from July 2019 Issue of 614
Greg Knows Dogs Helps Dogs and Their Human Companions Learn Together
By Laura Dachenbach
The love in the eyes of your dog as it sits at your feet
is truly heart-warming. Making you happy is what makes your dog happy. That’s
why your dog needs rules – to know what makes you happy. Enter Greg Schneider.
About 15 years ago, Schneider turned his career skills in education, coaching
and counseling to the canine world and began Greg Knows Dogs, an in-home dog
training program. Having trained over 2,000 of Central Ohio’s, it’s perhaps
fair to call him a bona fide dog whisperer. However, Schneider insists, “I’m
really not teaching dogs. I’m teaching people.” (614) sought out Schneider’s
advice for what every well-behaved dog should know, and how to get to that
(614) What are the basics that every dog should know?
GS: Number one is “come”. “Stay” would be another one. There’s something that I call voice control. Let’s say your dog is running towards another dog, you should be able to stop that dog with your voice. I think those kinds of things. Probably the number one thing people call me about is what I call “door manners.” The doorbell rings, their dog goes crazy, barking, jumping, trying to run out the door – so having a boundary your dog needs to stay behind while you greet your guests, or sign for your package, or get your pizza.
What do you think is the ideal training age?
I’ve worked with folks who are literally on their way home from the breeder. The value of working with a dog that young is that you can get right on top of the housetraining issues. And then there’s a whole raft of behaviors that I call “puppy nonsense”: mouthing, nipping, chewing, jumping, destroying things. So if you want to get on the preventive side of that, the earlier you work with someone, the better. If those things are going well, then you want to work on commands, we can wait a few months […]. What I’ve usually found is that “come” is not usually reliable until they are six months of age; their brains are just not developed enough […]. So for a pup I would say, three, four, five months. Maybe four months. Adult dogs we can start anytime.
What bad habits do owners inadvertently get their dogs
I usually get calls from people saying something like, “My dog runs the show here.” So just being firm and having some rules just overall so the dog can look to you for guidance, look to you for direction, One of the things I have found is when people are trying to teach their dog to walk, they let the dog pull into other people […] or to interact with another dog. If we do that often enough, the dog basically says, “I don’t care about walking with you. I want to go meet the new person.” So I think teaching your dog to walk nicely by your side is probably something that people should focus on more than they do. I can’t stand retractable leashes. That’s a really good way to develop bad habits. And then probably not working on “come” enough and kind of accepting that. If your dog doesn’t have the “come” command, you really run the risk of losing the dog, or the dog getting into mischief, maybe a fight with another dog.
Which is the most important factor when it comes to training: intelligence of temperament?
GS: I might go with temperament. Sometimes smart dogs are the hardest to train because they figure out workarounds […]. If we have a dog that is willing to please, I think we’ll go a lot further than the dog who is super-intelligent and can figure out ways around things. On the other hand, there are super-intelligent dogs [that are like], “You tell me once, I got it”. Overall though I’d say probably temperament is more important.
How can we better communicate with out dogs?
Better communication would be consistency, voice tone, and body language. So what I generally say is if you’re giving a command, you should use your normal speaking voice. If your using “come,” do that more like a “party invitation” voice. And if you’re having to give your dog a verbal correction, like “no” or “off,” a little bit sterner tone.
What’s it like working with older dogs?
Working with an older dog, I think, is actually easier. You don’t have to deal with the puppy nonsense. Most of the time when you have an older dog, they at least know “sit” and “stay,” and maybe “down”[…]. When I went through my training my dog was seven-years-old, and that was rough too because I was learning what to do too. Working with older dogs, actually it’s kind of nice.