Author: joyeadmin

Teaching in Silence – does it work?

Teaching in Silence, does it work? Find out here and then try for yourself.

Fact: Teaching in silence works.
As many of you know, I teach most behaviours silently for a number of reasons.

His Brain

Firstly: Whilst your dog has a number of areas in his brain that deals with language, none of them deal with language in the same way that humans do. The words we say are just sounds to your dog.
In addition, each one of us is unique. Our voices have different inflections and we move our bodies in different ways. Your dog’s eyesight is extremely good at spotting movement and, therefore when you say particular words, you move your body in a specific way too.
For instance: Maybe you twitch your nose when you say his name. Or you could shrug your shoulders when you ask for a sit or raise your eyebrow when you ask him to spin. Whatever it is, you body language is unique to you.

Body Language

Secondly: Your dog relies more on body language than sounds. So when you ask your dog to perform some action, your dog usually looks at you to work out what you want. At first, they will not be listening to the sound you make.
When your dog does start to associate the behaviour with your body language and the sound you make, it is still unique to you and others in your household won’t be the same.
So when your partner says that the dog doesn’t like them because it never does what they ask, it has nothing to do with like or dislike and more to do with the dog not understanding what is being asked. Remember the timbre of their voice is different as is the body language.


My third reason for teaching as much as I can silently is that dogs are no more capable of truly multi-tasking than us. When you are trying to learn something and somebody is nattering away at you, you either stop so you can listen or you ask them to go away. Why then, should a dog who doesn’t have language, be able to concentrate and learn when you are talking to him?


And finally, I hate it when people say “sit, sit, sit, sit, sit”. If the dog doesn’t do it the first time, he either has no idea what you are talking about or is not actually listening or watching you. This means that you are not only wasting your breath, but your could be teaching your dog to actually sit when your voice reaches a certain pitch or you have said it 6 times! Not useful at all.

So what is the benefit of teaching in silence?

I mostly teach in silence because I have found that the puppy picks things up much quicker once it starts to focus on you and think. You can actually see the dog trying different behaviours to see whether it will work and he will get what he wants. In effect, it is shaping in the same way that some clicker training works. Our speech is, in effect, just white noise most of the time.

I find the dog is calmer and that the learning is more stable. Mainly, I think, because the dog has started to build their own neural pathways in their brain.

When I do not use silence?

Praise is not silent and always comes with a smile.

There are certain situations when a dog will need constant reassurance that they have got it right. For instance, when I am starting with a tiny puppy, I always start the ‘walking on a loose lead’ training without a lead at all (remember I am at the person’s house and we are not in a field). We teach the puppy where the zone of reinforcement is located and progress as fast at the puppy’s pace. But sometimes, if I visit an older puppy for the first time or an older dog and they are already going out regularly, I don’t want to feed a constant stream of treats, so I will utilise a very happy ‘yes’ or ‘Good boy/girl’ when the dog is in the correct position.

I also use the specific word if I am trying to capture a naturally occurring behaviour that I will later want to put on command. For instance, ‘speak’ or a command that tells the dog, I want it to go to the toilet.

I don’t usually use silence for a recall either. I still only say the word once whether I am teaching it as a fun game or I am using conditioning.

Stay is another command that I use right from the beginning if I am actually going to use a word. For some people, a Sit or Down will mean the dog stays in that position until released. In this situation the word ‘stay’ is not required.

Commands suitable for teaching in silence

Here are a list of behaviours I regularly teach without words at the beginning:






Do not to enter a room

Not to go through a door

Stay in the cage, even if the door is open

Not to go upstairs

Release the toy

On your bed, or in your cage.

When to add the word.

Science has taught us the optimum point to add the command. Therefore, when I think the dog has got the behaviour reliably, I will add the verbal command at the point the behaviour starts. For instance, if the dog is going to sit, say it at the point the body starts to move into position.


However, I often feel that by commanding our dogs, they are reactive to that and wait for the command. If you let them work it out using cues from their environment, I think they become better mannered, calmer and able to make the right decisions. This leaves one less thing for the owner to think about. In this day and age when life is busy and stressful, one less thing to think about is very welcome.

Interesting blog and experiment for you.

Jill Breitner has written an interesting article for Dogster with an experiment for you using body language. Here is a link: Dogster

So have a go at teaching in silence and let me know how you get on. If you want some help with how to do it, just send me a message.

Remember to make training fun for both of you and use very short training sessions. Your dog will be happier and learn quicker, I promise.


From Peaceful Pups.


Cool Coats – are they good for our dogs?

Cool Coats – are they all they are cracked up to be?


So are these cool coats for our dogs any good? Do they do what it says on the tin? I am trying to find out.

It’s hot in the UK at the moment and because it is not really the norm in this Country, our dogs and people are not really used to it and some are struggling.Cooling-down

In recent years there has been a surge in various types of cool coats which supposedly keep your dogs cool – but do they?

I have been looking for some research where someone has measured the dog’s core temperature before having the coat applied and then it is measured regularly afterwards with a control dog with the same coat and in the same environment so we can see the impact of the cool coat.

I can’t find it!

My problem is that I think that when you are hot, carrying something close to you and potentially heavy, makes you feel worse.

Once we attach these coats, it’s not as if dogs have a choice, they can’t take them off, nor can they ask us to remove them. We just assume the coats help our dogs feel cooler and more comfortable.

Do they feel better?

Are our dogs more comfortable?

I am trying to find out.


Is there any proper research? If there is, I haven’t been very successful in finding it. I have found an informal study where thermal imaging was used and they monitored the dog before the coat was applied and once it was in place.

Initially, the dog’s temperature did reduce, however within 10 minutes it was back to normal and then continued rising. This dog was actually getting hotter because of the coat!
In fact, there is anecdotal evidence that the type that holds water actually creates a sauna like aefect, which is the opposite of what people are trying to do!


I got quite excited when I found an Australian Company that contained a data sheet about how the vests worked until I realised that, although they sold dog coats, their data was on humans and even then the human only got an extra 11 minutes work before their core temperature rose by 2 degrees!



In conclusion, I have yet to see any evidence that these coats do any more than cool the dog for a few minutes and, if the dog has a thick, coat, it makes the coat feel cool and not the dog.

Cool Mats

I think the cool mats might be a better option because dogs are not as hairy on their abdomen area so the blood running close to the skin there will get cooler. Also, dogs lose heat through their paws so, paws on a cool surface, again seems to make sense as any blood close to the skin is cooled down.

If I am wrong and you have scientific evidence carried out on dogs with a control, please let me know where we can see it.

Here’s a link to a video I recorded talking cool coats, paddling pools and clipping coats:

Trying to keep cool Karen.

Peaceful Pups

Why we have got socialisation wrong

A puppy chasing older dogs in play - socialising

Daz (puppy) chasing Odin, Scooby and Poppy


Socialisation, I am sure you have heard about it.

Do you know what it means?

Do you know what you have to do?

Do you know what to include?

Most people think that socialisation means letting your puppy meet other dogs and people, but it is so much more than that.


By other dogs, it means not just your own other dogs, but a variety of other dogs outside of your home. Your dog is able to play politely, if it plays, and not barge in, bowling the other dogs over, or not be terrified of other dogs. And then comes back when called straight away.


As far as people are concerned, your dog should be polite, not jump or bark (unless given permission), not shy away or barge into them. It shouldn’t matter what they wear or whether they have a beard or not.

Think about, trousers, long dresses/robes, turbans, umbrellas, glasses, males, female, children, running, walking, riding a bike, pushing a pram, wheelchairs, mobility scooters, skateboards.

Situations and Surfaces

What about situations and surfaces? What are you going to want to do with your dog during its lifetime, where are you likely to take it?

Consider trains, lifts, metal and wooden surfaces, bridges (under and over), café’s, pubs, boats, buses, cars, beaches, town centres, stations.

And finally, Sounds

And then there are sounds. Your puppy needs to get used to as many different sounds as possible. Having a dog that is terrified of fireworks or crop scarers is not easy to live with and certainly very stressful for your dog.

Deal with the noises early on, within the first few weeks if possible.

The breeder

The more your breeder does, as long as it has been done well, will be a bonus. There is quite a big push now for breeders to do more and many breeders are now providing a variety of different surfaces, noises, situations, and objects whilst they are growing. It is always worth asking your breeder what they have done in this respect and how many people they have met, especially men and children.

When you should start

You HAVE to start as soon as you bring your puppy home because there is a small window of opportunity that is generally thought to close down by the time they are 16 weeks old, some have even suggested that some breeds shut this period down even earlier, but that is a discussion for another day.

You want your puppy to have a nice experience of as many things as possible in that window. If your puppy doesn’t see something, he may decide that they are scary things and either shy away from it or go to the other extreme that says ‘I’ll attack you before you get to me’ which is known as fearful aggression. Not all dogs will do this though, but how will you know if your dog won’t until it’s too late?

The Bad News

By the way, your puppy will go through another stage like this somewhere around 10 months.

Trainers can get it wrong too

Us trainers don’t always get it right either! I have always lived in villages, but recently moved close to a Town Centre where there were people of a variety of nationalities and wearing lots of different types of clothing.

I thought my dogs were ok, but I found out how wrong I was one Sunday morning when I took my two big boys out early one morning. We had only gone a little way when a car pulled up next to us, and a young girl got out dressed in robes, from head to foot. My boys weren’t so keen on that and let us all know. I then had to spend some time on them separately getting them used to everything around us.


So you have got your puppy, what are your choices for socialisation?

Typically there are 4:

  1. Vets – puppy socialisation courses
  2. Training clubs and schools – with their puppy classes or
    socialisation classes
  3. Doggie day care – some will take them from a puppy, I did, but I was very careful with them.
  4. Do nothing and hope.

However, now there is a 5th choice. You can work with a dog trainer who knows how to help dogs develop good manners and behaviours around people and dogs.

Why I think traditional options for socialisation are a contributing factor in the increase of aggression

Let me tell you why I believe that the traditional options are a major contributing cause for the increase in aggression in some dogs.

The number of people taken to hospital due to dog bites has risen by 76% in the 10 years to August 2014 and they went up by 6.5% in the year to Feb 2015. Remember these are only the ones taken to hospital.

Socialisation was supposed to stop the badly behaved and aggressive dogs. So why have the numbers of hospitalised dog bites increased?

Where it all started

Dr Ian Dunbar started it all in the early 1980s, he was revolutionary and gradually he made a massive impact and changed dog training in the UK and other countries around the world. This was a major step forward.

Puppy socialisation came to the front and over time many schools and veterinary practices have implemented puppy socialisation classes.

What we got

My experience and what many other people have experienced is that rarely is there any thought given to what the puppy learns if he is allowed to bully all the other puppies. The other puppies will join in, What will they get from that?

And what about the nervous one? The poor thing is terrified and is just plonked into the middle of the fray in a sink or swim way. Only for him to get mown down by the class bullies and the other dogs wanting to join in the fun.

It’s like being terrified of heights and someone making you walk on a glass floor a couple of stories up and the glass cracks whilst you are in the middle.

So now the super confident puppy has learnt that it is ok to railroad other puppies and if he is lucky other dogs will join in. The dog you crash into will likely roll over or run away. But, either way, it’s good fun.

The nervous puppy has been traumatised and will either always try to avoid being that situation for the rest of its life or it will develop an ‘it’s me or you’ attitude and attack first so that the other dog doesn’t get the chance. This is called ‘fear aggression’.

Absolutely crackers.

Now it’s time to up our game, take the next step.

Not all clubs and vets are the same

Now I know there are many places out there, who manage the situation extremely well and some are much better than this, but there are many that do not.

Most owners have no idea what they are letting themselves in for. They just do not have that knowledge and many trainers haven’t thought about it.

The same happens with people, some dogs are not stopped and are encouraged/allowed to get too excited with people.

The nervous ones are just forced to deal with this strange person reaching their hand, like a big scary spider, over the top of their head and they just can’t get away.

Or they are crowded by people and children and their frantic body language telling us they are too scared is totally ignored.

No-one is helping them. That comes later, if they are lucky.

If they are not so lucky, they get re-homed because they are unpredictable or aggressive and sometimes they are just put to sleep.

In most cases, we humans have caused the problem and it’s about time we stopped.

Go and find yourself a trainer who understands and recognises what poorly thought out and poorly managed socialisation can do and knows how to introduce your precious puppy to the world. One who can tell you how to recognise when your puppy is not so happy with what is happening.

If your dog has experienced this, many trainers know how to help your dog learn how to cope without lunging and barking at everything it sees. Go and find one but walk away quickly if they want to use water spray, rattle bottles, pet corrector, shock collars, prong collars or attention turns. These are old methods that work on punishment for your dog trying to do what it feels he has to do to protect himself.

Can I help?

My 12 week Puppy Steps Foundation Plan includes managed socialisation as standard and as I come to you, we practise it in the areas you will be going with your puppy.

If you have a question about how to socialise your puppy, you can book a short free call (SKYPE) with me to see if I can help.

Remember to have some fun with your dog.
Karen – Peaceful Pups

Pulled from Pillar to Post?

Does your dog pull you from pillar to post?

Do you get pulled on your walk?

Does your dog decide where you will walk?

If you are being pulled on your walk is not nice for you or your dog, especially if he pulls suddenly sometimes.

However, you do not have to put up with it, there are a variety of methods to help you teach your dog to walk along next to you with a nice smile in your lead. But you have to be determined and consistent too otherwise your dog will win.

Things to think about:

1) If you have something tight around your neck, pulling you in one direction, what is your natural response? Do you go with the pull or do you pull against it? Most pull against it and so does your dog.

2) Do you jerk the lead back at the same time as issuing the command? Many do and I was one of them too. But this is like telling someone to cook you a meal and expecting them to have all the ingredients ready and everything cooking the moment you say the word. Doesn’t sound fair to me. Stop jerking the lead and also give your dog time to respond.

3) Is everyone calm before they exit the house? If your dog is excited, how on earth is he going to listen to you? If you are stressed, how are you going to be thinking correctly?

4) Do you go out for a walk or a training session? If your dog pulls, go for training sessions rather than walks. This means having a plan, the necessary tools, changing your mindset and having a good supply of patience.


Plan, Practise and Assess

So if you want to change those walks from an uncomfortable pull for both of you into a nice relaxing trip, create your plan, give it a week, which has a couple of short practise sessions every day, and then reassess.

If there is an improvement, continue, if not alter the plan and start again.

Ask for advice if you need it.

There are a number of nice ways to teach a dog to walk beside you on a loose lead. You won’t need to shout, jerk or get cross/stressed.

Reading the local newspaper

Remember to give your dog sniffing time. It’s his way of finding out what is going on around him, much like us reading the local newspaper.

If he is used to dragging you from sniffing place to sniffing place, use the sniffing as a reward and get your dog to walk one or two places next to you and then let him have a sniff for a while. Then repeat. Gradually you can increase the number of paces he has to walk before he can sniff again.

Reward is the way to go and reward often to start with – don’t be stingy

You should reward your dog often to start with, either by food, play with toys, getting to where he wants or sniffing. Choose the reward most appropriate to your dog at that moment in time, not what is easiest for you.


You should avoid distractions that will upset your walk.

I realise that it can be annoying or difficult for you to avoid them, but if you can, it is better to avoid distractions, at this stage.

You could turn around or cross over.

Make it easy for you and your dog to stay calm.

Once you have the walking sorted, then you can start on the lower level distractions. But take advice. There are some really good and successful methods to help dogs overcome these problems now without pulling or shouting, so if you do not know

Take advice.

There are some really good and successful methods to help dogs overcome these problems now without pulling or shouting.


If you have a puppy, start the practice at home and in your garden, on lead and off and then, when your puppy is allowed out, go for very short training walks so you puppy never learns to pull.

Do not think ‘good my puppy can go out’ and then proceed to take him on a specific walk. Your first walks need to be training walks.

It doesn’t matter if your first walks only last 5 minutes and you get no further than the first lamp post. These are short training sessions and will pay off handsomely in the long run if done properly.

Help is available

If you would like some help to stop you getting pulled on your walk by your dog. I promise, no jerks or painful methods used.


5 Things you do which can contribute to your pup’s bad behaviour

Accidental Potty Problems

As a dog owner, you should supervise your puppy at all times or confine him when you can’t be there. If you watch your puppy, you will start to recognise the signs that he needs to go to the toilet. You can also teach him to ring a bell to let you know that he needs to go out. Accidents will happen on the odd occasion but it’s your job to minimise the risk of it happening. This may mean using baby gates to confine the areas that your puppy is allowed to be in. However supervision is just a small part of it. It helps if you can work out your puppy’s routine around food. All puppies will want to go to the toilet after they have eaten. Some will go straight away and some will wait for anything up to 20 minutes. Puppies will also need to go to the toilet when they wake up and when they have been playing. When playing, look for the moment when your puppy suddenly stops and walks off. If your puppy does have an accident, don’t tell him off, just clear it up will as little fuss as possible, after all he is a baby and learning. Remember to praise him every time he goes in the right place.



Puppies are like babies and toddlers, they want to explore their environment and anything within reach is fair game. The only trouble is that they tend to chew to decide whether it is good or not and chewing also makes them feel good. So you need to minimise the risk of your puppy having something he shouldn’t. How is your dog possibly going to know the difference between that old slipper you have given him and your £800 Louboutin’s or that fluffy toy you bought him and your child’s favourite teddy? You need to control the environment. This means tidying up after yourself and putting things back where they belong after using them. If it isn’t meant to be chewed, then put it somewhere out of reach of your pup. Your puppy will sometimes need to chew though, so get him things he is allowed to chew. Deer antlers and kongs can be a good option.


Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety (where your puppy is very stressed and upset when you leave him which results in him crying, barking or ripping up your favourite pillows, or worse chewing holes in your couch or walls) is something that is very time consuming to correct which makes it important that it is not allowed to develop. Often new puppy owners get worried about leaving their puppy and the puppy can pick this up and then will be worried themselves, So the best thing to do is practise. Puppies, like babies need naps during the day, so put your puppy into his sleeping area, give him something to chew and then leave him. Initially, you can stay in the home but start to pop out for a short while and slowly build up the duration. When you come home, don’t make a big fuss. I know you are happy to see your puppy, but a lot of excitement from you is a very big difference to him being alone, so keep the greetings low key and you will help your pup to see these as part of life. If you are going to leave your puppy in a crate, play games so going into the crate is fun thing to do. If your puppy gets anxious when you are leaving him, get professional help as soon as possible. It is one of those things that is easy to help when it starts and very time consuming if allowed to become ingrained.



Some dogs just love to dig – luckily it is not all dogs but if you have one that digs, it can be hard to fix because they are usually doing it when they are in the garden on their own. I once had 4 Polish Lowland Sheepdogs that liked to help me in the garden and if I started digging a hole, I would have 4 noses in the hole too. Any shrubs and plants they saw me put in, they would helpfully dig them up for me as soon as I turned my back. I soon learnt to plant in secret if I wanted my plants to have a chance to grow. Luckily they didn’t dig at other times. If you see your dog, digging, distract him and fill the hole again. If he keeps digging holes, you will need to monitor him at all times so that you can distract or you could just set up a digging area for him and hide chews and toys in it. Your digging dog will love it.



Some people love their dog sitting in front of them watching you eat every morsel and some people always save a little bit of food for their pup thus guaranteeing that the puppy will be keeping a close eye on you ready for that little bit of food. But for some people, this is the worst thing ever and the easiest way to stop this happening is to teach your puppy food manners so that he knows to only pick food up off the floor when you have told him he can and you can also teach him where he should be when you are eating and cooking. I would suggest a mat or bed to lay on.


6 Human foods you should NOT feed your dog…

When it comes to pets, the most important thing is knowing what you can and cannot feed them. If you stick to a pretty decent doggy diet everything should be OK right? Wrong. There is in fact a ton of foods that you probably didn’t know about that can actually be really bad for your dog, including some foods that are perfectly healthy for us as humans. There is nothing worse than having your little pup suffer over a simple mistake in their diet.

  1. Chocolate

Chocolate is one of the most common foods that are bad for dogs. Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine which fall under the methylxanthines category making it toxic. It can cause the dog vomiting, dehydration, abdominal pains, severe agitation, muscle tremors, irregular heart rhythm, elevated body temperature, seizures and death.


2. Milk

Obviously; like humans, dogs drink milk from their mothers when they’re born. However, dogs can also suffer from lactose intolerance. Milk contains milk sugar that dogs don’t have the enzymes to break down. Consumption of milk could lead to vomiting, diarrhoea and other gastrointestinal problems. While it’s not immediately life-threatening, it can contribute to serious bacterial exposure in dogs that could eventually lead to disease.


  1. Grapes and raisins

Like Macadamia Nuts, grapes and raisins can be extremely toxic to dogs. While its currently unknown what chemicals and compounds are in grapes that cause toxicity to dogs, the results of consumption can be pretty bad. Grapes and raisins can cause rapid kidney failure. While it varies between dogs, symptoms may not show up in them. Other than kidney failure, dogs can also develop vomiting or diarrhoea as well as a lethargic state. Dogs will also develop dehydration and lack of appetite. Death from kidney failure may occur within three to four days.


  1. Onions

Onions will do more than just make your dog cry. Onions contain compounds that can be harmful to dogs if ingested enough. Onions can damage red blood cells in dogs causing them to become weaker and move around less. If enough onions are consumed, a blood transfusion might be necessary.


  1. Macadamia Nuts

One of the more recent discoveries, Macadamia Nuts can be incredibly harmful to dogs if they’re eaten. The specific chemicals found in macadamias are still unknown however they are known to cause a toxic reaction to dogs if ingested. Dogs will develop weakness and an inability to walk, specifically in their hind legs. Vomiting, staggering gait, depression, tremors and hypothermia can also be caused.


  1. Xylitol

Xylitol is a natural sugar alcohol found in berries, plums, lettuce, mushrooms, oats, some other fruits and hardwood trees. It is extremely toxic to dogs. It causes a large release of insulin which rapidly results in very low blood sugar. Some dogs will show symptoms within 10 minutes although it can take up to an hour. Chewing gum is a common source of Xylitol. One piece can make your dog extremely ill.


But, why not make a dog friendly cake? Maybe for their birthday, or even if you feel like you just want to treat them. Here’s how to do it…

Ingredients- Makes one doggy cake

  • 1 egg
  • 65g peanut butter
  • 60ml vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 80g honey
  • 135g grated carrot
  • 120 wholemeal flour
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Method – prep: 20 minutes > cook: 40 minutes > ready in: 1 hour

  • Preheat oven to 180 C / Gas 4. Grease a ring cake tin or medium square tin.
  • Combine the egg, peanut butter, oil, vanilla, and honey, if desired, in a large bowl; blend well. Stir in the carrots and mix thoroughly. Sift together the flour and bicarb and fold into the carrot mixture. Spoon cake mixture into prepared tin.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes. Let cake cool in pan for 10 minutes; then turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely


6 Reasons Why Dogs Are Family!


You love them as if they were actually family…

We all love our dog’s. Some of us possibly even more than our other halves… We can all quickly forgive our little pups, after all they are hard to stay angry at! They’re protective just like any other family member would be, when the door goes they’re barking as a sign of protection, although I can help stop your dog from barking at the door and waking your little baby up.

Your dog is included in everything you do

Whether it’s a quick trip down the road to the shop to get some milk, or wanting to go for a nice walk in the park, you include her. After all she is a part of the family! Even when you’re off on your holidays, she’s either coming with you or your finding her a nice place to stay for the week.

Your thinking about her when you’re out shopping

When you’re out looking for some new clothes or to grab the food shopping, you’ll sometimes come across cute things you know your pup would like so you throw it in the basket. Not because she’s spoilt, just because you take good care of her. You’d do the same for your kids, even if it’s something small, you know it’ll brighten your dog’s day!

No one can EVER say a bad word about your dog

When you have a tiff with your brother or sister, you can say what you want BUT it is never OK for someone else to say a bad word about one of your family members, and the same rule applies for your dog. Your dog will annoy you at times, and you can call them names out of anger, but no one else will ever be able to say a bad word because it’s YOUR dog!

Your life wouldn’t be the same without them!

When your dog becomes a member of your family, you start to miss them when you aren’t around them, just like your other half or your kids. It feels strange been away from them for a period of time! When you walk in to your house with your dog jumping at your feet with happiness, I’m pretty sure the feelings mutual.

They’re here to stay furever

No matter how hard life may be with a dog around, whether it be chewing your favourite pair of shoes or ruining your garden, if you value your dog as a true member of your family, that means they’re here to stay. Blood is thicker than water – you would never give up on your family so why should you give up on your dog?