Welcome Home! Ultimate Guide Further Info.

Below you can find the further information that I reference in my Welcome Home! Ultimate Guide:

Security & Confidence

Daily routines help your puppy develop a sense of security and confidence. Follow this daily guide to raise a happy, well-socialized and well-behaved puppy:

7-9am: Outside, Breakfast, Walk & Play

  • Take puppy out of crate/kennel. (More on crate/kennel training in my Welcome Home! Ultimate Guide DVD.)
  • Take puppy directly outside to eliminate. “Label” the process with a phrase like “go potty,” then praise and offer a treat when he is successful. (More on house training in my Welcome Home! Ultimate Guide DVD.)
  • Breakfast.
  • About 15 mins. after breakfast, take puppy outside to eliminate again and then take him for a walk (if he has had his vaccinations).
  • Take puppy back inside and allow him to explore a little. Give a treat-filled chew toy for play and fun. Play the “Capture” games throughout the day. Put him in a kennel or exercise pen, or tether him in a supervised, social area and give him a high-quality, chewy treat.

9am-12pm: Rest

12-1pm: Outside, Training & Play

  • Take puppy outside to eliminate.
  • Play the “Find It” games. After watching my Welcome Home! Ultimate Guide DVD on how to train your puppy with cues, practice sit, down, stay, come, go-to-bed, etc.
  • Throw toys and play.

1-4pm: Rest

5-6pm: Outside, Walk, Training & Play

  • Take puppy outside to eliminate.
  • Take puppy for a walk (if he has had his vaccinations).
  • Play the “Find It” games. After watching my Welcome Home! Ultimate Guide DVD on how to train your puppy with cues, add in some of this training also.

4-9pm: Dinner, Training & Play

  • Give puppy supervised free time or keep him kenneled or tethered in a social area of your home. Watch TV, read or work on your computer while practicing the “Capture” games. Give a treat-filled chew toy for play and fun.

9pm: Outside then Sleep

  • Take puppy outside to eliminate.
  • Keep puppy in a kenneled area in your bedroom for a good night’s sleep.

We suggest this vaccination protocol created by W. Jean Dodds, DVM:

9-10 Weeks Old: Distemper + Parvovirus, MLV (e.g. Merck Nobivac [Intervet Progard] Puppy DPV)

14-16 Weeks: Same as above

20 Weeks or Older: Rabies (if allowable by law)

1 Year: Distemper + Parvovirus, MLV (optional = titer)

1 Year after initial dose: Rabies, killed 3-year product (give 3-4 weeks apart from Distemper/ Parvovirus booster)

Dr. Dodds considers infectious canine hepatitis (adenovirus-1), canine adenovirus-2, bordetella, canine influenza, canine coronavirus, leptospirosis, and Lyme regional and situational. Please research the prevalence in your area, and discuss it with your veterinarian.9-10 Weeks

Collars, Harnesses, Leashes and Tethers

It used to be that all anyone needed to walk and/or train their dog was a six-foot leash and a choke chain.  My how times have changed – and for the better. This article explores the many varieties of collars, harnesses leashes and tethers on the market today and the good, the bad and the ugly of how they are used.

As a professional reward-based trainer, I believe that whatever tool you choose, it should be used humanely, with your first thought being what is best and most comfortable for your dog. My personal philosophy is that collars, harnesses, leashes and tethers should primarily be used as safety tools, not training tools.  As you’ll discover below, collars, in particular, should not be used for training a dog to walk nicely on a leash. They should only be used to carry identification tags.


For many, collars are, nevertheless, used for training, to hold identification tags and as fashion accessories. They can be made of nylon, plastic, cotton, rubber, leather and metal. Types include everyday-use collars such as rolled collars, flat collars, martingale collars, buckle collars, and snap collars. Safety-minded, “break-away” collars are designed so that dogs that grab while playing don’t potentially strangulate their playmate or injure themselves by getting their jaws caught. Specialty collars include electronic training collars, spray collars, flea collars, flotation collars and Elizabethan and inflatable “donut” collars (typically used to keep a dog from licking a wound and/or sutures). This entire article could be devoted to collars alone but then we would have no room to write about harnesses, leashes and tethers. So, to keep things economical, we’ll review the pros and cons of the most familiar and most used collars.

Choke chains and Prong Collars    

Choke chains, also referred to as “slip” collars, chain training collars and check chains, have been around for over 50 years. They were originally made popular by British dog trainer Barbara Woodhouse in the 1960’s. The choke collar is placed just behind the dog’s ears and constricts or tightens when the trainer pulls on the leash.  A prong collar, also known as a pinch collar is made of a series of metal spikes or prongs, or wedge-shaped points that pinch the loose skin of the dog’s neck when the trainer pulls on the leash. Both choke and prong collars can be made of metal, plastic or nylon and are primarily used to control a dog’s pulling and lunging and to get them to heel (walk by a person’s side). The trainer usually employs a series of short jerks on the leash, also called “pops”, as punishment to get the desired result. Ultimately, the dog learns to avoid the aversive tightening of the collar around his neck by walking near the trainer’s side.

PROS: None

It is certainly possible to force a dog to stop doing something such as jumping or lunging, and it is possible to teach a behavior such as heeling by using a choke or prong collar. However, our understanding of how dog’s learn has come a long way in the past 20 years and the field has evolved, resulting in safer, easier, and more reliable reward-based training methods. Using a choke or prong collar to force a behavior is no way to educate a family member and friend. It is no way to promote kindness, compassion, empathy and nonviolence in the world.

CONS: The possibility for whiplash and injuries to the trachea and esophagus that can lead to complete asphyxiation (such as when a dog is hung or “helicoptered”).

Other injuries may include spinal cord trauma that may impact movement and cause paralysis, injuries to blood vessels in the eyes, neck sprains, bruising and damage to the skin and tissues in the neck and/or behavioral problems such as pain-influenced aggression which may lead to severe bites.

Martingale Collars

Martingale collars, also known as limited slip collars or greyhound collars, are flat, usually cotton collars with a loop that goes over the dog’s head and another attached loop that, when pulled, tightens the loop around the dog’s head.  Properly adjusted, it tightens but never closes the loop completely so it doesn’t choke.

PROS: Doesn’t choke a dog and the design makes it virtually impossible for a dog to slip out of or to back out of, when it is fitted properly.

CONS: Loose loops. People often do not fit the collar correctly and the dog’s paw can sometimes get caught in the dangling loop and sometimes the dog gets her lower jaw caught. It must be stressed that properly fitted, the collar is safe.

Unfortunately, some people believe the collar is designed to keep a dog from pulling. It is not.

Lastly, for safety’s sake, it is very important to remove any collar, especially a Martingale when dogs are playing with one another and when dogs are put in their kennels.

Electronic Collars

Electronic collars are also referred to as remote-training collars or shock collars. An electronic collar is designed to deliver an electrical charge in order to communicate what the trainer wants the dog to do or stop doing. Electronic collars can be used in three ways:

  1. Marker: A signal to the dog that a behavior is correct and a treat is on the way. In this mode, the collar is set at the lowest vibrational intensity possible. Classical conditioning is used first to pair the tactile electrical sensation with a highly-valued treat. Some blind and deaf dogs are trained in this way.
  2. Cue to elicit a behavior: A signal to the dog to do a particular behavior, such as turn left, turn right, lie down, come, etc. In this mode, the collar is set at the lowest vibrational intensity possible.
  3. Cue to stop a behavior, aka Punishment: This is the option most people are familiar with. If a dog is doing something the trainer doesn’t want like jumping, barking, lunging, escaping from a yard, and so on, an electric current is delivered to the dog through two contact points located on the collar. In this mode, the collar is set at a level with enough intensity to force the dog to comply because of the discomfort or pain caused by the electric current.

PROS: In the experienced hands of a reward-based trainer, an electronic collar can be an effective tool in remote training as well as for some, not all, blind and deaf dogs.

CONS: If all e-collars in existence had a maximum setting of a “feather’s touch,” without any chance of additional intensity, they can, with strict instruction and careful monitoring, be a useful tool for many, but not all, dogs. Unfortunately, this is not the case and there are several other reasons electronic collars are not recommended, including:

The trainer’s skills. In the hands of anyone but the most skilled individual, which includes precise timing, consistency and awareness of the individual dog’s physical and emotional capabilities, the propensity for mistakes and abuse in using in electronic collar are almost guaranteed. And that becomes a catch-22. In order to achieve an effective level of expertise, the individual has to experiment and practice, which means the dog is going to suffer while the trainer hones his or her skills.

Using Aversive Training Methods There is a greater safety risk when using aversive training methods. If too much force or intensity is used, the dog may shut down completely and the relationship with the trainer or other humans or animals is irreparably harmed. This is especially true if shock collars are used on already stressed, fearful and reactive dogs. If too little force is used, the dog simply learns to ignore the signals. In addition, the temptation exists for people to “speed the process up” by cranking up the intensity. As with the use of choke and prong collars, if a trainer thinks a little correction works, it is easy to slip into “a little more might work better” mode and the intensity of the corrections increase.

The Individual Dog. The amount of pain that a dog feels depends on several factors: the dog’s touch sensitivity, the amount of hair between the collar’s contact points and the dog’s skin, the dog’s temperament and past training history, and so on. It is impossible for any human to feel what a dog is feeling. Putting a shock collar around one’s own neck cannot compare to what a particular dog will feel. Even if one did such an experiment, the emotional impact is quite different if the control is given to another person and the experimenter never knows when the correction is coming.

Unintentional Corrections.  I can attest to the fact that a dog can experience a shock completely unrelated to the trainer’s intentions. Occasionally an outside radio frequency can set off the dog’s shock collar, such as a child playing with a remote-controlled toy or an automatic garage opener.

Ethical Consideration. If a behavior can be elicited or controlled without causing pain or discomfort, why would anyone consciously choose to inflict pain or discomfort on a cherished companion, friend or family member?

Summary: Collars

Wider collars are more comfortable for dogs, whether you choose a buckle collar, a snap collar or a Martingale collar. Whatever collar you choose, it should be regularly checked for proper fit. Collars should never be used for training, only for identification.

Remember to take collars off when you put your dog in a kennel or when they are playing with other dogs. In those situations, a break-away collar with secondary tags is highly recommended.

Stay away from choke and prong collars and stay away from electronic collars unless under the direct supervision of a professional trainer, rooted in reward-based training.


There are several types of harnesses for several types of purposes: car harnesses, anti-pulling harnesses, sled dog harnesses and regular harnesses. This section will focus on the harnesses used to maintain safety on walks.

To preface, I believe harnesses, like collars, should be only used as safety tools. They should not be used for training.  It is recommended that for safety and comfort, with few exceptions, a leash be attached to a properly fitted harness rather than collar when walking a dog.

Lastly, no “no-pull” harness should be a substitute for training your dog to walk without pulling or lunging. But until a dog is an accomplished “nice walker,” an anti-pulling harness can be very helpful.

Nose Harness

A nose harness, also referred to as a head halter, is one of the most common anti-pulling harnesses on the market. It works on the principle of “where the head goes, the body follows.”  A nose harness works as a form of negative reinforcement: gentle pressure is applied on the dog’s nose whenever the dog pulls; that pressure is released immediately when the dog stops pulling.

Some brand names of head halters include “Gentle Leader,” “Promise Collar,” “Comfort Trainer,” “Canny Collar” and “Halti.”

PROS: Properly, the nose harness/head halter doesn’t cause pain and can be an effective, humane anti-pulling tool.

CONS: Harnesses won’t work for some dogs because of their physiology (e.g., brachycephalic dogs like Pugs and French Bulldogs because the straps ride up into the dog’s eye area). Also, many dogs do not like contraptions around their muzzle (however, after a few days of counter-conditioning, such dogs can usually wear the halter without difficulty).

Further, there can be a serious safety factor regarding the potential for spinal injury when using a nose harness. If a dog suddenly lunges and comes up short at the end of the leash, the dog’s head can be jerked violently sideways. Along those lines, in spite of written cautions, some people use leash corrections on a dog wearing nose harnesses. Leash corrections are never recommended in training and this is especially dangerous if a dog is wearing a nose harness. The quick jerks and pops of the leash can easily injure a dog’s neck and spine.

Lastly, many dogs revert to pulling once the halter is removed.

Front Attachment Harnesses

As the name implies, the front attachment harness has a connection ring situated on the dog’s chest. Some styles also include a ring situated on the straps that meet over the dog’s back. When the leash is attached to the chest ring and the dog pulls, he or she is guided back toward the dog walker. This type of harness is also one of the most commonly used anti-pulling harnesses on the market.

Some brand names of front attachment harnesses include Freedom, Easy Walk, Sensation and Walk-in-Sync.

PROS: Fitted correctly, a front attachment harness can be a very effective anti-pulling tool.

CONS: It should be noted that no one harness works best for every dog, due to body shape and design. For some dogs, a particular harness’ connecting snap ends up right under the dogs “arm pit” and is very uncomfortable for the dog. In general, wider straps are more comfortable for dogs than thinner ones.

Over time, a strong puller can work the harness a little loose, so it should be checked before every walk. In addition, I always recommend attaching a carabineer to both the collar and the harness, not only for added safety, but the clip will hold the front strap in place, keeping it effective.

One more thing:

Although there is some controversy in the medical community regarding front attachment harnesses, see http://www.whole-dog-journal.com/issues/16_7/features/the-no-pull-debate_20782-1.html, I still recommend that if you are going to jog with your dog, a front attachment harness is the tool to use until the dog is taught to no longer pull or lunge.


The Thunderleash can be used as a plain leash or as a harness. For use as an anti-pulling harness, it is designed with a metal “harness slot” that rests between two buckles. The leash wraps around your pet and is threaded through the metal slot. It is then attached to the dog’s collar. When the dog pulls, a mild pressure is applied around the dog’s midsection which reduces their desire to pull.

PROS: Easy to put on.  Humane. Works for some dogs very well.

CONS: Not a lot of sizes to choose from. This is pertinent because people with smaller dogs have had problems with the hefty buckle size not staying in place.

Summary: Harnesses

Anti-pulling harnesses are effective safety tools when going on walks but no one harness works for every dog. Size, strength and body shape all factor in. A professional trainer is always recommended, not only to help you decide what harness to use, but to teach you how to get your dog to walk nicely on a leash so an anti-pulling harness isn’t even necessary.

Secondly, anti-pulling harnesses can teach a dog not to pull when they are wearing the harness, but the dog often reverts to pulling when not wearing the harness. Once again, we recommend hiring a professional, positive trainer.

Lastly, all harnesses are only as good as their fit. Make sure that whatever harness you use is fitted correctly, and, as suggested earlier, it’s not a bad idea to correctly add an additional clip or carabiner for additional safety.


As with collars and harnesses, leash types are many: standard leashes, leashes used in the show ring, bungee leashes and retractable leashes. Which one is best for you and your dog?

Basic Leashes

Basic leashes are made of leather or cotton and are usually six feet in length. You can spend hundreds of dollars on designer leashes but let’s face it, your dog could probably care less.

Virtually no dog enjoys their first introduction to a leash. Not only do they hate being restrained, it triggers their oppositional reflex and they pull frantically trying to escape. With a newly adopted, never-been-on-a-leash-before dog, it is always a good idea to introduce the leash in conjunction with something positive like highly valued treats: chicken, hamburger, cheese, and so on. Also, let the dog drag the leash to his food bowl and while playing outside, supervised of course. It won’t take long for the dog to realize the leash is a good thing, especially because it now allows him to go on walks. I always recommend hiring a positive trainer to walk you through the steps of getting a new puppy used to a leash.

PROS: Virtually any leash will work fine. But stay away from metal chain leashes as they are heavier than a regular cotton or leather leash and more uncomfortable on most dogs.

CONS: Exercise caution with the clips on the end of the leash. Some are poorly made and can slip off the collar or harness. Others are simply difficult to work and you’ll end up fumbling around for a few seconds to get them off.

Bungee Leashes

Bungee Leashes are also known as elastic or stretch leashes. Most are made of rubber so that when the dog pulls, the leash stretches out. Some are straight and some are coiled. Some are long, some short and some thin and some thick.

PROS: The leashes’ “give” can be a good thing as the stretchiness can absorb the impact of a dog suddenly lunging while on a walk. We’ve all seen what happens when a dog comes up short at the end of a leash when a squirrel darts by.

Also, I have found elastic leashes very useful in teaching a dog not to pull. It is the only leash I recommend for training purposes. That being said, it is not for everyone and you should hire a professional trainer to instruct you how to use it in this manner.

One of the exercises trainers use to teach a dog to walk nicely on a leash is the red light/green light game. If the dog comes to the end of the leash, the trainer stops walking. When the dog backs up and the leash loosens, the trainer starts walking again (green light). If you play this game while the dog is wearing an elastic leash, the dog quickly learns to feel the slightest tension of the leash increase and stops pulling, knowing that if the tension increases more, you will stop walking. The end result is a dog continues walking while maintaining the slightest, if any leash tension.

Lastly, the other thing I like about these leashes is the fact they don’t hang as low to the ground thereby not getting tangled between the dog’s leg’s as much as a regular 6-foot leash.

When choosing an elastic leash, no leash should be more than six feet in length in order to maintain control of your dog. For dogs over 15 pounds, only thick-width leashes should be used.

CONS: Many of these leashes are marketed as “correction leashes.” They should never be used to give a dog a correction.

Retractable Leashes

Retractable leashes are also known as extension leashes. They work on the same principle as the measuring tape you find in hardware stores. When the dog moves forward, the spring-loaded leash, usually a cord of thin rope or cotton strap, extends from a plastic handle. Lengths vary from six to 100 feet. When the dog moves back to the dog walker, the cord retracts back into the handle. There is a clip on the handle that the dog walker can use to lock the leash at a specific length.

PROS: None

CONS: Retractable leashes can be very dangerous because they offer no control over your dog. Your dog can suddenly be ten feet away from you, chasing a cat into the street or be found wrapped around your legs, trying to escape another dog. This happened before one of my dog training classes. It was the first week of class and a woman made a mistake and got out of her car with her dog on a retractable leash. The dog got scared by a huge bouncy Labrador puppy who was pulling his human toward the car. The dog on the retractable leash kept running around the woman’s legs until the poor woman lost her balance and fell over on top of her dog. We quickly got things under control and I had my assistant teach the class while I took the visibly upset woman aside. It turns out she was four months pregnant! She didn’t remain in class but we kept in touch and fortunately everyone was ok. But it was still too close for my comfort.

Lastly, I have seen many puppies or recently adopted, sound-sensitive dogs suddenly run for their lives when their adopter accidentally drops the plastic handle, scaring the life out of the dog while it rattles behind him.

Summary: Leashes

The safest leashes are the ones that are well made and are made out of leather or cotton with high-quality, easy to handle clips and are four to six feet in length. Leashes measuring ½ inch to one inch in width are preferred. Stay away from retractable (extension) leashes and chain leashes. And hire a professional trainer if you decide to use an elastic (bungee) leash.


A tether can be made of rope, cable, cotton or leather (like leashes), or chain.

The idea of putting a dog on tether is a very hot topic. Deservedly so. The improper use of tethers has led to unimaginable abuse such as dogs being left out in a yard unattended with no water, exercise, play or socialization. There are numerous reports linking unattended tethered dogs with aggression. From the outset, let’s be perfectly clear:

  1. A dog should never be tied to anything while unsupervised or unattended. This is obvious when you think of the potential dangers, including the aforementioned aggression issue, the dog getting tangled up and injured, or the potential emotional trauma of being restrained and left alone. And, you don’t want your dog to be stolen.
  2. A dog should never be tethered without shade, water or shelter from the cold or rain.
  3. A dog should never be tethered where he or she cannot escape from other animals, including insects.
  4. A dog should never be put on a tether as a punishment.

All this being said, a tether can be used safely and, when used properly, as a powerful management tool for training. When I suggest using a tether as a safe management tool in the house, most people cringe a little, as they don’t want their dog to be tied up.

When I point out that walking a dog on a leash is a form of tethering, the concept becomes a little more acceptable. Positive trainers compare tethering to holding a child’s hand so they can’t run out in the street, run out the front door, steal candy off a shelf, and so on. And just like keeping children safe by holding their hand, a tether is a temporary prevention/management tool that gives the adopter time to let the dog form good behavioral habits rather than bad habits that then have to be corrected. Proper tethering helps resolve problems like jumping, stealing, running out the door, begging at the table, housetraining, getting on furniture, and more.

The rules for tethering are:

  • Get your dog to love being tethered using step-by-step progressions of systematic desensitization and counter-conditioning.
  • Only tether a dog when you are in the room to supervise.
  • Use thicker cables rather than a leash, a rope or a chain so the tether doesn’t wrap around the dog’s leg(s) and get tangled up. Plastic coated, chew-proof cables measuring 3/8 inch in width and wider are good choices.  However, in a pinch and if properly supervised, a leash is ok.
  • Only use tethering as part of a training program that includes teaching your dog appropriate behaviors.
  • Only use a tether for prevention and management and do so only for short training periods.
  • For comprehensive instructions on proper tethering, go here: