Training Humans to Get the Most Out of Man’s Best Friend 4

With his common sense dog training, Mike Deathe has found success nurturing the one-of-a-kind dog/owner bond


Mike Deathe is the kind of easy-going guy you’d want to grab a beer with, full of interesting stories and a keen intellect. That last part is not surprising, given that Deathe has a degree in psychology. Yet since 2008, he has been specializing in patients of the canine variety. While this may give you pause, it makes perfect sense. As Deathe puts it, “Training people is a much more effective way of solving behaviors in dogs.”

Through his company, K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid) Dog Training, Deathe has helped thousands in the area find a more peaceful, platonic rapport with their pooches. Mike visits clients’ home and offers group classes, helps assess problem behaviors, and then provides pet owners with the skills needed to get the desired behavior out of their dogs. And his clients are devoted and vocal on how easy and effective his training can be.

“I really focus on teaching owners skills to work with their dogs, rather than me working with the dogs,” says Deathe. “The dog may listen to me, but once I leave, the dog has to listen to the owner. Some of the most common complaints include: potty training, jumping up, pulling on the leash, not coming when called, puppy socialization techniques, and barking. I also do work with aggressive issues, including dog-on-dog issues and dog-on-people issues.”

Deathe says his aim is to make both the pet owner and the dog happy, so they can spend a lifetime enjoying each other. And the basic skills he thinks all dogs should know in order to make this a possibility include walking on leash, coming when called, a reliable “leave it,” impulse control, having a soft mouth, and understanding and following predictable rules and routines to live with humans.

“I believe dogs are similar in ability to pre-verbal toddlers, so my beliefs are simple: You can use the same amount of force with a dog that you would use with a 2- to 3-year-old child,” Deathe continues. “When viewed from this perspective, it makes some of the things people do to punish a dog obscene. Would you take a child’s dirty diaper and rub it in their face? Absolutely not. So why do people persist in rubbing a dog’s nose in its own accident?”

Instead, Deathe focuses on redirection, praising good behavior—and this is integral—ignoring the bad behavior. And this is where people make their biggest mistake.

“People forget to ignore bad behavior! They always want to correct bad behavior rather than make it obsolete by making it pointless. A dog wants your attention and will do it by behaving well or behaving poorly. The biggest tool folks have is giving and taking away attention. It’s really no more complicated than that!”

As Deathe explains it, dogs don’t do anything in a vacuum. If a pooch is being naughty repeatedly, the owner is doing something to reinforce it—and are likely entirely unaware of it. For instance, if a dog makes a mess on the carpet and the owner goes berserk? The dog will think its human becomes unstable around its excrement and go to the back room and relieve itself there to spare its human seeing it. Instead, the owner needs to reinforce the desired behavior—using the front lawn—to such a degree that the dog never wants to go anywhere else.

“I also believe in resource control and making the dog work for the things that are important,” Deathe continues. “I tell all my new dog owners to hand feed their puppies, piece by piece, while making the dog focus its attention on them. Unless your dog is paying attention to you, nothing will get done. Hand feeding your dog for 30 days teaches them to focus on you, eat gently from your hand (have a soft mouth), and show impulse control. It also establishes you as the leader in the relationship, without having to be a butt-head.”

“Dogs give what they get,” Deathe says. And it’s his aim, through his incredible training, his books (Five Steps to the Perfect Pet, Forever Home, The Dog Owner’s Book of Poop & Pee, and How To Make Your Dog Come Without Being a Butthead), and his blog (, to make sure that give-and-take is as sweet and rewarding as possible.

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