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Dog Training/How can I transform my crazy Lab to an indoor pet within a few months?


Almost two years ago, I rescued a dog who was severely emaciated. I saw him running past my window and followed him, caught him, brought him home and back to health, etc. The entire time, I considered him temporary as I have been trying to find him a home this entire time. It's been two years. I'm moving in a little less than three months. I've realized that as taking him to the pound is NOT an option, he's stuck with me.

Charlie has been living outside in a small fenced in area these past two years without much training. He sits on command and is eh with stay, but that's all. Every time I let him out, he almost immediately runs away from me and I have to chase him down the street and catch him in my neighbors front yard. I don't think he knows his name since he ignores me when I say it, and he won't come to me for any reason. I need to train him to sit and come and stay and generally listen to me within the next few months. I consider myself good with dogs, but I honestly don't know where to begin with him. He's intensely high energy and a little rough. He's three years old. I see a lot of good qualities in him, he has zero aggression, loves people, loves other dogs, loves food, loves toys... he's basically perfect.

If I can't train my Labrador basic obedience and some house manners within the next few months, I may have to surrender him to a dog pound.

I fully acknowledge that his being this way is entirely my fault, I just need to know where to go from here.

Hi Carol,

Clicker training is my recommendation, that is genuine clicker training that follows the basic tenets, principles and procedures of real clicker training. Those would include teaching cues instead of commands, not using any type of physical or vernal correction or intimidation, teaching the behavior before adding the cue, using the click as an end marker as well as an event marker, minimizing the use of luring, using a high rate of reinforcement with pea-size treats, etc.

Here is an article I wrote introducing the concepts of clicker training:  I have also authored other articles on this site that you might find useful. See my YouTube channel ( some videos that you might find useful or interesting: ilovecanines.

Clicker training calms animals down by causing the animals to become active learners and participants in their training. They become thinking, rather than reacting animals. They learn how to learn, learn to love learning, and what they learn lasts a very long time, if not indefinitely.

In clicker training we actively engage the animal in their training rather than making them do anything. This eliminates stress and maximizes learning and cooperation. Clicker training increases an animal's self-confidence and builds the bond between dog and trainer/owner.

The very first thing I teach is how to get your dog's attention and keep it. Eye contact can be very calming for dogs, and if it is the first thing taught, becomes the default behavior, what the animal does when he doesn't know what else to do. I also teach sit pretty early on, that is sitting on cue and a default sit so that this also becomes part of the default behavior.

I offer an online training option through my business, Canine Connection LLC ( You could also search for a trainer via the APDT website ( or the CCPDT website ( Be sure to look carefully at the trainer's credentials and make sure you are hiring a trainer who uses force-free (no shock, e-collars, choke chain collars, prong collars, dominance, etc.) positive reinforcement methods, either lure-reward training or clicker training or some blend of the two.

Hope that helps!


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Cindy Ludwig, M.A., R.N., KPA-CTP, CPDT-KA


My specialty is clicker training. I'm a Karen Pryor Academy graduate and Certified Training Partner (certified clicker trainer). Karen Pryor was a marine mammal trainer and one of the early proponents of force-free animal training who helped popularize clicker training in the early 90's. I also do behavior modification with dogs that have fear, anxiety and aggression. I work with service dogs and was a certified therapy dog evaluator with two other organizations before starting my own therapy dog program, the first of its kind requiring all dog candidates to be trained with force-free methods and all evaluators to demonstrate a commitment to force-free methods. I made weekly visits with my own therapy dog to a nursing center in Dubuque, Iowa for four and a half years. I have an undergraduate degree in science and am a registered nurse with a previous specialty and certification in critical care, so I can answer questions pertaining to biology, behavior and pharmacology but because I am not a licensed veterinarian I cannot legally or ethically answer questions requesting a diagnosis. I have done graduate work in animal learning and wolf ethology, and have also completed coursework in dog biology, behavior and pet nutrition at regionally accredited U.S. universities. I continue my study of applied behavior analysis with top experts in the field. For more information and to schedule a consultation or enroll in classes, see my Canine Connection website:


Prior to becoming a full time professional dog trainer in May 2009 and opening my business, Canine Connection LLC I worked part time as a professional dog trainer and behavior consultant and also volunteered at humane societies in several states over a period from 1992-2009. My previous full time occupation was in the medical profession. I have completed various continuing education programs including but not limited to the Purdue University Veterinary School Principles and Techniques of Behavior Modification course; Clicker Expo; undergraduate courses in dog biology, behavior, and pet nutrition; and graduate coursework in wolf ethology. I was a Field Representative for Paws with a Cause for 3 years and train service dogs. My Golden Retriever that accompanies me in my work as a Field Representative is a "career changed" dog from the Paws breeding program that I have clicker trained as a demonstration service dog. This same dog I trained to earn the first Dog Scout title in the State of Iowa. She and I were also members of the Badger Kennel Club Drill Team and performed with the group annually at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, Wisconsin. My dog, Ginger and I provided weekly pet therapy visits to a local nursing center for the past three and a half years. I continue my education by participating in seminars and class offerings provided by such notable experts as Dr. Sophia Yin, Dr. Ray Coppinger, Michele Pouliot and others. My services include in-home private training and behavior modification, group classes and pet sitting. More information is available on my website:

Founder and owner, Canine Connection LLC; Founder, Canine Connection Positively Trained Certified Therapy Dogs; Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT); 2010 APDT Education Committee; Truly Dog-Friendly Trainer Coalition; Doggone Safe; American Kennel Club

Top Tips from Top Trainers: 1001 Practical Tips & Techniques for Successful Dog Care and Training (March 2010); The Golden View; Family Connections;; Animal info Publications; HubPages; Finding Fuzzybutt Four Blog; Petopia Newsletter, Galena, Illinois; Suite 101;;; Dubuque 365 Ink Magazine; Dubuque Telegraph Herald; Columbia Business Times; Columbia Senior Times; Columbia Missourian; Columbia Daily Tribune; Graphic Education Corporation; Belson-Hanwright; Critical Care Nurse; Journal of Emergency Nursing; Home Healthcare Nurse; Nursing; Journal of Emergency Medical Services; Shape; Houston Community College Egalitarian; Findlay College Obelisk

B.S., Science; M.A., Higher & Adult Education with graduate work in animal learning, canine biology and behavior, pet nutrition; Graduate, Karen Pryor Academy for Animal Training & Behavior; Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner; Diploma, professional nursing; licensed registered nurse (R.N.); Paramedic completion program; previously licensed paramedic in Texas and Missouri

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