SDOS: Episode 6 – The First Rule of Dog Training

Episode 6

What do you need before you do any training (or anything) with your dog and what does the art of boxing have to do it? Find out today when Dom shares two easy peasy dog training tips that will quickly improve your relationship with your dog AND give you more control when you take him to the park.


[0.50] Why are we in an Industrial estate [1.33] We need to make dog training nice and easy [1.57] Feedback from my wife! [3.00] What do we need when are going to train a dog [3.38] If the dog ain’t looking then the dog ain’t listening [3.56] Why it’s all about the eyes [5.11] What does your dogs name mean to him [6.21] The story of the boxer [6.54] What’s my name [7.29] An exercise for you to try [8.15] Good boy Barry [9.04] Why you need to do the easy stuff first [9.35] What is kryptonite again? Go back to episode 2 to find out [10.00] What is the magical dog training device that will stop your dog running away [12.03] Whose on the show next week? (HINT she is the KCAI dog trainer of the year) [12.18] Why you should sign up for my free and famous dog training emails

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Dom:     Hello my bonnie bairns, and welcome to Episode 6 of the Superhero Dog Owner Show. This is the show that helps you have more fun and less stress with your pet dog. Today I’m joined by, as usual, Alex the video guy.

Alex:      Hello.

Dom:     Alex, I bet you’re wondering why when we’ve got all this beautiful coastline and Penshaw monument and the wonderful scenery that we’ve got up here …

Alex:      Yeah, why are we in an industrial estate? It’s not very picturesque.

Dom:     It isn’t very picturesque, but there’s a reason for that. We’re in an industrial estate because this is the place where they bring you when you’re first starting to learn to drive in Sunderland. Where the driving instructors bring you, where there’s next to no traffic, the roads are nice and wide and hopefully you’re not going to crash into anybody, or if you do it’s just going to be a scrape or something like that. You’re not going to cause any aggravation. When they bring you here, this is where they brought me and this is where they just brought our Alex when he was learning how to drive as well. He’s passed his test recently and it’s because it’s easy, it’s nice and easy and the little segue into that is that we want to try and make the dog training nice and easy for the boys and girls who are watching at home.

Alex:      I see. It makes sense now.

Dom:     Yeah, definitely. Everything’s with a purpose, Alex, you know that with me. Usually anyway. Last week I promised you that we would go into a bit of detail for some things that you can do straight away, now, today, to help you have a bit more fun and have a bit less stress with your pet dog. Yeah, some practical things that you can do. I got a bit of feedback, Alex, from my good wife Beth about the PLTV that we did previously, the previous incarnation of the podcast.

I said, was there anything that we could do to help people a bit more and she said that she thought that when we were out with the dogs, the adventure dogs that we work with, she said they’re all really well behaved but when like she takes Barry and Sydney out, they don’t behave as well for her as what they do. They’re still pretty well behaved but they’re not too good. Without bringing a lot of unruly dogs into the car, what I thought I would do is, I would pick out a couple of key things that I teach in the book and that we teach inside the Superhero Dog Owner’s Inner Circle. Key things that to me are like the building blocks, the foundation stones of good dog training, you know? Does that make sense?

Alex:      That makes sense.

Dom:     Okay, so that’s what we’re going to cover today. Alex, I’m going to ask you, I’m going to put you on the spot a little bit here.

Alex:      Okay.

Dom:     With your super groovy hat on, by the way.

Alex:      Thank you.

Dom:     You look very smart.

Alex:      Thank you.

Dom:     What do we need when we’re going to train a dog something, would you say?

Alex:      I would say we need some kind of resource, whether that’s toys or treats, whatever motivates the dog, whatever he’s really interested in.

Dom:     Good answer. You’ve been learning. Yeah, you’ve been learning a lot. Yeah. The thing that we need and we use those things to help us get that and I’m doing that thing that they used to do in school, where they ask you a question and nobody knows the answer except the teacher.

Alex:      Oh, okay.

Dom:     You didn’t get the answer wrong, but you know, you didn’t get the answer right. What we need to have from the dog is, we need to have the dog’s attention.

Alex:      Yes.

Dom:     We need to have his focus, we need to have him looking at us, because if the dog isn’t looking at you, then the dog isn’t listening to you. Once you’ve got that, everything else becomes much, much easier. You can teach your dog to do a heel or a sit or a down or just to look at you and not run away from you, but first you must have him looking at you. You must have that attention and the eye contact is so, so, so important.

Alex:      Yes, definitely.

Dom:     The way I like to teach eye contact is simply to say the dog’s name, whatever it might be, Susan, Jeffrey, Spike, Bongo, whatever it is, your dog’s name. Say the dog’s name and then when he looks at you, tell him he’s a good boy or a good girl if he’s a girl. It sounds really easy and it is really easy. This is something you should do with your dog. You can practice this like ten, fifteen times a day. You should do it before you feed him his food, you should do it before you give him a treat, you should do it before you give him a ball or a game of tuggie or some affection, whatever it is that you’re wanting to do with your dog.

Seeing an eye contact and get him to look at you, getting him to look at you regularly, getting him to realize that when he looks at you good things happen. Yeah, that’s really what the association that we’re trying to create in the dog’s mind is. When my owner says my name, I look at him and good things happen. Does that make sense?

Alex:      Yeah, definitely. It’s an easy thing but I bet a lot of people don’t do it as much as they should.

Dom:     Yeah.

Alex:      Because most of the time I bet some dogs when they hear their name will probably associate with bad things.

Dom:     Possibly, sure.

Alex:      Getting told off.

Dom:     Yeah possibly so, yeah, yeah, exactly. If you can get into a routine of doing this all of the time, then your dog will get into the routine of looking at you when you say his name, you know? Rather than you wanting to get your dog’s attention when his hackles are up and he’s straining at the leash to get to that dog that’s barking at him across the way, that’s going to be much more difficult for you to get your dog’s attention then and your dog is less likely to want to look at you when you’re saying his name in that kind of instance.

If you say your dog’s name all of the time when you’re indoors, when you’re outdoors, when you’re in the garden, and you get him used to looking at you, then the chances that the dog is going to look at you when you really want him to are much greater. What we have is, we put together a little video with me and Barry and Sydney and this is a little story that will hopefully empathize the point that I’m trying to make here about how important eye contact is and how saying your dog’s name and getting him to look at you is a really great starting point for anybody who wants to train their dog anything at all. The story is all about a boxer.

In 1967, Mohammed Ali fought a guy called Ernie Terrell. Now Ernie in the pre-match build up made the fatal mistake of calling Mohammed Ali, Cassius Clay and he was pretty pissed off about that because being known as Mohammed Ali was very, very important to Mohammed Ali. The legend goes that during the fight, which Mohammed Ali dominated, he never, ever delivered the killer knockout blow to Ernie. He made him suffer for the whole fight and he was taunting him all the way through, saying what’s my name, what’s my name? Our names are very, very important to us.

I’ve met people who wouldn’t say boo to a goose but if you spell or say their name wrong, they can’t tell you quick enough. Your dog’s name is important too, although what your dog is called probably isn’t as important as what he associates his name with. Isn’t that right Barry? It’s really important that your dog associates his name with good things happening to him, because then he’s much more likely to respond and come towards you when you say his name. I’ve got a little exercise that you can do right now with your dog. I’m assuming that you’re in the sitting room with your dog now. I would like you to say your dog’s name in a nice cheery, cheery voice and when he looks at you, give him a big smile and tell him he’s a good boy. Good boy Barry.

If your dog gets up and comes towards you, then you can give him even more praise and affection and tell him that he’s a really, really, really good boy. Can’t you Barry? The more you practice this, the more your dog is going to associate you saying his name with good things happening and getting rewards and praise. Eventually if you do this lots and lots and you make it really, really pleasurable for your dog, then he will choose to come to you, even without you saying his name because he’ll know that when he comes towards his owner, he’s going to get some praise and some affection and some rewards and then this will help you to have a really good recall when you’re in the park with your dog as well. Barry. Good boy Barry, good boy. What a clever lad.

This a dead easy exercise that you can and you should do ten times a day. You can practice it at home in your sitting room, in your kitchen, in the garden, in a park, at the beach, in the woods, or wherever it is that you are with your dog. Over time he will associate you saying his name with good things happening and he’ll just want to be with you.

That’s a dead easy exercise that anybody can do with any dog at all. Yeah, Alex, would you agree?

Alex:      Definitely. Even I could do it.

Dom:     Okay, okay, we’ll see about that. Actually you did very well with Otis as well. You were using his name, you were getting his eye contact, weren’t you?

Alex:      Yeah, by the end of the day, that was getting him to come back to me. Yeah, definitely.

Dom:     Definitely, yeah. This is something easy that you can do. Remember the whole point of this episode, why I brought you down here is that we’re going to do, we need to start with the easy stuff, because if you do the easy stuff first, then you can progress to the more difficult things. It’s no good me coming on here and trying to teach you guys how to teach your dog to do a send away and stuff like this and more complicated tricks and stuff if we haven’t got the focus first. It’s so important that we get the focus from our dogs and saying their name and rewarding them with praise, with affection and with toys and treats. You know the items of kryponite.

If you don’t know what kryptonite is, you need to go back to Episode 2 where we describe all about what the kryptonite is and how important that is for you to use to help you to get your dog to look at you and do stuff for you. That’s the first thing. That’s something that I reckon, when everyone finishes watching this podcast now, they should practice that with their dog straight away. More eye contact all of the time and using the items of kryptonite. The second little tip I’m going to give in today’s episode is to use a magical thing called a dog lead. Yeah, we can use a dog lead to stop our dog from doing the things that we don’t want them to do. What type of things does Otis do that maybe you would rather that he didn’t do?

Alex:      He’s quite dog reactive, so if another dog passes he’ll want to go over and say hello

Dom:     So the lead’s going to help you stop him from running away from you.

Alex:      Straight away going to do that. Being a terrier, he likes to sniff a lot of things, so quite a lot of the time if we’re walking he’ll stop and sniff something, which is fine, obviously he can do that, but then sometimes he’ll linger for ages and ages and [crosstalk 00:10:35]


Dom:     Again, it just gives you a bit more control with the lead. Yeah, it’s going to stop you from allowing your dog, you know, if your dog’s problem is that he jumps up at people all the time, keeping a lead on him and using the lead is going to help you with that. If your dog is always eating poo or finding bits of pasties and pizzas and things in the bushes, keeping a lead on him and using a lead is going to help you to stop him from doing that. If your dog always runs away from you when you let him off lead at the park, you could invest in a longer lead, a five, a ten or a twenty meter lead or even just use a bit of washing line or something like that and that’s going to help you to stop your dog from doing the thing that you don’t want him to do.

You want to, if we’re going to fulfill our promise of making life a bit less stressful for the people who are watching, then we need to remove some of the stressful situations that they’re finding themselves in all the time. Using your dog lead is going to help you to do that. If you use your dog lead and you also try to use eye contact to get your dog to look at you and come back to you more, then just using those two things are going to, I think, give you much more control, much more freedom eventually, where you’re going to be able to let your dog off lead more.

They’re going to enable you to control your dog and to just let your dog do the things that you want him to do yet don’t let him to do the things that cause you stress on your walks and make you wish that you hadn’t took your dog for a walk in the first place. Two things this week are eye contact and using a lead.

If you want more dog training tips and advice, then you should sign up for my daily dog training emails and you can do that by going to and if you do that, you will get a free chapter of my book, I’ve shoved that in there as well as an attachment. What I do is, I send a different email every day giving a little tip or a story or a hint, something that’s going to help you to have a little bit more fun with your dog. These are short emails. I get loads of good feedback about the emails from people who are enjoying their dogs more just through the emails and then they’ve gone on to buy the book and so on and so on.

Yeah, if you go and sign up for the emails, that’s a nice way for you to get just a little dog training tip every day. In next week’s episode we’re going to be talking to a very good friend of mine. She was recently voted the KCAI dog trainer of the year. Her name is Jane Arden. She runs Waggawuffen’s Canine College down in Bury and so we’re going to be stepping inside. We’re going to be Skyping Jane and having a good chat with her and finding out more about what she does with her dogs and hopefully I’m going to be able to pull some nice little tidbits out, some hints and tips that will help us to have a bit more fun with our dogs. We’ll see you next week. Thanks for the set up, Alex. I hope you enjoyed your trip to Hendon industrial estate.

Alex:      I did. I learned a lot.

Dom:     Yeah, if I don’t see you through the week, I’ll see you through the window.

Meet the Author

Dom Hodgson