"Bark 'n' Scratch"

Volume IV - Issue 1:  Jnauary 27, 2006
Published by:
Christopher Aust, Master Trainer

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In Today's Issue ...

=>  Just Visiting? Please Subscribe Here.  ->
=>  Cristopher's Drool - Buster, the Katrina Dog
=>  Command Structure
=>  Quote of the Week
=>  Recommended Stuff
=>  New Rules for 2006

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Christopher's Drool

Hey Everybody,

Well, I did it again and missed another issue of Bark-n-Scratch last week. Believe me it wasn't intentional but I got back from a trip to Colorado working with Katrina dogs and found my computer was infected with a virus. After a ton of money and over a week of frustration, I finally got it worked out and am up and running. Sorry about that folks.

One of the things I love about doing this newsletter is the experience of many of my subscribers. We really have a well rounded group here and I am blessed to have you all. I do however want to address a certain sector here.

I know we have some folks who work therapy dogs and also people who work with individuals with developmental disabilities. I know we also have at least one member who has used dogs therapeutically with incarcerated individuals. If you have even the slightest bit of experience in these areas, I want to pick your brain. Please let me know.

While I was in Colorado, I had the extreme pleasure to see a canine water therapy tank in action. (I will be writing a full article on it soon so I won't go into too much detail here.) Basically this is a sophisticated water tank that allows dogs with mobility issues to get exercise and reduce atrophy thus improving their quality of life.

I was able to see a couple of different dogs with extreme muscular issues who showed almost immediate improvement after a short ten minute session in the tank. Having talked to so many people who are struggling with the aging process in their dogs, I have seen for myself this is a wonderful way to make our older beloved furkids more comfortable. More information coming soon.

I went to Colorado a few weeks back to evaluate Buster, the Katrina dog I wrote about several weeks ago. I was also able to work with a few other dogs affected by Katrina that were being fostered in the area. I have to say, it was eye opening. Not necessarily because of the effects the storm had on the dogs, but more the manner in which many of these animals have been treated since.

The dogs I worked with did have some issues but were all loving pooches. They simply hadn't been afforded the best they could possibly get. In the case of Buster, he was deemed a danger to the community after he gave a minor bite to a shelter director. In fact, one of the shelters resolution considerations was putting this dog down.

I put Buster through a modified version of the American Kennel Clubs Canine Good Citizen test. Actually, my test was much more difficult than the standardized test. Additionally, Buster hadn't been prepared for the test in advance. I explained the test to the handler, allowed them to practice once or twice and then ran the official test.

While it wasn't picture perfect, it was a definite pass. I also made several attempts to get Buster to attack me. You name it and I did it. He simply looked at me like I was nuts and seemed more interested in giving me kisses.

Now, if you haven't read Busters story, please go to



Buster's owner, 81 year old Lydia Kingvalsky, had her home destroyed but is fortunate that it is able to be rebuilt. Myself and others are asking for your help. Ms. Kingvalsky and Buster have incurred numerous expenses to include legal fees to keep the dog from being euthanized by the shelter and also the cost of rebuilding.

I know we have all been hit over the last year for requests for donations and this one isn't even tax deductible. I can assure you though the money will go directly to this family and animal and no where else. If I can waive my fee for a week and go work with this animal, I am sure many of you can cut loose with twenty bucks to help this lovely lady and her dog.

Please send donations to:

Bank of Colorado
P.O. Box 520
Glenwood Springs, CO. 81612

Please make checks payable to Sue Schmidt and place the words “Buster Fund” in the memo section.

We are coming up on the 100th issue of Bark-n-Scratch in a few weeks and I am going to be having a little contest for all of you. The prize is worth over $300.00 so stay tuned for all the details. I'm going to try to make it fun for all!

Keep those letters and suggestions coming. They are greatly appreciated.

Okay, that's it for now. I'm outta here!



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Mr. Aust,

We took our dog to a local chain pet store to take their dog training class. The first week, the instructor told us to give the dog a command (like sit) twice before ever giving the dog a correction. The next week, we had a different instructor who said we should use the dogs name before giving a command and that we shouldn't correct the dog unless we had used the name first.

Obviously they don't have a consistent program but what exactly is the correct way to give commands/corrections? We are extremely frustrated and would appreciate any clarification you can give.


Command Structure

Over the years, I have been fortunate to have been able to attend and/or observe numerous training methods. Many of them have different methods of giving commands, corrections and praise and they can give long dissertations as to why their method is correct.

Now, for those of you who have been around for a while, you know I subscribe to the “Keep it Simple Stupid” method of thought when it comes to training. The manner in which we give our commands is no different.

Dogs are Dogs

I say this all the time and am sure some of you are sick of it but, in this situation, it truly applies.

Four or five decades ago, if a kid did something wrong, they were liable to have Ma or Pop take them out back and put a switch across their butt a few times. There wasn't any big discussion or analyzing the situation. If the kid screwed up, chances are, they were going to get a whoopin'.

Over the years, we have realized there are better ways of dealing with discipline issues with our kids. Our kids are more in tune with our world and most are able to be dealt with reasonably. We can often rationalize with our kids or take away privileges to make our point.

Dogs, however, don't have the reasoning skills that kids do and need (in my opinion) a far more structured introduction to appropriate behavior. I say this because we can't rationalize or hold a heartfelt, understanding conversation with a dog. We may love them like they are family, but they are dogs.

Command Categories

There are three different command categories. They are task commands, corrections and praise. We'll start with task commands.

Task Commands

Task commands are commands like sit, down, stay and come. It is what tells the dog what it is that you expect the dog to accomplish. Honestly, it doesn't matter what words you use for each task what is important is keeping them consistent.

Task Commands (TC) are actually the least important of the three types. What is important to remember is that task commands should always be given in a monotones/normal tone of voice. Not once in a while but ALWAYS!


There is one correction that should be used and it is “No.” Not “hey,” clicking noises or anything else. When a dog is more advanced you can ad the other words or noises but generally, it is best to stick with, “No.”

Not giving corrections, or giving them incorrectly, is one of the biggest mistakes dog owners make. In the case of our writer, he was told by one trainer to give the command twice before issuing a command. This is asinine! By following this method of thought, you are basically telling the dog that they don't have to listen to you until you tell them twice or possibly making them think the command is “sit, sit” instead of just “sit.”

A TC should only be given one time and, if the dog doesn't respond, the dog should immediately be told “no” and made to comply. There is no exception to this. In fact, failing to do this can lead to a number of future behavioral problems.

Corrections should always be given in a firm tone of voice that is slightly louder than a normal tone of voice. You don't want to yell at the dog but do want him to know you aren't pleased. It should look like this:

“Sit” “NO, Sit” (Firmly and dog swiftly put in position) “Stay” No praise.

There is rarely an exception to this rule!


Believe it or not, this is where dog owners make the biggest mistakes. Not because they aren't giving the dog enough praise, but because they are giving the dog too much. How can they give their dog too much praise you ask? Well hang on, I'll tell you.

Praise is given to a dog for completing a task when they are told to by the owner. It should be given in a higher pitched baby voice. However, praise should not be given in a way that gets the dog over excited or causes them to lose focus on what they are doing.

I often see clients who will get their dogs out for a session and before anything happens, they are going “oh, good boy” constantly in a loud high pitched voice before the dog has actually done anything. When we do this, we are actually devaluing the praise itself. This type of praise should be reserved until the dog has successfully completed a full training session.

I can assure you that a simple good boy and gentle pat on the head will be praise enough for the dog when they have completed a simple task. Additionally, as the dog becomes more proficient, then the praise doesn't even have to be given after each task.

In fact, once a dog is trained, they should be moved to a variable praise schedule. For instance, the dog may get praise after three successfully completed tasks one day and after six successfully completed tasks on another day.

Another big mistake many people make is giving praise after having given the dog a correction. I know we often feel bad about having to be firm and give our dogs corrections but it has to be done. We simply can't allow our feelings to interfere with what we know is the proper thing to do.

Following a consistent Command Structure will make training your dog a much easier task. The key word here is consistency. Decide to be successful before you start and remember the lessons you are teaching your dog during training could very well last a lifetime.

This article may be republished using the following attribution statement:

Copyright ©2006 Christopher Aust, Master Dog Trainer & Creator: The Natural Cooperative Training System (NCTS) for Dogs The Instinctual Development System (IDS) for Puppies. Subscribe to the BARK 'n' SCRATCH Newsletter by visiting NOW!  http://www.Master-Dog-Training.com

Quote of the Week

He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion.

~ Unknown ~

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Joke of the Week

New Rules for 2006

New Rule: Stop giving me that pop-up ad for Classmates.com! There's a reason you don't talk to people for 25 years. Because you don't particularly like them! Besides, I already know what the captain of the football team is doing these days: Mowing my lawn.

New Rule: Don't eat anything that's served to you out a window unless you're a seagull. People are acting all shocked that a human finger was found in a bowl of Wendy's chili. Hey, it cost less than a dollar. What did you expect it to contain? Trout? Luckily, it was only a finger!

New Rule: Ladies, leave your eyebrows alone. Here's how much men care about your eyebrows: Do you have two of them? Okay, we're done.

New Rule: There's no such thing as flavored water. There's a whole aisle of this crap at the supermarket, water, but without that watery taste. Sorry, but flavored water is called a soft drink. You want flavored water? Pour some scotch over ice and let it melt. That's your flavored water.

New Rule: The more complicated the Starbucks order, the bigger the jerk. If you walk into a Starbucks and order a "decaf grande half-soy, half-low fat, iced vanilla, double-shot, gingerbread cappuccino, extra dry, light ice, with one Sweet-n'-Low and one NutraSweet," ooh, you're a huge jerk.

New Rule: Just because your tattoo has Chinese characters in it doesn't make you spiritual. It's right above the crack of your butt and it translates to "beef with broccoli."

New Rule: Competitive eating isn't a sport. It's one of the seven deadly sins. ESPN recently televised the US Open of Competitive Eating, because watching those athletes at the poker table was just too damned exciting. What's next, competitive farting? Oh wait. They're already doing that. It's called "The Howard Stern Show."

New Rule: If you're going to insist on making movies based on crappy, old television shows, then you have to give everyone in the Cineplex a remote so we can see what's playing on the other screens. Let's remember the reason something was a television show in the first place is the idea wasn't good enough to be a movie.

New Rule: No more gift registries. You know, it used to be just for weddings. Now it's for babies and new homes and graduations from rehab. Picking out the stuff you want and having other people buy it for you isn't gift giving, it's assuming your friends are too stupid to shop.

New Rule: This one is long overdue. No more bathroom attendants! After I zip up, I don't want some guy offering me a towel and a mint like I just made it with Richard Simmons. I can't even tell if he's supposed to be there, or just some freak with a fetish. I don't want to be on your web cam, buddy. I just want to wash my hands.

* Have a joke you'd like to submit to us? Joke@Master-Dog-Training.com

Thank You For Reading!  Have a Terrific Week!

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The Legal Mumbo-Jumbo

The BARK 'n' SCRATCH Newsletter is published by Christopher Aust Copyright © 2006 All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted without the express written consent of the publisher or contributors.

We accept no responsibility for your use of any contributed information contained herein. All of the information presented in BARK 'n' SCRATCH is published in good faith. Any comments stated in this newsletter are strictly the opinion of the writer or publisher.

We reserve the right to edit and make suitable for publication, if necessary, any articles published in this newsletter. We reserve the right to publish all reader comments, including the name of the writer.

Christopher Aust, Master Dog Trainer & Creator:
The Natural Cooperative Training System (NCTS) for Dogs
The Instinctual Development System (IDS) for Puppies

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