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Good Doggie. Training Tips – Sit. Treat. Repeat

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Good Doggie. Training Tips

Owning a dog is a big commitment. In most domestic urban households, the discipline of twice-per-day walks is non-negotiable. It’s you and your dog out there in public, in all kinds of weather. And whether or not it is always apparent, it’s the owner who has to be in charge. On city sidewalks, crowded intersections, public parks… you are legally and morally responsible for your pet’s actions. So listen in to this episode for some interesting insights into dog training and the importance of setting your dog up for success.

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Things we do for Pets

Sit. Treat. Repeat.

Do you ever sit on the bench at your favourite off-leash park, watching your own dog run amok, and wonder why all the other dogs are so obedient? Why is it that they come when their pet parent calls? How come they don’t jump up and try to lick the face of every man, woman and child in the park? And what’s with that show-off Border Collie sitting patiently with a Milkbone on his nose, waiting for the “ok” to eat it?

Good doggie, training tips: Dog owners of all breeds and sizes should invest in training. Thus, they will have well-behaved and happier pets inside and outside the house.
Dogs with tutors at obedience class (Photo by Ian Allenden|

Why can’t my dog be like that?

Well guess what… chances are good that your little Ruffmeister could behave like that, too. The difference may lie simply in some basic training. It’s usually a small investment that will pay long-term dividends.

You may recall a podcast series we published back in the Spring of 2021 called Career Journeys.


🐶 E4: Converting a passion for dogs into a viable career 🐶

In that series, we met Fernando Silva, a hospitality manager who immigrated from Brazil to British Columbia. When job opportunities in his profession were few and far between, he decided to follow his passion and applied his entrepreneurship to build a thriving business as the Brazilian Dog Guru. The rest is history.

So naturally, in researching this article, we reached out to Fernando for his wisdom and words of advice. The Brazilian Dog Guru gave us some very interesting insights and tips that we will share today.

Good Doggie! Interesting Insights Training Tips

One of the most frequent questions he gets from pet parents is “When is a good time to enrol my dog in a training program?” Fernando surprised us with his answer.

1. you should start before you even have a dog!

Before you adopt, rescue or buy a pet, Fernando actually recommends an in-home consultation to understand your goals, needs and lifestyle. Why are you thinking of getting a dog?

  • Are you looking for a companion around the house, or a co-adventurer to enjoy hikes and outdoor activities? 🐶
  • Maybe you’re hoping that your dog will protect you and your home. 🐶
  • Or perhaps you have children who need entertainment or need to learn about sharing and responsibility. 🐶

It’s a decision that is bigger than just looks or the cuteness factor. You should understand what different types of dogs are bred for and how they are likely to instinctively behave. While this information may be generally available online or from the dog seller, it’s a good idea to seek the insight of an objective third-party professional. The Humane Society shelters overflow with owners who tried to fit a square dog into a round hole. Doesn’t end well.

The Humane Society is part of Humane Canada, the largest community of animal welfare organizations in Canada.

2. start your training program inside the home

The next bit of sound advice, again from the BDG, is to start your training program inside the home. He recommends an initial one- to two-hour session when a puppy is four or five months old. His ideal session is one where the trainer comes into your home for a session with the dog AND with all the people who share the home.

You see, training is not just for the animal. It is equally – even more, perhaps – for the owner to learn how to become the master. The parent is in charge and must define the rules and expectations that all household members need to follow.

🐶 Guru’s mantra is “Let’s set up the dog to succeed.”

What a dog learns during the early formative period will last forever. So bad habits learned early will be extra hard to correct later. For example, it may be awfully cute for a puppy to sit on your lap or beside you on the couch. But when that German Shepherd or Mastiff weighs in at over 120 pounds… not so cute anymore.

You would not give a toddler free rein in an unsupervised environment while you cook dinner or take a nap, right? You would define a safe space, like a playpen or a crib. You install gates and babyproof the home. And you need to do the same thing for your puppy. Crate training is a very effective tool in maintaining control and minimizing distractions to curb excited behaviour.

3. Learned behaviour

Training tips. It is necessary to think about consistency and calmness in the behavior of pets. With less anxiety, agitation and aggression, we reduce the 'bad dog' moments.
Little girl with a puppy (Photo by Anke Van Wyk |

And that complaint – over-excitement within the home – is the most common reason owners seek professional training help. Dogs jumping up on visitors. Neighbours complaining about excessive barking. (Sorry, can’t help with the neighbours.) In many cases, this is learned behaviour.

For example, when you enter your home and immediately start calling for the dog, “Where’s my boy? What a good boy! Did you miss me?” you are training Rufus to get excited and jump up on someone entering the home. Then when he does it with company, he gets reprimanded.

Mixed messages cause confusion. The door is a place where he should be quiet, and listen for intruders. You need to think about consistency and calmness. Fewer accidents in the home and less ruined furniture reduce the need for ‘bad dog’ moments.

By the way, we often hear people say that there’s no such thing as a ‘bad’ dog… only ‘bad’ owners. Guru disagrees on this point. It is not a frequent thing, but there are bad dogs who – through no fault of their own – are unmanageable and untrainable.

In BDG’s 17 years of practice, he has come across maybe 8 animals who were beyond help. Could be genetics, could be early-life trauma, could be aches and pains and discomforts of aging. But a dog who is ill-tempered and malicious can pose a real danger and you should consult your vet.

4. Socializing

But back to your furry little four-footer, the next phase of training at around the 6-month point is socializing. The best way to develop these skills is through doggie daycare. You should find an environment where the staff have experience with puppies and understand the importance of matching similar sizes and ages of dogs. Just like you would not send a 6-year-old child to the soccer patch to compete with 12-year-olds, you want to give your puppy equal footing to play and bond with others.

On-leash behaviour is one of the basics as your pup’s training program kicks into full gear. At the Brazilian Dog Guru facility, Fernando’s team offers a few different programs and works with their clients to figure out which one is best for you, your pup and your wallet.

  • One option is called School Day. This is essentially doggie daycare where your pup spends the day learning the basics of discipline and how to behave in public while socializing in a positive, nurturing environment. You take your dog home at the end of each day to practise what’s been learned.
  • Another option is Boot Camp, essentially a kennel set-up that combines training with boarding while owners are out of town.

🐶 But as Fernando wisely pointed out, the training is for the owner as well as for the dog.

So these programs are complemented by private sessions where Fernando teaches the master the tips and techniques he has been refining over the past 17 years. Your puppy should now be beginning to understand the purpose of the leash and the requirement to obey.

You can practise using the leash inside the home, taking away distractions so the puppy can focus on you, the different tones of voice or non-verbal communication you use for different commands. These cues should be used by all family members because consistency is important. But at this stage, your little buddy is starting to figure out expectations. Starting to comprehend that they have a choice and the best one is to obey.

Training tips: Your dog should understand the purpose of the leash and the requirement to obey. Good doggie!
Barking dog (Photo by Tiono |

5. what good behaviour entails

One final eye-opening point that the Dog Guru brought up revolves around our general understanding of what good behaviour entails. It’s easy to spot an unruly dog or an aggressive dog through excessive barking, growling, or showing their teeth. We’d all back off quickly. But in some cases, a need for training may not be obvious.

He tells the story of a woman who called on him to work with her dog. “Missy is good about 99% of the time”, she explained. “What I need is to have you finesse the final 1%.” Guru was dumbfounded. Even his own dog obeys around only 70% of the time! He booked a meeting out of curiosity.

Missy was indeed a gentle, friendly dog. She was playful and social. However, the more he observed, the more obvious it became that the woman was not in control.There was no communication, no system of commands… this lady was lucky that Missy simply chose to behave. If Missy chose to bolt into traffic because she saw something interesting across the street, the pet Mom had no way to stop her. It doesn’t matter if your dog is pulling on the leash to kiss or bite somebody, either way, they are not listening to you!

Owning a dog is a big commitment. In taking it on, you are faced with many obligations of responsible pet ownership. Understanding those obligations, establishing your expectations and teaching your puppy what you expect are all part of the foundation that will lead to many joys and many years of loyal companionship.

So that’s it for today. Gotta go. Can’t be late for my obedience class.

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Things we do for Pets

Podcast: Things We Do For Pets
Made possible with the support of Ontario Creates

Directed by: Teresa Botelho
Content writing: Lauri Richardson
Pre-production & research: Ana Carolina Botelho
Recording / Editing / Social Media: Christian Pedersen
Host: Eric Major
Vignettes & special effects: Robson DJ Estudio 
Website & Digital Marketing: Creative Team Canada

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