CATCH Canine Trainers Academy Blog

Congratulations to Our Students & Mentors

Earning Certifications, Getting Hired, There’s A Lot to Be Excited About!

We want to send out a big congratulations and a Thank You to so many of the students and mentors who have shared great stories with us so far this year. We are thrilled for your success!

In celebration of another great year, we put together a collection of photos and quotes from you, our community of students and mentor trainers. Cheers, it’s your passion and success that drives us every day…

“I passed my CPDT-KA exam!!! I owe it all to CATCH. Please tell the team I said thanks so much for all the awesome mentorship and coursework. It’s been an amazing journey.” -Tim A., Master Class Student

“Greatness will come to canine rescue and training from Sarah. I feel fortunate she came to Hudson Barks.” -Jennifer H., CATCH Mentor Trainer

“Victoria is very detail-oriented and her confidence grows every day. She started teaching classes for Dog Life Hoboken and now has private clients of her own. She can easily explain to her clients how dogs learn and teach them how to train their pups. She explains the real life applications of all the commands and makes training fun.” -Vera M., CATCH Mentor Trainer

“FYI today I earned my CPDT-KA. My first text was to my CATCH Master Class mentor Sue Grey, and I wanted to let you all know too. It has been a long road and now I start on a longer journey.”
– Christopher R., CCDT, Master Class Graduate

“My name is Ariel Ebaugh (Arie for short) and I graduated from CATCH Academy in August 2020. I wanted to share some exciting news about my life this past year since finishing my program. After graduating, I opened my private, in-home dog training business (Pups Unleashed, LLC) and haven’t looked back! I have absolutely loved working with clients using only rewarding, force-free methods supported by science. I also have spent hundreds of hours this past year training with at-risk dogs at a local animal shelter.
This past summer, I took the exam for the CPDT-KA certification. I was notified yesterday that I passed the exam! I am thrilled with this accomplishment and couldn’t have done it without all the knowledge and experience that I gained through my program with CATCH. I want to say thank you again to all the wonderful staff and mentors at CATCH for helping me pave my own way in this industry and help so many dogs in need.
Thank you again!”
– Arie Ebaugh, CCDT, Master Class Graduate

“I gave him his first client and he nailed it! Ben is going to be a real asset to the R+ community.” – Paula S., CATCH Mentor Trainer

“Hello from a 2020 CATCH Master Class graduate who also earned her CPDT-KA creds this Spring, thanks to your comprehensive program! I really enjoyed it!” -Maria S., CCDT, Master Class Graduate

“Heidi was exceptional. I never would have thought she had any less than 10 years of experience as a dog trainer. I believe as an industry we should be highly educated, skilled, science-based professionals rather than what exists typically. I am pleased that CATCH is part of raising the expectations for our profession. I am looking forward to her starting coaching a few class for me in a few weeks. Heidi is a soon-to-be graduate that CATCH will be proud to have.” – Jennifer P., CATCH Mentor Trainer

“What I appreciate about Megan is her comfort and command of the subject matter. That gives her the ability to offer insights, tips and tricks that a less knowledgeable trainer would not be able to provide.” – Carol P., CATCH Mentor Trainer

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Learn everything you’ve ever wanted to know about dog training and behavior in one of our renowned CATCH courses. You can study from your town, on your time, with a professional trainer as your guide. Get in touch with our friendly Student Support team anytime to tell us about your goals and become a dog trainer!

Bringing Positive Training to the K9 Unit

Meet Featured Student Chris Weber and Murphy the Belgian Malinois

Chris started out as a Sherriff and wanted to advance his knowledge of training and behavior, so he began studying with CATCH. He was a hobby trainer previously and does some fun Schutzhund training with his dogs. After deepening his knowledge of training and behavior, the sheriff’s department promoted him to K9 unit.

Fantastic work, Chris!

“My learning experiences have impacted how I look at dogs each day in a number of ways. One example would be how I see dogs in public. I tend to watch the dogs’ body language more now to see if they are calm, stressed, or showing signs of fear or aggression. Having the experience of CATCH has made me want to help people develop better relationships with their dogs especially when they are struggling with things such as basic obedience.”

“I would like to note that this was a very well structured program. I work full time, have a family, and train in my spare time. There was no way I would have been able to attend an in-classroom school so CATCH was the perfect option for me. I would like to thank the staff that was involved for all the support!”

Click here to read more about Chris and his experience with CATCH.

Seven Separation Anxiety Myths

Seven Separation Anxiety Myths

by Nicole Wilde

Nicole and Sierra – no separation in this moment = a relaxed Sierra!

As a canine behavior specialist, I’ve seen my share of dogs over the years who suffered from separation anxiety. The vast majority of my clients have been able to modify their dog’s distress when left alone, and I felt confident in my knowledge of the issue. Then my husband and I adopted a two-year-old husky mix from our local shelter, and everything changed.

Sierra didn’t exhibit the classic signs of separation anxiety, namely, destruction, urination and/or defecation, and vocalization. We’d leave her loose in the house alone and return to find everything intact, no mess, and no complaints from the neighbors about noise. I never would have suspected there was a problem except that when I was gone, even for short periods, I’d find her panting heavily. It wasn’t due to hot weather—we adopted her in late December—so I set up a video camera to monitor her activity.

Here’s what I discovered: Immediately after my departure, Sierra began pacing between the window where she could see my car pull out, and the French doors, where she could view it disappearing down the hill to the main road. The vocalizing that accompanied the pacing went from soft whimpering to a pronounced series of whines, and soon turned into barking. The barks became more urgent. Finally, she melted into a series of pitiful howls. Reviewing the footage tore at my heart. My girl was clearly suffering. Donning my red cape, I instantly morphed from Dog Mom into Behavior Woman, able to solve tall canine conundrums in a single leap of logic. I used the same types of solutions that had worked for many of my clients, while simultaneously ensuring that Sierra was never left alone unless we were practicing our protocols. But it soon became obvious that Sierra just hadn’t read the right books; she not only didn’t show typical symptoms, but she also didn’t respond to many of the things that normally worked. My red cape obviously needed some sprucing up.

Living with a dog who has separation issues is a whole different animal than giving someone else advice, and I soon developed a whole new empathy for owners. I also became a one-woman research and development team. I scoured the latest studies, read and re-read all the available literature, and tried out a variety of tools and techniques. I eventually redesigned parts of my protocols, created outside-the-box tactics and, eventually, wrote a book about separation anxiety called Don’t Leave Me! Step by Step Help for Your Dog’s Separation Anxiety  Along the way, I discovered that some of the long-held, traditionally accepted truths about separation issues just aren’t valid, at least for some dogs.

Here are seven common myths, and why you shouldn’t take them at face value:

1. Dogs who have separation anxiety are always “Velcro” dogs. This is a term commonly used for dogs who stick close by your side, not wanting to be away from you even for a moment. It’s true that many dogs with separation issues follow their owners around the house. Some owners can’t shower in peace, while others can’t even use the bathroom without taking their dogs in with them. And a 2001 study1 by Gerard Flannigan and Nicholas Dodman did find that hyperattachment to the owner was significantly associated with separation anxiety. With all of that, it makes sense to believe that all dogs with separation issues must be Velcro dogs. Sierra shattered that particular myth for me. A true predator at heart, she enjoys nothing better than lying on the ramp outside the back door and surveying her domain. The hills that surround our house are plentiful with lizards, mice, bunnies, and other assorted critters. Sierra is very patient and lightning fast, and more than once I’ve found her with a hapless lizard hanging out of her mouth. (I keep threatening to sign her up for Predators Anonymous, but so far my warnings haven’t been heeded.) Suffice it to say that following me around the house is pretty boring compared to watching over her Wild Kingdom, and she’d prefer to be outside; that is, as long as she knows I’m in the house. Once she hears the car pull away it’s game over, and the stress of separation kicks in. Sierra’s not the only one. There are plenty of other dogs who, while they might not be strongly predatory, are just fine in or outside the house a long as they know someone is at home. So don’t jump to conclusions. If your dog follows you around like drama follows Lindsay Lohan, it could be separation anxiety, but it’s not necessarily the case. And if your dog doesn’t shadow your every move, that doesn’t mean separation issues can be ruled out, either.

2. Letting your dog sleep in your bed will cause separation anxiety. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard trainers advise owners not to allow their dogs to sleep with them, for fear the dog would become so bonded that being left alone would become unbearable. Nothing could be further from the truth. The above-referenced study also concluded that “Spoiling activities such as allowing the dog on the owner’s bed…were not associated with separation anxiety.”2

While it’s true that sleeping in the owner’s bed won’t cause separation anxiety, if your dog already suffers from the issue, all of that nighttime closeness won’t help. After all, the goal is for your dog to learn to feel relaxed when alone, and if he can’t even be physically separated from you overnight, how can he remain calm by himself during the day when you’re gone? Start by giving your dog an alternate sleeping space. Don’t worry; it can be right by your bed at first. Place a dog bed next to yours and gently coax your dog back into his own bed each time he tries to climb up into yours; or, if necessary, use a short leash to tether him in place nearby. You might eventually choose to have him sleep further away or outside the room altogether, but getting him out of your bed is a good start.

Sierra with a stuffed Kong.

3. If your dog has separation anxiety, he won’t eat while you’re gone. Think back to a situation where you were extremely worried or afraid. Chances are, a tasty pizza wasn’t the first thing on your mind. For many stressed out dogs, the same mechanism is at work. But chewing provides stress relief for dogs, and in all but severe cases, despite their stress, many dogs will excavate stuffed Kongs, gnaw on chew bones, or work at food-dispensing toys. If you stuff a Kong or other food dispenser for your dog, place the item within easy reach and lay out a short trail of super yummy treats leading to it. This trail o’ treats is more likely to entice your dog to begin chewing than leaving the Kong lying there by itself.

Some dogs are too wound up to stay in one place to chew. For those dogs, a food dispenser that can be batted around, such as the Molecuball or Kong Wobbler, is a better choice. These products allow the dog to expend that anxious energy in a more active way, and by providing that focus, may even prevent destruction.

4. If your dog destroys things while you’re away, he must have separation anxiety. I once had an owner tell me that his dog was suffering from separation anxiety. When I asked how he knew, he said he’d discussed it with his veterinarian, who had put the dog on medication. I asked how the problem had been diagnosed. What were the symptoms? The dog, he informed me, had chewed a shoe while he was gone. I waited. And? Well…that was it. The dog had destroyed a shoe. The man had heard that dogs with separation anxiety chew things, had put two and two together, and had, with the veterinarian’s assistance, come to this conclusion. While it’s true that destructiveness is the number one symptom of separation anxiety, many dogs are destructive for other reasons, including boredom, under-stimulation, or not being completely trained.

In cases of true separation anxiety, destruction is often focused on the owner’s belongings, since the scent is comforting to the dog, or around doors and windows where the owner has left or can be seen leaving. Destruction of other items is possible, of course, but again, destructiveness in and of itself is not necessarily a sign of a separation issue. As with other clues, it must be factored in to the total case history.

5. Getting another dog will solve the problem. Oh, that this one were always true! Whether getting a second dog will alleviate the anxiety of the first depends largely on whether the original dog’s distress stems from being separated from a particular person (what we typically think of as separation anxiety), or from simply not wanting to be left alone, which is more accurately called isolation distress. In the case of the latter, any warm body will do. That’s good news, as the problem might be solved by the presence of a different person, another dog, or, in some cases, even a cat. So for a dog with isolation distress, getting another dog certainly could help; but there is always the chance that it won’t; and, in the worst case scenario, you could end up with two dogs with separation issues! Unless you were planning to add another dog to the family anyway, it’s better to do a bit of experimenting first. Consider fostering a dog for a rescue organization. That way, you’ll find out whether your dog is more relaxed with a buddy while you’re gone. And, who knows, you might even decide to adopt the dog permanently.

6. A dog with separation anxiety should never be left in a crate when alone. This one’s another partial myth. There are dogs who, if left crated, will frantically try to escape, and may injure themselves in the process. Others will chew themselves to the point of self-mutilation. Clearly, for those dogs, crating is not a good option. But for a dog who is comfortable in her crate, who sleeps in it at night and doesn’t mind being contained there for brief periods during the day, the crate might just be a saving grace. Many dogs will settle down more quickly when crated, particularly if the crate lends a feeling of being safely enclosed. For that reason among others, I prefer the plastic snap-together type crates to the wire ones.

7. If your dog has separation anxiety, it’s best to ignore him while you’re at home. This one was probably an extrapolation of the traditional advice to ignore your dog for ten minutes before leaving the house, and for ten minutes after returning. The logic goes that the less difference in emotional peaks and valleys between when you’re at home and when you’re gone, the easier it will for the dog. But I didn’t get a dog to ignore him, and I bet you didn’t either. Besides, imagine that your significant other suddenly began to ignore you. Wouldn’t you wonder what you’d done wrong? Would you not become anxious and stressed even if you weren’t to begin with? Dogs are masters of observation and believe me, if you suddenly start to ignore your dog, chances are you’ll cause more anxiety, not less. It is true that you shouldn’t make a huge fuss over your comings and goings, but keeping things on an even keel emotionally is the key.

If your dog has separation anxiety, keep these myths in mind. While some might hold true, others just might not. Closely observing your dog’s behavior and evaluating it on an individual basis will allow your treatment plan to be that much more successful.

(1) & (2)   Flannigan G. and Dodman N.: Risk factors and behaviors associated with separation anxiety in dogs, JAVMA 219: 4, Aug. 2001

Nicole Wilde’s writing has been part of the CATCH curriculum for many years and is loved by our students. Nicole is an internationally recognized, award-winning author and lecturer, as well as a professional canine behavior specialist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA). Check out Nicole’s website to discover her books and more articles like this.

CATCH at the APDT Conference this Year

In-Home Rivalries Between Dogs are Common

How to Train Beloved Pets to Live Together Peacefully

CATCH School Director, David Muriello, CPDT-KA, SDC, will be presenting at the Association of Professional Dog Trainers Conference this October. One of the talks he’ll be leading is called Making Multi-Dog Magic – Instead of Canine Conflict. This is about a common situation that dog owners (and their trainers) face:
Bringing a new dog into a home with one or more dogs can easily create high stress and bloody battles over resources. Trainers need to understand the many factors we can control that will lead to harmony between the dogs. In this presentation, David will share the story of how he integrated a new dog into his family where 10-year-old dog, Hazel (who doesn’t always like other dogs) had been solo in the home for 9 years. We will discuss the approach to creating a positive relationship between the dogs and review fascinating videos of their interactions and David’s training processes.

CATCH students, graduates, and mentor trainers get many benefits and one of them is 15% off of the APDT conference registration fee. If you are a member of our community, get in touch for the discount code!

A Big Miss on Every Puppy Socialization Checklist

You could socialize your pup to everything under the sun and still miss out – if you skip the dark.

Don’t Be in the Dark On This

There is nothing like the pure joy of knowing you are going to bring a new puppy into your life. And then there are the technical details.

Ever the eager trainer, I printed out puppy socialization checklists from three different leading organizations. I consolidated them all into one list to make sure I was covering everything possible. Within a couple of days of working with my 8-week old pup, I realized there was a critical element missing from all the lists!

At night.

In the dark.

You could add these phrases to many items on the checklist – and you better. Here are just a few examples that show the difference.

  • My pup was okay seeing deer come tramping out of the woods and into our yard throughout the day. But he became very alert and concerned when he heard the sound of deer rustling in the woods in the dark.
  • He was fine with typical sidewalk stuff like garbage cans and passing cars.  But he was sure worried about passing car headlights intermittently shining on garbage cans in the dark.
  • He wagged with friendly anticipation when seeing strange people walk toward him on the sidewalk during the day.  At night on the same street, he was worried about that big thing moving towards him (just another friendly person in a hooded coat it turns out).

A typical walk down the street is a completely different experience at night.

The list can go on. Nighttime diminishes vision and accentuates other senses. It brings all manner of lights, reflections, flickers and flashes.

Sundown turns the same setting into something different. It’s as simple as that. Nighttime needs to be added to every socialization checklist. Your pup should get an opportunity to have positive experiences with all the same things he sees during the day – at night, too.

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Learn everything you’ve ever wanted to know about dog training and behavior in one of our renowned CATCH courses.  You can study from your town, on your time, with a professional trainer as your guide. Get in touch with our friendly Student Support team anytime to tell us about your goals!

Advanced Behavior So Simple Even a 3-Month Old Can Learn It

Some of the most useful manners can be built from simple training techniques.

In this video, we’ll show you a few snippets of Hazel and Lido displaying self-control and having fun doing it. Hazel is 10 years old and Lido is just 3 months old.  Of course they were trained separately before they were trained together, Lido’s training just got started!

In the first clip, you’ll see that both dogs are very calm and comfortable waiting their turn to get a treat.

The foundation for this was built simply by rewarding any calm behavior of the dog’s choice.  It works like this:  When I have something you want, if you sit or lie down, or even stand – quietly – I’ll give you a reward.  Once that was established, I added duration (I gradually let more time pass before I give the reward).  Then I brought the two dogs together and showed them that a treat for one predicts a treat for the other – as long as you are waiting your turn!

In the second clip, you can see we’ve taken the self-control to another level:  temptations are being placed out in the open.

This was taught by starting with the most basic Leave It exercise from a closed fist, and gradually advancing to a Leave It from the floor.  By this time, both dogs have also learned that “you grab your own treats” when released and don’t get into one another’s space to try and take one another’s food.  This was in part taught in the previous clip when the dogs were waiting their turn. However, this concept is reinforced daily in many ways by showing the dogs that “good things come to those who wait”.

Dogs in my care learn that they can always count on me to be structured, consistent, and fair.  There is no reason for them to get over-aroused, confused, or get into conflict with each other when you take the stress and guessing out of how to get rewards (anything they care about getting).  Attention to handler, watching for cues, and displaying relaxed patience are all things that they’ve learned have great payoffs.  Dogs appreciate this predictability and it shows up in their peaceful behavior.

In the final clip, Lido and I are doing one of my favorite types of exercises. This is a further advancement on Leave It where the reward comes from the environment instead of from me.

At this point we have practiced the Leave It cue enough to where he loves to hear it.  Even if he has found something interesting, he’s learned to trust that I might provide something even more interesting.  Sometimes, I will even give him a reward and then let him have the treat or item that he initially turned away from.  This takes away his fear that responding to me means he is passing up an opportunity to get something good he found.  It shows him that paying attention to me adds more fun because he could get a reward from me and STILL get the interesting thing he found.  (Yes, that means sometimes outdoors I let him carry around a lost glove or a plastic bottle!)

In the setup you’ll see in the video, I don’t give him any reward from my hand at all.  But, note that just after he turns to me in response to the cue, I help to reveal the reward that he smelled inside the crumpled box.  Now we found it together!  So much good comes of this:  Fun, bonding, trust; plus practicing attention, self-control, and even defending against future resource guarding (the pup is learning that it’s fun to have my hands near his resources).

Impressive manners and control?  Yes.  But it comes from simple exercises applied consistently.  Hey, even a 3-month-old can learn this stuff.

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Learn everything you’ve ever wanted to know about dog training and behavior in one of our renowned CATCH courses.  You can study from your town, on your time, with a professional trainer as your guide. Get in touch with our friendly Student Support team anytime to tell us about your goals!

You CAN Get Focused Attention Around Distractions

4 Quick Tips for Connection Outdoors

Check out Lido, the new pup of David, our School Director.  At the age of 3 months, he is already doing great with looking at temptations (like this squirrel) and then looking back at his handler instead of losing focus or chasing.

Advanced Puppy Training

Lido is off to a fabulous start with everything from coming when called to loose leash walking – yes, even in highly distracting environments like NYC’s Central Park (above).  This is all taught with fun relationship-building and rewards.  It’s always best to start with the “blank-slate” of a puppy’s brain, but here are some quick tips if you want to work on focus around distractions with a dog that is not used to doing it yet:

  • Strengthen the Basics:  Make sure you have the basics down indoors first.  For example, attention.  Super enthusiastic head turns from the dog in response to their name are a must. (Use a new nickname if you need a fresh word to rebuild value on a cue for this.)
  • Practice Temptation Work:  Start with basic Leave It exercises and gradually increase their difficulty, then generalize.
  • Train and Use a Release:  Work on duration Sits and/or Downs where you teach the dog a release cue to end that behavior, and once the dog “gets it”, start to use that release cue in lots of different situations as the reward.  For example, release the dog to go outside, or to go sniff the bushes, or to go play with another dog, or to grab a toy you’re holding.  This builds trust and turns the whole world into rewards you can use so that even the outdoors becomes a place worthy of paying attention.
  • Use Treat Placement Wisely:  Don’t always give the reward treat from your hand. Mix it up by sometimes placing a treat on the floor/ground and then walk away to a new area while the dog eats the reward you left behind.  What is the dog likely to do as soon as she finishes eating the treat?  Start looking for you and run over to your new location. When that happens, you can reward the dog again with a treat on the floor/ground.  What an excellent habit to create in the dog!  You’re building a pattern of seeking you out just after being engaged in something else (a distraction).

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If you are fascinated by training, behavior and canine communication – you’ve come to the right place. Our community is “geeking out” on dogs in the best possible way: reward-based training and relationship-building across species.

CATCH courses and workshops go beyond basic obedience to help students work on advanced training concepts and help dogs that have behavioral issues. Many of our students turn their passion for dogs into newfound skills and use them to launch dream careers or fulfill a deep desire for a meaningful way to spend their free time. Get in touch with us to learn more about the ideal studies for you!

The One Thing I Don’t Love About Puppy Push-Ups

Pro Trainer Tip:  Don’t Train a Guessing Dog

“Puppy push-ups” are a popular exercise that started way back in the first positive puppy classes taught by Dr. Ian Dunbar in the 1980’s.  The puppy push-up is a clever and effective sequence of 3 behaviors where the trainer uses a lure-and-reward method to teach pups how to Sit, Lie Down, and then Sit back up again from lying down.*

There is one aspect of this exercise that I teach trainers to beware of – chaining two behaviors together.

When you teach this, you should avoid going from a Sit cue directly to a Down cue.  In other words, you want to avoid asking for Sit, and then following that with asking for Down next. If you do that repeatedly, you will end up training a dog that has a hard time discriminating between the Sit and Down cues. The dog will start to lie down every time you say Sit.

I like my dogs to know the difference between Sit and Down. Take the stress out of guesswork by examining how you train these two behaviors from the start.

Is this a big deal?  Not really.  But it presents an opportunity to be more of a pro trainer and work on clear discrimination (the dog knowing what Sit means, and what Down means – NOT guessing each time they hear the cue).  You will get more accurate responses and it will be less stressful and confusing for the dog, too. That second factor will make your training sessions more effective – stressed/confused dogs don’t learn as fast and aren’t as eager to keep training with you.

There are a few good ways to solve the discrimination issue:

  • Teach Down with the dog starting in a standing position and reward the dog for going directly from standing to Down.  If he sits in between, you ignore that and wait for the Down, then reward.
  • Request Down when the dog is already sitting (without having been cued to Sit) and reward those Downs.
  • If you really want to ask for a Sit followed by a Down, always reward that Sit first, so the dog can more easily see the Sit as its own separate behavior.  But, I avoid asking for Sit right before Down so that the two don’t get chained together.
  • If you have a dog that is already confused between the two (don’t fret – this is very common), work on Sit and Down completely separately never mixing them together in the same session and reward every accurate response.  Then, try a session where you ask for both behaviors in the same session, but not one right after the other.  If you are very clear in your signals and consistent in rewarding the right response every time, your dog will begin to see a clear difference in which cue calls for which behavior.

Have fun helping your dog take the guesswork out of his cue responses.  Discrimination is the mark of a professional team.

*I call sitting up from a down position “Push Up” because calling it Sit is confusing to the dog.  It’s a totally different body movement from Sit. Sit is for the dog to drop his butt from a standing position.  Push Up is to lift your front end up from a lying down position.  Both behaviors end in a sit position, but they’re not the same action for the dog – and the cue should direct an action!

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If you are fascinated by training, behavior and canine communication – you’ve come to the right place. Our community is “geeking out” on dogs in the best possible way: reward-based training and relationship-building across species.

CATCH courses and workshops go beyond basic obedience to help students work on advanced training concepts and help dogs that have behavioral issues. Many of our students turn their passion for dogs into newfound skills and use them to launch dream careers or fulfill a deep desire for a meaningful way to spend their free time. Get in touch with us to learn more about the ideal studies for you!

 

3 of the Simplest, Smartest Puppy Training Tips

Super Valuable Puppy Training

Puppies come at you with a lot to take on!

From the moment you take a puppy home, everything you do is a learning experience that shapes future behavior. Avoid the common mistakes and make a big difference with these tips:

1) Put the pup’s overnight crate RIGHT next to your bed. I literally clear off my nightstand and set it up so that the door of the crate faces my head on the pillow.  We are at eye level with one another. This may sound extreme, but having your pup so close helps form your bond and keeps him from feeling lonely overnight.  Plus you can put your fingers through the crate door without having to get out of bed (to sooth a pup who is inevitably going to start whining about missing his litter mates those first couple of nights).

Keep your pajamas on and be prepared to take the pup out to go potty once or twice during the night.  If you’re lucky they’ll be sleeping through the night within a couple of days, typically a week or two at most.  Then, you put the nighttime crate on the floor and gradually (each day) move it further and further from your bed to wherever you like.

Bonus tip: During the daytime, set up a crate in an area where people are around.  Never isolate a crate in a totally separate quiet room.

Bottom line: A pup that is used to being in a crate near you can easily adapt to separation and learn to be self-assured and restful when you are not together. A pup that is immediately forced to deal with isolation away from you will associate the crate with total separation and fear of being alone. Which leads us to tip #2…

Don’t skimp on the chew options. Those little mouths always need something to work on.

2) Give your pup something to chew on during downtime.  And… All… the… Time.  Want a pup to learn to be calm and quiet in a crate?  Give him something to chew on.  (Not overnight, but ANY other time he is in a crate or separated area.)

Want him to learn not to chew your furniture or your shoes, or your kids?  Give him something to chew on.

Want him to let you pet him all over without mouthing your hands and clothes?  Give him something to chew on.

Want him to give you a break from constant puppy care so you can watch your favorite TV show?  Give him something to chew on.

Want him to rest and assimilate all of the new information you just taught him in a training session?  Give him something to chew on.

You see the theme, right?  Get your house loaded with safe chew items: animal chews, Nylabones, stuffed Kongs (frozen wet food is fantastic in a Kong), tough plush toys, food puzzle toys (Nina Ottoson anyone?), cardboard boxes, plastic water bottles (yes, I am creative with all manner of recyclables as puppy toys, but you do what YOU feel good about).

Bottom line: Providing more than enough “chew-ables” will be one of the simplest, smartest things you can do to raise a great pup.

Don’t feel the need to grab every thing away from your pup. Most of the stuff they pick up isn’t going to hurt them. Just be smart with your judgment.

3) Don’t chase your pup and snatch away objects he picks up.  Make it a game of “Ooooo – what did you find?!?” And trade everything for a good treat (if you need to take it at all). 

It’s completely normal for pups to pick up EVERYTHING they find as they explore the world. Don’t overreact. Pups that have stuff constantly grabbed out of their mouths will soon start to run away from you when they find things. Pups that run away from you will get cornered.  Pups that get cornered become resource guarders and/or scarf things down ultra fast so that you won’t take them away. Making a big fuss when your pup picks stuff up off the floor/ground is a common mistake – and resource guarding (aggressively defending objects or food items) is an all-too-common behavior that results from that mistake.

Don’t turn your pup’s object exploration into a war with you. If you do, you’ll just train a thief that over-values meaningless objects. Do the exact opposite: laugh when the pup picks something up and then calmly trade it for a treat. Each time he grabs something, take it as a lesson to puppy proof the house a little better and keep those things out of reach for now.  At the same time, praise/play with pups whenever they get THEIR toys.

If you do this, you’ll have a pup who grows out of picking up meaningless stuff, or brings it to you playfully, ready to always drop it for you. I even let my pup carry around objects he finds outside (as long as they’re harmless of course). He walks around proudly with sticks, gloves, plastic water bottles – whatever. Eventually, he drops them after getting a chance to hold them for a bit.  If I need him to drop it sooner, I just trade a treat. Later I can put that on cue. This raises a dog who doesn’t guard stuff and instead is great at “sharing”, retrieving, and most importantly – trusting.  Trust goes a long way in a relationship that’s going to last over a decade.  It’s the foundation for getting a lot of the good behavior you’re hoping for in your adult dog: listening around distractions, coming when called, allowing you to handle different body parts for grooming or health, being calm when you leave the house, and so much more.  Trust me – on all of the above!

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Are you a fanatic for learning more about behavior and training?  CATCH courses and workshops go beyond basic obedience to help students work with dogs that have behavioral issues. We find the problem-solving process to be fascinating: from basic issues like jumping, pulling, barking, and house training to learning about the more advanced challenges like fear and aggression cases. Many of our students turn their passion for dogs into newfound skills and use them to work with dogs that otherwise would not have the easiest time finding a forever home. Get in touch with us to learn more!

Backchaining: Train the Last Behavior First

Recall – Break it Down

Backchaining is a very smart technique that you can use for training a variety of more complex behaviors. If you are new to the concept, backchaining is when you teach the last behavior in a sequence first. This makes the learning process faster and the results stronger.

Join School Director, David Muriello, and shelter dog, Hunter, as they illustrate backchaining by breaking down a recall into three separate behaviors:

1. Attention to name
2. Run to you
3. Sit front (Backchaining = Train this behavior first)

Check out this cool training concept in action!

Check back often for more great CATCH Training Tips!

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Learn more about dog behavior and training!  If you’re as fascinated by animals as we are, CATCH courses will fulfill your desire to immerse yourself in dogs and study professional training techniques. We go into basic obedience and beyond: interpreting and communicating canine behavior, solving behavior problems, and more. Our students turn their passion for dogs into newfound skills and dream careers. Get in touch to learn more!


CATCH Canine Trainers Academy Office Headquarters
24 Newark Pompton Turnpike Suite 206, Little Falls, NJ.
Phone: 877-752-2824