Posted by: Linda Trunell | April 13, 2015

“He Graduated from Puppy Class! Why Won’t He Listen to Me?”

It is so good to see my puppy or beginner students return for Intermediate Class.  These adolescents and young adults are fortunate to have a guardian who understands that learning should be a constant as it should be with people.

Max puppy pic

It is very frustrating when I see former students who never continued training and the human complains that the dog has forgotten everything she learned or that she won’t listen to them anymore. The fault lies with the human half of the team. You would not send a child to elementary school and then expect them to be successful adults. Basic education such as sit, down and stay should be the foundation not the completion of education.

To be successful we must help the dog to practice these skills with the “3 D’s” – distance, duration and distraction.  As puppies grow so should their skills. A puppy who learns to sit for attention instead of jumping up on people needs to practice that skill in different environments with increasing levels of distractions. A dog who can stay when you ask should be learning to stay for a longer time (duration) while you are further away (distance) and opening a door (distraction).  It is typical for many dogs to follow cues in the house but when they are out in the real world it seems like they never heard the words before.  This is often an issue when the dog becomes an adolescent and may begin to test you.  It can be a difficult time for some people who have not continued to reinforce learned behaviors and unfortunately many dogs are given up because the people are frustrated and feel the dog cannot be “trained”.  More young dogs lose their home and sometimes their life due to behavior issues than to illness.

Dog park 2

Intermediate Class helps dogs to proof the basic behaviors such as sit, down, stay, drop it, leave it, and come when called with the 3 D’s. There are also more cues to be learned such as settle, heel, stand, and back.  It is also important for people to hone the mechanics of training so that they communicate more effectively by practicing accurate marking of behavior and proper position for rewarding and learning to shape more complicated behaviors.  Having the trainer’s guidance helps the guardian to become a better teacher.

Whether you choose to continue training classes or not, I hope that you will continue teaching and reinforcing desired behavior so that you and your dog can have a long and happy relationship.

Here’s to being our dog’s best friend,




  1. I always think that working with Choppy is fun – she never seems to think it is training, she just thinks it’s time we get to spend together and that makes her happy!

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    • That’s great, Sarah. Choppy is a lucky girl because If we are doing it right it’s fun for us and the dog. Choppy even looks like she’s having fun wearing all the costumes in your blog post. I especially like the frogs. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • She really does seem to enjoy the costumes – all I have to do is pull out her costume bins and she gets excited! I try to make it fun for her. The treats at the end probably don’t hurt, either.

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