Buster’s 101

27 Apr

Well, Buster’s first official personal behavior modification session is quickly approaching. This Sunday afternoon, we’ll be hitting the modification train hard and fast. And of course I’ll give you an update (and maybe even videos) of his official progress next week. But today I wanted to let you know what we’ve been doing to prepare Buster’s cunning little mind for his session. I think our preparations could help you with your own (slightly, I hope) unruly dog.

To get Buster ready, our trainers told us to get him in a training mindset. So in addition to working on “sit,” “stay,” “down,” “shake,” “watch me,” “door manner” and “rollover,” we’ve been going over two new commands that I’ve found especially helpful and effective. Ready for the low down? Then by all means, read on.

Bonus Picture! Buster helping with the laundry.

“Leave it!”

Buster enjoys a treat after a successful "Leave it!" command.

This is training gold. With “Leave it!” you will be able to keep your dog from eating weird things on the walk or poisonous things in your kitchen. And ultimately, if your dog masters this command, you will be able to get his attention no matter the distraction. I love it so far, and I’d say Buster only has an intermediate level of commitment to it.

How to teach it:

At the beginning stages, crouch in front of your sitting dog and place a treat in front of him, shielding it with your hand. Say “leave it” firmly and when his nose leaves your hand, treat (with a special treat like cut up hotdogs) and praise him. No matter what, do not let your dog eat the shielded treat.


Once he gets the hang of level one (above), continue to up the stakes. Stay crouched but don’t shield the treat with your hand. Place the treat closer and closer to the dog. Increase your distance from the dog and stand and drop the treat and so on. Finally, the trainers told us that a dog should be able to “leave it!” even if a hot plate of people food is on the floor. Or if a smelly can of tuna is available. Finally, and I’ve already tried this, I’ve been able to break Buster’s fixation on birds or dogs (from a healthy distance) with a “leave it!” command. When he hears it, he quickly sits and watches me. Amazing.


When in the midst of training, you have to accept the weirdness of having a bag of cut up hot dogs with you at all times.

Now, I wouldn’t label Buster a yappy dog. But his fear of things he doesn’t understand does extend into his inside life. He hates the whining of our AC kicking on, booming thunder and the clanking of the garbage truck emptying the dumpster just outside our door. Although he is mostly quiet, those select events can send him into a barking fit. But I think I’ve found the remedy in the form of “Quiet.”

How to teach it:

When your dog barks, firmly say “Quiet.” When he quiets, treat him. Repeat. The barking fits should be become less and less common. But you will have to be patient. According to the experts, a dog has to hear a command 100 times to really learn it. So this one will take time, but it is worth it.

Collar Update

This is the only color Petsmart displays on their site. Let's hope they have more variety in store.

Our final piece of preparation is to find a more appropriate collar for him. Again, we want a chain Martingale collar to better control where Buster’s head goes, and to shock him back to calm with the sound of the chain. That may sound excessive, but believe me, it isn’t. After calling Little Rock pet stores, we found that the only one that carries the model we are looking for is Petsmart for about 10 bucks. So if you are interested in gaining more control on the walk, I’d recommend this model!

That’s it for today. I hope that “Leave it!” or “Quiet!” make life with your furry companions a little bit easier. I know they are already working with the Buster, and if that isn’t proof, I don’t know what is. Have a great Wednesday!

One Response to “Buster’s 101”


  1. 2011 Resolutions: May Reality Check « Milk & Cookies - May 2, 2011

    […] hired professional dog trainers, See Spot Sit, to help our furry mess. Also, he has learned the “Leave it!” command this month. It’s not a cute trick, but it is useful. Our first official session got […]

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