Our dogs are our best teachers, and I’ve been learning from Tater who jumped off a cliff chasing a chipmunk recently. Now, the choice to chase could have ended his life, so we’re back in Ruff Love with Mr Potato Salad (aka Tater). I took a video on one of our walks this week to cover some misconceptions about the program.


Tater’s back in Ruff Love not because he is being punished. He’s back in Ruff Love so I can focus on the training so he can have the freedom I want him to have.

Ruff Love is about intensifying the kindness we show to our dogs. It is eliminating the rehearsals of things they could do that are dangerous to themselves or others, and the things that are going to cause us frustration, maybe even make us angry and erode the relationship we have with our dog.

The challenge with my book Ruff Love is that it’s a very small book. You can easily read it in one night. It was the first book I ever wrote, and the big mistake I made as an author was assuming that people would understand it was all about setting the dog up for success. When I wrote it, I didn’t think I needed to detail the overarching core values of what we really want is an amazing family pet who has freedom in their life.

Set Your Dog Up For Success

There’s a very old school dog training belief that to get a dog to work for you, you need to isolate him, and many people relate this to “Stockholm Syndrome” where hostages develop an alliance with captors. When Ruff Love was first released all those years ago, it got some pretty harsh criticism from many in the clicker training circles who likened the book to this old school thinking.

That was my bad because I was not clear in the book and made the assumption people would read it with the understanding of setting dogs up for success and supervising. I wrote about this in my blog post “Could I Be A Dog-Loving Mentor?“. My dogs … and I hope everyone’s dogs … are very much loved and important members of the family.

The bottom line in Ruff Love is that our dogs should be supervised. So, if you are on a computer working and can’t keep your eye on what your dog might be getting into, I would suggest that you put your dog in an ex-pen beside the computer. Then every half hour you can get your dog out and play a game from the book. The games in Ruff Love became the foundation of my online program, Recallers.

Ruff Love has helped many thousands of dogs and people, so if you are ‘on the fence’ about it, I encourage you to reframe your thinking. It’s a program of kindness. It’s eliminating the choices a dog could make that potentially could injure or kill him. It should be an enriching time for the dog where his life just got better, and it should be a great time of discovery for you as a dog trainer of your dog.

It’s going to let you give your dog the kindness of setting him up for success and creating a rich reinforcement history for what you want him to do. It’s going to grow the relationship you have with your dog. If you think about it from a point of kindness, then you’re always going to make the right choice for the dog.

Mr Potato Salad (Tater)

Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions about what I covered in the video.

Coming up, I’ll be sharing tips with Tater on leash and off , so if you have not already subscribed to my newsletter, fill in the form here on my blog, and I’ll let you know about new posts.

Today I am grateful for our dogs and all they teach us.