My Dog Training Rules

My Dog Training Rules

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Sam Basso
PHOENIX , AZ AREA: (602) 708-4531
OR, if you are out of this area, inquire about a telephone or e-Lesson
Email: [email protected]

OK, here are some rules. Because I love dogs, I won’t work with every person that asks me to train their dog. Since most of our dog problems are really PEOPLE problems, I won’t begin to work with a dog unless the owner is prepared to change how they will live with their dog and exercise reasonable care. Sometimes I deal with some really flaky people who are not being very nice to their dogs, if you know what I mean. I have seen people problems make dogs downright dangerous. I think that’s why people refer business to me. I’ll tell the owners what they need to hear, not just what they want to hear. I’m not going to candy coat it.

Thus, be prepared for the following:

1.) STOP: Don’t go any further until you read this. With each lesson, I will give you an assignment of work to do outside of class. ALL dog problems require the owners to do work, requiring mental and physical action, in order to change the behaviors of their dogs. In my experience, there are a small handful of people who will receive a lesson, or lessons, yet convince themselves they don’t have to do anything and then complain afterwards. Or there is a problem person in the home who bullies them out of doing the work and the dog doesn’t get trained properly. Those students will never be successful with their dogs. I can only instruct you, but unless you do the homework, nothing will change. If that is you, do not hire me. First classes involve more explanation, the more classes you do the more they involve various exercises and repetitive drills for you and your dog. I have to explain and demonstrate first so you don’t do things incorrectly, so you need to take good notes. After that, for each following lesson, you have to demonstrate what I’ve explained and sometimes describe what you’ve been doing (that way you are sure you are doing everything correctly and have a clear understanding). That is the way you learn any skill, the instructor first explains, then there are exercises, then you demonstrate what you’ve accomplished on each subsequent lesson. Then each session after that more exercises are incorporated. Just like playing a musical instrument, you have to practice your piano before you can expect to play in front of everybody at a concert. Training is loving your dog. Not doing homework is neglecting your dog.
2.) I will do what I believe is right. I can be very blunt when the seriousness of the situation requires it.
3.) You might not like hearing that your dog isn’t perfect, or that you need to change what you are doing, is that going to be OK with you?
4.) I know you are coming to me for honest advice and help, and that is always my main concern
5.) Because I know what I’m talking about, it may seem to some that I think less of them as persons. That is never the case. I treat everyone with respect. But, it can be intimidating to some when they realize that what they’ve been doing isn’t working, or that they need to ask someone for help, or that someone is telling them in their own home that they need to treat their dogs or family members better. One of the main limitations on dog training is the attitude and work ethic of the dog owner; I’m going to set the bar high and encourage you to seek a higher level in life and with your dog.


By accepting & commencing an evaluation &/or lessons, you agree to the following terms & conditions; this constitutes a contract, which is binding on you & as guardian of any minor children accompanying you. These services will only be made available on the terms set forth herein. I am going to be evaluating & training you & your dog in the real world & the real world has hazards that can’t always be avoided. Working with dogs always involves substantial & inherent risks of injury, including death. The risks include accidents, errors, & natural & man-made hazards. You agree to exercise reasonable care of yourself, everyone around us, me, and all animals involved. You agree & warrant you & your dog are physically healthy enough to be trained, & you will keep your dog healthy & let me know immediately if there are any changes in health conditions, and & treat those conditions promptly & professionally. You shall provide complete & accurate details about your situation with your dog. There is no guarantee made concerning the results of the training. Start by making a list of ALL behavior problems, so we can address everything that needs fixing. We will start with an Evaluation. Then we will go over solutions, and I will assign homework. As in all good training, first comes the instruction, then you will do your homework on a daily basis, or as best you can, to build new lasting skills for you & your dog. Training is about giving the owner and dog opportunities for change. No honest trainer can assure that every problem can be cured (such as extreme aggression), or that the owner will do the homework or exercise good judgment, they can only point you in a preferred direction. I can’t move in with you, thus you have to use good judgment, obey the laws, and be careful for risks. I teach concepts & methods to assist in this process. Usually my techniques involve some type of positive reinforcement, to avoid using methods that involve fear or pain, & you agree to do the same. Some situations are very tricky or complex or dangerous, and require corrections which might involve the use of positive punishment, negative punishment, negative reinforcement or other aversive methods. For difficult problems, change can be slowed if homework and follow up aren’t diligently applied, thus you agree to do your assigned lessons. On the most difficult cases, it is important to practice good sense, care and safety, and therefore agree to regularly check in with me on your homework on a weekly basis. I have over 20 years of experience to draw upon, which can be used to analyze & create those opportunities for change.
In consideration for the use of these services, you hereby release Sam Basso;, & its personnel, agents; other participants in the training; owners; & affiliates from any & all claims arising out of or in connection with these services whether the claims & liabilities arise by the negligence of any said persons or otherwise, including costs & attorney’s fees. Arizona law governs this agreement, & Maricopa County is the sole jurisdiction & venue for court proceedings hereunder.

• All lesson fees, equipment fees, deposits & reservations shall be pre-paid, in full, in advance, & non-refundable in any event. I want your dog trained, & people are more likely to do the lessons when they have already spent the money. In addition, there are other people wanting my time, & once you get a time slot I have to turn other people away, so prepayment ensures that you have a regular time in my calendar. A deposit is for first right of refusal for an open pre-arranged time slot; which must be used by you within 6 months, or shall be forfeited. Should we agree upon a payment plan, these terms still apply.
• Lessons, evaluations and seminars conducted outside the Phoenix area require prior approval by Sam Basso.

• All laws must be followed. No one under the influence of alcohol or potentially drugs is permitted. Pregnant women should consult their physician before and during lessons to ensure their safety. I’m not responsible for your personal possessions, so secure them, especially when training in public. You are responsible for the safety of your children. If you see someone being unsafe, correct them and/or notify me immediately. Safety is YOUR responsibility
• Cancellations must be made with previous day’s notice, or the fee will be charged. A maximum of 3 cancellations are allowed, & a maximum cancellation period of 1 week at a time is allowed, otherwise the entire fee is forfeited, unless otherwise agreed upon. Lessons are sometimes conducted every day, Monday through Friday, to immerse the dog & owner in a new lifestyle. Exceptions are made on a case-by-case basis. I reserve the right to terminate lessons & refund the remainder of your money, if I feel that the dog is too dangerous or the situation is not going to work out for the benefit for the dog. My priorities: People safety is first, dog/animal safety is second, & the results of training are third, & you agree to implement the same priorities. You agree to contact me the moment a concern arises & don’t let any disappointments, if any, build to the point of distress. I am working with you as a team & I want this to be a positive experience for you as well as for me. You agree to return phone calls immediately. We shall each make a reasonable effort to work around holidays, planned vacations, emergencies, birthdays, & scheduled days off, provided we give each other advance notice; however, the total number of deferred days of lessons shall not exceed 30 without mutual consent. I reserve the right to temporarily suspend lessons, which you agree to remedy, on a dog that is sick, injured, infested, unfit, or needs grooming. The situation must be remedied before the lessons are re-started, & I can require a vet’s written certification & evidence. In some instances, I may require you to pre-pay before we commence.
• Never take your dog off lead during lessons, anywhere in public, unless the dog is unsupervised (in which case it should be unleashed in a crate or kennel), or we are working on off leash obedience exercises. You can’t control a free running, untrained dog. You agree to use recommended equipment and tools to train your dog, & agree that we will teach and instruct your dog as deemed appropriate by the instructor. Aggressive, fearful some active, & some reactive dogs require extra precautions, & we might require that you purchase & use safety equipment, which you agree to do if lessons commence. You agree to return any loaned equipment or supplies immediately upon request. Exceptions will be discussed during lessons.
• IF YOUR DOG IS FEARFUL OR AGGRESSIVE: You shall not allow strangers, children or others, or other dogs, to interact with your dog without your direct supervision. You agree not to endanger or damage other people or animals or property with your dog or your behavior. An untrained dog can be dangerous (especially if it is fearful, aggressive or highly active), some people can’t be trusted to be alone with a dog, & we want to teach proper greeting manners. You are responsible for ensuring the safety of yourself & others. Never let your dog play with aggressive dogs. Such “play” encourages learned dog aggression. No one plays “attack” games with the dog: Rough games, chase games, & aggressive games must STOP! You agree to not allow harm to your dog. Every dog has the potential to cause damages, injury or even death, regardless of age. You agree to accept all the risks and liability costs.
• No interruptions. I want your full attention & I want you to get a good result.
• I charge a $50 fee for a NSF check.
• You agree to stay current on your homework & diligently do the lessons as described. You will also obtain & use the materials & equipment that I recommend & use them properly. You’ll need to be present during all of the lessons. If you need help, put the dog away & call me. There are usually no “quick fixes,” so you might need to buy extra lessons in some cases. You will provide me a weekly email update at [email protected]
• Potty the dog 5 minutes before the lesson. You don’t want to pay me to poop your dog; you want to pay me to work your dog.

There are two reasons why dogs can’t be well trained.

The first reason is a Dog Problem: the dog’s temperament, breed or socialization/ trauma / medical history interferes with learning & attention to what is being taught. This might be a dog that should be put down instead of kept, such as if your veterinarian diagnoses your dog as being severely ill and is suffering and going to die. It also might be dog with unbalanced or weak drives, necessitating extra lessons to get appreciable gains.

The second reason is a People Problem: There are several manifestations of this situation:

* The Mommy/Daddy that refuses to see a dog as a dog, preferring to relate to the dog as a furry little baby;
* The Overly Busy Person that shouldn’t have a dog;
* The Cheapskate that won’t take proper care of their dog, even though they have the money;
* The Abuser or Neglecter or Nitwit;
* The Mule, who has an ego problem; they can’t listen to instruction and they can’t train a dog;
* The Acquirer who gets a dog as a trophy instead of a companion “ the dog doesn’t really have a family;
* The Whiffle-Whaffler, who keeps trying new methods, won’t stick to the training program, keeps shopping around for new advice, &/or listens to folks that aren’t trainers for training advice;
* The Sluggard, who won’t keep up the necessary lessons, lifetime training, socialization, and companionship.

If a prospective customer gets offended or won’t agree to my Rules or philosophy, then I know that the dog CANNOT stay trained OR be properly trained, & I don’t want to work with them. As a person of integrity, I would rather know that I have confronted a person with the truth, and; they rejected it, than take their money & pretend that I am training their dog properly. I want to do an excellent job, & I figure that you are hiring me because you know I want the very best result that I can provide for you and your dog.

It is also important to recognize that training must be maintained, and sometimes requires a periodic tune up, for the dog to remain well mannered and obedient. Training “ages” if it is not used, the dogs and the people can forget over time. Dogs age, too, and the aches and pains and changes of old age can affect behavior. I recommend a Tune Up every 2 years.


From time to time, I get inquiries from people who don’t realize the nature of free speech, thus here are disclaimers about information published herein and at my web pages, blogs, and other media. This is a crazy world sometimes, and you have re-state and re-state the obvious about what you say and why you say it. So, here goes. Sorry for doing this. Yes, it is boring

By participating in this web log, and/or using my web page, you agree to the following:

a.) I’m against any kind of wacko political stunts to further the pro-dog agenda: meaning no violence, property destruction, foul language, or anything that would otherwise bring dishonor to ourselves, our dogs, reasonable dog owners, or reasonable public servants. We’ve all been disgusted and appalled by the stunts of the animal rights nuts. We don’t want to be like them. You will not engage in any of these kinds of stunts in my name, or in reference to this web log.
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c.) Everything stated here is my opinion. Every event quoted is alleged until proven in a court of law. I’m trying to examine and illustrate why we are right on this issue, not to conduct an inquisition or legal proceeding. My opinions might be wrong, and can and have changed over the years as I learn new information, so an article written in the past might not reflect my current thinking and opinions, and you agree to accept that limitation and not act on any advice without getting my current recommendations by paying me for an explicit written opinion. I have written too many articles to now track down and edit everything. I continue to educate myself and no science or field of study remains static, from Pavlov to Skinner and others, and all long time dog trainers: they all changed and modified their beliefs and conclusions throughout their careers.
d.) From time to time, I receive very interesting comments, emails and letters. Typically they refer to some kind of behavioral problem or political issue. Since this web site is a way for me to oftentimes educate about responsible dog ownership, I shall sometimes use these inquiries and correspondence as the basis of a posting, article or as an example. By submitting any correspondence or inquiry, you thereby agree that the materials and information submitted are wholly your own, and you hereby give me permission to publish them in whole or in part, for potential profit or for free, without compensation to you of any kind, and to indemnify and hold me, and anyone or any organization referenced here, harmless for all claims and damages arising out of anything you say. This information, if I choose it for source material for this web site or other publication, will usually, but not always, be reasonably stripped of direct information about who you are, to protect your identity. This information shall then be used to educate people and benefit society concerning pro dog politics, dog training, behavior, responsible dog ownership and other relevant issues.
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I hate rules such as these. I wish we lived in a world where “a man’s word was his bond”, where people took personal responsibility for their words and actions, where you could do business on a handshake, and that people worked out their differences in a friendly and reasonable way. But, unfortunately, things just aren’t that way. I have to penalize the 95% of good people out there, by having to implement some business rules, so that I can weed out doing business with the 5% of the nut cases out there. I apologize for having to set some rules just to advocate pro-dog editorials and to make an honest buck.

– Sam

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