Author Archive | Luke Kindall

Why is my dog aggressive?

Why is my dog aggressive?  The short answer is the dog learned the behavior,  it was born with it, or a little of both.  Nature or Nurture yet again…  Many times a dog that has genetic aggression will then unfortunately be treated like a furry human with a mental illness.  Thus increasing the problem adding bad training and bad reputations to the dog’s understanding.

The person wanting to waste your time will make a huge deal of trying to give you a prognosis based on all kinds of “dog language” trying to make you feel good.  The real solution is to teach the dog a skill set that is usable in controlling the impulse.  Aggressive dogs don’t respect treat training (like many dogs). If the dog has no impulse control you are not in control when the dog is triggered.  If you say, “SIT” and your dog will not hold the command when it sees a person or other dog, your dog does not “know SIT”.

There are levels of aggression and different types of aggression and there are levels of control.  Your dog has the capacity to learn impulse control period.  Your dog can be controlled if you decide to take the time to teach him or her.  Do you want to take the time?  Do you want to control a dog that may always have problems in this area (was born with it)?  How much aggression?  How much control?  How much training will it take?  These are the best questions to ask.

If your dog trainer will not work with dog aggression, that means they either don’t want hard cases, maybe they are fearful, or they just don’t understand motivation in dominant dogs.

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My dog is really good except for…..

Most everyone I meet for training loves their dog, the dog does really great until: the doorbell rings, or the dog sees a a rabbit or other dog, they take the leash off, etc.  All my clients love the personality of the dog and then describe how the dog gets easily distracted or has no impulse control. What they are saying is that the dog is great unless they need obedience.  The dog is very good until some impulse control is needed.  The dog just needs training to go from good to great.


All dog owners need a way to effectively and consistently communicate, and a way to reinforce that communication beyond simply conditioning.  If the dog believes there is an option to run off, then you do not have a real come command.  Just like a baby elephant that grew up tied with a normal rope and believes he can not break that rope, your dog must believe it must obey and then know that there is always a great reward from is very happy master.  Your dog must always know it is always a great thing to come to you.  Even after years of training my American Bulldog, Abby, I praise her most every time she comes to me and it shows in her attitude as she wags her tail and smiles with her whole body with that extra spring in her step.

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My dog is “protective of me”

I have had so many people that tell me this about their dog, “my dog is protective”.  The patterns are very similar in the dogs who’s owners tell me this.  The dog is out of control and wants to get between them and other people, has nipped or bit another person (or will soon), may have separation anxiety or other nervous energy, often is allowed on the bed, on the couch, pushes past them going in doors first, or is in other ways showing dominant behaviors.  These dogs I am talking about have behaviors that go on including: stepping on their person’s foot, leaning on them, getting in front of them when they stop, aggressive to other dogs and or people that come close, worse behaviors on a leash, licking them over and over, and are not under any obedience command.  These dogs will not obey the owners and hold a “down”command until they are released.

The fact is these dog believe they are in control or that they must be in control.  Some are trying very hard to be in control and try to be the pack leader.  This is always in absence of a clear pack leader that these dog develop and learn to be this way.  These dogs can become aggressive and some people will actually believe they are some how at fault because their dog is ” just being protective” when in fact it is nervous and desperately needs training.  Dog training is structure, consistency, boundaries, and rewards, not just a human being a Pez dispenser.

So how does dog training help a “protective” or a dominant dog?  Dog training puts control in the equation where the dog is desperate to have some leadership.  Understanding to the dog comes through defined commands that are reinforced and rewarded; this is how we communicate. The dog sees no clear boundaries, no consistency, and no one in control, so it tries to make boundaries for its human.  If we add in structure, boundaries that we can reinforce, reward mechanisms for them to learn, and true consistency, these dogs will begin to relax and can be great dogs.  Yes, they need a job, exercise, and something fun, but they need leadership and if they will not obey in distractions then this is the first place to start.  When you simply require a dog to walk with you and you lead it, the picture starts to becomes clear to the dog.  However, the dog must see you will take the lead and require the boundaries in all situations for them to really rely on you and trust and respect you.  If this happens the dog will likely start to give up more of its nervous behaviors. Seeing dogs change like this is one of the rewards of good dog training.  People that think having control over their dog is in some way bad, have no idea how much dogs want the owner to be in control.  Poor dog training (like treats only for a dominant dog) encourages many bad behaviors and can not address real issues.

I believe many time we see actions on the part of dogs that the owners would call loving or affectionate like licking, jumping on them, etc.  The dog that really respects you for being the pack leader is one that you have taken the time to do the training repetitions and have shown to be reliable- that is the dog that loves you, because you did take the time to teach and require boundaries.  Yes, you can still spoil your dog then, but not if you are feeding a monster who is not under your control.  The dog that sees you as actually pack leader can take all the spoiling, but then still respect you because they know you will hold them to the boundaries that they know so well.

Happy dog- happy owner.


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Tom Lawrence and “Sami”

Breed: King Charles Spaniel   Owners: Tom & Pat Lawrence

Coach Dan McCarthy has a special gift when it comes to creating a life-long bond between a Dog and its Pet Parents. Our family wanted so much to get inside Sami’s head so we could understand what she was feeling, thinking and what she could not tell us. Sami is our 4 yr old King Charles Spaniel. Every dog has its own story to share and Sami’s is special…she lost her hearing over this past year. So, how best to keep Sami safe and communicate with her when she has no idea that she is being told to do (or not to do) something to please those who love her? Enter Sit Means Sit and Coach Dan.

First thing first-we reached out to Coach Dan for help with what we believed to be an impossible task. Under Dan’s creative direction, we developed a series of hand signals that would allow us to talk to Sami. Within a few short weeks, we were communicating with Sami using our newly created doggie sign language. We followed Coach Dan’s directions exactly as he laid them out. Why wouldn’t we, considering the financial commitment? Three short sessions each and every day w/o exception. Dan constantly reminded us …”consistency, consistency, consistency”.

The key to our success was our consistent use of the Sit Means Sit collar. We never ever took Sami out w/o applying the Sit Means Sit methods. Again, thanks Coach Dan for constantly reminding us of the critical importance of the link between actual command and timing of obedience.

Sami has sooo much freedom off leash now; she can safely explore her world under the protection of the Sit Means Sit system. She totally ignores other dogs, rabbits that jump out if front of us, and the toxic goose droppings she used to go crazy for. Thank you Coach Dan and Sit Means Sit for doing what you do and for sharing you special talents with Pet Parents who care about their pets as much as we care about Sami!

Tom Lawrence

Sami Dog


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Jorge Alverez, DVM and “Hudson”

My dog is a 2/12 year old Labrador named Hudson. I’ve had him since he was a puppy and as he matured it became more difficult to predict how he would behave in different situations especially while on leashed walks. Over time he started barking and even lunging at other dogs, making it less and less enjoyable and more of a task. I stopped taking him to places, such as, Washington Park, previously one of our favorite places to relax, knowing that I would be returning home very stressed and with a sore arm from holding the leash so tightly.

After seeing the Sit Means Sit truck in my apartment complex and noticing the results on one of my neighbor’s dogs, I decided to give them a try. Since the first training session working with Dan in my home, I felt a breath of fresh air and confidence, which has progressed over the last couple of months! It has been fun watching Hudson master basic commands with ease and even learn a few tricks in the meantime. I didn’t expect it to seem so fun for my dog and now he constantly looks up to me for direction. Not only have I seen a change in him but I have also seen a change in how I interact with him…instead of correcting problem behaviors I have found myself being more proactive showing him something else to do instead. A few weeks ago, after more than a year, I had the courage to return to Washington Park with Hudson. There were many dogs, geese, running children, skateboards, and plenty of other distractions however we were actually able to have a great time and a “normal” walk around the park; something I thought would never again be possible. Sit Means Sit certainly provided me with great insight, direction, and tools to improve the quality of life of both my dog and myself!

Jorge Alvarez, DVM


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Zora and Casey – Shepherd/Malinois

Breed: Shepherd/Maliois                              Owners: Kat and Eric

We are Kat and Eric. We have been dog lovers for a long time. We got our first dog together as a present. An 8 week old German Shepherd named Zora. She was so cute but we found out quickly that she was going to be a handful. Lots of energy and a high play drive!  We went through every type of training we could find. Puppy training, advanced puppy training you name it we tried it. She was very smart, but independent and busy!  We decided that maybe Zora needed a playmate to help keep her occupied. We found a 5 year old Malinois Shepherd mix from the prison program named Casey. Zora and Casey hit it off from the get go. But as dogs will be dogs, we found that going on walks and dog park outings were less than total fun. So once again we decided that training was in order. We tried everything. One weekend we happened to catch a demo of Sit Means Sit in Parker and were very impressed. We made an appointment with Dan McCarthy and the things he showed us were amazing in the short time we were training with Dan. What we were looking for was not so much tricks the dogs could do but the ability to take the dogs out for walks, play time at the dog parks and a running partner for Kat. Eight months later we can tell you that Zora, and Casey are very well behaved dogs that the neighbors envy. Their on and off leash behavior in our neighborhood and wherever we take them is second to none. Sit Means Sit has given us the tools, both physically and mentally to handle any situation. A huge Thank You to Dan McCarthy and Sit Means Sit for giving us the tools to optimize our 2 great dogs.  If you have problems with your dogs, go see Dan and Sit Means Sit.  You won’t regret it.

Eric & Kat

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Thor-Springer Spaniel

Breed: Springer Spaniel             Owners: Craig and Tami Merten

When we got Thor he was an adorable little puppy. As he grew he became very energetic. We have two other dogs and Thor was the newest dog and the alpha male. He was protective of his things and could be a bit aggressive. When people came to the door his excitement was off the charts and he would jump on them. Thor was also very skittish around young children. It seemed he couldn’t’ figure out if they were people or dogs. They were on his level which seemed confusing to him. One day a young child was at our home. Thor chased her and growled at her. This was it. We called the vet and they referred us to Sit Means Sit. Dan came to train Thor and had an instant connection with him. Thor is smart and loves to please. He quickly responded to the collar. Now, he is like a different dog. Since his training, he has become so submissive and sweet. He seems to feel more under control. If we take him out to run in the forest he can be in a full sprint chasing a deer and if we call him he will stop dead in his tracks. We are so grateful for the training he received and what a great dog he is!

Tami Merten

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Captain – Boxer

Breed: Boxer                                                                    Owners: Shannon and Jason

My husband and I got our boxer puppy Captain when he was 8 weeks old, and we started our training with Sit Means Sit when he was about 3 months old. We were lucky to have Dan McCarthy as our trainer. Our training began with personalized one on one classes where Dan came over to our house to visit Captain and us. Dan was very patient and caring when it came to Captain, which my husband and I appreciated. We could tell Dan was eager to work with Captain because he was a puppy, and he had a “clean slate” to work with. Dan told us several times that since we were starting our training with Captain so early in his life; we could shape and train him to avoid unwanted habits. Over the course of the next two months Dan would show us different training exercises to work with Captain. We trained with Captain every day working on the different lessons we learned with Dan, and we quickly saw results from our little boxer! Captain has already mastered sitting, staying, paw, down, placing on different objects, fetching, and walks well with myself or my husband. Captain listens so well to us and has become a very obedient dog! We even have had several of our neighbors tell us what an obedient puppy we have! It makes us very proud and happy that we decided to do the Sit Means Sit training with Dan.

Captain is now 7 months old and doing group classes with other dogs. He is gaining confidence and showing off that even as young as he is, he can listen and do the commands we ask of him. Our experience with Sit Means Sit has been very positive and worthwhile. I would especially recommend this training to any new dog owner or owner who would like to reshape a naughty behavior of their dog. Thank you Dan for all that you have done for Captain and our family! We have enjoyed our new puppy even more because he listens to us, which has allowed us to take him with us wherever we go.

Thank you!

Shannon and Jason

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