The Dog Blog by Linda Labonte

What a beautiful world it would be if everyone had the heart of a Dog.

The Dog Blog by Linda Labonte - What a beautiful world it would be if everyone had the heart of a Dog.

Treatment of Puppies: There is always a fun way.

I have given birth to 100’s of puppies over a couple of decades, not all mine as often other breeders ask me to help them with deliveries and through their first few weeks of life. Puppies are amongst the cutest, funniest most loving creatures on earth. They’re  all naturally fun, confident, invincible, trusting, unbelievably clean and just love people. No matter the breed, size, color, sex they all born with this naïve view of the world.

Our responsibility as breeders is to enhance these traits so they go to their new homes with as pristine view of the world as they were born. I have developed a keen understanding of puppy behavior and still am challenged by each litter I encounter to spend a huge number of hours with them to this end. I find this part of my job so rewarding.

What is even more rewarding is seeing a puppy come back after a few months or a year with these natural puppy traits even more enhanced by the owners. This is when I know I have really done my job. I have found a good home with people who know or have learned how to properly care for, play with and love a puppy.

Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to insure every puppy gets placed in such a home. You can ask questions, do background checks, offer free training, but you just cannot ensure you have found the right people for your puppy.

You can lead a horse to water but you cant make him drink.

As rewarding as the successes are, these failures are devastating.

Too often people don’t take the time to understand how to communicate with their puppy. They become forceful, stern, frustrated and in too many cases outright abusive to a puppy. When you understand how a happy and confident a dog should be, it is very easy to see when a dog is depraved like this. I have watched many dogs from their cradle to their grave, they never lose confidence or spirit naturally.

I can’t help but to cry for the depraved puppy. All of the immaturity, naivety and playfulness not longer exists. Some people mistake this for a well behaved puppy. Well the sad news is this is always false, it is a puppy who lives in fear, a puppy who’s imprinting is embedded by fear and a puppy who will never be a dog. Often this puppy by the time there are a year old can become quite unpredictable.

You might say all dogs are unpredictable, and all dogs can bite. I can say with certainty, this is not true, I have never had a dog bite someone, not even my protection trained dogs or my dual purpose police dogs will bite without my queue or will bite the wrong person. I have trained thousands of dogs, and could tell you with certainty the dogs who are not predictable. I do however, understand where this impression comes from, it is because the vast majority of dogs have their control work done through force not play, many of these dogs become unpredictable. So the answer is yes, many dogs are unpredictable, but its not natural, they were made that way.

This heavy handed obedience we do to our puppies is completely unnecessary, causes problems, is harder on you, makes your dog harder to train, constant retraining is always necessary and it will be a daunting task to build the trust back should you decide to stop it one day. There are so many much better ways to get better results more quickly, less costly, if we would only stop this inappropriate behavior towards our puppies.

I can prove it, as without fail at 8 weeks my puppies will sit, laydown, play chase, search with their nose, and even better, completely house trained (at my house). I do this by getting them to like dog games and playing with them.

If we all could only realize that taking time to learn to communicate with your puppy through love, play and things they understand, is the easiest, and most rewarding way to have a spirited dog who understands the boundaries of living with your family or working with you.

Please treat and train your puppies with love and play, learn about them, it could become the most rewarding experience you can imagine.

Dog Training Tip #2– Basic dog communication.

After focus and bonding you should start communicating with your dog in very simple ways. Remember the 3 c’s of dog communication – clear, concise and consistent. With the 3 C’s in mind choose a way you can let your dog know when you liked a behavior using a consistent trigger as soon as the behavior is observed. The sooner the better.


If done correctly this will never happen!

This is why clicker training works, the click provides an easy way to get a consistent sound at a consistent tone for a consistent length of time. I don’t like clicker training because you always have to have the clicker with you. I find this is not practical or in many cases possible when living with a dog day in and day out. When trying to train your dog and good behavior is observed, not having the trigger with you can confuse your dog. I much prefer to use the voice as it is much harder to loose your voice, you otherwise always have it with you, and it is unique in this world.


The drawback of the voice, is that we all have emotions, making it hard to produce a sound at a consistent tone, length etc… but I find this is something achievable for most people with practice (without the dog at first). You really have to be conscious of what you are doing, respond with proper tones and don’t let emotion get the better of you. The most common trigger words people use are ‘yes’ and ‘ok’. It doesn’t matter what you use though, as long as you stick to the rules.

After you mastered your voice it is quite simple to show your dog that this is a reward word. Classical conditioning works on even us humans. Just say the word, then reward your dog. Do this over and over again. If you are consistent , very quickly the dog will associate that word with getting a reward. Do it in many environments so the dog knows it applies everywhere.

So what you have now accomplished is you can very quickly tell the dog a reward is coming, and indirectly that their behavior pleased you. This is a critical part of training and should not be short cut in anyway. It is the foundation of communication with your dog. As your bond grows you will learn that your dog lives to please you. Now all of the sudden you have a clear, concise and consistent way to tell the dog you are pleased. Together you will become experts at communicating in a very positive environment and your bond

Dog Training Tip #1 – Focus

The early stages of your relationship you really need to get your dog to focus on you as the center of life. This starts quite simply. When spending time with your dog, you must make sure the training time is free from distractions. You must be able to focus on your dog.

Complete focus on your dog invites the reciprocal – your dogs undivided focuses on you.

Obedience Training

This is so important in the early stages of training. What this focus on each other does is strengthens your bond, allows you to pick up on the subtleties of each others communication, make training fun for the dog. One of the first things you will find out is you dogs attention span (it will be short – but this understanding helps you). The dog will start learning your cues which becomes very important later when you try to do things together.

For our games you need motivators. Good breeders provide dogs with positive motivators (we usually use balls or tugs for motivators as they love things that move – called prey drive). They should send the dog home with these motivators or a favorite treat as a motivation. If not any food usually works for puppies provided you have not just fed the puppy.

Game 1 – Teach the dog to look into your eyes. Just bring a finger up to your eye. The dog will follow the finger because they love to watch things that are moving. As soon as the finger gets close to the eye you will make eye contact. Right away say ‘yes’ or whatever your trigger word is (click of you a clicker trainer) and reward with you motivator. Eventually work the word ‘look’ into this exercise when you point at your eyes.

Game 2 – Teach the dog its fun to be close. Put the motivator 3-4ft away from you. Draw it into your body so the dog chases it close. Say yes and reward the dog. Eventually work in the word ‘here’ or ‘come’ in with this exercise. They will love to come to you after this.

You should take the opportunity when the dog is close to love your dog up. This touching will add to the joy of the time and make your dog want to play with you even more. You cannot love your dog too much, this is true for any dog, whether companion, service, police patrol, or guard dog. They are social animals and love to be loved and play with people they trust (even as geriatrics they love to play if they have complete trust).

End of Tip #1 Focus, focus, focus 

The next tip will talk about using triggers to establish initial basic communication with your dog.

Drinda’s Find

This is a story about Ed and Marsha and their new German Shepherd Dog Drinda.


Drinda was a very fast learner and when she came home from the breeder she was pretty much house broken and did some basic obedience. She is a very spirited young dog with lots of energy and curiosity. As time went on she grew attached to Ed and hung around him more and more. They did all sorts of fun things together like play ball and tug, but most important they loved each other. One day, after Drinda had been in her new home for about six months, she wouldn’t leave Ed alone. Drinda kept nudging him in the neck.


This persisted for several days. Then Ed went to the doctor for a checkup and mentioned it to him.  A few days later a biopsy diagnosed Ed with cancer in the neck. It was located in the exact spot Drinda was nudging. Ed is now in the hospital being treated for his cancer. We all are praying for his well being. Drinda is now at my kennel and she is missing Ed a whole bunch.

Come home soon Ed.

Dog Training as an Inspiring Activity

Dog training is about you learning, how your dog responds to different stimulus, and how the dog communicates reactions and wants back to us. Every dog is very unique in the intensity and method it responds to each thing that stimulates them.

They have much different senses then humans and see things from a completely different perspective. I encourage every dog owner to learn how to think abstractly about the dogs point of view. It is through this abstract thinking that the real trust bond forms with your dog.

Dogs have a sense of smell we cannot even comprehend, they see things not in the same way we do. My dog can catch a Frisbee better in the pitch dark then in light, yet he doesn’t seem to see detail the same way I do. They are not great judges of distance when something is coming straight at them. They can multi task with their hearing often pointing their ears in different directions.

It is through the details of this understanding and learning that I find my clients are truly inspired. Through this inspiration comes a spirited confident and willing companion that enhances your experience wherever you go.