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 April. 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!

S.T.A.R. Puppy exclusive signup is extended to current Puppy Starlet participants, due to COVID. On Wednesday March 25th registration will open to the public.

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

Continued education

The fallacy of the guilty look.

Punishing dogs AFTER they chew something or potty on the floor will not help potty training, it will only serve to pull apart your bond. The best training is preventative, while teaching proper outlets.

Practical training WITH your pup


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:

Foundation recalls
The exercise with the funny noise 😉.

Puppy Pushups
Sit, Down, Sit.
Say it, lure it if necessary, say "yes!" when they do it, & reward! Keep in mind the "lures vs. bribes" handout from last week.


Restrained Recalls

Exercise: Person A holds your dog back while you walk no more than 10' away, then turn & call your dog enthusiastically. Do NOT show your dog a cookie, but do encourage them to you. As your dog is wriggling to get to you, person A should release your dog to you for treat & praise reward.

Goal: Your dog is FIGHTING to get to YOU! This creates a dog that will recall no matter the distractions!

Silhouettes aren't scary

*This is the first video I took, after social isolation began.

Exercise: Socialization is hard right now, make it a point to show your dog as many "pictures" as possible by putting on funny hats. Don't have a funny hat? No one will see you put a colander on your head 😉. Ever wonder why dog trainers have well adjusted dogs? It's because we do insane things like this to bombproof our dogs!

Goal: Socialize your puppy to new sights! What your dog doesn't see right now is likely to scare them!

Foot Targets

This is a FOUNDATION EXERCISE, which means we will use it to teach many other exercises in practical life!

We spend a lot of time telling our dogs what NOT to do with their feet (don't jump on people, counters, furniture, etc). However, it's far more effective to teach your dog what TO DO with their feet instead! This is often met with skepticism, until tried! A well-taught foot target can help with:

  • Jumping on house guests (below)!
  • They can be used as a tool to help work on Heeling (next week).
  • Teaching the potty button (below).
  • Advanced obedience such as distance commands and a "flashy" performance (upper level classes!).


Exercise: Lure your dog onto a 4 or 5 quart feed pan found at Farm & Fleet or Amazon as shown in the video. Do NOT pick your dog's paw up and set it on the bucket, regardless of how tempting that is! Teach your dog that they can do it themselves, not that you can do it for them. Repeat this exercise by encouraging your dog off the bucket (NO treats!) and then rewarding with treats when they are on the bucket to build value for the bucket.

Teach the Potty Button
1) Lure your puppy onto the potty button (use any noise button- get creative!) just like you did the bucket.

2) Every time you take your puppy outside, reward them for stepping on the potty button.

3) Soon your puppy will be stepping on the button to go outside without you prompting. When he/she does, you must take them outside, even if they were just out 2 minutes ago. Yes your puppy will start to take advantage of the button just to spend time outside. Keep them on leash. You don't have to keep them outside. It can be a quick 30 seconds, literally! The only rule is that they have to go out, not for how long.

Teach no jumping on house guests
Once your dog loves the bucket, it can be used to help teach your dog not to jump on house guests! To do this, start with putting treats outside for your guest to bring with. Then place the bucket 15'-20' from your front door, where it can be seen easily. Your dog should be on leash at first, so you have control and can offer guidance.

1) When your guest enters, they should toss the treats behind the dog (who is likely running to the person) and toward the bucket.

2) Once the dog eats the treats the owner should encourage the dog onto the bucket & reward profusely.

We are teaching what TO DO with their feet, not just what NOT to do (jump on guests).


Teach your puppy to concede to restraint in a positive way makes nail trimming and vet visits easier!


1) Hold puppy’s chest/harness.

2) Roll a cookie 2’ away. Wait for puppy to submit.

3) When they do, say “Get it!" and release puppy to eat it!

Nail Trimming


Goal: Trim 1-2 nails PER DAY, as to not overwhelm your puppy. The more positive the experience, the easier it will become, and you will be able to easily cut more at a time.

Ideally, this is a 2 person job; One person should brace the dog (bear hug, like at the vet) while the other person trims the nails & reloads the lick mat as needed. Your dog should be held securely so they can't struggle out of your arms, for safety.

Important information regarding nail trimming:

  • Long nails have a very serious effect on the skeletal system, resulting in structural issues.
  • Spending time and $$ having your vet trim your dog's nails is a burden for the owners and stressful for the dogs!
  • Dogs that don't like their feet touched can be a danger if someone innocently touches their paw (often children).

Read more about the importance of trimming nails as well as the anatomy of the nail, here.

Nail Trimming Tools

NO guillotine style clippers, as they crush the nails.

Stick to scissors clippers and grinders (Oster is my strong preference!).

Use a lick mat with cheese or peanut butter to keep your dog's attention, avoid a lot of struggle, & teach them that nail trims are good!

View the video for details on why I choose to use all three of these, as well as additional options.

Advantages of the Grinder

Grinders go slow enough so we can see what we are doing!

Trim BLACK NAILS stress free with a grinder! All nails have rings, much like a tree, as shown in this photo (click for larger version). The inside ring is the quick. 

Nail Trimming Tips

STOP THE STRUGGLE! Don't let your puppy struggle. Hold them in a way that they can't get away & use the highest value treats (cheese is usually a hit). When they struggle, unless it's unsafe, stop trimming but do NOT let go of the foot until they stop struggling. Letting go during a struggle will result in more intense protest in the future because they learn that it works. Be safe, use good judgement, and hold your puppy in a way to prevent injury.

Introducing the grinder

Always introduce slowly! Your dog should NEVER show fear. Give treats and calm praise the entire acclimation process. Introduce the sound of the grinder AWAY from your puppy. Only touch the nail briefly at first. You likely won't trim an entire nail the first day.

Nail Trimming Demos

8 month old malinois puppy.

This video demonstrates the use of a lick mat.

11 year old small dog

6 year old large dog.

Mock Nail Trims


See your socialization chard from week 1.

Emery Board practice

Grab an emery board and practice nail trims with a partner. This relieves your stress about hitting the quick (blood), but still gives your puppy the full nail trimming experience.


Wooden dowel mock trims

Watch the video demonstration on using a wooden dowel to simulate nail trims for your dog, without the risk of hitting the quick (blood).


As has been previously discussed, there are many ways to teach a dog to heel. For the most success, use many methods and practice often. The more fun you have, the more focus your dog will have on you!

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!).

"Over" exercises!

Goal: Real world socialization! Get your puppy up onto as many (safe) weird surfaces as possible! This teaches confidence and eliminates fear responses. It's also super fun!

Exercise: For this exercise I used a tarp with bottles inside. This gives puppies both a weird surface to walk on, but also weird sounds too!

Get creative with this! Have your puppy walk on a wooden plank that's supported 12-inches off the ground. Let your puppy climb on short logs! Anything that is safe & that your puppy will do willingly. NO FORCE! Force always equals fear! If your puppy is seriously frightened during the critical developmental window they are currently in, it can stick for life! Be safe. Use treats and love ❤️