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It’s always good to remember what your dog actually can do!

Just recently l got a call from a client who was complaining that he could not tie his shoes in peace because his puppy  wanted to play with the laces.

Well, we all know that puppies are fascinated by moving, dangling things and one cannot really blame a puppy for finding shoe laces interesting. In fact I would worry about a puppy who would not be interested.

But to the behavior point: when the puppy played with those laces the client experienced a state of helplessness.  In the moment he could only think of getting annoyed at the puppy and yell “no” “stop it” or similar things. From the teaching and learning point of view: the puppy got attention/ reinforcement for a behavior that was considered an annoyance,  but the puppy did not get directed what to actually DO…for example : ” sit “.. and watch me tie my shoe laces.

I think one of my goals is  to teach my clients and people in general that these “basic obedience “ skills are not simply clinical, isolated exercises. In fact they are very handy and can be used in an interactive way throughout the day.

Once your dog knows cues  like sit/stay or down and come,  there are so many ways you can integrate them into fun challenges for your dog and at the same time make life much easier for yourself.

How easy for the dog to earn so much more positive attention!

Since the key is to teach your puppy  to perform basic skills under more distracting and challenging circumstances, use the distractions you naturally create in your daily comings and goings….like asking for a “sit” while you get dressed.

It takes only a little more effort.  A tiny bit of thinking ahead for your puppy. But: You will encourage your dog to expect direction from you.  A dog who is intellectually engaged is truly participating in your life all the time.

To me this is what shapes a dog into a true companion.


  1. How adorable! Such manners for Nono and Sia. Very creative on the adults end.

    Comment by karen on June 10, 2011 at 10:42 pm
  2. That is totally hilarious! Great job and really fun to watch!

    Comment by Fran on June 10, 2011 at 10:59 pm
  3. Actually my friend and website designer Kendra Dixson was the person who sent me the video. So 99% of the credit goes to her!

    Comment by Elisabeth on June 11, 2011 at 7:55 am
  4. Hee hee, well a good friend of mine forwarded it to me so the list goes on. I think it is so cute and I’m amazed at how well the dogs are behaved, although you do see a little help from the human hands so they don’t dive their noses into their dish. lol

    Comment by Kendra Dixson on June 11, 2011 at 2:56 pm
  5. yes the dogs are great! I also liked HOW they helped the dogs by pretending it was a human “putting your chin in your hands” gesture. It is most entertaining.

    Comment by Elisabeth Weiss on June 11, 2011 at 3:24 pm