Mixing Methodologies

Posted on 07/15/11 61 Comments

Okay, I just love this photo of the “great white” from yesterday’s video, yes this is my special “DeeDog” girle “DeCaff.” She claims not guilty, I tend to believe her as all our dogs are just a product of what we know.

To follow up on yesterday’s blog post about the impact of “corrections” on relationships I would like to reply to a couple more comments from my recent webinar series on “Struggles in Dog Training”

Janet Lewis who wrote:

I love the basic approach to YOUR style of training…and it makes a ton of sense. I am less enamored with your characterization of ‘traditional’ dog training…‘just say no, bad dog’, punish, correct. I am more of a middle ground and would ask you what is wrong with telling the puppy TWO things…‘do this’ and ’don’t do that’. I am not assuming any kind of non informational training…every time a do not is given, it is immediatly followed by a ‘do’, Sometimes ‘do not’s ’ can save a dog’s life.

Really I have two main reasons why I don’t suggest blending the “Do & Do not” in your dog training.

First of all having experimented with this 15 years ago with my own students what I found is that by giving people permission to mix both, you make it next to impossible to remove the innate instinct for people to punish. Yes they try to be positive but when frustrations hits — their instinct is to blame the dog.

“Violence begins where knowledge ends”

This great quote which is sometimes attributed to Abraham Lincoln but I first saw in Sheila Booth’s book “Purely Positive”, is clearly demonstrated at any busy fast food restaurant on a Friday night and in any “mixed” dog training philosophy when things aren’t going as planned. People can try to be positive but when they don’t know what to do they allow their irritation to bubble over into some sort of punitive act of aggression (regardless of how benign people believe it to be). More often then not, the dog trainer gets rewarded for their act — likely because of the shock value – the unsuspecting animal can no longer trust what may happen next so the stop what they are doing at that moment (but do not necessarily learn to not try it again).

The further along I get in dog training the more I realize that well planned and carefully executed dog training eliminates the need for “do not do this.” If you follow my suggested trio from the webinar of

“Redirect – Manage – Fix” 

with your struggles, you will find the need for “do not” pretty much is goes away.

The struggle comes when people try to jump from a traditional basis dog training to “Do-land” (where I DO  live with my dogs). There is a gap — they become paralyzed when the dog misbehaves. Their instincts tell them to physically correct the “guilty dog” but their heart tells them to stay in “Do-Land” and so in response to this struggle; they do nothing.

Doing nothing is not want I am suggesting either because “nothing” rewards the dog’s choice to choose incorrectly in the first place. I am not suggesting unwanted behaviours are allowed to continue until a time you can motivate a dog to make a better choice — because the reward value of performing the response will make it more than difficult to counter. For example if you want your dog NOT to bark at ringside while other dogs are running and your tactic is to stand at ringside and ignore the barking until it stops so you can reward it — you likely will have to wait until there are no more dogs in the ring. Very ineffective.

So here is a critical tip in bridging the gap between a world of corrections and Do-Land. When your dog starts an undesired behaviour you must


Traditionally that may have happened with an “aaah aaah” but as my dogs are living proof of— that is not necessary. Not since 1994 (when I left the world combining of “Do and Do not”) has any dog I have ever raised her a heard a verbal correction. If you can accomplish amazing results without out it (which I somewhat biasly think my dogs are amazing pets and their performance accomplishments speak for themselves) so if you can have it all without the “do nots” why not come all the way over to “Do-Land?”

How about those of you out there, what was your “transition” like when you decided to come over to “Do-Land.” What is your relationships like with your dogs and what about your dog’s standard of performance. I am welcome all comments but am  particularly curious of those of you that have joined in the Say Yes program of dog training (which I, acknowledging an obvious bias, think perhaps is a more accurate representation of the practical applications of the science of dog training than some examples of a “positive” program).

Please when you leave your comments try not to be judgemental of other people or methods, rather just express the joy you have for the choices you have made for you and your dog in your training.

More to come, thanks to all for leaving thought provoking comments on the webinars.  In case you didn’t see my newsletter I sent out yesterday, I have a new plan! In response to the amazing comments on I have received,  I have decided to have these popular “Struggles in Dog Training” webinars transcribed and put into an ebook which I will give away to everyone that signs up for Puppy Peaks!

Today I am grateful for some cooler weather so I can get outside and train my dogs, have a great weekend everyone — I will be seeing some of you in Italy next week!


  1. sharon empson says:
    Monday, December 3, 2012 at 6:02pm

    I just wanted to say that I do not use physical corrections with my dogs and they are happy, love to work for me dogs! The way I avoid having to make corrections (physical) is :
    1- I work with them slowly and reward them greatly when they do what I am asking of them.
    2- I allow my dogs to make mistakes, when they do, they do not get rewards.
    3- I also make sure they get plently of distractions once they have mastered a certain behavior.
    4- I always check up on me to see where I have gone wrong when my dog makes a mistake. I have found 9 times out of 10 it is me.

    It does take more time to do it the positive way and for me it takes just as long to figure out my training plan for each behavior. But it is well worth it.
    I have extraordinary adopted all american dogs!

    I do not fault with those who use other methods, they just aren’t for me.

    sharon empson


  2. Diane says:
    Sunday, January 15, 2012 at 10:24pm

    My biggest difficulty in avoiding verbal “corrections” is that have trouble hiding my disappointment/frustration. I’m usually disappointed in myself rather than the dog, but that doesn’t matter. She realizes that I’m disappointed and the emotion acts as punishment/stress/etc. I also stress far too much (competition/new instructor/class/etc). My stress leads to her stress. This bothers my vizsla much more than my dachshund. I’m also still working on stopping the “eh” response. Need help training myself.

    Active training is done in “do-land”. I went from Excellent (where stress sniffing was a problem) back to novice preferred and this was a great help with the ring nerves. Now in Open again and we may try excellent again if I can keep from freaking out on the “any mistake is an NQ, now” thought.

    I’m the limiting factor. Ideas for ring stress and training the human to avoiding poor reactions (disappointment, the dreaded “eh” tone of voice, etc) would be wonderful.



  3. Ruth says:
    Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 1:49am

    I’ve been ‘Do’ing it for almost a year now after quite a few years of ‘Don’t” and what a difference it makes! If only my poor dog had the benefit of ‘Do’ land his whole life. I train at a club still big on the ‘Don’t’ methodology and ‘Aaaah’ makes me cringe. The changes I’ve seen in my issue laden dog since taking on Susan’s practices gives me the confidence to encourage others to change their perspective and ‘Do’ things the Say Yes way. The fallout of ‘Don’t’ is so incompatible with the joy of ‘Do’ that it does not make sense to try and combine these methodologies. I love watching my dog make good choices and have confidence to try again after years of shut down, timid and reactive behaviours. Our relationship is getting stronger through ‘Do’ing not ‘Don’t’ing.


  4. Susan says:
    Thursday, July 21, 2011 at 4:14pm

    I love the feeling I get when I walk down my rural road, my dog trotting by my side — loose leash, wagging tail (hers, not mine), peace. I owe it all to “Do Land.” However, after working diligently for two years, Do Land couldn’t get rid of my rescue dogs aggression — barking and charging people. I have tried everything I can think of — read the books, watched the videos, sought out advice. I have reinforced good behavior till I am blue in the face. Still the barking and charging. Has anyone else had success with Do Land training and aggression?


    • Andreja says:
      Sunday, July 24, 2011 at 2:21pm

      I have. My dog became fear agressive toward other dogs after an incident earlier this year. No amount of punishment can cure fear, but Do Land can.

      I taught him to look at the dog (at a distance), then look at me, repeat ad infinitum, never asking him for more than he was comfortable with. This is Look At That (LAT) method, heavily used in Leslie McDevit’s Control Unleashed.

      Two months later he is 99% “cured” of his fears.


    • Laura says:
      Monday, July 25, 2011 at 7:46am

      Use of counter-conditioning (which fits with the “Do-Land” philosophy) is usually successful for fear or agression.


    • Jenny Yasi says:
      Monday, July 25, 2011 at 8:35am

      I understand your frustration. I have one dog who, from earliest puppyhood(at least from 8 weeks when I got her), was terrified of other dogs. Around 10 months, after months of counter conditioning (reinforcing her for relaxing around other dogs), a big off-leash neighbordog came bouncing assertively into our walk, she reacted and barked, he tucked tail and ran. Wow, did that ever reinforce her first attempt at barking! Before that, she had cried, whined, knees knocked, teeth chattered only. After discovering that barking “works” wow, she has never forgotten it.

      But she is much better. I think it is a matter of knowing how to “drive” your dog. Some dogs are standard, others are automatic. I can’t operate Tigerlily the same way I operate Bee. Recently, I brought all my dogs to a festival and walked them through it one at a time. Bee is socially awesome, she just doesn’t react in the slightest to hardly anything,except her head halter, which she tried to rub off and that was annoying, but socially, she was friendly and relaxed with everything. Charlie was a but nervous, but only showed it by pooping several times in a row, and so then I put him away. Tigerlily, my 6 year old star performer, embarassed the crap out of me by barking “aggressively” (its all a big show, she is just trying to scare scary things away) at any dog that she saw before I saw it. As long as I see the dog first so that it doesn’t surprise her, I can typically cue her to look at it and back at me (“See the dog?” she looks, and I click and treat), and she stays quiet anyway. But if a dog startles her, she reacts. So believe it or not, while still imperfect, this is a BIG HUGE improvement compared to how she used to be. But I have to be vigilant. Her reactions now are also much shorter, and then when she has vented a little bit, three seconds of barking, she settles down and tolerates whatever hairy beast frightened her.

      So, if I “drive” her correctly — which means, knowing how she is, and not being surprised by how she feels, but anticipating it and giving her the space and advance warning that she needs, she does great. This is definitely an example of a time where “Don’t” land would have landed me in worse trouble I am afraid. I suppose I could do something like smack her for reacting, but I wouldn’t like the way that would make ME feel, and it wouldn’t build my dog’s trust in me. When she is playing in a big group of dogs, she does fine with ignoring them, and if a dog pressures her (lately, that would be Bee), she comes running to me for protection. If I had shocked her or smacked/choked/yelled whatever when she reacted, she would be working on her own to get the space she needs.

      Every dog is different. Tigerlily is a lot more confident than she used to be, but that’s because she trusts that I am on her side… And I accept her the way she is, and I only get embarassed when i am not paying attention and handling her correctly. If she doesn’t want some unfamiliar dog getting too close, I can understand that. As she can see that I will help her maintain her safe space, that helps, because she leaves a lot of her “self-protection” job up to me now. She lets me tell the other dog to “stay away” rather than say it herself.


      • Laura says:
        Monday, July 25, 2011 at 8:42am

        Just a note – reinforcing the dog for relaxing around other dogs is NOT counter-conditioning. Counter-conditioning is pairing something really good with whatever the dog doesn’t like (and you give the good thing no matter what the dog’s reaction), with the goal of teaching the dog that whatever they don’t like predicts good things coming, eventually changing their outlook. Not enough room to go into the specifics of how to do it well here, but just wanted to make sure people knew that rewarding the dog for good behaviour in the face of what makes them scared is not what counter-conditioning means.

  5. Amie says:
    Monday, July 18, 2011 at 11:47pm

    I have a now 11 year old Malamute Cross that I rescued as a 3 year old intact male who was surrendered off a farm. You can imagine that I faced many challenges with him (of course I fell in love before I considered all the work I was signing myself up for, but you get the dogs you were meant to have!). I was very lucky in that I was given Culture Clash and the Power of Positive Dog Training and sent to a positive reinforcement trainer before I had finalized the adoption.

    However, we have one black mark that I feel I should share in light of this thread. Not long after I adopted him, we were at the dog park and he attacked another dog, still new to this concept of positive reinforcement and “do” I panicked and fell back on what I knew. I grabbed him and put him in a alpha roll. I will never forget the shock on his face. That week I stayed after class to talk to the instructor and she said to me “train with your brain, not pain”. I took this to heart, not only no physical pain but no emotional pain either. I recognized my failings as a trainer, and listened to my dog. We had a long hard journey and while he is not perfect, he can walk by other dogs and be in a group situation (on leash – I’m a BIG fan of management!!) and be very well mannered. Best of all, he looks to me when we find ourselves in a tough spot. He knows that I will tell him what to do and that I will keep him safe.
    Susan, your blog always has such perfect bits of wisdom to find and you always seem to know how to say what I feel but can’t put into words! I want to be the keeper of joy and live with my dogs in Do land.
    Everyone of my dogs has taught me lessons that help the next dog. I’m so glad that you are so open with your training philosophy and methods to help me along my journey!


  6. Katka L. says:
    Monday, July 18, 2011 at 8:15pm

    Living in the Do-Land is fantastic for many reasons. Instead of yelling on dogs and then feeling sorry for their fear and confusion I’m thinking about training that can help them to find joy in more useful behaviour.


  7. Trudie says:
    Monday, July 18, 2011 at 9:36am

    Gosh! There’s no place to comment on the following post “transitioning to Do-Land” video.
    I enjoyed very much how Susan addressed all these authentic debate issues presented in an well-argued manner backed up with examples from her experience. Thanks, Susan.


  8. Esther says:
    Monday, July 18, 2011 at 9:00am

    While reading this post a great example of DO-land happened with my dog. He’s with me in the office when I’m at work and sometimes when a stranger walks by outside he will start barking like a fool. Saying NO or ahah or shhh doesn’t help at all. What does help is if I say nicely “on your bed” and “lay down”. He happily answers to those commands and doesn’t bark anymore because he knows what he has to DO and loves doing it (because it has been reïnforced havily and still is at irregular time intervals)


  9. Julie Rice says:
    Sunday, July 17, 2011 at 10:03pm

    I clearly remember when I decided that I could train without corrections anymore (even though it took many more years to finally get there). It was during a seminar you gave when Decaff was still quite young. I was amazed at what you had accomplished with her all without ever using any kind of correction which would have made a dog like Decaff just shut down completely. I also realized that my dog’s performance would be so much more brilliant if he was a willing participant than if it was something I did to him. I also realized that it can be extremely difficult to get this kind of help locally and wish that this technology had existed back then.


  10. Terrie says:
    Sunday, July 17, 2011 at 9:48pm

    I don’t believe it’s possible to mix the methodologies. I think that on the journey to “land of Do”, however, many people must work their way through the desire to hold on to their old ways of thinking.
    I have never met Susan Garrett, nor have I taken her classes, but I just received my copy of Crate Games and after watching it several times, once with my husband, considered myself ready to take my two dogs through the first two stages.
    The beauty of this program, is that it teaches you very clearly, what criteria looks like in real life, and gives you practice in applying it, with rewards and consequences.
    If you fully understand and practice teaching Crate games, you can apply the principles to all aspects of dog training.
    I love it. Thank you, Susan.


  11. Louise says:
    Sunday, July 17, 2011 at 5:54pm

    Would love to hear any answers to Page’s comment regarding barking when letting the dogs out into the back yard, as I have a very similar problem, and it’s really hard to think of a positive way to fix this!


  12. MRB says:
    Sunday, July 17, 2011 at 10:23am

    This blog post really needs a link to the not-guilty post.


    Still wondering – how to get my continous re-inforcement of the RZ to work when I run out of treats, or she gets a tummy upset and sicks them all up.

    And what to say to people who say I should quit feeding treats, get rid of the no-pull harness (which she doesn’t pull when wearing), and start punishing. The way to shut this person up would be to beat her in the competition obedience ring – but I don’t have the patience or interest to do that.

    I need a plan to get from continous pay out (vending machine) to random payout (pokie machine) and it’s hard cos I don’t feel the attraction of the pokie machine.


  13. Andrea says:
    Saturday, July 16, 2011 at 4:33pm

    I can’t say enough about living in the land of “Do”. Here’s the realization I have come to when thinking about the last 2 1/2 years in the Say Yes program…I laugh more every day, I feel more joy in all I do with my dogs, I feel confident and empowered to change the things I don’t like, I’m more relaxed and centred, I can see the big picture and I better understand the effects of my actions. My most recent dog is the one who led me to this place. She did not respond well to the land of “don’t” and our relationship really was a struggle. She has truly flourished since training at Say Yes, just thinking about her brings a smile to my face. I stopped blaming her for being “independent”, “distracted”, “zonedout” etc and instead I acknowledged I needed to do something different used the science of dog training learned at Say Yes to create value for her WANTING to do the things I wanted her to do.

    I still consider myself to be in transition and I still do have times of frustration and not being sure what to do but I’m working through it and the joy I see in my dog’s and in my relationship with them tells me this is the right thing. I’m currently considering adding another puppy and I am so excited to start that relationship right away in the land of “DO”.


  14. Anna and Pypo says:
    Saturday, July 16, 2011 at 3:43pm

    I started my training journey with Pypo exactly that way, mixing methodologies!

    Thankfully (and now I see it), Pypo was not an easy dog to handle or train and any punishment would only make everything even more difficult.

    So many struggles we went through, and we still have so many to handle! But after 4 years, my transition is finally over! I no longer need or use punishment in training anything with my dogs and I’m 100% committed with living in DO Land!

    I must say THANK YOU SUSAN, because Recallers Course was really a turning point in my transition! It helped me conquer my biggest challenge with Pypo, using the methodology I’m proud to use!

    Two days ago I was able to recall my schipperke out of wild life and I just couldn’t believe it! We’re amazingly happy and satisfied here in DO Land and we have no intentions of leaving! Ever!


  15. Melissa Davis says:
    Saturday, July 16, 2011 at 10:11am

    I won’t lie, I struggle sometimes to stay in the land of do. It’s not a dog training program, it is a lifestyle. I love it! I started with the Say Yes program coming to puppy camp with my new puppy and an older “bus driving” dog. Since then I have been immersed in learning to live in the land of do everyday, all day. I have 6 dogs currently and the changes in my older dogs has been astounding. I no longer ask my dogs to work, they wait for their time to work. My young puppy is a testament to the benefits of do land and Susan’s awesome games. When I brought her home she found no value in being with me, she didn’t think much of any food or treats, and she didn’t care for toys. Her environment was the most reinforcing thing in her world. I thought I was never going to form a relationship with her. By controlling her reinforcement I quickly built value for food, toys/tugging, and me! She was never corrected for anything. Our relationship is amazing, to me that’s what dog training is about. Thank you Susan for replacing my frustrations in dog training with the pure joy of awesome relationships and the problem solving ability to stay in the land of do.


  16. Deb D says:
    Saturday, July 16, 2011 at 9:52am

    Our Golden was a handful. We took him to various trainers but at the time the only trainers were correction based. Neither my husband or I had the stomach for this type of training – and honestly it didn’t seem to work on him anyway. We were told never to tug with him either. I remember one walk with a training collar where we came home and it had dug into his neck to the point it drew blood. “I” knew how to use it properly but it also depends on the dog acknowledging the correction. I cried, apologized to him, and threw the collar away. I still didn’t know another way of training and as a result had a lovely, friendly, but poorly trained dog who we couldn’t walk on lead and only stopped jumping up on people and counter surfing when he was a senior (okay maybe he never stopped the counter surfing – we just managed it).

    When I go my Max I used only positive methods (although I admit to telling my dogs occasionally to “stop barking” or “get off” but I know it’s really more to hear myself talk and has absolutely no effect on them ;-).

    Max was a willing partner but until we started training in the Say Yes method I don’t think either of us got a lot of joy from foundation training. I am living proof that it’s possible to be positive but not joyful. We were both very serious about it and I extinguished Max’s tug drive early on because he was “too rambunctious”. Shortly after I was introduced to SY, my puppy Rylie came into my life. Rylie is joy personified and training with Susan’s methods from the day we brought him home has helped us keep that joy in our training. Rylie is just a small bundle of personality that it’s impossible to look at him and not be filled with joy.

    Going through recallers the first time with Max was frustrating because while he would play the games he had little drive to play (he did have an excellent driven recall). It seemed that regardless of what I did I could not engage him in play. It was seeing videos of baby Swagger and how Susan trained in the bathroom and worked through the don’t wanna, don’t hafta moments that really helped Max and I find the joy. I now have a dog who will work for his tuggie (at home) just as eagerly as he works for food.


  17. denise says:
    Saturday, July 16, 2011 at 3:48am

    I’m still transitioning to Do land. I’d say we’re 90% of the way there with the odd slips ups. The slips ups happen more out of my emotional state (frustration or other stresses in life) rather than any deliberate action on my part. I’m finding the more I learn from you (Recallers x 2 has been brilliant) the less I find myself in those “OMG what do I do” moments of paralysis. Two of your catch crys have been most helpful for me in that regard and they are “Stop the reinforcement” and “Where is the value?”. “Stop the reinforcement” helps me get through the moments of indecision and “Where is the Value” is often the question that leads me to solvinig a training roadblock. My older girl spent the 1st year of her life in so called Positive Training before I found the Say Yes way of training. My 1yr old has been raised the Say Yes way (attempted to anyway) and my plan is for the next pup to be even more grounded in Say Yes (each dog benefits from the last). I just love seeing the look of joy and excitement in my dogs eyes when we work together…..I certainly never saw that look from traditional training methods.


  18. Suzy says:
    Saturday, July 16, 2011 at 12:06am

    Susan wrote:
    There is a gap — they become paralyzed when the dog misbehaves. Their instincts tell them to physically correct the “guilty dog” but their heart tells them to stay in “Do-Land” and so in response to this struggle; they do nothing.

    YES! You have hit the nail on the head. This is what I have long believed to be the problem when “cross over” trainers say +ve training doesn’t work. (It’s also what has happened to a lot of parents of Out-of-control kids!.)They know they’re not supposed to use physical punishment or correction but they’re not sure what TO do – so they do *nothing*.
    Result? Out of control dogs (and kids)and frustrated people/parents.


  19. Mary M says:
    Saturday, July 16, 2011 at 12:02am

    Here’s the thing if we could take all that Susan has to offer, with her program, in at one time we would be better off…LOL (at least it may feel like that if you are just beginning, did for me a year and a half ago!)

    Okay but reality, when you first begin this new philosophy it can feel really exciting, a bit overwhelming, at times confusing and also feel as if you have SOOOOO much to get done (i.e. everything you trained so far – even if it was using positive reinforcement was a bit off!)…….then life catches up, you have to take a breath re-think and live in the moment, sort through the changeover in how you relate to you dog/s and bit by bit improve on the foundation that is there……then when the true transfer of understanding (ha, bet you thought I would say *transfer of value* LOL) happens you begin to “know” how to explain this way of training to others, it now roles out of your mind crystal clear and with Susan’s great way of laying out the games/training she teaches as basic foundation you can take all problems back to the foundation games/training and fix things there, since you now have a better/full understanding about reinforcement and how to apply the transfer of value you need…..now you are on a role, are you a perfect dog trainer? no (is anyone really anyway?!) but your dogs are happier about where you have landed….are you always 100% perfect in execution of your training? again no you are human, but again your dog/s responses and ways of relating to you have improved beyond 100%, AND you now have the tools to strive to be better and better in your dog training than ever before…..and in general your ability to live/work/play in this way with your dog/s bring forth more freedoms for your dog/s then they once had….do people always understand where you are coming from with this new way of training? Alas, no… for sure there are many who don’t get it, but again, I will tell you it feels REALLY good when you can help someone else to begin to open their minds to a different way to be with their beloved companion, and as Susan always reminds (without judgment) everyone is on their own journey….we live in the Land of Do and I like to think this is a place without judgment, because we have all lived in other Land’s at some point!

    This for me is the big draw, by working through understanding the SY concepts and applying them to your life with your dogs, the dogs themselves will benefit the most (okay you will too because of how much fun you will have with your dog/s, but aren’t we all wishing our dogs could have the best in life?!) Because of your better understanding of reinforcement and the science behind the training, your dogs will have more freedom in their lives, forever moving forward….really it is the hook for me, it keeps me coming back wanting more, and I think the dogs like it a bit too 😉


  20. Kim Bosworth says:
    Friday, July 15, 2011 at 10:57pm

    I transitioned to Do Land not that long ago… it was and is sometimes still difficult when I get frustrated and I don’t know what to do. I am there now actually…my BC, Lexi, performs amazingly in practice where I train or at home, but her performance on contacts and weaves degrades ten fold when we step into the ring. But with the guidance that Susan’s programs, books etc., have given me…I am taking time off from competing, and working on what she has issue with, confidence to perform when people & things are around in places she does not know. She has come a long way since I have started employing Susan’s training a couple of years ago, and I am so grateful! We have both learned a lot and we are going to continue to learn the ways of the Land of Do!


  21. Barb Levenson says:
    Friday, July 15, 2011 at 10:48pm

    I can’t remember where I saw the following quote but I use it in every pet dog orientation I do: “Dogs can either learn to work for reinforcement or learn to work to avoid punishment. But they CANNOT do both!” I find this statement so true and goes along with the discussion of mixing methodologies.


  22. Kreg Z says:
    Friday, July 15, 2011 at 6:51pm

    You asked for feedback on the transition from Don’t to Do-Land. My transition continues but it is hard work. When I get stuck, it means I don’t know the answer, and if I can go to the land of don’t/corrections/compulsion/punishment that is when my dog will get it.

    You said for those who mix both: “Yes they try to be positive but when frustrations hits — their instinct is to blame the dog.” This is exactly me. I signed a contract of yours in the early 2000’s about going to the land of DO and thought at the time “Holy S…” I ain’t going to be able to do it. Through the Inner Circle and Puppy Peaks I am able to get there. I enjoy the rewards.

    My dog has a wonderful RZ. In class one night they were teaching recall to a front sit, then finish to heel position.

    I had never taught this combination to my dog, but had taught RZ. I called her, she immediately ran to front and sat. I said “break” and she immediatley flew around to heel position. That was with DO.


  23. Rachel says:
    Friday, July 15, 2011 at 5:28pm

    Something I read in an online book….and I REALLY hope I don’t completely muddle this up….is if you use both positive training and correction based training you lose a major key to communicating with your dog…I believe you would call it “It’s Your Choice.” A dog that is trained with a blend of positive and correction based training understands that if he is rewarded for something he is doing then he is right but, to him lack of a reward also means he is right because he is avoiding a correction. Does that make sense? So, you can’t communicate with him with “It’s Your Choice” because both rewarding his correct behavior means he’s right and with holding a reward also means he is “right” because he is still avoiding a correction. Geez, I hope that makes sense.

    Anyway, after reading that it really made total sense to me why you can’t combined the two types of training….plus positive training is just more fun for everyone involved! Even if I am completely clicker challenged sometimes and totally get a ridiculously hilarious behavior I was not at all trying to get, we plod on together having fun and learning together.

    Oh, and one last thing, I recently took my Border Collie to an agility class where a lot of mostly verbal corrections are used. Everyone made the comment that he was such a “happy worker.” 🙂 No matter what he is always happy, alert, and eager to work.


    • Susan says:
      Friday, July 15, 2011 at 5:33pm

      Excellent example Rachel thanks for sharing!


  24. chloe De Segonzac says:
    Friday, July 15, 2011 at 4:50pm

    What a great post. I am putting a lot of effort into being 100% ‘do’. I am convinced it is the way to go for the best relationship with my dog and the dogs in my care. When I am caught in a situation I don’t know how to deal, I don’t do the ‘because I said so’ but simply cross the street switch activities remove the dog and i from situation until I have time to think about it. The question is “ok you know what you didn’t want but what is it you do want, and which is most applicable in this instance.”

    By the way thank you for the suggestion of a gentle leader. We are on day two. Walked gently for one city block this am. I was so resistant because I see people’s dogs hating the thing, scratching and just being miserable. I took my time clicker treat when she is calm and relaxed. So easy! Silly me.


  25. Susan says:
    Friday, July 15, 2011 at 4:40pm

    I learned dog training using correction based methods, but I eagerly embraced positive methods some years ago. However I realize that I have never quite made the full transition. The phrase ‘Do-Land’ has actually helped give me some clarity about how to approach challenges, the word itself suggests action; much better than the word ‘positive’ to describe a training methodology.
    You are absolutely right that people fall back on aggression and force, I saw it continually when working as an assistant trainer in a school that catered to family dog owners. Giving the dog something to ‘do’ rather than ‘not do’, may be harder sometimes, but God knows we humans have the grey matter to pull it off!

    You’re melting the tip of the iceberg of traditional dog training, good on ya!


    • sharon empson says:
      Monday, December 3, 2012 at 6:10pm

      I recently was told that no dog could really compete and get very far without corrections. I took my girl to her first rally o class and people were amazed at how precise she is in her behaviors and how she keeps her eyes on mine when heeling. They were amazed at this little dog. I did all that will positive rewards. thank You Lord! Now I just have to perfect myself at learning all those rally signs, yikes!! sharon empson


  26. Page says:
    Friday, July 15, 2011 at 4:29pm

    I have 2 dogs – both Shelties, older is 5 years old and was raised in the combo world of do and do not. As a puppy one of my other shelties corrected her for barking by biting her nose and putting her in a down. I attempted to continue this correction but there are times when she gets away with the barking – mainly when going outside with her into the back yard – she is so excited she barks incessently. Also in frustration on the agility course. I only have to open the door to the back yard and she is barking. Sometimes I only have to move toward the door and she is barking.

    How do I go to the land of do. (my young 9 mo is of course imitating all the older one does). I’m attempting to stop my movement or going outside but I feel I’ll never get outside or even to the door if I stop. In agility I get the jumping up and barking and has connected with me which is not a good thing. I definitely want to not continue this process with my young dog so please help me with this.


    • sharon empson says:
      Monday, December 3, 2012 at 6:08pm

      One thing I have done with my high energy pups is to give them no attention when they do what I do not want them to do. say I want them to go outside and they get so excited they begin to bark, I just walk away and go sit down and act like I am busy.
      One of my dogs has come over and barked at me to get me to go and help them out the door. But I ignore them. When they are quiet I go back and stand by the door. If they bark I walk away again. They usually get it after a couple of times. It takes patience, do not loose hope. sharon empson


  27. Karin says:
    Friday, July 15, 2011 at 4:24pm

    Question? Susan, what is the difference for you between a NRM and something like “no” or “oops” or “aaah aaah”? Wouldn’t that be mainly the way we would say it?


    • Susan says:
      Friday, July 15, 2011 at 5:35pm

      @Karin yes I do use NRM as stated in a post that Lesley sourced for me (thanks again)http://dogagilityblog.wpengine.com/2011/02/non-reward-markers-reducing-the-use/

      I would say the difference in NRM vs “aaaah aaah” lies in the dog’s response.


      • Alaska says:
        Friday, July 15, 2011 at 6:10pm

        For more perspective on the difference between NRM and ah-ah, I found it useful to reread Susan’s second NRM post as well: susangarrettdogagility.com/2011/02/what-is-ideal-meaning-of-a-nrm/

      • Alaska says:
        Friday, July 15, 2011 at 6:13pm

        Oops, URL got mangled in my previous post. This one you can just click and go: http://dogagilityblog.wpengine.com/2011/02/what-is-ideal-meaning-of-a-nrm/

      • Andrea says:
        Tuesday, July 19, 2011 at 1:48pm

        So what different responses from the dog are you looking for between the NRM and a verbal correction?

  28. Debra says:
    Friday, July 15, 2011 at 4:20pm

    After taking Recallers 2.0, I realized how much MY attitude had changed; and inturn, how much joy my puppy has trying to please me! It really is all about where you dog’s value lies. Have I reached that value 100%..oh my no, but I’m completing small steps each day and I’m not frustrated or angry anymore. My dog looks at me in the eyes, waiting for a “cue” or when she’s playing, working, etc. That tells me she is not afraid of me, not guilty of anything; just genuinely loves being with me. That makes me one joyful human!!!! :o}


  29. Nancy says:
    Friday, July 15, 2011 at 3:53pm

    I SOOOO want to live in DO LAND with my pups, but I do not know the way. I am hoping/thinking Puppy Peaks will be our map!!! I am so excited! What a treasure this map will help us find!!!


  30. Janet says:
    Friday, July 15, 2011 at 3:38pm

    Is it possible to visually see “do land” in action. I have a hard time with understanding just by reading. Although seeing the diagram of what to do in some instances was ok it still easy for us visual learned to see it in action. I am very interested in improving the teamwork with me and my dog.


  31. Shelley says:
    Friday, July 15, 2011 at 3:34pm

    Very grateful for the ebooks that will happen! 🙂

    For the proof that ‘Do land’ really works, people only need to see your dogs, their responses and super relationship you have with them. Thankyou for always sharing so freely with everyone.


  32. Rena Barnett says:
    Friday, July 15, 2011 at 3:34pm

    Susan- what is your stance on Non-Reward-markers?


  33. Liz with Jonesy says:
    Friday, July 15, 2011 at 3:06pm

    I have found it has been easier to stay in Do-land with my 9 yr-old Golden. The 10-wk old pup; however… Oh my!! I think I have more to learn than he does. But what I am noticing, is that I am ‘thinking’ more when something happens with him. But old habits die hard, I still find myself using an aah-aah once in awhile. Not a raised voice and as soon as I do it, I am thinking about what should I have done.


  34. Jamie Robinson says:
    Friday, July 15, 2011 at 2:54pm

    It’s amazing how my attitude about training has changed since I decided to go more positive and use play training. I have oodles less frustration, less attitude, I think more and solve problems faster and with more effectiveness. Problems are actually solved, even when I’m not there with a ready correction, the problems stay solved. Y…ou can cultivate all the calmness you want, but when your intention is to STOP something, the energy you project is not positive and it’s not neutral. Just feel your face muscles at the end of a day of correcting dogs and you’ll understand. It’s also much easier to teach clients how to redirect, how to reward, and how to play then it ever was trying to teach them the intricate timing that correction based behavior modification takes.


  35. Tena says:
    Friday, July 15, 2011 at 2:42pm

    I love this. I’ve tried, unsuccessfully, to explain why I don’t “do both” and don’t teach people to do both… i tried to explain that opening the door allows it to be swung wide open. But the metaphor was lost.

    I know I worked really hard to transition from a “do both” way of life (which is how I learned how to train). Getting the leash pop out of my vocabulary was crazy hard. I used physical punishments very sparingly and only in the proofing stages of training (so well after the dog could reliably perform the behavior in a variety of venues) but I still used them and they were very hard to get rid of so I don’t even want to suggest people start using them at all.

    Great post, definitely going to share!


  36. Sherry Moore says:
    Friday, July 15, 2011 at 2:32pm

    These webinar and blog posts could not have come at a better time in my life. I thought I was a really positive trainer but I have been trying to live inbetween lands and am finding myself frustrated. In three days, living in the Land of Do, I have seen a tremendous change in my mental state when training and in the reactions of my dogs. I am excited to learn more.
    Thank you!!!!
    Sherry Moore


    • chloe De Segonzac says:
      Friday, July 15, 2011 at 5:01pm



  37. Janet says:
    Friday, July 15, 2011 at 2:29pm

    Your comments on “do something” I think is what is confusing when you are used to using “opps” when a dog has done the unexpected. I have a younger dog that on occasion does the zoomies on the agility course (only with morning trials). I have no idea any more of what to do. I cannot get attention without the opps word. Suggestion in do land what to do??


    • Susan says:
      Friday, July 15, 2011 at 2:56pm

      Janet you dog is begging you to take his feedback. Where is the value? There is something not clear in your expectations, something that is overwhelming your dog about agility. Take this feedback and help create clarity and the zoomies will never be seen again. Would he get the zoomies in the morning if you were to turn him loose on a bunny or a squirrel? Heck no he would chase as if his life depended upon it! The expectations are clear therefore the stress is removed.

      Your dog is trying to give you feedback on your training, take the feedback and make the appropriate adjustments!


  38. Ally says:
    Friday, July 15, 2011 at 2:27pm


    I am a strong beleiver in living in “do-land” with my own BCs as well as teaching this to my training clients. However, I couldn’t help but feel slightly guilty when you said your dogs have never heard a verbal correction since 1994. I tell my dogs to get off the furniture, or leave-it in a strong tone. Those are commands that I have taught them and they understand it is an action, but the tone differs so much from a “sit” or “stay.” Then I watched your video of Swagger from the blog post titled after him and heard you telling him off the furniture as well and “no biting the mama.” My guilt washed away a bit after seeing this. However, I am wondering where do you draw the line with what exactly a verbal correction is? Swagger hears the word, “No” is that not a verbal correction?


    • Susan says:
      Friday, July 15, 2011 at 2:53pm

      Ally I remind you all I am no saint — however yes I will tell me kids to get off the furniture (knowing full well they are just explaining to me where the value is) however is I was to say “aaaah aaaah” or “Noooooooo” to any of my dogs they would like at me as if I had 6 heads. Something they have not heard before.


      • Andreja says:
        Friday, July 15, 2011 at 6:07pm

        I don’t understand – both “no biting mama” and “nooooo” are DON’Ts. However, they are usually said in a very different tone and in a very different frame of mind. Is that why you don’t consider them to be the same?

        When my dog starts digging I tell him “you don’t need to dig this” as if he was trying to do me a favor I didn’t need. In the beginning I’ve been calmly moving him away from that spot after I said that, but now I only need to say the magic words and he stops immediately. It does seem to me that his emotions in this case are quite different from when I holler “No” (which unfortunately does happen sometimes). And of course my emotions are different, too 🙂

    • Stephanie says:
      Friday, July 15, 2011 at 7:00pm

      “no” is a word just like any other word. it is how we go about pairing it up in the dog’s world. If I were to use it as an aversive with fear or intimidation, then it is a correction. If I use it as silly banter then it is just silly banter. In my dogs’ do-land world, no is just another silly banter word.


  39. Kathy Fischer says:
    Friday, July 15, 2011 at 2:13pm

    Also wanted to say that it was a struggle for me to make the change. I tried hard though because it made so much sense to me.

    The turning point for me was when I taught your 2×2 weave method to my dog. I’ve never had so much fun teaching anything! Only used a NRM once towards the end of her training, and it blew me away how loudly it communicated to her. Only used it once, and she got it loud and clear and has never gone around the wrong side of the pole since!!

    I still will have an urge to use “aeeh aeeh” once in a blue moon – but have learned that there is ALWAYS a redirect I can use instead! (Generally it is just to call her to me away from whatever she is doing that she shouldn’t do, and then reward her for the great recall!!)

    Thanks Susan!!



    • Laura says:
      Monday, July 18, 2011 at 11:46am

      Just a heads up to be careful with rewarding your dog for a recall off something they shouldn’t be doing. For a lot of dogs, it becomes “I do something I shouldn’t, I end up getting rewarded”. Cues our dogs know that we reward them for, also become rewards themselves for the dog when we use them, because they predict the chance to earn a reward. This is something I learned from Susan but it took a while to sink in for me. I now see it with great clarity.


      • Susan says:
        Monday, July 18, 2011 at 12:44pm

        @Laura I do have that book — great book and yes I have *read* it — as much as I have read any book (which I have acknowledged previously I rarely if ever read any book the way a normal person would:)).

  40. Diane says:
    Friday, July 15, 2011 at 2:13pm

    This is pretty fantastic. At first I was thinking oh yes, maybe there is a place for do-not, but the way you described it it seems like, yes, you can do everything with just the “do” attitude.

    You used it with the barking behavior, which some people could see as a really awful thing, but it has a trigger, and most bad behaviors do right? So if we dont allow our dogs to get over their threshold and make it easy enough for them to catch on to the baby steps of learning what is good and was is not, then I dont see how it would be impossible.



  41. Kathy Fischer says:
    Friday, July 15, 2011 at 2:05pm


    I just want to say THANK YOU VERY MUCH .. Because of you, I have learned how to have patience, and I can’t tell you the last time I lost my temper with my dogs.

    We live in the land of DO, and because of this I very seldom if ever get frustrated. If we’re not making progress, I just stop. Then I think, think, think of why is it my dog is not understanding what I am asking, and HOW CAN I I I I communicate it better? It is a game to me now – a puzzle I MUST solve – and LOVE to solve!!

    Oh, and I have found that there is ALWAYS a redirect for something I would’ve used a “Do not” for previously! Just have to think a bit!! 🙂

    Thanks again!


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