Dog training . . . What we taught one dog . . . 

"In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn't merely try to train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming partly a dog." - Edward Hoagland


Dog training is always changing . . . what works with one dog, may not work with another dog because dogs have different personalities. That being said . . . here are some


- One important concept is that "DOGS LIVE IN THE MOMENT!" So train in the moment!!! 

The KEYS to good training are PATIENCE, TIMING AND CONSISTENCY!!!!!

Be patient with your dog . . . be fair with your expectations . . . and be consistent!!! 

As far as TIMING . . . timing is everything . . . if you ask your dog to "sit," they should be praised or rewarded the minute their butt hits the ground! If you wait too long to praise them after they have done their "sit," it causes confusion for the dog. For example, if your dog is already standing again after you have told them to sit, and you treat or praise them, then you have just praised them for standing, not sitting. Your dog can get confused over simple things like this. A dog's donfusion can look like your dog is bull-headed, or stubborn, or that they are difficult to train, but all of this could just be due to a simple timing issue and inconsistant commands. Pay attention to HOW you are training!  It's all in the timing. If your dog isn't doing what you ask, take a look at how you are presenting it to your dog. Maybe the problem is YOU and not the dog!!!

CONSISTENCY is an IMPORTANT part of training! If you are not consistent in the words you use, and how you teach those words to your dog, the dog will end up confused. Again, the dog will seem to be bull-headed, stubborn, or not able to learn, but again it could be as simple as how you are teaching the dog. Ask youself "are you being consistent in using the same word and presenting it to your dog in the same way?" Look at your timing and consistency and adjust to get the best response from your dog.

REWARD for completion of the task (whether it is a treat, praise or a toy reward) at the precise time the dog performs the command! Trainers often talk about HIGH VALUE rewards. High value just means the reward that best stimulates your dog. That could be your dog's favorite food treats, it could be a ball, if your dog loves to chase a ball, or it could be a tug toy if your dog likes to tug. You decide which is the reward your dog will do just about anything to get!! If you use food, use food that is not dry and crunchy as it takes too long for the dog to eat. Use softer treats, and preferably something they will go crazy over the minute you take it our of your pocket. Things like boiled chicken or hot dogs, are a good option. Cheese is good but too much can cause stomach irritation. And there are many commercial products available in stores.

If your dog has a strong ball drive or toy drive, you can reward your dog with a toss of the ball, or a tug on its favorite toy.

Typically it is believed that if a dog repeats the action three times, it is learned. Some dogs it may take a little longer, so be patient, and enjoy the training!!


*****WORDS OF ADVICE (where patience pays off)*******- I see people "asking" their dog to "sit," or "down," or "stay," and becoming frustrated when the dog does not comply. They keep saying "sit, sit, sit," as if the dog couldn't hear. (They can hear!!! So no need to repeat unless you want your command to be "sit, sit, sit!") Some dog owners inadvertantly give their dogs the option to do it or not do it, and then scream when they don't do it. Remain CALM! Dogs usually react negatively to an excited, angry or screaming tone of voice! Be firm and fair in what you expect your dog to do. They know it; we just need to be more CALM and confident that they know it. When we are calm and consistant, our dogs learn faster!

Sometimes during training, if the dog does not do as asked, it is best to walk away for a moment, and then try again. Most of the time this works. But if the dog continues to not perform, it may be time to quit training for the day. Try to end training on a positive note, doing a task like "sit," "down," or another command, if that is something your dog performs with no issues at all. Most dogs love to do things, but they also get tired too! So sometimes its best to take a break from training, and try again later!


**AND IF YOU DECIDE TO WORK WITH AN EXPERIENCED DOG TRAINER. . . find a good trainer - We found that not every dog trainer is a good one, and sometimes you have to be very discerning when it comes to finding the best instructor for you and your dog. For those with Belgian Shepherds, that would be a trainer EXPERIENCED with your breed!!! Don't settle for a pet dog trainer that doesn't understand Belgian Shepherds!!!

Here are our tips for finding a good trainer! (Results are key! Find a trainer you like, and one who can train YOU to train your dog!)

- Attend classes to see how a trainer teachs, and pay attention to how they interact with dogs and students. This is very important! If you don't like what you see, your dog probably won't like it either. I once worked with a trainer that was ok with dogs, and even horrible with people. (This is a definite red flag for a bad trainer!!!) A good trainer will have good people skills to help the handler better understand the intricate details of working with their dog. After all, that is why you go to a class, right? To learn how to work with your dog?

- Check for references of the trainer. Get referrals from respected dog people in the community or from your vet.

- Watch out for trainers who use harsh methods or those at the other end who go too far positive with rewards. While positive reinforcement is best in terms of training, beware of those who go overboard with either too many rewards or harsh corrections. This can be dangerous in terms of what your dog remembers and associates with the task it is learning.

Some of our favorite trainers to follow online are Meagan Karnes - "The Collared Scholar."

Leerburg for some things -

Suzanne Clothier  -

Susan Garrett -

Kamal Fernandez -

Ivan Balabanov -




1)TRAINING TAKES PATIENCE AND PERSISTANCE. When your dog or puppy seems to lose interest, maybe take a break and try later. Or try different ways to motivate. Keep training sessions short - 5 to fifteen minutes several times a day work wonders! 

2) FIND WHAT MOTIVATES YOUR DOG FOR TRAINING. While most dogs are treat motivated, some dogs are more play oriented. Our dog was more play oriented and we used a good tug toy when it came to dog training. (Avoid ones with squeakers as they stimulate some dogs too much and can annoy others if you are training in a group class!) Some trainers do not like to use treats because they believe praise is enough, and because you won't always have treats on hand when you need your dog to obey a command, such as "come, sit, wait or off." Eventually you will need to wean your dog off of treats. We found using a toy worked well because playing was a strong reward for our dog. One of my dogs loves the frisbee. I can hold the frisbee and ask for a "sit," or "down," and then throw the frisbee as a reward when the dog does it as asked. Some dogs love balls or other toys. Find what motivates your dog and use it to your advantage!

2) CONSISTENCY is key with training. Try to always train the same way, using the same methods, and follow some of our earliers tips. (DOGS LIVE IN THE MOMENT MAKING TIMING AN IMPORTANT FACTOR) Do not get frustrated, or your dog will get frustrated! Dogs are mirrors of our own behavior.

3) REWARD for the result you want, not the result you don't want. (which is where timing is key) If you wait too long to reward a command, sometimes you miss the mark and reward for another behavior. That is why timing is so important. I often see dogs asking for a sit, and reward the dog as it gets up rather than when it's butt hits the floor because they waited too long to reward. This rewards the standing up INSTEAD of the sit. Can you see how that works? When I am playing "fetch," my dog sometimes brings the toy almost to my feet. Initially I rewarded just bringing it back. But I want it at my feet so I don't have to get up and get it. So I reward with praise when she brings it to me initially, but as we progress, I get really excited when she drops it at my feet. In rewarding the behavior I want, she learns what to do to get the reward.



First and foremost, avoid getting angry or frustrated. Dogs understand our energy probably better than we do, and will react according to the energy we project.

DO NOT repeat commands more than once IF POSSIBLE! DON'T REPEAT "sit, sit, sit!" That only teaches the dog that they need to hear the word multiple times before they respond! Remember you are teaching a new language to a foreign student!!!

If your dog does not do the command as instructed, walk away with the dog or from the dog, and after a few minutes, try again. If your dog refuses to obey, maybe your dog is bored OR tired, and try again later. END THE TRAINING ON A POSITIVE NOTE, BY DOING SOMETHING THE DOG NEVER FAILS AT LIKE A SIMPLE SIT.

Try not to respond to your dog's anxiety or fear with affection (PETTING OR RUBBING)! Affection can be interpreted as a form of reward to a dog, and CAN reinforce negative behaviors. Giving comfort or reassurance when a dog is afraid or acting out, can reinforce in the dog's mind the behavior it is doing at that time. So basically you are telling your dog it is ok to be scared or act out, and each time the situation is repeated, the dog will continue to be afraid. Seek an expert when dealing with fear reactions or fear aggression in dogs!!

"Leash reactivity" often gets started when a dog owner thinks her dog is afraid of another dog because it acts out when it sees another dog. The dog owner comforts or reassures their dog, petting it and telling the dog it is okay when it acts out, THINKING THEY ARE COMFORTING THE DOG! In reality, PETTING IS INTERPRETTED AS A REWARD BY THE DOG,  so the dog owner is only reinforcing the dog's behavior to act out every time it sees another dog.

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DOG SEPARATION ANXIETY AND LEAVING YOUR DOG - Everyone has to leave their dog at home at some point. We crate train our dogs, so leaving them is not an issue. They are so accustomed to being in the crate, they settle down within minutes and await my return. But here are a few tips for leaving your dog at home, especially if your dog does not like being left behind.

- Use a kong, or another toy you can stuff with treats when you leave, to give the dog something to do. I use a plastic hollow bone like toy made by Kong. I stuff it full of treats, and my dog is usually so busy trying to get the treats out, he doesn't know I'm gone. Puzzle toys are good or any other treat dispensing toy.  

- Dogs typically do not have any concept of time. They cannot read a clock. So for this reason they really do not know how long you are gone, but start small by leaving for short periods of time. I start by going outside, out of sight for 15 minutes, and then return. I do not make a big deal about returning and even ignore my dog for the first few seconds upon returing. Then I praise but don't try to go overboard and create excitement, because otherwise the dog will associate this excitement with you leaving, and it will cause stress.

- For hyper dogs or dogs with anxiety issues already, try to keep it low key. Excitement feeds a hyper dog's anxiety! If you get excited so will they!! Even ignore them for a few minutes upon returning, and greet them in a very low key way, but DO remember to take them outside immediately to potty. Most dogs need to potty immediately after you return home, and sometimes anxious dogs often will have accidents upon your return, or if they hear you in the house without any contact,  will potty in the house because they are excited. For hyper dogs, try to keep it low key! 


"Dogs have four instinctive responses to stimuli in the environment: fight, flight, avoidance, and surrender. A fearful dog exhibits either avoidance or flight: they try to either actively ignore or run away from the stimulus completely. Now we don’t want fight, which can sometimes be an extreme fear reaction — this is the classic “cornered animal” attacking viciously even though it’s scared to death. We want surrender, which is the dog simply accepting the stimulus without having a strong reaction to it."

- Cesar Milan, dog behaviorist 


If you have a question about training or behavior, please email us at

We will try to find an answer for you!

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Potty training the puppy using a crate 

We use a crate, and various baby gates when potty training our puppies. It makes it easier to control the puppy and keeps the puppy in a confined area, therefore reducing accidents.

The idea behind the crate is simple. A puppy usually will not potty in its den or crate. So this makes it easier for the puppy to control its potty urges until you take it out. But remember, puppies usually do need many potty breaks within the day and night until they are old enough to control their bladder!

Secondly, make sure when potty training a young puppy, that you take it outside to potty for these important times - when it first leaves the crate, when it first wakes up, after it gets done playing, within five minutes after it eats, and any other time the puppy seems fidgety or starts seeking a corner or distant part of the room. Praise during the pottying, but not too enthusiastically that it stops the puppy from its business! After a few weeks, you should see progress!

SOCIALIZATION - Socialization does not mean greeting every person and dog you meet. It does mean exposing your puppy to new things, sights, sounds, surfaces, and including people and other dogs. From 8 weeks to about 12 weeks is the prime time to socialize. The point is trying to get the puppy accustomed to noises, surfaces, strange things, and people and other dogs to help it become a well-rounded dog. Many experts believe the new puppy at 8weeks old should greet at least 50 people and dogs during the first few weeks. (we stay away from dog parks. It is a better idea to have a puppy party, and invite dogs you already know, or attend puppy specific classes!) Along with meeting new people and dogs, your puppy should experience grass, concrete, wooded walkways, gravel, water, loud noises such as a vacuum cleaner, busy stores or farmer markets, people in wheelchairs, people with hats, people in uniform, etc., as all of these things could bring a fear reponse at a later age if not exposed early. Also as a part of socialization, doing these things desensitizes the puppy to sounds, noises, smells and places, by making sure to take your puppy to a variety of places and encounter different situations with different noises. But I caution not to force a puppy to meet other dogs or people if it seems extremely scared. Here is an article regarding a point of view about meeting people and other dogs-


Here is what the ASPCA says about socializing your puppy-

 And here is a Puppy Socialization Checklist




ADOLESCENT DOG TRAINING TIPS - (basically from 6 months to around 18 months, although I have to say my Terv probably was experiencing this until he was at least two!) This is the time when most new dog owners surrender it to the shelter. (your dog can be a brat during this time!) Adolescent puppies can be airheads. This phase of their life needs special attention AND PATIENCE. IT DOES PASS, (when it does depends on the breed) and with continued obedience training during this stage, dog owners can often enjoy the results of their training and hard work as their puppies mature!Seek an experienced trainer for problems exceeding normal obedience.

Here is more on adolescent dogs -


Here are some training tips for first time dog owners: Don't be discouraged. It takes a lot of patience and understanding to raise a good dog. But first and foremost remember, dogs are not people, and have their own language and means of communication.






MORE TRAINING ADVICE - Tervs and Malinois are breeds that have a tendency to try to control everything around them. "Nothing in life is free" is an excellent article and great training advice!! Check it out!

If you have a question about training or behavior, please email us at

We will try to find an answer for you!