Guidelines to Owning a Molosser Breed

Preface: I am inclined to write this due to a rise in popularity of a dog type I am passionate about. This type has suffered from misunderstanding and horrible representation in Hollywood/ Social media, and has been a victim of the lack of standards in the training industry. Of course this is true of all dogs, however, my heart is labeled “Molosser” so I wanted to give a brief explanation of the type without bias (though I fear the bias is clear). I am assuming that those reading this want to abstain from attempting to use intimidation and violence in their interactions with their dogs. I do not classify a subdued or scared dog as an obedient or “submissive” dog. Also as stated below not all dogs (or humans) will accept this treatment, some will self advocate and fight back. That is why I am writing this, so we can better understand these dogs and become handlers that exist in a fourth dimension of dog handling, education and practice. Our war dogs deserve it. 

What is a Molosser Dog?

The Molossus were dogs that were developed (the history prior to this is muddled and basically left to interpretation of cave drawings)  for ferocity and hard work by the Molossians. The lines evolved and were bred for war, guardianship of livestock, and catching large game or killing large predators, and were utilized and purposefully bred  by ancient Grecian and Roman military and royalty. The evolution of their aesthetics varied to meet geographical and cultural needs. Molosser dogs are the father of all of our mastiff breeds and flock guardianship breeds that we know today. 

Popular Molosser Breeds Remembering the Lineage is Well Developed:


Cane Corso


Presa Canario

Saint Bernards

Mastiffs (inclusive of all regions) 

Mountain Dogs

Bull dogs (Terrier influence should be noted) 

Dogo Argentino

Pyrenees Dogs


Cards to lay on the table.

“Good Temperment” is a fluid term as humans have very different ideas for what “good” is. For example, I like aggressive dogs that self advocate and who are of a more difficult temperament. Some people like dogs that are more tolerant. It varies. While all dogs DESERVE respect and predictable handling some dogs do ok when we do everything wrong. Others don’t. Just like humans. Some children can go through very tumultuous upbringings with no positive parental input and thrive. Others, in the same scenario, end up suffering and acting out  as victims of their environment. Temperament is very important to consider. If a breeder is highly focused on producing a tolerant, NATURALLY social, and biddable dog, it can be done, and puppies that don’t pass temperament tests would be culled or placed with capable handlers. Unfortunately, most breeders are breeding for money and aesthetics. Health and temperament hit the back burner and TEMPERAMENT reverts to the most default genetic tendencies for the breed. 

It is important at this juncture to remind ourselves what dominance is. Dominance is the first right to limited (or desirable) resources. Food, resting places, toys, affection (and control of who gets affection). Dominance is designed to reduce conflict. If everyone knows who makes decisions and who everything belongs to there is LESS conflict than if everything is constantly up for grabs. AGAIN, some dogs (and humans) care about dominance and some don’t. 

Dominance is NOT: alpha rolling( flipping the dog or rolling the dog on his back, or making him lay on his side), scruffing,  winning a physical battle, having your head higher, or being big and loud. It’s also not to be confused with obedience. A dominant dog (or person) can be obedient if it wants to, especially if he sees value in doing so. Dominance conflict can be prevented by practicing fair and violence free leadership and dominance while practicing management. 

Default settings for a Molosser dog: 

Suspicion:this dog will not naturally welcome change, strangers or new environments, may evolve into fear aggression without appropriate human intervention. This dog will often start new people off with an “F” and they shall earn their “A”. Valuable trait for a dog who’s job is to defend livestock, possessions and homes against predators, violence, and intruders.

Fight drive: as a response to conflict, threat, or pain this dog will respond prepared to fight. Valuable trait for a dog hunting large game, defending property, practicing protection, or war.

Naturally dominant: this dog will naturally assume that he has first right to resources and will notice ANY and all holes in family structure and fill them.This dog will NOT naturally accept discipline from outsiders or family members who he does not have an appropriate relationship with.  This dog may also view “innocent interaction” as challenges and/or threats/conflict IE: lingering eye contact, leaning over them, kissing them (being in their space uninvited), strangers addressing them, strangers or family member who don’t have the appropriate relationship giving them orders or preventing them from getting something they want, affection between humans, touching their stuff. Valuable trait for a dog that is designed to independently make decisions about family possessions, livestock and safety that could ultimately result in the loss of his life.

Territorial: this dog is very aware of his home. He will innately and intensely defend it. Unbridled territorial aggression naturally results in a fight to the death. He will unabashedly defend his home. He should not be unsupervised if this behavior is unwanted. Valuable trait in a dog designed to act like a 24/7 home defense system.

Tenacious: this dog (although HIGHLY intelligent) will not readily accept rules, training, or tasks as absolute truths. They need repetition, consistency, and predictability (especially during their formative years through sexual maturity). They will test boundaries, fortitude, and the constitution of their handlers.  All of the above will regress rapidly if handling, environment, or  leadership becomes unpredictable or waivers. Valuable trait for a dog designed to make independent decisions in the absence of supervision, under stress, or as a protector, that could ultimately result in the loss of his life. 

Work Ethic: this dog is highly motivated and fulfilled by having a purpose true to his genetics. IE: physical labor, guardianship, personal protection or a physically productive training, activity, and mental stimulation routine. The tenacity mentioned above will be readily translated into performance at work. They thrive with predictable expectations, meaning if they know what their “job” is and how to do it right they will give 100% IF the relationship with their handler is appropriate. This dog needs a physical and mental outlet. Walking around the block will not satisfy his drive to work and be successful. He needs to be challenged physically and mentally to thrive and be happy.  Valuable trait for a dog who is designed to be alert, and physically taxed, while remaining steadfast for hours, days, and over a lifetime. 

Relationship driven: while this dog is fully capable of having multiple, nuanced, and  fulfilling relationships, they often will “latch on” to whoever is actively practicing provision, leadership, and engaging with them. It is common for this dog to view family members who do not practice the aforementioned as a threat to the relationship with the one who does. They are fiercely loyal and have been called “a one handler dog,” or “a dog with eyes for one human.” This can certainly become the case without proper education and a family effort to understand and provide for this breed. Valuable trait in a dog designed to endure physical hardship to please his master, day after day. 

The traits above hopefully make a few things clear: This dog should never be put in a position to self- advocate. He should not be unsupervised with new people, children, or be allowed to approach or be approached by new people or dogs in public. He should not be manhandled, or engage in rough play that includes physicality (slap boxing, wrestling etc.) He is a capable and powerful dog who prefers to have his personal space respected, but may invade yours. He is a hard worker who will gladly give his life for the ones he loves if he has the right relationship.

Now would be a good time to remind ourselves WHY we got a dog and specifically why we got this breed. We got a dog because we wanted a relationship. I can’t speak for everyone, But, I chose a Molossoid because I wanted wreckless love and loyalty, fierce protection, and because I ENJOY the standard of respect, relationship, and technical handling that they hold me to. Relationships are a two way street. Here is the perfect place to segue to CYNOPRAXIS: The lifestyle, training, management, and long term expectations should benefit the handler AND THE DOG “honestly”. I say “honestly” because one cannot be truly happy and fulfilled if they are not able to be in touch with their passions, talents, and drives (drive is something we are BORN with).

If I am a naturally driven musician and my family insists I become a mathematician this is not Cynopraxic. If me being a mathematician makes them happy, they could do 1 of 4 things: A) they could trade me in for  a mathematician and find me a home full of musicians, B) they can incorporate music into the math that we sometimes do, C)  they can realize that music is the key to my heart and ditch the math and be sad. D) they can ignore my inner musician and spend their days trying to make me a mathematician. Which is Cynopraxic? A and B are Cynopraxic because both parties, dog and handler, are happy and fulfilled. 

In conclusion: proactive breeding can alter temperament “default settings” some…but if our goal is to have a dog who is a social butterfly, that needs little input to handle, or that will naturally accept unpredictability in their relationships a Molossoid is not for us. As humans who love dogs it is our job to educate ourselves so that we can be responsible and effective handlers for our war dogs. 

Things to bank on if you own a Molosser Dog or are thinking of getting one:

This dog will require work, dedication, and respect for who he is, from his handler

This dog will challenge rules, people, environments, and training.

It is not all in how we raise them. Genetics are a key contributor to animal behavior.

This dog will protest against a willy nilly, unpredictable relationships, and environment (side note: do we like unpredictable relationships? Do we enjoy hanging out with people who we don’t know when they will be happy, mad, sad or what we did to influence their reactions? NO! It is understandable that a dog wouldn’t either) 

Why Foundation Style Dog Training?

I set high standards for myself and for the people that choose to hire me to help them with their dogs.  These standards come from years of feeling fear, shame, and confusion in my interactions with animals. Interactions that were based on repeating and mimicking what I was taught and cognitive dissonance that eventually became impossible to maintain. I reached a point in my personal life that changed everything and set me up to be teachable and ready to accept that I had made mistakes. While I can’t go back and undo my past, I can be rigorously accountable and remember those animals in each interaction I have now. 

I want to share why FSDT is the high standard that we adhere to and how it is different. My goal is transparency and to help you advocate for your dog based on an understanding of facts about this industry and facts about animal behavioral sciences. 

Most dog training curriculum revolves around how to mimic or implement a protocol to change a behavioral issue with the focus on obedience. Although obedience is a vital part of the process, learning about the dog as a whole, or the science of behavioral modification, is not included in the curriculum, and taking a dog away from a handler or owner to “train” it, is not the same as being able to teach a handler or owner how to build a relationship with their dog. 

Most “certifications” require a subscription to an ideology as defined by the creator of the ideology, regardless if it contradicts psychology, and the science of behavior. Gaps in scientifically accurate curriculum are filled with subscription based diagnosis, and excuses for why the training did not have favorable outcomes, including neurosis. 

Because there are no standards in this industry, there are thousands of dog trainers. Consumers can surely find someone who will tell them what they want to hear, vindicating personal feelings, and attitudes, without any competency substantiated. The rhetoric is “everyone has their own style”. Certainly we all have different personalities and abilities, but in this industry, a person can create their own truth and sell it, with no consequences for the destruction they leave in their wake, calling it their “style”. 

Because this is a results based industry, it often doesn’t matter what is done to achieve results. 

For example: In my pre FSDT days, I worked with a reactive german shepherd. Every time she would bark, lunge, or even look at another animal she would get cranked on, and yelled at. She got to where we could walk or run past anything, reaction free, within a very short amount of time. Her owner only had to pop the leash to get the same results. People who knew the dog raved about how amazing I was, and how they never thought the dog would be able to behave like that. Well, the owner was not willing to handle her dog the way I did and after a while the behavior returned. Of course I blamed her for not doing what needed to be done, and I always justified my behavior with something like “a bite is a bite” or she is a german shepard this is how you have to handle her, or she will turn on you, or hurt someone else. 

I have more stories like this than I would like to admit. I learned to train this way initially with horses, then dogs, from the people who I perceived to be doing the most advanced work in the field. Celebrity trainers, military, and police trainers. Unfortunately, this methodology is common (The Koehler Method) and is in large part responsible for the positive only marketing platform. 

Things that seem so common sense now (making sure a dog understands the expectations, BEFORE adding compulsion, praising the dog for an achievement, rather than to soften the blow of overcorrection, not relying on intimidation as motivation, not correcting confusion, not punishing emotional responses) were never a part of the conversation. Symposiums, 72 hour courses, jobs based on what tools I used, and pats on the back for not being afraid to “handle” (roughly) certain breeds, were the norm. 

Here are some qualifications from a job search site for “balanced dog trainers” in our area. There are a TON of openings for “positive only” trainers and what is important to note is: the term “positive only” is a misuse of operant conditioning definitively, misleading consumers, with their use of LIMA being fraudulent and fundamentally incorrect. ****Stephen Lindsay defines LIMA in his texts Volumes 1-3. 

I removed the names of these companies as the point is not to point out individuals rather an industry wide problem. 

Formal training is (14 days) provided FREE of cost in Southern Ca. Your only INVESTMENT is to provide your own travel, lodging to “town”  Ca and purchase kennels to use at your home for board and trains. The training course certifies you as an official “NAME OF COMPANY” TRAINER, absolutely FREE! After a short probationary period, trainer will make up to $20 hr per private lesson as well as $900 per 2wk board and train successful completion. This rate will increase to 1000.00 per B/T and 30.00 hr after 6 months of employment with no negative remarks/counselings.

How is someone going to learn how to off leash train a dog humanely in 14 days? 

Great to Have, but Not Required:

  • At least 1 year of previous experience working in a kennel, dog handling, or working with dogs in a professional setting
  • Vet tech certification
  • CPR certification, humans or dogs
  • Dog training experience is a plus

Experience is a plus? 

Here is an ad for a certification program.

Fundamentals of Dog Behavior and Training 1

Starting at $4905.00 includes:

  • 5-days (40 hours total) of Training from “celebrity trainer” and his Training Team
  • All tools and workbooks required for program
  • Student dog spots available
  • Certificate of completion
  • Orientation Dinner on Wednesday Evening
  • Catered lunch each day of class
  • Graduation Celebration on Sunday Evening
  • Professional photos throughout the event
  • Drinks and Snacks available throughout the day
  • Discounted hotel room rates with the host hotel
  • Access to the Training “Celebrity trainer’s” private Facebook page
  • Installment Plan available

The main “gain” is celebrity affiliations rather than an education. 5 days. 

FSDT requires a working knowledge and understanding of the historical studies and compilations of data that are recognized and qualified by ethologists, biologists, and psychologists. Information that is pulled from the genius works of history’s giants like B.F. Skinner, Pavlov,  Dmitri Belyaev, Lyudmila Trut, and Clarence Pfaffenberger (to name a few), and how it relates to LIMA as defined by Steven Lindsay. Obedience is broken down into phases that reflect an understanding of the above and how it applies to our goals for our personal or working dogs. In short: obedience without sacrificing relationships or disrespecting the dog. No rushing, no hacks. 

My certification included the following and took just over a year to complete. My mentorship continues to this day. I am still learning! During the course, I had to show a fundamental understanding of the material AND competent application on multiple dogs. I continue to submit videos of our sessions for critiques, especially as I learn new things like scent detection, and how to accomplish specialty training without deviating from LIMA and FSDT, without cutting corners. 

Canine Behavior

In the Beginning


Body Language

Know Your Traits

Back to the Roots

Behavior Problems





External Parasites

Internal Parasites

Effects of Neutering

Health and Behavior


The Importance of Attitude in the Profession

Applied Behavior Analysis

Intro to Applied Behavior Analysis

Establishing Operations

Classical Conditioning

Extinction, Spontaneous Recovery, Generalization, Discrimination

Operant Conditioning

Shaping and Chaining

Reward Schedules

Innate vs Learned Behaviors

Escape and Avoidance Conditioning

Observational Learning

Non associative learning


Premack Principle

Biological Constraints on Learning

Task Analysis


Intro to Leadership


Phase 1 Habitation

Phase 2 Habitation

Phase 3 Habitation

Drive Balance

Recognizing a problem

Finding balance


The nature of anxiety

Making the plan


What does it really mean?

Phase 1 Training

Phase 2 Training

Phase 3 Training

Phase 4 Training


Forming and Changing


Short term and long term

Animal Rescues and Shelters

the Problem


The Working Dog

Specialized Training

Dog Business

Housing Dogs


Every dog and handler I have worked with since my FSDT journey started has been an amazing reminder of what it was like and how much better it is now. The problem in this industry is that no one is required to make the effort to understand or learn anything about canine behavior and psychology, or be truthful and ethical in their practices or marketing. You deserve better and your dogs deserve better. 


The word respect has come up quite a bit recently and it got me thinking, not just in relation to dog training but in life in general, the word respect for many people has a connotation of fear and inferiority.

For example: “you WILL respect me”….what does that even mean? It’s the same as saying “you WILL love me”.

In reflection I have never had “respect” for any one who scared me. I have felt resentment, anger, sadness, and wanted to get away from people who made me feel fear. The people I have respected have always been people who were able to teach me something, mentor me, and made me feel like I mattered.

I have always played sports, apprenticed under animal trainers, and have dealt with various personalities, the ones I respected the most, I learned the most from, I trusted, and was never afraid. I never had to walk on eggshells or coddle their egos so that they didn’t explode. And they didn’t coddle me either, but when they told me I was wrong, there was a learning experience involved and clarity in why I received the correction.

Now pretend your dog wrote that.

It’s best to look at things definitely. Here are the definitions of respect, fear, and trust.



  1. A very unpleasant or disturbing feeling caused by the presence or imminence of danger.
  2. A state or condition marked by this feeling.
  3. A feeling of disquiet or apprehension.

Does my dog feel this way around me or in situations I put them in?


  1. Firm belief in the integrity, ability, or character of a person or thing; confidence or reliance.
  2. The condition and resulting obligation of having confidence placed in one.
  3. One in which confidence is placed.

Can my dog believe firmly in my integrity, ability and character? Is fear involved in trust?


  1. To feel or show deferential regard for; esteem or admire.
  2. To avoid interfering with or intruding upon.
  3. To avoid violating.

Do I practice definitive respect when working with my animals?

Respect is one of our core values, but it isn’t there for the dogs to read. It’s there for us, the handlers, to practice. Definitively, fear CANNOT create respect, or trust. Respect, definitively, is not a part of a superior/inferior relationship.

To practice respect we have to perceive value in the recipient of our respect. We have to perceive worth, and most importantly we have to feel like we can benefit from showing them respect.

To behave respectfully we have to think respectfully.

We can’t change the way we think without furthering our education. Incompetence in the animal world is wrought with cognitive dissonance, redefining terms, and blaming the animals for human error and ignorance.

Do I really feel that the animals I work with deserve respect ALL the time? Or if I am frustrated, or if they do something I don’t understand, is it ethical for me to use fear to get the results I want?

The difference is education.

Unraveling the confusion around the word: Dominance.

Let’s just keep this simple and work definitively:

noun: dominance

  1. power and influence over others.

noun: power; plural noun: powers

  1. the ability to do something or act in a particular way, especially as a faculty or quality.”the power of speech”
  2. the capacity or ability to direct or influence the behavior of others or the course of events.”she had me under her power.

noun influence

  1. the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself.

So what do dogs naturally seek to have power or influence over?

The 4 most obvious things are: FOOD, RESTING PLACES, ACTIVITY, & AFFECTION.

When a dog has open access to or MAKES DECISIONS regarding these things they will defend them as rightfully theirs. Dominance is having FIRST right to limited or valued resources. When a dog is in this position they may also defend their ownership and leadership over household members (pack members). An example of this is a dog biting a child because he is in competition for maintaining his control or power over affection received from mom, or the couch. So, how does this apply to our dogs and providing leadership in our homes?

First, we need to understand that dogs do accept humans as part of their pack. We know that packs include hierarchy subsequent to maturity (meaning a littler of pups will establish their own hierarchy scale but still all be below adult dogs….puppies can view adult humans as “litter mates” or equals). Knowing this we need to assume that if there is not leadership present our dogs will will assume the dominant or leadership position. Referencing the definitions above we can see that controlling the resources listed in a productive manner would be the easy way to establish dominance.

How do we control food? controlling when the dog eats (not free feeding) and having the dog earn it by performing a task before eating like going on a productive walk, or using their food as training “treats”.

How do we control resting places? Creating a clear variance between the dog’s allocated resting places and ours. Resting places are VERY important to dogs. Their bed should their bed. Babies, children and visitors should not disturb the dog on its bed. The couch and our beds can easily be viewed (and defended) by the dog as theirs. If a dog believes they are in ownership of a resting place (our bed or the couch) it is only natural that they would bite to discipline anyone for disturbing it. Some dogs are more tolerant than others but this is something to evaluate as many “unprovoked attacks” are over resting places.

How do we control activity? by deciding when it starts and when it ends, instead of waiting for our dog to bring us the toy to play fetch or waiting for our dog to sit by the door to go out or on a walk, beat them to punch. Call your dog outside for a game of fetch, go for a walk, or to do some obedience work. Pick up toys in the house when you are home so that you can present the toy to they dog with value and intention.

How do we control affection? by deciding when it happens and timing it to create value. If our dogs receive solicited affection then they are controlling it. Instead of loving on our dogs at their request call them over to give them lovies, keep it short and sweet or offer it after a behavior has been executed properly. Verbal affection matters too….does your dog earn the lovely smushy talk or does it happen all the time? By saying when and why our dogs receive affection we are controlling a very important resource. We want our love to mean something so we can use it as a reward. Overdoing it or letting our pups control it devalues it immensely and can set them up to react negatively if they are not in the mood for it. The exception here is the greeting, when you get home and your pup is happy to see you and you them… it up!

NO where in the definitions do we see reference to violence, “alpha rolling”, or “showing the dog who’s boss”.

It is simply deciding when and how valued resources are utilized and dispersed. BY practicing leadership and dominance (meaning the human has FIRST right to limited recourses) we are communicating to our dog’s DNA very clear expectations.

By controlling these simple things consistently we can establish ourselves as leaders. When we lead and provide for our dogs, teach them obedience fairly, and socialize them calmly, we can prevent confusion, dominance aggression and most importantly we can have heartfelt and meaningful relationships with our dogs.

Training Tip: Research your breed or dog type!

There has been a pretty big movement over the last decade that pushes for a “love is all you need” attitude towards our dogs: “dogs are all the same….it’s all in how you raise them”.

The TRUTH is that genetics matter a GREAT deal and most certainly translate into behavior, talent, limitations, training needs and capabilities. It is important to know what the breed or type (if you are getting a mix) of dog you have. Selective breeding for 100’s and 100’s of years does not dissipate simply because I want a house pet and even more importantly: WE CANNOT FAIRLY TRAIN AWAY GENETICALLY INDUCED BEHAVIORS OR INSTINCTS ALTHOUGH, SOME TRAINING METHODS WILL UNFAIRLY SUBDUE THEM.

There are methods that subdue dogs and make them miserable for being themselves….(sort of like punishing Vincent Van Gogh for wanting to paint….) and there are training methods that will develop dogs in a fair and healthy way; while educating handlers on how to TAP INTO THEIR DOG’S GENETIC TALENTS and feed their dog’s needs.

One thing that all dogs have in common is that they were all bred to serve a purpose…if we know what that purpose is and how to tap into that we can help our dogs be the best they can be!!

For a successful relationship with your dog research and know the types, breeds and their purposes. Interview your trainer….do they know your dog type? Do they like your dog type?It will set a solid foundation for training, leadership, behavior and expectations and working with nature instead of against it.

Passion. Knowledge. Respect

Retroactive Punishment


A huge misconception in disciplinary action for misbehavior in dogs is: that they can understand retroactive punishment.

If I don’t do my homework on Monday, and my mom finds out on Friday, and I get grounded on Sunday; I can understand: “I’m grounded today because I didn’t do my homework earlier this week”. I won’t like it, but I’ll understand it. Our dogs cannot. Our dogs can only understand us in the moment.

If my dog chews the remote while I am at work and then hears me come in the door, she gets excited to see me. I’m excited to see her, then I see the remote. My demeanor changes. I pick up the remote hold it in front of me and scold her or spank her with it. She cowers, licks her lips and drops her head. We went from a happy exchange to complete negativity and she doesn’t know why. She may associate that negative energy with the remote and never touch it again….but not because I taught her anything… because I created a negative association. She doesn’t think…”oh mom is mad now because I ate the remote”. She only knows that in that moment of confusion and negativity the remote was in my hand and that it happened when she was excited to see me return.

When I think of what I want from my dog I want: bravery, loyalty, partnership, love and protection. If I punish without explanation, cue development, and most importantly a fair chance to have an appropriate outlet for energy, I become unpredictable.

I cause her to be: timid, nervous, anxious, and unsure of expectation and I create holes in my leadership position. There are numerous negative side effects that may grow from there. Including fear based anxiety and possibly aggression. I must set my dog up for success. I must remove chances for unwanted behavior (putting the trash out of reach, picking up the remote) and provide an alternative outlet for energy (exercise before I leave, mental stimulation, toys etc). A great tool is watching “guilty dog” videos. Watching the body language can really help us see the misunderstanding. The dogs don’t feel “guilty”….they feel scared and confused.

Knowledge. Respect. Passion.

Attitude: Change our verbiage to change our attitudes to improve our relationships.

We all know our thought life manifests into speech which in turn manifests into action. Our attitudes towards our dogs directly impacts how we treat them and how effective our training will be.

If we think of our dog and refer to our dog as a jerk….its easy to transfer that attitude into misreading behavior and allowing unfair punishments or management plans.

The wrong or negative attitude toward our dogs blurs our vision and allows for poor diagnosis of behaviors that directly leads to poor management that creates a cycle of unwanted behavior and frustration.

How do we fix this?

Here are some tips: Research your breed (or type) look for descriptive words and ask where they fit and how they could be applied to ours dogs behavior and, sometimes, help us accept them for what they were designed to be.

Learn about canine body language, not only is it super cool, but it will help clear up communication attempts from our dogs.

Examples: Mastiffs-many refer to them as stubborn but they were bred for tenacity and steadfastness.

Aussies- many refer to them as crazy with too much energy but they were bred for athletic and mental stamina, problem solving, and a strong desire to work.

If we have the correct vision and attitude toward our dogs and understand their genetic dispositions we can properly view their behavior and create appropriate and fair training programs.

A few common descriptive words we can change for more accuracy are:

SPITEFUL- this one I usually hear in reference to house breaking “he pooped on my shoes because he is mad at me”, “he chewed on my sweater because he doesn’t like my new boyfriend”.

Lets change this out for: improperly managed


When agitated or frustrated its OK to walk away and cool off…we always strive to be COOL like Fonzy and remember….we LOOOOOVVVVVVEEEEE our angels and they want to please us.

WHAT POSITIVE WORDS WOULD YOU USE TO DESCRIBE YOUR DOG? For any questions feel free to reach out.


Training Tip: SKIP THE DOG PARK!

Dog parks are quite an anomaly, mixing strange dogs and people in a gated environment to play. The biggest argument FOR dog parks is that they teach dogs to be social and offer them great exercise.

So why skip it?


NOUN.1. the process of learning to behave in a way that is acceptable to society. “preschool starts the process of socialization”

There is often confusion that “socializing our dog” means: letting people (strangers) pet them and letting them play with other dogs at dog parks or meeting other dogs on leash. Most people want to be able to take their dogs places with them and have a productive and calm experience. Steps to achieve this: 1) practice obedience in low stimulation environments leading up to more difficult environments 2) Have our dog’s back: practice environmental awareness so that we can prevent unnecessary or counterproductive interactions. 3) Just say “no” to strangers touching and interacting with our dogs.

Things to ponder regarding interactions with strangers and other dogs:

1. Socializing with and accepting strangers is not a natural behavior for dogs. Although dogs do make friends and some dogs do enjoy playing with others, asking them to enter an enclosure with a high stimulation level is a set up for failure, and for our dogs to be put on the defense. It does not give them a natural and proper social introduction sequence, and since body language is everything between dogs, it can escalate quickly if a dog is unsure or if a dominant dog enters to meet other dominant dogs, already there. This is also true when dogs are leash. Their whole countenance is altered by the handler’s presence and the barrier created by their attachment to the dog.

2. Running around at the dog park does NOT equal socialization. Socialization is the ability to behave in socially acceptable ways in social settings. We don’t learn table manners playing at the park, we learn them at home at the dinner table, or etiquette classes. Playing with other dogs can be a part of social skills (if done in a controlled environment) but it doesn’t have to be. Socialized dogs are dogs that can be in public, that are not nervous around people moving by, cars, stimulation etc.

Socialization DOES NOT MEAN: accepting of strangers touching them. It means they can maintain manners in a social setting without becoming stressed. If we allow strangers to handle our dogs ESPECIALLY if our dogs exhibit stress signals or avoidance, it can not only begin the warning and bite sequence, but it can damage our dogs trust in us to keep them safe. Most dogs do not appreciate strangers sticking their hands in their faces, bending over them or even making hard eye contact. Of course, genetics plays a huge part in the dogs’ reactions. IF a dog does enjoy interactions with strange humans, and they are allowed to interact with people on the walk, it makes it difficult and unfair for us to correct them for being excited and/or reactive when a person walks by. If they associate strangers approaching to excitement it is counter-intuitive to having a calm and collected dog in public settings; as well as making a formal heel in high stimulus situations much harder to train.

3. Taking dogs to the dog park for exercise can be very dangerous. Dogs that have not been worked are full of pent up energy. Using other people’s dogs as targets to release that energy is just not safe. Even if every dog there was from a home with perfect leadership and training, the initial outburst that happens when our dogs get to run is often frantic and can trigger other dogs to react.

4. People (including children) are present. So many fights occur at dog parks over a dog or handler getting between a dog and its person or children being children. Even if a dog is 20 ft away from his owner, another dog trotting through that space with body language he doesn’t like can trigger a very serious reaction and fight. Kids and other people reaching down to touch dogs that aren’t theirs can trigger a bite (a natural reaction to a stranger approaching) people leaving leashes on can create unnatural posturing and trigger a fight.

5. The dog that bites gets in trouble even if he did so appropriately. If a bite is never acceptable then behavior that provokes a bite, in an uncontrolled environment, shouldn’t be engaged in. Dogs posturing and antagonizing other dogs go unnoticed, but the dog that bites gets busted and labeled aggressive. Often small dogs are mixed with large dogs and they get hurt. Dogs that are not socialized or don’t respect space can trigger appropriate bite responses from other dogs….and depending on the breed the damage can be severe. Accepting that it is natural for our dogs to reject or not engage with strangers and to focus affection and play with in their inner circles, and that this pack drive can be driven genetically, is a huge step in the direction of beautiful relationship building.

For clarification of any blogged information please feel free to reach out! I am here for you!


How do I find a legitimate dog trainer in an un-standardized industry?

Choosing a dog trainer is one of the most important decisions you will make for your family, and there is so much controversial info and quick fix marketing that it can make your head spin.

Franchises, trainers, and training collages have no standards holding them accountable.

Yes, read that again: Franchises, trainers, and training collages have no standards holding them accountable.

There is no one you can call if a trainer breaks your dog to measure their behavior or hold them accountable.

There is no standard for the information your trainer gives you regarding your dog. In a world where we push so hard for animal rights…. that all seems to go away when it comes to training, especially if we are already frustrated with our dogs.

So…. now what?! Well, there is plenty of science and research into animal behavior and animal training…..that supports operant conditioning, that animals will seek the path of least resistance, respond to boundaries and conflict, that dogs ARE pack animals and DO transfer dominant behavior toward humans if there is not fair leadership.

TONS OF IT….and, it isn’t new.

Dogs are NOT linear thinkers, they do feel pain and fear. They do understand hierarchy of leadership (genetically), they do want balance and peace in their packs (genetically). They do want to please and have a good relationship with their leaders (genetically). They understand boundaries and can respond positively to corrections when they are fairly taught expectations .Have you ever seen a dog and human interact fairly, calmly, and as a team? Yes?….well…. you and your dog can too. Ask your trainer to explain their training plan specific for your dog and the mechanics of how it works. Ask them about possible side effects from their training method. Ask them to explain and define: positive punishment, negative reinforcement, dominance, leadership, house breaking, body language etc. YOU ARE YOUR DOGS ONLY ADVOCATE FIND A TRAINER WHO WILL ADVOCATE FOR YOUR AND YOUR DOG’S FUTURE.

Ask them who their favorite trainers are….then watch those trainers and see if they are someone you want to learn from. Ask them to explain cue development, what devices they use and when and how they utilize them. Ask them if punishment is used before cue development. Run for the hills if they leave you with a device in your hand to hit, throw, bonk, hang or scare your dog with. Punishment and corrections are absolutely part of training and so are reward schedules BUT overnight, quick fix programs are as real as the Easter Bunny. Suppressing an animal is only tactically sound if you enjoy coexisting with an animal that is miserable, living in fear and doesn’t trust you. A huge part of successful training is relationship and leadership. That does not occur on a first date basis. Any trainer who is worth their salt will put education and the welfare of you and your dog before their ego….they should be open to regulation (if they have nothing to hide) and they should have mentors to answer questions that they may not have answers to. They should not be afraid to explain that training takes time and may include challenges. Unfortunately, the people spreading the most information are not always the most educated, they are the best marketers.

With that said, I am mentored by Mike D’ Abruzzo at K9-1. He is leading the way in fighting for industry standards and teaching science based dog training. Dog training that can be replicated by owners because it makes sense, feels good and doesn’t require a magic wand.

About K9-1 and the Foundation Style Dog Training System