Tenderfoot Training


















1.      Where did you learn about dogs?
We have lived with dogs, and lots of other animals, all of our lives. We have trained our horses and llamas the quiet way, which is also known as natural training. Native American Indians worked their horses this way and it is based on true animal communication. We do not use “traditional” dog training methods, because we don’t believe they are as simple & effective as natural training.

2.      Why don’t you use choke chains, shock collars, halter collars or clickers?
People like to use devices – they seem quick and easy. We believe that as long as you rely on a device you are not teaching your dog to use her brain. You are relying on the gimmick to create the action and it will be more difficult for you and your dog to be off leash or good at distances and distractions. Relationships should not be built on bribery or force – they should be built on love, trust and respect. We teach people to connect with their dogs in a way the dog understands quickly. In our trainings we have you use your touch, your voice and your intentions to modify your dogs behavior and respond to your requests.

3.      Does this training work with all dogs?
Our training works with all ages and types of dogs. The
key is communication and developing an ongoing relationship of love, trust and respect. Our goal is to teach you to understand your dog, and know how to develop healthy a relationship with her.

4.      How long should my training sessions be?
A relationship is on going all of the time, not done in sessions. You don’t think of being a good parent or partner for 10-15 minute sessions a day – it is who you are as a parent or partner all day long and the same applies to leadership. With a large vocabulary you can communicate and connect all day long – giving your dog lots of jobs to do to keep him busy and entertained. This creates a happy human and a happier dog.

5.      What kind of leash/collar is best?
We are very picky about the collars and leashes we recommend. The wider the better for the comfort of the dog and it should be made of a stiff material that does not collapse and become narrow if the dog were to pull against it. Narrow collars can cause damage to the trachea and cause too much discomfort.

The same can be said for leashes. A ” – 1” wide leash made of a double thick nylon is the best as it is more comfortable to your hand and it has greater weight with which to communicate. Light weight leashes are no good – it is like trying to take your dance partner around the floor by one hair – you have to work too hard to get results. By holding your partners ponytail you can do less and accomplish way more. Remember – always do the least amount possible to get results – it is what is fair to the dog.

6.      How do I fit the collar to my dog?
Be sure that your collar is comfortable to your dog. It should be a strong, but comfortable material like, nylon, leather or cotton and try not to get one with sharp edges. Some of the fancier collars that have designs on them have melted or stitched edges that have a sharper edge to them – these are not the best for your dog. Look for doublewide edges or nice thick material. Beware of the designer collars that may be pretty but are not functional. Take your collar and put the edges between your thumb and forefinger and press down – does it collapse and become narrow? Then it is not stiff enough to be gentle to your dog. A collar needs to be stiff enough so it disperses the energy when you give a direction.

When the collar is on the dog you should be able to fit a flat hand (four fingers) between her neck and the collar, not too big to slide off and not too small to choke. If you are sizing a collar on a puppy, please make sure you check the sizing every couple of days – as puppies grow quickly and could out grow the collars before your know it.

7.      When should training start?
Right away. We say dogs are never too young or too old to learn. Puppies are learning all of the time so it is better to begin now and teach them correct habits and good manners, rather than wait until they have learned all of the bad ones and you have to work twice as hard to get on the right track.

Rescue dogs could use a little time to get used to the new environment, but don’t wait too long. As soon as she seems to have settled, start with some of the simpler rules of the house and build from there. That way she is clear about her status in her new home and she will feel more secure.

8.      Is it ever too late to train?
Any dog who entered our home would be expected to learn the rules of our house and they would all be capable of doing so, no matter the age. Saying an old dog can’t learn is like saying an older person can’t learn something new. All dogs are willing and able to adapt to a new environment and this often means learning better manners or expanding their vocabulary. Sometimes it just takes extra patience to help them overcome old, bad habits.

9.      Is it okay to get 2 puppies at the same time?
We do not recommend it. You are bringing a puppy home to develop a relationship – if you bring two puppies home they will have a relationship with each other. This relationship will be far stronger than the one they have with you and you will be hard pressed to become part of their happy twosome.

We recommend that you get your first dog and teach him to be the best he can be, when he is really connected to you, has great manners and is more mature, and then think about bringing in another baby. The beauty of this theory is that the older dog will teach the younger one the tricks of the trade. However, if the older dog is not so good, than the same thing will happen and he will be teaching the younger dog bad manners and your troubles will multiply.

10.  How do I get my puppy used to the leash?
Practice and patience. First they need to get used to the collar, so let the puppy wear the collar around the house while you are with her. She might fuss and scratch at it, but just ignore this and let her keep it on until you no longer see her fussing. The collar needs to become like a shirt on your back – when it’s on you don’t even notice it. If you were to take the collar off while she is fussing, then she would learn that fussing works and that the collar is negotiable and it is not. She will quickly forget it’s even there.

From there you introduce the leash. What bothers a puppy the most is the pressure she feels on her neck when you give it a gentle pull forward. The most important thing to teach your puppy is to give to pressure not fight it. You can do this by giving a gentle pull forward and then release it the second the puppy takes a step forward. Typically this means pull forward 3” and then release, pull forward 3” and then release. Each time the pup steps forward give her happy praise. She will learn that is what you want and she will feel that giving to the pressure feels much better than fighting it. This should take only a few minutes.

11.  Should I send my dog to the trainer so he can train him for me?
As we have mentioned before, this is all about you and YOUR relationship with your dog – not about someone else’s relationship with your dog. The trainer needs to be teaching you and you need to be teaching your dog. You wouldn’t send your child to someone else’s home to learn manners. You got a dog to have a relationship, make the best of it and learn to become a great dog person.

12.  When should we socialize?
The best answer is always and forever. Dogs crave socialization – it’s who they are. The important window for socialization is the first five months of a dog’s life. Unfortunately, people are reluctant to socialize young puppies because they haven’t had all of their shots. This is a terrible catch-22.

Socialization is really about experiencing new things - not just dogs and not doing the same thing over and over.
We encourage you to take your puppy to as many new situations and environments, as you deem safe. Many stores are puppy friendly and this gives you great opportunities to teach your puppy that the world is a wonderful place full of wonderful people.

It is just as important to introduce other animals into your puppy’s world, just use good sense. Arrange play dates with physically and emotionally healthy dogs of all ages, shapes and sizes.

Dog parks can be too risky for young ones, so try to wait until the puppy is bigger and emotionally stronger to handle the big dogs playground.

13.  Is it okay for the dog to be in our bed?
We think it’s just fine to share your bed with your dog. It is natural for the pack to sleep together. However, it is not okay for your dog to think the bed belongs to him. You need to teach your dog that he is welcome on the bed when you invite him up and when you tell him to get down from the bed he must do so with no arguments. You do not want to see how many dogs are in our bed!!!

14.  Where should a new puppy sleep? The laundry room?
We put our new puppy in bed with us for the first few nights. Puppies are taken from their litters too early and still benefit from sleeping next to a warm body with a beating heart. He’s actually bonding with you while you sleep. Tiny pups sleep hard through the night and there is little worry of accidents. As they get older we put a short leash attached to the puppy and our wrist so we get a little tug if they start getting up and we can take them out to potty and come right back to bed, (no playing).

Starting your puppy out in your bed does not mean you will have to have a dog in your bed for the rest of your life. As soon as your puppy has gotten used to the routines and security of your home (approximately 5 days) then it is fine to move him off the bed and into a crate or onto his own bed next to yours.

Puppies should not be ostracized to another room for sleeping. This can create an insecure and independent personality. Puppies never sleep away from the pack in nature – they would howl and cry for the pack to come and find them before a predator does.

15.  What do you think of crate training?
It can be a great training tool and comfort for your dog. Crates are just like personal dens for your dog and he will take comfort in having one. No matter where he is, if he has his crate he feels safe and at home. It is important to make the crate a positive and safe place. Never use it as a punishment. He should get his best toys and bones in the crate. Crates are great for keeping a young puppy safe when she can’t be watched at the moment. It can help in potty training, because a dog should not soil their den. However, pet store puppies are highly likely to soil their crates because they were forced to in the store environment.

Crates are just very handy. We use one during the more intense training periods in the first year of a dog’s life, and not as much as the dog matures. Once a dog is trained to the crate it is always an option when you need it.

16.  What do I do about separation anxiety?
Insecure dogs, previously abandoned or overly attached dogs can have terrible issues when you leave the house. They actually think they will die, because the leader is gone and may never come back. The damage they do while you are gone is their way of stressing out; torn furniture, soiled carpets, or scratched doors – all efforts to save themselves or release the stress.

You must teach your dog that you come and go all of the time, it’s no big deal. Do not dramatize your departures or your arrivals.

Pretend you are working on a project outside and all of your tools are inside the house. Go out of the door and then come back in to get a tool then walk right out again – not noticing the dog at all. At first he will get all excited each time you enter the house, but if you do this 30 times, he will get bored and barely lift his head as you enter or leave. For some dogs it will be 30 times for other it will be 300 – everything is always according to the needs and sensitivity of your dog. Try to increase your time away from the house in little increments.

Eventually you will grab the car keys and go sit in the car for a few minutes and then drive around the block. Dogs are aware of the sounds and behaviors involved in your leaving for work, so try to create a realistic experience as you desensitize him. Plan on spending your weekend practicing until you see a change in your dog, it will pay off with a lifetime of security and peace.

Crates can be handy for separation problems. While some dogs feel better having the whole house to roam about and protect, others feel much better being confined to their crate, it feels safe and secure, and the dog doesn’t’ have to worry about being responsible for the house.

17.  Why does my dog pull so much?
Unfortunately people teach their dogs to pull – they don’t mean to but they do. People think their new puppy needs to sniff in 30 places before they can potty, so they pull you here and pull you there – this is the beginning of the end. Then they learn to pull you towards the squirrel on the tree or to the dog walking towards you. Each time you let them pull or drag you somewhere they learn to pull even more.

18.  What about carsickness?
Mostly puppies are the victims of carsickness; they just don’t have their equilibrium yet. Do not feed the puppy before a ride (less to toss up), and try to make the trips short. They will usually grow out of it by 8-12 months old.

Unfortunately, once a puppy has thrown up in the car, he remembers it and it affects the future trips because he is remembering that one really bad one. You can try to desensitize the puppy to the car by getting in the car and practice going down to the end of the driveway and back, then just around the block. Spend some time just sitting or playing in the car and not going anywhere. Create happier memories for him.

Ask your vet about temporary solutions for unavoidable trips that could pose a problem. Contact us today with any additional questions on our natural dog obedience training programs in the city of Boulder, CO.



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