Posted by: Linda Trunell | September 2, 2015

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday


big stick

Posted by: Linda Trunell | August 10, 2015

Ten Things Your Dog Wants to Tell You

Luna and Max 1 Luna and Max 2 Luna and Max 3 Luna and Max 4

1. I want to feel safe with you.

If your dog doesn’t trust you, he won’t feel safe with you. A dog who doesn’t feel safe will be more difficult to work with. Teach your dog without force, fear or intimidation by using positive reinforcement.

2. I depend on you to take care of me.

If you take a dog into your home he will depend on you for food, water, shelter, safety, healthcare, exercise, socialization and education.

3. I am not a furry child.

You and your dog are two different species but you can have a beautiful relationship if you understand each other.

4. I want you to understand what I’m saying.

Dogs communicate with body language – learn to read it.

5. I will bite if I have to.

Dogs can inflict a lot of damage very quickly if they want to.  Don’t make a dog feel that he has no choice because you ignored his warning signs.

6. I need to learn what you want me to do.

If you don’t teach your dog what he should do – don’t blame him for not doing it.

7. I do what works to get what I want.

Behavior is lawful. Behaviors that are rewarded are repeated. Pay attention to your dog and reward the behaviors you like.

8. I really need to sniff when we go on walks.

Dogs learn about their environment by smelling. Let your dog sniff! It should be his walk not yours.

9. I want to be with you.

Dogs are social animals and want to be part of the family. They are not lawn ornaments.

10. I love you even though you are not perfect.

We are not perfect and neither are dogs but they love us anyway. Be patient, kind and gentle.

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


Posted by: Linda Trunell | July 2, 2015

One Dog at a Time

This is actually a post from my Facebook page which so many people liked and commented on that I decided to share it here.  If we help just one dog by sharing good information with people it is well worth it.

Mastiff/Pit Mix

Mastiff/Pit Mix photo from Adopt-A-Pet

Last night at work I saw a couple and their teen son trying a prong collar on their mastiff/pit mix. He was sitting and looking very stressed (ears flat, head turning, lip licking) as they were pulling on it to see if it was too big. I began talking with them and they said their vet recommended a prong collar because the dog was a puller. We talked about reward-based training and I explained that the prong may prevent pulling (because it hurts) but could create bigger problems. While we were talking I crouched down with my side to the dog and let him approach me. He was friendly and I stroked his chest and side. They agreed to let me fit him for a padded, front-attach harness. We removed the prong and while I was fitting the harness he was giving me big sloppy kisses as I was telling him what a good boy he was. I know I get too emotional when it comes to dogs but I felt like he understood what was happening and was thanking me, LOL. The woman walked him around the store for a few minutes and agreed to buy the harness. Needless to say, it made my day to see them leaving with the harness on the dog who was much more relaxed. Small victory but very sweet.

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


Posted by: Linda Trunell | June 28, 2015

HOW You Teach Matters More Than WHAT You Teach!

There is always some stress in learning because it involves changing behavior.  (Is Your Dog Stressed?)  Good teachers help the student learn without causing distress. Whether we are teaching a dog ‘obedience’ (I prefer to call it cooperation) or cute tricks the process is the same.  We may use any combination of luring, shaping and capturing behaviors.

Bella learning to jump through the hoop.

Bella learning to jump through the hoop.

Helping people and dogs have fun together while learning is the best part of my job.  I love hearing people tell me how smart their dog is and seeing how proud they are when the dog responds to the new cue.  I can see the bond growing stronger as they learn to communicate and work together.

Harley says his prayers

Harley says his prayers

I have observed that some people are better at teaching tricks than obedience. They seem to be more patient and enjoy the process more. They show more pleasure in a perfect ‘Sit Pretty’ than a ‘return to heel’.  Perhaps they feel less pressure to have the dog get it right because it is just a trick, just for fun.  We are better teachers when we do not feel stressed and the dog is a better learner when we are having fun.

Steve learns to drive

Steve learns to drive

It matters more HOW you teach than WHAT you teach. Using force-free positive reinforcement is the best way to teach any species. Learning should be fun for you and your dog so if you want to have more fun while honing your training skills try a “Click-A-Trick” class!

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


Posted by: Linda Trunell | April 30, 2015

Want to be your dog’s best friend? Join the Revolution!


Are you trying to be the pack leader?  What if I told you there is a better way to get the behaviors you want from your dog while becoming his best friend?  Wouldn't you rather have a relationship built on trust instead of fear? You can by using marker training and positive reinforcement.  No force, fear or intimidation is needed.  When you learn to communicate what you want and then reward that behavior, you and your dog will have a bond built on trust and cooperation.

Belle, Marcy and Bear

Clicker training is a form of marker training. I find that most dogs learn faster when I use a clicker. The click is like taking a snapshot of the exact behavior you want from the dog. You may use a vocal marker (e.g. "yes" or "good") but the clicker is a unique sound which leaves no question. Once the dog has been conditioned to the clicker he knows it means "Yes! That is what I wanted and you have earned a food reward!" What a great way to communicate!

Max and Bella

Instead of focusing on behaviors you do not want and marking them with your attention, you will increase the behaviors you do want by marking and rewarding them. Yelling 'NO!' may interrupt an unwanted behavior but it does not give a dog any information as to what he should be doing instead. 

Max, Bones and Nico

Science has proven that positive reinforcement is the best way to teach any species but the pack theory based on dominance in dog training is still being used by some trainers and the general public (as seen on “reality” television programs).

Harley and Bella

If you are not using positive reinforcement in your relationship with your dog, join the revolution in dog training.  Better yet, let’s all use positive reinforcement in all of our relationships.


What every person can learn from dog training | Noa Szefler | TEDxJaffa

Published on Dec 22, 2014

Marker Training is a way to train dogs and build better communication with them, and it works great with people, too! Using positive reinforcement and the science of how all animals learn can change every relationship in your life: with your dog, your cat, your spouse or your child. Teaching this way focuses on what the learner does right and gets you more of that; it deepens the bond, builds cooperation and helps us to understand our learner in a new way, whether he is a dog, a person or another species. Feel free to try this at home!

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


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