Pax’e Learns the Gum Ball Machine

Pax’e learns the gum ball machine is a nice example of trick training using a clicker.

I like using clickers for very specific tricks or tasks.

We’ll see this again when we see more of the nail board

If you have read some of my other blogs, you will know I am not keen on perfect – just getting where we want to go as happily as possible.

You can almost see Pax’e’s brain cells firing away as she tries to understand how to make the gum ball machine work.


There are times like today when we have to say good bye to a friend and companion who leaves us way to early, just as life was opening up.

There are times in this life when we have to say good bye after a long and fully lived life… Then there are times like today when we have to say good bye to a friend and companion who leaves us way to early, as we did this morning with Shiloh.

Because of his infectious smile, Shiloh was a great photographic subject. Here are some of his greatest photo moments…

Shiloh recently turned six-years-old and in those years he worked as:

  • A Pet Partner therapy dog
  • Companion for the Ponti family
Service video

Chris’s service dog

Did you say, "Party animal?" Or, "Animal party?"

And, all around goof ball when his other duties would permit.

He was such a regular in the Distract O Doggie class that we will all feel the vacancy left without his smiling face and room filling joy.

As his trainer, I spent a lot of time with Shiloh and there were times that I could almost hear the words he wanted to say to me…

"Okay, lady, just tell me what I have to do for those hot dogs!!!
“Okay, lady, tell me what I gotta do for those hot dogs!!! Really, anything, just tell me.”

Goodbye, Shiloh. You are now free of pain, though we are not.

The Thieving Puppy, or How to Teach the Rules of Tug

Teaching your dog the rules of tug and setting up boundaries helps control their natural tugging behavior and gives you both what you want.


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

Q: We’ve just got a new puppy and while he’s got all the rough-around-the-edges things that go along with being a puppy he does one thing that’s driving us crazy: everything becomes a game of tug. If he grabs a pillow off the couch – tug. If he grabs a towel in the bathroom – tug. If he grabs our pants – tug. How can we stop him?
A: First things first: tug is an innate behavior but you can shape and give it rules.

Just what is it tug? In short, you’re seeing a social manifestation of millions of years of their evolution.

As canids evolved and their hunting techniques developed to allow the hunting of larger prey. As a result, tug offered a solution to new issues:

  • Bigger prey require a collective effort to take them down
  • And, larger prey need to be divided up by the group

At some point one canine grabbed one end of a kill and another canine grabbed the other end and tug was born. What started as a solution to communal hunting and eating became what we see today in dogs as the game of tug.

Teaching your puppy how to tug appropriately is a great foundation skill that addresses:
  • Drop-it and leave-it skills
  • Self control skills
  • Trust and focus
  • Practice following rules and boundaries
Pax’e puppy practices tug and self control
The Rules of Tug
  • Ask your dog for a sit or down
  • Engage the game with a cue like “tug” or “take it”.
  • Use a toy large enough so that your hands will be clear of the dog’s mouth. I just love the Tennis Tug!
    • I like to use only one or two designated tug toys because this reduces confusion and focuses their tug energies on their Super Special Tug Toy.
  • When the dog pulls or shakes side-to-side,
    • You can relax your resistance or drop the toy completely.
    • You can continue the game this way if your back and arm joints are strong enough but – if you’re like me – stick with the straight-on tug.
  • When the dog pulls front-to-back or straight-on
    • Keep your resistance on the toy and play the game.
  • If the dog’s teeth hit your hand or clothing at any point
    • Drop the toy, fold your arms, and look or even walk away from the dog.
  • If the dog’s paws briefly land on you
    • You can choose to do the same look or walk away. If they are using you as a lever with the paws up against your body, drop the toy and look or walk away.
    • The dog will probably come back to you with the toy after something like this.
    • When they do, ask for a sit and restart the game using the cue you’ve chosen.
  • If the dog begins tugging any article of clothing
    • Disengage from the dog and give them a time-out from you and the game.

If your dog is a tugger, you will be shocked to see how quickly he/she will learn the rules. Tug is of such high value to most dogs that the game itself becomes a reward for other great behaviors.

Good luck, let me know how it goes, and stay positive!

Ever wonder what our Puppy Pre-School class is like? Let these goofy pups show you what it’s all about!

Our puppy pre-school is a fantastic class, but it’s so much easier to show a video of what it’s all about rather than describe it in words.

Whenever I get a call from an owner with a new puppy in their house the conversation nearly always turns to me describing what the Three Dogs Training Puppy Pre-School is like.

I’ll step them through the incredible importance of early, positive socialization to puppies, how structured play and regular breaks in that play helps to form and cement a bond a trust between you and the new puppy, and walk them through the skills I teach in the class, but invariably that talk gets interrupted by the barking, crazy puppy on the other end of the line.

As I’ve said before, a picture – or movie! – is worth a thousand words on my part, so without further ado here’s the Three Dogs Training Puppy Pre-School as demonstrated by Bowie, Tucker, and our very own Pinball:

Let us know what you think!

Ever wonder what our Nose Work classes are like? Let Edna and Pi show you!

Nose work is a hugely popular, but it’s difficult to quickly explain what it’s all about so we made two movies to let Edna and Pi show you.

One of the most frequent inquiries I get is to explain what our nose work classes are all about.

Telling folks that it’s about building the drive to search for scent, creating targets that are smaller and smaller, or telling them that it’s about teaching the dog enough self-confidence to be able to work on their own with no direction from their owner typically doesn’t give them the answer that they’re looking for.

Falling back on the idea that a picture – or movie! – is worth a thousand words on my part, let’s have Edna and Pi show you what it’s all about.

A little bit of background: both Edna and Pi are in the Three Dogs Training Nose Work III class, and in these videos are looking for an anise-scented target that’s been concealed in a small plastic egg with a couple small holes drilled in it.



Let us know what you think!