Good Dog 101: Easy Lessons to Train Your Dog the Happy, Healthy Way

Good Dog 101: Easy Lessons to Train Your Dog the Happy, Healthy Way

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by Cristine Dahl

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Learn to Train Your Dog with Progressive Humane Methods that Are Compatible with Your Busy Schedule

Author and noted Seattle dog trainer Cristine Dahl has created this revolutionary step-by-step manual to teach dog owners how they can humanely and easily train their dogs to change problem behaviors. The book is organized by individual problem scenarios. Every… See more details below


Learn to Train Your Dog with Progressive Humane Methods that Are Compatible with Your Busy Schedule

Author and noted Seattle dog trainer Cristine Dahl has created this revolutionary step-by-step manual to teach dog owners how they can humanely and easily train their dogs to change problem behaviors. The book is organized by individual problem scenarios. Every sort of bad behavior is addressed, whether it's if the dog compulsively digs all around your garden or if it likes to steal your shoes or if it jumps on every guest the minute they walk in the door. For each problem scenario, Dahl explains the reasons for such behavior, and then gives simply phrased instructions on how to resolve it and alter the dog's behavior for future scenarios. Her methods are humane (unlike Cesar Millan, she's approved by the SPCA) and simple, perfect for the hobbyist dog owner.

What truly makes Dahl's book revolutionary is that it is the first Learning Theory book designed and written in step-by-step fashion making it an accessible tool for all dog owners.

In the past twenty years, there has been a revolution in the way dogs are trained by professionals. Prior and still much to today, dogs were trained in what is referred to as the traditional/military method, named as such as its original application was for training dogs during times of war. Using dog's genetic similarities to wolves, it incorporated pack and dominance theories, using techniques such as positive reinforcement and punishment to instill the concept in dogs' minds that their owner-humans are the "Alphas" in the house. Oftentimes, though, traditional training methods involved physical techniques including hitting the dog, or using tools that range from squirt bottles to choke chains and shock collars. In addition, traditional training methods take time—a lot of it. (There's reason the monks of New Skete are successful as trainers, that's all they do, day in day out.)

More progressive training methods have since evolved based on the studies of animal behaviorists, most notably the Learning Theory method. This method looks at the reasons why the dog behaves as it does, and seeks humane ways to revise the dog's behavior. It examines dog's behavior in terms of stimulus and response, thus allowing ease in getting the dog to learn to change its behavior. Given its humane instruction, it is the training method preferred by the SPCA.

Though strongly recommended by animal health and welfare experts, Learning Theory has had a hard time reaching a large audience. This is primarily due to the fact that though there have been books written on this method, they have almost entirely focused on explanations of the theories behind the method. To date, there hasn't been an easy-to-read step-by-step manual to teach owners how to train their dogs. Until now.

In addition to the step-by-step instructions, the book features an introductory section explaining the reasons behind Cristine's training methods, a list of sources and tools for new dog owners, line art illustrations, and an index to help reference behaviors. Specialized instructions are also given for puppies and senior dogs. Advanced methods are also presented for extreme problematic behaviors.

Award-winning author Jean Donaldson, one of the most-highly regarded practitioners of Learning Theory and the founder/director of the San Francisco SPCA Academy for Dog Trainers (considered the "Harvard of dog training"), will be endorsing the book with a foreword.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Good Dog 101 is an all-in-one text for dog behavior and training, far more up-to-date and scientifically based than any other book on the market."
— James C. Ha, PhD, Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist, University of Washington professor

"Cristine Dahl has produced a first-rate training book, one that is a shining example of the humane, scientifically sound, and practical methods she espouses. A great resource."
— Janis Bradley, author of Dogs Bite: but Balloons and Slippers Are More Dangerous

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Read an Excerpt

Sample lessons from Part Two:


You arrive home from work with an armful of groceries. Hearing your engine purr from a block away, your pup has moved from his perch on the couch to the foyer. Tail flapping, tongue wagging, whines pouring across the threshold, you key open the front door and push through the screen.

Seemingly unable to control himself, your dog rears up and draws his front paws down your front, knocking groceries to the floor. As you bend to gather the mess, you are rewarded with sloppy kisses and a head-butt to your forehead. As you straighten you’re hit with a paw to the gut. The greeting assault continues until you reach the kitchen to deposit your torn and empty grocery bag.

Why your dog does this

Jumping on people is a highly rewarding behavior for your dog. When he jumps, he is seeking attention. Predictably, when he jumps you respond, albeit with a glare, a “no”, a yell, knee to the chest, or some other deflective attempt. Although all of these responses seem to us like punishments, your dog only sees the coveted “attention” he is seeking.

Think about what is reinforcing your dog at the moment he’s jumping. Assuming he doesn’t spend 8 hours a day in your absence bouncing from wall to wall in an apparent sugar-induced craze, it’s clear that your arrival is the greatest thing to happen to him all day. It’s fair to say that he’s waited an eternity for your return. Isn’t this why we adore him so?


As his punishment, remove your dog’s topmost reward. In other words, remove from him the most rewarding thing possible: your attention.

1. Upon your arrival home from work, key the front door as you usually would, open the screen, and attempt to enter the foyer.
2. The *moment* your dog takes his front feet off the ground, quickly back out of the door. Wait.
3. The *moment* all four feet hit the ground attempt your entry again. If his feet come off the floor, back out and shut the door. Only when he behaves like a gentleman, with all four feet on the floor, will you enter.

This may take four or five tries on your first attempt, but be patient. Your dog will quickly learn that his less-than-civilized behavior actually drives you away. At the same time, he’s learning that good behavior is rewarded with the greatest thing ever: you!

* * *


It is not unusual to find your dog, especially when he’s young, chewing on the edge of a couch, stuffed chair, or pillow. He may even find the mattress particularly appealing or sink his teeth into an ottoman. He may prefer fabric over leather, or he may be an equal opportunist choosing anything soft despite its material.

Why your dog does this

Chewing is a strong drive behavior very similar to one of your favorite rituals: perhaps having your morning cup of coffee, doing yoga, or relaxing in the evening with a glass of wine and a good book. Just as you are rewarded by these calming and repetitive activities, your dog is rewarded by the soothing nature of chewing.

Your dog has preferences for what he chews just as you have favorite foods and pastimes. He has chosen to chew on something soft because it’s to his liking.

Because chewing is a drive behavior born into every dog, it cannot be stopped without causing undesirable side effects. But, it can be modified so that you and your pup remain the best of friends and your perfect living room remains intact.


1. First, manage his environment to prevent him from exercising his urges on your furniture. To do this, either temporarily remove the piece of furniture he’s chosen to chew, erect a barrier around the particular piece, or limit his exposure to the room in which the furniture is placed.

2. During this management period, inundate him with items even more interesting than the furniture. Populate his environment with an array of legal (acceptable) chew items to satiate every chewing urge: tasty items, chewy items, hard items, squishy items, squeaky items, furry items, etc. Don’t forget to praise him with jolly talk when he settles in with one of these things.

Hint: Taking cues from his apparent taste for soft furniture, find chew items similar to the furniture he’s previously chewed on such as hard stuffed canvas toys, leather tosses, and stuffed plush toys. Contrary to the belief that this will encourage your dog to head back to the furniture, the truth is that it will instead satiate his need for this particular chewing substitute and it will actually preserve your things.

3. After a week or two of keeping him away from the furniture and allowing him to chew on his approved items, slowly allow him supervised access to the furniture again. This is your opportunity to give that essential feedback he needs to learn. If he heads for the furniture again, quickly and calmly interrupt him with an “ah-ah” and present him with one of his approved chewing items

Because it is punishing for your dog to be interrupted in the middle of a chewing episode, with guidance and consistency he will quickly learn to direct himself to his chew items instead of your furniture.

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