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Week Six | Graduating Puppies and Aversive Dog Training #PetSmart

PetSmart Puppy Class Diplomas

So the puppies have graduated from puppy class and it was fun.  Besides the basics – sit, down, stay, come, loose leash walking – our puppies also learned shake, hi five, and wave.  By the end, Scout almost had a ‘roll over.’

I learned a few very valuable things from Brittany, our PetSmart dog trainer that have been beneficial with our puppies and dogs…

Talking Dog – we got a reminder that our dogs don’t speak (or understand) English.  So when we decided to train the dogs to spend more time on their dog beds than on the sofa, we understood that we needed to teach them a new command.

The dogs know “go to your blanket.”  This means go to the area of the sofa with a blanket.  So we decided to use “on to your bed” instead of “go to your bed” to avoid any confusion.  It’s working well so far, but the dogs are sleeping on the sofa and I’m surrounded by empty dog beds as I type this – we’re not there yet.

Scout in his Graduation Cap, PetSmart Puppy Class

Dogs and Energy – we were also reminded that dogs read our energy.  So when I come home frustrated from my day, when I’m swallowing my feelings to avoid conflict, and when I’m feeling down – our dogs pick up on all of this and it impacts how they react.  So I joined the gym so that I can work out my frustrations on my waste line and come home with a clear head to work on training.

Zoey in her Graduation Cap, PetSmart Puppy Class

Tsch + Touch – this easy little trick has been magical and I use it when the puppies are barking like crazy, when Rodrigo jumps up to the counter, when Sydney is resource guarding Me.  All it takes is a touch to get their attention (it’s soft and gentle and needs to be delivered right before or right at the behavior) and the sound Tsch has an amazing impact on showing our dog the behavior we want and don’t want.

The cool thing is that when my mother-in-law came by the house, I was able to get all 4 dogs to stop barking and settle down with a Tsch + Touch.  It’s magical!

Aversive Dog Training –  one thing our training didn’t teach us was aversive dog training.  As I understand it, this is training where our dogs will do what we say out of fear of the pain to come if they don’t; that’s just heart breaking.  I would never do this to our dogs.

I was recently told that the Tsch + Touch sound IS aversive dog training and after a lot of thought, I disagree.  I think what bucket our training lands in needs to be judged by our intent and our dog’s energy (fearful, happy).

When I spoke with the blogger of Boingy Dog about the Tsch + Touch, she shared that this what I was doing is called a “pet corrector,” which does fall in the aversive realm.  It’s great for puppies, but not great for sensitive dogs.

But she also helped me see that dog training isn’t always black and white. While I see the noise / touch as a way to redirect our dog’s focus; other’s see this as a negative.

When I think of aversive dog training, I think of techniques that cause a dog to fear their owner.  I found the below video of someone demonstrating the alpha roll over on her dog disturbing…


I was going to embed the video here, but I found it so sad that I just didn’t want it on my site, but if you’re interested, you can click over to YouTube to see what I mean and I’d love to read your thoughts on what you see.

Not once did our PetSmart trainer teach us to hurt, scare or bully our puppies.  Instead, we had fun and learned a lot of great techniques to help us live happily with two happy energies and she took the extra time to show us things that we could use with our adult dogs too.

I want to sign up our puppies for the next level.

What did you learn from your trainer?  And if you watched the video, what are your thoughts?


  1. Hi Kimberly,

    Sounds like you had a good time working with your pups. I agree that it is not necessary to cause pain to your dog to have a well trained companion. I have been using videos to work with my English Shepherd. These videos are produced by a Internationally known dog trainer and he never uses any kind of pain to train or correct the dog.

    Have a great day.

  2. Congrats to the puppies on their graduation! While I don’t believe in “punishment”, sometimes a correction of sorts can be necessary to keep a dog safe. A friend of mine has a deaf dog. She uses a remote collar on her, on a low setting. She does this for the dog’s safety, as the dog cannot hear her verbal instructions. Some people have a fit over this. I do not, and believe each situation is different.

    While I don’t necessarily like all of his techniques, I read a very interesting blog post about CM. I think you might be interested in it as well. It is kind of eye opening, when one realizes what he has done, without judging HOW he has done it.

  3. Do glad the pups did so well – the photos with the little cap is pretty adorable. I think different methods work differently. I don’t have an objection to the tsch – I use it to redirect attention…what’s ‘aversive’ about that?

    • I think it’s partially because some people see it as making dogs push down their natural instincts instead of teaching them another way to behave. I also think that the connection to Cesar Millan isn’t missed and people think it’s negative, because they don’t like CM.

  4. I love the graduation cap!

  5. I think it is fantastic what you’ve been able to accomplish with your pups. I have a three dog household so I know how hectic life can get. I agree with you, a sound and a gentle touch to redirect or remind them what is accepted or isn’t is not aversive training. Assuming, like you said, its not a way to make them fear you or etc. Great work!

    • Thanks, Kelly

      I’m so proud of them. They are very well behaved (most of the time) and such sweet sweet dogs. My boyfriend chose well.

  6. Congratulations on graduation!! I love the little caps!! I believe in positive reinforcement and when my dogs are misbehaving I try to redirect them to something they can do… Sit, down etc….but with that said, I raise them just like my children….and just like children, they need structure and boundaries. They need to know when the answer is no…I use the ach, ach (don’t know how to say it on the computer)… But it is a very specific vocal sound that I make that means no. If I shout No…depending on what they are doing, they may not listen, I give them the sound, they stop. I think you have to do what is comfortable for you…telling your dog, or your child, NO in a firm, fair and consistent manner, in my opinion is just fine…as a mom, Grandmom and former school teacher…being able to say no with love in your heart is a very effective tool…it enables you to teach structure and boundaries, which children and dogs too, need, even though they may disagree with you (see teenagers!)…sometimes the answer is just no…for the betterment of your children, your dogs and yourself! I also think it is fair to ask and expect your dog to change their behavior with out always having to give a treat…I reward with praise and pets…and sometimes I give my self the treat too!

    • I’m really trying to focus on rewarding with praise instead of treats. We do this with Rodrigo and Sydney. The puppies are super food motivated and I’m starting to see that they will sit when they want something and I want them to sit when we ask, instead of looking at our hands for a treat first. We’ll get there :)

      Thanks for your thoughts – that makes me feel better about being firm – it’s not easy, because they’re sooo cute, but I know that ultimately it’ll make us all happy if we all know the expectations.

    • Sometimes maybe we are too rigid about what is “aversive”, when we can be more flexible. For instance when I’m doing intentional “training” with my two young dogs I speak calmly to them, but sometimes when they are playing together I can foresee it going too far and one of them becoming too aggressive, so I shout “ENOUGH” (and I DO shout) and they obey. They don’t look cowed or fearful, but they take notice. It has achieved what was necessary without harm, even though usually I speak civilly to both dogs and children. Also, some people who would say you should always use “redirecting to some different behaviour” from the dog in training and that manual and shouting intervention is not appropriate “training”, would nevertheless manually shove the dog into their crate if they don’t obey. It’s as if they say that in “training” you use one method but that if you want something done when you aren’t having a training session (or don’t have time) you go against that method and just do it anyway, whereas I don’t divide “training” so firmly into structured training sessions and normal life situations; I address behaviour when it arises as well as having structured sessions (at which I will try to address known issues). People can be very obsessive about method when the dog really doesn’t care so long as they aren’t upset, hurt or frightened. I also agree with the point about appropriate treatment for puppies not necessarily being appropriate for sensitive dogs.

      • This is a very good explanation that I can get my head around. Thank you. I do shout too, in fact, I just shouted at the puppies who were using our sofa as their playground. It does break their focus and get their attention so that I can redirect them. In this case, my boyfriend took them outside for exercise. The dogs never look afraid or cower just as you explained. Dog training reminds me of politics; some people are so far on one side that they aren’t tolerant of anything that goes against their belief.

        I just want well behaved dogs who aren’t ever afraid. I think we have them.

  7. Congratulations on graduating!
    I was taught and have used the tsch+touch, though for me it’s “hey” and the touch has since been eliminated since we don’t need it anymore.
    As a negative thing – technically – I agree it does fall into the category of ‘adversive’ if we’re drawing very distinct lines. I accept that and have no disrespect for people who think that’s too far and are strictly positive-only. Because whatever works for them and their dog – great. This worked extremely well for me and mine, caused no fear or aversion, and we have a great relationship and I have an exceptionally well behaved dog.
    I completely agree you can go too far and I didn’t even want to watch the video you posted because I know it will be angering.

    • Yep, that’s why I put the warning there. I actually sat for a while to figure out if I wanted to show the video or not. And decided that since it’s not the energy I want to put out. I’m very wary about doing anything that will cause our dogs to fear me; when I get frustrated, I know that it’s time for me to stop and figure out what’s really going on, because rarely do our dogs frustrate me, it’s usually me bringing something home.

      I’m trying to figure out what to do when I’m not close enough to touch them. This is new to me so maybe it takes time. How long before you no longer needed to touch to get their attention?

      • At a distance my voice is definitely the tool I use – practiced by very slowly building up at very short distances to the end of our 6 foot leash, working on a ‘stop’ command – works wonders and is very useful! Sit at a distance is also helpful. (Some use a long-line to build distance, but I found if you were gradual and consistent enough, it’s not necessary.)

        For Moses, going to verbal-only took a couple years. But we got him as a puppy and had all of the developmental phases to work through. I vividly remember him at 10 months and it all of a sudden seemed like his brain dumped out everything he’d learned. It came back after a few weeks, but I remember it not being a tonne of fun.

        Alma we adopted as an adult, so the transition of phasing out touch was quicker.

        • I remember that period with Rodrigo. It was painful. It lasted a couple months and I took him back to training. Now he’s not perfect, none of our dogs are, but he listens and I love that whenever he listens, he comes to me for a hug. LOL

  8. Great job! congrats! I do believe that one of the important keys to a successful Dog Training is making yourself the pack leader. Establish first your role as a leader and everything will be easy. Best of luck! :)

  9. The power of positive is never ending! The time spent rewarding them for all the good things they do really cuts down the time spent correcting them, not to mention, the incredibly positive nature of the relationship you get to build!

    Congrats on all your hard work Kim!

    • The dogs are so great. I look at them now and can’t believe how big and smart they are. They’re amazing. Puppyhood didn’t last long.


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