10 Important Dog Training Tips: Week 3 – Attainable Goals

Welcome back to my series of 10 Important Dog Training Tips! The first week I discussed the importance of keeping things very clear through “no grey areas”, followed by why consistency is key. This week covers the tip of creating attainable goals for both you and your dog during the training phase.


As with anything in life, the attempt to achieve our goals can overcome our lives and destroy us if we don’t break the process down into small steps that can be achieved on the way to the greater end result. If we ignore the steps needed to take along the way, we can become quite frustrated and give up. The same can happen with dog training.

How do you achieve attainable goals with your dog? Here are some hints on creating a “schedule” that will help you.

  1. We start small. Let’s say I want to teach Caleb how to “Clean Up” or put his toys away before he goes to bed. I know I need to break this down into smaller, attainable goals, to get the end result I want. This means that I need to teach Caleb the following steps:
    • Teach him how to retrieve obects on command
    • Teach him how to carry objects to a designated area
    • Teach him how to place the objects in a specific box
  2. These steps now need to be put into daily, weekly and monthly goals.

If I just jump to the desired trick of Caleb miraculously understanding he is suppose to pick up his toy and put it in his toy basket when I say “Clean Up” without showing him the steps along the way, I am going to become very frustrated. And if I am frustrated, you can bet your fur your dog is even more so. So, to help us both, I’m going to work on each part of this behavior in small steps so we both reach our goal with happy results.

Important! If you take longer to reach your goal than anticipated, do not worry! Just keep working on each step until you are satisfied with the result, you will both be much happier in the end.

Daily goals for this trick may be to work on Caleb picking up each toy on the ground when I point to it. A simple, yet important step to the final trick. Once Caleb has gotten that trick down, I will now focus on him carrying the object to me in the same room, then carry it to me from another room, etc. Next, I will work on Caleb dropping the object into the desired container I want him to put his toys away in. After we have been working on all of these steps individually, over a period of weeks, we can finally link all of the the steps together so that he has to pick up his toy, carry it into the proper room, and drop it in the desired container. Ta da! We have the end result of “Clean Up” accomplished over a period of months.

Here’s an easier example most people want their dogs to do – stay in place for long periods of time. When I was teaching Caleb to stay in a “Sit” for 5 minutes, I did not start the timer at 5 minutes. I started with what Caleb could easily do which was 30 seconds, and slowly built on that time. Each couple of days I added another 5 seconds to his period of time to stay in the sit position and if he had a hard time reaching my goal, I backed up to the time he could succeed at. This meant that I may have wanted him to jump from 5 seconds to 10 seconds, but he consistently broke the stay at 7 seconds. At this point, I didn’t want to be correcting Caleb, so I changed my goal to 7 seconds for a couple of days until I felt he could push through to 10 seconds. Eventually, we reached our goal of 5 minutes because we set attainable goals that we were both happy with.


So, remember, you can achieve your goals if you approach it in a sensible manner that both you and your dog can agree upon.



10 Important Dog Training Tips: Week 2 – Consistency

Welcome back to my series of 10 Important Dog Training Tips! Last week I discussed the importance of keeping things very clear through “no grey areas” in my blog, 10 Important Dog Training Tips: Week 1 – No Grey Areas, This week covers the rule of consistency which can be interchanged with, and is quite similar too, that topic.

*Remember, all of these are discussed for the important time of the training phase of any new command, trick, sport, etc.


Much like the concept of keeping things black and white, consistency is vital for the success of your dog. It is one of the most important tools in dog training, no matter the sport. If you are not consistent with your requests from your dog, there will be too many “grey areas” and your dog will become confused leading to more errors in your dog’s decision making.

The following are clear examples of consistency that most of us deal with on a daily basis with our dogs:

Let’s say I do not want Caleb to beg for people food, especially while I am sitting down to eat a relaxing dinner with family or friends. At this point I request Caleb to “down” while begwe enjoy our meal and never feed him food from the dinner table to discourage the act of begging. Then one night, while he’s behaving, I toss him a piece of my steak to enjoy. The next night, I am very disappointed in Caleb when he is sitting, staring at me while I eat dinner. I can’t believe he is begging! I yell at him, tell him to “down” and don’t understand why he’s misbehaving. I have no one to blame but myself in this situation as I clearly showed Caleb the previous night that there is a possibility of receiving a yummy morsel of food at the table. If I had kept his training consistent, by not feeding him, he would have continued with the right choice of not begging.

20151023_190220Another great example is teaching your dog to wait while his food bowl is placed on the ground before being released to enjoy his meal. Every meal I require Caleb to stay in either a “sit” or “down” while I place his food bowl on the ground and walk away. Caleb knows
he is to stay in that position (time of stay varies) until I release him to eat. Now, let’s say that one morning I am running late for work and I place the food bowl on the ground without asking him to do a behavior first. I am too busy worrying about time to notice that he broke routine, and I didn’t correct him. In fact, I rewarded him for it (by letting him get his meal for misbehaving)! That night for dinner, Caleb rushes me for his meal and I yell at him questioning, “What is wrong with you?! You know better!” Again, Caleb’s mistake is my fault due to the previous meal mishap and my inconsistency.

Besides consistency in what we expect of our dog, we must also be consistent with what we say and do to encourage success. For example, can anyone see the problem with these commands of “sit”,  “down”, “off” and “sitdown!” being used interchangeably? I will show you….. If I ask Caleb to “sit” and “down”, expecting the separate known behaviors, then one day he doesn’t listen when I ask him to “sit” and I get angry so I deepen my tone of voice and tell him very sternly “sitdown!”, I can in no way get angry with Caleb if he decides to “down” as this behavior is also the correct choice with the command I just gave him.

Another example I come across with 90% of my clients is the misuse of the command down“down”. Most dog owners use the command “down” to have their dog lay down, yet I also
hear them use the same command when the dog is jumping on them, on their guests or on
furniture. In reality, if we tell our dog “down” in any of these situations, we should expect our dog to lay down. However, because we are picturing just having the dog to keep off of something, we accept the response of them stopping the undesirable behavior instead of expecting them to actually lay down. This is a prime example of us not being consistent with what we ask and expect. In this situation, there should be two separate commands to help the dog understand, such as now using the command of “off” to keep paws off of things.

The last important example of consistency that is commonly mishandled by owners, is that of the rate of reward or punishment. If I am training Caleb to “shake” and I do not reward him frequently in the training phase, I can loose his interest and stop seeing progress in his understanding of this new behavior. Just as, if I don’t use a form of punishment (verbal correction, leash correction, time-out, etc) every time it is warranted, Caleb will not learn that there is a possible consequence for the incorrect choice.


10 Important Dog Training Tips: Week 1 – No Grey Areas

There are 10 important fundamental tips I use and teach to my clients that all  encourage the success of their dog(s) training program by making everything clear and consistent between you and your dog during the training phase.

What is the training phase? This is the part of your dog’s life that includes the rules and foundations of behaviors being set, and the length of time it takes them to learn this new behavior and follow through 90% of the time. This does not mean for life (unless warranted), but it definitely means for at least the next 6 months to a year (or longer if needed) while your dog is learning. For instance, Caleb (my 1 1/2 yr old German Shepherd) is still in the training phase on his obedience and tricks because now I am working on him following through without any hand or body signals, compliance now comes solely from my verbal cue.

So, I thought I would put together a short series of important tips (10 in total) everyone should remember when training their dog(s). These are the things I find myself telling each and every one of my clients at some point during their lessons with me. Each tip will come out in a different weekly blog so as not to overwhelm you with too much information at one time. I’m hoping this will also allow you to apply each step as you learn it allowing you to mold it into your current training program. I encourage you to challenge yourself, and apply all of these into your daily routines with your furry loved ones.

Week 1 Tip: Everything must be black and white, not grey

This theory is very important to help your dog succeed and teach them in a clear and concise manner. One of the ways we achieve this is making sure there are no grey areas to your dog’s training routines. What does this mean? This means that when you ask your dog to do something or when you set house rules, there are no exceptions, especially during the training phase.


For instance, let’s say I want to teach Caleb to be patient at doorways (must sit still while door is opened before being released), I can not let him run through some doorways then yell at him when he doesn’t sit at another doorway. For example: Caleb would get very confused because he has been allowed to run through the back door but now he just got yelled at for running through the front door. To make it very clear to Caleb, he should be asked to sit at all doorways during the training phase so he understands clearly that this new rule applies to every doorway in the beginning. This rule is even applied for coming in from his outdoor kennel as shown below to make everything black and white regarding door manners for Caleb.


Another example would be the new rule of your dog not being allowed on the bed as part of your training plan. If I instill this rule, it means Caleb is not allowed on my bed at any time, not just when I don’t want him up there.  To be fair to Caleb, he should not be allowed on my bed at any point during the training phase. This does not mean Caleb will never be allowed on the bed again, it just means that at this point in his training, he must earn the reward of cuddling with me in bed by staying off of it until invited up which could take a while. No matter what kind of sad eyes Caleb gives me, or no matter how much I want to cuddle with him, I can not give in and invite him up because that would cause a grey area in the training. Then, the next day when Caleb jumps up on the bed on his own, it would be very unfair of me to yell at him because I have not made things black and white for him.

*Note: both of these examples can also fall into the consistency category (another tip in the series) as well.


Day Trippin’ with Your Dog: Part 2

This past April, I set out on my very first solo road trip with my dog in tow. We headed to the bay area of California for a week of exploration and solidarity to relax, reload and bond. To follow up from my last blog, Day Trippin’ with Your Dog: Part 1 where I focused on day hikes in the San Diego county, I thought I’d share the amazing dog-friendly places we found in the Bay Area. If you have any other suggestions you like to visit with your dog in this area, please post a comment below.

A very important note to remember whenever you are hiking, be considerate and pick up after your dog and follow the rule that whatever you bring in with you, you carry out with you.

There were too many beautiful pictures to choose from so I tried to pick the four that showed the open areas as well as forestry.

My favorite hike was through Roy’s Redwoods which is located in Marin’s San Geronimo Valley. This exquisite area was the perfect blend of open meadows, redwood forests and roy mapthickets. The trail head we found along Nicasio Valley Rd. was well defined and not too difficult. There were small hills to climb but the ascent was not too steep and the weather made the hike very comfortable. The total loop was about 3 miles though we could have gone further and checked out side loops as well. This stillness and quiet during the hike was amazing! I am not sure if I was lucky because I went on a weekday or if it is normally that low-traveled, but it is definitely worth a look. Warning: There is a lot of poison oak through the forest areas and ticks to be found through the grasslands, but still well worth the adventure.


This place was full of beautiful wildlife, including wild turkeys crossing the road close to the park’s entrance.

Las Trampas Regional Wilderness in San Ramon was a beautiful area as well. Will rolling green hills, running water and plenty of wildlife, it felt like a magical place. It took us a bit

LT mapto find a decent trail as the only visible path was a paved road (pictured in upper left corner) that wound it’s way up a steep hill. We started up the hill but turned around about 1/2 mile up as it just wasn’t what we were looking for, and it was very difficult. The area is open to grazing cattle (as pictured) so you do have to be careful if your dog is off-leash. Once we returned to the bottom of the hill we poked around a bit and found a “river” trail off to the side which was much more appealing. The dirt trail (clearly a cow path) wound us along the river’s edge where we got to play in fresh, cool, running stream water for a bit. Although we passed a few people, they stuck to the paved road so once on the side trail, we had the place to ourselves.




Carquinez Strait Regional Shoreline Park is a beautiful, large expansive area to explore along the narrow tidal strait in the Bay Area. There are several places to enter, but I found the Bull Valley Staging Area which opened up to lush, green meadows over rolling hills. cs mapAnother place where cows roam free, the paths are made by the cows and easy to follow. You can stay on the large “road” used by service trucks (top left picture) or follow narrower trails used solely by pedestrians and cows. Luckily we didn’t see any cows on our adventure but there were plenty of signs that we weren’t too far behind them. We took a side trail that took us through the trees, along the fence line which was shaded and quiet. We reached a look out point over the water where a picnic table was ready for us to rest and eat a snack before heading back. There were plenty of options to continue the hike but it was getting late in the day so we decided to head back the way we came.



I recommend that if you are going to visit Spring Lake, you take Highway 12 (Sonoma Hwy) as this takes you through several sprawling wineries. It was my first time to drive through this type of countryside so it was very interesting to see the acres and acres of grapevines sl mapalong the road. Spring Lake was on my agenda because I was looking for a second place to visit in this area and found Spring Lake which is also dog friendly. What I didn’t know is that the trail is a paved road with a lot of pedestrians. If you’ve ever been to Miramar Lake in San Diego county, it is just like that except part of the trail does take you under trees whereas Miramar Lake is completely in the open. There was a secondary trail closer to the water’s edge but the trail was very narrow and I noticed several joggers using that path so we stayed to the wider trail where there was room to pass if needed.



You can’t go on a trip with your dog and not visit Jack London Historic State Park! Just a few minutes south of Spring Lake, you will find this beautiful historic park. Although the park is not dog friendly, I found there is one trail dogs are allowed on…and of course it would be the Wolf House trail. This is about a 1 mile easy loop from the museum jl mapto the house Jack London was building from 1911-1913 when a fire tragically ripped through the house prior to its finish. The path takes you through redwood forests and the wind rustling through the tree leaves sounds like running water. Although it costs $7 to get into the park, I definitely recommend this short walk to feel your inner Call of the Wild. I did not have a chance to visit the museum but I think I will definitely plan to go back and explore the remaining 28 miles of trails to explore soon.

What a Handy Idea!

So, I had an idea the other day. Rather, I should say, I think I had an epiphany. It may have been too little sleep the night before or too much caffeine that day but something came to me during a common interaction with my dog. Let’s see what you think.

From petting, to grabbing leashes, door knobs and a food dish, hands do some pretty amazing things to our canine friend's perspective.
From petting, to grabbing leashes, door knobs and a food dish, hands do some pretty amazing things to our canine friend’s perspective.

As I was reaching for the door knob to let Caleb out to his run, I thought of something while I watched his actions. You see, he looked at my hand as it reached for the knob initially, then he took a quick moment to glance back at me before returning his acutely intense eyes back to my hands to study their actions. This is when I thought, what if it isn’t the simple action of touching the door knob that excites our dogs as we have always thought. What if it’s the mere idea of our dogs loving our hands so much! Think about it a moment before you label me as crazy…

Let’s make a list of the occurrences that happen almost day-to-day with our canine friends.

  1. We grab their food bowl to feed them one to three times a day depending on your household structure. We pick up the bowl with our hands, carry it to the counter, grab the food, pour it in the dish then place the dish on the ground for our dogs to enjoy their meal.
  2. We grab the collar and leash out of its resting place, put it around our dog’s neck, attach the leash and tell them “Let’s go for a walk!”
  3. We grab the car keys off the shelf, turn to our dogs and say “Wanna go for a ride?!”
  4. We open the cookie jar, grab a cookie (or two, or three), ask our dogs to do something for us then feed them the cookie(s).
  5. We pick up the ball off the floor and toss it for our dog to retrieve. Hopefully they bring it back to us, drop it at our feet at which point we pick it up and repeat the process.
  6. We grab our dog’s brush out of the basket and proceed to brush them adding in a nice massage at the end to which our dog’s melt into the floor enjoying the special attention.

The list can go on and on but I think you’re starting to get the point here. My question to you is what do you see that’s the most common item in all of these so far? Besides you doing something for you dog lol. Have you figured it out yet?? Your hands!!

Caleb must think hands are pretty amazing since they can open treat jars, play ball, grab the car keys and give him treats!
Caleb must think hands are pretty amazing since they can open treat jars, play ball, grab the car keys and give him treats!

Besides your calming, reassuring or praising voice, your hands do everything your dog loves. They are the tools that do everything extended away from our body. They are the things our dogs watch most often because they hold and do all the good things thus making our dogs incredible learners of hand signals. So why is it so hard to believe that if our dogs could talk they may say something like…”I absolutely LOVE your hands!”

Now I know some hands out there can perform unbelievably evil actions, but for the most part I think they are pretty kind and loving to our dogs. So, next time you do something with your dog I suggest you take a moment to see what you are doing and how your dog is reacting. You may not find me crazy after all (I hope).

Treat time!

Mental Stimulation for Dogs: Food Puzzles

Give your puppy (and dog) plenty of mental stimulation to decrease destruction.
Give your puppy (and dog) plenty of mental stimulation to decrease destruction.

I don’t know about you, but if I sit around and watch t.v. all day I start to feel agitated and anxious. I feel pent-up and start pacing the house saying I need to get out and do something. I have to believe dogs experience similar feelings when they are stuck in the house all day while their owners are at work. The working dogs, or any dog that has a lot of energy and drive, must go absolutely insane. And I know this to be true as my business has had many calls for “destructive” and “out of control” dogs that just needed a little more engagement in their lives.

It is important to think of mental stimulation as an act that is taxing on the brain. You can play fetch with your dog for a half hour to tire him out but within a short period of time he is ready to go again. This is because although the game of fetch was physically tiring, it wasn’t challenging to your dog. On the flip side, if you work with your dog on a new trick, practice their obedience or play a game of hide and seek with their food, their brain is fully engaged during the session causing them to be more relaxed after.

One of the easiest things to give your dog that provides mental stimulation are food puzzles or interactive toys. You can find a large variety of food puzzles ranging in difficulty levels, sizes, shapes and colors. There’s something out there for every dog, you just need to try a few to find the right fit for your dog specifically.

There are hundreds of food puzzle toys, here are just a few of the interactive toys you can find for dogs.
There are hundreds of food puzzle toys, here are just a few of the interactive toys you can find for dogs. 

One of the added benefits of food puzzles is the length of time it takes your dog to retrieve all food. How long does it take your dog to eat out of a normal bowl? One minute? 30 seconds? Well, when a dog has to work for his food by interacting with a puzzle toy it takes a lot longer, sometimes up to 15 minutes. This is perfect for dogs that are left alone first thing in the morning while the humans go off to work. The owner can give the toy just as they are leaving the house for the day which actually teaches the dog they like when their mom and/or dad heads off to work because they get a fun toy to play with that has food in it. Puzzle toys also help time to go by faster since the dog is preoccupied with getting their food instead of sitting and waiting impatiently by the door or causing destruction due to boredom.

Food puzzles also teach your dog to use all of their senses versus just shoveling food into their mouth when fed out of a bowl. Think about it a moment. Your dog has to figure out how to get the food out of the specified holes which means they are using their eyes, nose, mouth, paws and most importantly, their brains. All of this taxing work helps to tire your dog and encourages them to think and solve problems.

I’ll share a secret I learned over the years to make the process easier on deciding which puzzle toy is best for your dog. I strongly suggest you demonstrate several times how your dog should work with the puzzle toy to get the food. For instance, if it’s a toy that is to be rolled around, roll it around with your hand several times showing your dog what happens. If it is better to toss the toy, or drop it, to get the food out then perform the same function. Dogs mimic so they will catch on quite quickly if they watch you do the same task several times first.

Caleb is ready for his breakfast toy!!
Caleb is ready for his breakfast toy!!

Approximately, only 10 percent of Caleb’s meals are fed in a bowl, the remainder are fed through training lessons or food puzzle toys. I started this when he was just a couple of months old and have kept up the routine to this day. It is a lucky day when Caleb gets what I consider to be a “free” meal, one out of a bowl. But I can tell you that after Caleb finishes these “free” meals, he is looking at me with a look that says, “What’s next?!”  You can see several videos of Caleb and Lasher figuring out some food puzzles on my YouTube channel. Just visit the Caleb’s Food Puzzle Review playlist where we rate different food toys and give them a “paws up” rating with a description of the pros and cons of each toy.

As I mentioned earlier, there are several companies out there offering interactive food toys with prices ranging from $10.00 to $50.00. I suggest you start with easy ones and work up as you see your dog’s skill improve with time. The easiest food toy to use with your dog is the Kong toys. These can be stuffed with their kibble then close the opening with a little canned dog food and stick in the freezer over night. This will make the process a little more difficult since your dog will have to thaw the frozen canned food first to get to the kibble. Please visit the below links to see some of the food puzzle companies and enjoy watching your dog learn.

Fill the Kong toy(s) to the top with your dog's kibble or favorite treats.
Fill the Kong toy(s) to the top with your dog’s kibble or favorite treats.
These Kongs hold Caleb's breakfast and are ready to go in the freezer over night. Each is filled with his kibble (pictured left) then the holes are closed with canned puppy food.
These Kongs hold Caleb’s breakfast and are ready to go in the freezer over night. Each is filled with his kibble (pictured left) then the holes are closed with canned puppy food.

Petsafe interactive toys

Kyjen games for dogs

Kong interactive food toys

Nina Ottosson’s Interactive toys

The Importance of Puppy Holds

Some of you may be asking yourself what in the world is a puppy hold?

Snapshot from Caleb's first puppy with me when he was 9 weeks old.
Snapshot from Caleb’s first puppy hold with me when he was 9 weeks old.

And no, I’m not talking about the fun cuddle sessions we have holding little puppies while we smash our faces into their soft fur to get a big dose of puppy cuteness. Puppy holds are a fundamental necessity in the relationship building of an owner and their dog. Of course we all love to hold puppies, but I bet you never imagined it was serving a real purpose deep down inside for your beloved new family member did you?

One of the hardest things for puppies to learn is the acceptance of being restrained, whether in a person’s arms, on a leash or in a crate. They will fight you and demand their liberty from this “imprisonment” with squeals, whimpers, yelps and sometimes even thrashing. And who can blame them?! They are bundles of energy squeezed into a roly-poly body that can’t sit still for more than 3 minutes unless they are sleeping. However torturous it may seem to a puppy, all of the above are extremely important, especially the puppy hold.

Here are a few highlights explaining their importance:

  1. They instill in your dog, from a very young age, that restraint is not as awful as they think it is. With this training they are much better for veterinary exams,
    Dog being restrained by an x-ray technician. Example of why puppy holds are important - to ease the experience dogs go through at veterinary hospitals.
    Dog being restrained by an x-ray technician. Example of why puppy holds are important – to ease the experience dogs go through at veterinary hospitals.

    grooming sessions, and even canine massage and acupuncture. If you have never been behind the scenes at your veterinarian’s office it is difficult to understand the importance of a dog sitting still, for almost everything that happens there. Whether they be receiving vaccines, having x-rays taken, their ear being scoped for possible ear infections, their toes being searched for possible foreign bodies or even their eyes being looked at to detect cataracts or glaucoma, your dog is being restrained by a veterinary technician. But, if dogs are taught from a young age to accept the restraint, these exams go much smoother and quicker for your dog allowing them to leave the visit with a positive experience.

  2. They teach your puppy that self-control and patience will get them a lot farther in life if they relax and settle down quickly. In essence, the more you fight the restraint, the longer I’m going to hold on to you. However, the moment you relax I will reward you by releasing you and giving you something you want (food, play, etc.).

    The minute he is released I turn it into a game so that he moves onto something fun and rewarding and learns to trust.
    The minute he is released I turn it into a game so that he moves onto something fun and rewarding and learns to trust.
  3. For strong willed dogs, it teaches a level of respect shown upon the owner. If your dog fights you the moment you try to restrain them, and you give in to the pressure of your dog, you have just taught him “throwing a fit” works. That is the very last thing you want to do. You need to teach your dog that things happen because you say they are going to happen, but not to fret because there is a reward in the end.

I think it important to note that I do NOT like to label puppy holds as a form of dominance. Or, the owner “dominating the puppy”. I feel the proper label is that we are establishing respect between one another. You respect my judgement that this is not going to harm you, to trust in me, and in return I will do everything I can to make the episode gentle and rewarding.

These 3 fosters are demonstrating how comfortable they were with me performing puppy holds.  Parker (left) - American Bulldog mix, Lily Rose (upper right) - Ridgeback/Pointer mix, and Joplin (lower right) - American Pit Bull Terrier mix.
These 3 fosters are demonstrating how comfortable they were with me performing puppy holds.
Parker (left) – American Bulldog mix, Lily Rose (upper right) – Ridgeback/Pointer mix, and Joplin (lower right) – American Pit Bull Terrier mix.

By now you may be wondering what makes me such an expert on these puppy holds. Well, over the past 13 years I have raised and fostered over 20 puppies. Each and every one of these puppies had to “suffer” through the puppy hold lesson as part of their daily training sessions. Some of them were a lot quicker to relax in my arms while others fought tooth-and-paw (no joke!) to be released immediately. All of them however learned to accept and even learned to like the puppy holds. And when every foster found their furever home, they settled in without a single problem and continued to be well-mannered because of all the training they received with me from the beginning.

Most recently I have had to work with my personal puppy, Caleb.

A lot of love, praise and petting is given to Caleb just before I put him on the ground and play with him. All this is done in my arms so that he is still being held by me.
A lot of love, praise and petting is given to Caleb just before I put him on the ground and play with him. All this is done in my arms so that he is still being held by me.

And let me tell you, it was not easy! From the very first time I did a puppy hold on him (at about 9 weeks of age), until about 3 months of age, he would scream and bark for no less than 20 minutes, sometimes complaining for up to 45 minutes straight, demanding his freedom. I waited him out every time by keeping a calm presence about me, talking to him soothingly and keeping him in the puppy hold until he was quiet. I would reward him during his quiet moments by feeding him a couple of kibble at a time and also taught him the “look” command to give him something to do instead of protesting. This in turn would give him a food reward and help keep him quieter during the holds. You can watch a very short, approximately 2 minute, video (Puppy Hold Video) on his first puppy hold to see how difficult some puppies can be.

In the beginning Caleb would be released within seconds of him relaxing and becoming quiet. But as he matured and understood what I was asking, I would require him to be quiet for at least 1 minute, then 2 minutes on up to 5 minutes before being released. He is now 9 months old and I can still pick him up and hold him on my lap (although he doesn’t quite fit any more) without him fighting me one single bit.

At 9 months old Caleb still doesn't like puppy holds that much but he now trusts me and no longer fights during the hold. I don't know how much longer we will be doing these as he barely fits in my lap. ;)
At 9 months old Caleb still doesn’t like puppy holds but he now trusts me and no longer fights during the hold. I don’t know how much longer we will be doing these as he barely fits in my lap. 😉