Core Manners 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. We are looking into using Zoom meetings so there can be more interaction and real time feedback!

Core Manners will set you up for the Canine Good Citizen title. Also, dogs lost their minds around 6 months old! Continuing training is the BEST way to get through this time! Check out our Core Manner Brochure for more information!

Core Manners is an 8 week class held at two times - 6pm and 7:15pm - on Mondays that will start on June 1st at The Thinking K9 facility!

This Core Manners signup is exclusive for current STAR participants!. On Wednesday May 6th registration will open to the public. *Use the code "STAR-move-up" to get $5 off!*


NOTE: Upon initial signup, it will look like the 7:15pm class is at 6pm. Our program is showing you the time of the first class ONLY. After orientation, all other classes are 7:15pm.

Graduation Homework & Certificate Testing

To Graduate S.T.A.R. Puppy

In order to graduate and receive your S.T.A.R. Puppy Certification, you must complete the following items.


I.D. Tags
Send a message to me telling me which type of I.D. tag (I.D. tag on their collar, microchip, etc.) your puppy has.

Poop Bags
Send a photo of your puppy and their poop bags to me.

AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy Pledge
You can print this out, sign it, and send me a photo of it.

Exercise Plan
Just like the pledge, you can print this out, fill it out, and send me a photo of it.


Once all of these items are completed, I will send you a PDF file of your S.T.A.R. Puppy Certificate. Once we are able to reopen, we can issue printed copies of the certificates and offer official AKC Registration paperwork. 

Certificate Testing

Last week we introduced our first additional certificate challenge, Spin! Send me a video of you and your puppy completing the Spin exercise, and I will send you a PDF file of the certificate. Once we reopen, I can issue you a printed one.

Kaitie's email:

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:

Focus Trees
With a treat in your left hand and your clicker in your right hand, hold your arms out to your side to make a T with your body. Say your puppy's "watch-me" command (focus, eyes, etc.) ONE time, then click and reward when they look at you in the eyes.

Foundation recalls
The exercise with the funny noise 😉

Chase Recall

Goal: To regain your puppy's focus when they get in front of you while heeling.


1) Heel forward 5-10 steps.

2) Flip your hand and do a foundation recall.

Be sure to only flip your hand, not your whole body!

Puppy Push Ups

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


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

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

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

Remember luring vs. bribing! Keep those cookies hidden!

Pop Up Stand

Goal: To teach our puppies to stand on command.


1) First, start by only practicing luring your puppy into position so that you both can get the feel for it. 

For a stand take the lure from their nose and tuck it into their chest. Almost as if you are scooping them up into a stand.

2) Once you both have the hang of luring, you can add in the command. Place a treat in your left hand and put it behind your back. This is your locked and loaded lure.

3) Say "stand" one time and one time ONLY.

4) If your dog does not  immediately, pull your locked and loaded lure out from behind your back and lure your dog into position.

5) As soon as they stand, click, 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 stand, they will always need that cookie in sight to stand! It becomes an integral part of the command!

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! 


Find Your Crate

Goal: To make getting in the crate a fun and rewarding game!


1) Stand with your dog about a foot or two away from their crate and tell your dog to find their crate.

2) When they get in their crate, reward them, then release them to get out of it.

3) Repeat until they are rock solid at that distance.

You can then increase the distance (how far you are away from the crate), but don't always increase the distance. For example, sometimes set up one foot away, then three, then two, then four.

Giving them easy wins builds their drive to work even harder! Going around corners or finding their crate in a different room is really hard, so be kind to your dog while increasing their distance.

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.


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! 

Snout to Tail Assessment

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


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.

Focus Outing

Goal: To teach your puppy to remain focused on you despite the environmental distractions.


1) Take your puppy somewhere where they can see other people, but you can remain well-beyond socially distanced from them - like your front yard. 

2) Practice regaining your puppies focus when they get distracted by other people by doing Focus Trees and Foundation Recalls.


Let's teach our puppies to rollover!

1) Start by getting your puppy into a down position.

2) Massage them to relax them and get them to throw a hip out. 

3) Take a treat lure in your hand from your puppy's nose, to their elbow, to their hip, and then over their back.

4) Give them their reward and throw them a party!

If your puppy gets stuck at a certain spot (ie. they stop following the lure around their hip), reward them there for successive approximation (getting closer to what we want).

*This is our second additional certificate challenge and it is HARD! Take your time with this one, but if your pup gets it, send me a video of you and your pup performing this trick using no treat lure & I will send you back a Rollover Certificate!*


Goal: Teach your puppy

Stop the pulling!
Dogs pull because they are rewarded for it. Every step brings a new smell and perhaps a new snack (edible or... well, it goes down the hatch anyway!). We need to teach them that it's advantageous to be by us too!

With your puppy on a short leash, heel forward 2 steps, stop & place a treat on the ground next to your heel. Once puppy eats the treat, repeat.

If your puppy pulls it means they are not being rewarded enough for staying by you. Give them more reason with treats & praise. You must be more rewarding than the distractions (squirrels even!).

Through Activities

Goal: To further work on our socialization with our puppies. Try to find as many things as 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!