S.T.A.R. Puppy Sign Up

While we are in social isolation now, it will not last forever. We hope to be back together again in the beginning of June. With that said, even in the unlikely event it is extended, online learning will continue, as well as new options.

If you join S.T.A.R. Puppy now, you not only guarantee your spot in that class, but you also guarantee your spot in Core Manners (our adult dog obedience class)! Plus, you can earn an additional certificate and a medal! Check out our S.T.A.R. Puppy Brochure for more information!

S.T.A.R. Puppy is a 7 week class held at 7:15pm that will begin on June 3rd at The Thinking K9 facility! 

This S.T.A.R. Puppy exclusive to current Puppy Starlet participants. On Wednesday May 6th registration will open to the public.

Use the code "Starlet-move-up" to get $5 off!

Additional Resources

The Fallout of the Dominance Theory


This is a great article about the fallout of using force in dog training and how it's not necessary.

We now have a deeper understanding of dog behavior, as well as the brain chemistry that drives it. Not only is it unnecessary to use force and coercion, but dogs also learn faster and are more consistent when positive methods are used instead of force (leash pops, pushing into sit/down, using aversive tools such as spray bottles, etc).  Click the photo to learn more about The Fallout of the Dominance Theory.

House Training

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure: Prevent 100% of accidents with tether, crate, or x-pen if trained. Allowing puppies to rehearse accidents, even a couple, will be incredibly hard to retrain! Click the photo to learn more about Housetraining Your Puppy.

Ticks & Holistic Care


Tick Season is fast approaching! We need to be sure we are checking our dogs thoroughly for any ticks - including between their toes and on their gums! Also, Tick Keys (the tool pictured) can help out a ton to remove a tick from your dog.


I know you all have your own vet that you love and I would never dream of pulling you away from them. However, I do want to let you all know that we have several different resources available to us in our area though such as chiropractic care, acupuncture, underwater treadmills/swimming rehab. These are all fantastic resources to consider should you ever need any specialized care for your puppy along your journey together.

Be sure to continue checking things off of your Puppy Socialization Chart!


All great workouts, including mental ones, begin with warmups! Let's put our dog's thinking caps on!

Spend a good 2 minutes working on your foundation, including:

Name Focus
Say your puppy's name & say "yes" and reward them when they look at you.

Say your puppy's "watch-me" command (focus, watch-me, eyes, etc.) & say "yes" and reward them when they look at you.

Foundation recalls
The exercise with the funny noise 😉


Snout to Tail Assessment

Goal: To teach your puppy to be comfortable being handled and examined.


Warm up for this exercise by practicing some Jolly & Settle.

Be sure to feed your puppy treats throughout this exercise to keep it a positive experience!

Examine your puppy's face and take a look at:

  • Their eyes
  • Their ears - and smell them!
  • Their mouth - check out their gums and teeth
  • Their nose

Feel down your puppy's spine all the way down to their tail. And check out their tail. Make sure everything feels and looks right.

Touch their belly (as long as they haven't been spayed or neutered recently) and feel for any out of place lumps and bumps.

Feel down one of their legs and touch one of their paws. Touch the toes on that paw too.


Goal: To teach our puppies to lay down on command.


1) Place a treat in your left hand and put it behind your back. This is your locked and loaded lure.

2) Say "down" one time and one time ONLY.

3) If your puppy does not lay down immediately, pull your locked and loaded lure out from behind your back and lure them into position.

For a down from a seated position, take the lure from their nose and move your hand down towards the ground between their feet to get them to lay all the way down.

4) As soon as they lay down, say "yes", and give them the treat in your left hand that you used as a lure.

No bribing! If you hold the cookie out in front of your puppy while asking them to down, they will always need that cookie in sight to lay down! It becomes an integral part of the command!

Puppy Push Ups

Goal: To further solidify sit and down for our puppies.


1) Say "sit," lure if needed, say "yes," and reward when they sit.

2) Say "down," lure if needed, say "yes," and reward when they lay down.

3) Say "up-sit," lure if needed, say "yes," and reward when they sit up.

Remember luring vs. bribing! Keep those cookies hidden!

Spot-on Recall

Goal: To make coming when called a fun and exciting game for our puppies!


1) Place a treat on a spot of sorts (like a potholder or a paper plate, etc.)

2) Tell your puppy to "get it" and let them go eat the treat on the spot.

3) As soon as your puppy eats the treat on the spot, do a foundation recall.

4) Repeat!

Kongs & Puzzle Feeders

Kongs and Puzzle Feeders are great tools for multiple reasons! Kongs will help us to crate train our puppies by building a positive association of the crate for them (each time they are in the crate, they get a yummy Kong, the crate = a good place).

They are also great if you just need 5 minutes of peace! Check out some creative Kong filling recipes HERE.

Our puppies should work for all of their food! This means NO feeding from bowls! Then they work for their food, it helps purge that endless puppy energy! Linked below are a few of my favorite puzzle feeders and stuff-able toys! 


Crate Training

Crate Barking & Whining


If our puppies bark and whine in their crates, it tells us that we need to make crate training more fun. We need to play some Crate Games (DVD linked), use more Kongs, feed them their meals in their crate, etc. 

Once it starts, we need to IGNORE our puppies (unless they are totally glassy-eyed, defecating, completely mentally checked out, etc.). This also tells us that we need to do more crate training before expecting duration from our puppies.

Tip: Cover your crate at home! This will make is easier for your puppy to crate in new places!

Return Home Greetings

Letting your puppy out of their crate when you get home is a very important part of crate training! When you come home, do so in a CALM manner. Also ignore your puppy for 10-15 minutes. Do NOT open their crate until they are calm.

Excitable greetings can create separation anxiety in our puppies! It puts them on an emotional roller coaster! They spend all day looking forward to the exciting moment when we arrive home & get amped up when they hear a noise that sounds like we are coming home (car pulling into a driveway, car door shutting, etc.), then the plummet back down when they realize it isn't us. 

Click the photo to read an article all about Crate Training.

Crate Games

Goal: To teach our puppies that the crate is a place they want to be! 


The following is a progression of crate games. Please don't push your puppy too far too fast! Wait until they are doing well at the first game before moving to the next one!

1) Place a treat just inside your puppy's crate and let them eat it. Repeat a few times.

2) Toss a treat further inside their crate and let them eat it. Repeat a few times.

3) Toss about 3-5 treats around inside of their crate and let them eat them. Repeat a few times. This will help us build value.

4) Add in some restraint! Hold your puppy back, toss a treat in their crate, hold them back for just a second, and then release them to go get the treat in their crate.

5) Toss a treat in their crate, then feed them multiple treats at the back of their crate. This will help them to stop rushing the door.

6) Toss a treat in their crate, close the door, open the door, and feed them multiple treats at the back of their crate.

*If at any point your puppy starts going in their crate without you throwing a treat in it first, give them a jackpot of treats!*


Goal: To teach our puppies to walk on a headcollar. 

Remember headcollars give us lots of control over where our puppies are looking (they help us keep our puppies focus on us and not all the fun distractions) they are the easiest way to maintain a heel position.

Exercise: Continue working on getting your puppy comfortable in the headcollar following the Headcollar Training Plan

If you and your puppy are ready to move on from the "Sizing the Headcollar" step (the head strap is adjusted to the right size and your dog is eagerly wearing it for 5+ seconds, during a minimum of 2 different training sessions - not just 2 times, but 2 training sessions out of the 3-5 you do a day), move to the "Wearing the Headcollar" step.

Do NOT move to the next step before your puppy is ready! 


Goal: To teach our puppies that walking next to us in heel position is rewarding!

Dogs will always do what's in their best interest! If we don't create value in being by our side by using a primary reinforcer (food), our dog's will find value in pulling towards a smell or goody on the ground!


1) Place a treat in your left hand and get your dog on your left hand side in heel position.

2) Heel around an area with your dog and be sure to let them have the treat you are luring with every few steps.

3) While you are reloading your treat lure, talk to your puppy to keep them engaged with you in heel position.

4) Keep repeating this - 2-3 steps with a lure, 2-3 steps vocally engaging, 2-3 steps with a lure, and so on.

Through Activities

Goal: To further work on our socialization with our puppies. Try to find as many things and possible for your puppy to safely walk through!


1) Find something around your house or build some sort of obstacle that your puppy can walk through. Or both!

2) Encourage them to go through it using a lure. NO FORCE!

3) Give them lots of love and praise when they go through it!