Learn How Patience Will Improve Your Dog Training Prowess

Last Wednesday we kicked off our ten-week series on the “Traits of a Professional
Dog Trainer”, with an article entitled, How Open-Mindedness and Flexibility Improves Your Dog Training SkillIf you missed it, please click this link to read it: https://wordpress.com/view/iscdtfordogtrainersblog.school.blog

In addition to educating yourself in the craft of dog training and working with numerous dogs to increase your skill, there are ten traits that will make you stand above other dog trainers.  This article covers the second trait:


Dog training is not only about the dog and it goes far beyond teaching commands.  Teaching the dog is the easy part. Our job is more about the ones who pay for our services — People. 

In this world of Amazon and Grub Hub delivery, it is easy to fall into the belief that everything happens with the click of a button and the blink of an eye. When it comes to shopping and food delivery, that is often true. These companies make our lives incredibly easy with their door-to-door service.   

When it comes to learning and mastering a new skill, patience and time are the key to success.  Here are areas patience plays a vital role in your career as a dog trainer.

New Trainers. It is important that new dog trainers have patience with themselves.  It takes time to learn a new craft and it takes even longer to master your skill. The ability to train your own dog isn’t enough. Your dog will improve your skill, however, it takes at least one hundred dogs to drastically improve your dog-handling practices.  You must work with different breeds of dogs, temperaments and levels of knowledge. Each dog you work with, provides different scenarios for you to learn.  

Don’t compare yourself to a trainer who has worked in the field for years.  Doing so will only frustrate and prevent you from moving forward. Stop believing you will never reach the level of success as the trainer on television or the one with the hundred Youtube videos.  Instead of wallowing in self-doubt, spend your free time working as a dog trainer’s apprentice. There are plenty of volunteer opportunities with rescues and dog shelters. You can also gain skills by working with your family and friends’ dogs.   Focus on the dogs you work with and enjoy your path to a new career.

Clients. Clients often require several reminders when it comes to proper leash handling and issuing commands.   They put off implementing a tool, such as having the dog drag a leash or practicing with the dog on a daily basis.  Often times, as the dog behavior improves, the humans become complacent in their training, which leads to old problems resurfacing.

In order to successfully train a dog, we need to train the owners too.  It is important to remember that the owners are also learning a new skill set.  They need to adjust their body language and learn to keep their emotions in check. They learn a new vocabulary, hand signals and leash handling skills.  Often times, they must change bad habits they’ve practiced for years, because these habits likely contributed to their dog issues. Sometimes trainers forget what it feels like to train a dog for the first time. This leads to frustration with their human clients.

We certainly cannot place blame on them.  We are hired to help them fix the problems, not point fingers.  Dog trainers need to help their human clients overcome obstacles by providing gentle reminders and willingly revisiting  old lessons. We need to help them move forward in their training by guiding them through a difficult lessons rather than grabbing the leash and doing the work for them.  

We teach humans to train their own dogs. In doing so, we provide them with an entirely new skill set.  Practice, time and repetition is how we help them succeed. None of us are born dog trainers. Practice patience with your human clients while they learn. 

Dogs. In our last blog we discussed how dogs learn differently. In this post, we are going to discuss other ways patience plays a role in dog training.  

Recently we had a client with a five-month old dog.  We taught the dog sit-implied stay during the first lesson. At home, the owner could cross the entire room and back without the dog moving.  Three days after the lesson, he decided to show off the new skill during a party in a friend’s backyard. Naturally the dog failed and the owner expressed frustration at our second lesson.  

The client didn’t know that dogs simply cannot generalize when it comes to commands and behavior.  We explained to him that there are four stages of learning for dogs.   He learned that dog training does not happen overnight and agreed to follow our training module. A couple of weeks later, his dog achieve their goal of a sit-implied stay in different environments.

No one learns to perfect a command overnight.  Pushing too fast or too hard leads to frustration and failure.  Dogs are no different. We need to help our clients understand that dogs’ brains are wired differently than ours.  Repetition, consistency and slowly adding distraction will help them achieve their goals.

Patience is an important skill for life and when training dogs. Remember to include patience in your dog training program.  Also keep it in mind when it comes to your own education and growth.

Until next time…keep up the great work in discovering your passion,

Katie and Jessica

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 ISCDT.com

Written by: Katie McKnight

How Open-Mindedness and Flexibility Improves Your Dog Training Skill

Knowledge through education, skill obtained from hands-on experience and growth acquired through continued education are three excellent attributes to look for when hiring a dog trainer.

There are actually ten additional traits that professional dog trainers should possess in order to provide exemplary service to their clients. Over the next ten weeks, we will discuss each of those traits and why you should apply them to your training practice. We are going to begin this ten-week journey with Trait One:

 Open-mindedness and Flexibility.

I greatly enjoy listening to podcasts on dog training while driving from one lesson to the next. I recommend that everyone reading this blog explore different podcasts, blogs, books and articles on the subject of dog training. If you can, I suggest attending seminars too. Each of these outlets will help you gain continued knowledge in this field.  

Last week, I picked a podcast on puppy nipping.  I have techniques in place to stop puppy nipping, but am always on the hunt for alternate ideas.  The more knowledge I gain, the better equipped I am at helping my clients overcome problems, especially if  my current techniques don’t work for a particular dog.

I settled into the program, eager to learn something new.  Instead, I listened to ten minutes of the speaker bash other trainers by name and every single method each trainer offered. Aside from feeling a strong distaste toward her mean-girl behavior, I couldn’t help but think she was stunting her growth as a dog trainer by isolating herself from other trainers and their techniques.  Refusing to be as closed-minded as she, I pushed past my anger and forced myself to listen to the entire program in order to hear the tips she promised to provide. Then I unsubscribed, deciding I am better off following positive influences.

I use the example of the podcast to open a discussion on flexibility and training a dog with an open mind.  Closing our minds to ideas and suggestions is an easy road to stumble upon in this field. No one expects you to agree with or follow techniques that do not sit well with you. There are plenty that make me cringe. Just be careful not to burn bridges.  A trainer who uses a technique that you do not like, could one day provide a source of information that helps your client dog. Below are a few tips to help you avoid this common pitfall.

When it comes to clients:

When a client asks your thoughts on a technique that differs from your methods, refrain from eye rolling, snickering or insisting the technique they proposed is foolish. Instead, start a conversation.   

Ask them how their dog responds to the technique and then listen to their feedback.  Considering they hired a dog trainer, the method likely isn’t working for them or they simply struggle with the execution of the command.  Instead of blurting, “I knew it wouldn’t work,” help them solve the problem in a constructive and positive manner.

An open dialogue demonstrates to your client that you possess knowledge, professionalism and are approachable. 

When Working with Dogs:

Not all dogs learn the same.  They have their own personalities, temperaments, ability to focus, and they learn differently.  If a dog struggles, rather than assume he is incapable of learning, we need to realize we have yet to figure out how to teach that dog. Although your method works for most dogs, this one may require an entirely different approach.  You will have to utilize different techniques to help this dog understand and learn. Do not hesitate to dig into your trainer’s toolbox and examine the different techniques you have picked up over the years. This is where respect and tolerance of other trainers comes in handy.

When It Comes to Other Dog Trainers:   

Should you struggle while training a client dog, you need to turn to someone for guidance. That is only possible, if you interact with other trainers in a positive and professional manner. Most skilled trainers will happily provide insight, suggestions and referrals to one another.  Those who don’t, should not be on your “go-to” list.

It is in our best interest to listen to other trainers discuss techniques they’ve used, even if the techniques are different and uncomfortable for you. Ask questions and gather as much information as possible on the topic, then file it away in your trainer’s toolbox  for future reference. One day, a technique you despise, may be the only thing that works for a particular client or their dog (I am not referring to training tools. It can be any technique). That one crazy idea may be what that saves a dog from being surrendered to a kill shelter.  Trust us, it happens. It is the dog trainer’s responsibility to offer their clients every opportunity to succeed with their dog. Be sure to approach everything in life with an open mind and willingness to learn.

Dinosaurs are extinct.

One final thought.   Try your best not to become prehistoric in your thought process. If you refuse to open your mind to new ideas when it comes to dog training, someone else will come along and woo your clients away with their flexibility. Like dinosaurs, your prehistoric business will become extinct. 

Katie 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 ISCDT.com


Four Tips to Improve Training Success

Do frustrated dog owners mention that their dog follows commands better when they know a training session is about to begin?

Have them skip their normal routine of training. Here are some tips to help:

🐶 Ditch the treat pouch. Instead keep treats in your pocket

🐶 keep treat stations hidden around your home. You can keep bowls with treats high up and out of sight. This prevents a walk to the treat drawer before practicing. When the dog follows a command, mark the behavior and then reach into the secret stash to reward.

🐶 have your dog drag a short leash around every time you are home, this way you don’t leash him up before a training session. It also helps in redirecting dogs in real-life situations. Remember, to remove the leash when the dog is unattended.

🐶 practice at different times throughout the day. We all know they can tell time 🤨. Shake up your schedule a bit.

ISCDT – Teaching you to train them

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 ISCDT.com

Why Puppies Bark at their Reflection

What do puppies see when they look in the mirror?

Most will see a playmate, while some others view the reflection as a canine intruder. One thing dogs will never understand is that they are looking at THEIR OWN reflection. Their brains are not wired the same way human brains are, meaning unlike us, dogs lack a sense of self.

This behavior is cute at first, but grows old fast. The good news is that your puppy will eventually lose interest in his reflection once he realizes the interaction doesn’t lead to play.

At that point, he will no longer waste energy on the reflection and it will simply become part of the background that he ignores. This is known as habituation.

What is habituation? It is a simple form of learning where after a period of time that an animal is exposed to a stimulus, the animal stops responding. “Sensory systems may stop sending signals to the brain in response to a continuously present or often-repeated stimulus (Cohen et al. 1997).

Until your puppy loses interest, the leave-it command will teach him to stop reacting. Check out the our puppy client in this video. He wants the other dog to chase him.

Want to learn more about dog behavior and how to train a dog professionally? Visit ISCDT.com to enroll in our 18-week interactive dog training program.

Why The Word “No” Rarely Works in Dog Training (and What DOES Work) 

Do you find yourself saying “NO” to your dog, rather than giving commands to stop a behavior?

We are not opposed to using the word no, as long as it is used properly. Here is our philosophy on the word “no”.

Imagine you are at work and make a mistake. Your boss screams “no”, glares at you and walks away. Not only will you never learn the job properly, your nervous anxiety will likely get the best of you. This is true for your dog too.

Help your dogs understand the behavior you want by teaching them commands that get the desired behavior. The word “No” should only be used when the dog doesn’t comply. Even then, it is simply a marker word that signals that they did not complete the command correctly and should try again. Example: Sit….no….sit

ISCDT teaches students how to understand the canine mind before training the dog. You’ll find us at ISCDT.com

How to Console a Grieving Pet Parent without Trivializing Their Loss

Hint: Our pets are much more than animals!

My dog Duke was one of the greatest dogs I’d ever met.  We enjoyed three years together before he succumbed to lung cancer at the age of six.  His first anniversary was this past Monday. I miss him and from time-to-time still feel angry that he was taken so young.  If you have lost a fur baby, you understand my pain.

The emotional roller coaster we ride on after losing a pet careens us  through grief, anger, guilt and sadness. Then we encounter well-meaning comments that are intended to console us, but actually spiral us further into despair.

Below we discuss a few of the most popular condolence messages grieving pet owners receive.

Note: We respect and understand the pain associated with the loss of every species. While this blog article includes all pet owners, our business revolves around canines, so in each example, we use dogs.

Comment:  Be happy it’s just an animal you lost and your family is healthy.  

We have an emotional bond with our animals. They feel our emotions and often respond by cuddling up to us.  In turn, we learn their language and can tell the difference between a bark that alerts us to a stranger and a bark signalling that they want to play, are hungry or hurt. We know when they are frightened, happy or put off. When we plan our daily routine, or a vacation, we factor in the needs of our animals.  We are their nurturer, their caregiver and in return they are our best friend.  Tell me how this relationship differs from relationships with other human beings?  It doesn’t. We simply created a family consisting of members from different species.
Dogs enthusiastically greet us whether we run outside to put the garbage out or return from an eight-hour shift of work.  It is a great feeling to be loved so much. When we are at the lowest point of our lives, we often receive messages from people that read: I wish I could be with you — thinking of you during this time — hugs sent your way — praying for you.  Animals don’t send messages of comfort, because they are always by our side providing comfort.  Animals are the epitome of family. They are not simply a dog, cat, turtle, snake, hedgehog, chicken or  fish. Animals are entwined in our daily life. They are members of our family. It is not fair for another person to rank your loved ones in order of importance. Nor should they assume the pain you feel over the passing of your pet is less painful than Uncle Frankie, who you only see once every year.  Don’t feel bad if you sobbed over your pet, then barely shed a tear for a distant family member. Many times grief over the loss of a pet is more intense than grief over a distant family member or friend.

A better response to your loss:  I am so sorry for the loss of your furry family member.   

“The quality of love, despair and sadness are the same regardless of the object our feelings are directed toward.”  EB, Moonlight Dog Cafe


Comment:  You’re lucky you have other animals. You’ll be fine. It was worse for me because I only had the one.

Each person in your life brings something special to the relationship.  If you’ve formed a bond with this person, they are important to you. This also rings true with our animals. We form a bond with each animal in our home and we love each of them. They are not interchangeable or replaceable.  Each loss hurts, regardless of the number in your furry circle.

A better response:  I hope you and your other pets are able to provide a source of comfort to one another during this tough time.

“The bond with a dog is as lasting as the ties of this earth can ever be.” – Konrad Lorenz


Comment:  There are tons of homeless dogs who need homes, go get another one. or

Comment:  Are you going to get another dog?

Imagine losing your partner.  Almost immediately, someone hands you pictures of the reported 7.7 billion people on earth and suggests you pick out your next mate? That’s insane!  Yet people suggest you replace your lost pet in an instant.

Relationships take time to form.  Just ask new puppy owners. Many find the transition  from sharing your life with a loyal, well-behaved dog to a puppy, challenging.  Not only do people handle the grieving process differently, every situation is different.  I found Elsa two weeks after losing my boxer Madison. The moment I saw Elsa’s picture, I knew she belonged with me.  Four months later we adopted her. Yet, it’s been a year since Duke died and we have yet to welcome another dog. While I have thought about adopting a few, it never felt right.  Not because Duke meant more to us than Madison did. Our situation is different and this time, we just aren’t ready.  

A better response:  You gave your furry friend a fabulous life.  He was one lucky dog.

“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” – Anatole France


Comment:  He was old and sick.  He’s better off. 
I am actually afraid to celebrate birthdays or admit illness around these people, for fear they will dig my grave without thinking twice.  It doesn’t matter if your pet dies unexpectedly or you’ve had six months to prepare. Nor does it matter if he is six months or sixteen years.  It hurts to lose a loved one. We understand animals feel pain and their bodies become too tired to continue. That is why we often face tough choices at the end.  While our fur baby may finally be at peace, we are hurting without our beloved pet.

A better response: I am so sorry for your loss and here if you need someone to speak to.

“Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.” – From an Irish Headstone

Question:  You’re still grieving over your pet?

Grief may change and lessen as time goes on, however, there is no switch that shuts grief down after a predetermined amount of time, despite what some outdated medical books may indicate.  You may be fine for months and then something triggers sadness. When someone questions your grief, understand you are not wrong in feeling blue, rather they are likely struggling to handle sadness and don’t know how to help you. [Tom Golden – Quora]  There are support groups, grieving counselors and therapists if you need to talk. There is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking help from a professional following the death of a pet.

People grieve differently.   Some adopt a new pet quickly, while others take months or years to even look at another dog. Some are grateful for the time with their pet, while others find it difficult to function without them.  Grieving is a personal and private process. No one has the right to set a time limit for you to adhere to.

Better response:  None. Don’t talk. Just listen.

“Grief is like the ocean; it comes in waves, ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.” – Vicki Harrison

Coty and Precious

On a final note, animals do not fear death. Dogs will hold on to life if they fear you need them to remain by your side.  [dogsnaturally] No matter how hard it is, allowing our beloved animals to leave their sick and broken bodies is the ultimate gift of love. Never regret your decision to let them go.  Don’t second guess yourself or replay the past wishing you’d made different choices concerning your pet. You loved your dog and he/she loved you more.  Now they thank you for letting them go.  Hold on to their memories and revel in the times you shared together. You are not alone in your grief.  You are among other loving pet parents, you just need to seek us out.

Check back for our continued feature on losing your best friend.  We’ll discuss ways to overcome your grief* and how to help your other animals overcome grief.

*Seek help from a medical professional if you cannot overcome grief or have suicidal thoughts.  
Quotes:  Puppyleaks.com

Four Reasons Dogs Chase Their Tail, That You May Not Know

We all giggle when we watch a dog chase their tail. Have you ever wondered why they do it?

Jessica provides the reasons in the below video.

While tail chasing may be a genetic trait and entertaining for the dog, there are ways to stop tail chasing if it becomes an obsessive or bothersome behavior.

Exercise your dog physically by walking your dog. Many owners believe that running in the backyard is sufficient exercise for a dog. Walking circles around the same area grows tiresome. Walking your dog allows them to experience different sights and smells along the way. This form of canine enrichment is exciting for a dog.

Play fetch with your dog. Adding rules to the game prevents play from getting too rough or out of control, thereby preventing injuries, such as dog nips and being knocked down.

Canine enrichment is a fantastic way to tire your dog mentally. Many of the enrichment ideas allow your dog to partake in canine behaviors. Some ideas include: bubble play, feeding food in a treat releasing toy so they have to work for the food. Play with a flirt pole. Train your dog using obedience training, trick training or agility training.

Rather than laughing when the tail chase begins, teach your dog the “leave it” command so he stops when told. Then redirect them with another activity.

Dogs who chew on their paws, tail or other body parts may have an allergy or injury. Inspect your dog and visit the vet if you suspect either of these issues are causing the chase.

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 ISCDT.com

Stop Your Dog from Eating POOP

Sometimes we catch our dogs in the act, and other times a whiff of their breath alerts us to the behavior. Then, there’s the dog who pukes it up in the house — usually on our rugs.  What behavior are we writing about today? Coprophagia a/k/a Poop Eating!

If your dog eats poop, you’re not alone.  It’s a delicacy for my dog too. As a matter of fact, this protein-filled snack is  a common problem for many dog owners.

Your first step in solving this issue is to alert your vet to the behavior.  While there are several non-medical-related reasons dogs eat poop, it is best to rule out medical problems first. According to an article written on the Dogs Naturally website, medical reasons associated with poop eating could include an enzyme deficiency, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, parasites, diabetes and thyroid issues or other deficiencies caused by age or a poor diet.  

Once medical conditions are ruled out, we focus on lifestyle and behavior.  What are some reasons dogs eat poop?

Dogs locked in a crate for long hours may need to relieve themselves.  Since most dogs do not like to soil where they eat and sleep, accidents leave them with no choice but to clean up by eating it. 

How can you solve this problem?  Hire a dog walker to exercise your dog during the day and to give them bathroom breaks.

Boredom leads them to search for something to do. While some dogs will become destructive, others entertain themselves with their waste.

How can you solve this problem?  Plan a daily exercise routine for your dog. This can be a walk, training or game of ball play. Rather than feeding your dog in a bowl, use treat releasing balls or puzzles that require them to work for their food.  Stuff kongs with tasty spreads or wet food and freeze it to increase the amount of effort it takes the dog to consume the food.

A hungry dog will search for something to eat. Sadly, most dogs are okay with the taste of poop. Their acquired taste is not limited to their own species. They will also dine on cat, geese and rabbit poop.

How can you solve this problem? Ask your vet for the proper amount of food your dog should eat each day.

Some dogs just like the taste and will gobble it up whenever they have access to it.   

How can you solve this problem? Walk your dog on leash or keep a close eye on them in the yard.  Be sure to clean up the yard, litter boxes and wee wee pads immediately after animals defecate. For dogs who eliminate and then immediately turn to eat their waste, keep your dog on leash and teach the “leave it” 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 ISCDT.com

Written by Katie McKnight


Have you ever witnessed your dog slide along your bed sheets with his face and neck on the mattress and his butt in the air, rear paws pushing him along?  If so, you’ve witnessed your dog scent rolling. In this scenario, it is a benign behavior that may cause amusement.

Scent rolling on a new toy

Should you be the owner of a dog who returns home reeking of putrid odors, you likely don’t find humor in the behavior and are desperate to stop it.

We’re going to explain this phenomenon by briefly discussing research performed on the canine’s distant relative: wolves. This information will help us hypothesize what is going on in our dog’s head.  

Background: Pat Goldmann, a research associate and curator of Wolf Park in Indiana, spent years studying scent rolling with wolves on the reserve.  Since domestic dogs and wolves share a common ancestor, her research helps explain the likely reasons dogs scent roll.

In her study, she noted that after the wolves rolled their head and neck in a scent, they returned home to the pack.  In response, the pack investigated by sniffing the wolf. One wolf took this information and tracked the scent back to the original location. Scents that attracted the wolves were not limited to foul-smelling substances, the wolves were also attracted to mint and some perfumes.  Anyone interested in learning more about Pat Goldmann’s research can google her information. For now, we are going to return to canine behavior. 

Dogs who rub their bodies over new dog treats, toys and beds are likely marking the item as their own.  This practice lets dogs know who the items belong to.

When dogs roll on worms, bugs, dead animals, poo, oil, garbage or anything else they find, it is likely for two reasons:  Earlier species of dogs attempted to mask their scent by rolling on carcasses of other animals and waste so prey couldn’t find them.  According to Ms. Goldmann’s study, her wolves used scent rolling to bring information back to the pack. Dogs could possibly mimic this same practice.

Scent Rolling on dead animals, poop or other smelly items

How about those dogs who roll around their owners’ bed or on dirty clothing?  They quite possibly want to cover their coat in your scent. Rolling his body over your bed sheets will redistribute your scent to his fur.

Are dogs scent rolling when they run their faces on rugs or  furniture? Possibly, but it’s more likely that they are cleaning their faces, scratching an itch or enjoying a scent left behind.  Sometimes dogs roll around in the grass in an attempt to scratch an itch too.

How do we stop scent rolling when the behavior leads to unpleasant odors and substances on your dog’s coat?

Teach the “leave it” command so they walk away when instructed.

Perfect your dog’s recall.  This way, when you see him sniffing (usually a precursor to scent rolling) you can call him to come before he plops his body onto the ground and is covered in the horrible substance.    

Keep your dogs on leash so you can lead them away from the substance before they have the opportunity to bathe in it. 

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 ISCDT.com

Written by Katie McKnight

Protect Dog Paws on Hot-Summer Days

Did you know dogs’ paws can burn on asphalt, artificial grass, pavement and other outdoor surfaces when the weather is hot? 

Follow the Seven Second Rule Before walking your dog or working outdoors.

Place your hand or bare foot on the ground. If you cannot keep it on the ground for up to seven seconds without feeling discomfort or burning,then your dog should not walk on that surface.

According to an article published by Vets-now, On a 77 degree day with low humidity and low wind, asphalt can reach 125 degrees.

An egg can fry in five minutes at 131 degrees.

Before training all dogs outdoors, we perform the seven-second test to ensure their paws won’t burn. We hope this reminder will get everyone practicing the SEVEN-SECOND RULE!

Start your career as a dog trainer by learning the trade from ISCDT. Click on the link below to enroll for our online course.