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Dog Sense Podcast

Welcome to Kathy Santo’s Dog Sense! I'm your host Kathy Santo, and I'm here to teach you everything I've learned in my over three decades of training dogs, their families, competing in dog sports, writing about dogs, and being a guest on radio and TV shows. It's my hope that you will help to spread the word so we can create an awesome community of dog lovers and learners. Happy training everyone!


Season 1 || Ep. 5

Ep. 5 - How Many Heels Do You Need?

Kathy: Welcome to Kathy Santo’s Dog Sense “Episode Five: How Many Heels Do You Need?” And I’m here with my trainer and good friend, Sarah, who is out in Colorado. How’s the weather out there?

Sarah: The weather is absolutely beautiful. How are you guys doing in Jersey?

Kathy: I think it’s the first official day of Fall.

Sarah: It’s getting there.

Kathy: Yeah, I’m not, I’m not ready for the cold weather, which I know you love. 

Sarah: Yes, I do.

Kathy: But anyway, so in classes lately I’ve been realizing that my students have lovely formal Heels. They have not-so-lovely when they’re not on a formal command. And I kind of wanted to sort of flesh this out and talk about the difference between formal heel and informal heel and everything in between. So, when you tell your dog to heel, when I tell my dog to Heel, there’s a message conveyed and that means, “Stand next to me, pay attention whether it’s peripherally or with your head up and change pace with me, change direction with me. Basically you and I are in sync.” And to some degree or another. I mean there’s competition heeling that we do that’s really high level, and then there’s the sort of pet student who has that, but maybe it’s a little bit looser. But either way, the dog has a very strong understanding of paying attention to your body language. But I’ve noticed that when the dogs aren’t on a formal Heel, pandemonium breaks out, riots occur and the dog doesn’t look anything like a trained dog. And I think that’s a problem.

Sarah: Absolutely. So what we had talked about briefly before is that, so when you put your dog on a leash and you start walking, what is the dog’s expectation and understanding of how they should be behaving in that specific scenario when no verbal command is given. Because, like you said, we have the formal Heel where, you know, the dog sits next to us beautifully walking, heeling, looking up at us, all that. But what you’re going to go into further, I think is something that most owners don’t even think of, or they just think that the dogs should automatically know it and they don’t. So while we’re not connecting a verbal command to it, it’s something that still has to be taught.

Kathy: I feel like the leash should be the cue. 

Sarah: Yeah.

Kathy: Right? I clip it on you, we are now conjoined and there’s an expectation I have, but it’s not fair to have that expectation if you’ve not taught it to the dog. And so the dog is like, “Well you didn’t say Heel, so that’s why I’m pulling towards that tree.” And so I think there’s a middle ground. I think it’s not formal and it’s not, “Sniff, be a dog, and go potty.” I think there’s something in between. And what I’ve been telling my students to call it, I mean I don’t care what they call it, but we were saying, “Here we go.” And “Here we go,” to me, is a moving version of what I called, “Standby.” Now, when I was teaching seminars, I would have my dog out for demos as seminar people do. And there’s a point where, you know, you do this demo, people ask questions and you’re going to do another one, and you don’t necessarily want to put the dog on Place or in the crate. You want the dog near you, but you don’t want the dog disconnecting and just going off into the raspberry bushes. So, I taught my dog “Standby” and basically what that means is, “You’re off duty, but we’re going to do something again soon. So sort of stay connected with me.” And then when I wanted the dog to do something, then it would be a request. So I feel like this Heel that we’re talking about is the moving version of “Standby.” Do you know what I mean?

Sarah: Yeah, absolutely. And that sounds perfect because you’d be walking with them, it would be a loose leash Heel around the neighborhood, but they would not be able to pull you to the tree to pee on it or pull you to a person walking by to go say, “Hello.” The dog would understand that because they’re on the leash, they still need to be kind of paying attention to you. They don’t have to be looking at you, they don’t have to be totally in-tune to you, but they still need to be aware of you. And I think that’s so important.

Kathy: Right. So let’s do a couple examples. If I had a dog who was on no command, it was, “Okay, go play,” and I walked up to you. Quite likely, my dog would go up to you, maybe try to get a scritch, maybe sniff your feet, you know, just be a dog. And I could decide whether that was appropriate or not. If I asked my dog for formal Heeling and I walked up to you, I’d walk up to and my dog would be looking at me and when I stopped, my dog would be sitting next to me and my dog would remain in that position until I gave him a release command or another cue to do something else like, “Lie down” and go to Place. So the middle ground in that is, I say to my dog, “Here we go,” or whatever you want to call it, and we walk towards you and I stop and my dog is not expected to sit. He could actually come across the front of me. He could hang out around me, he could be at the end of his leash without tension, but he couldn’t interact with you, he couldn’t grab crap off the ground. He’s just sorta, like, hanging out. And the importance of that, I feel, is if you’re walking with the dog and they’re just, sort of, in this mode and somebody walks by you with a stroller with a kid in it, or a bag of groceries, or even, like, a really cool leather coat. Like, I don’t want my dog licking you or, like, sniffing you. Right? And they do that and you know it wouldn’t be cool if you had a kid who did that, right? Reached out and grabbed somebody’s bag. So it’s kind of like that. So what you’re saying is, “I’m not going to make you maintain position, but I’m going to make you maintain some general rules of society. Don’t lick people.”

Sarah: So when you’re teaching this to students, you are putting a verbal command on it. It’s not implied with just the leash?

Kathy: No, I’m clipping on the leash and say, “Here we go,” and my hope is that, eventually, that will be the cue. Although, it’s not going to be really important to me, because if I don’t give you a cue then you’re on an, “Okay, go play.” You know what I mean? So those are my three different ways I walk, Now here’s how we’re teaching it. I have the students completely changing up their hand position. Because, normally, they have the leash in the left hand or the right hand and it’s on their hip. For this, I have both hands set on my body. 

Sarah: Okay.

Kathy: So the picture looks different. So their expectation of what we’re doing, if they notice you, is going to be something other than Heeling. And I have them say, “Here we go,” and we start walking super slowly. Like, “La-la-la,” like looking around. I’m not locked in on the dog, my body isn’t oriented that way. I don’t have that, I guess that intensity that comes with we are Heeling now. You know what I mean? Because it’s not about big control. It’s just about, “I want you to show me what you understand.” And what I’m finding is the dogs are like, “Wow, what’s this?” They’re interested because you’re totally different. 

Sarah: And also because you’re not giving them any cues or anything. They are kind of looking at you a little bit more frequently being like, “All right, well, what’s next?” Like, “What do I do?” 

Kathy: Right. And it’s really, sort of, soft body movements. It’s not like sharp turns. You’re just sort of moving with your dog. And I’m finding the dogs are getting more in tune with the people because there’s not as much direction. Because once I say, “Here we go,” I’m not repeating it. And if you go off into a direction I’m not, I’m going to gently take you by the collar and guide you into my, kind of my hula hoop area. I’m not guiding you to my leg again cause that’s Heeling, right? 

Sarah: Right. 

Kathy: Guiding you into the space around me. And they’re figuring this out pretty darn quickly, which is exciting. And it doesn’t matter how much training you have personally or your dog has, they’re getting this. And I think because it’s an easy concept. Don’t put tension on the leash, when you do, I’m going to bring you back, and when you have a loose leash, the world is your oyster to some degree. 

Sarah: Yeah. Yep. So then the reward for the dog. So we talked about…So if they do apply tension on the leash, collar grab, back them up into your little bubble, your hula hoop. And then when the dog, maybe after a couple of reps, then learns, “All right, if I stay in this kind of general vicinity, I have a little bit more freedom.” You’re marking, rewarding it with just some food or…

Kathy: You know, you could do food. It depends on how much your dog lights up about food. You know, because I don’t want to create that crazy, like, “Whoa. Yay!” And then my dog is, like, at the end of the leash again. So in the beginning I’m just being very soothing,“Good boy.” Because that’s going to be my whole countenance. It’s very low key. It’s very “West Coast.” I’m never “West Coast,” so it makes my dog go, “what is happening?” And so you just get that super chill vibe. Now we’re practicing it in a controlled area. We’re not going out into, you know, the farmer’s market, or a busy street, or a parking lot where there’s cars and people. I’m literally taking this step by step in my house in a hallway or in the training building where we have nobody else in a room. It’s gotta be low key. Then we started to set up distractions. So what I did with my classes this week, was after they had the concept and they were familiar with it and they were doing really well, I gave them the option of approaching objects. So I had…objects are really interesting because you think, “Oh, we’re going to put down a bowl with food in it.” But that’s really not what you encounter on walks. Right? So handful of leaves. I had a Stacey sweatshirt  there on the floor, a bag, somebody’s bag, somebody’s Dunkin Donuts cup, right? Food on a chair. So we’re walking through this minefield and basically asking the dog, “What do you understand about when we’re on, ‘Here we go?’ Do you think you can go there? Do you understand the, ‘stay with me?’” And they’re like, “I could go over there. That’s a cool Dunkin donuts cup.” We’re like, “Oh yeah, I think so too. But no, you can’t do that.” 

Sarah: Are you doing this with the Beginner classes or more Intermediate or Advanced? 

Kathy: I’m not doing this with Beginners yet. 

Sarah: Okay. 

Kathy: I think with some of the Beginners, we’re still working on, “How do you hold the leash.” 

Sarah: Right. Right. 

Kathy: You know, markers, reward, verbal thing. 

Sarah: Right. And the Beginner dogs may not have the impulse control to be able to work through some of those challenges too. 

Kathy: And they don’t have a background history in Collar Grab either. 

Sarah: Right. Right. 

Kathy: So if they start reaching for the collar and they haven’t built reinforcement and value for it, the dogs, you’d be like, “Yeah, now I’m gonna run farther from you.” Somebody asked if they can put the leash around their waist. I’m not a fan of it. I guess you could, but I just feel like in the beginning stages I’d want you to have both hands on the leash just in case something heinous occurs. 

Sarah: Yup. Okay, so what were some of the distractions you guys are working through? 

Kathy: People. So then we had a lineup of people and I had everybody against the wall with their dog in a Sit or a Down/Stay. And then one person was the working person and they would walk up to a person and they would decide how many feet away worked for their dog. And so I think three and four feet were pretty much great. Now again, remember that the dogs with these people are trained. So I’m not just walking up to somebody with a dog who’s wild, it’s on a Sit/Stay. So they walk up, they say, “Hey, how are you?” And the dog’s, like, “I don’t know what I should do. Like, should I sit? Maybe I’ll just stand here”. And then they would say, “Here we go, go to the next person.” So that was a big deal would amp that with the people who they were talking to me, like, “Oh, my God! What a cute dog!” You know? Then seeing if the dog was going to fall for that, and then adding on, they had food in their hand and then they were playing with their dog excitedly, so there’s a dog distraction so you can really level it up. Also, location changes are important. So it’s in the school, it’s in the front of the school, it’s at their house. It’s everywhere. “Can your dog do this no matter what?” And I was thinking that those people who had an issue with their dog being too crazy when people come to the house that they would love this. 

Sarah: Yeah. 

Kathy: Right? Because what’s your biggest problem? Your dog runs up to people. So snap them on a leash, take them to the foyer, open the door, and the dog is like, “Hey, you know, I can’t go see you, but I understand that this is my space.” And I think the reward for the dog at some point becomes intrinsic because it’s less structured. They can do more, right? They can move a little more, they can see a little more, but it’s not that formal, “At my left side thing.”

Sarah: Yeah. It also provides a looser walk for the dog where they can experience the environment a little bit more fully than if they were on a formal or a little bit more focused Heel. So some dogs who may be reactive or they’re just, they’re too amped by their environment, you want to start them on those other ones. But then when you want to start to challenge the dog, you move back to this kind of heel, you’re then able to let them experience the environment a little bit more and see if they’re able to have those good decision making skills to make the right choice.

Kathy: Exactly. And I think it gives the owner a better experience, too, because once you have this nailed down, you know you’re not doing as much work and you’re actually having a conversation with people and you look normal. You’re not going to get your finger up going, “Right here. Sit.” Right. We’re having new conversations and relationships with people. They’re like, “Wow. You, you do have eyes. It’s cool.” 

Sarah: Yeah.

Kathy: So I think we’re gonna run with that a lot more in classes. Again, Puppy and Beginners, they’re not going to do it, but I think Beginner II, Intermediate, Advanced, we’re just going to throw that at them and everybody’s responding to it really well. The students are thrilled. The dogs, I think, are thrilled and it’s a quick win when you’re at that level. So everybody feels good about the process.

Sarah: Yeah, absolutely. 

Kathy: Alright. Anything else? 

Sarah: Nope, I think we’re good.

Kathy: All right, cool. So that is it for this episode of Kathy Santo’s Dog Sense. Thank you so much for spending some time with us and I hope you guys will join us again soon. If you have any comments or show ideas, please reach out to us through our website at and as always, if you like what you hear, jump over to whichever subscription service you downloaded from and like rate, subscribe, tell a friend and share this episode somewhere to help spread the word so we can continue to create an awesome community of dog lovers and learners. Happy training, everyone!

Season 1 || Ep. 4

Ep. 4 - Solving The Adolescence Puzzle In Dogs ft. Kamal Fernandez

Kamal: Hi everybody in Facebook world. I’m here with my good friend Kathy Santo and I thought this, I’m in The States at the moment and I am in the middle of doing filming as I showed you earlier for my upcoming coming online training, which is going to be hopefully launched imminently. So, we’ve been working really hard about that and I thought it’d be good to have this conversation with Kathy about adolescent dogs. And it’s been a bit of a conversation of late because of Kathy’s young dog, Valor, Val, her border collie puppy who is now seven months.

Kathy: He’ll be eight months on Sunday.

Kamal: Oh, okay, eight months. So, and, the things that he’s going through as present, which I thought would be insightful to share with you guys and, again, invite you to questions. So, those of you that haven’t met Kathy and me did the live last year. What was that on our comment? Was it, do you know what? I can’t remember now. Was it?

Kathy: We did a couple of them.

Kamal Yeah. We’ve done a couple of them.

Kathy: One was PTSD.

Kamal: That’s right. Yeah, yeah, yeah. That was a really good one.

Kathy: It was.

Kamal: Yeah. And we’ve got lots of great feedback. So, this, sorry I’m gonna jump around, but we… 

Kathy: We can jump around. It’s your Live.

Kamal: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So we did it last year on PTSD and dog training and talked about those people that have had dogs that have been challenging and how, you know, how ingraining that can be post when you get another dog. So the backstory to that is Kathy has now got a puppy and the, we talked about the experience of the transition period between, you know, having PTSD with the previous dog and all that goes with that. And now val, who’s a totally, totally different kettle of fish, and the challenges that often happens because every single dog you’ve ever own, the new things that you encounter. So, just a little bit of background about yourself. What you do, those that haven’t met Kathy.

Kathy: Well, I’ve been training dogs professionally for over 30 years, and I was competing in obedience. I won a tournaments until 2001 and then I stayed home to raise the kids, but I still was training, we’re training dogs and I had a school, right. And we see a couple hundred dogs a week at the school and it’s just dogs are my life.

Kamal: And so adolescent dogs is your bread and butter of basically

Kathy: Exactly, like, yeah, they all come in and they say the same thing, and it’s well and good when it’s somebody else’s job and you know, write everything, but then, you know, when it’s your dog and you’re a competitive person because that’s what this whole journey is. And then, you know, it gets a little different. And we were talking about the other day, I don’t remember my other competition dogs going through this like, I’m sure they did, but I don’t know that we actually acknowledged it back then

Kamal: Right.

Kathy: Back then, meaning, like, a long time ago, because I’m pretty old. I just think we pushed through it. You know, it’s funny.

Kamal: So, the, I thought this would a really interesting discussion to have with Kathy for several reasons. One of which is to talk through adolescence in general from a point of view of both you know, professional capacities that Kathy and I deal with a lot of dogs. And if you were statistically to look at rescues across the world, you will find that the highest ratio of dogs that are currently in can also we look to age groups. It would be adolescent dogs, because, generally speaking, that’s when you have most of your problems start to occur. S,o if it is behavioral problems, that’s when you’re going to most likely have them. And also long-term behavioral problems that can exist with dogs are normally started or established in adolescence because it’s a challenging time. You know, it’s a bit like human beings, you have hormones kicking around, you have that little bit more testing than challenging in their behavior. A lot of it’s to do with physiological changes within them, and as a result of that, you see really, really peculiar behavior. So, just to give you an example, I was training actually Val, Kathy’s puppy val, I should say. I’ve trained him a couple of times since I’ve been over here. I was out in the garden, and Kathy’s husband works at home and he had a client , he’s a chiropractor. They came out to their vehicle and, there’s a sort of trees obscuring the view, and all Val could see was his head bobbing around and that’s through the trees, which he clearly thought it was very unusual, which is correct. And he just had a little spooked bark. I was in the middle of training, so I just walked up and let them investigate, get it out of his system. And within seconds he was over it and really very much like, “Not quite sure what that was all about.” But, again, if you could very much tell it was just an innate instinctive reaction, you know, whether it was hormones, whether it was, he’s got an amazing temperament. So I would say with him, specifically, anything like that is going to be some sort of hormonal challenge because he’s not by nature an apprehensive or nervous dog. Is he?

Kathy: No. And you told me about it, and my first question was, “How was the recovery?”

Kamal: Yeah.

Kathy: I think that’s what you’re really interested in at this stage. You know, it’s going to happen. So it’s not about whether or not your dog is going to spoken something. Like, he did that to a bird on the lawn yesterday. It’s was, like, okay, weirdo. But it’s that how quick they recover from it and what you do.

Kamal: Absolutely. And I mean, in sort of the situation with Val, all I did was walked up and, like, slack on the lead, let him to get out of your system. I knew there was no safety issues. It was behind a fence, et Cetera, et cetera. And he also did it and another session I did with him when he heard a vehicle pull up and it was a school bus, and he had the decompressing of the,you know, whatever. And he had a little spook again, just drop the lead, let them investigate, get it out of his system and he’s straight away was back on. Again, It’s the recovery. So, things like that could easily be made into a bigger, much bigger issue.

Kathy: Sure. And we see that in a school, you know, people have corrected their dog for doing that and now the dog is just terrified and confused and really doesn’t know which way is up. And you break that really important relationship.

Kamal: Absolutely. And you, you can potentially damage or punish a dog for what the dog help, but do. So, just to go back a little bit, adolescence generally will occur between the ages, depending on the breed of dog, between anything from six months to say 14 to 16 months. Your dog will start adolescents, if you’re fortunate, depending or how you look at it, it might be, you might get a little bit more of the nice “honeymoon period” when they’re younger and they think you’re wonderful and everything you do is fantastic and they’re super into you. But most dogs will start to show or display little telltale signs of adolescents from about six, seven months, generally speaking. And, it will, the first thing I generally notice in my dogs is the recall will disappear. So, I would say my dogs all, by that point, will have a relatively good recall, but it will disappear. They’ll just go, “No, I’m no longer, my name is now, what’s the word I’m looking for is a choice thing.” Uh, and they, generally speaking, just ignore the name. And that’s one of the telltale signs that my dog is starting to enter adolescence. Anything else that you see consistently? Name response is one that normally goes out the window, isn’t it?

Kathy: Right. And also caring that you exist, at all.

Kamal: Yeah. Yeah. 

Kathy: Like, hello, who are you? Nice to meet you! Now I’m leaving.

Kamal: Yeah, exactly.

Kathy: And so you feel, I think especially for the pet people, because they’re not expecting this or they didn’t think it would be as bad or just like their children, they thought they wouldn’t go through it. They feel betrayed, you know, because they’ve fed this dog, they’ve raised their dog, they’ve done everything well for the dog and then the dog is just like, “Screw you, I’m doing something else.” And they’re like, “What?!” And it’s just, it’s a thing they go through. I mean, all adolescents of all species I’m sure do this. You know, we have kids well my kids never went through it and I’m sure you are not, we never went through it for our parents.

Kamal: Yeah, we were angels.

Kathy: Other people’s children will do it.

Kamal: Normal people probably went through it.

Kathy: My daughter will never do it.

Kamal: Yeah. So, yeah, definitely. I think it’s a natural process and most people, tend to overreact to it and the big thing is not expecting it to happen, or assuming naively, misinformed, whatever the case may be, that your dog is not going to go through adolescence. It’s a perfectly normal process. And most dogs, I think, in my career I’ve had dogs that have, it’s been a relatively minimal experience and I’ve had dogs that genuinely, it was like a very, very brief little bit of adolescence kicked in. As soon as he arrived it disappeared. And that was it. Others, especially my male dogs have stronger breeds. So my Malinois and boxers and, that’s been really, really, really challenging because adolescents. What I’ve also got with them was you know, I discussed this in my book, “Pathway To Positivity.” Shameless plug.

Kathy: Oh my gosh. That’s amazing! You did such a good job! When’s the next one coming out?

Kamal: Well who knows. 

Kathy: We’ll talk later.

Kamal: Yeah. But I’m in the, I discussed about Punch who was my box, so he’s now six years old and he was really challenging when it, when adolescents hit. And that he was, you know, I lost, my recall was I would say in comparison to all the other issues he had was a nothing, but he lost his recall. He definitely got more challenging with other dogs. His temperament was challenging at that period in his time, his life. And it was, I was at that point where I wanted to commit myself to using…

Kathy: An institution?

Kamal: Yeah, exactly. An institution was a plan B, but reinforcement based dog training was plan A. So it was really, really challenging with him specifically. And things that happened was, is that he’d lost his recall. He definitely become very right strong with other dogs, shall I say. And it was about a lot of management, a lot of training and a lot of, I don’t drink by did consider it at that time. So, but how about dogs that you have in your school. Is there things that, I mean obviously you deal with a lot of behavioral issues. Would you say, again, it’s to do with adolescence or, what should we consider?

Kathy: I definitely, it’s adolescence. And, like, it’s the expectations too, because I think that people think, unlike humans, that when I teach a dog something and the dog has it, they’re going to have a forever. They’re never going to challenge it. But you know, if, if you’re not working on it, it’s not going to stay there. And so it’s like sitting at the door or you know, waiting to get the leash on. All those little things break down on a pet level and they’re like, “No, I taught them this.” And they either say, “Well, maybe training doesn’t work,” which is not true at all. Or they say, “Oh my God, I need to have a private session with you!” And it may explain adolescence, which is just, you know, everybody goes through it.

Kamal: Yeah. I think it’s very, again, another typical thing that you see in adolescence, certainly from a training point of view, is people that tend to take life skills classes, they make the sweeping assumption, but that they do that puppy class and that it, the dog’s trained and then they’re real problems occur when their dogs hit adolescence. And that’s when it becomes really challenging and against the misunderstanding that you’ve done your puppy class and that’s it. Job Done. Again, training occurs throughout the whole of your dog’s life, but more importantly, adolescence, that’s when you’re going to need the most support. So if you’re watching this and you are a person that as an adolescent, a dog.

Kathy: We’re sorry.

Kamal: Yeah. We’re sorry. First off, you will get better. But also to, you know, be vigilant, look for help and don’t be afraid to seek help from professionals if need be. So the things to, I would say, other than the recall that goes, then you might see your dog either be the recipient of aggressive behavior or displaying aggressive behavior. That’s classic adolescents. And that’s both male and female. Male dogs tend to do it with more intensity. Basically they’re going to get in a school yard fight or they’re going to get beaten up one or other. Often what can happen is there’s long lasting form with the owner or the caregiver, which then can manifest itself into anxiety slash reactivity behavior. So I’m just…

Kathy: And their concentration is crap.

Kamal: Yeah.

Kathy: Right. They used to be able to focus and you’re like, “I’ve had these lovely long training sessions and now they’re about seven seconds long,” which, I think, really leads me to think it’s a really great thing to have another dog.

Kamal: Yeah. Have that plan B dog

Kathy: When your adolescent can only train for a 7.2 seconds, it’s great to have like a new puppy or an older dog. I don’t tell this to my pet clients though, but I feel like what you said in puppy class, my job is to prepare them that this is going to happen. So it doesn’t get them by surprise. Also, I feel like it’s, I tell them it’s like the gym, you know, you’d go and you look good, but if you don’t, you look like you’re used to. And so when they stopped training their dogs as puppies, then it goes back to the way it was, which is, you know, undomesticated.

Kamal: Yeah, absolutely, So I always think, you know, when they’re puppies, they tend to absorb all the information and everything, you know, they lap it up, then we’ll have

Kathy: They think your amazing.

Kamal: Absolutely. Then adolescent kicks in, you almost need to revert back to, like, them being much more, managing the behavior, restricting their options so that they can’t make those poor choices. So, when my dogs enter adolescence, one of the big things I do, and I do this with any dog that I have for training is, I would hand feed them. So I’ve used the training that food as training, treats, et cetera. And I start to look holistically at reinforcement. So reinforcement has to go now beyond the tree or the ball or et cetera. It has to be the opportunity to say, you know, go off with my other dogs. It has to be the opportunity to investigate that really nice smell, et Cetera, et cetera. All of that becomes things that I can use as reinforcement for appropriate behavior. How about yourself? What would you recommend or what do you do with your…

Kathy: I start logging in every single thing I did because I like to look at the log from a week ago and say, “Look, there was a good moment!” I feel that I’m making progressions and I also like to chart what I’m doing. Like I don’t have a plan and you know that, but it gets even more serious when it’s adolescence because you want to have plan A through R, probably because planning may not go as well as your plan, but if you have something quick you can pull out. Like we were talking about like moving off of the commands and the serious stuff and going back to lighter stuff like body awareness and things like that.

Kamal: Yeah. So you’ve got, for example, so for sports dogs and this is something that you guys that do sports needs to be aware of, is often what can happen with adolescence is your dogs are going to go through physiological changes and that is they’re gonna have growth spurts, their body’s going to be doing weird and wonderful things, they’re going to lack coordination. At that time it’s not really, in my opinion, the best time to progress any sports specific skill. And the reason that is is because the dog isn’t going to be able to do it. Like their brain is telling them one thing and their their bodies not being able to compute. So, at that moment, my advice is to back off anything that requires real dexterity and complexity, and focus on things like focusing on engagement and recall and say tug drive, et Cetera, et cetera. Rather than working on something and really winning my new and detailed. Because, again, their body might not be coordinated and correlating with what they’re a bright is doing. So I tend to, and that is a really, you’ve got to learn to feel your way through it so that you could have a day when your dog’s absolutely on and the next day, within 24 hours, they’ve lost it. So recently, say, for example, you know, my good friend Val who, a puppy I train of hers who’s now similar age to Val, he’s a bit younger. Oh no, same age as Val.

Kathy: Your friend Val.

Kamal: Yeah, my friend Val

Kathy: Not my dog, Val.

Kamal: No, no ,no, my friend Val.

Kathy: Sorry, Val.

Kamal: And yeah, and he’s same age, similar age to Val. Your Val, Valor. And he lost the ability to down, so he would down and his front end would drop like a stone and his back end, he’s quite big. He’s a big, huge buffalo back side would be up in the air. And he genuinely, he’s, every bit of his demeanor would say he thought he nailed it. And you very much the whole of this huge back side in the air going, “No, you really haven’t sweetheart.” But so it was a case of do you know what, just let it go. It’s like, it’s not worth even making an issue of it. You know, I think I patterned it, broke him off, gave him treats and just scrap the, even asked him the question. Within 24 hours, bang, it was back. And, again, it was just a growth thing. So another good thing to do is saying about logging your training is I periodically like to take photos of my dog stacked. And the easiest way to do that is on two wobble cushions or two platforms. Front feet on one set or one platform like feet, another, which allows you to look at the dog shape and outline. And you can very obviously see if the dog’s backend is high and the dogs back end tied, you know, they’re having the gross but leave the complex stuff to, for the back burner. So, like I, again, talking about Kathy’s Val, there was, I would say he’s very much, very back end his back in is very, very much big and powerful. And he’s front end isn’t quite caught up. And he’s like, he’s, he had to, he’s got beautiful shape. But again, what happens is they lose their neck a little bit different parts of their body, you know, grow at different rates. Some puppies just grow it seems to be like they’re just always little adult dogs, but others it’s a little bit disjointed with those type of dogs during something as complex as say he’ll work or I’m a tiny, intricate move them and is counterproductive for the dog being able to absorb the information.

Kathy: And they used to be able to do it younger, like at 10, 12 weeks, you know, or like nailing it. And so you don’t understand why is it, why is it gone? But it’s just, it’s hormonal, it’s shape, it’s all of it. 

Kamal: Yeah. So, from your experience and say for example, working with your puppy now, what are the things that you’ve been doing to try and regain some focus from the environment and the, you know, the butterfly distraction or the robin that’s going to clearly be an ax murderer. 

Kathy: The first thing that comes to mind is a long line. You know, because when he wanted to take off and you know, just change his name on the fly as like the witness protection program, at least I had something to step on. Shorter sessions, you know, changing the focus from things like from healing, or this head being up. It’s just impossible. It’s lost isn’t it? And so, we’re moving away from that and maybe some standing work and body work is always fun for him. New things that don’t matter to me, like, the retrieving of something dumb, like, what we did the other night with like a vitamin bottle. Cause that you can’t get bent about that are stressed about it because you’re never going to go in the ring and have to retrieve vitamins. Maybe next year AKC, who knows? But currently, no. And so stuff like that is, makes me lighter and it doesn’t feel so serious.

Kamal: You’ve got to constantly balance between, you know, your long-term goal and the fact that your dog was being challenging and it seems to make all the, possibility. You, you know, it can be challenging. Adolescence is challenging, is emotive, you know, you invested into your dogs. It can be hard work and you feel like, “I’m never going to fix it,” the dogs and just take a deep breath. It will be fine. It’s a natural process. In my experience, I’ve found that females tend to be less problematic than males in terms of, excuse me behavior that would be deemed problematic. So, that’s not to say that the girls look perfect, but I would say it’s less volatile. So, I would definitely say with my mouth dogs, they’ve definitely had spades of, you know, like being aggressive to be called a spade a spade, challenging, you know, et Cetera, et cetera. I’ve got an squabbles, you know, handbags a door, nine times out of 10. But they definitely, definitely male dogs tend to be more challenging in that sense. Female dogs tend to, sometimes with hormones kicking in there could be fearful, apprehensive, nervous is more classic behavioral traits for adolescent females.


Kathy: And witchy too.

Kamal: And it can be a bit snarky with other dogs,


Kathy: But you know, you’re describing it people here, too. Right. Can anybody ever imagined, like they’ll say, “Well, my kid will never be a jerk,” “My adolescent boy will always do what I tell them.” It’s, like, not going to happen. So why throw that on your dogs?

Kamal: Yeah. Yeah. And it’s about, again, and at that time it’s about management. Yes. So avoiding, so my male dogs, when they hit adolescence, I void one in the without other male dogs, male adolescents I should say. And the reason being is that, you know, one like shoulder barge, one little brief interruption, once a point where they sniff on the same smell. Next thing you know, a world war three erupts and it’s, and that could be really impactful on that dog and that person. So, personally I avoid them running with adolescent male dogs. I run them with my dogs. I run the big dogs I know very, very well. Older dogs, older females, female dogs, et Cetera. I avoid dogs of the same type and energy until my dog is largely through that. Management’s a huge one. If you could avoid them rehearsing and appropriate responses there’s less chance of that’s going to become ingrained in the dog’s behavior.

Kathy: And that’s all on us.

Kamal: Yeah, absolutely.

Kathy: Just the planning, pre-planning, pre-thinking of it all and making sure it goes well.

Kamal: Yep. Yep. Also, making sure that when you go out to train or in an environment, you make sure you have really, really ridiculous high value reinforcement. So, you know, that’s, those are the times when you’re going to use the environment as a reinforcement and you’re going to turn up to your gunfight armed with an inappropriate, a weapon of choice, so to speak. They’re not going to turn up over the park, waiving your, you know, your dry kibble or your whatever, to try and counteract the environment or the challenges that might present. You want to make sure that you provide reinforcement that sends a fleeting possibility of contending with their enforcement. Alternatively, use the environment as reinforcement. That’s a real favorite of mine. The opportunity to go play, go run. So again, another example, recently, great. The youngest collie I have, obviously she grew up with her. She lives with her mom and her sister and she likes to chase them. Brilliant vehicle, 100% up until about five, six months. And then she went, “I no longer know my name again.” She went into witness protection. So it was a really easy fix and that I just stopped the others running. So I stopped the others running because they, I have some control over them. I went and got her and the college, we’re back to foot called again. She went, “No, I’m still in witness protection.” I pulled her back forefoot. She gave me a fleeting glance. I said, “Brilliant, well done,” and I allowed her to run with the other dogs again. So now she understands the game is, the quickest way to keep having the opportunity to run with them is to get back to dad as quickly as I possibly can. One example of how to use the environment or the thing the dog wants as reinforcement for behavior that I would like. Again, another thing that she did is she definitely went a bit spooky with other dogs. And she, just, snarky, spooked or there’s a dog there. The fact the dog was there for 10 minutes prior didn’t really come into it, but oh my God, the dog’s now suddenly a period, and it must be exterminated at all costs. All very dramatic, all very, you know, out of character. All very unusual, just typical hormonal female dog stuff. Again, what did I do? Ignored it, got her away, traded distance, and with that particular dog that I’m thinking about, I took her for a walk with the aid. It’s one of my students dogs. I asked for, if we could walk them together the next day we did some parallel walking. And then once they were both comfortable, we let them, within minutes, they were running around. They were both similar ages. They are both hurdling around each other and having a great game. So, it allowed me to work through that process. Obviously are not going to have that opportunity with every dog that you meet. My advice is avoid, distract and deter.

Kathy: And avoid is a big one. Like today we had a film crew here, we were doing some filming most of the day, which is why I’m clutching my cup of tea and they were like, “Oh, can we have your collie out for this segment?” And I’m like, “Oh no, because you have lights outside and a fuzzy microphone and these big things that bounce off the light.” and that’s all I needed was to blow up my day with having to fix that later. I was like, “No thank you. His agent says he’s not available today. Maybe next time.”

Kamal: And again, you know, in six months time, 18 months time, that’s going to be a no brainer, no problem. Come Out, do, bang, and that’s it. But if in that situation, and it’s things like that that you go, “In reality, you could have probably trained that stuff.” And if this was a dog that was doing regular film work, you would absolutely go, “Right, let’s get you around that.” So, become secondary to the dog. That dog was oblivious to it. But for a dog that hasn’t experienced that situation there would be no point of trying to deal with that this time.

Kathy: Who’s is, currently, in his eight month brain.

Kamal: Exactly.

Kathy: Yeah. It’s not worth it.

Kamal: No. So, it’s an, it’s an, and then that’s something to be mindful of competition dogs. Don’t expose them to anything that, if you can, obviously, any new, startling experiences within that sensitive period in time. So, if you can get it in beforehand, get them into those environments, you know, expose them to anything that they’re going to face in their life or their career. But at that time I’d say back off it and just stick to the same, regular places so that you don’t expose them to anything that they aren’t used to and could potentially become an issue.

Kathy: Right. Like he’s been going to my training buildings and since I got him. My friend Betsy, she has a building and he goes there and it’s beautiful and he’s very at home. But at this point we’re not going to go to new buildings or new events just for awhile. Until he settles in.

Kamal: Yeah. Yeah. So, again, familiarity is a good one. Go to the places that you know so that you don’t, that way you can, mainly the reason being is that you can predict, you can, within reason, predict what’s going to happen in those locations. You know, there’s not going to be something a ceiling fan go on or you know, that if there is, the dog may have experienced that in the earlier part of his life and become a matter. So, it’s not now a new thing, you know, you’ll know that there’s not going to be some, a dog that you don’t know. Obviously, if you attend the same locations, there’s a chance that it’s going to be the same dogs, et Cetera. So, just thinking I’m planning your training beforehand or your dog’s experiences can help you avoid the dog having any long lasting damage or impact to their character and their temperament. You know, there’s a distinction between, for example, we take it, bring it back to Val. Val has an amazing temperament. He’s, like, the friendliest, sweetest dog on God’s good earth. So, long-term, you know, this is just teenage crap that comes with having teenage dogs. You know that if you play your cards right and he doesn’t have anything untoward happening to him and, largely, doesn’t make a big deal out of it. Six to eight months time he’s going to revert back to what he was as a puppy, which was Mr like, chill, not bothered soup, nothing phased him, etc. This spooky stuff is just part of his hormonal changes.

Kathy: Right? And you’re always, even if you’re going somewhere, like, if I get a Betsey’s building or my school, I’m prepared for the, hopefully, not going to happen moment where a dog breaks loose and runs up to your dog or a car backfires. I mean, you’re always armed with the things that you know are going to be super, super high value they never get. So you never, you never expect it to be perfect. You always expect something that’s going to happen.

Kamal: I think this is really, the other takeaway, I think, to add is there’s a difference between those of us that know largely our dogs genetic influences. So, I know we say put the dogs I have, I know where they come from, I know they’re breeding, I know that genes. So I can go, “I can trust that this dog has a baseline, good temperament.” So, if I avoid any untoward issues at this pivotal point in their life, I should be able to create a dog that’s got really super temperament. However, if you have a dog that, if you take on a dog of this time and you, and it has this stuff, my advice is to assume that the dog has weaknesses in his temperament and treat accordingly. So, again, be cautious. Don’t just assume, “Oh, it’s just the adolescent thing.” The dog will grab it, because if you have just taken this dog on, you really don’t know. So, you got, my advice is, error on the side of caution. Avoid any experiences where the dog is going to have any long lasting damage. Build his confidence up, et Cetera, et cetera. So, again, coming back to your recall is going to disappear, so I would strongly advise you to invest throughout your dog’s life with a recall. And if you can take it to situations in an environment where they’re unlikely to be overly distracted.

Kathy: And also, I think, stop listening to your friends. Like, we don’t get advice like this because we’re clearly trainers. So nobody says to me, “Oh, you shouldn’t do that.” Well, no, that’s not true… relatives. But anyway, they’ll say, “Let the dog do this, let the dog do that.” But I think the pet people and, probably, your competition students feel it more and sometimes it’s from your family and sometimes it’s from your family.

Kamal: With well meaning.

Kathy: It is, it is. But they’re like, “Oh, don’t be so fussy. Don’t be so,” and you’re like, “No, I know my dogs.” You have to trust your gut and you will be just hating yourself if you do something, you know you shouldn’t for the sake of whatever, being polite and then it winds up being bad on your dog because you have to live with that forever.

KamalYeah. absolutely. The other thing to think about is, you know, I’m not here to comment about neutering and castration per se. I would say I’m very non judgmental. That’s my professional opinions. I’m very not judgmental about it, and I know there’s a lot of support, pro keeping dogs entire and females entire, et cetera. In my professional, and my personal opinion is that, and there’s a distinct scenario that I could give you where I had clients that had German Shepherds from working lines, I can’t remember who I discussed this before, that were really, really intense. And they hit adolescence and they were very, very challenging. And they were really, really frustrated by the fact that the dogs had suddenly gone from really sweet, viable, incredibly intelligent, really willing, et Cetera, et cetera. All the good stuff that comes with that type of dog, to these raging hormonal teenagers with major, major problems. And we discussed all their options and, you know, they were thinking they would seriously at the point of thinking, “we’re not sure we’re going to be able to keep this dog if this is the dog’s behavior.” And we discussed all their options and I suggested, “Look, let’s have the dog chemically castrated and then we will evaluate and discuss if this is your last chance.” They had it done within 24 hours. The dog’s behavior had reverted back to what it was. And the long term, they decided to has an castrated and they messaged me recently and said how, like, it’s phenomenal and how the dog’s brilliant and et Cetera, et cetera. Now, the argument would be all, you know, the downside of having castration. My response to that be, this dog probably wouldn’t have made it to that ledge anyway

Kathy: Exactly. It was right for that family.

Kamal: Exactly. he probably would have been re-homed or worse still. Who knows, you know, and or somebody else’s dog would have been the result of his inappropriate behavior. Again, you’ve got to look at it case by case. I’m very non-judgmental about it. I think you’ve got to look at the individual dog. Yes, if you have the skillset to circumvent that period in your dog’s life, great. If you don’t, be open to all options, is my take.

Kathy: It’s a topic that comes up in a pet market, too. I mean, they’re under the mistaken impression that if they do that, their dog will stop jumping and pulling on leash and sit stay better. I’m like, “It’s not a lobotomy.” It’s, like, they just can’t reproduce. And the hormonal thing, it’ll be a little bit less, but it doesn’t teach them anything. They don’t like you more.

Kamal: Yeah. You still have to do the homework.

Kathy: Yeah. You have to do the work.

Kamal: So any, yeah. Pointers, tips, et Cetera, for people with adolescent dogs. Five perhaps. And I’ll give five.

Kathy: Let’s see. Know that it’s normal, because I think when you think it’s abnormal you start acting crazy. Focus on things that aren’t specific to your sport, more fun things. Maybe you have a second dog you can train. No, I’m really serious. Let’s see, keep a schedule. Keep a log of what you’re doing and commiserate with people will understand like, poor Kamal. My current commiseration person. You were talking to me about Gray when she was going through it, but it’s, like, we have the same conversation. Like, what he says to me, I would say to him, but it still helps to have somebody. Yeah.

Kamal: Yeah. Somebody to bounce off of. So I would say, management is gonna be a huge Part of your journey, avoiding any drama would, is the best case of course, of action so that your dog doesn’t develop any behavioral issues that you then have to fix later on. If you can train and use reinforcement beyond a treat in a toy environmental reinforcements and a huge one, your dog’s opportunity to say, “Hello,” to the other dogs and to go and have a smell that nice smell or et cetera, et Cetera, can all be used to create focus for you, which is essentially what we’re concerned with. Across the board, I like to put “Please And Thank You” behaviors on my dogs when they become more challenging. So for example, if they want to come out of the crate, they have to offer me behavior. They want to go out the back door offer me behavior, just to tighten up their focus for me. That is not to say that my dogs don’t have downtime. Now,let me be really clear on that. They’ve got to be dogs and they’ve got to have an outlet where they can hurl around and blast off energy. And that’s another thing, adolescent dogs, they need to have an outlet for all that hyperactive energy, you know,

Kathy: Especially if you’re managing higher.

Kamal: Yep. So, management, use external reinforcement. Allowed them downtime so they can just hurl around. Obviously think safety and allow them to, you know, have that outlet. Do regular, what I call relationship building excursions or walks, et cetera. That means, you’re in the dog safe environment, nothing going on, no distractions, and you can then reconnect with that dog and find the fact that you actually do like the dog and there is a redeeming feature about it when it’s really, really challenging. And, final one is, it is part of the process and I know this is corny, is what it sounds. Everybody will go through this with the dog at some point in their career if they have more than one dog. It is normal, you will get through it. We’ve all been there and, again, consider all your options in terms of the dog’s health, et Cetera, et cetera. And, you know, do what’s right for you and the dog without judgment.

Kathy: It’s really good when you have students to talk to them, right? Because I’m in class, I’m like, “Look, I have a puppy, same age as you. He is being an adolescent idiot. He doesn’t know I’m Kathy Santo and he is pulling the same crap your dog is.” And so, it kind of tightens that everybody feels better. They feel way better cause they know I’m living this and it’s, it allows me to help them better too.

Kamal: Yeah. Okay. So if you have any questions for Kathy and I feel free to ask. I’m just going to scroll through really quickly just to make sure I know when you can see Brit, if there’s any, I think just how close. If you do want to ask us any questions,I think I’m going to be getting lots of puppies back. Apparently all my puppies are coming back to the breeder, so I’m going to have a plethora dog waiting for me and when I land in Heathrow.

Kathy: Because he’s fine with it. You can see he’s cool with it. He thinks it’s great! Adolescence is a normal thing.

Kamal: Yeah, no “Return To Sender.” No, there’s a clause in the contract! No they don’t. I’ve moved house. I’m not giving you my address. I don’t want them back. I love you all. Okay. All right. So, if you do have any questions, post them in the comments. Kathy and I will have a look at them. So, for now, we’re going to wrap up. Thank you Cathy. Cathy Santo dog training. And we allowed to tell them about your…?

Kathy: Yeah, I launched a course, Kathy Santo’s Online Dog School For Exceptionally Naughty Dogs and it is Is that what it is, Brit? We’ll throw it in the comments and it is pet training. It’s all the basics for puppies and dogs.

Kamal: So again, great talk. Wealth of experience and knowledge check Kathy stuff out. Loads of free giveaways that they do. Their team are amazing. They’ve been helping me with my online project. So hopefully this has been helpful

Kathy: And buy your book. Don’t forget your book!

Kamal: Oh yes, my book. So, but yeah, so if you, adolescence is normal. I hope this conversation has given you a little bit of guidance and help about how to move forward with your adolescent dogs.

Kathy: Stop crying, it’s normal, drink heavily and you’ll all get through it.

Kamal: Yep. All right guys. Have a nice soft evening in the UK and afternoon the US. See you later.

Both: Bye!

Season 1 || Ep. 3

Ep. 3 - My Top 10 Ways To Improve Your Dog's Training Right Now

Kathy: Welcome to Kathy Santo’s Dog Sense, “Episode Three: My Top 10 Ways To Improve Your Dog’s Training Right Now.” I’m your host Kathy Santo, and I’m here to teach you everything I’ve learned in my over three decades of training dogs, their families, competing in dog sports, writing about dogs, and being a guest on radio and TV shows. I am so glad you joined us today,and I’m also joined by one of my trainers, Sarah, who is currently training dogs in Fort Collins, Colorado. Hey, Sarah!

Sarah: Hey, everyone!

Kathy: So today I’m so excited to talk about the top 10 ways to improve your dog’s behavior right now. And I know that you implement all of these ways with your students out there in Colorado as well.

Sarah: Yes, absolutely.

Kathy: And so the first one is…I’m going to let you do it. I’ll make a little drum roll.

Sarah: Perfect! So the first one’s going to be your “Release Cue.”

Kathy: And maybe people don’t know what that is. The release cue is the recess bell. It tells your dog when they’re done. And I see, and I know you do as well, so many people like ask their dog to do something. For example, sit, and the dog sits and they’re, like, “Good dog!” And the dog just walks away like that.

Sarah: Yeah. Exactly.

Kathy: That can’t happen. You have to tell the dog when I start and then you have to tell the dog when it’s over. Alright, what’s number two?

Sarah: Another thing just from the release cue is also to make sure that you’re consistent with what words you’re using when releasing your dog, and that goes across the board with the whole family as well. You got to pick one word and that’s your release cue.

Kathy: Yeah, because it can’t be, “Okay!” And the other one’s, like, “You’re done dude.” And then the other one is, “Break!” Like, it can’t. If you have people in your life training your dog with you, you need to have a meeting, you need to post something on the fridge and it says, “These are the words we’re using.” Stop confusing your puppies and dogs by using every word in the dictionary instead of just one consistent word.

Sarah: Yup! Alright, so next up we have “Working In Different Environments.”

Kathy: Yes, because just because your dog can sit when you’re in the kitchen facing north, holding a cheese stick does not mean they’re going to sit outside. And yet, we hear this all the time, people are, like, “Ah! There was a squirrel and it was running in the yard and I told him to sit and he didn’t and he knows better and he’s just blowing me off!” No, your dog is reflection of you as a trainer and that’s not to make you feel guilty or start heavily drinking. It’s just to explain to you that your dog only knows what you’ve taught them.

Sarah: Right.

Kathy: So if you were teaching this in a quiet environment, there’s no transfer initially. Dogs don’t generalize like you want them to, or like people do. You can’t sit them down on a rock and say, “Dude, look. Whenever I say sit, no matter what else is going on, you have to do it right.” I mean, like, I wish I could. We’re working on that. We’re working on that.

Sarah: You’re working on an app for that right?

Kathy: I am! There’s going to be an app for that, but for right now, you got to dig in and do old fashion work. You’ve got to put the dog in multiple situations and teach them that the sit in the kitchen means the same thing as I sit in the yard with the squirrel and beyond.

Sarah: Exactly. So one way to get that is to then, so the next thing we have, is leverage what they want into training.

Kathy: Ooh, you do that one. This reminds me of episode two when we talked about “No Bowl Month”. Remember that?

Sarah: Yes. Okay.

Kathy: I think we just lost…

Sarah: I was distracted by one of my dogs.

Kathy: Oh, no!

Sarah: Yeah! So all the time. What? I mean all the time I used my dog’s food, their breakfast or dinner or, if you have a cup of their lunch as well, to train them. Use that and use it in your training to help build your relationship as well, which we talked about in that episode.

Kathy: Right. Then when they see you as the person who owns everything and they have a working relationship with you, like, “Hey, what if I do this?” And you’re, like, “Hey, and then I’ll give you this.” And, and people get inky about this Sarah and you know, from your students, they’re, like, “I don’t want to have to train with food forever!”

Sarah: Exactly.

Kathy: And you won’t, I promise.

Sarah: We hear it all the time.

Kathy: Yeah, exactly. But for the time being in the beginning or when you’re trying to get past an issue, this is what you need to do.

Sarah: Exactly. We can fade out the food later on, at the later date. But right now you need you to have to be able to pay them.

Kathy: Exactly. Alright. Now number four, “Be Consistent With Commands,” which we talked about and “Expectations.” So I feel that people, they watered down the training because the situation is chaotic. So, for example, if somebody comes in your house, your dog knows how to sit and you say sit and instead of saying they lay down and you’re just like, oh, it’s fine. Here’s a cookie. You did something right.

Sarah: Yup.

Kathy: Yeah. We need to make sure that it means the same thing. And your criteria or expectation is the same every single time.

Sarah: Yup. And also, for another big one that we see a lot is for the place command. The place command means all four paws are on whatever you pointed to. Whether it’s a place bed, a towel, a rock when you’re out hiking, a bench at the park place means all four paws stay on your place bed that if one part comes off that’s not place. And a lot of times that’s the one that I see a lot that gets watered down.

Kathy: Right! People are like, “Oh, they still have three on.” Yeah, but tomorrow to be two.

Sarah: Right.

Kathy: And then it will be just one. Then they’ll just be near it and you’re, like, “I don’t know…they used to know this now that just blow me off.”

Sarah: Exactly. So yeah, if you yeah, if the expectations aren’t clear the entire time the dog was going to get confused and at that point it’s not their fault. It’s the, it’s the trainer or the handler/owner’s fault.

Kathy: If we had a nest cam on people all the time, we’d cry about, but we would be able to point out these situations and explain to them better how to fix it. Alright, next. Ooh, I love this one! Plan and set the stage for your training session. So many people get inspired to train and they’re, like, “Yes, I’m going to train the dog.” And they get the leash and the dog and the food and they’re, like, “Wait, okay, where’s my other leash? Okay, wait, oh, I need a toy. Oh, what am I going to do today?” And they waste, like, 20-30 minutes trying to figure out what they’re gonna do. And now the dog is tired, and bored, and it just falls apart. So for me, I have a plan. And the reason I have a plan is because I write down every single thing that I do in training sessions. And no, it doesn’t take me a long time. Brevity is a gift. It takes me, like, a minute to write down, “sit: terrible, work on it more. Down: Awesome. Next step is ready.” So it’s like my little shorthand. So I pull out my notebook before my dog is with me. He’s crated, he’s gated, he’s somewhere, but not with me. I say, “Ooh, today I’m going to work on doorway protocol and I’m going to do it in 10 minutes when I know the kid across the street walks his annoying dog on the front line, uh, and my dog’s thinks that’s really interesting.” So it’s my distraction. And then I get my food, I get my dog, I make sure that the dog is really outside across the street. And then I start my session, and I also time it. I time sessions because I would train for hours.

Sarah: Exactly.

Kathy: I had cut myself off, but I like my students to set a timer, because I want them to train the five minutes or the 10 minutes that we decided to do, so that they don’t cheat and cut corners.

Sarah: Right. And your training session doesn’t need to be an hour long.

Kathy: No. I mean, I wish it was.

Sarah: We would love to train for hours on end. Then it comes to a point where they’re not learning anymore.

Kathy: Right. And you just sort of digging away at the progress you made. But that’s why we have multiple dogs, Sarah, because we love to train and so we just go from one dog to the next dog. So we’re dog trainers. Oh, wait! And also setting the stage. I like to train in the bathroom with young puppies and dogs that are really distracted. Um, I have many videos of me sitting in a bathroom where the toilet papers off the role, the shower curtain is pulled, the mats off the floor and the window shade is pulled down. And by default, I am the most interesting thing in that room and I get a lot more engagement that way. And that’s how I spent a lot of the early days with all of my new dogs and some clients dogs to just building that relationship.

Sarah: Yeah. That can be for puppies, or dogs, who are brand new to you, or do you, or if you’re working on engagement and attention. That’s a great, that’s a great stage to do it in.

Kathy: Because you set them up for success

Sarah: Yeah.

Kathy: And you set yourself up to be the best thing ever. Ooh, I’m looking at number six, Sarah, and it’s about “How Long Should The Training Sessions Be?” And we just talked about that.


Kathy: Five minutes. We love it.

Sarah: Yeah, so up next we have, so also, and this queues into exactly what we were just talking about, is “Know Your Dog.”

Kathy: Correct. Train the dog you have! Not the dog you wish you had, not the dog you used to have. Do you have a dog with a lot of endurance? A lot of engagement? Is he bored? Could he care less about, you know, the food that you have? I mean, you’ve got to stack the deck in your favor and you come into this with a hungry, lonely, and bored dog or puppy, and understand the needs of that dog to maximize every single second that you have with them. I also want to point out, though, that those sessions, if we say a 10 minute session, probably five of those minutes are are playing, you know it’s like I do a of things, three or four reps and then “Woo!” tug toy and then we do a few more reps or something else and then I run away and say their name. So this is not just, like, sitting in math class, or whatever class you didn’t like, where the teacher is just sort of drilling you. This is fun stuff, because in addition to learning commands, our dogs are learning to build the relationship with u. And as I always say, “The leash is not the relationship. The cookie is not the relationship.” What’s going to save you when the dog gets out the house, or the yard, and he’s booking for the road. The only thing that saves you in that moment isn’t the chicken mcnugget that you give him for training, it is how he feels about your relationship and what you have taught him is acceptable and where your criteria is for that come command. That’s it. That’s all you have. Just you.

Sarah: Yup.

Kathy: All right. So next “Control the Environment.” That’s kind of our bathroom tip, right?

Sarah: Yeah, it really is. Yeah.

Kathy: Like, I’m not going to go train my dog in the middle of the living room when I have guests over or kids, you know, playing or outside in the yard when my neighbor’s lawn people are there, I’m just not going to do it. I’m going to make sure that whatever level my dog is, he gets the environment he needs to succeed and grow. Not just stay at the level he’s at, but go into the next level and advance.

Sarah: Yup.

Kathy: Alright, next we have “Training The People”. Oh, that takes longer

Sarah: When you get questions all the time. Like, you know, “Is this class, can we have this class with our kids, too?” Or, “Can our husbands come to this class?”

Kathy: Yeah. And we say that’s a much longer class. Much, much longer. It’s funny though, whenever I meet a new client and they bring their kids, I can always tell how well a dog training is going to go after spending an hour with them. Uh, yeah. So, yeah, you had to train the people in your life too. It’s, if you’re the only one training the dog and you’re being consistent, yes, the dog will listen to you, but you could have saboteurs intentionally or accidentally retraining all the good stuff you’re doing. So make sure everybody’s on the same page. I will accept the answer of, “Well, I’m just not going to ask the dog to do anything from the people who live with you.” And that’s fine by me. They don’t want to participate. That’s fine, but they can’t use any of your commands that your training.

Sarah: Yeah. And also, I thought about what the, the game you used to play with your kids when they were little in the dog training.

Kathy: Yes. When they get there little baggies of food.

Sarah: Yes.

Kathy: Yeah. So when my kids were little, they come home from school and each of them got a little baggie and I called them “The Keys.” So if you had a key, meaning a piece of cookie, uh, dog cookie that is, you are allowed to say the dog’s name. And so when they said the dog’s name and the dog paid attention to them, they would throw them a cookie. And if they ran out of keys, they could just say, “puppy puppy.” And what that did was it maintained the dog’s intention or understanding of their name being something amazing that they got a lot of rewards for. And my kids were participating in the training and not undoing it. I train kids, too. Alright.

Sarah: I always use that trick. I love it. Okay, so the final thing we have is “Understanding Body Language.”

Kathy: Yes, because it’s the native language of your dog. Imagine if you went to a different country and you didn’t understand one little thing that everybody was saying. Well the problem is there’s no communication now, right? So people are talking to dogs and they’re, like, “Stop it. What are you doing? Blah, blah, blah.”, and the dogs are, like, “I don’t get your language.” And they’re telling you things like, “stay away,” or, “I’m afraid,” or “I’m unsure.” And you don’t know their language either, so you’re sort of blowing it, blowing by it and offending them and they’re offending you, and it’s just a hot mess. So what we want you to do is have a better understanding of what your dog is trying to tell you with their body, which is the native language of dogs. To do this, I created, well at the school, if you were in Jersey and you were in our classes, you would be able to come to a free body language seminar every single month. We do live dog demos, we do videos, we freeze videos, and we say, “Look at that, look at this. What do you think is going to happen next?” And most people are surprised when we freeze the video and they’d say what’s going to happen next when we play the video, and something totally opposite happened. And so we feel that this education prevents fights and bites and also make your relationship stronger because who doesn’t want to hang out with somebody who understands them? Right?

Sarah: Exactly. So huge. It’s such like a big point that we have to get across to students is that they have to understand what their dog is telling them. Their dogs don’t speak English, but they speak with their bodies. Like, they were always communicating with us. It’s whether or not we understand them.

Kathy: Yeah. People are saying, people say to me, “Oh my dog’s not doing anything,” and I’m like, “Oh, he is!”

Sarah: They are misinterpreting what they’re saying. So you know that, they think it’s funny when the dog is growling over them over a cookie on the ground or something and we’re like, “Listen, this is going to progress to so much more than that.” They’re, they’re misinterpreting it too.

Kathy: It’s like when people send us the Christmas cards and it’s the kids and the dogs, or them and the dog and they’re hugging or we just like, “Oh my God!” And so we wind up using them as instruction, like, “See this dog? Having a bad time, kids having a good time. Dog is having a bad time.”

Sarah: Yeah

Kathy: But to help you guys understand that what I’ve done is, I’ve taken that body language seminar that I give live and I’d made a Webinar. Now what I want to say, Sarah, and you know what I’m going to say, when I recorded this Webinar, I just did it for my students who know me and my level of sarcasm and snark…so…surprise! We’re going to give it to you guys, but I want you to keep that in mind. I’m speaking to people who, we have a very familiar relationship with, so a little sassy just, you know, roll in it.

Sarah: Everyone needs to watch this, nevermind, your awesome commentary. It’s just, it’s so, it’s so beneficial for everyone to be, to be learning this and then sharing it with your, if you have dogs in your family, share to every single family member, share to your neighbor, share it to everyone you know, so that they are also able to understand what, what they’re seeing when they’re looking at a dog.

Kathy: Absolutely. It’s, it’s really invaluable for everybody and we want everybody to learn from it, so we’re making it available. All right, Sarah. Well, this I think was one of my favorite podcasts. I think this was, this is going to help a lot of people pretty quickly. And…

Sarah: We covered so much stuff!

Kathy: We did! And even if you just take one or two of these things and make that change to your life with your dog, uh, you’re going to see a huge improvement. Alright, so that’s it for this episode of Kathy Santo’s Dog Sense. Thank you, Sarah, for hanging out with me again. I’m reminding you guys to check out my “Canine Body Language Webinar,” and the link to that will be posted along with the podcast. Thank you so much for spending time with us, and I hope you’ll join us again soon. If you do have any comments or show ideas, we’d love to hear them. So reach out to us through our website at, And as always, if you like what you hear, jump on over to whatever subscription service you use to download this podcast from and like rate, subscribe, tell a friend, and share this episode somewhere to help spread the word so we can continue to create an awesome community of dog lovers and learners. Happy training everyone!

Season 1 || Ep. 2

Ep. 2 - Ditch The Bowl Challenge

Kathy: Welcome to Kathy Santo’s Dog Sense “Episode Two: Ditch The Bowl Challenge.” I’m your host Kathy Santo and I’m here to teach you everything I’ve learned in my over three decades of training dogs, their families, competing in dog sports, writing about dogs, and being a guest on radio and TV shows. I’m so glad you joined us today and I’m also so glad that I’m here with one of my favorite people, my trainer, Sarah, who used to work up with us and our dog training facility in New Jersey, but now is out in Fort Collins, Colorado doing a smaller, at the moment, version of the school we have up here and we have big plans for you, Sarah. I’m really excited about putting a facility down there sometime soon.

Sarah: Yes, absolutely. Hey everyone! Alright, so today’s episode we are going to address one of our absolute favorite things to do with our students. We do it throughout the year, and it’s our Monthly Bowl Free Challenge.

Kathy: Which is different than a Free Bowl Challenge, which is what one of my students in Puppy Class, she’s like, “Wait, what? We get, you’re giving us a free bowl?”

Sarah: Yeah.

Kathy: I’m like, “No, no, no…let me say it again. It’s a Bowl Free Challenge.” But they still didn’t know what the hell that means.

Sarah: No, they, and it’s something that, that they don’t even, it doesn’t even cross their mind to do this. A lot of the times, like, when we tell students, like, use your dog’s food to train, that’s a perfect opportunity, to, for your dog to be learning how to earn everything in their lives and they don’t even think about it. They think that they have to use, like, hot dogs or cheese to train their dogs anything.

Kathy: Right! So here’s what I tell them. Number one, when we train new dogs, puppies, a lot of the times we’re using food and it’s because there’s not a relationship yet with the owner and the dog. And two, food, to dogs, is currency. It’s like paychecks. Although, occasionally, I get somebody who says, “Why can’t I just train with praise?” And I’m like, “Well you can, but it’s not as interesting to the dogs, because they hear you talking all the time. You probably praised them for just breathing all the time,” and, “How would you like it if your workplace decided, ‘you know what we’re doing with paychecks, we’re just going to give you lots of compliments’? ”

Sarah: We’re going to hug you every time you do a great job.

Kathy: Right!

Sarah: Kisses on the cheek for exceptional work.

Kathy: Exactly. No, that’s why I work for myself.

Sarah: I would be, I would quit. I’d be out of there in three seconds.

Kathy: That’s right! And, you know what, there’s a lot of dogs who don’t like that physical touching stuff!

Sarah: Exactly!

Kathy: So, yeah, way to turn your dog off. Alright, so, basically what I explained to my students is, your dog and you have a list of things you want to teach them. Manners, commands, just basic stuff, basic dog husbandry, that you need to have them understand so that you can live a happy life together, which is the reason you got your dog in the first place.

Sarah: Yup.

Kathy: And if you have all these things that you need to teach and every day you give them a free bowl twice a day, or three of you have a puppy, of exactly what they want for doing nothing, you are throwing away the biggest training tool that you have, and that is, leveraging their meal for training. I mean, and when you say to people, they’re like, “Oh yeah, you’re right!” The thing of it is it improves your relationship because you have something the dog wants. The dog is like, “Hey, I…I really want that!” And you’re like, “Hey, that’s awesome. Let’s do something together!” The dog is like, “Absolutely, I will totally engage with you!” Versus what you get most of the day if you’re not training with us and you don’t have the system in place, which is you walk by your dog, you’re like, “Hey, you want to train?” Dogs chewing a bone, he’s like, “Nope, I’m good. Full from breakfast.” I mean that sucks so much.

Sarah: And think about the dogs. Like, most of the time if you ask an owner like, “When is your dog like the happiest, when was he happiest?” Most of the time they’re going to say, “When I’m making his food.”

Kathy: Right! They get so excited! Imagine if your dog was that into you, the way they are into their bowl. Like…

Sarah: Exactly!

Kathy: Like, you could teach him to do anything. You could teach them to drive your car.

Sarah: We’re getting there.

Kathy: But, right now, they’re excited to see the bowl and not you, but we’re going to flip that. So let’s go over a few things that people don’t, the reason they resist. So one of the reasons they resist is because they say, “This is so much food! Like, my puppy or my dog gets two cups of food a day!” Are you kidding me? I can get rid of two cups of food in 15 minutes. Then I hear, “Oh, I don’t have extra time to train my dog!”

Sarah: Yeah.

Kathy: Okay, dude. Feeding your dog probably takes you five minutes top to bottom, but training will take you 10 or 15, so, get up a little earlier, like, stay off of freaking Facebook.

Sarah: Exactly! Yeah!

Kathy: Like, just, devote the time in the beginning of this training journey and you get what you want. I promise you’ll have all that Facebook time later. You’ll have time to watch whenever that you watch on Netflix, you will. But this is so critical. When you start out training, whether it’s an eight week old puppy or an eight year old dog, you still got to put in this foundation stuff, and this is really important. I also hear, that, “I feed raw.” So they were like, “I feed raw food. I’m not touching that.”

Sarah: If you didn’t touch on this one, I was gonna say the same thing.

Kathy: Exactly. Alright, so get a glove. Get a glove or a spoon!

Sarah: I use a spoon. My dogs eat raw every single meal we train, and I use a spoon.

Kathy: Yeah. And, so easy. If you’re really fussy and picky, you can even get, um, I don’t know how to explain it. They’re like tubes. Just go on Amazon, they have all this crap, and you can put stuff in the tube. The, the bottom of it is open. It’s like a toothpaste tube.

Sarah: Yup.

Kathy: Put it in, roll it down. There’s a little clip you put on it, then you can squeeze it out like toothpaste. So if you just don’t want to touch that stuff, I get it. Not really, but I say I do, and put it into like that. Then you don’t have to have actual contact with the raw. My son, when he feeds his dog, he puts on gloves and gets all the stuff he needs into the bowl. So, you could get gloves, too. Whatever you want to do, just make it happen. Oh, another reason to feed with the bowl, you don’t want this 700 pound dog!

Sarah: Yeah.

Kathy: So if you’re doing training with food, at some point your dog is bigger than he should be. We like to call it fluffy. The vet’s going to hate it, and your dog isn’t going to thrive because of it. So I want you to make sure that the food is a big part of it. Uh, what other objections? Oh, “My dog doesn’t like his food.” Okay.

Sarah: Ugh.

Kathy: Alright. So if he didn’t like his food, and it’s a really healthy food. It’s like the kids, you know, my kids didn’t want to eat broccoli, they’d rather have cookies. Yeah, but at some point you gotta be like, “You know, I know what I’m doing. You can’t have the cookies until you eat the Broccoli.”

Sarah: Exactly.

Kathy: So in that case, you can dress up the food. So you can get a hunk of, like, the rind of parm and you could get a piece of bacon, put it in a Ziploc bag with the kibble, shake it like Shake’n’Bake throw it in the fridge when you’re going to have a training session the next day, your meal training session, take it out and use it. Now it’s scented kibble.

Sarah: Yup.

Kathy: But, but I also think that some dogs don’t like their food because they get so much other crap during the day. Like, they get snacks and all this stuff and so they don’t have a food drive, then, you know, it’s kind of lost on them. Alright! So I want you to give some examples, because I know your students ask you this too, of what things you can train with your dog during the Bowl Free Month. Like, how to get rid of this food. And at the end of the day have a full puppy, and a dog, or a puppy who’s learned more than they knew before the meal.


Sarah: Okay. I could go into this topic, we can look at your podcast for three hours on this topic. Giving everyone examples of what they could do with their food. But some of my top ones, alright, so for puppies, your impulse control games. Work them in the kitchen or the dining room where you, the situation, you were most likely going to need it. So in the dining room, you know your kids drop a plate, you’re in the kitchen, something falls over, work your impulse control games in those environments. Next one, name recognition games, especially with a puppy, they need to learn their name and they need to know how awesome it is. Every time they hear their name, they get food.

Kathy: Wait, stop.

Sarah: Yup.

Kathy: Do you, some people think that their dog knows their name or their puppy knows her name and they don’t?

Sarah: Oh yeah. So I test it in class and I, you know the dog, the dog’s distracted. They’re looking at other puppies in class and you say the dog’s name and he completely ignores you?

Kathy: Right? And they, you know what, sometimes they you hear, you know this, they say, “Oh, but he’s distracted.” I’m like, “Hello?”

Sarah: Yeah.

Kathy: He needs their attention. When they’re looking a squirrel and booking it across the road, do you need their attention when they’re looking at the squirrel? So, yes, something you need to do. Tons of name recognition games.

Sarah: You could use your entire bowl of food, and literally it’s just your dog’s looking away from you. They’re distracted by air molecules. Maybe it’s a squirrel outside the window or something, and you will, you say their name you feed him a handful, whether it’s raw or cable, whatever it is.

Kathy: I just thought about something. This the criteria of when we say you should train your puppy or dog, which is when they’re hungry, lonely and bored.

Sarah: Exactly.

Kathy: So they’ve been sleeping all night, they’ve been in their crate or they’re confined and, so they’re bored, and they’re hungry, and they’re lonely. And so the same thing at dinner time. And if you want, before you do your dinner meal or your lunchtime meal, I would put them somewhere away from you for at least a half an hour. So that when you showed up, your dog is bored, and he’s like, “Oh my God, so good to see you. Let’s do something fun!” And you’re like, “Hey, how about food?” And the dog is really into it. Alright, what else?

Sarah: So touching on what you just said, also, so let’s say if you were someone who may be living in an apartment or you don’t have a fenced in yard and you take your dog for walks in the morning for their potty. Take their kibble, put it in a little baggie with you, put it in your pocket and train on your walk. That’s another huge one that you can use. And, also, for people who say they don’t have time to train. What, if you have to walk your dog, either way, they need to go potty, take the food with you. That’s another huge one that people can do.

Kathy: I find it surprising how many people don’t think to take the dogs food with them.

Sarah: I know they don’t. And a lot of times I hear, you know, it’s, it’s frustrating for them to bring food with them, blah, blah blah. But it’s like, that’s your paycheck. That’s how you’re going to teach your dog all of these things. And if you want your dog to learn heel position, you’re taking them on walks either way. Why not be training?

Kathy: t’s much more frustrating to get dragged down the street…

Sarah: Right!

Kathy: By your dog tugging and lunging. And, wait, oh, we have to touch on this even though it’s kind of not about this, but look. I go crazy when people are handing food to other people and saying, “Well, you feed my dog.” Why the hell are…

Sarah: That’s a big one!

Kathy: …you teaching your puppy, or dog, that all those people out there have food, and that they’re going to give it to him? Because what you’re creating is a dog who wants everything but you. Now people are going to go, “Oh, well you should socialize!” yeah, you know what’s socializing is? Somebody interacts with my puppy and I feed them, or my dog, and I feed them. I’m not letting them think that the world is full of vending machines, because you get zero engagement that way. Dog goes on the walk specifically to seek out food that other people have, and what they really should be doing is trying to earn the food that you brought. That’s the way it works. It doesn’t, and, and people are like, “Oh the whole life of the dog? Fourteen years?” No! Maybe six, nine, 12 months till you’re done with this. But you got to put it in and you don’t forget. And if you did forget, you trudge back up the driveway, you go in and you grab your food. It has to happen.

Sarah: Yup.

Kathy: Alright, what else?

Sarah: Alright, let’s see. Okay, so for puppies, body handling games. Huge, huge, huge thing to do with puppies, and it’s so easy. You have your bowl of food, you pick up a paw, you feed some kibble. Next one, next paw, the belly, the tail, the ears, the neck, the collar grab game. That’s another huge one we teach students! It’s to make sure that they always associate you touching or reaching for their collar with that positive and appetitive response, so they’re not shying away from it. Um, and other thing, so I mean all of your, your basic puppy command, your sit, down stays, you could do the beginning of place. People who say that they want to get rid of like a lot of food quickly, place. Greatest thing ever! You can throw a whole, you can have half a bowl of food on there for the dog getting onto their place command.

Kathy: Exactly. Yeah.

Sarah: Um, and then another, my last one for puppies is going to be puppy fitness. So our whole entire team is certified canine athlete specialists, so we’re super, super into making sure that from the beginning of the dog’s life until the end that they’re getting the physical exercise in the fitness that they need to live a long and healthy life. So we start with puppies and we have to teach them to be at the beginning of it. So paws up and pivoting or two of my favorite things to teach puppies.

Kathy: And you know we talked about this in the barking episode, which was episode one, but the physical combined with the brain work creates a nice tired dog. So that people who don’t buy into the idea of probably fitness or even begin a dog fitness, I’m like, “Look dude, if you do this dog will be better behaved and tired!” And they’re, like, “Ahh, sold!”

Sarah: Yeah, exactly. We’ll give them, the, yeah, we’ll sell them the tired card.

Kathy: Yup. Yup. All right. Now for the beginner dogs, we have doorway protocol, which is just the way that we teach our dogs to go through the door, which is they have to sit before we open it. They have to go through when we release them, and then they have to sit at the other side of it. And so there’s a really great game we do where we straddle the doorway and we show them a cookie and we released him through the door. “Okay. Sit!” and we’d get them back in. “Okay. Sit!” So basically they’re ping ponging back and forth. Yes! There’s the leash on the dog. Yes! I’m standing on it because I don’t feel like chasing an untrained dog down the street.

Sarah: Right.

Kathy: That is an awesome way to get rid of food. Recalls in the yard or in a field. Teaching them to look at you, sit down, stay place, more advanced stuff like that. Again, body handling games and beginner fitness, just like you were talking about with the pivoting. Um, the listening for intermediate/advanced, dogs is really a great way to test it. Doing set up versus side, sit versus down, place versus paws up. Uh, long waits, really long sit stays. When we say, wait, we mean sit  stay, and putting them in place while you make your dinner or you just do something fun. Uh, and they have to stay there and be calm and the reward for that is you’re feeding them. And I also thought the, the example is making dinner, but then I’m like, oh, when you’re on the computer too.

Sarah: Yeah. Like you were talking about you want to be able to sit and Netflix, you know, sit at your laptop watching Netflix, your dog has to, it can’t be constantly bothering you because they weren’t, you know, they weren’t truly tired.

Kathy: Exactly. Alright. Well I think if you are not motivated to try The Ditch The Bowl Challenge, you need to listen to this again.

Sarah: Exactly. You could do so much with it and it’s really, it’s building your relationship with your dog. That’s one of the most important parts to get out of this.

Kathy: Yeah. The leash guys, the leash and the cookie isn’t the relationship.

Sarah: Yup.

Kathy: It’s you and the dog and the way that you feel about each other. The way your dog looks at you, the way he views you as the person who owns all the fun stuff and shares it with him when he behaves in a certain way that you like. So we hope that you’re going to try this and I’d love to hear your feedback. So that’s it for this episode of Kathy Santo’s Dog Sense. When you try this at home with your dogs do tag us with hashtag: Ditch The Bowl Challenge. (#ditchthebowlchallenge) Thank you so much for spending time with us. I hope you’ll join us again soon. And if you have comments or show ideas do you can reach us through our website at As always, if you like what you heard jump over to whatever subscription service you downloaded this from and like rate, subscribe, tell a friend, and share these episodes somewhere to help spread the word so we continue to create an awesome community of dog lovers and learners. Happy training everyone!

Season 1 || Ep. 1

Ep. 1 - Barking - The Whys, The Woes, And How To Finally Ditch The Earplugs

Kathy: Welcome to Kathy Santo’s Dog Sense: “Episode One: Barking; The Whys, The Woes, And How To Finally Ditch The Earplugs.” I’m your host Kathy Santo, and I’m here to teach you everything I’ve learned in my over three decades of training dogs, their families, competing in dog sports, writing about dogs, and being a guest on radio and TV shows. I’m so glad you joined us today and I’m also so glad that one of my favorite people is here, too. And today my guest is Sarah. Now Sarah is one of my trainers and she started when she was with our facility in New Jersey and she has since moved, about a year ago, to Colorado and she’s opening a branch of what we do up here with the dog training and the daycare out in Fort Collins, Colorado. Hey, Sarah!

Sarah: Hey everyone!

Kathy: So is it about a year that you’ve been gone?

Sarah: Yeah, it’ll be a year midway through January.

Kathy: It feels like dog years.

Sarah: Exactly!

Kathy: You couldn’t have moved to like freaking Connecticut where you could have just come and visit. You had to go all the way across the country.

Sarah: Hey, we got a lot of dogs out here that need training as well!

Kathy: This is true and you know, this is a funny story. She moved to Colorado and, like, three weeks later one of my students from here said, “Oh, I’m moving.” I said, “I’m so sad. We’re going to miss you. Where are you moving?” She’s like, “Fort Collins, Colorado.” I’m like, “No way!” So she got out there, right? Lilo and then she started training with you. So we got to get more of those happening.

Sarah: Exactly, yes.

Kathy: Alright, so what are we talking about today?

Sarah: Alright, so today’s episode, we’re going to address a topic we get asked about every single day, whether it’s in classes or private lessons at the school, or when we also got these questions from the online dog training program, as well as comments and messages on our social media pages.

Kathy: I think it’s probably one of the biggest. I’d say it’s probably one of the top three questions we get asked about and, like I said in the Intro, I’ve been training dogs for over 30 years and I hear this every day. Now, we teach seven days a week at our school, so we’re pretty guaranteed this topic is going to come up, but there is such mystery and frustration surrounding the topic that, I thought that this would be a really good one to start off with to help people fix their barking issues, or not let them happen in the first place. So, if you’re listening to this and you’re like, “Ah, my dog doesn’t bark,” keep listening because you may one day do the wrong thing and then you have a barker on your hands, which you definitely don’t want to have. Right?

Sarah: Exactly.

Kathy: So before we have to tell you the solution, we need you to understand why the dog is barking and that’s pretty much how we attack all the training. People are like, “Oh my dog runs away!” And were like, “Well, here’s why it’s happening, and then here’s the solution,” because I believe if you don’t understand the why, you can’t effectively use the solutions we’re telling you. So here’s some insight into what might be the reason your dog is barking. So, first, there’s no single reason they bark and it can change day to day, so there’s really no quick fix guaranteed cookie cutter method to stop barking. You kind of feel your way through it, and it’s frustrating to live with a dog who bugs you or even next door to, or if you’re an apartment, over or under a dog that barks, because once the dog is an Olympic barker it gets much, much harder to fix. And, so, if we know the motivation behind it, then we can better address the problem with a solution. So, we know that obviously dogs bark, a dog barks because it works and they’re scaring somebody away, their self soothing and they’re getting attention or they’re releasing frustration, but the most typical reasons for that are, you know what, Sarah, I’m going to let you do a couple. Go for it. What would be number one?

 Sarah: Right. So some of the common reasons for barking is definitely “Boredom.” So it’s a way that they’re going to self soothe, it sounds repetitive, or if the dog is under stimulated.

Kathy: Exactly. It’s like, I know people like this. Oh, I just had an epiphany! Have you met people who just like the sound of their voice, and they just keep talking? Yeah.

Sarah: Yes.

Kathy: So, yeah, hopefully they don’t have a dog like that, or maybe, hopefully, they do have a dog like that so they know what it feels like to others but, okay, carry on. What’s number two?

Sarah: Alright, so the next one, It’s gotta be that the dog is either attention or it’s demand barking. So, what that means is that. So the dog, it’s either, they want something from you or they’re hoping that the barking, and they’re hoping that the bark and will get it from you.

Kathy: And you know what? A lot of people go, “Oh no, I don’t do that. My dog barks at me to throw the ball and I won’t throw the ball. And I tell him, ‘Stop it, I’m not throwing that ball’ ” And I’m, like, “That’s it. There it is right there. There’s the interaction!”

Sarah: Exactly.

Kathy: You think they’re only asking for positive interaction, but you’re annoyed interaction is attention anyway, which is kind of just like kids, right? They don’t care if they’re getting negative attention or positive attention. Sometimes, they just want you to interact with them and so that’s definitely, what’s happening with that, number two, when people are fussing at their dogs. It’s still attention.

Sarah: Right! They think that they’re, they think that they’re helping to deter the barking. But, in reality it’s still perpetuating it.

Kathy: Exactly.

Sarah: Alright. So next one is going to be “Excitement.” So you’re prepping their meals, you come from home from work, you grab your car keys, you pick up their leash, any of those things, and the dogs are crazy barking, exciting. And a lot of people unfortunately they take it as, “Oh my dog is so excited to see me,” you know, they’re just excited, whatever. But it’s still, that’s going to then translate to other situations.

Kathy: Exactly. And the thing about that is the dog gets what they want because most of the time the dogs barking and the people are making their dinner or their breakfast, the dog’s meal, and they do it faster because they want the dog to shut up. And, so, the dog goes, “Hey, when I back harder and louder and faster, she makes my food faster. So that’s awesome!” Or, if you grab your car keys and the dog’s jumping around like a kangaroo barking because he knows you’re going to take him somewhere, and you do, the dog goes, “This barking stuff. It really works!” Right?

Sarah: Exactly.

Kathy: Number four.

Sarah: Alright, so this one, it’s got to be, this might be my second top one that we hear most often. So an “Alarm Bark.” So, something that startles them. So the doorbell rings, the mailman comes up the front, you know, they hear the car, the mail truck pull up. That kind of thing.

Kathy: Right. And so, there’s a lot we can do that with that one and we’re gonna talk about later. But my big thing with that is I don’t want, when I go somewhere, I don’t like to leave my dogs in a dead quiet house or if you’re an apartment, I like to have white noise to sort of buffer this stuff because, imagine if you were in a very quiet house and all of a sudden you heard a noise and, see the other thing is I hear the UPS truck and I’m, like, “Yes, Amazon! It’s here!” The dogs, they don’t know you ordered something. They’re, like, “Oh my God, intruders!” And some dogs, which you may or may not have one of, are more easily startled or pushed into a reaction from noise than others. I mean, my puppy he hears  the doorbell, he’s like, “Huh?” But other dogs hear it and there, boom, on alert, barking, acting.

Sarah: Exactly.

Kathy: Whatever they act like and, and by the way, if you have multiple dogs and you bring one into the house who is a barker, you can actually change, teach all of them to bark. It will pass on. It’s like the flu. They will all catch it. So you want to stop that ASAP. Oh, number five. That’s my favorite one. Go ahead you can say it.

Sarah: I was just going to say that too!. Every time we go down this list, I’m like, oh wait, no THAT one’s my favorite.. “Window TVs” at the front of your house where the dog has easy access to, whether it’s on the back of the couch or they could just put their front paws up on it and look out of it, but that that huge window at the front of the house.

Kathy: Wait, people are hearing this and going, “What the hell is a window TV?” Some people want to order one now. Some people are like, “I don’t get it.” Okay.

Sarah: It’s TV for your dog!

Kathy: Yes. We refer to open windows, meaning, not open-wide open, like, ones without curtains. Anything your dog can see out of. We call that a window TV, and the dog gets to watch the best TV show on earth, which is your neighborhood show and then they’ll find things to bark at and we’re going to explain why that’s a problem, but it’s a pretty easy fix.

Sarah: Yeah, and then the other one, which can relate to all of these is that the reason that they bark is “Because It Works.” Whatever they’re barking, whatever the reason is for barking, it works.

Kathy: Exactly. And it, we know it does because they keep doing it. If it didn’t, they’d stop. They’re very black and white about that stuff. Alright, so let’s keep these few things in mind when we’re working on this. Number one, “Don’t Yell At Your Dog To Be Quiet,” because it sounds like you’re barking and you know they like to be in packs!

Sarah: They have confirmation now.

Kathy: Right? It’s, oh my gosh. I hear this all the time, right in front of me in class, “Stop it! Be quiet. Cut it out. Cut it out!”  And the dogs, bark and louder to get over the person. It’s futile. Also, “Stay Consistent.” Everybody in your family has to do the same thing. So if you’re ignoring your dog when he barks, but your husband looks at him and slides him a piece of pizza crust, you never going to get it any better. It’s going to be bad. And, and you’ll be, you’ll be able to out the culprit pretty easily with stuff like that. Whoever the dog is looking at when they’re barking, that’s your weak link. And the last one is, “Don’t Make Eye Contact Or Interact With Your Dog While He’s Barking.” I like to say that when my dog barks, I become invisible and I walk away and he’s like, “Where the hell is she going?” But, it’s really the barking and that drives me out. Alright, so, let’s get to solutions. First one is “Remove The Reward.” And you and I, we both agree that when a dog barks, he’s getting some sort of reward, which we spoke about a little bit earlier. So let’s talk about the dog who barks and somebody walks past your house. Easy peasy, right?

Sarah: Yup.

Kathy: Block the access to the window. Close the shades, put up a gate. I have said to people, alright, so this is also storytime. Anytime we do these podcasts, it just jumps into a story. Of course.

Sarah: I was gonna say. Are you gonna tell the story about the woman who had the garbage bags up?

Kathy: Yes.

Sarah: This is so good!

Kathy: So I had a student with three little Maltese. They were triplets, meaning they were all from the same litter. Don’t ask me why she kept all three, but she did. And they lived, their house was facing a street that people turned into, like, it was the first house on the corner, and so at night when a car would turn the headlights would momentarily go through the front glass door and then carry on. And the dogs would lose their mind whenever that happened. So she would try to bust up, keep them away from it with crate, um, try to barricade them. Uh, she would, when she saw the lights, she would be, like, “Oh! Oh no, don’t bark, don’t bark,” and get up from her TV show. And she was watching some series that was annoying for her. She even tried putting them upstairs in the room with her and watching Netflix on her laptop. But for whatever reason they still could tell and it was just, it was crazy. The lengths that she was going to adapt her life to have this not happen.

Sarah: Instead of fixing it. It was futile.

Kathy: Yeah. And it was such a pattern. Did it happen during the day? No, it did not, cause there were no headlights. Oh, PS, this is probably important backstory. She taught them to chase a laser pointer!

Sarah: Oh my! Well that’s where it starts!

Kathy: Don’t do that! Especially with dogs who have quirks who like to chase little things like that. So, this was like the biggest laser pointer ever. Anyway, I went over there and I’m like, “Dude, the gates aren’t working. They don’t care. We’re just going to block their access.” So we got trash bags, black trash bags, and we duct taped them to the doorframe from the top all the way down to the bottom. It was beautiful. And all of a sudden there were no headlights and the behavior stopped. Now, that’s not the end solution, because she didn’t like the way that looked. So what we did was we would roll it up an inch every couple of weeks. And they’d see a little light and we got better and better and better. And pretty soon it was no big deal. What we also added into that was when the lights would come by, when we started rolling it up an inch, she had a handful of treats and when the dogs would see the light, she’d say “Headlights,” and throw a handful of treats, which was, I don’t know, I wouldn’t have chosen that word, but it is what it is. And so to this day if you say to the dog, “Headlights,” they look at the ground like, “Where’s the food?”

Sarah: Right.

Kathy: So, we reconditioned them to, when you do this something good happen. So, and now it’s a couple of years later and it’s done. So that was a really quick fix for her. Although, the dramatics beforehand were pretty intense. We talked about this, “Don’t Reinforce Barking With Attention.” So, if their demand barking don’t look, don’t touch, nada, nothing. And when he’s quiet, then you give them attention. But, Sarah, I find that people don’t leave enough of a bumper between the barking, the silence, and the reinforcer. Do you?

Sarah: No, because if you don’t leave enough time, or you’re not consistent, which we talked about earlier, then it’s not going to be fixed.

Kathy: Exactly, and to this point, when I have a new dog in the house, and I do right now, I have a puppy who’s five months old, and when I start meal prep and he’s bouncing around, it’s not barking, but he’s bouncing and spinning and all the other dogs are there too, I stop the process, put the ball on the counter and go sit down at the kitchen table and all the other dogs are like, “Crap, the new guy!”

Sarah: “The new guy!”

Kathy: “It’s gonna be hours before we eat!” And, so, what they know and what he’s learning is that that kind of behavior, it makes everything stopped. It doesn’t make it go faster. It makes it stop.

Sarah: Right! And each time you do that, so someone’s doing this at home. The first time can be five minutes, then the next, if you then go back and you start to make the bowl and they start doing the same thing, then the next time you go sit down, it’s 10 minutes.

Kathy: Right? I think that’s the key. The unexpected outcome, like, “Hey, I used to do this and I would get faster service, but now they closed the restaurant. That sucks.” And I think people need to keep in mind how long this behavior has been going on…

Sarah: Yup.

Kathy: …As a good expectation for how long it’s gonna take to fix it. If they’ve been barking five years. It’s not gonna take five years to fix it, but it’s gonna take a little bit of time. It’s the toothbrush thing, right? So if every day you go to your bathroom, the toothbrush is on the left. You reach for it, put toothpaste on, brush your teeth. If I take your toothbrush, move it to the right side of the sink, every morning, for awhile, you’re going to reach for the left. You’re going to say, “Dammit, it’s on the right!” Right? It’s, like, when you lose power to your house, how many times, you know, the power’s off and try to turn on the damn lights.

Sarah: Yup.

Kathy: So it’s a pattern behavior. It’s reflexive. They’re almost not even thinking of it. So be patient when you make changes. I don’t want to hear you say, “I did it for a week and it didn’t work. Kathy Santo, you suck.” Don’t say that! It takes a while. I know this stuff! I see it every day and it will work! And a lot of it depends on you. Let’s talk about keeping them occupied, for the boredom barkers.

Sarah: Yup. So some of the top things we suggest for students. Because also, so if they are barking from boredom, that’s what you’ve determined it to be, you now want to be proactive. You want them to not be bored. So then the bargaining isn’t happening. So, a lot of things we like to use our food dispensing puzzle toys, we love a good antler, stuffed Kongs, which are the, and these are all gonna provide stimulation and an activity for your dogs that they could focus on that instead of the barking.

Kathy: Right. And that Antler, I want to make a point. Sorry I left you hanging before I was taking a drink. I put the antler in warm, or hot, chicken broth for like 20 minutes. It’s sort of reconstitutes it, you can do straight warm water to. And then let it cool off and then dry it and give it to your dog and sometimes people get antlers and they’re, like, “Oh it was great initially and then my dog was, like, ‘I don’t care about it,’” but, you can do things to make them more interesting and you know, it’s chicken broth now, it’s beef brother later. You can even put them in the freezer for a bit, especially for those teething puppies. But those are things you’d give the dog before they’re barking. Can we just talk about the fact that sometimes dogs bark and people give them things to chew on?

Sarah: Oh my God. Yeah.

Kathy: So, that’s exactly what we’re talking about earlier.

Sarah: But, if your dog’s barking and then you give them something, they are learning, “When I bark, I get this!”

Kathy: Right! That’s like your kid yelling at you, “Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom,” and you give them 20 bucks and they’re like, “Oh, now I know how to get 20 bucks.” Yeah, we’re not doing that. Alright, let’s hop over to, “Make Sure Your Dog Is Getting Enough Mental And Physical Exercise.” So…

Sarah: Yep.

Kathy: You and I created the Canine Gym Program. Why don’t you speak to that about the physical exercise?

Sarah: Okay. So what we like to do with all of our dogs is not just the mental and it’s not just the physical. We like to combine both of it so that both parts of the dog are getting the stimulation, the exercise, everything that they need in order to truly tire them out. If you just take your dog for a long walk in the morning and then you put them back inside and you go to work, they’re not truly tired. Sure, that walk was great. They got to potty, they got to do some sniffs. But, unless you’re adding in the mental side of things, you’re working their obedience, you’re working their impulse control while you’re on that walk, they’re not going to be truly tired. And then when they get home and you leave for work they’re going to look for other things to do to entertain themselves. I.E. barking.

Kathy: Exactly. Now, I had a student whose puppy would bark when she put it in a crate at night, and I really felt bad because, she came to me with this idea and thought it was, like, genius. She was, like, “I have the solution!” I’m, like, “Okay, great. What is it?” She’s, like, “Every night before I put him in his crate, I go for a walk around the block four times and I get home and I put them in the crate and he’s out.” Now, major problem with this, although I paused a moment to see, to think about how I was going to deliver the bad news so that she didn’t cry or start, start drinking. Um, so, a couple of days ago I went to something called Cycle Bar and it’s like a cycle bike place. And the first day it kicked my butt, the second day kicked my butt, but not as much. By the third day I could do faster and I could turn the knob up to give more resistance to it.

Sarah: Right.

Kathy: And, so, the more I go to Cycle Bar, the more training I’m going to get. So, think about this with the dog. He’s, like, 12 weeks old, he gets four times around the block and he’s tired. What happens when is endurance increases? It’s going to be eight times around the block.

Sarah: Exactly!

Kathy: She’s going to be walking and jogging for hours before the dog goes to bed.

Sarah: By the time he’s a year old, we’re going to be doing marathons!

Kathy: Now, if that’s the goal, you go, girl! You’re going to hit it. But if it’s not considered doing two blocks and adding and training or some physical fitness where he’s getting his paws up or, or just like train him to do physical things and wear at his brain, his body at the same time. And then you’ll get the solution that you’re hoping for.

Sarah: And also what you teach in classes all the time, nose work games. Those are exhausting for a dog.

Kathy: Exactly. Yep. And, and people, I don’t think they think that, because there’s not a lot of motion. They associate exercise with exhaustion.

Sarah: Right.

Kathy: But, I’m telling you I could go to the gym and workout and come home and be like ready for the day, and I could sit in front of my computer and work on my book, or whatever, and be exhausted after a couple of hours, because it’s brainwork. Imagine though…ooh, great idea! What if at Cycle Bar I could have my laptop with me…

Sarah: I knew you were gonna say that.

Kathy: And I can be peddling!

Sarah: Thinking, “What can I do, and work?”

Kathy: Oh, my God. That would be amazing. All right, so let’s get to the last thing. The last thing is, and I’m sure nobody does it, is “Reward Your Dog When They’re Quiet.” Much like a baby being quiet, or a toddler when they’re playing, you don’t want to disturb it because you don’t want them to focus on you. But, I really feel strongly that if you walk by the crate, your dog is quiet, or he’s hanging out in the house, I would just throw a cookie and praise them, “Good. Quiet.” So that you’d get more of that.

Sarah: And that’s something that people never think about! They never think that they need to teach their dog those kinds of things like rewarding the quiet behavior, or, you know, praising them when they’re just hanging out and not reacting to whatever’s going on around them. And it’s so important.

Kathy: It is, it’s just, it’s everything, because people get really good at telling their dogs what they don’t want them to do, but they kind of suck at telling them good job because they’re just relieved and if they notice more of the good stuff, it’s like that Beyonce song, right? If you like it put a ring on it. If you like it, put a cookie in it, or put some praise on it. You’re going to get more of that. So, alright, this was awesome. Yay, for the first episode! We have been talking about doing this podcast forever and, finally, I’m glad that we finally got around to doing it. So, anyway, that’s it for this, our very first episode of Kathy Santo’s Dog Sense. Thank you so much for spending time with us and I hope you’ll join us again soon. If you have comments or show ideas, you can reach us through our website at As always, if you like what you hear, jump over to whatever subscription service you downloaded from and like rate, subscribe, tell a friend and share this episode somewhere to help spread the word so we can continue to create an awesome community of dog lovers and learners. Happy training everyone!