What are dog shows all about?
Author: Holly Nelson


When did it all start and why:
In the 1800s, as the beauty of dogs developed into a fad and the canine’s function began to diminish, people started using dog shows as a way to regulate particular looks for different breeds. People who owned certain breeds of dogs began to form clubs to work on developing the look and temperament of their particular breed. Then in 1884, thirteen different breed clubs founded the American Kennel Club, the people in these clubs pledged to do everything they could to advance the breeding, exhibiting, studying and maintenance of pure thoroughbred canines.

Showing dogs a way to exhibit and judge the best:
The American Kennel Club uses exhibiting dogs through show rings as a way to keep up the standards in the breeds. A judge is hired to decide which dog in the breed category is within the best conformation standards for that particular breed. To become a judge a person must have certain requirements and is hired through the AKC.

What is the standard all about?
When breeding live stock or any species of animals it is important to maintain the natural look and also keep the standards in proportion. If not careful, the look of a breed can be altered through poor breeding. Let’s look at a popular breed, for instance, the black Labrador retriever, when this breed was first developed the dogs had stout bodies, their legs were short, and they had thick tails.  Many Black Labrador Retrievers bred in the last 8 to 10 years have been slowly evolving into a different standard.  The most resent dogs of this breed have long bodies, lanky legs and  long thin tails. Looking at the pictures below will give you a visual idea of this difference between the original Labrador and the recently altered one.


Original                                                          Altered

 Even though there are many Labradors around with the newer look, the only Labradors that are exhibited in the show ring are the dogs within the original standards. If we do not have a way to make sure that dog breeds are kept within their original proportions and standards eventually the original look of each breed will not exist. 

Is there really money in dog shows

The purpose of showing ones dog isn’t to receive prize money, even though in some of the big shows there is usually a nice cash prize that goes along with the trophy cup. However, Dog breeders use the dog shows to up the value of their genetic pool.

There is money in the sport, but it isn’t just by winning the show. When a dog wins a show it means that, that particular dog, in that particular breed is the best.  Once a dog is determined to be the best or as we say in dog world ” champion”  many people then want to buy a puppy from the champion dog. Some people want to buy a puppy from a champion just to have a pet from the best dog, others want to buy a puppy from the best line to breed, once a breeder  has bred a dog with a champion then they could most likely end up with a dog that is developed into the best of the best. If you have a dog that has won the top class at a show, or what we refer to as, “Best of Show,” then you can put a very large price tags on the puppies of the winner. That is where the money is. I have seen puppies of some  big winners that cost up to 10,000 dollars or more. That is the extreme case, most Best of Show winner puppies can be sold for $5,000 and if you have 5 to 9 puppies in a litter that can add up to $25,000 to $45,000 just from one litter of puppies.

Showing dogs is expensive:
However, just like anything else there are many expenses along the way. For instance dog breeders can and do spend anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000 or more a year in just showing their dogs, and that doesn’t even include grooming, food, veterinarian bills, leashes, collars, crates, beds, toys, etc…

Though showing dogs is expensive and a lot of work, It certainly gives one a great feeling of accomplishment when the dog is in the ring and is picked to be the winner, especially when you have been working for years to get the correct standards for your breed.

So if you get a chance to go to a dog show, look at each dog knowing that someone has taken a lot of time, money, work and effort in trying to reach a perfect champion of their breed, they are in the show ring with hopes that their dog will measure up to the breed’s standard being best of the best.

Dog show in Humboldt County:
If you are in the Humboldt county area there is a dog show at the Ferndale fairgrounds this weekend, June 27th, 28th, and 29th  and if  you get a chance to go, I can guarantee you will see many different breeds of dogs, and there is always the great anticipation to find out at the end of the show day, which breed and particular dog out of all the dogs at the show will be considered the best that there can be!

*Coming soon*

*What does obedience trails have to do with dog shows? *

Confirmation showing isn’t the only way to show a dog.

Dog shows are also designed to distinguish temperament of dogs.

This is done through many different facets of obedience trails.


    Author: Holly Nelson

Gift giving is fun and while on vacation many people, myself included like to bring home gifts for our friends and family members. I even knew a dog, who liked to give gifts when he came home from his vacations.

     Duke wasn’t always my dog, I found him when I was fourteen year old. One afternoon while I was on my way to a friend’s house I noticed a dog walking down our quite country road all alone. We didn’t have many stray dogs around our area and the few dogs that did run loose were local farm dogs. I knew all of these dogs quite well, but this big burly dog was not one of them. I wondered whose dog he was and why he was roaming around on his own. After a few days of  seeing the dog hanging around our neighborhood I decided to befriend him. Hoping that he was friendly I walked towards him encouraging him to come over to me. He was very compliant and trotted over wagging his tail. I petted him and as I did he looked up at me with a happy expression. He had a large head, floppy ears, and grey eyes that almost seemed human. His long black and white fur was very soft and as I stood petting him a great idea began hatch in my mind. If this beautiful dog didn’t have a home then maybe I could keep him. I headed home and was glad to see that he willingly came with me. He hung around our house all afternoon, but when evening came he left. The next day he was back and this routine went on for about a week. He would hang around our house all day, but in the evening he would leave again.

     My mom noticed the dog was continually hanging out at our house, she told me that he probably already had a home and I needed to find out where he lived so that I could return him to his rightful owners. After inquiring around our neighborhood, I found out that the dog belonged to the Quin family. The Quins were cattle ranchers who lived about a mile away. They owned Black Angus cattle and one of their cattle fields was adjacent to the woods behind our house.

     I was very sad when I heard that this wonderful dog already had a home because even though he was only around for a week or so, I had quickly becoming very attached to him. I really didn’t want to contact the owners of the dog, but my mom insisted that I call them and let them know where their dog was. I looked up the Quins number in the phone book and then grudgingly dialed it and waited for someone to answer

     “Hello,” answered a gruff voice

     “Hi, is this Mr. Quin?” I asked.

     “Yes, what do you want?” His gruff voice snapped.

      “Well, I live on Fieldwood Dr. and one of your dogs has been hanging around our house, I wanted to let you know just in case you were wondering where he was.”

     “Is it the big black and white dog?” He asked.

     “Yes.” I said.

     “That mutt is my son’s dog.”

     “Well could I speak to your son then?” I asked

     “No, you can’t speak to my son, he moved out and he left the mutt here.

     “Well, would you like me to bring the dog back to your house?”

     “I don’t really care.” snapped the gruff voice. With such a disapproving response I was at a loss for what to say and there was a moment of silence, I was having a hard time digesting the idea that Mr. Quin did not want the dog.

      “You mean you don’t want the dog?”  I asked, just to make sure I understood the man correctly. Then Mr. Quin retorted,

     “I don’t really care what you do with the dog, if you bring him back to my place he is just going to leave again and my son isn’t coming back any time soon. The dog is a nuisance around the farm, so do whatever you want with him.
“So you won’t mind if I keep him at my house?”
      “No, I don’t really care where he goes.”
       “Ok well what is the dog’s name?” I asked.
      “His name is Duke, listen, I was on my way out the door when you called and I need to get going. Good bye.” Mr. Quin said and then the line went dead.

      In a daze I hung up the phone. This was an unexpected turn and I realized that Duke might really get to be my dog after all. With Mr. Quin not wanting the dog, I had high hopes that my mom would let me keep him. I approached her on the subject and with a lot of fast talking, a little begging and pleading, a speech on how we really needed an outside dog to protect us, then a solemn promise that I would be completely responsible for Duke and a large compromise to never ever let him come inside the house, my mom reluctantly gave in and Duke began residing with us that very day.

 Soon however, I discovered what Mr. Quin had meant when he said Duke was a nuisance. Duke was very aggressive around male dogs. We did not have a fenced yard to keep him in, so for the peace and protection of the canines in the neighborhood, my mom told me to keep Duke tethered when we were not at home and at night. I wanted Duke to be comfortable while he was tethered and I remembered we had an old doghouse, it was somewhere in our barn. I went on a mad search and dug it out. Then I found a long chain to use as a tether for Duke. I put the doghouse in a sheltered area under a large tree for shade in the summer and protection form the cold during the winter. I attached the chain to the doghouse and then I hooked Duke to the chain. I waited to see if he would get upset and lunge while on the chain, but he didn’t seem to mind being tethered at all and I soon found out why. It was another definition to Mr. Quin’s word “nuisance”. The Quin’s son should have named Duke Houdini because he was an escape artist. The odd thing was he never ran away when he was lose in the yard, he only escaped when he was on his chain and only during times when we were not at home or at night. 

     The other oddity about his leaving was he did not run away every day. He only left when he wanted a little extra freedom, about every eight weeks or so. We never discovered how Duke unhooked his chain, he never broke it, but somehow he mysteriously un-clipped it. I tried many different chains, clips, and collars, but it didn’t seem to matter how complicated the clips were, Duke could always figure them out. During his escapes, it was apparent that Duke didn’t stay around our immediate neighborhood, for we never had any complaints about him fighting with the neighborhood dogs. I never found out where he went, but he always returned after two or three days, and upon his return he would go to his dog house and take a long rest.

      Duke had another odd idea about leaving, well actually in this case about returning home. After a few escapes Duke began returning home with different objects. He would leave the object on our porch at our front door and then he would then go to his house and rest. It was as if he wanted to give me a peace offering for his unauthorized adventures. Duke was consistent with his escapes, which I referred to as his vacations, he was also consistent with his gift giving and through the years he left many gifts on our porch. Duke gave me all kinds of things; a rake with a broken handle, an old tattered hat, a rock, tree branches, old shoes, a bucket with a hole in it, and many other similar items. upon one of his returns he had dropped a paper bag at our door. I was amazed when I opened the bag and found a set of six antique pewter mugs. I asked around the neighborhood to make sure that no one was missing the set of mugs, but no one claimed them. They were nice mugs, my mom liked them so much she cleaned them and put them on the mantel above our fire place as a decoration.

     Duke was very devoted to his gift giving and I once had the privilege of witnessing just how devoted he was. I was in the living room doing my homework when I happened to look out the window and see Duke coming up the road towards our house. He had been on vacation for the last three days so I was happy to see him coming home. I watched as he came up our driveway. When he got half way up the drive he stopped and just stood there for a few seconds, suddenly he turned around and ran to our neighbor’s house, he grabbed the doormat off of their front porch, carried it to our house, and then left it at our front door. With his last minute gift shopping complete, he had a very satisfied expression on his face as he went in his doghouse for his long rest from another great three- day vacation.


Written by Holly Nelson


Instinct is a way of behaving, thinking, or feeling that is not learned or a shorter way of saying it is to have “natural abilities”.

The Canis Lupis Familiaris or better known as canines includes: wolves, wild dogs, dingoes, Coyotes, jackals, and domesticated dogs. All of these canines have strong instincts that give them the ability to survive in the wild without tools or devices. Humans do have the instinct or drive to survive, but being different then canines we also have our appendages that we build with, thinking abilities that are complex, and a drive to domesticate which means to tame or reclaim from the wild.

Even though dogs have been bred and influenced by humans they are nonetheless Canis Lupis Familiaris and they still have all of the canine instincts that were designed to keep them alive in the wild.

    Living in our domestic world canines don’t understand that they don’t need to use these instincts to survive, nor do they understand that they don’t have the liberties to do so.

Below are a few examples of the way canines live according to their instincts and how they differ from the way humans live domestically.

The instinct to hunt     

     One of the instincts that canines have is to hunt for food. The canine definition for hunting is: sniffing out “living delicacies” that we humans refer to as “prey”. Once the prey is located the canine’s then chase it down, pounce on it, kill it, and then the best part of all, according to canines, is to eat the raw fresh kill.
Humans on the other hand do not hunt for daily food. We go to a job and earn money. Then we find a store with the best dog food our money can buy. The next step is to purchase a bag of dry kibble made at a factory months before. Then we bring the bag of kibble home and pour it into a decorative ceramic bowl with Rufus’s name on it. There isn’t any running, sniffing or fresh kill in the way we gather our prey. Hunting is a sport not a way of life in our modern world. However, I have noticed, most dogs do accept humans as the hunters without questioning our methods, that is, as long as the food supply holds out.

The Instinct to Move Territory
Dogs instinctively know they must move territories. The definition to move territory for the canine is; the entire pack all together, leaves the area with which they have dwelt for a few months trotting along with the alpha in the lead. As they move along they search out a place where the game is plentiful and there is a good water supply. Once the new territory is found the canines run around lifting a leg and marking to prove squatters rights as a warning to anyone that would want to claim or enter the territory.
Humans on the other hand find a real-estate agent, and then they look at and consider many different dwellings in an already chosen location. Once a suitable dwelling is found all of the belongings are put into a large truck and the humans drive to the new dwelling without ever sniffing or even marking a single part of the new territory. I believe while we move into our new residents our canine’s instinct and intellect must be challenged to a large degree about what exactly is going on around them.

The Instinct to show leadership

    One of the ways canine show leadership involves food. In canine packs the Alpha is the one who normally eats first. He also decides when the others in the pack will eat and how much food is eaten at the time. Dinnertime is often used for the challenge of leadership. The challenge is given through defiance in obedience during mealtime. As the alpha is challenged through this dis-obedient behavior he must aggress to keep order and leadership.
Humans one the other hand never have any battles over the food at the dinner table. There is never a proper challenge for the evening steak or roast beef. Humans just sit down at a designated spot and consume their food without growling, snarling, or challenges. So with proper human behavior at the dinner table I believe our canine companions must continually have this question in mind, “How can anyone know who is in charge without any challenges during meal time?”

     So you see, our way of life can be very confusing to our dogs causing a huge communication gap between humans and canines. As trainers my husband and I have ascertained that most dogs have behavior problems as a result of this confusion and lack to fulfil their natural instincts.
We have discovered that learning about canine instincts and teaching our dogs to live in our domesticated world is important to bridge the communication gap and to help our dogs become secure pack members that can trust humans to lead them in our strange domesticated world.

For More Information

     If you would like to learn more about canine packs and instincts, just click on the membership page of our website and become a (free) member. This will connect you to our evaluation page that has a plethora of information about dog packs, alphas, and instincts, oIf you would like your dog trained please go to our contact page, this will give you, our training locations, our hours and a way to contact us.




Author: Holly Nelson

 The Portuguese Water Dog

The Portuguese Water Dog is a working dog. In Portugal, the Portuguese water dog was bred to accompany fisherman on their boats. An exceptional swimmer and diver, the breed was known for retrieving broken nets, diving for fish, carrying messages between boats, and guarding boats for his master in foreign ports. The breed started disappearing in the early 20th century when technology made his daily job somewhat obsolete, but Dr. Vasco Bensaude, a wealthy Portuguese shipping magnate and dog fancier, saved the breed.

Could this be the breed for you?

This could be a great dog for you, if, you are athletic and have time for a very active dog. The Portuguese Water Dog requires vigorous exercise daily and does well with a large fenced yard, but would not be satisfied to be cooped up in a house or an apartment every day. This breed of dog is very intelligent and responds well to obedience training.  When obedience trained and with the correct amount of exercise The Portuguese Water Dog can be well behaved and fun to take to beaches and hiking.  

Hypoallergenic dog

The profuse coat is hypoallergenic, which is great for anyone who suffers with allergies from dog hair or dandruff, but the coat does require regular maintenance.  There are two kinds of professional haircuts for this breed. The lion clip (the coat on the hindquarters and muzzle are clipped to the skin) or the retriever clip (the entire coat is clipped to one inch in length and follows the outline of the dog).

What kind of dog is best for you?

If you are interested in acquiring a dog, but you are not sure what kind to select for you and or your family? Finding a perfect match between canine and human is one of our specialties. So if you would like a consultation to find out what kind of dog is best for you, just  leave a message at bestfreindsolution@sbcglobal.net

The Missing Turkey

As dog trainers, my husband and I have discovered that many of our clients have a delusion about our dogs, they believe that our dogs never misbehave. I can definitely say this not true, especially after what happened on a particular Thanksgiving Day….

That Particular Thanksgiving Day

Most Thanksgiving holidays we have friends and relatives visiting, but on this particular Thanksgiving we were having a quiet day together with just the three of us, my husband our youngest daughter and myself. The day started out as planned, we slept late and then spent a lazy afternoon just relaxing. For dinner we choose to spend time in the kitchen together making fabulous food. This was the grand finale of our day, each of us made our special creations which included homemade cranberry sauce, corn bake, giblet dressing, homemade yams with marshmallows, mash potatoes and gravy, baked apples, and the list went on. As the last part of dinner was being prepared I started to feel a little sick to my stomach. I decided to ignore how I felt. I was having such a wonderful day I wasn’t going to let a little upset stomach ruin it, so I continued with dinner preparations. An hour later dinner was ready and our dining table looked amazing. The turkey, roasted to perfection, sat in the middle of the table on its decorative holiday platter. Our crystal serving bowls were overflowing with all of our great creations. The place settings shined with our new china dishes, the silver cutlery glistened and the carbonated cider sparked in long stemmed wine glasses. It looked like a picture from Rockwell’s Thanksgiving Day painting. We were anxious to eat our fabulous meal, however as soon as I sat down my stomach lurched into an erupting swirl. I could no longer stand the smell of the food without feeling completely nauseas and now my head was aching and my face felt flushed, I realized then that I must have the flu. I confessed how I felt to my family. My daughter spoke up and also confessed that she had been feeling nauseas. We decided the only thing to do would be to go to bed, sleep off the symptoms, and see how we felt later on.
We left Scott sitting all alone at the table and after a few minutes of staring at the food he elected to go see a movie instead of eating dinner alone, hoping that when he returned, Celeste and I would feel better and then we could all eat our fabulous dinner together. He got his jacket and keys then he was met at the door by our two Golden Retrievers Quasar and Pulsar. They were always ready and able to go an outing. Scott didn’t want to take them with him and he didn’t want to leave them running around the house so he put them in Celeste’s room and told them to take good care of her while he was gone.

Have you seen the Turkey?

I was in a deep sleep not wanting to wake up, but a hand kept shaking me and I could hear a voice far off asking something about the turkey.
“What- huh- The turkey- uhhg- I don’t even want to think of the turkey I still feel sick.” I said half asleep.
Scott patiently said, “I know you aren’t feeling well, but the turkey is missing, did you get up and put it somewhere?”
“No, I’ve been asleep since I left the table.”
“Well, the turkey isn’t on the table that is where I left it when I went out.” Scott was said with a baffled sound in his voice.
“Wait what time is it? What do you mean when you went out? Where did you go?”
“To a movie, but when I came home the turkey wasn’t on the table.”
“Are you sure you didn’t put it away.”
“Yes, I’m sure I didn’t put it away. I guess I will wake Celeste up and see if she did something with it.” Scott said as he got up to leave our room.
Getting some rest helped me feel a little better, and since there was a mystery going on I just couldn’t stay in bed so I decided to get up and follow this mystery to the end.
Scott was already in Celeste room waking her up.
In a sleepy voice I heard Celeste say, “The turkey? I didn’t touch the turkey Dad. I still feel sick can I go back to sleep?
“Yes, go back to sleep.” He said, and then I noticed a strange look on his face as he glanced around the room. “Hey, Celeste, one more question before you go to sleep, where are the dogs? I put them in your room before I left.”
“Dogs? Oh, I got up and let them out of my room they were whining so I figured they wanted to go outside.” She said groggily.
“Did you put them outside?” Scott asked her.”
“No, I just let them out of my room I thought you were in the living room and I knew you would put them outside.”
“When did you do that? ” Scott looked surprised.
Celeste became a little more coherent and said, “Dad, Pulsar and Quasar woke me up, I figured they had to go potty so I got up to take them outside, but when I looked down the hall I saw the front room light on so I just let them go down the hall. I thought when they got there they would tell you they wanted to go outside and you would let them out. What’s this all about anyhow?”
“The missing turkey and the conveniently missing dogs, you can go back to sleep now if you want.” he said, as Celeste snuggled back under the covers.
I began to see a connection between the missing turkey and the missing dogs. The mystery was beginning to unravel. Scott and I looked at each other,
“You weren’t in the living room when Celeste let the dogs go down the hall, were you?” I asked. He shook his head and then he said,
“And the dogs didn’t greet me when I came in the door either, a possible sign of guilt.”
“Yes, very suspicious,” I said as we headed down the hall towards the dining room.
I looked at our dining table and sure enough the turkey was gone, but the funny thing was all of the other dishes were exactly how we left them and they were full of food. In fact the whole table was exactly as we left it, except the turkey was gone. The other strange thing was there wasn’t a dog anywhere to be found in the dining room, which was odd because the dogs always hung out with us wanting to be involved in whatever activities we are doing. We went into the living room and we saw pulsar curled up on her bed in the corner and then we found Quasar lying behind a chair. This behavior was not like our Goldens at all, it was very odd and it gave us another clue that the dogs most have had something to do with the missing turkey.
“Now for the interrogation,” Scott said as I nodded my agreement. We went back into the dining room and called the dogs. Reluctantly they came in displaying some very guilty body language. Pulsar walked around in circles blinking her eyes at us, she always did this when she was caught misbehaving and Quasar sat in front of us in a very proud and upright position, which she usually did when she wanted to make us believe she wasn’t the one who was involved in a crime.
“Do you see any of the evidence?” Scott asked looking around on the floor. I looked around too, but I didn’t see any turkey pieces, no greasy mess, not even a bone to speak of.
“No I don’t see anything, but turkeys just don’t disappear into thin air, I answered.
“Did you two eat our thanksgiving turkey?” Scott said looking at the dogs. They gave a quick half wag of their tail.
“Where is the turkey?” I demanded, they gave the timid wag again.
After a bit more interrogation, the dogs, by way of body language, told us that they were guilty of eating the turkey and they were sorry, they also admitted to eating the whole bird wishbone and all.

Quick call the vet

“We had better call Dr. Wisest and see if she can tell us if the dogs will be alright. Eating a whole turkey bones and all, can’t be good for them.” Scott said.
I was a bit reluctant to call our veterinarian on a holiday, but she was a good friend and I also agreed with Scott the dogs health may be in jeopardy. So I called Dr. Wisest.
She answered the phone and I apologized for the holiday interruption, then I explained what had happened with Quasar and Pulsar. She confirmed that the little feast could make our dogs quite ill, in fact she said, “If you don’t do something quickly they could end up hospitalized for the next few days.
“What can we do?” I asked with great concern.
“Well,” she said in a calm voice, “As I always say, when in doubt puke it out.” Then she gave me instructions on her recommended never fail method of getting turkey bones out of dogs without the complications of surgery. Use a half cup of peroxide and a turkey baster, put the peroxide in the baster and then give the baster a good squirt down the dog’s throats. Make sure to do the procedure outside because I guaranteed that the turkey and bones would bubble right up. She instructed in her usual confident and soothing voice.

We followed her instructions taking the bottle of peroxide, the turkey baster, and our dogs outside. Then we gave them a dose of peroxide from the baster. Dr. Wisest was correct they did puke it out. If we had any doubts to whether or not the dogs had eaten the turkey they were dismissed within minutes after the peroxide treatment. we witnessed mounds of turkey meat and bones bubbling up out of our dogs. We basted each dog twice just to make sure they were out of the danger of digesting the turkey bones. After the regurgitating process was all over, Pulsar and Quasar both looked at us with strange expressions on their faces as if they were saying, “Wow! you guys really wanted your turkey back.”
We kept an eye on our dogs for the rest of the afternoon making sure they were ok from digesting the 15lbs of turkey and from the very bubbly peroxide treatment, but they were fine and had no lasting ill effects. I was very thankful for Dr. Wisest’s advice.
We never did find out how our dogs got the turkey off of the table without making a mess or moving a single thing. However what we do know is this;
Never leave your Thanksgiving turkey on the table unattended because you just never know where it could end up, even if you are dog trainers, and even if your dogs are, for the most part, well behaved.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!


Understanding the canine pack
     Understanding our dog’s behavior is much easier if we have an understanding about how canines live together in packs.  All canines, including our domesticated dogs have the instinct to live in packs. Below are a few short, but informative paragraphs about packs and the pack leader or most often referred to as the alpha.

The instinct to live in a pack
     One of the  most important instinct that a canine has is the drive to live in packs. Living in packs is how canines survive in the wilderness. A team of hunters are more efficient then just one dog hunting alone. When dog’s defend their territory they make a better threat to an intruder as a group than one canine all alone. In our society the closest parallel to a human pack is our military. Our military forms groups of men and women that work together to defend and conquer. Military is structured for everyone to work, eat, and sleep as a group or a team. However our normal human society isn’t created to live in packs. Instead we live according to our economy, bank accounts and employment which gives us the freedom to live as individuals. Canines do not have the ability to understand individual life styles. 

 The Leader of the Pack
Packs are formed by a social order, and within the social order the pack members are given jobs and responsibilities. There are many different roles that the canines have within their pack, some being more important than others. Let’s take a look at the most important role a member of the pack can hold, this is the leader’s position or usually referred to as the alpha.
The word Alpha has become a well-known term in dog training language. The word alpha gives the definition to a position or a vocation that a dogs holds. This office is the highest position in the social order of a canine pack and along with the position comes many jobs and responsibilities.

The Canine Alpha Has an Office
The office of the alpha is taken by a particular canine that is able to cope with the responsibilities that come with the alpha position. The alpha must make sure the pack has enough game to eat and plenty of water to drink.  He also makes sure that his pack is safe from predators and has an adequate territory to live in. He must also provide a social order in the pack and within that order make sure all the members of the pack are doing their assigned jobs and are following his set rules as they live under his authority.  He is in the highest office of pack society making decisions for everyone to follow. 

Alpha’s Need to Make Decisions
Every day the alpha must make many decisions. What could a dog possibly make decisions about? You might ask.  Below are just a few examples:

An alpha needs to decide whether or not it is time to move to better hunting grounds.
He also must determine when is the best time to hunt and were the best locations of prey will be.
Another decision an alpha has is to make is how to distribute the food to his pack in the most beneficial way.
An alpha also must make decisions on how to discipline within his pack, if a pack member doesn’t listen to his direction or becomes rebellious then the alpha must decide what action to take in the situation with that pack member.

By the examples given above, you can see the complex and important job an alpha has. In the canine pack all of the canines lives according to the alpha’s rules and his decisions. This makes the pack a very tight knit group. Everything they do is for the good of the pack and its survival.  If you want your dog to respect you as the alpha then he or she must trust you to lead them accordingly.

Canines regard for authority
    Dogs don’t regard the power of authority the same way most people do. Dogs don’t abuse the leader- ship position. Canines regard the leadership position as a way to serve the pack, making sure the pack members have access to what they need and  protection from the dangers they encounter.
If the pack members recognize their alpha is an efficient and beneficial leader then they will not challenge this leader, instead they will follow his direction and summit to his authority.  However if one of the pack members thinks that he can run the pack more efficiently then the one that is already in charge he will challenge the existing alpha for the lead position.

For More Details about Canine Packs
To learn more about pack interaction go back to the Best Friend Training home page and click on the icon for the Free Evaluation on the Free Evaluation page along the right side is a plethora of free information about packs. It is split into categories that are under five subheadings. Happy reading and enjoy learning about your dog’s instinctual desires and natural understandings on how to live.  

*Our fee evaluation is still under construction, so on the evaluation sight, the icon for free evaluation will not work. However all of the information about “the canine pack” along the right-side is working.

* We are hoping to have our free evaluation working soon and when we do we will announce it on our blog.










Dogs are hunters and they are designed to eat like hunters. When dogs live in the wild they eat one large meal right after their kill. Then the alpha buries the meat and guards it until it is time for the next meal. At the next meal the food is dug up and a little more is eaten and then it is stored again, this continues until the meat is completely eaten.

The Most Beneficial way to feed is the Meal Feeding Plan:

To duplicate the way dogs eat in the wild it is best to feed your dog two meal each day. This is referred to as meal feeding. Give your dog a meal in the morning and another meal in the evening, put a bowl of food down in a confined area and give him ten to fifteen minutes to eat, then if there is any food left make sure to take it away.

The Nibbler feeding plan is Not Beneficial:

Many dog owners leave food out all day for their dogs. We call this the nibbler feeding plan. This is not a healthy way to feed your dog. Physically dog’s digestive systems are not made to keep moving all of the time. Therefore it is unhealthy for dogs to eat a little bit of food continually throughout the day. There is also another reason the nibble plan is not beneficial for dogs. One of the largest responsibilities that the alpha has in a pack is to take care of the food. This is a high-ranking position that the pack members respect. So if a dog is given the freedom to decide when he is going to eat, he will actually see that he was designated to be the one in charge and has the leadership position of alpha.



What’s up with these prong collars?

The first time that I saw a prong collar, I was appalled at its intimidating torturous look. “This must be some kind of World War II torture device,” I said to myself as I examined the metal contraption. I picked up the collar with a shudder, convinced that I could never use such an apparatus on a dog or any other animal. I was sure that the inventor of the collar must be someone without principles and I would certainly tell my clients this. However I wanted to back up my words with evidence. So I decided to try the collar on my own neck as proof, concluding that if it hurt me it could also hurt or even damage a dog.

 The experiment:

I took a few links out of the collar sizing it to my neck then I put it on, once in place I took hold of the chain and gave it a quick pull. I was Amazed! The collar did not hurt me, instead it gave me the impression that something grabbed me for a moment and I realized it was designed to mimic a canine’s natural correction. I also realized the device was not intended for our human way of thinking, it was made to be an efficient tool that canines understand. Therefore my conclusion about the collar changed, I decided it was not a WWII torture device and the inventor was not a person without principles. In fact it was the opposite, the inventor new that dogs would understand the correction and he designed the collar accordingly.

Understanding dogs and the prong collar:

Before we can understand how a prong collar works we must have some knowledge of how canines give each other corrections.

Discovering the canine’s natural correction:

Years ago, not long after I had become a dog trainer, I had a wonderful opportunity to observe feral dogs interacting together in packs in their natural environment. Through these observations I found an astounding discovery about dogs, discipline, and psychology.

Observing a feral dog pack:

I had been tracking and observing a pack of ten wild dogs. Early one morning I had an opportunity to watch as the pack ate a fresh kill of rabbits. However, before the rabbit meat was completely consumed the Alpha and his female took the remainder of the meat and buried it, then they remained nearby to guard it.

The two daring young dogs:

About a half hour after the meat was buried, two young males that I referred to as Sawyer and Huckleberry approached the area. I watched as Sovereign, the alpha kept lifting his lips and growling at these two young dogs. This was his way of warning the others to stay away. However Sawyer and Huckleberry did not yield to his warnings, instead they circled around darting in closer. I believe what Sawyer and Huckleberry wanted was more of the delicious breakfast and they were pestering their superior to get it. I did not perceive this as a takeover for leadership or a threat to the Alpha. They were just two young dogs wanting more of the tasty meat and pushing the limits to get it. Their shenanigans lasted until Sovereign had finally had enough of the two wrongdoers.

The moment of discipline:

Sovereign gave his last warning as he got up slowly and stood very tall with his head held high while glaring at the two young dogs. They however, still did not back away or give notice to Sovereign instead they continued to move even closer to the guarded area. Suddenly with the most incredible speed Sovereign jumped onto Huckleberry and grabbed his neck with brute force giving Huckleberry a quick but forceful shake and then just as quick as he grabbed him he let the young dog’s neck go.

The canine reaction to the correction:

There was no blood drawn and Sovereign did not correct Huckleberry again or continue any more physical force. Instead he stood over Huckleberry with a challenging look on his face, the young dog immediately dropped onto the ground in a submissive position. Sovereign stood over Huckleberry for a few moments then he took a step back and Huckleberry quickly slunk away. During the time that sovereign was disciplining Huckleberry, the other young dog, Sawyer had crouched down low and did not move a muscle. However when Huckleberry slunk away Sawyer crawled away behind him. After the trouble makers had made their quick exit, Sovereign went back to his post with a satisfied look on his face.

Saying they were sorry:

Ten minutes later the two youngsters were on their way back to the guarded area again. This time, instead of bouncing around and moving in quickly towards the buried meat they moved in slowly with their eyes on the ground. Sovereign looked over at them and they immediately dropped to the ground. After a few minutes of sawyer and Huckleberry’s submissive display Sovereign stood up and walked towards them, then I was privileged to watch, what I call the canine language of apologies and forgiveness.

The making up process:

As Sovereign walked towards Sawyer and Huckleberry they remained flat on the ground, then Sovereign stopped, with his body very stiff and his head poised high he stood about ten feet in front of two young dogs. They stood up, but as they did they kept their heads down not looking directly at Sovereign. Then using very deliberate movements Sovereign turned his head away from Sawyer and Huckleberry not looking at the two youngsters. With this sign from the Alpha they immediately turned around and dropped onto the ground again, this time keeping their full attention on the Alpha. After a few seconds Sovereign turned his head back and looked at the young dogs. Then his expression became softer and he relaxed his body and sat down. Sawyer and Huckleberry took their cue and cautiously headed towards Sovereign, they approached slowly still holding their heads down. When they finally reached the big dog they tentatively licked his lips. Then Sovereign got up, wagged his tail while swaying his body back and forth. Sawyer and Huckleberry rubbed against him with their tails wagging also. After a few more minutes of this tail wagging affection Sawyer and Huckleberry happily bounced away ready for a time of play.

The Observation:

In my observation of Sovereign and the two young dogs I discovered that dogs do understand discipline (I sometimes  believe they understand it and apply it even better than humans.) I also observed the way that the canines discipline is based on a method of phycology that animal behaviorists refer to as negative/positive reinforcements.

The negative reinforcement:

When Sovereign grabbed Huckleberry’s neck he was giving him a firm correction telling the young dog sternly that he was crossing the line. Huckleberry understood this communication and showed sovereign by using body language of submission.

The Positive reinforcement:

When Sovereign wagged his tail he was telling the youngsters they were not in trouble anymore and then he gave them affection by rubbing on them and using body language to say that everything was ok now and they could go and play.

The connection to the prong collar:

The momentary grab that Sovereign used to correct Huckleberry is what the prong collar mimics. So when the prong collar is used correctly in correlation with correct body language our dogs understand that we have just said no, and they perceive us as their canine alpha whom they understand, trust and respect.

My conclusion:

By observing dog’s reactions to the prong collar when it is used correctly I see that exact reaction that Huckleberry had when sovereign corrected him therefore I recommend that the prong collar be used as a dog training tool. However I also recommend that the person using this tool should make sure to praise their dog giving a rounded balance to the negative/ positive reinforcement.

We brought canines into our domestic environment:

If we invite people from another county to our home as our guests, but expect them to understand all of our social ways and cultures, they would not relate to us well and we would put them in a state of confusion. This is what it is like for our dogs when we expect them to understand how we live and require them to think like us.

We have a responsibility:

I do not mean we should change our entire way of life for our canines, if we did I am sure most of our friends and family would discontinue coming over for visits because most of the canine’s way of life are completely socially unacceptable. However we do have a responsibility to learn to communicate to our dogs. They do not automatically understand how, why and what we do. So it is our job to teach them and the best way to is to communicate with our dogs by using what they already understand.

The prong collar is only a tool:

The prong collar is an exceptional tool that we can use to teach our dogs the rules of our home and the ways that are accepted in our society. However we should use caution with these collars, only using them as a temporary tool not making the collar the object that the dog obeys. A dog’s training is complete when the dog sees that we are the alpha and responds to voice commands without using any gadgets, restraints or bribes.



Integrating Our Dogs into Our World

Authors: Scott and Holly Nelson
Canine Behavior Specialists

 Most dogs are taught to perform tricks. Numerous dogs can sit when they are told and many dogs will even lie-down for a cookie. But is this all there is to dog training?

In previous generations canines were used primarily as working dogs. These dogs did not live indoors with their owners, but lived mostly outdoors, in farm buildings, kennels or dog houses. Because they lived a life of service and were thought of as property they were taught only basic obedience and job specific commands.

In today’s modern society dogs live a dramatically different kind of life. They live with us as family members spending the majority of their time indoors, interacting with us, accompanying us on our daily activities, and being treated like a favorite child. With this change of lifestyle, basic and job specific commands are no longer adequate to integrate our canine friends into our domestic world. To sucessfully live with our dogs we need to  understand the social dynamics that exist between us and our dogs.

As dog trainers, we get calls every day from people telling us they are frustrated with their dogs. What is the reason for their frustration? Well, the answer is quite simple, dogs do not naturally think like humans and humans do not naturally think like dogs. Dogs and humans do not understand each other and living with someone or something you don’t understand will cause endless hours of frustration.

An example of this type of frustration can easily be seen in the short sequence of dialog that follows. An imaginary man named Gus and his now one year old Labrador retriever named Scruffy are the characters in this unfortunate scenario. Scruffy and Gus have been living together since Scruffy was 8 weeks old, Gus enjoys having Scruffy as a pet and Scruffy really likes being owned by Gus. However, this enjoyment does not prevent frustration from arising.

Gus and Scruffy’s typical Monday Morning

As we enter the scene we see Gus heading towards the kitchen to get his morning coffee and Scruffy is bouncing around Gus’s feet. Gus is thinking, “That was a great weekend, but now I need to get my coffee, get ready for work, and, and get to the office.”

Scruffy on the other hand is just happy to finely see Gus. He has been awake for an hour and greets him by wiggling around his feet and wagging his tail.

Scruffy is thinking, “You’re up, you’re up, now let me out to go potty!”

While waiting for his coffee to brew, Gus concentrates on all the unfinished business piling up at work.

Scruffy is still bouncing around trying to get Gus’s attention, he is thinking, “Come on come on, what’s the holdup? I really gotta go outside to go potty!”

The coffee is ready and Gus pours himself a cup then, with his coffee cup in hand he leaves the kitchen to get ready for work. Simultaneously Scruffy makes a spinning leap bumping into Gus causing him to spill his coffee. With an aggravated tone Gus exclaims, “Ahh, you bad dog, you spilled my coffee!” Grabbing Scruffy, he shoves him out the back door, saying, “Just go outside and go potty.” Closing the door, Gus mumbles about his spilled coffee, cleans up the coffee mess, gets another cup, and then goes to get ready for work.

Feeling slightly confused about being shoved out the door so roughly, Scruffy goes and takes care of his potty business. He comes back to the door wondering what happened to Gus. Jumping on the door to get Gus’s attention Scruffy is thinking. “Let me in, let me in, I am not supposed to be out here, I am supposed to be in there with you.”

Gus doesn’t hear Scruffy’s antics because he is in the shower. When he is done showering, he throws on his robe, and goes back to the kitchen to make himself breakfast. He sees Scruffy jumping on the sliding glass door and his level of irritation rises. Gus is thinking, “I hate it when he jumps on the door. I am not going to let him in.” While making his breakfast, Gus remembers that he still needs to feed Scruffy. So he grabs Scruffy’s bowl, fills it with kibble, and opens the door to take it out on the porch.

Seeing that Gus is opening the door, Scruffy pushes past Gus and bolts into the house. He makes a mad dash around the kitchen and takes a flying leap at Gus. Scruffy is thinking, “Yea, I’m in, I’m in, now we can play!”

Gus, stumbling under the impact of Scruffy’s leap, almost drops the food. He recovers his balance and then makes his way outside to put the food on the porch. He exclaims, “Scruffy, Settle down and get out here.

Scruffy, still excited, runs through the door and jumps around trying to get Gus to play.

Gus pushes Scruffy off of him and snaps, “No jumping, settle down!”

Scruffy still wanting to play, grabs his ball that is on the porch, and pokes it at Gus to show him that he wants to play ball.

Relieved that Scruffy has finally stopped jumping and not understanding that he wants to play ball, Gus shakes the food bowl to get Scruffy’s attention.

Hearing the noise, Scruffy looks up at him.

Finally getting Scruffy’s attention, Gus quickly says in a commanding voice, “Sit Scruffy, sit, sit.” Gus’s intention is to have Scruffy sit calmly while he puts the food bowl down.

Instead of sitting, Scruffy backs up a little, thinking, “I don’t want to eat now, and I want to play.

Gus then commands Scruffy again, “Sit I said sit. Come on Scruffy you know how to sit, now sit down.”

Still intent on playing ball, Scruffy sets the ball at Gus’s feet, takes a few steps back, sits down, and stares intently at Gus waiting for him to pick up the ball and throw it.

Thrilled that Scruffy has finally sat down, Gus says, “Good boy Scruffy.” Then he sets the food on the porch and says “Here’s your food.” Having accomplished his propose he goes back in the house.

Surprised that Gus didn’t throw the ball and affronted that he went away instead Scruffy thinks, “Hey, where did you go? Come back out and throw the ball.” He paws at the door trying to get Gus to come back out.

However Gus is in the kitchen rushing around making his breakfast. He hears Scruffy scratching at the door and yells, get away from the door and go eat your food.

Being persistent Scruffy scratches on the door some more.

Now Gus is getting irritated, he realizes he is beginning to run a little late with his morning preparations so when he hears Scruffy’s persistent scratching he stomps over to the door, forcefully opens it, and then shouts, “Scruffy get away from the door, go eat your food!”

Scruffy hears the angry tone in Gus’s voice and knows that Gus won’t come out to play when he sounds like that. Scruffy goes away from the door, thinking, “I wonder what caused my exile?” Sulking about being left outside Scruffy settles down and lies near the door.

After having his breakfast and another cup of coffee Gus calms down and is no longer irritated, he is thinking, Scruffy stopped scratching at the door, so I will let him come inside now.

As the door opens Scruffy jumps up and down thinking, “Yea your back, now let’s play!”

Gus notices the untouched food, he always feels frustrated with Scruffy when the food is left uneaten. He wants Scruffy to be healthy and he doesn’t like to waste the expensive dog food. In his frustration, Gus gestures by waving his arms around in the air to emphasize his words while yelling, “Scruffy why didn’t you eat your food, I buy you the best and you don’t even touch it. Don’t waste your food, eat it!”

Interpreting Gus’s arm waving gestures and loud vocalizations as an invitation to play Scruffy grabs the ball and wildly jumps around with it, thinking, “Here is the ball, I am ready to play.” During one of his exuberant jumps Scruffy accidently lands on the food bowl knocking it over spilling the food.

Now Gus’s frustration has turned to anger and he bellows at Scruffy, “That’s it, I’ve had it, and I don’t have time for this, I have got to get ready for work. Scruffy just eat your food!” Gus leaves the food spilled on the porch and goes back inside.

Scruffy runs to the door to go inside with Gus, but the door closes before he makes through. Now Scruffy is getting frustrated he doesn’t know what he did and why he is left outside again.”

Gus heads to his room and while he is getting dressed he feels upset for getting so angry at Scruffy. With a guilty conscience, he is thinking, “I shouldn’t have been so hard on Scruffy. I am sure he didn’t mean to spill his food. I will go back outside and pet him for a little while to let him know everything is ok between us. I can get to the office a few minutes late Scruffy needs some attention before I leave.

Meanwhile, Scruffy gives up on Gus and wanders away from the door. He stands in the middle of the yard looking at a mound of dirt next to the fence. It is fresh dirt that Gus used to cover up the last hole that Scruffy made. Scruffy is thinking, “I want to play. I will dig out. Then I will go and play with Ginger.” Scruffy runs over to the dirt and starts to dig out of the yard.

Dressed and ready for work, Gus goes to make up with Scruffy, but as he looks out the glass door he sees Scruffy across the yard digging under the fence. Feeling frustrated Gus is thinking, “I can’t believe it! I just filled in that hole and he’s digging out of the yard again! Remembering the last time Scruffy dug out and how upset the neighbors were about all the havoc that he caused, Gus vowed he would not allow Scruffy to dig out again while he was at work. He goes out the door with the intentions of getting Scruffy to bring him in and put him in the garage for the day.

Scruffy hears Gus come out the door and thinks, “Yea he’s here, he came back out to play after all.” He stops digging, and excitedly races over to Gus, jumping all over him when he arrives.

Gus yells, “Scruffy you stupid dog, stop jumping on me!” He looks down at the dirt on his suit and pushes Scruffy away while snapping, “I have my good suit on. Uhg, your paws are all dirty.” Gus quickly steps back through the sliding glass door and slams it shut before Scruffy can jump on him anymore.

Scruffy jumps up on the glass smearing dirt all over it.

Gus yells, “Look what you did now, there is dirt all over the door!

Not wanting to get his suit any dirtier and knowing he doesn’t have time to change his clothes, he opens the door slightly and when Scruffy attempts to burst in, Gus grabs him by the collar and pulls him through the house towards the entrance of the garage.

Astonished by Gus’s forcefulness and startled by being pulled through the house Scruffy is thinking, “Hey, wait, let go of me, what are you doing? This isn’t a good game. Then Scruffy realizes Gus is taking him to the garage. Scruffy resists by dragging his feet and putting his head down.

Gus overrides Scruffy’s resistants’ by using more force to drag him to the garage.

Scruffy thinks, “Let go, I don’t want to go in there.”

Gus shoves Scruffy in the garage, closes the door, and then attempts to clean the dirt off of his suit coat. “What am I going to do with Scruffy? I wish he would just behave.” Realizing that he is making the coat worse by wiping it, Gus abandons the cleaning job, grabs another coat from his closet, finds his keys and runs out the door to his car. As he starts the car he worries about Scruffy in the garage. He mumbles aloud to himself, “I don’t know if that was a good idea to leave Scruffy in the garage. He will probably tear up my stuff again. Then as he is pulling out of the driveway he thinks, “Oh no I think I left the camping gear on the floor of the garage. Oh I can’t deal with this now. I have got to get to work.”

Meanwhile in the garage, Scruffy jumps up and scratches at the door leaving another set of scratch marks. After a few minutes of clawing, he stops and listens for Gus. Not hearing anything and realizing that the house is empty, he concludes that he has been abandon in the garage once again., “He shouldn’t put me in here and then run away like that.” So Scruffy trots over to the camping gear that is lying on the floor, grabs Gus’s expensive new backpack, and begins his rampage of destruction, thinking, “This will show him he shouldn’t abandon me!”

As you can see Gus and Scruffy have had very different plans for the day. Both man and dog thought they were in charge of each other. I suspect we will get a call any day now from Gus asking us to help him with the problems he is having with Scruffy.

You’re probably wondering how I integrate my dog into my world without experiencing this kind of frustration. The solution is not difficult. All you need to do is learn the way canines think learn how to communicate with them, and show them that you are their trusted Alpha-leader. Once you have this knowledge you can communicate with your dog clearly, teaching him how to fit into our domestic lifestyle.

As dog trainers, we have studied canines and canine pack interaction. We have learned some remarkable things about dog’s social behavior, stages of social maturity, social order, and leadership. We have also developed a way to recognize what social position your dog believes he occupies within your household. For more information sign up for a free membership on our web site, and as you read the information presented you will come to have an amazing new understanding of your dog and the reason behind his different behaviors.

Established Dog Trainers – New Web Builders

We are currently in the process of building our website.

As you can see we are just beginners at blogging and building webpages, however we do plan to master it soon and we have many new ideas for our future website