Frequently asked questions

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Tenderfoot Natural Dog Training is committed to their clients’ success through all stages of your dog’s development. It’s important that all client questions are answered prior to, during, and after training. If you don’t find answers to your questions, please contact us.

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How do I stream the training videos?

After you purchase the videos, you will receive an email with the instructions for streaming them.

Where did you learn about natural animal training?

Many years ago, we were introduced to natural horsemanship through Buck Brannaman, and our journey into natural animal training began. We’ve worked with Gawani Pony Boy, Pat Parelli, Marty Martens and Leslie Desmond. When witnessing the miracles these legendary trainers worked with their animals, we realized we were already applying these concepts to our relationships with our dogs. We then developed the Tenderfoot 3-Step to help people learn the necessary skills, awareness and understanding to achieve their goals to build love, trust and respect with their dogs. What we love about natural training is that all animals understand it: humans, horses, dogs, cats, birds. It’s really about teaching people to remember the very basics of communication, which benefits them in every relationship.

What about clickers or treat training?

Clickers are small handheld gadgets that click when pressed. The click is instantly followed by food rewards to give the dog a positive association to the click. The click replaces your voice saying ‘good’ or ‘yes’. We consider your voice to be vital in creating clear instruction and a strong connection to your dog. We are not food-focused trainers because relying on food/treats (or anything other than yourself) makes it challenging for your dog to listen at long distances, with distractions or off leash. It’s not ‘get a better treat’, it’s ‘get a better relationship’.

Why don’t you use choke chains, shock collars, pinch collars, harnesses or halters?

While many people believe these things offer a quick fix to “control” a dog, the reality is most create pain/discomfort to your dog. When you create pain, you lose trust. If you rely on a device, your dog will too, and it can be difficult to find success without your device. Stop using the device and your dog’s behavior will likely regress because they weren’t learning, they were only being good to avoid a force or pain. Our philosophy is to do as little as possible to achieve the desired results. We teach a dog to choose good behavior out of understanding, based on your loving leadership.

What is the truth about dominance theory?

Many years ago, someone did a study on wolves and pack behavior and concluded their behaviors were heavily predicated on dominance /submission, aggression and hierarchy. This person later renounced the study due to the environmental influence on the wolves’ behavior. The original Dominance theory held the public’s attention for many years and some very unpleasant training methods evolved. As a result there has been a swing of the pendulum in the training world to ‘Positive Only’.

We believe in leadership without dominance. You should simply be the decision-maker in your relationship with your dog. That means you take the responsibility to teach them how to make good decisions about their behavior—just like having children. We believe in the power of leading the way to bring your dog to balance.

A backlash response to the alpha/dominance training theory has been to never say NO to a dog. The structure of knowing what is right or wrong creates a confident more secure world to live in. The word no is an important part of communication and can help a dog find the guidance it needs to make a good choice. Frankly it doesn’t matter what word you use, but having a word to catch your dog’s attention is important to guiding their next decision. No has repeatedly saved our animals from making near fatal mistakes. Try not to overuse it, as you don’t want it to become the most frequently used word in your dog’s vocabulary.

How do you feel about flexible leashes?

In a nutshell, we believe flexible (or retractable) leashes are dangerous and highly counterproductive. The long, lightweight line between you and the dog doesn’t communicate your intention well and has caused many serious injuries to people and dogs. The heavy, cumbersome handle can be dangerous to the dog if accidentally dropped and comes whipping back at them. Most importantly, flexible leashes actually teach dogs to fight against the constant pressure on their necks, so you are inadvertently teaching your dog to pull against you. Please don’t use these dangerous devices. They do make excellent clotheslines, though!

How long should my training sessions be?

Every relationship, whether human or canine, is ongoing all of the time, not done in sessions. You don’t think of being a good parent or partner for 10-15 minutes a day. It’s a full-time endeavor. The same applies to your relationship with your dog. We can help you communicate and connect with your dog all day long, giving your dog lots of jobs to do to keep them busy and entertained. This creates a happy human and a happier dog.

Does your training work with all dogs?

Our training works with dogs of all ages, breeds and with all issues, because it is how dogs understand the world. The key is communication and developing an ongoing relationship of love, trust and respect. We teach you to understand your dog, and know how to develop a healthy relationship with them. We give you the skills to communicate clearly and effectively, and how to read your dogs intentions. It’s important to remember that everything you do has meaning to your dog. It is very simple—you just have to practice.

How do I fit the collar to my dog?

Place the collar high on the neck so you are locking it in at the narrowest point of the neck just behind the widest part of the skull. When the collar is on the dog you should be able to fit a few fingers between the neck and the collar—not too big to slide off and not too snug to choke. If you can pull the collar off of their head so can they. A loose collar is very dangerous. If it gets caught on anything, it can result in strangulation. If they can pull it off their head they can escape the leash.

If you are sizing a collar on a puppy, please make sure you check the sizing every couple of days. Puppies grow very fast and can outgrow a collar before you know it.

What kind of leash/collar is best?

For the comfort and safety of your dog, the wider the collar, the better. It should be made of a strong but comfortable material (we prefer nylon), and double the usual thickness. Narrow collars can cause damage to a dog’s trachea and thyroid, and cause too much discomfort. We don’t want your dog to be good to avoid pain; we want them to be good because they understand.

Note: NEVER leave a collar on without a leash attached to you. Dogs get into fatal trouble when collars get caught on just about anything.

The same is true for leashes. A wide (¾” – 1”) leash made of a double thick nylon is best. It is more comfortable to your hand and has greater weight with which to communicate.

Is it ever too late to train?

Saying an old dog can’t learn is like saying an older person can’t learn something new. Any dog that enters our home is expected to learn the rules of our house because they are all capable of doing so, no matter the age. All dogs are willing and able to adapt to a new environment, which often means learning better manners or expanding their vocabulary. Sometimes it just takes extra patience to help them overcome old, bad habits.

When should training start?

Dogs are never too young or too old to learn. Puppies are learning constantly, so it is better to begin to teach correct habits and good manners right away. Rescue dogs may need a little time to get used to a new environment, but don’t wait too long. As soon as they seem settled, start with simple rules of the house and build from there. Once a rescue dog is clear about the rules in their new home, they will feel more secure.

Is it okay to get two puppies at the same time?

We do not recommend it. When you bring two puppies home, they are far more likely to have a stronger relationship with each other than with you, and you will be hard-pressed to become part of their happy twosome. Instead, we recommend getting one puppy, teach them to be the best they can be, and when they’re really connected to you, have great manners and are more mature, think about bringing in another puppy. Also, the beauty of this theory is the older dog will be a good teacher to the newbie.

How do I get my puppy used to the leash?

Practice and patience. First, they must get used to the collar, so practice taking it on/off calmly and gently and let them wear it for a while to get used to it while you are present. Next, introduce the leash. What most bothers a puppy is the pressure it feels on its neck when it reaches the end of the leash. The most important thing to teach your puppy is to give to pressure, not fight it. When they fight it just stay still (don’t give in to them with the leash). Once they calm down, give them lots of loving praise. They will learn that giving to the leash feels good, makes you happy and gets them some great butt rubs.

Should I send my dog to a trainer to be trained for me?

This is all about you and your relationship with your dog, so don’t make it about someone else’s relationship with your dog. Good trainers teach you, so you can teach your dog.

Board and train can work well if your trainer is able to support you through the challenges once you get the dog home. Please note: there are many sad stories of people sending their dogs to B&T without fully knowing the trainers or methods. Research trainers just as you would as if you were sending your child to camp.

When should we socialize?

Dogs crave socialization, so the best answer is to socialize them always and forever. Socialization is about experiencing new things in a positive way, and we encourage exposing your puppy to as many new experiences and places as you deem safe. Use good sense and arrange play dates with physically and emotionally healthy dogs of all ages, shapes and sizes. The more variety in your puppy’s world the better.

Always be sensitive to the age of your dog, their sensitivity and comfort in new situations. Puppies between 8-10 weeks, 16 weeks and sometimes into their teenage months go through stages of heightened sensitivity. Don’t take them to potentially scary situations during these times. Keep things happy and positive for your pup so that’s what they remember. When your pup shows curiosity about something then praise with lots of love.

If you encounter something that makes your pup nervous, just act confidently towards whatever the object is. “Oh look, it’s a man in a big yellow hat.” Say it in a neutral tone like you see guys like that all of the time. It needs to be a non-event. Your energy feeds into your pup’s energy. You must be calm to teach calmness.

However, we don’t recommend a puppy go to a dog park until at least 6 months old. Dog parks are too risky for young pups, so wait until the puppy is emotionally and physically stronger before entering the big dog playground.

Doggie Daycare facilities are great for socialization if they are well run. Research your options just like you would a daycare for your child.

Is it okay for the dog to be in our bed?

It’s fine to share your bed with your dog. In fact, it is natural for the pack to sleep together. However, it is not okay for the dog to claim your bed as theirs. You need to teach your dog they are welcome on the bed only when you invite them, and get off the bed when you ask them. You are claiming your territory and that prevents lots of problems like resource guarding.

Where should a new puppy sleep?

Puppies should not be ostracized to another room for sleeping, like the laundry room. They are generally taken from their litters way too early and will benefit from sleeping next to a warm body with a beating heart. They actually bond with you while sleeping. Plus, they sleep more deeply through the night, so there is little worry of accidents. Starting your puppy out in your bed does not mean it will or should be in your bed for the rest of their life. They will get used to the routines and security of your home in about a week, and then it’s fine to move them off the bed and into a crate or dog bed located next to yours. We don’t recommend that you let a young pup sleep in their own bed on the floor just yet. They have a lot of stages to go through and they will make lots of mistakes while you are sleeping. Some dogs aren’t fully trustworthy until they are more mature at 2 yrs.

What do you think of crate training?

Crates are a great training tool and comfort for your dog. Crates are like personal dens and your dog will take comfort in having one. If a dog has their crate, they will feel safe and at home anywhere. It is important to never use the crate as a punishment. Crates are excellent for keeping young puppies safe when they can’t be watched and can also aid potty training. Note: pet store puppies are highly likely to soil their crates because they were forced to in the store environment. In addition, crates can be handy for separation problems. If all dogs were crate trained there would be less dogs in shelters.

What can I do about separation anxiety?

Insecure, previously abandoned or overly attached dogs can have terrible issues when you leave the house. They panic because their buddy is gone and they think you may never return. They rely on the person being there and being close to them most of the time. So when you leave they simply aren’t able to cope. You are their security blanket and they don’t know how to feel safe without you. Whenever you leave, or if you’re away for too long, they panic. The torn furniture, soiled carpets, scratched doors, etc. are all efforts to save themselves or relieve their stress. The best way to teach a dog that you come and go all of the time is desensitization, that is, repeating the leaving and returning over and over again until your dog relaxes and chills out. Your coming and going needs to become a non-event. For some dogs it will require 30 repetitions, for others it might require 300. Depending on your daily routine, we have many strategies you can use to accomplish this. Plan on taking the time needed by practicing until you see a change in your dog. It will pay off with a lifetime of security and peace.

What about carsickness?

Many puppies are the victims of carsickness; they just don’t have their equilibrium yet. Do not feed the puppy before a ride (less to toss up), and try to make the trips short. They will usually grow out of it by 8-12 months old. Keep in mind, once a puppy throws up in the car, they remember it and it affects future trips. You can try to desensitize them to the car by getting in the car and practicing going down to the end of the driveway and back, then just around the block and so on. Or just sit or play with them in the car and not go anywhere. Try to create happier car memories for him. There are remedies for temporary solutions for unavoidable trips that could pose a problem.

Why does my dog pull so much?

People unwittingly teach their dogs to pull from the beginning of their first leash walk together. For example, folks think a new puppy needs to sniff in 30 places before going potty, so they allow a puppy to pull here and pull there. Then they learn to pull you towards the squirrel on the tree or to the dog walking past you. Each time you let them pull you even one inch in the direction they want to go, you are reinforcing it. Before you know it, they think pulling is what they are supposed to do. Remember, dogs do what works, and when it works, they do it more. We have great drills that teach you how to use a leash properly and teach dogs how to walk with you on a loose leash from the start.

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