Leashes – The Good, The Bad, The Ugly.

Good leash skills come with awareness, practice, patience and a solid understanding of what a leash is meant to do for you and your dog.


Ask Professor Boo is our recurring, positive reinforcement dog training and behavior question and answer column. If you have a question that you would like to ask Professor Boo, please feel free to contact him.

A leash is to the Dog-Human connection like a seat-belt is to the car-driver connection.  Both are safety devices and often mandated by law. Just as we never use a seat-belt to drive our car, we should not use a leash to “drive” our dogs.

A leash allows us a safe and effective connection to our dogs in case of surprises, emergencies, or situations where attention is hard to get or keep.

Once we have trained for attention and other skills a loose leash actually offers us the best control of our dog, and least frustration and stress for our dogs.

Just as we never use a seat-belt to drive our car, we should not use a leash to “drive” our dogs.

Your dog spends most of their time in the yard – Do you need to worry about a leash? There are many times when your dog needs to be on a leash – trips to veterinarians, groomers, walking adventures, classes, etc. Groomers and veterinarians are necessary for obvious reasons. Walking adventures outside their own backyard and classes are necessary too because dogs who don’t experience these things can be under-socialized which often leads to behavioral problems.

To use a leash properly we want to use the right tools wisely so we don’t do damage to our dogs or ourselves and we don’t want to inadvertently teach the wrong things:

The Good – Standard leash is a 6 foot nylon, cotton or leather leash (leather is easiest on human hands; avoid chains as someone usually gets hurt by these). Longer leashes are not standard walking leashes. They are used for training long distance commands.

The Bad – The Tight Leash – All too often the human-dog team becomes accustomed to constant tension on the leash = tight leash. A dog can be stressed and frustrated by a constant tight leash which can often lead to behavioral problems.

The Ugly– The Flexi Leash is almost always a constantly tight leash. In addition to stress and frustration for the dog it actually TEACHES the dog to pull. The Flexi Leash leaves the dog at risk for a variety of injuries and stress responses that can lead to behavioral problems. It also leaves the human at more risk of injury than any other leash.

Good leash skills come with awareness, practice, patience and a solid understanding of what a leash is meant to do for you and your dog.

Help us help Hunter

Hunter, an at-risk dog sheltered at ARF in Beacon, NY, needs your help to find his forever home!

Hunter has been waiting.

Hunter was brought to Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF) in Beacon, NY in November 2008 by a woman who found him loose in Poughkeepsie.  He has won the hearts of all the ARF volunteers and is sweet and affectionate once he gets to know you.  He is worried if he does not know you; and while he may bark a bit, he has never shown any aggressive tendencies.

HunterHe gets along well with other dogs and is often the puppy “uncle” when a new doggie mom can’t take care of all her new pups because she is ill – or if we just want to expand the puppy’s social circle.  He does a great job of being the fun “uncle” to the new little tykes.

He loves cats and spends much of his days playing with them as they run loose in the back while they wait for the maid service to finish cleaning their “rooms.”

Hunter’s big problem is he has many fears.  He is sometimes afraid of the outside Hunter-looking-for-his-cat-buddiesbeyond his pen.  He is usually afraid of cars.  He will need someone to come and get to know him at ARF then begin to take him out regularly or maybe foster him.  We don’t know if he has known a home environment so he needs to get to know one slowly and happily.  He needs to learn that the world outside the shelter can be fun, including new places and even cars.  He needs a human to be his guardian angel either to come regularly to work with him or foster him to get him ready for his forever home – or to be his forever home.

If you are interested in being Hunter’s guardian angel, please come to our next training session at ARF (email me for the date) or email the shelter at

Hunter is a sweet soul who needs a safe home life to allow him to overcome his fears and become the wonderful companion he can be.  He will give his humans warm snuggles on a cold night, and fun bouncy times once he is comfortable with his environment.


Missing Trouble

Today we say goodbye to Trouble, who was taken far too soon by illness.

Trouble was anything but trouble.

She was always happy to see everyone and always game to try any of the crazy games and Troublechallenges of Distract O Doggie class.  As a regular attendee of Distract O Doggie for the last several years, Trouble always made us laugh since she was probably the only Golden on the planet who didn’t really care for treats or toys.  All she wanted was lovin’ and we were all more than happy to give her that.

Good with the other dogs and always friendly with people, Trouble was a joy.  Even when illness started to take hold of her she still shined and sparkled as you can see from her last snow-dog photo.  Although all of us who knew Trouble will miss her terribly it will pale in comparison to how much her family will miss her as they adjust to life without Trouble – better known in class as “Happy Girl.”

We join with her family in saying goodbye to a wonderful soul – Trouble is now pain-free and healthy as she joyfully waits with Maui for her family patiently as only dogs can do.

We’ve been Yelped!

Our first review on Yelp! and it’s a great one!

Earlier I mentioned that our new website has a lot of really cool bells and whistles that Lawrence set up in the background.  I was playing with one of them this afternoon when I stumbled on something that really made my day.

In looking through our Google logs I noticed that Dennie, a student in one of our positive reinforcement basic training classes (along with his pup Heidi), wrote a really fantastic review of Three Dogs Training on Yelp.

Thanks, Dennie!


Thunder! Thunder! Thundershirts, ho!

Thundershirts are a great tool for managing stress – and they’re now available in the Boo-tique!

Thundershirt-MainJust a quick note to let everyone know that we’ve just added Thundershirts to the shop.

In case you haven’t ever heard of them, Thundershirts are a great drug-free way to address anxiety, fearfulness, reactivity and over-stimulation when dogs are confronted with noise, separation and other stressors.  They employ many of the same principles that are seen in TTouch and use gentle, constant pressure to help the dog regain their focus and composure.

Here’s a link to the Thundershirt website where you can find a whole mess of veterinarian and trainer endorsements.

Sometimes drugs are the way to go when dealing with behavioral issues, but having drug-free avenues to explore first can end up being better for you and your dog in the long run.

P.S.  Lawrence insisted on the Thundercats reference.  Don’t feel bad if you didn’t get it – he had to explain it to me, too.