugging away on the computer with Scout lounging out behind her and then someone began opening the door. Scout did exactly what we wanted her to do, let the person know that they shouldn’t open the door unless they are supposed to. Scout immediately moved to the threat and let them know in no uncertain terms that she was there and ready to defend her owner. In this case it was just the office help but it surprised both Ash and Scout. Ash recalled Scout and put her in down stay on an elevated surface. Scout did great on the initial threat reaction but had trouble turning off the switch. She remained on high alert even though clearly there was no threat.

The point of this story is many so called protection dogs have no problem turning on the switch to go into 100 percent aggression mode. But the real test for both the dog and the training is how well they turn off the switch. This is where stability exercises come in.

You want your dog under your command at all times, even when you are both confronted with a high stress situation (in this case an unknown person opening a door). The foundation for stability is placing your dog and yourself in artificial stressful situations, starting small and working your way up. This can be simply placing your dog on elevated surfaces and putting them into obedience. And as complex as the crazy exercises we conducted at Baden K9 in Ontario with blindfolds, one hand immobile, and lowering 80 lbs German Shepherds, 8 week old Belgian Malinois, and full grown Dutch Shepherds into dark tubes in teams. The more you place yourself and your dog in stressful situations the better bond you will have and thus you will have more command of your dog.

Remember, don’t ask something of your dog you aren’t willing to do. Dyas K9 says the best way to build a bond with your dog is to do stuff that you find stressful. He said to run with your dog if you don’t like running, climb with your dog if you are afraid of heights, swim with your dog if you don’t like swimming.

Today’s reflections and insights on dog training

This post isn’t like the ones you normally see on Today’s post is a collection of thoughts about dog training and a situation involving one of our dogs at Home Depot. So lets dive in.

Joel Ryals and Dunetos K9

I started following Joel Ryals of Dunetos K9 on Facebook and have seen a lot of his blog articles pop up on my feed. I have to say I have very much enjoyed reading his content. I believe he did some training and with Baden K9 which is fantastic in my book. I very much agree with their training philosophy. If I get the opportunity, I look forward to conducting some training with him. His kids are doing a writing project and post on his blog as well. It was extremely entertaining getting to see the world through Oreo’s eyes, the Combat Cookie. Definitely check it out.

One of his recent blog posts about building vocabulary or negative vocabulary as he calls it made me take a look at myself and realize I get lax with Scout when I know I shouldn’t. Lol I even have a blog post about how to give your dog commands and one also about consistency. Its important to look at yourself and learn where you need to improve. So I need to be firm and consistent with my commands. I need to give Scout the command once, if she doesn’t obey, she needs a verbal and also a physical correction. Otherwise I am building a vocabulary and letting her choose which issuance of the command she gets to obey. Just imagine the mom threatening different punishments with her young child instead of  following through with the specified consequence for disobeying.

Scout and Home Depot

Once again we made a run to Home Depot. Pretty sure most of the people that work there recognize us by now. Every time Scout goes she gets more social interaction and confidence in a different environment. We added the stress of a cart on this excursion. Wifey was having a little bit too much fun with the cart and sort of lost control and ran into the end of an aisle, knocking over some stuff. Lol it was hilarious. For your viewing pleasure, I have included it below. Besides the hilarity of the crash, notice Scout. Although she was supposed to stay in a down stay, I was very proud of her for staying on the cart. Most dogs would have vacated it. There’s something about honest communication that can’t be replicated with toys and treats.



How to socialize your dog in public

Ash and Scout checking out at Home Depot during a supply run

Ash and Scout checking out at Home Depot during a supply run

How to socialize your dog in public

My Dutch Shepherd, Scout and I made a quick run to Home Depot this afternoon to grab some more paint for another one of those projects where you think you have enough supplies but then it turns out you don’t. I love taking Scout with me because every time is a new challenge, not only something she has to work on but I do as well. Today it was socializing.

It is always great to get your dog around new people. Socializing your dog is a must and sometimes instead of just training your dog to get used to people, you end up training the people who want to interact with your dog on how to do it. Today was a perfect example of that.

Invariably, when people see a dog out in public they want to pet it. Of course, its always easier to say no than to take the time to answer their questions and keep your dog in obedience while they get their personal space invaded by a complete stranger.

My standard operating procedures or SOPs

Step 1. “May I pet your dog?” “Yes but stop if she stands up. She is in training and we don’t want to reward bad behavior.” Normally at this point people look at you as if you have two heads because of course its ok to have a misbehaving dog (sarcasm)

Step 2. Correct if they step out of obedience. Now its not always easy to correct your dog in front of complete strangers but just remember you are the owner and you are the one that has to take the misbehaving dog home with you. They don’t have to deal with it after this interaction. Place the dog back into obedience and try attempt two. It seems like a lot of people hesitate and keep their hand just out of reach. The hesitation on their part builds suspicion in your dog and normally pulls them out of obedience unless you train them.

Step 3. If the person does hesitate, tell them to go ahead and get in there and normally I reach down and pet Scout to show them its ok. It comes down to confidence. A dog is gifted at reading humans and can sense the hesitation and lack of confidence. It doesn’t know why you are acting hesitant so then they start to wonder if they should be hesitating too.

Step 4. Once they get their pets in, thank them for the training opportunity. Lol they normally look at you funny again when you explain everyday is training.

I didn’t realize it during the moment but reflecting back on the training we did at Baden K9 up in Canada, thats exactly what Mike was instilling in us. Confidence as handlers. Silly me, I thought we were training the dogs but it turns out Mike was training us to be confident with and around unfamiliar dogs and handlers to accomplish the task at hand. Once you take the hesitation out, great things happen and you are able to do wondrous things with your dog. Stuff you don’t see every day.

Scout practicing some agility during a project break

Scout practicing some agility during a project break

why your dog misbehaves sometimes but not all the time

The likely cause your dog misbehaves sometimes but not all the time is you. Give a smart dog an inch and they will take a mile. I have seen it with Scout all the time. The minute you get lazy and don’t correct her when the both of you know she should, she will begin to see what else she can get away with. As Mike McConnery from Baden K9 says all the time, “dogs are creatures of opportunity.” If they see an opportunity, they will take it. Like getting one last bite in on the decoy after they have been called off. Dogs are smart creatures.

Consistency is key

The solution is simple but takes dedication. Be consistent with the behavior you accept from your dog. If your dog is forging ahead too far, (aka Scout) give them a correction. If they do not square up properly when sitting next to you, correct them. Your dog is a reflection of what you accept. If you are lazy, you will have a disobedient dog. Its hard sometimes, especially when you get nice a comfy to start watching a movie and then at that exact moment, your dog decides to misbehave but its at that critical time that you most nip that bad behavior in the bud. Otherwise, its an uphill battle.

Anyone can be a dog owner, it takes more to be a dog handler

There are plenty of dog owners out there that are completely happy with having a disobedient dog that doesn’t listen, jumps all over guests, and is otherwise a pain. But if they were to put in some effort and not accept poor behavior, they could have an even better and more rewarding bond with their furry friend. A dog handler does not accept poor behavior from their dog when it knows better. A dog handler has fair and consistent expectations for their dog and communicates with the dog when those expectations are not met.

Do not be lazy and accept poor behavior from your dog when you both know what is right.


Be consistent in public and at home.

Be consistent in public and at home.


Why you need a protection dog

Well trained protection dogs are a force multiplier and allow you another tool in your pocket in dealing with situations that could turn confrontational. Notice the term well trained in the previous sentence. A dog that is not well trained could actually be a liability in such situations. Their “spun up” behavior as Joshua from Baden K9 would say could in fact escalate an already tense encounter. Barking and growling when it senses the aggression in the air leads both sides to up the ante if you will. On the other hand, one that is calm can actually be an ace up the sleeve because the aggressor won’t pay as much attention to them and will be surprised when you call the dog to action if the need arises.

You can think of protection dogs as adding layers of security.

Scout has Ash's back as she works

Scout acting as a visual deterrent

Protection dogs as a deterrent

The very presence of a dog at your side lessens your appeal as a target by predators. Criminals want a soft target and having a dog at your side, even if it’s a small yapper, makes them think twice before engaging you. Now if you have one that is bigger and has the appearance of possibly being able to stop man, your appeal decreases even further.

The second way a protection dog can act as a deterrent is through a “watch” command in which the dog barks and shows aggression to the would-be assailant. That is enough to make most people back up and leave you alone.

I used Scout as a deterrent coming back from New York at a gas station in South Carolina at 0500 in the morning. I noticed a lady in a tattered and stained white dress going to the different truckers in the parking lot. Ash and I took turns going to the restroom and the lady went up to Ash on her way in. I tried to duck the lady on the way out but she caught me and asked for money. I told her I’m sorry I couldn’t help and made my way to the car. It was Ash’s turn to drive so I settled down in the passenger seat and didn’t think much of the lady. Next thing I know, the lady was standing at the driver’s side window. It surprised me and I couldn’t figure out why she was still accosting us. With Ry and the wifey in the car, I was taking no chances and calmly and quietly gave Scout the “watch” command. Scout reacted the way she should, she focused on the threat and let her know in no uncertain terms she was ready to go should the need arise. The intense barking made the lady back up, just the way it was supposed to. We quickly exited the parking lot and got back on the road. I’m pretty sure nothing would have come of the encounter but you never can be too safe with your loved ones in the car. I wasn’t taking any chances. Scout definitely got some cool points after her display and then stability as I called her off the “watch” command.

Protection dogs as a weapon

As much as we love our Dutch Shepherd Scout as part of the family, should the need arise, it is her job to close with the aggressor to give me and my family time to escape a violent encounter. That is the job and duty of a protection dog. Quick rant about protection dog training philosophies that encourage the “full mouth, bite and hold.” I think it’s completely irresponsible and ridiculous. Those that train that way are training their loyal dog for a suicide mission. It’s too easy for the assailant to bash the dogs head in or shank it while the poor dog is doing what it was trained to do, bite and hold no matter what. I want my dog to having a fighting chance. She should go in, bite, see a threat, disengage as it comes her way, and then reengage, each time causing more damage, rendering the attacker less dangerous every time. I understand that some have dogs purely for sport and that’s great, they are fantastic trainers with very amazing dogs. But don’t confuse a sport dog with a protection dog.

Should the first two deterrents, visual and a warning, not work, the dog should be deployed. As mesmerizing as it is watching the dog work, the dog has his job and yours is to escape the violent encounter. It happens all the time in training where the handler deploys the dog and just stands there watching the dog fight the decoy instead of looking for an avenue of escape. Train like you fight and fight like you train. Quick aside about training for the real world. Josh from Baden K9 was down from Canada cohosting some training with Rich Graham in Orlando that Ash, Ry, and I got to attend. One drill was conducted with both Ash and me, with Ry in a stroller. My job was to keep Scout between us and the attacker as Ash pushed Ry in the stroller and found us an escape route through a dead bolted door. Talk about a Charlie Foxtrot. It was fantastic real world practice though.

The dogs I’ve seen love working the decoy and getting a clean “out” shows fantastic cooperation between handler and canine. A well trained protection dog should “out” on command and rejoin you and your loved ones once you get to a safe location.

The security layers added by a well trained protection dog can not be overstated. Besides the benefit of a visual deterrent, having an extra tool to help you in a situation  increases your chances of survival.

how to teach your dog the place command

Scout, Ry, and I took Ash’s pretty red bike on a ride to City Center in Port Orange the other day for two reasons:

  1. to further stabilize Scout around bicycles
  2. to work on her place commandScout and Ry bond while taking a break from training

The place command that Scout and I are working on isn’t the generic go have your dog to lay in a certain designated spot while you enjoy a peaceful dinner place command. Scout was a quick study on that one and can actually go to one of two places on command, either on top of her crate, or on her dog bed next to the island. It is always entertaining to change it up on her and watch her think about which one you commanded.

So the place command I want to teach is more like a Redo command if you will. I want to be able to call her from a down stay, get her into position then tell her “place” and have her go back to the spot she originally came from. Crazy cool right? Baden K9 is the one that introduced me to this command. We were doing a crazy drill involving coffee cans and you weren’t allowed to call your dog to you unless you could command them to return to their original place.

Day 1 of the Place Command

Once we got to the City Center Park, I took Ry out of the Tula and let her play around in the grass while Scout and I worked. It was a little bit more challenging because Scout was slightly fatigued from the slow bike ride in the bright Florida sunshine and summer heat but we did as much as we could. Just as exertion makes it harder for us to think and process, so to does exertion affect dogs.

  1. I put Scout in a down stay in a place I could easily recognize so I could bring her back to the same exact spot
  2. I walked 10 feet away and called her to me. I then praised her for a good “come”
  3. Now it was time to give the place command, “Scout place” and I walked her immediately to the same spot she started at.
  4. As soon as we got there, I gave her a “Good Place”
  5. I put her back in a down stay in the exact same spot
  6. Then I repeated this drill from different distances from the original spot. Every time leading her back with the lead. Its important not to set her up for failure by taking her off lead prematurely

Now of course I didn’t want her just to associate “Place” with that one specific spot of grass so then I moved her to another starting spot and repeated the above steps with the new location. By this time I could tell I needed to finish up the drill because as we discussed in yesterdays post about overheating, Scout was starting to get hot. After a nice break of laying in the grass and letting Ry crawl over her while she drank some cool water out of a Nalgene, it was time to head back.

I would say day one was a success. I am looking forward to further developing the place command.

Scout and Ry bond while taking a break from training


Scout, Ry, and I taking a break from training at the park


Learn to recognize the signs your dog is overheating

On the way back down the Mt. Tallac Trail in Tahoe

On the way back down the Mt. Tallac Trail in Tahoe

I had the most amazing opportunity to do some hiking in the South Lake Tahoe area the other week and hit up the Mt. Tallac Trail. It was a gorgeous hike and I highly recommend it. Besides the gorgeous views of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding fauna, this hike is also worthwhile in that you can enjoy the 10 mile hike with your dog. Unfortunately, I was not able to enjoy it with Ash or our fur creatures, Copper and Scout. There were a lot of other dogs out on the trail however. Some looked like they were having a blast and others weren’t looking so good. And seeing those poor pups struggling out on the trail is the inspiration for this post.

As a dog owner, it is your responsibility to look after the welfare of your canine companion and to accomplish that task, you need to learn to read your dog. When it comes to dogs overheating or being exhausted there are some clear warning signs to look at for. Before we get to that, lets talk about how dogs cool themselves. Dogs exchange body heat by panting. They do not have sweat glands all over their body as humans do. A second way dogs cool themselves is by dilating their blood vessels in their ears and face, allowing the blood to flow closer to the surface, thereby cooling it.

Signs your dog is getting too hot

  • heavy panting
  • stumbling
  • confusion
  • looking for shade

and if you have a habit checking their gums, they say they turn bright red if they are getting too hot

Ways to cool down your dog

Since you are now able to recognize the signs that your dog is getting too hot, lets talk about how to cool them off.

  1. stop the activity
  2. get them into shade
  3. if you have access to it, get them into some cool water
  4. otherwise, wet towels work
  5. while he is cooling with the above methods, give hime cool water to drink

Its important to remember not to use cold water while cooling your dog because cooling your overheating dog too fast can cause his blood vessels to constrict, making it even harder for him to regulate his temperature.


Although dogs are pretty hardy creatures, you do not want to mess around with heat exhaustion because it can quickly spiral out of control and cause death. Go out and enjoy life’s adventures with man’s best friend but don’t forget to watch out for them too.

Scout enjoying some Florida sunshine

Scout enjoying some Florida sunshine




The dreaded prong collar and why I use it on my dogs

A quick aside, I started writing this post a few days ago on my way to South Lake Tahoe and since then, I have seen a couple posts from people I follow on Instagram and Facebook talking about prong collars. Interesting how thats such a popular topic all the sudden. Lol they attracted some hate for sure. A lot of people claiming animal abuse. William Koehler in his book, explains that true animal abuse is having a dog you can’t control and consequently having to take it to the animal shelter where it can’t find a home and must be euthanized. He asks if its more humane to train a dog so they don’t have to be put down. I agree.

So below follows my original writing before I saw everyone posting about prong collars.

Continue reading The dreaded prong collar and why I use it on my dogs