Simple Tips for Troubleshooting Three Common Problems

training tips Mar 26, 2024
Mix breed black, tan, and white dog sitting on wooden walkway with yellow collar and leash

Dog training is often thought of a complicated, nuanced skill that requires knowledge of psychology and behavior. While that's true, many common problems experienced by dog owners can be addressed with solutions so simple that they are often overlooked. Read on for simple trips to troubleshoot some of the most common problems clients seek our help in addressing -


Problem 1: Your dog doesn't come when called or likes to play catch-me-if-you-can. 
Solution: Keep a leash on your dog!

Unless your dog is fully e-collar trained, there is no way to hold them accountable without a leash. Assuming your dog has been taught a recall command (and if they haven't been, start there), every time you recall them they have a choice to make - they can either come to you or they can blow you off. The best way to ensure they will stop whatever they are doing or leave whatever they find rewarding to come to you is to have a leash on them BEFORE you recall them.

Inside the house, let your dog drag a leash around. A shorter leash without a handle will ensure the leash doesn't get caught on furniture, but any leash will do. It can be difficult to find leashes without handles, so we recommend buying an inexpensive nylon leash and cutting off the handle if you want to go that route. If you're having trouble with your dog recalling from the yard, try using a longline. They come in various lengths, but 15-20ft is a safe bet for most uses. 


Problem 2: Your dog destroys toys or household objects.
Solution: Use a crate or playpen to control their environment!

If your puppy loves to chew on shoes and you leave them unsupervised in a room full of shoes, they can't be blamed for chewing on those shoes. They shouldn't have been put in that situation to start with! The best way to address undesirable behavior is to prevent it from occurring.

If your dog can't be trusted to leave household objects alone then they should be crated or kept in a playpen when you can't give them your full attention. If they destroy toys to the point that they may cause a bowel obstruction then they shouldn't have free access to them. Instead, give them indestructible toys like Benebones when you can't supervise them and save other toys like balls, tugs, and frisbees for interactive play with you or another family member.


Problem 3: Your dog pulls on walks.
Solution: Change up your tools and teach your dog to come into pressure instead of pulling away.

If your dog pulls on walks, generally two things are true - 1) The tools being used for the walk are comfortable to pull against (like a harness or wide flat collar) and/or 2) They haven't been taught that they should come towards you to turn off pressure when they feel it instead of continuing to pull away.

The tools we use to walk dogs vary based on individual needs and temperaments, but we prefer collars that apply pressure uniformly around the next such as slip collars and prong collars. When properly conditioned, these tools allow us to use the minimal amount of pressure needed to communicate with dogs and therefore prevent damage to the trachea since there there is no prolonged pressure applied to the front of the neck. The goal is for the dog to feel pressure ONLY when pulling and for that pressure to be JUST uncomfortable enough that the dog does not want to continue pulling.

When using tools like this, its critical that the dog understands HOW to turn off pressure. We teach this by applying light pressure and then rewarding the dog when they yield and come towards us. They learn that the pressure turns off when they move closer to us and they are also rewarded (with whatever they find most valuable) for doing so.

In order to apply this concept to real world walking, your dog has to be at least somewhat engaged with you. They have to maintain an awareness of where you are in space relative to them. A good way to increase this engagement and awareness is to add more variability to the walk. If you always walk in the same direction at the same pace then they don't have to pay attention. Try adding frequent changes of direction and changes of pace to help them pay more attention.


Simple solutions are often the best solutions and that's no different in the world of dog training! We hope these tips for troubleshooting common problems will help set you on the right course with your dog. If you're looking for more hands-on help, click here to learn more about our in-home lessons, immersive board-and-trains, group classes, and online course for dogs of all breeds, ages, and temperaments! 



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