Raising a confident Dog

dog training mdRaising a confident Dog

Socialization and Desensitization


We want our dogs to grow up to be the happy and confident and not be “that dog” everyone avoids. You probably hear trainers and vets talking about these buzz words; socializing, desensitizing, etc… well at least I hope you are. These two things are very critical in raising a dog. You have a very short window in their lives to get this right, so get to it and most importantly-HAVE FUN!


To have a happy and confident dog you need to expose them to everything possible in the first few weeks of coming home. Like you have nothing else to do but drag this pup around the neighborhood, and experience everything they could possible come into contact with over the next 12-15 years. Yes, you would be surprised on how much you can do on one walk during a busy part of the day.

Meeting 400 people!

I was once told that in the 4 weeks of bringing my pup home I should see about 400 people. Not only that but they should see people of every age, race and size. WHAT! Where am I going to find that many people? Going to the vet is an easy place to get a group of people to dote all over your puppy. You will have about 2 vet visits in this time frame so take advantage of it.  You could possibly hit the jackpot and have a busy waiting room filled with other dogs and kids, but my luck never works like that.

Kid exposure is easy, especially if you have kids living with you.  For those who don’t or need more, go to a park on a sunny weekend.  You will find tons of kids. Bring some treats with you, so you can work on kids giving your pup treats for sitting nicely. Two birds one stone — you work on not jumping on people because you are asking them to sit. If you don’t have a park nearby try to time your walks around the local kid’s bus pick ups and drop offs or walk passed the school at those times.

Find some local stores that allow pets, usually the home improvement stores love having dogs come in to shop. Just make sure you spend ample time outside working on “potty time” before going in, or you may find your self buying a roll of paper towels and cleaner (trust me). Once inside you can find lots of people to come pet your puppy, believe me no one passes up petting a cute puppy. Not only does this give you people exposure but also noise exposure.  I’ll get to that in a little bit.

Don’t forget the dogs!

Don’t forget that socialization also includes other dogs. We shouldn’t expose our pups to lots of dogs or dog places until all those shots are up to date. So what do we do? I like to find small dog stores that don’t have large masses of dogs walking around and of course the vet’s office. Hey you may even run into a dog or two at those local home improvement stores. If not, try to recruit some of your friends that have dogs or neighbors. I only let them meet other dogs that are dog friendly and are up to date on shots and also one on one.

I don’t like to have a pack of dogs meet; I’ve never seen anything good come from that. Letting dogs meet on a walk and sniff each other is good too. Just try to find dogs that you feel comfortable with and won’t cause a bad experience for your pup.

When it is too much…

With all socialization always watch for signs of stress or signs of being overwhelmed. The last thing we want to do is stress them out and have a bad experience. I don’t like huge mobs of kids coming over and having 20 hands grabbing at a pup. One or two at a time is fine and not for hours on end. Never force an interaction.  If your pup would rather sniff try having someone hand them a treat, and if they don’t want it then oh well.  You wouldn’t like it if every person you came across made you stop what you are doing and hug them.

Sometimes it could also go the other way — your dog is the one seeking out everyone you pass.  You have to teach them that not everyone is there to come visit them. Just give a little yank on the leash and keep walking.

Noise and Touch Desensitizing

Let’s move on to noise/life desensitization. You would be shocked to hear some of the items I hear dogs are afraid of. I put life in this category because there are things, for what ever reason, our dogs decide they want to be afraid of it.  Once again we want to be able to expose them to all kinds of sounds: vacuum, blow dryer, blender, garbage disposal, things that make noise in your house and outside your house. I have had dogs afraid of plastic bags, rolling garbage cans and even items that move (bikes, scooters, cars, thunder, etc).

Why are they afraid?  They have never heard the sound or it startles them. Their first reaction is to run for their life or bark at it. If they do either don’t let them. When they run go get them, hook a leash on, and bring them back to it. Get some treats and have them sit and keep repeating until they understand nothing is going to happen to them.  I do the same if they are barking at it. Once they realize there is nothing to it, they become desensitized to it. I like to do training sessions around things that bother them, whether it is the garbage truck picking up on trash day or kids playing on their bike.

Get them to focus on you and the reward rather than things going on around them. After a few minutes they will forget what was bugging them. The last thing you want is for them to get rewarded for being scared. That will just promote the fear.  When you have a fearful/reactive dog you run the risk that one day the dog will react or flee and neither is good.


We also want to be able to touch our dog anywhere. Sitting on the floor with them right from the start and being able to touch their ears, snout, teeth, paws, nails, body and tails. With new puppies I do this every day several times a day. If you have others in the family have them doing it too. This will help when it is time to groom them or go to the vet not react when touched. If conditioned correctly they will understand that this is what humans do and should not get upset over it. I have seen hundreds of dogs as adults not be able to get their nails trimmed because they want to eat anyone who touches their paws.


With all of our training from puppy to adult we stress how important it is to be doing all of these great things. I tell clients it is never to late to work on these things and to be working on them every day.

dog training md


Training Package Pricing

Alex M reviewed Off Leash K9 Maryland

Alex M wrote a wonderful 5 Star review about our 2 week Board and Train Program:

Our five month old French Bulldog/ Boston Terrier, Moose, mix spent two weeks with trainer Chris for the OLK9 board and train program and we couldn’t be more pleased with the results. Moose was always our sweet little guy but really needed help with basic obedience and even house breaking was something we continued to struggle with. Chris transformed our sassy, disobedient and destructive puppy into a real superstar!! Cannot say enough good things about this program and the trainers, but here are a few of my top highlights and notes from my experience:

1. Trainer Chris provided us with constant photo updates throughout the two weeks making the separation much easier for us. We knew Moose was getting tons of love and felt comfortable and safe.

2. Picking Moose up and seeing all of his new tricks was really impressive. The training space is immaculately clean and professional looking. Chris walked us through everything he had done with Moose and told we would need to know for continuing and maintaining Moose’s progress. This took about two hours- we felt really taken care of and left feeling even more confident. The trainers care deeply and want this program to keep working for you!

3. Moose showed Chris affection during our pick up debrief session- this really made me happy knowing how happy my pup was and I was glad to see the trainer bonded so well with him! More peace of mind and satisfaction with our decision to enroll Moose in the board and train program.

4. A review of the overall “after”- Moose has significantly improved. He could barely walk on a leash with my fiance and I (causing havoc in our apartment lobby with other dogs or annoying other residents due to our inability to maintain him on a leash and also endangering himself and stressing us out as we tried to walk him at parks and throughout DC) and walking him was never enjoyable. This has gone away and now he is so polite and mannerly to walk with!! This by far has been the most AMAZING aspect of his transformation. It was our goal to see Moose become more manageable and this has absolutely been achieved. Chris took care of his potty training issue with ease and this has been a huge life saver. Moose listens when we say “off” (the command used for “no”) now and he has ceased all chewing and destructiveness in our house. Major bonus!!

5. Two days post training session, Moose is not exactly 100% accurate at all times- he is only a 5 month old puppy after all- and has little “oops” moments where he completes a command half way or slightly incorrectly. HOWEVER, we can clearly see that his little puppy brain gets it and he is trying really hard and that is absolutely fantastic to see as a dog owner. The “Aha moment” is there in our Moose thanks to Chris and now we are running with it! That being said, we are just floored with his transformation and feel 100% empowered and prepared to keep his training going on at home. Chris provided us with the information and instruction we needed to do this and answered all of our questions. He has been super helpful with emailing to answer questions or reassure us when needed and I truly appreciate all of his continued support and genuine concern!

FINAL NOTES ON MY EXPERIENCE: This program is vigorous and intensive. In two weeks my pup has completely transformed and it this was obvious the minute we picked Moose up. Worth absolutely every dollar!! YOU WILL GET RESULTS. I really feel that with Moose’s new obedience I will now be able to build a better relationship with him. As an owner, I feel that I can now get the most out of my relationship with Moose (less time scolding, less time feeling frustrated, more time enjoying him and doing fun activities without stress!!!)

LASTLY, I would like to recommend this program to anyone interested in improving the obedience and manageability of their dogs. I really think this program would be amazing for bigger breeds too for those reading with larger pets in mind. While the OLK training confirms the program works for any breed, any age, any size (and I can attest it does- my little guy is only 25 pounds!) I can imagine it would be truly amazing for bigger dogs. The training facility is equipped with lots of large obstacle pieces and things to jump on to. I grew up with Pitbulls and Boxers and was thinking that my childhood dogs (never trained professionally, good dogs but total goofballs) could have really benefited from some time with Chris!

FIVE STARS: Thank you so much Chris and OLK9 Training Maryland!!!


To see more about Moose or other pups we have trained visit our YouTube Channel

Here is the link to Moose’s 2 week stay in our famous Board and Train Program  https://youtu.be/vE0AFZ00X30 


To see more reviews from our clients go to Read Alex M.‘s review of Off Leash K9 Training Maryland on Yelp

Kate E

“They are wonderful! Orlaith is doing great and we are excited to continue our training towards therapy dog certification!”


“Jen and Scott did a fabulous job with my rescued shepherd, Stark. He left a scared, skittish puppy with no discipline and came back a well-trained dog who has NEVER had a behavior problem since. They provided a strong base on which we have built an obedient and happy pack. CANNOT recommend them enough!!”


“This is the place to help build the bond between you and your dog. If your thinking about getting your own e-collar and training yourself, I would still recommend going here for the first lesson or at least the basic package if your dog is reactive, the commands and training will help build trust and calm them down as well as getting them to obey commands. They will find the right collar strength and collar points to properly fit your dog’s needs and every dog is different so I wouldn’t risk the miscalculation. Be prepared to get out of it what you put into it. Practice and ask questions. Simple, effective, expensive but very much worth the results in my experience.”