Human-Canine Bond: 10 Steps to Increase the Bond with Your Dog

The human bond is a relationship between two or more people.  Bonding happens between family members, friends and even groups who spend time together.

We also bond with animals. The bond between humans and canines date back 15,000 years.  The bond with your pet can be as tightly formed as bonds with other humans. It is no secret that canines are loyal creatures.  Not only do they provide a source of comfort and companionship, science proves that the relationship with our dogs provides many health benefits as well. Spending time with animals can lower stress and blood pressure levels.  It also often decreases depression. Our canine friends even get us moving, which aids in weight loss.

The bond we form with animals  is real. It explains why we suffer intense grief upon losing our pets.  Dogs share in that sadness too. Last year we posted a story on our social media accounts about a dog found in the parking lot of Good Samaritan Hospital.  The hospital was miles from the dog’s home. When the dog was found, a call was made to the phone number on the ID tags. Turned out the owner was in the exact hospital where the dog had been found.  The man had been admitted to that hospital days earlier. The dog missed his owner so much that he escaped the house and tracked him there. Google the heartwarming story from Long Island if you want to read more about this story. Local news media picked it up.

There are times our human-canine bond is super strong and times it’s weakened.  The reason for a weakened bond is life. A busy work schedule, returning to school, having a new baby, getting married, moving.  Any life change can disrupt our routine. Our pets often suffer as a result of our busier schedule.

What are signs your human-canine bond may be weaker than usual?

  • Dog stops responding to commands
  • Depressive or lethargic behavior
  • Their appetite suffers
  • Your dog is snarky with you or other family members. (growling or snapping)
  • Dog suddenly attempts to escape the house or property
  • You become invisible.  Dog stops looking and listening to you.
  • Recall command is suffering (come)
  • The desire to play is gone or lacking.
  • The dogs keep their distance from you and resist handling

The good news is that you can strengthen that bond again. Here are ten tips to hel

Be in the Moment:  When spending time with your dog, put down the electronics, turn off the television and focus solely on your dog.  He’s waited all day for you to return home. Don’t let social media get in the way.

 Play games with your dog: Whether you throw a ball around, swing a flirt pole or play enrichment games with puzzles, your dog will love the fun activity.

Walk and Socialize your Dog: Bring your dog for walks or car rides while you run errands (where the dog is permitted). Not only is time with you enjoyable, they will enjoy socializing with other people and dogs too.

Feed your dog:  Rather than leaving a bowl of food around for your dog to graze on throughout the day, schedule feeding times.  The preparation and delivery of the food is enjoyable for your dog when it comes from a human.

Quiet Time:  Spend time brushing, massaging or petting your dog.  The physical contact makes handling more enjoyable for them.

Recall your Dog:  Play hide and seek, restrained recall and touch with your dog.  These games help teach your dog that coming to you is great. It also makes the dog aware of your presence and absence. 

Travel Together:  Include your dog on weekend adventures or vacations whenever you can.  Dogs enjoy vacations as much as we do.

Train your Dog: It is important that our dogs know how to live in a human environment.  Our job is to help them understand through obedience training. Once your dog is properly trained in obedience, explore agility training, therapy dog training or various sporting competitions.  Just make sure the training experience is a good fit for your dog.

Teach your dog new tricks. They love the challenge

Build Trust:  Help your dog trust you by keeping them out of situations they do not enjoy.  We do not mean avoiding uncomfortable situations, we mean giving your dog space.  If your dog does not enjoy meeting strangers, stop unknown people from interacting with your dog.  Does a dog barking behind a fence startles or upset your dog while on walks? Don’t walk alongside that fence, give some distance and walk in the street. If your dog truly hates walking, find an alternative exercise routine that he enjoys.

Have you recently welcomed a foster dog or new rescue dog into your home?  Try these tips and share your experience. We’d love to hear from you. If you would like to share additional tips, leave them in the comments below. Our readers will appreciate any additional information.

online dog trainer school

Want to work as a professional dog trainer?  Our 18 week online program is a hands-on program where students are required to work with dogs. Skill and ability is determined through a series of videos submitted to the school. We also offer a 2-week and 4-month in-person internship. To learn more about the courses we offer, visit

Written by Katie McKnight

Photo Credits: (1) Photo by Wyatt Ryan on Unsplash (2) Photo by Pope Moysuh on Unsplash (3) Photo by Marco López on Unsplash (4)Cover photo:  Bechir Kaddech on Unsplash

How to Get Dogs to Listen Around Distractions

Your dogs refuse to follow commands that they know.  What causes them to ignore you? Dominance? Stubborn behavior? Lack or respect?  Human error? Well, my friend you likely failed to generalize the dog’s behavior.

What does generalizing mean?  Ability to complete a task in every situation and environment.

Once humans learn a behavior, we maintain that skill.  Let’s use bike riding as an example. It is well known that once you learn to ride a bike you will never lose the skill.  It is also true that we can ride the bike successfully under different variables, such as riding: 

Up and down the block we live on, in a park and on the boardwalk.

On a sunny day, in the rain and when it is cold outside.

In the grass, the cement or on dirt.

Alone or in a crowd.

Photo by Gilberto Reyes from Pexels

Dogs are not human and they cannot generalize.  In order to link their training to different scenarios, we need to practice their skill in different situations. 

Restrict training to one location and the dog will only connect the cue to that familiar scenario.  This also rings true if you practice the same time each day. Practice the command on different surfaces, in different locations and with different variables (example: wearing a harness or while on leash, without luring or reaching for a treat first), if you want your dog to listen every time you issue a command. You must also slowly raise distraction levels.

Take as much time as your dog requires to achieve these skills.  Generalizing a behavior is not easy and certainly will not happen overnight.  To give you an idea how much work goes into generalizing a behavior, we’ve provided this fun fact: 

Guide dogs are required to practice each behavior 8,000 times before the command is approved.

Here are some suggestions for you to use when training your dog: 

Photo by Alexandru Rotariu from Pexels

FIRST:  Practice a new command/behavior at home, with little distraction, until your dog fully understands the command and responds in that space appropriately.

SECOND: Generalize the behavior by practicing on/in:

  1. Other rooms in the house
  2. Different surfaces (rugs, tile, wood)
  3. Various times of day
  4. Different family members and friends commanding the dog
  5. During different weather conditions
  6. While wearing a harness (without a harness too), while wearing a leash, holding the leash and while it drags on the floor
  7. With the radio, TV or computer playing in the background
  8. Deck or patio in your backyard
  9. Driveway and sidewalk in your front yard
  10. Grass
  11. Walk
  12. Waiting for the school bus 
  13. While your neighbor cuts the lawn
  14. Other dogs, people, squirrels and rabbits 
  15. Children playing
  16.  Inside a store
  17. Different distances from your dog and in different positions (sitting, standing, kneeling)
  18. Outside stores
  19. Groups of people 
  20. Heavy traffic areas
Photo by Laura Stanley from Pexels

The more time you invest in working with your dog, the easier it will be for your dog to respond regardless of the conditions presented.  Use high-quality treats, bring a positive attitude and if your dog struggles, return to the last location your dog succeeded and practice the skill a few more times before moving forward.  

Did these tips help your dog generalize a behavior?  We want to hear about it.

Written by Katie McKnight

ISCDT’s self-paced, 18-lesson, online course prepares you for a new career as a #dogtrainer. Your personal mentor helps build your skill through written assignments and video submissions of you working with #dogs.  Visit our website to learn more:… 

Calling All Dog Lovers!

ISCDT is hosting a Valentine’s Day Contest

In 100 words of less, tell us why your dog is  special to you.

Email submission to

Follow us on Facebook for winning announcement

Submit your entry and share the post with someone who absolutely loves their dog and wants everyone to know!

Deadline: February 7,2020

Effectively Marker Training Your Dog

In marker training, how a dog responds (or behaves), determines whether the marker will be positive or negative.  A positive marker is either the word “yes” or the sound of a clicker, followed by a reward. The most common rewards used during marker training are food, toys or affection.  

We suggest you stick with food during the early stages of training. Often, affection does not motivate a dog enough to learn and a toy may be too distracting.

What happens when the dog fails to provide a desired behavior?  They receive a negative marker and the reward is withheld. A negative marker can be “no, nope, ah-uh or try again”. The dog is then given another chance to figure out what is expected of them.  Handlers must move slow and do their best to help the dog succeed. It is frustrating to repeatedly fail.

Marker training requires a dog to use their brain to figure out what their handler wants. The method is effective because success feels good — even to dogs. Especially when rewards are involved.

For the dog nerds, like us, here are the technical terms relating to training:

marker training is operant conditioning 

rewarding the dog is a positive reinforcer 

withholding a reward is a negative reinforcer 

Charging the mark is the precursor to marker training. That is the technique used to teach dogs to associate the marker to the delivery of a reward.  It is important for dogs to understand the association before you begin training sessions. To read our blog post on charging the mark, please visit:  We also created a video.  You can view it at:

Have you heard of “good” used as a marker word?  It isn’t necessarily wrong to use “good” to mark behavior, we just don’t use it  Good is introduced to our clients later in training, after the dog fully understands a command and is ready for duration work (or stay). It allows us to teach a dog to remain in command without having to repeat “stay…stay…stay.” Essentially, good helps us “show” a dog to stay, instead of “telling” a dog to stay. Show, don’t tell, is our motto.

One of the last items to discuss is proper timing. Proper timing is crucial in dog training. You must mark a behavior the moment it happens.  

Here are examples of how improper timing can affect your training efforts:

Marking a behavior prematurely: You tell your dog to sit and mark the behavior the moment the butt hits the floor, but the front paws are in the air.   

Your dog learns sit means, butt on the floor and front paws in the air. Sounds crazy, but dogs sometimes wrap their paws around your arm in an attempt to grab the treat during the luring stage of sit.  

Marking a behavior too late: You tell your dog to sit.  He sits, then moves out of the sit while you mark the behavior. 

Sometimes dogs stand or slide into a down immediately after they sit.  This delayed marker communicates to the dog that sit means drop your butt to the floor, then immediately change your position. 

Proper timing: You tell your dog to sit.  With paws on the floor, dog’s butt drops to the floor – you immediately mark the behavior. 

Dog learns a proper sit.

Delivery of the treat: While the mark must come the instant the dog provides the behavior, the treat does not have to come as quickly. Deliver the treat after the marker.  

Timing for negative markers: In the event that a dog ignores a command, a negative marker is given within ½ second of the command.  

Proper negative marker: sit (½ second) no (wait a beat), sit (½ second) no (wait a beat) sit, “yes” the moment the dog sits  — follow with a reward

Improper negative marker:  

“sit no, sit, no”  in a rapid succession, or  

 “sit, sit, sit, no, no, no”.

Below is a video demonstrating proper marker training (using both positive and negative markers.  

What command will you teach using marker training?  We want to hear about it.

Charging the Mark in Dog Training

  The starting point. Day One. First thing you teach your dog before you introduce commands. 

Charging the mark teaches the dog to associate the word “yes” or the sound of a clicker, to a high-value reward.   Once the dog hears the marker word or sound, a treat is delivered. We will explain the process in a bit. First, let’s provide a little more info. 

While a reward in dog training can be a toy, praise or food, we recommend you stick to a high-value food reward when teaching your dog to charge the mark. The other rewards may be too stimulating or not stimulating enough during this stage of training.

What is a high-value food reward?  A treat your dog greatly enjoys.

 Below we describe instructions for clicker training.  This method is the same regardless of whether you use a clicker or a verbal marker.  For the visual learners (like me), we also included a video. Remember,

The object of charging the mark is for the dog to associate the sound with the reward.  

Are you ready to get started?


  1. Click
  2. Immediately deliver the treat to your dog *
  3. Repeat  steps 1 and 2

* Notes:

  • your dog does not have to do anything for the treat.  Just click and treat.
  • repeat this exercise 10 to 20 times, cut treats up so they are on the smaller size. This will prevent your dog from consuming too many calories.  If your dog enjoys their dog kibble, use that instead of treats.

You can practice this exercise when your dog is standing, sitting or laying down. Don’t issue any commands, just do it when you notice your dog in different positions.  After a few days, surprise your dog by doing it when they are not paying attention to you or looking in another direction.  

When your dog looks to you during the surprise exercises, he understands this process and is ready to move on to the next step of training.

Take your time and enjoy practicing this method with your dog.  When your both ready, join us for the next training lesson. We will define marker training and show you how to use marker training to teach your first command.

Our 18 week online program is a hands-on program where students are required to work with dogs. Skill and ability is determined through a series of videos submitted to the school. We also offer a 2-week and 4-month in-person internship. To learn more about the courses we offer, visit

Six New Year’s Resolutions to Adopt NOW If You Want Dog Training Success!

6.  Use a Leash: When your dog is learning obedience, a leash is a helpful tool. Have your dog drag a short leash so you can stop naughty behavior and help them gain focus outside of training sessions. ***

5.  Be Realistic:  Don’t issue commands to your dog unless you’re confident your dog understands the command.  Just because your dog responds in a low distraction setting such as your home, doesn’t mean he understands the command around distractions or in a different setting.  Slowly build training success around higher distractions and in new settings . 

4. Be concise:  Give your command once. (ex: Sit, rather than sit…sit…sit).  It is important that dogs follow commands the first time. Just think how much safer your dog is when they return to you the moment you say “come”  rather than repeating, “come…come….come…come.”

3. Be generous:  Reward your dog when they follow commands or do the right thing. Rewards can include: food, toys or affection (petting/verbal praise).

2. Be Consistent: Stick to the same training words your dog learned. Swapping words is confusing for the dog. When your dog grabs something, tell them to “drop it”.  Refrain from saying, “knock it off, don’t touch my shoe, stop that, give it to me.”

1. Be Kind:  Dog training is a learning process for your dog.  Don’t yell or show frustration if they struggle. Never hit your dog.  Your pup is your best friend. Keep your tone and body language cool, calm and confident during training.  Make sure you communicate your delight when your dog succeeds. 

***Safety Note:  The leash should not drag on the ground. Cut it so it hovers above the ground. We don’t want your pup to trip over it or to get caught while they are in motion. Never leave a dog unattended with a leash on. (even quick bathroom breaks). Remove the leash at night and when the dog is outside or in the crate/play yard.

K McKnight

Our 18 week online program is a hands-on program where students are required to work with dogs. Skill and ability is determined through a series of videos submitted to the school. We also offer a 2-week and 4-month in-person internship. To learn more about the courses we offer, visit

The Compassionate Dog Trainer

 In past articles we have shared the importance of patience and open-mindedness while training dogs.  If you would like to read those articles, visit

Today, we reveal the next trait:


Empathy is one of the most important skills we possess as humans. The ability to understand and relate to another person’s feelings from their point of view rather than our own. This provides healthy relationships in both our personal and professional lives.  Empathy allows us to show compassion. Compassion is necessary when training dogs.

Each day we meet dog owners who struggle with behavior.  Behavioral issues range from housebreaking to jumping or lack of impulse control to aggression.  

Dog trainers know that most problems are the result of learned behavior, as well as, a lack of structure, rules and consistency.  It is easy to mislay an empathetic understanding with blame when clients fail to follow training practices and advice you teach them.   Blame is not an effective approach in helping your client and it could cost the dog their home.  

We need to remain sympathetic toward owners and their situation, while transforming them into successful trainers for their dog.   No one wants a dog who lunges at animals or people they pass on a walk, nor does anyone want the inside of their house used as a giant canine bathroom.  Owners don’t intentionally do the wrong thing. They simply don’t understand how to fix the behavior. 

People love their dogs and inadvertently allow human emotion to hinder training success.  Here are some possible reasons clients struggle with dog training success:

1. They feel bad imposing rules on the dog.  

2. They don’t like change and therefore, struggle to enforce change on their pets.  

3. They lack understanding as to how dogs with structure thrive compared to dogs without structure.

4. They believe they don’t have the time needed to train their dog.

It is our job to help them understand that:

1. Dogs are happy and well-adjusted when they have routine and rules in place. 

2. The absence of a leader confuses and even frightens dogs.  Dogs hate to lead the pack.

3. Human-Canine bond strengthens through dog training. 

4. Training increases dogs’ confidence. 

5. Training encourages the dog to respect you. Not in a  fearful way, rather similar to the way a child respects their parents.

6. Most importantly, training is the key to achieving training goals and stopping negative behavior.

When dog owners hire us, we want to form a team and work together to accomplish the client’s goals.  You help more dogs when you are empathetic to their owner’s situation and help them overcome obstacles (even if they placed those obstacles in the way of success).  Regardless of the situation, show empathy toward your clients and work hard to change their train of thought. Only then can you help the most important subject of your job:  the dog! 

Our 18 week online program is a hands-on program where students are required to work with dogs. Skill and ability is determined through a series of videos submitted to the school. We also offer a 2-week and 4-month in-person internship. To learn more about the courses we offer, visit

Written by Katie McKnight

Traveling with Your Dog Shouldn’t be Stressful

We want our dogs to travel with us, yet their presence can cause us to stress.

What if they soil inside?

What if they break something?

What if they get loose and run away?

Stress can cause us to fall back into bad habits of yelling at, or punishing, our dogs. In turn, the dog is stressed and more likely to mess up.

When you travel with your dog, limit the dog’s freedom to ensure they don’t destroy anything or climb on furniture (remember, not everyone wants dogs on their furniture).

It is not foreign for a fully housebroken dog to mark or have an accident inside a hotel or visiting home. Our first rescue dog never went on furniture and was fully housebroken, yet the first time we brought her on vacation, she jumped on the bed and urinated on it. Anxiety caused this behavior.

The same dog had the habit of licking dirty dishes in my dishwasher. While I did not condone it, it was a behavior I had not yet conquered. When we visited my in-law’s house, I was careful not to allow her access to the kitchen while we cleaned up after meals to ensure her tongue was not in the dishwasher. My father-in-law would have thrown all his dishes away if he’d ever witnessed the behavior.

Another error dog owners make, especially when stressed, is failing to issue commands to their dogs. Instead, they scream the dog’s name repeatedly and wonder why the dog isn’t listening. Be mindful of your words when communicating with your dog.

If your dog is not following commands, don’t get frustrated or angry. Dogs do not generalize. Assume your dog does not understand the commands in this strange location or with the added distractions. Use this opportunity to advance training by calmly working commands. Be sure to provide plenty of rewards when they comply.

Finally, make sure your dog has ID tags that include your cell phone number rather than just your home number and home address. This way if your dog were to escape through an open door or gate, you will be alerted the moment someone finds them.

Here are a few items to bring with you on vacation:

  • crate or play yard
  • leash your dog can drag indoors to ensure they stay close by
  • harness
  • gates to limit access to other rooms
  • toys/bones to keep them entertained
  • walking leash
  • training treats
  • ID Tag that includes your cell phone numbers
  • A dog seat belt to keep them safe during car rides

A little hard work now will make future trips more enjoyable for you, your hosts and your dog.

Our 18 week online program is a hands-on program where students are required to work with dogs. Skill and ability is determined through a series of videos submitted to the school. We also offer a 2-week and 4-month in-person internship. To learn more about the courses we offer, visit

Written by
Katie McKnight

Eight Proven Ways to Get your Dog to Sleep Later

Does your dog wake you up early on your days off from work?  Do they struggle settling down at night when you want to sleep?  Here are tips to get your adult dog to settle at night and/or sleep later in the morning. 

  1.  Refrain from feeding and interacting with your dog the moment he wakes up.  Delaying meals and attention will deter pushy behavior.
  2. You can delay your dog’s feeding schedule up to one hour by gradually pushing it back.  Each day, feed your dog fifteen minutes later. Within four days, your dog’s meal times will be one hour later than normal. 
  3. Dogs are easily awoken by the sun and sounds.If they sleep in a crate, cover it. For dogs who sleep outside crates, keep the room dark.  Use of a sound machine will drown out sounds inside and outside the home, especially on garbage pick up days.
  4. Make sure you dog has a warm, comfortable bed to sleep on.
  5. Give your dog plenty of exercise each day.  Scheduling evening exercise helps empty the bladder and may help a dog sleep better.
  6. Make sure you bring your dog outside to eliminate right before bed.  
  7. If you and your dog rise with your alarm, set it 15 minutes earlier for several days. When the alarm goes off, hit snooze and roll back over, avoiding eye contact and interaction with your dog.  Every few days deduct five minutes, until you can set your alarm for the correct wake-up call. By that time, your dog will not be triggered by the alarm. When you get up, start your morning routine without interacting with your dog for 15 minutes. This teaches the dog that the alarm is not a feeding bell. 
  8. Do not permit your dog to drink water late in the evening. This may cause your dog to rise early for a bathroom break.  

Note: Due to bladders that are not fully developed, puppies who awaken during the night should be taken to the bathroom.  It is unfair to expect puppies to sleep late in the morning or throughout the night. If you struggle with housebreaking issues, check out our online housebreaking course, which includes help from a certified dog trainer. Visit .

If your adult dog begins to show signs of incontinence, take your dog to the vet to rule out urinary tract infections and digestive issues, rather than assuming it is behavioral or making any of these changes in their sleep habits.

Our 18 week online program is a hands-on program where students are required to work with dogs. Skill and ability is determined through a series of videos submitted to the school. We also offer a 2-week and 4-month in-person internship. To learn more about the courses we offer, visit

Changing A Dog’s Name

Two questions we receive often are:

1. Is it possible to change a dog’s name after you adopt them?

Answer: You can absolutely change your dog’s name. Many people change the dog’s name to represent a fresh start for the dog, especially if the dog’s past was negative.

2. How do you teach dogs their name?

1. Go to a room that is quiet and low distraction
2. Say the name ONCE in a happy voice
3. When the dog looks at you, say “yes” to mark the behavior *
4. provide a treat and affection
5. Repeat steps

Advance your training:

1. Practice Steps 1 – 4 in different rooms of your home
2. Slowly add distraction levels and locations for practice.

*can use a clicker in place of the word “yes” to mark the behavior.

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Watch our non-fancy, video to see the training steps in action.

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Our 18 week online program is a hands-on program where students are required to work with dogs. Skill and ability is determined through a series of videos submitted to the school. We also offer a 2-week and 4-month in-person internship. To learn more about the courses we offer, visit