Dog Training Interview Leslie Smith from

An Interview with top dog trainer Leslie Smith from…

Today we are in for a real treat as we have managed to gain an interview with undoubtedly one of the biggest online dog and puppy websites currently operating on the internet! So lets get started straight away…

Q1. Leslie what are your top tips for raising a happy and well balanced dog?

1.Treat your dog respectfully and as part of your family. They’re social animals who thrive on – along with physical and mental stimulation – the attention they receive from you.
2. Train your dog using positive reinforcement techniques – it enables and fosters great two-way communication.
3. Set boundaries and be consistent. Knowing exactly what the rules are, and what is expected, is a very settling feeling for a dog.

Q2. We get many questions regarding destructive behavior including chewing, digging etc what is your advice for a dog owner who has a dog that chews furniture or keeps digging up the garden?

So much of destructive behavior is born out of boredom or stress, so reducing the potential for either/both is key. Make sure your pup gets plenty of physical and mental exercise – several walks or runs a day if needed, and food puzzles or other games to stimulate his mind. Many dogs feel an instinctive need to chew (the act of doing so often relieves stress), so regularly rotating new chew toys into his repertoire is a good idea.

If the dog is a born digger – does it for the sheer joy – setting up a “designated digging area,” away from your rose bushes, is your best bet.

For information on how to set up such a digging area, check this out.

Q3. What is your advice regarding a puppy that keeps whining when placed in his/her crate?

Your goal is for your pup to view the crate as his special den. Send him in with his favorite toy and a Kong (or treat) so that he has something enjoyable to occupy him while he’s in there. And at first, keep the stints short. Make sure he’s gotten plenty of exercise and the crate is lined with blankets and pillows so that napping, or just relaxing, is a very inviting idea.

Q4. What is your advice and any tips that you have regarding a successful puppy crate training regime?

My main piece of advice is to remember that the crate should never ever be used for punishment. Your pup should see the crate as her own little home – a comfy lair she doesn’t want to soil.

Q5. What is your best advice to cure a puppy or older dog from having accidents in the House?

If the puppy or dog is housetrained but is suddenly having accidents in the house, see your vet as soon as possible, as there could be a serious medical issue behind the behavior. Or, your dog could be dealing with anxiety – in which case, you’d need to consult a behaviorist right away.

But if the accidents are due to sloppy house training the first time around, your best bet is to start a crate training regime right away. And since dogs tend to “go” in the place that already smells like a toilet, be sure to thoroughly clean any spot in the house where Spot has already left his mark.

Q6. We hear lots of terrible stories of puppy farms, could you tell our readers your views about them, how they work, what they do and you experience with owners who have purchased their puppy from them?

Where do I start? Puppy mills (or farms) are horribly inhumane operations in which breeders care only about making a profit. An all too typical situation: The dogs receive little or no medical care, even when they’re clearly sick or in pain.

They’re kept in tiny wire crates, stacked on top of each other several stories high. There’s barely room to stand, let alone turn around, and urine and feces leak through the mesh flooring to the crates below. The dogs live year round in warehouses with no heating or cooling, even though temperatures can reach below zero in the winter and over a hundred degrees in the summer.  Buyers beware: The Internet has been a gift to puppy millers. They can post photos of happy dogs running through grassy meadows or snuggled up indoors on the couch. But investigation after investigation has proven that even the most very basic care is rarely, if ever, provided.

Q7. Could you explain the differences between a pure breed and mixed breed (temperament, training etc) and your preferred choice if you have one?

All breeds were developed for specific reasons, so there’s often a degree of truth to the reputations they carry. Terriers can have a ferocious prey drive; hounds are led by their nose, etc. And because their gene pool is limited, purebreds can be at increased risk for medical issues. As a rule, mixed breeds are considered to be physically healthier and often less anxious and more easy going. But in my experience, the differences among individual dogs vary much more greatly than the differences between breeds.

For example, I’ve seen mellow Jack Russell Terriers, grumpy Labradors, and lazy Border Collies. That said, I have to admit I’m drawn to the “bully breeds.” I developed a soft spot for Pit Bulls after working with so many through the San Francisco and Santa Fe shelter systems – beautiful, sensitive dogs who’ve been subjected to unspeakable abuse. As a rule, though, I would never adopt a dog based solely on his or her breed – even a Pit Bull. The individual dog is what matters to me, above all.

Q8. What advice would you give a new owner and the family when they bring their new puppy home?

Be kind, compassionate, and attentive to your new addition. Keep boundaries consistent and expectations low (at first). Start a positive-reinforcement training program immediately and expose your pup to as many different sights, sounds, and situations as possible. Act as a benevolent leader and treat your dog the way you would want to be treated if you were suddenly placed in a strange world with people you’d never met before.

Q9. Leslie what are your views on Cesar Millan, his techniques and success etc…

Cesar Millan does several things very right, namely advising a calm, confident attitude around your dog and providing your dog plenty of exercise. Clearly, he loves his animals, and I admire his dedication to the rehabilitation of my favorite breed: Pit Bulls, who are completely misunderstood and suffer the most heinous abuse.

But Cesar, in my opinion, gets it dangerously wrong in a few key areas. His philosophy is based on the idea that dogs retain the same “dominance-seeking” characteristics that wolves raised in captivity display. In actuality, dogs behave much more like wolves living in the wild. Parents raise the young, becoming natural leaders to their offspring – similar to human families. A “high rank” is not achieved through physical confrontation.

So I’m not a fan of his use of physical corrections as a training technique for the typical family dog. Alpha rolls, finger jabs, and the like are more likely to elicit a bite than they are long-term good behavior. Positive reinforcement is not only more fun and less hazardous, for the vast majority of dogs, it’s more effective.

Q10. How should an owner cure their dog from constantly barking at anything and everything when left in the House?

Trainers often say, “A tired dog is a well-behaved dog.” And it’s true. Make sure yours gets plenty of exercise, both mental and physical, every single day. And maybe most importantly, teach your dog how to enjoy being alone. Like humans, canines are social creatures and are most happy when around others.

But by making their alone time fun – providing special treats, favorite toys, and a comfy resting place – and by keeping the solo stretches fairly short, you can teach your dog it’s not such a bad thing.

For more information on Leslie Smith take a look at her fantastic website

Go from here back to our list of dog training interviews or back to dog obedience training home-page