Greetings from Camp David.

So you want to be a Dog Trainer–Are you sure?

Or, are you just like most dog owners with busy lives, careers and families who want a dog that is trained to come when called, Stay where he is put until you release him, and able to be under control in any situation so he can accompany you and your family anywhere you go (on or OFF the leash)?

Here is why I ask, and how I can help you get what you really want:

I am going to be collecting consultation data from working with people just like you with all sorts of dog issues they are trying to solve after abandoning the clickers, prong collars, and yelling until they are so hoarse they are “whispering.”

The problem is, that a book on any subject that requires a skill set acquired through years of practice can rarely be learned from a canned program or book.

I have personally trained of clients and their pets (not just Dogs either–that is a whole other article). I have also worked for decades in the Personal Training field consulting athletes on Diet, Strength and fitness. Since 1980 I have been involved in research and consulting for physical Transformations (for Athletes & Non-Athletes alike) who are attempting to reach their physical potential within a specified time period.

Between my Dog Training Work and the Fitness and Sports Performance consulting, I have advised and trained hundreds of people on a one-on-one basis. I learned a few things about putting together training programs and . (Read this next part carefully).

Hardly anyone I have ever trained for this purpose has ever been able to get through a program of instructions correctly when they tried to follow the most basic and explicit instructions. In the athletic/Strength field these are people who are just exercising alone using weights and pulleys! Unless I was “Hands-On” right there every step of the way to do it with them and let them see and feel the correct way to perform the exercises, I could lay safe odds that the program that I carefully laid out would never resemble their interpretation of the instructions I gave them. How many black belts in Karate got there by reading a book about exactly how to be a black belt? Let me know if you have any names, because I’m not coming up with anything.

My point here is this; if it is truly rare to see a novice be able to grasp a so called “simple”physical movement from a written description, or even a video, imagine the added degree of difficulty when you are trying to train a dog by parroting a canned program that can’t possibly address the myriad of possible scenarios that you will need to respond to on a second to second basis? Now not only do you have to know the physical movements for yourself, but you will have to respond to random actions from an unpredictable dog as well!

Can I say here that in over 40 years of training I have never seen anyone who ever “had it down” when they were showing me their interpretation of the method that they were studying? Atheletes, Musicans, and even Dog Trainers, anyone who invests countless hours in search of perfecting a skill will always make it look effortless and easy. Sometimes it even makes the novice think that they can do it just like the pro. And sometimes-if there is no one to critique him, the novice imagines he is doing everything just as good as the pro right out of the gate.

There are some things you just have to experience and be guided through physically to grasp the proper techniques, or the result is someone who thinks they are doing the program, but basically wasting their time and effort getting minimal or no results.

If you want proof of this, watch the auditions for “American Idol” and see the reactions of shock and disbelief on the novices who without any training when they are told that they sound horrible. These people have been in the shower or sitting in traffic with their ipods cranked up and actually believe they are just as good as the pros that they try to mimic. Most of them have never even heard their voices played back on a recording!

Then they go out in the Real World–which in the American Idol example includes Simon Cowl telling them they suck, and public humiliation on a massive scale. (Unless you are James Hung and end up being famous for being so bad you are good.)

The dog training version of this is when someone who just assumes that they naturally communicate with dogs, and the dog wants to please them, takes them from the confines of the living room or back yard out into the real world and they become virtually invisible as the dog disappears over the horizon, or across the freeway as they scream commands in pursuit. What happened to “my dog understands everything I say,” or the deep unspoken connection and understanding they shared back in the living room?

That is where I come in–and where Command Performance Dog Training System started the ball rolling back in 1990. I was able to grasp something I think a lot of dog training programs missed: That most everyone out there does NOT want to be a dog trainer. They just want a trained dog.

The “Dikeman Method” is not Command Performance. My personal method includes marker or clicker training, E-collars, positive training, They all have a place in my formidable tool box. I may never approach a dog training situation in exactly the same way twice. Do you really need to know all that when you are just going to be teaching your own personal dog?

What I created when I made Command Performance Dog Training System, was never intended to make a dog trainers out of a dog lover who wanted to plug his dog into the lives of his/her family. It would have been a failure. What I produced is what you absolutely need to know to produce fast, guaranteed results for people who were not going to be spending months and years perfecting and the skills to train a dog like I do. I figured these people already have jobs and families and busy lives, and about the last thing they needed or wanted was another full time activity that centered around something other than the life they were trying to make more convenient through having a dog they could take anywhere under control, and at the same time, liberating the family dog from the back yard and showing him a whole new richer and happier life as a true companion.

That is why my system is easy to use and doesn’t lose people in counter intuitive behavioral science jargon. Professional Dog trainers can’t even agree on these terms and descriptions. Get more than two of them in the same room and they will argue endlessly about which method they use, and how to apply it. I always marvel at the arguments and debates over the minutiae of the descriptions of technique and then when I observe them actually training, I am surprised to see their physical actions are almost identical.

The challenge I faced was to create a system that worked on every dog regardless of age breed or temperament. I can tell you that it is a very complex process to create something that works close to 100% of the time and looks this simple and easy to understand.

That is why it works, it STILL works, and so many people from all over the world still use it.

Even dog trainers…

But Obedience Training doesn’t solve some behavioral issues that need specific attention. That is why I am going to be available for private consultations. I am opening up my tool box to all of you. Let me help you structure and improve your relationship with your best friend.

Consultations in person, are over phone or Skype, and to qualify you must sign a release that allows me to use content from your sessions in future TV/Web projects and products to help others with similar problems.

Here is an example of who needs this program:

14 years ago I had a lab puppy while I lived in Denver. Every day after work I would take her to the park where she would run nuts with the other dogs in the neighborhood. Problem was getting her to return to me when I called her, etc. Then I met a guy from New Zealand one day at the park, and his dog was incredible. never left his side unless given permission, came when he called, everything was effortless. He watched me struggle with my dog for like a week, then one day he showed up on my doorstep (remember, we had just met) and gave me your video tapes. Told me it would solve all my problems. Well, it did, but only half way because that was about how I approached the training. Anyway, we had 14 great years with our dog, who got better as she got older, but now she is gone and we have a new puppy. So I went into the storage and dug out your vhs tapes and watched them last night for the first time in over a decade. And this time I am determined to do it right.

So here is our deal…family of 4 (11 year old and 8 year old), relatively small house and yard, rescue lab puppy who is 12 weeks old (we got her at 7 weeks) and a week from today she will get her last set of shots. We have taken her for short walks in the street the last few weeks, and the kids have tried to teach her sit and down (we say “place” because we use down for everything else…off the couch, off the counter, off me, etc.). So after watching your video last night, then watching several more recent you tube clips as well, I had a few questions if you don’t mind:

1) when is it appropriate to start with the long lead and working a square? Please say as soon as she gets that last shot…
2) Biting is an issue, and coupled with her ADD symptoms, it is tough to stop. Saw the bit in the tape where you tap them under the chin and we have started that. Any other thoughts on biting? We have removed her and put her outside, but doesn’t always seem to work.
3) How on earth do we keep her from getting up on the counters/chairs/dinner table/furniture? She is athletic and perpetually on the hunt for something to eat. She understands the word eat, the word walk, the word sit, the word treat….I know she understands down but just doesn’t want to do it. She also understands that when she has something she should not (shoe, giant stick, socks, rock) she hides under the dinner table and my kids have to go all SWAT team on her and surround her to get whatever it is she should not have. Your help here could save my marriage!
4) Thoughts on puppy class, through petsmart or similar?
5) We will be taking her out as soon as she gets her last shot (soccer games, beach, etc.). should we use choke chain, treats, etc., until she is properly trained with your system?

Thanks in advance for taking the time to read this. I am looking forward to working with her in an open area when she gets her last shot. Great training techniques, I have seen them work first hand, and for years have recommended your system to friends. Smartest thing I ever did was keep those old vhs tapes!

Have a great day!

John P
Head Coach, Men’s Basketball
Fremont, CA


I would really love to help you–there are several glaring problems that I am seeing in your brief description that will need to be addressed that fall outside of the pale of just Obedience training. There are some foundational behavioral issues that are developing that could lead to further problems. What you need right now is a Foundational Structure for this dogs everyday life and interaction. This is what I specialize in, and it is done on a one on one basis–there would be no end to the combinations of behaviors and responses I would have to cover to make this applicable in a mass market product–you have a special snowflake there that needs specific techniques that really are not going to apply to others (Breeds, families, kids, genetics, environment etc.)

Here is what I would suggest: forget the Corporate Pet Warehouse Store route. It sucks. You can get everything of any value for free by just going into the store while they are schmoozing everyone else and use the assembled students as proofing distractions and socialization for your own dog. Now, with the 150.00 I just saved you, set up a consultation with me on Skype and I will outline a program just for your specific application that will save you years of frustration. Your issues are not going to be addressed by teaching Sit’s /Downs etc. I am sure you are seeing this as well. The obedience is a good supplement to a proper foundation, like a jump shot is to the fundamentals of dribbling and passing. Its the Hoosiers model all over again and I am Gene Hackman guy.

Trust me, You need more than obedience right now–you need specific foundation training that will practically make the obedience a continuation of your initial foundation, or at least you will be getting the same result without ever having to specifically address the sits, downs, and stays to the same degree. That isn’t to say that you won’t want to do formal training–you will. It is just that the differences in results for someone in your situation exponentially more profound with the Foundation training –especially if it is tailored to your specifics and not a “canned” program that would never address the specifics you describe.

Along with the skype /phone consultation, I will also send you a free DVD of the Command Performance System so you can toss your dads VHS machine. LOL

Of course I only do consultations with people who will agree that I can use their case study to help others who might have the same problems. Also, I loved your story about the guy showing up on your doorstep with the videos! LOL

Give me a call at 316-518-2864 and lets see about addressing some of these issues. There are some time sensitive stuff given your dogs age being in a home with kids that we really ought to address sooner than later to avoid a real problem. I need to get lots of other info as well so i can design a foundational training so that the dog fits into your daily lives instead of having your day eaten up with dog issues or special handling to work around problem behaviors.

Also, if you get a chance send me a pic of you/and your first dog and I will put it up on the site to remember your friend.

Thanks for the kind letter,



If you have a problem, Question, or just want to improve your relationship with your best friend, I would love to help you and help others that can learn from your situation. As I put together the next version of the training program, feel free to contact me if you need to save yourself years of wasted effort and fruitless experimentation, and get straight to the results you need. Enjoy the Command Performance DVD and drop me a line with your before/after training stories, or, if you are one of the millions of people over the years that have used the system and want to share your memories of a great dog that is no longer with us, I would be honored to provide a place to immortalize and remember your special friend and family member. Send me your stories of how your work together made your dog’s life richer and more complete and I will post them on the site.

Happy Training, and Bring The Dog!!!