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Paws-Itively Trained Pups

As a dog owner, I know that a fear of mine before I got Oliver was that he would end up on the television shows like Dog Whisper or It's Me or the Dog. I was scared that the world would see me as Victor Frankenstein, as I created a "monster." The good news is that Oliver is not a monster 99.9% of the time.

(a picture of Denise Cataline and Toki the killer whale at the Miami Seaquarm courtesy of

The only reason why Oliver is well trained is because of Denise Cataline of Positive K9 Coach. For over twenty years, Cataline has worked in the animal kingdom (Cataline, 2021). She began her career at the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago, Il., training various small animals (Cataline, 2021). She dived into marine mammal training when she decided to intern with the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Il (Cataline, 2021). Cataline worked for Miami Seaquarium Miami, Fl, where she worked with dolphins, pacific white-sided dolphins, beluga whales, seals, sea lions, turtles, stingrays, sharks, and killer whales (Cataline, 2021). Denise then evolved to work as a primate training working with gorillas, orangutans, lemurs, spider monkeys, baboons, and sloths at Zoo Atlanta, Atlanta GA. (Cataline, 2021). Her time in the exotic animal training circuit allowed her to cultivate her signature training style: The three fundamental principles she utilizes in all her training are the importance of building and having a relationship, consistency with training, and the effectiveness of positive reinforcement (Cataline, 2021). I knew that Oliver was going to be in great hands. Today she will tell us some of her training tips for the Stay, Sit, and Down command.

For the Sit and Down Commands, Cataline uses a food lore to lure the dogs into the desired position. Once the dog recognizes that this behavior has a reward, you can put a name to it (Sit or Down).

(A picture of Oliver and his best friend Jersey sitting in my apartment in Chapel Hill, NC)

(A picture of Oliver and his brother Remy in a down position in my house in Davie, FL)

For the Stay Command, Cataline divides this command into 5 parts also known as the 5Ds: distance, duration, disappearing, direction, and distractions

1. Distance: To build up your dog's confidence, you put your dog in a stay command and walk at different distances. Do not disappear out of your dog's line of sight (that is Step 3). When you return to your dog, immediately reward it with a treat. Work your way up to longer distances as your dog feels more confident.

(Image of the 1997 Disney Movie Hercules from the scene when protagonist Hercules sings Go the Distance. Image courtesy of

2. Duration: Once your dog knows that you will return while it stays in the Stay Command, work on building your dog's tolerance to the stay command. Begin in 5 seconds interval and work your way up.

(Image of the Nickelodeon television show Spongebob Squarepants, where show creates use timecards to show how the character feels during a scene. I chose the image because this is how your dog feels in a stay command. Image courtesy of

3. Disappearing: We're halfway there- Bon Jovi! It's time to disappear. It's time for you to leave the room and ensure your dog remains in the Stay command. Just like any new command, help your dog work its way up to this command by beginning with five seconds and incrementally work your way up.

(Gif courtesy of

4. Direction: In this step, direction applying steps one through three. For direction, you can change the way you move when you distance, and the time it takes during the duration and disappearing. The Stay Command is all new to your dog. Please take it one step at a time.

(Gif courtesy of

5. Distraction: The last step. Congrats! Your dog has almost mastered the art of the Stay Command. It is now time to make sure your dog knows to stay when you say, "Stay". Your dog should respond to the stay command if you are in the middle of no where to the middle of Time Square. In order to complete this final level, begin to take your dog to public places (at first not the busiest place, but work your way up). Once you dog masters this, it can take on the world.

(Gif courtesy of

Denise Cataline assuaged my fears of becoming a dog owner. She walked me through step-by-step with Oliver, and I know that she will see all of my future dogs (A girl miniature bernadoodle named Mary Berry). I hope these tips help you train your furry best friend. If you are in the South Florida area, you can email Denise at for more information about her training program,

(Gif courtesy of

*Edited for length and clarity. Not paid for by Pawsitiive K9 Coach Inc.


Me on my first day of graduate school

Rachel Huss

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