Dogs Should Be Fun

Dogs Should Be Fun!

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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]

Dogs should be a source of fun and enjoyment in your home, not a source of strife and frustration. Yet, many dogs, for a lack of training and supervision become miserable to live with instead of a joy. I receive calls from people all the time, who are so frustrated with the way things are going with their dogs, that they are at the point where they are making a decision to either keep their dogs, or to give them away to an uncertain future, or even to put them to death.. As a professional dog trainer and behaviorist, I am often the difference between whether someone keeps their dog or not.

I know from personal experience how difficult it can be to own a dog, which is why I can relate to the predicaments that my clients and their dogs get into.


I have a close-knit, large extended family.  Every Christmas Eve, we get together, have dinner, visit and open our Christmas presents (we can’t wait until Christmas morning).

I fondly remember the Christmas Eve that I brought Benny home.  I had been shopping for a new dog for nearly a year.  My dog Kate was getting very old, and I knew that she wouldn’t be around much longer.  So, when I picked up my new puppy, Benny, from the breeder’s earlier that day, I was so excited I could hardly stand it.  Part of the thrill was that my secret hadn’t been revealed (except to my Mom and brother): that I had purchased a puppy.

Normally, we would have met at my sister’s house, but we had arranged that everyone come over to Mom’s house that night.  We had everyone sit down in the living room and told them to close their eyes.  I then carried Benny in my arms into the room, sat down in a chair across the room, and told them that they could open their eyes.

I’ll never forget my brother-in-law’s reaction.  His eyes brightened up, and in a state of pleasant astonishment and surprise, said “Ooh, it’s a puppy!”

It was a wonderful night.  We visited, opened presents, and spent time getting to know Benny.  He was our new family member.

You are going to have fun getting your new puppy.  When I was a young man, I was into fast cars, stereos, and other types of entertainment.  But, after I got a dog when I was 25 years old, I came to realize that a dog is the ultimate “toy.”  They are more fun, involving and interesting than any other thing that you might own.  They are almost like having a good human friend.  In fact, I’ve known dogs that were better friends than some people that I knew.

My one hope for you is that I can help you and your dog enjoy one another.  For that’s what this is all about.  I’ve done a lot of right things with my dogs over the years.  I’ve also made many mistakes over the years with my dogs.   I want to teach you what I’ve learned so you don’t make the same mistakes that I’ve made, and to help you not make the same mistakes that I’ve seen others make.  My goal is to make fewer and fewer mistakes with each dog, knowing that I will still err from time to time.  My goal for you is that this book helps you get a good dog that you will enjoy.

There is an abundance of information on how to Train an older puppy or adult dog, but not much has been written on how to get the right start with choosing and raising a puppy that’s under 4 months of age.  That’s what this book is all about.  People make more errors in raising a young puppy than they do when raising an older puppy or adult dog.  Most people don’t know what is involved in choosing the right puppy or raising a young puppy properly.  And, most people don’t know how to put all the small details together in order to Train up a super adult dog.

Millions upon millions of normal and healthy dogs are put to death every year.  Most of those dogs end up in shelters because of behavioral problems that could be easily solved by a competent dog trainer.  You don’t want your dog to be one of those dogs that will be eventually put to death.  Every dog deserves a good home and good Training.  Every dog owner deserves a good, healthy, trainable dog.

This web page was written to get people headed in the right direction when first getting a dog.  What follows is about what I’ve learned when applying commonly used dog training terms, methods and theories.  It’s not a science textbook, and I mix some terms around.  But, I’ve written this to help you better understand these concepts, as I see them, and to apply them in a practical way with your dogs.


What little I remember of Silver, I think he was probably a pretty good dog.  I was 5 years old when our family purchased Silver, a male German Shepherd Dog.  At 5 years of age, I was too young to really have a dog, so Silver became the family dog.  My mom fed and cared for, and my dad trained, Silver.  Unfortunately, like most people, we didn’t know anything about dogs.

We weren’t the kind of family that should have owned a dog.  First; we didn’t know how to pick a puppy.  I think I was the one that picked Silver out of the litter.  That was too much responsibility for a 5 year old kid.  Looking back on it, I probably picked the most Dominant puppy in the litter, which is a much harder dog to Train and own.  Second, we didn’t live a lifestyle that was good for a dog.  A German Shepherd Dog needs a family that owns a home, or can guarantee that wherever they live, the dog will be welcome.  Since my parents were professional musicians, we moved a lot, and were always renters in the suburbs of Chicago.  One time, Silver went into our neighbor’s yard, and the neighbor hit Silver over the head with a Coke bottle.  That started a feud between my dad and the neighbor.  I remember another time when Silver came home on a very cold Chicago night with a very frozen rabbit.  The rabbit was as flat as a pancake, probably because it was run over by a car.  I remember my mom, in the kitchen, taking the rabbit from Silver and throwing it away.  I think Silver thought it was a great prize.  Third, I was too young to have a dog of my own.  Kids are kids.  Children can’t control themselves, much less Train and control a protection dog.  For example, my little brother purposely drove his tricycle over Silver’s tail.  Fourth, my dad wasn’t the type of person that made a good dog trainer.  He was abusive to Silver.  He thought rough treatment would make him a better protection dog.  I hate to imagine the rough treatment Silver received at the hands of my father.  Eventually, Silver started to fight back.  I remember him getting on top of the bed, baring his teeth at us, and refusing to get down.  My parents, with the help of my grandfather, found a new home for Silver on a farm.  Even through all of that, I still have fond memories of Silver.  I loved that dog.

I was 25 years old in 1985 when we started to think about getting another dog.  By that time, we had moved to the Seattle area, my parents were divorced, and I was living at home.  I had recently graduated from the University of Washington.  Just prior to my graduation, our household had been casually talking about getting a watchdog for the house.  I liked the idea and it sparked my interest.   It was generally assumed that the dog would be mine.  So after I graduated from college, and just before Christmas, my mom asked me if I’d like to get a dog.  I told her “Yes!”  It was to be my main Christmas present for that year.  It was this dog that was going to Teach me most of what I know about dogs.  Her name was Kate, and I will always remember her.

It became my job to find a breed of dog.  I am an analytical thinker.  I do my research, I read everything, I talk to people, and I figure things out.  When I was a kid, I was the one that was always taking apart the radio, or some other gadget, and then figuring out how to put it back together.  When I was a little kid, I gradually sawed off the legs of a table in the basement – I was interested in making my tools do things.  I’m the same way with dogs.  I try to understand all of the individual pieces by taking them apart, then I try to put them back together in a logical and understandable manner.  So, when it came to selecting a dog, I started reading dog books.

I wanted a dog that would be good with the family.  After some research, and a lot of family discussions, we started visiting local breeders.  We saw a lot of horrible dogs being bred by a lot of backyard breeders. We didn’t really know what we were doing, but we knew junk when we saw it.  We saw a lot of dogs in horrible condition in horrible conditions.  We also met a couple of good breeders with good dogs, but they just didn’t seem to have the breed of dog that we wanted.  We couldn’t decide on a breed or a breeder.

My mom sold real estate and she had a customer with a Bouvier des Flandres.  She was extremely impressed with their dog.  He was very territorial and wouldn’t let you enter the house without the owner’s OK.  Once you were admitted, the dog accepted you.  The dog didn’t shed, but you had to have the coat groomed.  And all of the books indicated that this was a great family protection dog.  After some prompting from my mom, I decided to look at the Bouvier.

We found a local breeder of Bouviers.  One look at the dogs was all it took to convince me that this was the dog for us.  They were everything that we were looking for, and the breeder had the best breeding kennel that we had seen.  We then started to make some mistakes.  The mistakes we made, and what I learned from them, are the basis of much of my knowledge of, and viewpoint on, dogs.  I owe a lot to Kate.


This web page is full of great ideas on how you can enrich the life of your young puppy. HOWEVER, you can overdo it.  You are going to have to learn how to read your puppy.  You are going to have to discern when your puppy is ready for some focused lessons and Socialization, and when to back off and let your puppy rest or play.

You can have too much of anything and get sick of it.  If you could only eat chocolate candy every day, for every meal, you would eventually HATE chocolate.  If you overdo activities, handling, petting, Teaching, Socializing, and controlling a young puppy, your dog will come to hate life with you.  You will also drain away much of your adult dog’s enthusiasm if you overwork your puppy.  Much of what you will learn will come through appreciating, not rushing, your puppy’s development.  Much of what your puppy will learn will come through 3 years of just living and playing with you.

Injury, pain, disease and death are always lurking around the activities you will do with your puppy.  You are going to have to be very careful that they don’t come and claim the life or livelihood of your dog.  Even with modern medicine, we still can’t cure everything.  You have to be protective of your puppy.  You’ve got to watch them like they were little babies.  You also have to let your puppy grow up to know the real world.  So, you’re going to have to take some risks.

People have a tendency to expect untrained dogs to behave like trained dogs.  They also have a tendency to expect immature dogs (puppies) to behave like adult dogs.  It just doesn’t work that way.  EXPECT YOUR DOG TO MATURE VERY SLOWLY, AND DON’T RUSH THINGS.  In addition, you are going to have to make a decision that you will never get angry at your dog.  EVER.  Dog’s can’t handle rough treatment.  It wrecks them, and it wrecks your judgment.

You must always approach every situation as an opportunity to Teach your puppy the correct way of doing things.  Whatever your puppy does, it’s a direct reflection of what YOU have taught your puppy up to that moment, and an indication of your puppy’s level of Training and natural development.  If your dog isn’t doing it right, it’s because your dog isn’t fully trained and/or mature.

Most of our dog problems are really people problems.  It’s going to be harder to train yourself than it will be to train your dog.  I can train many dogs every day.  But, I’ve found it’s a lot harder to train a lot of owners every day.  People have a lot of misconceptions about behavior modification.  And some people have emotional baggage that interferes with how they relate to their dogs.  It’s my job, as a trainer and behaviorist, to lead them out of their psychological jungle into a new way of treating their dogs in a modern and civilized manner.

There are three things that you must do right in order to have a well-behaved dog.  First, you must be very consistent in what you do and what you teach.  The rules for everything must be the same.  It can’t be a guessing game for the dog.  You can’t just tell a dog what not to do and expect the dog to figure out what to do.  In addition, the family must be consistent in what they do and what they teach the puppy.  The rules can’t change from day to day or from person to person.  That’s unfair.  YOUR DOG HAS TO BE ABLE TO BE SUCCESSFUL.  The second thing your dog needs is love.  This can’t be overemphasized.  Dogs can’t handle rough treatment, lack of companionship, lack of leadership, impatience, or a lack of love.  It will wreck them.  Third, dogs need Positive Reinforcement.  If your boss stops paying you, you will find another job.  If you stop paying your dog, in the form of praise, treats and activities, then you dog will stop working for you.

A lot of what good trainers learn about dogs doesn’t come from books, videos, or from listening to other people.  It comes from listening to the dogs they work with, and realizing that they are just dogs.  You are going to have to learn to listen to your dog if you are going to do a good job raising your dog.  You are going to have to learn to think and talk like a dog.  You are going to have to learn to love like a dog.  You are going to have to learn to play like a dog.  And, you are going to have to learn to forgive like a dog.  This will come through sharing your life with your dog, and allowing your dog to share itself with you.


When I graduated from the University of Washington (with a business degree), my mom wanted to get me a graduation present. I still remember the day she asked me if I would like a dog. I thought about it for a while, and then told her that “yes”, that was exactly what I wanted. Who would have known back then that my decision would lead to me becoming a dog trainer?! I ended up getting a 4 month old female Bouvier des Flandres that I named Kate. I was on my way to learning many good, and some very hard, lessons about owning a dog.

One of the many hard lessons I learned was about destructive chewing. Over her 12 year lifespan, Kate ate a couch, 2 chairs, ate holes in my walls and carpets, ate a pair of dress shoes, and shredded many Sunday newspapers. I remember one time where she swallowed 2 tube socks. It took a couple of days for them to come out the other side. She destroyed thousands of dollars worth of household items.

I learned so much, from the simple to the complex. I learned about a whole range of things you’d never expect to have to know when you get a dog, including, but not limited to, housetraining, nail clipping, dog aggression, barking, allergies (that one also cost me a lot of money in vet bills over the years), interactions between a variety of people and dogs, and what happens to a dog when it gets very old. I learned why I should have picked an 8 week old puppy instead of one that was 4 months of age. I also learned about how NOT to train a dog, through the many lessons I took her through. I had to learn because of all the problems I encountered. But it wasn’t all bad. I also learned how to relate to a dog and how to love a dog. And I owned other dogs that also had their own training difficulties. Before Kate died, I apologized to her for all the rough treatment and stupid things I did to her (much of which I learned from other trainers and from the books that I read). And I swore to her that I would never make the same mistakes with my next dogs.

I KNOW how you feel as a pet owner. I know what it is like to own a dog, and I have learned how to live with a dog successfully. My current dog is now with me every day, all day long. I spend an inordinate amount of time with him and I take him everywhere I go… when I am on a date, he is there too; he is with me all day when I go from house to house to train other people’s dogs; he is my demonstration dog when I need to show a client how to do a certain exercise; he is my “calling card” when I want to show people my training skills; he sleeps in my bed; he climbs in my lap when I am typing away at my computer; he goes on every vacation I take (at 2 years of age, he had over 50,000 miles on him… going everywhere, from Seattle to Mt Rushmore, Yellowstone, British Columbia, Banff and Jasper, Los Angeles, and all points in between). Yes, I know how to make a pet/ owner relationship work… how to have fun and obedient dog that still has a good life and loves you. And I can help you realize that for your pet, as well.

So, it is really up to you now. Are you going to give up on your pet? Are you going to continue to put up with all the hassles you are experiencing? Or, instead, are you going to see if your situation can be resolved through some responsible and thoughtful dog training and behavior modification? I just wish, when I first brought Kate home, that I had known someone like the person I have become today. Life would have been much better for the both of us, and I could have avoided all the mistakes I made with her… mistakes that weren’t her fault, but mine.

Not all dog problems can be fixed, but I can fix most of them. Give me a call (602) 708-4531 , or email me today and let’s see if we can straighten out the problems you are having.


Intro Video