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Why did my dog start doing this?

Dogs start doing new things to push boundaries when they are not clear.  Dogs often doing things we don’t like for many of the same type of reasons.  I hear all kinds of stories like digging holes in the back yard, eating numerous house -hold items, counter surfing, bolting out the door, tearing holes in the couch, eating trim off the walls, digging holes through the walls (Yes, I have seen this with two Shepards), eating mulch and trees, and how tasty, eating poop.   Some issues like fear or aggressive problems can seem to start from no where as well.

There are several things listed here and I am sure you can try to explain reasons why dog could start doing all of them, but the first reason is that there are not clear enough defined boundaries.  If you raised a child and never gave them guidance, just food and toys, what would it look like?  But we do that with dogs, don’t we?  So all dogs need training and need to start dog training at a very early age.  Most dogs should start in some training around 8-12 weeks old.  I often see a dog come into the shop who needed the guidance much earlier and would have avoided issues if they started 8-12 weeks old.  Realize that not training is training and the dog learns if you take the time to train it or not.  The beautiful thing is that we recommend usually just 3 times a day for 15 minutes, so effective training of most dogs does not take forever and is not that hard.  However, just like a kid exploring and learning, a young dog will do whatever they can do and exploring with their mouth eating or chewing is really fun.  If it works, they will do it again.  Digging down to cool soft earth is full of new smells and feels great.  That dog had no idea that you worked two years just to get that sod conditioned to grow like that.  Without supervision and a way to constantly have influence your dog may do many things like that, exploring their new world.

One big shocker to new owners of puppies is just how much time that new pup needs in the crate.  If you are not using a developed skill set to have the dog hold a command, you need to use a management system like a crate.  It is just like potty training and for the same type of reasons as potty training.  Your puppy is either 100% supervised, on a leash, in the back yard or run, in a crate or getting into trouble.  That goes with peeing and with destruction.  If you take the time to train your dog with the understanding of boundaries you can slowly give that dog more freedom as they demonstrate that they don’t eat the remote, your phone, or dig a hole through the new carpet you just had installed.

So, why is your dog doing that?  Because you didn’t train them not to do it.  When you have a 5 year-old dog with problems, that dog learned it from the home it grew up in.  Dogs are learning either way, but it takes a little time to teach them the right way.

I have now covered most of all that there is something we can do something about.  Things that are learned are easier to deal with than a defect the dog was born with.  The rest of the issues involve genetic defects in breeding dogs that should never have been breed.  Genetic issues can include fear, nervous, anxious issues and mental issues like the inability to focus and yes, some aggression.  Really good training can cover up some of these or diminish them and in the case of aggression add control to varying degrees.  If your dog has aggressive issues you need to contact a professional who has dealt with the issue immediately.  Not only is it a problem for the dog, but you could be surprised as so many of my clients have, when the dog runs across the street and mauls a small dog (or worse).  The shock of that situation does not get better when the other party involved feels you are responsible and you should pay.

The bottom line is this: you must take the time to teach your dog to be the dog you want and not expect them to know what is right or wrong without you showing them.  See our article on remote collars and see our videos on

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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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We have added a new member to the McCarthy Pack. KONA is a 10 week old Belgian Malinois. Training starts early. He sits like a statue for his food while learning to “focus”. We let him drag his leash to learn “come”, “out”, and “off” all while reinforcing the commands. You may see him occasionally at group class for distraction training and socialization. He is a ball of energy and lots of fun!

Dan McCarthy

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Canine Good Citizen Class 9/25/11

I was very proud of our first Canine Good Citizen Graduates.   Our
first successful CGC dogs are: Frsico with Barb & Bob, Amelia with
Nick, Rocky with Mercedes. Merlin with Norma & Dennis, Happy with
Jeanne, & Sage with Dan. All dogs completed the 10 behaviors necessary
to earn their designation successfully and with confidence.  The dogs
were awesome, but their owners had worse cases of nerves than the
dogs!  I am very appreciative of the hard work that all these teams
put in to take their obedience to the next level.  Thank you & keep up
the good work.  We will be running another test in the near future if
your furry friend needed a little more practice time.

Sandy Brady

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Group Class April 2011

We’re off to a busy Spring with a great turn out for our Group Classes.  We have had some fun with  jumps & agility moves in addition to making our dogs reliable at recalls and place commands.  Our Advanced Class is meant to take our “star” doggies to the next level of training.  We appreciate the effort made by everyone who gets their dogs to Group and encourage you to keep coming.  They just get better & better!

  See you out in the sunshine, soon!

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2/27/2011 Camp Bow Wow Group Class

I just wanted to say thanks to all the hard working dogs & owners who took time out of their busy schedules to come to class today.  Seeing Daisy, Jett, Apollo, Izzy& Sage come to their first group class was exciting for me!  Daphne & Izzy are such gracious hostesses at Camp Bow Wow; we are so appreciative to spend time there.  Our seasoned pros are  great examples for our new trainees.  Frisco, Charlie, Sidney& Stella know how to set the pace.  Izzy, Happy, Lou & Petey  are right on the heals of our class stars showing off their knowledge of Sit Means Sit Training.  We’re expecting some warmer weather this week, so take some time to walk your dog & teach them my favorite command: “NO BUNNIES!!!!!”

Think Spring!    Sandy

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Client Testimonial – Joy & Pebbles








I wanted to let you know last Saturday Pebbles passed her Delta certification for ‘therapy’ with a perfect score and a rating enabling me to take her to ‘complex’ facilities with no restrictions!  I was a little concerned as I had been out of town for 2 weeks but when she was in the testing room she knew exactly what to do!  Amazing.  Thank you for your help, her obedience training with Sit Means Sit definitely made a huge difference. Working with you was a pleasure!


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