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Q.  What is the best age to begin training a dog?

A.  There really is no BEST age to begin training a dog.

As a trainer, my FAVORITE time to begin training is with a young puppy under 6 months of age. That’s only because it’s so gratifying to work with a
family and their pet before behavioral problems have even begun.  Building a solid foundation for a great relationship between a new puppy and his
family is one of the most wonderful parts of my job. There are so many problems that can be completely avoided when you get the right start.  

Having said that, all dogs are capable of learning. The old adage, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” applies more to some people than to dogs.
Mature dogs actually have some advantages over puppies when it comes to learning because their attention span is much greater. I have worked with
dogs as young as 8 weeks and as old as 12 years, with equally wonderful results.

Q.  Is there any such thing as an “untrainable” dog?

A.  Absolutely not, but it is possible to have unrealistic expectations.

All dogs can be trained. Behavior modification is possible for any dog with a normal brain. With the proper techniques, patience and consistency, every
dog can move forward with training. Success is usually directly commensurate with the amount of effort owners are willing to apply working on the

Occasionally, an owner will expect something of a dog that is simply not realistic. Perhaps a young, energetic dog is left alone in a large yard for 8-10
hours, 6 days a week, and he or she becomes destructive. The owner believes that because the dog has a large yard to play in, he should be content
and happy. He also believes the dog is just being spiteful and naughty and can be trained to stop it. This is a perfect example of an unrealistic

A qualified trainer would not see this as strictly a dog training situation. They would view this as a bored and frustrated dog in need of help. They
would persuade the owner take a closer and more realistic view of the situation and help them to develop an understanding of the dog’s predicament.
In addition to some training, they would provide suggestions for environmental changes and lifestyle enrichments to help ease the dog’s loneliness,
boredom and frustration.  

Q.  My housebroken dog is still having accidents.  Is this normal?

A.  No it is not.  A properly housetrained dog is reliable in the house.  

An accident is something that happens less than rarely.  If your dog is having "accidents" around the house then the cause is usually one of three

1) Least Common -- Your dog has a medical issue that is interfering with his ability to control his bladder or bowel movements.  Suspect this if the
problem has emerged suddenly with a dog who was previously reliable, if he is exhibiting any other unusual behavior or symptoms, or if you know that
reasons number 2 & 3 do not apply. If you do suspect that this could be the problem, please seek medical attention for your pet, ASAP.  

2) Second Most Common -- You are expecting your dog to be able to wait much longer between potty breaks than is realistic for him.  Just like people,
different dogs have different abilities when it comes to waiting to go outside. Some dogs can go 8 hours without a potty break (not advisable) while
others are pushed to the limit after 3 or 4 hours. Are you being reasonable in your expectations?  Is it you that needs to change something?

3) The MOST COMMON Reason For House Soiling Accidents -- Your dog is not having “accidents” because he's never actually been reliably house trained.
Many people call their dogs house trained when they really are not. Just because the dog hunkers down and looks guilty when you point to the floor
and say, “What is this?” doesn't mean your dog actually has any concept of what he’s done wrong. What it does indicate is that you have a dog that
knows you’re angry…and more significantly knows you’re angry with him...and it scares him. If you doubt this, go point to the floor and use the same
body language and tone of voice to ask the dog the same question over a clean piece of floor or carpet. Your dog will look "guilty" and upset just as he
always has.  

House training can be easy or difficult depending on the methods you use, but it always requires owner diligence and consistency. If your dog is not
actually house trained then go back to square one and start over. Use positive methods to teach your dog where he should be going, and then build on
your dog's successes. If you feel the problem could be the methods you're using then contact a qualified dog trainer to help you with your techniques.
Most of all, this time, don’t stop working with your dog until you feel sure that he's 100% reliable.

note:  Occasionally, house soiling may be a symptom of a much bigger problem: separation anxiety.  You should suspect this is the problem if your dog only soils the house
when you leave, and also exhibits other problem behaviors when you are away (possibly barking, howling or destructive behavior.) This is something that a qualified trainer
can help you to identify.

Q.  I give my dog everything he wants, but he still doesn’t seem completely happy. He's often destructive when I leave and I  think he might have
separation anxiety.

A.  You love your dog and you give him everything thing you think he wants, but you're forgetting about what he needs.  

One of the biggest misconceptions that people have about their dog is the idea that if the dog gets absolutely everything he seems to want or
demand, he'll be happy and well adjusted. This is no more true of dogs than it is of children. Dogs need guidance and boundaries to live a truly happy
life. Dogs can even develop behavior problems when this need for guidance is not met. Some dogs become so demanding that they refuse to be left
alone. Although some of the "symptoms" may be similar, this behavior problem is not necessarily the same problem as the anxiety issue we call
separation anxiety.    

True separation anxiety is a complex psychological behavior pattern that without intervention tends to get worse over time instead of better. There
can be many contributing factors when dealing with this type of problem and the solutions are rarely simple.  Depending upon the severity of the
problem, sometimes medications may be necessary to manage this problem and that may require a visit to a veterinary behaviorist. A qualified dog
trainer who is familiar with this issue can help you determine whether or not you are dealing with true separation anxiety and can help you with a
referral to a veterinary behaviorist if need be.

If your dog seems to be unhappy and anxiety ridden, go to my first article and read, "The Importance of Leadership in Dog Training."  This will give you
some insight into some of the needs you might not be meeting for your dog.

Then, be sure to seek help from a qualified professional trainer familiar with this type of problem.
Here are just a few of our most frequently asked questions...

Q.  How long will it take to train my dog?

A.  There are really two answers to this question.  

1) How long I'll be involved in the process really depends on what you want to teach your dog and
how well you adhere to the training protocols that I recommend to you. When I speak with you, I
can usually give you a pretty accurate prediction of how many or few training sessions I believe it
will take for me to teach you what you need to know. Because are no long term contracts, it is up
to you to ultimately decide how many lessons you want to have.  

2) Regardless of how many or few times I work with you, you'll be training your dog for his entire
life. Training a dog is a little bit like utilizing diet and exercise to maintain your health. You can go
on a quickie fad diet or start a short term, super strenuous exercise program and you will probably
see some results, but ultimately if you want to stay healthy you must adopt and maintain a
healthy, long term lifestyle.  After all, nobody would expect an exercise program that lasted a
couple of months to keep them healthy and in shape for the rest of their lives.
Although teaching your dog specific behaviors might not take a long time (depending on what
you're training,) maintaining those behaviors will require strategic reinforcement throughout his
or her lifetime.                    
"THIS MIGHT BE A DUMB QUESTION BUT..."  Sadly, I hear these words a lot.  

Please understand that when it comes to asking your dog trainer a question, there are no "dumb questions."  I would much rather my clients asked me
about something they were unsure about, than tried to fumble their way through without a clear idea of what to do...or even worse, tried something
that they learned watching television! Muddling through on your own, when you're not really sure what you're doing, can sometimes make solving a
behavior issue much harder and end up adding time to the process. Also, there are more than a few dangerous techniques being touted on popular TV
these days; techniques that can confuse your dog, create a lack of trust, or even get you bitten.  
So please, just feel free to ask your questions.
Frequently Asked Questions
Pit Bull Terrier, APDT, pretty dog
Multiple dogs, Australian Shepherd training, Aussie training
Altadena, Burbank, Canoga Park, Canyon Country, Castaic, Chatsworth, Eagle Rock, Encino, Glendale, Granda Hills, La Canada, La Crescenta,
Lake Balboa, Lakeview Terrace, Los Angeles, Los Feliz, Mission Hills, Montrose, Newhall, North Hollywood, Northridge, Pasadena, Porter Ranch,
Reseda, San Fernando, Santa Clarita, Shadow Hills, Sherman Oaks, Silverlake, South Pasadena, Stevenson Ranch, Studio City, Sunland, Sun Valley, Sylmar, Tarzana, Toluca
Lake, Tujunga, Universal City, Valencia, Valley Glen, Valley Village, Van Nuys, West Hills, Winnetka and Woodland Hills.

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The Association of Professional Dog Trainers
International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, IAABC
Certified Professional Dog Trainer, CPDT, CCPDT
Positive, Reward-Based Dog Training
good dog, trained dog, dog training, canine recall, dog trainer and behaviorist
Professional Dog Training and Instruction in Southern California:
Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley, Santa Clarita, & parts of San Gabriel
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