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Training Tips - Your Questions Answered

July 2014

Dear Amy:

My family has Jack Russell Terriers, and I was wondering how we can best control their barking. They seem to bark at everything! Shadows, leaves, birds, etc. What are the best ways to help control this?

Amy Peterson:  Oh the joys of owning a high energy terrier!  Dogs bark for a variety of reasons; boredom, alerting to an intruder (even if it is just a neighborhood cat or song bird), for attention, excitement and genetic predisposition (think beagle) are some of the most common reasons.  Your dogs are probably barking for a combination of reasons.  The first step is to find alternate activities for them to do, this will help them burn off some of their excess energy which will reduce boredom. Food puzzle toys, dog sports, training, hiking and swimming are all great activities to keep your terriers busy and out of trouble.

Some of the barking is likely alert barking and excitement/arousal barking.  They are terriers after all and there isn’t much that doesn’t get a terrier excited. Contacting a qualified trainer is probably a good idea so they can get you on a training plan to address these issues.  To put an immediate stop you might consider using a citronella bark collar.  The collar emits a harmless spray of citronella whenever the dog barks.  Many dogs dislike the citronella so they cease to bark when they are wearing the collar.

~ Amy Petersen, My Clever Canine

June 2014

Dear Amy, 

I recently adopted a very active pit-bull mix and want to find activities and/or events for her that she will enjoy doing and will keep her happy and exercised. How do I go about finding something that she enjoys doing, and how do I work with her to learn how we can work together in this activity?

Amy Peterson:  Congratulations on your new addition!  Bringing a new dog into your home is always exciting but does require some work on your part so things run smoothly.  Finding an outlet for your high-energy dog is a great way to prevent many common behavior problems. There are so many different activities that dogs can participate in, even mixed breed dogs. Dock jumping, nosework, agility, obedience, rally, weight pull and lure coursing are all activities your dog may find enjoyable.  

There are several resources you can use to find dog events in your area.  My first suggestion would be to call local trainers and find out if any of them have experience with dog sports.  They may be able to point you to a club in your area or a trainer that specializes in each type of sport.  You can also google the individual sports and find out if there are events in your area. I would suggest attending several different events so you can get a feel for what might best suit your dog and you.  AKC and UKC trials are sometimes a good place to start as they will often have a variety of events all at the same location. Each organization has their own website where you can search for events in your area. Meetup.com is also another great resource for dog owners looking to meet up with other like-minded dog owners in their area.  Often there will be organized hikes, play dates and training groups that you can check out and join.

Best of luck finding a sport or activity that fits your new companion! 

~ Amy Petersen, My Clever Canine


Amy Peterson is a dog trainer living in Vacaville, CA. She operates her own business, My Clever Canine, has been training dogs professionally for over ten years, and has attended classes and seminars by notable trainers such as Michael Ellis (Michael Ellis School for Dog Trainer’s), Dr. Ian Dunbar, Trish King, and many others. In addition to running her own dog training business, Amy has worked at the Solano SPCA helping to evaluate dogs as well as hosting training workshops for volunteers and potential adopters. Amy trains and competes with her personal dogs in sports such as Dock Diving, Obedience, Lure Coursing, and various other events. 

Contact My Clever Canine:

Tel: (707) 999-8389



April 2014

Hi Gary,

I adopted a three year old Male neutered Dachshund last November.  He is high energy and sweet to the bone.  I’ve worked in Veterinary medicine for 10 years so I am familiar with the ups and downs of a new older pet in the house and I don’t coddle him.  But this dumbfounds me.  Why does he urinate in the house on occasion right after I walk him with my other Doxie/chihuahua?

Thank you.

~ Aimée, Chicago

Dear Aimée,

Thanks so much for your question. I understand how this could be frustrating. The first thing I always address in situations like this is to make sure nothing is going on medically. Since you’re a vet, I’m guessing you have already taken this into consideration.  

As far as training, going to the bathroom in the house is a strict management situation.  Don't let them do it! What is your routine when you get back from a walk? Is he allowed to roam free? Does he bolt in? What I would do when I got back to stop this is put him in a crate or on a bed sometimes people call this the “place” command. This will make it impossible for him to pee. I would also not leave him unsupervised in the house at all. Earning areas in the house is a gift not a necessity.  Dogs need to earn trust in your space.  Not chewing, destroying, or peeing on things is so important for peace in the house and cuts down on conflict in the relationship from telling them no all the time.   When you can keep an eye on him let him be in the area you are in and build on time and amount of space. Before he's allowed to be out, first let him out to bathroom. Good luck, if you need further help let me know and I can pass you on to a trainer your area.  Thanks again. 

~ Gary Cassera

March 2014

Dear Gary,

I have a Maltese mix, that is almost 5 years old, who exhibits a terrible amount of territorialism when he is in our yard. Our yard is fully fenced in and yet he races up and down the fence barking ferociously at people and dogs who walk along our front yard sidewalk. This is extremely annoying (not to mention noisy) and I have tried everything to break his apparent focus on protecting our home and property from people and dogs who pass by.  Sometimes he gets so riled up, he will attack our other dog (a very sweet Bichon/Coton mix) when he is in this frenzy.

My wife and I love this dog. He is sweet and lovable to us overall and is indoors unless he is on a walk or going to the bathroom. Any suggestions or guidance?


~ Gary

Dear Gary,

Thank you for your question. This is a very common problem. A lot of dogs who get excited behind barriers, fences, on leash, in crates, etc. start to display these kind of unwanted behaviors from repeated inability to interact with whatever is outside their reach, which builds up time after time and starts to display in unwanted behaviors like barking and fence chasing.  

An important solution to this is exercise and mental stimulation and some structure around the house. My first question is how much exercise is your dog getting? Walking? Training?  What is your dog’s life like? Running in the backyard is not sufficient enough. Your dog needs to get out and interact with the world. Also, how is your dog’s recall? A solid recall taught well should be able to overcome all distractions. This is a gradual process taught in steps.  

I will be posting some videos about the recall to help people with this life saving skill.  For now I would keep him from practicing this behavior by taking him out on a leash to go to the bathroom or let him out when you know your neighbor is not home.  Be diligent!  Then periodically take him out when the other dog is out and just sit and relax at a distance that does not get him agitated.  You have to show your dog how you want him to behave.  

A lot of people focus on what they don’t want but need to focus on what they do want.  If it is possible to make a play yard in a different part of the yard where they can’t see everything happening that can help as well.  Another video that will help will be the one on our place command (coming soon!), which will give your dog a rock solid place to hang out … on his bed.

Please keep us posted on your progress and thank you for your question!

~ Gary Cassera

Gary Cassera is the owner and certified trainer for Balanced Dogs. Follow Gary on Facebook.
Gary currently works ar the Michael Ellis School.

You can contact Gary for a private training session here!

Got more questions about your pet and training? Write to us at socialmedia@superiorfarms.com now! 

“What are the most important things you need when beginning training with your dog?”

Great and very common question.  First thing's first - instead of using the term "dog training," focus on "leading your dog." Dog Training is a blanket statement and there are too many variations of training a dog to boil it down into one definition. For example, human-centered dog training typically includes commands such as sit, come, heel, lay down, etc. This part of training is like going to Harvard. You learn these practical applications, but they don't make you a stable person or help you reach the depths you need.

Gary CasseraDog psychology-centered training (often called behavior work or canine psychology) includes eye contact, owning your intentions, body language, spacial pressure, owning your emotions as a handler, and understanding different thresholds. This is the deep work you need to do to have a healthy and balanced dog. 

If your furry friend is displaying behavior that you don't enjoy (and that behavior persists), look at where you are and where you want to be, realistically. In the middle of that is determining a better communication system with your pup, the tools that can help you become more successful, how to control space, etc. Your goal is to create less conflict and stress in your relationship and achieve more peace, harmony, success, and growth. 

I would suggest learning about and learning to understand the mind of your animal, or any animal your dealing with. Realize why your dog is excited, feeling insecure, anxious or a number of other behaviors is important before determining what you need to fix the problem. Where are they coming from?  Poor behavior is a symptom, not the problem.

We will dive into these topics more intensely in months to come.  Your dogs appreciate your education, so keep it up!

Gary Cassera is the owner and certified trainer for Balanced Dogs. Follow Gary on Facebook.
Gary currently works ar the Michael Ellis School.

You can contact Gary for a private training session here!

Got more questions about your pet and training? Write to us at socialmedia@superiorfarms.com now!