Junior High

Manners for Your Young Dog

Trainers: Mary Anne Bentley, Valerie Sloan, Pam Sikora, Kim Sargent, and Bille Wickre.

This course is intended for young dogs (5 months to 2 years) and their families. You are welcome to bring any members of your family who are interested in training your dog, including children. In this course we strive to develop a well-behaved family member, not a champion in the obedience ring. Our techniques are all positive or reward based. Rewards can be food, toys, petting, or a cheery “good dog.” Because treats get fast responses, we will start using treats as rewards. You will slowly move away from treats as your dog and you learn new behaviors. Teaching is not a one-way process. You will be learning from your dog as you teach him or her. Be aware of your own opportunities for learning. Please ask questions any time.

Every week you need: PATIENCE and a sense of humor! Plus a buckle or martingale collar, a 6 foot long dog leash, yummy treats that your dog likes, a toy or two. If you are using another kind of collar or harness, please remove it when you are in class. You may want a “bait” or treat bag to keep your treats handy and your pockets less messy. They are available at most pet stores and many on-line sources.


  • A tired dog is a well-behaved dog. Be sure your dog is getting plenty of exercise for its body and mind.
  • Control the environment. If you can find an environmental solution, use it.
  • Train your dog. Most dogs will learn better in short sessions, 15 minutes 2 or 3 times a day. Build it into your routine.
  • Don’t confuse the dog. Everyone in the family must be consistent with rules and training strategies.
  • Remember to enjoy your dog.

The most important tools for working with any dog are patience and consistency. Essential to any active breed: regular exercise, consistent training and also training right after some exercise to increase success. Training sessions should be short and frequent, maybe only ten minutes, a bit longer if things are going well. Always end on a positive note—ask your dog to do something it already knows how to do so you can praise him and then end the training session.


Week 1: The Myth of Dominance or How to be a Kinder, Gentler Leader


Foundation Work: “Sit restraint,” Name Game, A Memory Marker, release word.

New Behaviors: Watch, Recall, Sit.

Toys and training devices we love, you will, too.

Week 2: Every week we will review.

Foundation work: Sit restraint, Impulse control, back away.

New Behaviors: Stand, Down, Walking on lead. Doggie push-ups (Sit, down, stand, repeat)

Week 3:  Review, Foundation work: Impulse control, back away.

New Behaviors:  Maintain sits, stands and downs—that is, Stay.

If we have time:  Books we love!

Week 4:  Review, Foundation work: Sit restraint, Impulse control, back away, responding to the leash.

New Behavior:  Leave It, Longer Stay. Practice walking on lead.

Week 5:  Review, Foundation work: Sit restraint, responding to the leash, back away.

No New behaviors:  We will be working the old behaviors at increasingly difficult levels and asking your dogs to respond in slightly more stressful situations. For example, we will ask them to remain sitting while a trainer or another member of the class walks up to you and greets you.

We often take photos of the dogs in week 5, so be sure your dog is wearing his or her prettiest smile.


We will have a fun-filled day of games designed to let your dogs demonstrate all the wonderful things they have learned.


A-B-C: In dog trainer language-Antecedent: the cue (you tell the dog what to do); Behavior: the dog does something, we hope what you told it! there is a Consequence if the dog has done the correct thing the consequence will be a reward. If the dog has not done the correct thing, the consequence will be no reward—too bad.

Behavior: the activity that the dog is engaging in.

Correction: in this class a correction is a way to get the dog’s attention and give it a reminder of what you want it to do.

Cue: a word or other signal that tells the dog what you want it to do. Cues must be clear and consistent in all situations and with every trainer!

Dominance: an outmoded way of thinking about hierarchy in the animal world. Animal science has moved on from that theory and now understands that relationships between wolves and other animals is much more complex that a simple hierarchy. We’d be happy to discuss this further outside of class and to recommend some great reading.

Ghost handling: when someone other than the trainer holds the leash, allowing the trainer to have both hands free to work with the dog. The “ghost” holds the leash silently and does not work the dog.

Memory Marker: a word or other signal that tells your dog that it has done the correct thing and that a reward is coming. Think of Pavlov’s dog—when the dog heard the bell it salivated because it associated the bell with food. Also called a Bridge or bridge word; also called a secondary reinforcer. When you say the word you must always follow with a reward.

Reward or reinforcer:  anything that your dog likes and that is meaningful to the dog—NO MATTER how you feel about it!  Can be food, petting, toys, play….Also called a primary reinforce.

Release word: a word or other signal that tells your dog that it is okay to go back to just doing what it wants—it is no longer under cue or command. Like an “At ease” in the military. All trainers in your household must use the same word. Don’t let your dog decide when he or she is paying attention to you.