The K9 Companion class began as an entry level training course for dogs that are 6 months or older. The concepts, however, can be used for all ages of dogs including puppies. The class introduces you to reward-based training techniques that will help you communicate to your dog a basic vocabulary of commands and will strengthen the bond you have with your dog to help make him or her a better house companion. Please review all the weeks because information in latter weeks make be useful immediately. Certainly there are various sequences in which the exercises may be taught and you should do what works best for you and your K9 Companion.

Excuse Me

Your dog is a social, pack dwelling animal and your household is his pack.  All pack animals thrive best within a relatively stable hierarchy of status with some members being more dominant and others assuming a submissive role.  Your dog wants to gain as much status within the pack as he possibly can for the very simple reason that status bestows perquisites.  Status is not achieved within the pack by aggression, but by submission, with the lower ranking dog giving in to the higher ranking dog’s display of authority.  Your dog will be a much better pet if you do a number of things to keep him from assuming increasingly higher rungs on the dominance ladder.

Pack animals maintain status in a number of ways.  One is to control the use of space by other animals.  To start controlling your dog’s space you need to teach your dog to give in to you on command and by your body position.  Teaching this also has the added value of allowing you to walk into your home with both arms loaded with packages.  Do NOT use food treats in the teaching of this exercise.

Have your dog standing in front of you on a loose leash.  This is for control only.  You will not use the leash to move your dog’s body. Lean into your dog (leaning your torso toward the dog seems to be recognized by them as a status related gesture), say the word MOVE or EXCUSE ME and move toward him with tiny shuffling steps.  Keep moving in your intended direction and do NOT step around him as this will bestow status on him.  As soon as he moves, tell him GOOD.  Keep moving until he moves out of your way.  Do this several times every day.

In your house, you can practice this with the leash off.  Whenever your dog gets in your way, tell him to move and shuffle through him. Plan your routes around your house through your dog. If he is lying in your path, do not walk around him.  Instead, make him move out of your way. The key to having your dog move is your tiny, shuffling, straight ahead steps.  Do not kick your dog or bump him with your knees.

A word of WARNING: Do NOT attempt to practice having your dog move out of your way if he has bitten or seriously threatened you.  Dogs only bite members of their family to whom they feel dominant or when there are serious dominance related, but unresolved, questions.

A very practical use we have found for getting the dog to move is every time the dog jumps on someone, they walk forward saying, MOVE or EXCUSE ME. The dog cannot get set to jump if he also has to get ready to back peddle.

To train and live with a dog, there are two things you need to get from him.  The first is his love.  That's easy because dogs give it freely.  The second is his respect.  In most classes this issue is not addressed.  It results in dogs that know "tricks," but are not really responsive to the owner.   Moving out of your way, because it simulates precisely one phase of the dog's natural social behavior, gets his respect.