A recent email from one of my trainee dog’s owners provoked a lot of thought about this month’s topic…

She was delighted to see her dog on a walk with all of my pack, not on leash, not rough housing and not running away but…was interested in hearing how the “training” was going.

I did understand that she was referring to the more formal commands, sit, heel, down etc. but a big part of my reaction was to question what her actual perception of “training” was.

For most people, the idea of hiring a dog trainer is that their dog learn to achieve these generic commands and upon a verbal cue, they perform these feats promptly.

My question is increasingly “What are you training your dog to do…or not do?”

All interaction with your dog is “training”. When you move him to one side so that you don’t trip over him. When you go and get the leash in order to walk him. When you do not correct him for barking at the front door. When you avoid eye contact with him first thing in the morning before you have your coffee. These are all situations where you are “training” your dog to fit in with your life and read your signals.

Teaching your dog to “sit” has no meaning if you do not teach him how, where and  how long for. A command such as “heel” means nothing if you do not specify what heel means. However, your dog can quickly be “trained” that dinner is coming if you repeatedly go the fridge at around 5, bring out a can of dog food, open his kibble can and bring out his dogfood bowl!! If you go to the bathroom and brush your teeth at around 10o’clock, he knows that it is time for bed.

Unfortunately, these cues can become double edged swords as your dog starts anxiously pacing and whining when you pick up the car keys from the table or grab your coat from the coat rack. Yes, these actions can all be called “training” and have long been referred to in scientific terms as”operant conditioning.”

Training is something you do with your dog that teaches him something. You are either consciously doing this or unconsciously doing this but you are doing it all the time.

SO the question becomes “WHAT?” Do I want my dog to learn? Is it to share his space peacefully with his packmates? To come back when I call? Or to sit by my side when I say “sit”?

Do you want him to be able to lay down quietly while you have dinner or will you teach him to hover at the table waiting fir some inconsistent reward?

“Training” doe not just occur in a vacuum. We teach our dogs everything they need to do and not do in our company. We are ALL dog trainers but some of us do this mindfully and others are training our dogs unconsciously while being surprised at all the things they have learned!!

So the dog in the video did not simply learn to “hang out” with my pack and not run away. I taught him and I will teach him not to bark at strangers and not to steal food from his four year old owner. And if he does something I did not ask for, I will take responsibility for having “trained” him to do it or “not trained” him to refrain. And maybe I will also train him to “sit” when asked!!!

  My best wishes go out to all you dog trainers, professional and not and remember to bear in mind the part you play in your dog’s behavior. These guys are REALLY quick learners!! For support and encouragement, please feel free to contact me or join a class!!

Submit a Comment


Back to the Music w/ Lewisburg City Paper this September!

Back into the Music w/ HashtagWV this September! - It’s back to the music w/ Hashtag Lewisburg City Paper this September. Susanna Robinson features Warner Music School: from humble beginnings to true love and more.  Other big stories include Wild Cuisine at the West Virginia Roadkill Cookoff, Freshwater Folk Festival, an interview with Carlene Carter, Highway Queen by Jason Scott, and so much more! […]

Stay Updated w/ HashtagWV!

Want to stay updated with the paper or thinking about advertising? Sign up today for the latest HASHTAGWV monthly newsletter!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Best Things to Do in Lewisburg, WV

Best Things to Do in Lewisburg WV! - Spending a day in Lewisburg? Here are a few of the best things to do while you’re visiting. Start your day at the Wild Bean coffee shop.  Located downtown, this cafe offers premium coffee, tea, veggie cuisine, wi-fi, entertainment, and more! The breakfast menu consisting of breakfast burritos, egg scrambles, breakfast sandwiches and granola w/ […]

"Over the last 10 years, we have tried several avenues for advertising. Beyond a doubt, our greatest return has been through HASHTAGWV. Whether it be in the HASHTAGWV print edition, or online, our customers, both locals and tourists, really do look for this media form to be in tune with what’s going on in the area and for destination shopping. Advertising with LBSPY (now HASHTAG) has unequivocally been a great asset for our business!" - Craig Miller w/ Serenity Now Outfitters. Ad rates start at just $20! Click here for MEDIA KIT  

Patrick4CMPLTshrp "LBSPY is the best thing that has happened in Greenbrier County since I have been here for seven years. Maybe the whole state.... a first class operation and a lot of hard work," Patrick O'Flaherty (pictured above), The Irish Pub, Lewisburg, WV

Donating = Loving

HashtagWV remains D.I.Y. in nature and it takes hundreds of hours a month to research and write, and thousands of dollars to sustain. If you find any joy and value in it, please consider making a one time or recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of coffee at The Wild Bean and a good dinner at Food & Friends
Adam DeGraff "LB Spy always has their finger on the pulse of this community!" - Adam Degraff (pictured above), (The Weight/ The Dueling Fiddlers / Pianafiddle)


  • #repost Thank you Larry Davis and Hashtag WV for featuring Sheen: Project AR for Education in the recent article!
I'll be doing a second demo of the Augmented Reality app at the FreshWater Folk Festival in White Sulphur Springs! See you there!
#ProjectAR #whitesulphursprings #gotowv #simplygbv #igers_of_wv #wv_igers #freshwaterfolkfest
  • Reading Janine’s article in front of Janine. #mydogandi
#lewisburg #lewisburgwv #gotowv #igers_of_wv #wv_igers #simplygbv #greenbriercounty #janinelazarus #dogcolumn #goodladd #dogtraining101 #dogtrainingtips
  • Carlene Carter, Highway Queen! Check out the interview by @thejasonscott w/ @bsidesbadlands Carlene performs @carnegiehallwv this September!
#lewisburg #lewisburgwv #gotowv #igers_of_wv #wv_igers #carlenecarter #johnnycash #junecarter #carterfamily #jasonscott #bsidesbadlands #countrymusicsinger #carnegiehall

Follow Us!


Wonder How HashtagWV Remains Free?

WONDER HOW HASHTAG LEWISBURG CITY PAPER REMAINS FREE? - Wondering how Hashtag Lewisburg City Paper gets published and distributed FREE every month in-print and online? Do we have wealthy parents or did one of us seduce a millionaire? No. Are we financed by bank loans or grant money? Nope, not that either. Until we hit it BIG in the lotto, every issue of HASHTAGWV comes […]


P.O. Box 744
Lewisburg, West Virginia 24901


"Here at WHEN PIGS FLY BBQ, we get the most return advertising with LBSPY. New customers tell us all the time how they see our ad. They then come see us!" - Mike and Kellen, owners of When Pigs Fly BBQ, Lewisburg, WV.
"Christina, Thank you so much for the cover and the ARTICLE. Your LBSPY is fantastic! We hope to grow this ride and other sports events in our area. Your magazine will do this. Again thank you from everyone in the GVBike club. Come ride with us sometime." - Janice Centa


LBSPY is a free, full color arts and entertainment tabloid dedicated to providing useful information in the areas of Greenbrier County, Pocahontas County, parts of Alleghany County, and more. We distribute 7,000, full color issues every month.


We are engaged in promoting local music, arts, events, dining, and shopping. We reach our audience where they live, eat, shop, drink, play, and fill up their gas tank. BEHIND THE SPY


"LBSPY is the best thing that has happened in Greenbrier County since I have been here for seven years. Maybe the whole state.... a first class operation and a lot of hard work," Patrick O'Flaherty, owner @ The Irish Pub