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So, you’ve got a new addition to your family, one who wags his or her tail and looks to you eagerly for food and love. Your pup is housebroken and comfortable in it’s home. Now what? Many people get a dog for the purpose of companionship or protection. They assume that a dog will simply adapt to their owner’s instructions and will do as they’re told in time. This may be so in some cases. However, the following is a surefire way to teach your dog to do some simple tricks. Once taught, you will see that it pleases your dog to perform these tricks, because our pets, more than anything, love to see us proud of them.

The first thing to take into consideration when training your dog is learning environment. The environment should be familiar, preferably in your home. If you have a yard, you may want to use the same training techniques both in your yard and inside your home. Dogs can have very short attention spans, and training your dog in a place with unfamiliar landscape, objects or scents will reduce your pup’s ability to focus.

Another environmental factor is the number of people present during training sessions. Only one family member should train your dog. It should be done one on one, again, to eliminate distractions. Once your dog has successfully learned each trick, the initial trainer should model the steps to each family member. They should remain seated and quiet while observing, and then try to prompt the dog to do the trick using the exact same hand motion, words and vocal tone.

The next considerations for proper dog training are rewards and punishments. Tangible rewards should consist of your dog’s favorite snack. It should be very small in size or broken into small pieces, because you may go through a large amount of treats in a short period of time. You will also use verbal praise as a reward, so that eventually your dog will do tricks without the promise of food. This will shortly be described in more detail. Rewards should only be given to a dog when it has properly performed the trick you are commanding it to do. If you instruct your dog to sit and it rolls over, your dog should not be rewarded.

Punishments for not performing a trick correctly should only include withholding of rewards and a firm “NO.” You want your dog to respect you, not fear you. Screaming or physically punishing your dog will cause your dog to be resistant to further training.

Another, and perhaps the most important, factor in training is voice tone. Your commands should be clear and firm. Your “No” tone should also be firm, and slightly louder. Your verbal praise should be loving, encouraging and excited. Think of how you would speak to a small child who has just accomplished something great. You may want to accompany verbal praise, such as “Good Boy/Girl,” with a pat on the head or a quick back scratch. Choice of words is also crucial. Choos one word or short phrase for each trick. If your dog doesn’t respond at first, do not get discouraged and do not change your word or phrase. This will only confuse your dog.

Once all of these factors are in place, teaching your dog should be fun and simple. Spend at least a solid hour teaching each trick, and teach only one trick per week. Practice that trick each day for at least a half-hour.


1) Stand about a foot from your dog, facing him/her. With one finger, point to the dog’s backside while saying “SIT.”

2) Take your hands and gently move your dog’s body into sitting position, repeating the word “SIT” every five seconds.

3) When your dog is sitting, give him/her a treat and verbal praise.

Repeat steps 1, 2 and 3. Eliminate step two when your dog sits on their own.


1) Instruct your dog to sit. Extend your hand, palm flat (as you would signal to

stop) and say the word “STAY.”

2) Repeat the word “STAY” every five seconds as you back away from your dog

Slowly, keeping your hand extended.

3) When you are about ten feet away, take down your hand and say “COME


4) Give your dog a treat only when he/she waits for your hand to come down and

for you to call them.

Repeat steps 1-4 , giving treats only when your dog stays put until your cue. Say

“NO” and start over if your dog comes before you give a signal. Next, try holding up

a treat while your “STAY” hand is still extended. If your dog does not stay, say

“NO” and hold your flat hand close to his/her face, saying “STAY.” Try pushing

your hand farther forward when you hold up the treat, to keep your dog focused on

the command rather than the reward.


1) Instruct your dog to sit. Hold your hand palm down and push it to the floor,

saying either “DOWN, “ or “LAY DOWN.”

2) Gently pull your dog’s front paws until they are laying down, repeating the

word “DOWN.”

3) Give your dog a reward and verbal praise when they are laying down.

Repeat steps 1, 2 and 3, eliminating step 2 when your dog lays down on command.


1) Instruct your dog to sit then lay down. Take a treat and hold it at your dog’s

Chin. Circle it very slowly around your dog’s head, allowing he/she to

follow it.

2) Say the words “ROLL OVER” as you bring the treat around the top of your

dog’s head. At this point, your dog should roll over naturally, trying to get

the treat.

3) Give your dog reward and praise when they have rolled over on command.


1) Instruct your dog to sit. Extend your hand, palm up, about a foot from the

ground and a foot from your dog. Say the word “PAW.”

2) Take your dog’s paw and place it in your extended hand, repeating the word


3) Give your dog reward and praise when he/she gives you’re his/her paw.

Repeat steps 1, 2 and 3, eliminating step 2 when your dogs gives you’re his/her paw

on command. Once your dog has learned to do this, try saying “OTHER PAW,” and

moving your hand slightly to the left or right, depending on which paw you want

them to give you. Keep switching back and forth until your dog alternates between


Now that your dog has learned these simple tricks, continue to allow them to show off. You should keep in mind that you and your dog have worked hard to get to this point, and being consistent about practicing will keep your dog’s tricks fresh in his/her mind. You may want to use words or phrases different than the ones suggested above for each trick. That is fine, as long as you use the same word or phrase every time, and as long as it is not a word or phrase you will use for something else. You can also use these techniques for other tricks, altering the instructions slightly for each new trick. Enjoy your dog’s new abilities, and don’t forget to let your dog know how much you care about them every day.

Written by JEN SOTHAM - © 2002 Pagewise




Get your dog to stop BARKING!!!!!!


Mostly, problem barkers bark because they are bored. Accustomed to a lot of attention, they don't know how to behave when alone. More often than not, we have set this up ourselves. We want our dogs to be happy, so we spoil them:  our dogs get treats and petting whenever they wish.  It is entirely normal for owners to act this way and entirely normal for dogs to complain when they feel neglected.

First of all, your dog must learn that barking for your attention doesn't work. If he is unhappy outdoors and barking eventually makes you bring him in, he learns that barking gets results. If barking makes you yell at him, well, that's better than nothing. "I'm bored. Maybe I can get them to yell at me again." Although yelling doesn't work, negative reinforcement can still be useful. Perhaps a little story will help explain:

As a veterinary student, I lived in the basement of an animal hospital. We did a lot of boarding, and there were occasionally dogs that barked at night. These dogs were warm and well-fed, with plenty of water. Their kennels were clean and dry. All they lacked was entertainment. I quickly learned that hollering "quiet" was useless. Here is what worked: I'd put a little water in a Dixie Cup and quietly stand in front of the barker, not saying a word. Within a minute or two the dog would bark again, whereupon I'd immediately dash the water in his face, turn around and go back to bed, all without saying a word. I'd usually have to do this two or three times the first night, once or twice the second night and maybe even once the night after that. Nearly always after the second or third night, peace and quiet.

"Quiet" repeated calmly and clearly once or twice in a normal voice will teach your dog to associate the word with water in the face and with not barking. Later, in situations where he would ordinarily bark but stays quiet instead, calmly praise him.

Barking and growling

A dog that barks and growls and shows his teeth in a threatening way is getting ready to bite you. Do not squirt water up his nose. Do not threaten him. Consult with your veterinarian or dog psychologist.

Barking while you are away

Make sure you have done the basic things: See that your dog has food and water, and a comfortable place to relax where he can't see people or other pets. If necessary, bring him indoors.

More often than not, the problem barker has never learned to be alone. He is accustomed to lavish attention without having to earn it. He thinks he is the center of the world and upon finding himself abandoned he is distraught and he barks, what did you expect?

Be a good role model.

Believe it or not, the words you say mean nothing to a dog. What matters the way you say those words and the message delivered by your body language. When you overdo it by repeatedly reassuring your dog that everything is ok and you'll be back soon, you are making things worse. Excitedly greeting the  dog on your return  reinforces the idea that staying alone for the day really is a big deal.

Stop praising and petting your dog for doing nothing.

This won't be easy, but you've got to do it and the entire family must cooperate.  For now at least, the only time you should even touch your dog is when he has responded correctly to a command. Teach him to sit. When he sits, a simple "good dog" and a pat on the head are praise enough. Slowly work up to longer sit times until your dog can be relied to sit and stay in all situations. Bonus: Your guests will appreciate this. Remember how Fido jumpes up on Aunt Emily? Many dog owners believe that since they enjoy this type of greeting, other people do too.  This is seldom true.

Practice being out of touch.

Because you aren't petting and stroking and fondling him all the time, your dog should be learning now that it's ok to be "out of touch" for short periods. Get some good chew toys. Nylabones and Kongs are excellent.  Let your dog become distracted with a chew toy, then calmly and quietly leave the room, closing the door behind you. Within a few minutes, preferably before your dog has become distraught about your absence, come back in and resume what you were doing. Move calmly, say nothing.  When your dog   rushes over to greet you, ignore him completely. Don't say anything. Don't even look at him. Your separation was completely unimportant to you, so it should be completely unimportant to your dog.

Stop saying goodbye.

You are ready now to leave your dog alone for the day. Start your morning schedule ten minutes early. Feed your dog and try to get him settled in with a chew toy. Get completely ready to walk out the door and then sit down with the newspaper. Ignore your dog completely. After several minutes of calm separation, quietly walk out the door and go to work. Do not say good bye, do not even look at your dog. You are leaving for the day. This is not a big deal. Your return home must be equally calm. Ignore your dog. No petting, no excited greeting. Change clothes or whatever. After he has settled down, acknowledge your dog by telling him to sit. Only then does he get a pat on the head and a simple "good dog". You were gone for the day. Remember, this is not a big deal.

Give your dog something to do while you are gone.

Dogs left alone during the day are in a terribly unnatural situation, isolated with nothing to do. Instead of barking and tearing up the house, your dog can keep himself busy by earning his food.

Kong chew toys are hollow and open at the ends,  leaving room for food or dog treats.  Try putting a dog biscuit in there at first.  Later you can pack with canned food and freeze, so it takes a long time for your dog to get the food out. To keep your dog busy while you're gone, buy several Kongs and hide in various places. For this to work well, your dog must be hungry.

If your dog is picky about what he eats and it's kind of hard to find his ribs, your dog  is overweight, and getting too much food. 

Instead of using Kongs, you can also find adjustable feeding balls which work with dry food. To get food, your dog must roll the ball around so food falls out through the holes. When adjusted properly, getting a full meal takes a long time. You might also try leaving the television on for entertainment while you are gone. 

When your dog barks, distract him.

Make something mysterious and unsettling happen. Something so puzzling that he forgets barking for a while. A short sharp unidentifiable sound is perfect. You will have to use your own ingenuity, but here is a suggestion:

Go off to work as usual, calmly ignoring your dog. Drive away, and then quietly return, approaching from downwind. When your dog barks, toss a pebble at the window or make some other sharp noise. This may need to be repeated over several days.   Another idea is to hide a telephone in the attic and ask the neighbor to dial  your number and let it ring, just once, when your dog barks. If you are at this point and still having difficulty try a citronella anti-barking collar is probably your best solution.


Train your pitbull



How: The object is to have your dog put his head down between his paws on the command "say prayers" and to end the exercise on the command"amen". Start with handler seated on a chair, dog in sit/stay in front. Put a treat on chair between your legs. Tell dog to "say prayers" and encourage or lift both front paws on to the chair (NOTE: dog must remain seated). The action is similar to a beg with the paws resting on the chair. Tell dog to "leave it" so he doesn't eat treat and repeat "say prayers". Dog should stick nose down to the treat between paws. Then give release "amen" and reward with the treat. You may find this easier to do on a low table. While standing behind dog, guide paws on to table and encourage him to lower muzzle between paws towards the treat.


How: The object is to make your dog sneeze on command. The signal will be the handler cupping her hands around her nose and mouth and saying "sneeze". With the handler seated in a chair, have your dog in a sit/stay in front of you. Cup your hands around her muzzle, say sneeze and blow gently into her nostrils. Continue until she either snuffles, sneezes or makes any such motion. Reward "good sneeze" and treat. Repeat. This may take a long time depending on the dog. Some will sneeze immediately, and others will take a lot of work to respond.


How: The idea is to have the dog use her nose to find a hidden object. This is good practice for tracking or utility work. First start with simple exercises. Show the dog a treat (strong smelling ones work best). Then let the dog see you place it under the edge of a towel about 6 feet away. Let the dog smell the scent of the treat on your hand. Send dog and say "find it". Reward with praise when she finds the treat. The reward is the treat. Start to move farther back from the hiding place and move the location of the treat - put it further under the towel so it is harder to get out. Then leaving towel in same place, put the treat a few feet away from the towel and send the dog. The dog will have to sniff out the location. Eventually, you will place the dog with her back to the location and have someone make sure she cant see where you put the treat. Then when that level has been achieved, move the dog to another room, hide the treat, let dog sniff your hand and send to "find it". Give lots of praise. You can eventually move from food to solid obstacles such as keys, toys, etc. This makes the exercise into a retrieval.


How: Hold dogs muzzle and give "stay" or "leave it" command. Place a cookie on top of nose and continue to say "stay" or "eave it". Let go of muzzle. Dog must hold the cookie until you give a release command - "take it". Then she must catch the cookie in her mouth. This is a fun way to give treats and looks cute.


How: The dog can be in a sit or down for this one. The idea is to get her to cover her eyes with one paw on command. It will take some practice to find out the best method for your dog as we find they all respond to different signals. You may prefer to do it in a down. Then with treat in hand, tell the dog to "cover your eyes". Physically lift her paw over her muzzle and reward. If you blow gently on her nose, she may be inclined to swipe at her face. When she does this, reward. You have to just repeat the command and movement until the dog realizes what is needed to get the treat.


How: Place dog in sit stay. Decide on a hand signal. It can be a circular movement of your hand like a wave or hold hand palm up and wave fingers in and out (as in making a fist). It is not recommended doing a real wave with palm facing down. It looks too much like the speak command and can confuse the dog. Sitting close to your dog give the command and hand signal. If dog doesn't do anything nudge her paw until she lifts it up. Reward. Eventually require her to lift paw higher. Always reward every time she does it. Eventually start to give command from farther back.


How: This is usually a simple one to teach if your dog likes to bark at you. Trick is to get her to do it on command and from distances. First decide on a hand signal that is not similar to any other. You can use a motion of opening and closing thumb and fingers (facing the dog). Some handlers think this looks more like a mouth opening and closing. Other handlers use a closed fist, twisting motion. Tell your dog to "speak" at the same time. When she does, reward with treat immediately and say "good speak". If your dog doesn't bark readily, continue to give command until she gets really fed up with you and barks. Then quickly reward. She wont know why but if done enough, she'll get the message. Gradually give the command verbally only and then hand signal only. Increase distance to the maximum comfort zone.