Advice for the White House’s New “First Dog”

Apr 15 2009

APDT Professional Dog Trainers Advice for the New “First Dog”
The Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT), the largest educational and professional association for dog trainers in the world, congratulates the President and his family on their new canine addition. We asked our members to provide their top tips for training and living with a dog in the White House (or any house!)


Greenville, SC – April 13, 2009 – The Association of Pet Dog Trainers promotes positive, dog-friendly training based on humane, scientific methods. All dogs, whether the “First Dog” or dogs who live on “Main Street,” require training and socialization to become happy, harmonious residents in a family’s household. Learning should be fun and exciting for humans and dogs alike, and all family members should become actively involved in the training process.
We queried our members about what they would teach the new “First Dog” if they became the White House dog trainer. A detailed listing of their advice is on our web site, Some highlights include:

1) Use Positive Training Techniques – The APDT recommends that you use training methods based on positive reinforcement and the latest scientific understandings of dog behavior. This will motivate your dog to choose to follow your commands, rather than doing them out of fear or avoidance. Teaching your dog with the enduring power of love, kindness and respect will create a deeper bond with your dog and family and will provide a profound example for all dog owners in the U.S. The APDT has provided an article on how to find a humane, professional trainer on the APDT’s web site at

2) Teach proper greeting behavior – Since the “First Dog” will encounter many new people, places and things, socializing to a variety of people, places and experiences on a regular basis and pairing this with positive reinforcement will ensure that he will be a good “ambassador” for all dogs in the U.S.

3) Involve the family and staff in training – Dogs learn through consistency and repetition; everyone who encounters the dog should be “on the same page” as to how to greet him, what verbal commands and hand signals to use, and what behaviors to reinforce.

4) Use games and play in training – Using games can be a wonderful way, for children in particular, to train a dog to basic thru advanced obedience commands in a positive and fun atmosphere.

5) Provide appropriate chew toys – All dogs, particularly young and adolescent dogs, need to chew. If young dogs are not given proper chewing outlets, they will easily find the wrong ones! Keep the White House furnishings secure by providing the “First Dog” with food-filled chew toys to exercise his mouth and his mind.

Mychelle Blake, Communications Director
Direct: 702-966-8060 or 866-245-2742
[email protected]

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The APDT is a professional educational organization of trainers who are committed to becoming better trainers through using positive, dog friendly methods based on sound scientific principles. With over 5,000 members worldwide, the APDT provides professional dog trainers with a respected and concerted voice. The APDT promotes caring relationships between dogs and people and works to increase public awareness of dog-friendly training techniques. For more information, visit the web site at

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Teaching Children to Greet Dogs Properly

Jun 23 2008

All children should be taught how to behave around dogs. Your own pet may accept attention very differently than other dogs. Many children run up to their own dog and hug them around the neck. This is a very inappropriate and dangerous greeting with strange dogs. Teach your child to never approach a strange dog without an adult present. Staring directly into a dog’s eyes and running towards a dog is not an appropriate greeting either, and very common with kids who are often at eye level with dogs. Teach your child to approach slowly, turn her body sideways, stand still and put out her hand palm down. Always allow the dog to approach you, that way you know that the dog is interested in being pet. Teach your child warning signs for dogs that should be avoided. Barking, growling, or snarling are signs to stay away. If the dog’s ears are laid back, the tail stiff and high, and the hair on the back is raised, slowly walk away sideways. If the dog is soft and wiggly and approaches willingly, teach your child to start petting the dog under the head on the neck and chest area. This is less threatening to the dog than when you reach over the top of their head.

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