FACE Friend Linda Michaels Publishes “Do No Harm™ Dog Training and Behavior Manual”

A few months ago, we introduced you to FACE friend and supporter Linda Michaels of Del Mar Dog Training in a blog post.  Linda is a top-rated dog trainer and behavior expert who created the Hierarchy of Dog Needs® approach to force-free behavior modification.  Linda has expanded the ideas she outlined in the Hierarchy into a brand-new eBook called the Do No Harm™ Dog Training and Behavior Manual.  The manual is a great resource for anyone interested in learning about force-free solutions for common dog behavior problems (pet parents, trainers, animal welfare workers and volunteers, groomers, and more).  The book is available for purchase in pdf format HERE.

The manual covers both basic obedience and more advanced behavior issues like aggression and separation anxiety.  Topics covered include advice on finding the right dog for your family and lifestyle, as well as step-by-step training how-tos for many key behavior areas, such as:

  • Housetraining
  • Socialization to people and other dogs
  • Dog safety and body language
  • Good manners and impulse control
  • New puppy training
  • How to avoid “treat dependence”
  • Teaching the basic commands
  • Protocols for dealing with serious behavior problems

Linda has an MA in Experimental Psychology and has worked not only with dogs, but also wolves and wolfdog hybrids in need of treatment for aggression.  The foundation of her approach is to avoid the use of harsh, dominance-based training methods and aversive collar devices (shock, prong, choke).  Linda believes that these methods are often counter-productive and can in fact increase aggression in dogs.

The Hierarchy of Dog Needs® concept is based on the idea that dogs (just like people) have fundamental needs that should be met both in the training process and throughout their lives.  Besides basic physical needs like food and shelter, dogs also need to feel safe, secure, and loved.  Linda’s training methods take these important emotional needs into account, leading to optimal results.

As Linda notes, traditional dominance training methods and devices can inflict irreversible psychological damage on our dogs.  “This manual was written for ‘the heartbeats at our feet’ with their well-being and best force-free care and training practices in mind,” says Linda.  “We no longer leave the door open for any justification to use aversive/punitive methods of training with dogs.”  The key to effective training is the proper use of force-free methods…now easier than ever thanks to Linda’s contributions to the field!


What Will Be the Top Pet Industry Trends for 2017?


When it comes to caring for our dogs, cats, and other pets, many devoted pet owners will do just about anything to make sure that our fur kids lead healthy, happy, and pampered lives. Trends in the pet industry reflect our continuing interest in providing the best food, products, and care for our four-legged friends.

What will be the hottest trends in the pet business in the coming year? Industry experts predict the pet industry will continue to grow by leaps and bounds. Here are the top projections:

Natural Pet Products


Consumers will continue to be aware of the safety and sustainability of the products they buy, and that goes for pet food and other supplies. More and more of us will be seeking out natural pet food, cat litter, flea and tick products, grooming products, and toys.

Specialty Pet Services


We also will continue to provide our pets with the best care we can. The market for upscale pet services will continue to grow. Areas include training, grooming (and other “spa” services), behavioral consulting, photography, and boarding/pet sitting.

Pet-Friendly Business


Other pet trends to watch for include the growth of mobile dog and cat grooming services, more businesses like stores and restaurants that welcome pets, pet-friendly travel and hotels, and the growth of pet health insurance.


The Hierarchy of Dog Needs™: A Wellness and Force-free Behavior Modification Guide

Hierarchy Dogs1

Many of us first learned about Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs model of human motivation back in Psychology 101 class. Maslow proposed that human behavior is motivated by an ascending hierarchy of needs, from basic ones like food and shelter to more complex emotional and social needs like feeling a sense of accomplishment and having a network of friends.

Linda with a little friend.

Linda with a little friend.

What if the Hierarchy of Needs model could be adapted to canine psychology and used for dog training as well as other human-dog interactions like grooming, veterinary practice, animal sheltering, and working/service dogs? Well, good news dog lovers! FACE Foundation friend and supporter Linda Michaels, M.A. of Del Mar Dog Training here in San Diego County has done just that!

Linda with a big friend.

Linda with a big friend.

Linda has been rated as one of the top 10 dog trainers in the U.S. With a background in experimental psychology, and a special focus on the psychological aspects of dog behavior, Linda has used her extensive experience to develop the Hierarchy of Dog Needs wellness and force-free behavior modification approach:


As can be seen in the pyramid infographic (click on image above to enlarge), a dog’s needs progress like this:

  • Biological (food, water, sleep)
  • Emotional (security, love)
  • Social (bonding, play)
  • Cognitive (choice, novelty)

Added to this hierarchy of needs is a dog’s force-free training needs, what Linda calls “do no harm” management and learning. Once our dogs’ foundational needs (biological, social, emotional) are met, we can then use the HDN to address force-free behavior modification.


What’s “force-free?” Linda explains that there is never a justification for using harsh training methods based on pain, fear, or dominance. She also strongly opposes harsh training devices (like shock, prong, or choke collars) on your dog. Instead, the Hierarchy of Dog Needs philosophy can be used in conjunction with a variety of established force-free training methods, including:

  • Desensitization
  • Classical and counter-conditioning
  • Differential reinforcement
  • Positive reinforcement
  • Antecedent modification
  • Management

Hierarchy Dogs2

Interested in learning more about this unique and compassionate approach to dog training? There’s lots of great information about utilizing the Hierarchy of Dog Needs method on Linda’s website. Linda is currently working on The Hierarchy of Dog Needs Handbook, a step-by-step guide to the principles outlined in the infographic. Be sure to pick up a copy early next year!


Tips on House Training Your New Puppy


What’s one of the most important elements of training your new puppy? Potty training, of course! House training a new pup can be intimidating for new dog owners. Here are some helpful tips to get you started on this fundamental training task from the experts at Labrador Training HQ.

The two most important training elements to keep in mind are to prevent mistakes from happening inside the house, and to always praise your puppy every time he or she goes to the bathroom in the right place.


Start the house training process by restricting your pup to one area of the house, and make sure you have a good crate or puppy playpen. Feed your puppy high quality food on a regular schedule to promote good bathroom habits.

Be sure to clean up any indoor messes thoroughly and always make the outdoors the preferred potty area, preferably returning to the same spot every time. It’s helpful to teach your puppy to go to the bathroom on command, and also get her used to a collar and leash.


There are four main types of house training: paper training, use of a crate, constant supervision, and something called “umbilical cord” training. Paper training is not ideal because you are teaching your pup to go in the house. Crate training is very effective because dogs do not like to mess their immediate living space. Constant supervision really only makes sense if you are able to be home all day with your dog. What’s umbilical cord training? This is when you put your puppy on a leash and take him with you wherever you go in the house. Like constant supervision, this technique works best if you’re home a lot, but it’s easier to do because your dog is leashed.

Whatever method you choose, always remember to keep your puppy on a regular schedule…not just feeding, but also other activities like exercise and play. You’ll find that keeping a diary will help you to better monitor and understand your individual pup’s routine.


You can read the full, in-depth article (with complete, step-by-step instructions) on potty training your new puppy at Labrador Training HQ’s website.


Canine Body Language Indicates When Dogs Understand Their Training


Does your dog seem a little happier and more confident when she masters a new trick or training command? Recent research on dog body language during training proves that you’re not just imagining that your dog is proud to have learned a new task…your dog really is satisfied with herself!


Researchers from Japan’s Azabu University School of Veterinary Medicine conducted a study on 46 dogs who had never undergone any sort of obedience training. The dogs were taught a simple sit command using hand signals and treat rewards.


Analysis of video of the dogs’ training sessions showed differences between the dogs who mastered the training and dogs who didn’t. Dogs comfortable with their learning were more likely to keep their mouths closed, point their ears forward, and look with wide eyes at the trainer. The better learners also held their tails high, but without significant wagging.


All of these body language signs indicate focused attention and dominance, although dog behavior experts argue that confidence is probably a more appropriate word than dominance. The good learners were confident that they understood the task and pleased the trainer. They also were confident that they solved the riddle of how to earn a treat!

Click HERE to learn more about the study.