Puppy Classroom Trade Secret #79

The Teams that choose to come to puppy class are Teams that are showing you they want to learn, even if just by the effort of showing up, sans practicing during the week.

That is a huge first step.

I teach the basics, maybe some instability / balance work, tricks here and there, work and settle, freestyle (even though Connie is opposed to dancing), and I pluck through my repertoire of skills step by step, day by day, week by week.

I talk about management and the importance of meticulous management with a puppy, structure in the household, species specific nutrition, appropriate exercise both mentally and physically, and kind and considerate socialization.

This to me, in my brain, how my world works, is a complete package. But every single session for fifteen years someone will ask me how to control and/or dominate their puppy.

Now as Puppy Classroom Trainers we know that control is merely an illusion, at best, and dominating a puppy is already being done by the mere fact that humans are taller, bigger, louder, and most of the time adults. Done and done.

But, if my Teams want to know, I am there to walk them through this tricky to navigate conversation. How to control and dominate your puppy – Trade Secret #79.


The first step to controlling or dominating your dog is to make sure that everyone has taught the BETWEEN circus tricks behavior to fluency. It doesn’t take that much time really as puppies love this one. If you are unfamiliar with this, it is asking your puppy to go around your right side, and then between your legs, in a stand or sit.

Now your Teams are going to look at you as if you lost track of the conversation or didn’t get the question to begin with, but reassure them that you understand, tell them to hang in there, all truths shall be revealed in good time, and help the human end of the Team focus and stay on track, task at hand, consistency is important.

In one to two weeks everyone should have an awesome BETWEEN behavior, and both ends of the leash should feel a bit accomplished at this point.

Then introduce the next step to demonstrate control and domination, bigger feet and longer claws. Yes that is right, in order to really show your puppy who is the boss, who is the leader, who is in C.O.N.T.R.O.L. you must have bigger paws and longer claws. Puppies don’t, as in DO NOT, respect puny human feet with manicured nails and tender skin, as if.

Donning footwear shouldn’t take too much time before class, so make the effort, and then call to you any random puppy in class that is appropriately scampy for your demonstration partner. Call the puppy to you, ask for AROUND & BETWEEN, and as they stand there, between your legs, in your personal space, and have the realization that you have some seriously big-ass paws and claws, let them sink into that moment, let them learn on their own terms who is really in control, who is the dominant one. And what you will see, almost immediately, is the look of relief on the puppies face, that they no longer have to have the weight of the world on their shoulders, that the human will take care of things. Thank you thunder paws.

That is usually all it takes. But just to solidify the intention in the moment, leave the footwear on for good measure, you might also find more of the human end of the leash behaving as well. Control and domination of a puppy is just one foot step away – literally. – Nancy