Chapter Two

How It Changed Everything

You can learn how to train your dog using a simple, easy, and
effective training system.

You’ll discover how to use The Amazing Dog Training Man’s very unique
Reverse Dog Training Method.

Now, I must admit, I was starting to have some serious doubts.  When I called the number on the card I got an answering machine saying someone would get back to me shortly.  A few hours later I received a phone call.  It was a pleasant sounding lady, letting me know that Eric would meet me at The Barn restaurant in Adamsville, RI for our first lesson.  She said to just tell any of the waitresses that I was there to see Eric.  They would point him out for me.

After I hung up the phone I could not help the weird feeling I had about all of this.  Why would a dog trainer meet me at a restaurant for our first lesson?  Don’t get me wrong, The Barn is one of my all time favorite restaurants.  I discovered it shortly after moving to Westport.  It’s a quaint little place, tucked away in a remote corner of Rhode Island.  The staff is friendly and the food is fantastic.

In fact, if you ever find yourself in this part of the world, I highly recommend stopping in.  They only serve breakfast though, so make sure you get there early.  But back to my story, I still couldn’t understand why I was meeting a dog trainer in a restaurant.

When I arrived at The Barn at the designated time, I asked the waitress if she knew of a dog trainer named Eric?  She pointed him out and I walked towards his table.  I have to be honest here, I was not too impressed by what I saw.  He looked kind of young to be some kind of dog training guru.  And, dressed in baggy shorts and sandals, he looked more like he was heading to the beach than a dog training lesson.

After shaking his hand I sat down and ordered some coffee and toast.

“So, I’m a little curious,” I began after the waitress had taken our order. “Why are we meeting in a restaurant?  I’m not quite sure how is this going to help train my dog?  How we can we possibly train Peanuts without him being here?”

“Would you like to know the secret to having a well-behaved dog?” Eric asked.

I nodded my head.

“It’s very simple,” he said, taking a sip of his coffee. “But the simple things in life, for some reason, always seem the most difficult to do.  Let me give you some examples.  Losing weight really is simple, don’t eat as much.  If you want to feel better mentally and physically, it’s easy, exercise.

What do you do if you want to have more money in your bank account?  Don’t spend as much, right?  Anyways, I’m getting off topic here.”  He paused again, letting some of this sink in. “Basically, what I’m trying to say is that the simple things aren’t always easy.  But, before I digress again, here is the ultimate success secret for a well behaved dog.”

My eyes were now wide, waiting for some great truth to come from his lips.

“If you want a good dog, you have to learn how to become a good dog owner.” He sat back, taking another sip of coffee, waiting for my reaction.

“That’s it?” I asked him.  I was waiting for something more; more complicated, more profound.  It couldn’t be as easy as that.

“Yes.  That really is all there is to it.  You see, I know that my card says The Amazing Dog Training Man, but what it should really say is The Amazing People Training Man.  Most dog trainers are really good at instructing the dog, but it is really the owners that need the training.  What I am going to do over the next few weeks is show you how to get great results with your dog.  I’m not going to train your dog, you are.  I am going to train you to train your dog. Understand?”

“I think so,” I replied, not really sure, but willing to give it a try.

“A successful relationship with your dog requires you, the owner, to take some steps,” Eric began to explain.  “If these steps are followed, they should help you and Peanuts have a great relationship.  Any dog training program that you take part in with your dog should be fun, safe and easy.”

I completely agreed, especially after that disastrous first training class Peanuts and I had been through.  I continued to listen.

“Let’s face it, we all lead busy lives.  Any kind of routine that is difficult or hard to do probably won’t be followed.  That is why I have developed a dog training program designed to give you all of the above; a fun, safe, easy, and effective way to train your dog.  It is also a program that will help you learn how to deal with behavior problems.  Does all this sound OK so far?” Eric asked.

I nodded my head.

“Good.  Before we start I want to make it clear that I put most of the attention on you.  I call it the Reverse Dog Training Method for a reason.  Most dog training programs focus on the dog.  I focus on the owner.  That is one of the reasons that I use the word Reverse.”  He paused to take a few bites of his breakfast.  “I developed the Reverse Dog Training Method after studying many dog owners and trainers,” he continued, “and it is a completely different approach to dog training.”

Here is an explanation of what the Reverse Dog Training Method stands for:

R= Responsibility: Taking responsibility for your dog’s behavior and training

E=Easy:  Having a dog should be fun.  A training program should be easy and fun.

V=Viewpoint:  An effective training program is established by looking at training through the dog’s P.O.V.  (Point Of View)

E=Effective:  The training program needs to be effective

R=Reward:  Reward training based on the principles of behavior.

S=Safe:  Safe training method that does not harm the dog.

E=Efficient:  Training must accomplish the desired results efficiently (in just ten minute sessions)

“So, once you understand the Reverse Dog Training Method you will begin to look at the whole training process differently.”

“Alright, when do we start?”

He smiled at my enthusiasm.  “We’ll start training soon enough, but I still need to explain a few other important things.”

“Okay,” I said, sitting back in my chair, ready for more.

Then Eric took out a piece of paper and a pen.  He drew a line down the middle of the paper and put plus signs on one side and minus signs on the other.  I wasn’t sure exactly what I was supposed to be looking at. 
He began to explain his drawing.

“Positive and negative experiences have a lasting effect on the dog.  One theory of mine is what I like to call the chalk board theory.   Imagine that there is a large chalk board in front of you with a line drawn down the middle.  Label one side positive, and draw little plus signs next to it.  Label the other side of the chalk board negative with little minus signs next to it.”  Now his drawing made a little more sense.

He continued, “Every experience and interaction that you have with Peanuts will place either a plus or minus sign on the board.   So, every time you do something positive with him…you give him a treat…a pat on the head…throw a ball, that is a plus sign on the chalk board.  Every time you do something negative to Peanuts like scold him…slap him on the butt…give a leash correction, you will put a minus sign on the board.  Do you understand so far?”

“Yes, I think so,” I replied.  “When we do something good with Peanuts, he gets pluses, for everything bad we do, he gets minuses.  Is that right?”

“You’ve got it!” said Eric.  “If your chalk board has more minuses than pluses you have big problems.  You want a chalk board filled with pluses, so that when you do have to do something negative, it will not have a detrimental effect on your dog.”

+++   +++
++++  ++
+++++  ++
+++++++

– –             –

–      –

–  –

“Here’s another way to look at it.  This is an excellent way that I heard it explained to me once:  Think of the relationship between you and your dog as a checking account.  In this case we’ll call it Peanut’s social account.  Imagine all the different interactions between you and Peanuts.  Every positive experience between you and Peanuts is a deposit in his social account.  Every negative experience is a withdrawal from Peanut’s social account.”

I nodded my head.

“What happens if there are more withdrawals than deposits from your checking account at home?” Eric asked.

“I bounce a check,” I answered.

“Right,” Eric said with a smile.  “Is you bank very happy when this happens?”

“No,” I responded quickly.

“Right, and what happens if you keep doing it?” Eric kept pressing on.  Before I could even answer he said, “If you keep doing it, you will ruin the relationship you have with your bank.”

“Wow!” I was amazed.   “This would work with my wife and daughter too.”

“Yes, the best way to fix any relationship is to focus on deposits and minimize withdrawals.”

“I think I’m going to go buy my wife some flowers,” I said with a grin on my face.

“Great idea, but for now let’s get back to Peanuts.”  He continued, “Your bank becomes aggressive.  First it’s minor, but if it happens again and again, the bank eventually becomes more and more aggressive, until finally the relationship between you and your bank comes to an end.  With your dog we want to make sure that when you do need to make a withdrawal, you have made enough deposits that the relationship doesn’t bounce like a bad check.” Eric said, sitting back and taking a sip of his coffee.

“Alright, I’ve got it.  I will focus on making deposits.”

“Great!  Now, do you know why so many new dog owners have problems with their dogs?” Eric asked when he put his coffee cup down.

“Well, I guess I have idea,” I began, a little hesitantly.

“Let me explain one of the biggest problems,” said Eric, and he started to go into more detail.

“Confusion is probably the biggest problem faced by new dog owners.  I see the look of frustration on the faces of dog owners coming through my doors very often when they decide to bring their little terror in for training.  The sad fact is that confusion and frustration often lead to anger.  Anger often leads to punishment.  Punishment often leads to problems between the dog and owner.  Once the relationship between the dog and owner goes sour, things quickly disintegrate.”

I could tell that he was genuinely troubled when this happened.

“Over the next few weeks,” he went on, “I’ll show you how to develop a great relationship with your dog.  I am not a guy that is going to regurgitate the same old theories and methods that you read in most dog training books.  Instead, I am going to explain the reasoning behind why I train the way I do, and why you should apply the same methods.

I am a trainer in the trenches week after week working with real dog owners that have real behavior problems.  I spend a great deal of time working in animal shelters.  All the time that I have spent working with shelter dogs has taught me to condense training and deliver it with as little fluff as possible.  Working in a shelter you have to become efficient and effective.  You don’t have a lot of time.

“Many dog owners simply do not understand why their dogs behave a certain way.  They become confused and it is my job to clear up the confusion and help them to train and understand their dog.”
I took all of this in.  After a moment, eager to get started, I asked, “What are we going to do today?”

“Today you are going to learn The Reverse Dog Training Method.  Like I mentioned before, it is a training program that I developed with the typical dog owner in mind.  Believe me, when you learn The Reverse Dog Training Method, you’ll look at dog training very differently.”

“Sounds great.  Let’s get started,” I said.
As I sat there with my toast getting cold, Eric asked me another question.  “Do you know what the biggest mistake dog owners make with their dogs?”

I shook my head.

“The biggest mistake dog owners make is that they expect dogs to think like humans.  The definition of anthropomorphism is when we humans attribute human characteristics to plants, animals, or objects, and unfortunately, most dog owners are guilty of this.  Instead, we have to learn to think like our dogs, because they truly are not capable of thinking like us.

It’s not fair to put all the blame on our dogs when they don’t respond the way we want them to.  The blame has to be put squarely on our shoulders.  Once you take that responsibility, once you decide that it is your job to think like a dog, then and only then, will you get a trained dog.  If you keep blaming the dog, you’re guaranteed to continue having problems.”

“Wait a minute,” I exclaimed.  “I didn’t teach my dog to bite or jump.”

“I’m sure you didn’t intentionally teach your dog,” said Eric, “but we are getting ahead of ourselves.  I promise I will make things very clear to you in the next few minutes.  Before we go on though, remember what I said about success in dog training.  In order to have a good dog, you have to learn how to become a good dog owner.  Very simple, but very true.”

After the waitress came by to refill our coffee cups he continued.  “Alright, let me explain a little further.  As dog owners, we need to set our dogs up for success. Unfortunately, we usually set them up for failure.  For example, giving a young pup too much freedom is setting him up for failure.

The puppy is going to chew on anything and everything, he is going to pee and poop anywhere and everywhere, he is going to knock things over, steal items off the coffee table, and in general make us mad.  By taking some simple steps we can make a few changes and always try to set the pup up for success.  Do you understand?”

“Yes,” I answered, thinking about what he just said.  “By making a few changes around the house, I can probably alleviate a lot of the problems we are having with Peanuts.”

“Before we get into the four steps of the Reverse Dog Training Method, I want to go over what I think are the five biggest myths about dog training.

“You see,” said Eric, “New dog owners become confused about what is the best way to train their dog because there are so many dog training myths out there.”

This came straight from my notes:

Here are the top five:

The 5 biggest myths about dog training

There are many myths surrounding dogs and dog training.  
The five biggest myths regarding training are:

1. Never train a dog until six months of age.  
2.  Never use food to train a dog.  
3. Always train a dog using a choke chain. 
4. Never play tug-o-war with your dog.
5. Dogs will calm down after they are neutered.

These myths have been floating around for so long they are considered dog training laws in some circles.  Eric explained each one in detail to me, and why I would want to ignore much of what I had heard about training.  One myth that he did leave out was housetraining.  He said he would cover that one later, but just for the record; no, never push your dog’s nose in his own mess if he has gone on your floor.

Myth #1

Age has always been a big concern for traditional dog trainers.  Conventional wisdom said that a dog could not start their training until six months of age because the methods being used were too harsh for a young puppy.  A new dog owner would be told that they had to wait until the dog was six months old.  This is a huge, huge mistake.  Waiting until your dog is six months old only allows your dog to develop behaviors that could have been prevented, not to mention the fact that early socialization is crucial for a dog’s development.

What is the poor dog owner supposed to do?  Sit there and watch as their dog destroys the house?  At six months old, does the dog magically start to learn?  No.  Here is some of the best advice you can take.  As soon as you get your dog, start training, preferably in a good puppy class.  If you go to Eric’s website, www.AmazingDogTrainingMan.com, you can read his special report, “The Consumer’s Guide To Choosing A Dog Trainer”.  A good puppy class will show you how to housetrain your puppy, they will let your puppy socialize with other puppies, and they will help you with obedience training.

Myth #2

Food should never be used in training.  That is the second biggest myth.  Dog trainers have told dog owners that their dog should perform the command because the owner is “alpha”.  Don’t listen to it.  The absolute best way to train a dog is to use reward-based methods.  In the long run, your dog will be a better dog because of it.

The whole alpha theory has been blown out of proportion.  A dog is like every other creature on the face of this earth.  Dogs either work to get something or they work to avoid something.  Your dog is working to get a reward or your dog is working to avoid a correction, period.   When used properly, food can be a great way to train your dog.  It speeds up the training process.  Food helps you motivate your dog.  Without some type of positive motivation, you need to resort to negative motivation.  Negative motivation always has side effects.

Myth #3

Choke chains are not only a big myth but they are a sad myth.  Choke chains are a very bad training tool.   Trainers have collapsed dog’s tracheas by using choke chains.  Dogs have been strangled by their trainers for not performing a command.

A much better piece of equipment is the gentle leader head collar.  Gentle leaders have been called power steering for dogs.  In fact, the great thing about gentle leaders is that they work as soon as you put them on.  They work by controlling your dog’s head, not your dog’s body, much the same way as a horse bridle.

Another problem with choke chains is that they trigger your dog’s opposition reflex.  Anytime you apply pressure, whether it is mental or physical, you are triggering your dog’s opposition reflex.  Here is a little experiment for you to try.  Call your dog over and push down on his shoulders.  Most dogs will resist and lock up.  The harder you push, the more the dog resists.  This is opposition reflex.  It happens every time you put the choke chain on and pull back.

Myth #4

“Never Play Tug-O-War” has always been a huge myth dog owners have been ordered to follow.  How many times have you been told to never, under any circumstance, play tug-o-war?  Tug-o-war is one of the best games that you can play with your dog.  It is a great way for you to structure the relationship, and it is a great reinforcer.  You can use it to reward for obedience.

The most important point to remember when you are playing tug is this: always, always win the tug game.  We will go into detail a little later, but remember to always get the tug toy back from your dog at the end of the game.  One of the big reasons that tug is such a great game is that it gives the owner control over the most dangerous part of the dog; his teeth and jaws.  By playing tug on a daily basis, your dog will learn to have a soft mouth and to drop anything that he is holding onto.

It is not a matter of never doing certain activities with your dog, it is a matter of controlling what you do with him.  If you cannot control the game when you are playing, don’t play the game.

Myth #5

Dog owners have always been told that neutering a dog will calm him down.  Many dog owners have been very disappointed to find that after the surgery, they did not get the expected results; the dog was not any calmer.  Spaying and neutering your dog is a good thing to do, but in most cases it will do nothing to calm him down.

When a dog is out of control, it usually has more to do with not getting sufficient exercise and/or it has more to do with little or no training.  The neutering theory probably became popular to entice more dog owners to have their dogs neutered, but in most cases, you will not see a dramatic change in your dog’s behavior.

Please let’s make one point very, very clear:  Unless you are a professional breeder, you should have your dog spayed or neutered.  Breeding in the United States is awful.  Not because of the professionals, but because of the back yard breeders.  All too often dogs are bred with no forethought put into it.  This leads to all sorts of problems.

Eric took a sip of coffee.  “If you are going to successfully train Peanuts using the Reverse Dog Training Method, then you have to eliminate these myths from your thinking.  Confusion over the topic of dog training has led these myths to become truths with some dog owners and dog trainers.

“In order for you to get maximum results from your training, it would be best to take a fresh look at what I share with you over the next few weeks.  The only goal I have when helping a dog owner is to get results.  There is no reason to hang on to old theories and opinions about dog training.  Many times, when we start to believe in a certain way of doing things, it can be difficult to see from a different perspective.

“The training methods I am going to share with you are not old, worn out opinions.  They are tried and tested methods that will help you get maximum results in a lot less time.  The other great thing is that none of this training relies on hurting Peanuts.  Negative reinforcement and punishment always, always have side effects.  These side effects will have a long term impact on the dog and on your relationship with him.”

Stay tuned for chapter 3 or get the whole story by clicking here: “The Amazing Dog Training Man Book”