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Bully a dog into obedience, and he will not trust you.

Studies overwhelmingly show that when people use aggressive techniques to "control" or "discipline" their dogs, many dogs become aggressive in response. They defend themselves in the moment and also begin to behave aggressively in other situations. They learn that humans aren't safe and are not to be trusted, so the best defense is a good offense. It becomes a vicious circle of human and dog being increasingly aggressive with each other until usually the dog is euthanized for being "too dangerous". 


The most common example of this that we see is with Resource Guarding - growling or biting to protect a resource the dog has such as food, treats, toys, beds, and even certain people. It starts with the dog growling when someone gets near their food bowl. The owner scolds them, pops them on the nose, and takes the food away. The next time a person approaches their bowl, the dog expects the same thing will happen. They will be hit and have their food taken away. So, they guard it more intensely, even before the person gets close to the bowl. "Oh no", thinks the owner. My dog is being aggressive. I have to stop this before it gets worse. They become more firm with the dog and take the food away again. Dog remembers this and guards even MORE intensely next time. They learn quickly that humans near their food means their food gets taken away.

Other dogs become fearful. They cower when their owner reaches for them because they expect something bad instead of wagging their tails expecting to be petted. They don't follow cues (aka commands) from people because they fear the consequences if they get it wrong. It's better to do nothing than to mess it up and be punished. 

Most of the time, the owners did not intend to be aggressive with their dog. They are following outdated advice that, sadly, is still being given by "dog trainers" and other dog owners. 

Outdated advice that should not be used with dogs includes but is not limited to:

Love doesn't equal Obedience

An aversive is anything your dog finds unpleasant. 

Woof University follows the LIMA principle which stands for "Least Intrusive, Minimally Aversive". Tools have their place, but using them incorrectly causes more problems than it solves. To use an aversive tool correctly, one must have excellent TIMING. Apply the aversive too early or too late, and the dog does not learn what they are supposed to learn. These are some tools that can be helpful if used correctly but extremely harmful when not. 


Everything that is covered in the group course in an individual setting. The Group Course is best for most dogs because of the real world experience they gain, but it's not right for every dog or family. Private Training is better for dogs who are aggressive to other dogs or people, exceptionally fearful or anxious, or otherwise unable to cope with a group setting. It is also best for guardians who are uncomfortable with a group course, or it simply doesn't fit with your schedule.


You got a dog to have an enjoyable companion, not to have more stress! If your dog's behavior has you stressed out, we can help. We go beyond dog training to get to the root of the issue instead of only suppressing the behavior. so you don't end up playing whack-a-mole when new undesirable behaviors take the old one's place. Behavior has a purpose. It meets a need. If we ignore the need met by the behavior, we don't really resolve the issue and could create worse problems! 



Electronic collars cause the most problems when they are used incorrectly. They should not be used to "teach" a behavior. It is not ethical to punish a dog for something they don't know. 

They should not be used to try and stop normal dog behavior such as jumping. Numerous studies show the behavioral and psychological damage this causes dogs, and we see it often with clients.

They are used for enforcing well-known behavior in dogs who need high-level obedience, typically working dogs. They can also be used for snake avoidance training.  

Throw Chains

These are supposed to get your dog's attention if they are away from you and doing something like fence fighting with neighbor dogs. Unless you have a lot of dogs, it's not necessary. Just go to the fence and get your dog. 

Spray Bottles

We used to have students bring a spray bottle to class to squirt their dog when they barked. We stopped because it didn't work. Students had not learned good timing, so they would squirt their dog AFTER they already stopped barking. The dog was punished for being quiet instead of for barking. 

It's supposed to be one quick squirt between the eyes to startle the dog so they stop barking. Then, you reward them for being quiet. Some people kept spraying, even after the dog stopped barking. Tools only work well when used correctly! At home, it's not necessary for interrupting a dog's barking. Get out of your chair and move them away from the window. They can be useful when managing a large number of dogs.


Prong/Pinch Collar

This tool can be a blessing for people with a dog much larger and stronger than they can physically handle. The problem is that it is most often used incorrectly. First, they're supposed to sit high on the dog's neck, right behind the ears and 2-fingers snug. Second, the leash should attach under the dog's chin or the side of their neck and not behind their head. 

Most importantly, the dog should NOT be allowed to pull on the prong collar. The whole point is for the dog to learn that a loose leash takes the pressure of the prongs/pinch OFF. If they pull constantly, then the pressure is constant. The dog still doesn't learn NOT to pull on the leash, defeating the purpose.


The most cringe-worthy is using a flexible leash with a prong collar. The flexi-leash works only by having the dog pull on it. The prong collar works only by having the dog NOT pull on it. The tools work at counter-purposes and should never be used together. 

Head Collar

We recommend head collars such as the Gentle Leader because our goal is to avoid aversive things for people, too. Struggling in class with an untrained dog who is pulling on a harness is extremely unpleasant for most people. Many dogs have no problem with the Gentle Leader while others absolutely hate it. We work to make it more pleasant for the dogs who hate it by pairing it with things they love like food, treats, play, and walks. The head collar going on means good things are happening! 

This one will remain aversive to the dog if time is not taken to always pair it with something great or if the leash is kept tight. It is important to keep the leash loose so the head collar is not applying pressure on the dog's face. Students often hold the leash tight in class so that it's twisted on their dog's face. Always be aware and hold the leash CLOSE but not TIGHT.


The Canine Good Citizen Preperation Course is the next step after your dog has learned some Basic Skills. The course prepares your dog to pass the AKC Canine Good Citizen Test. The test is included at the end of the course. If your dog passes, they earn the AKC Title of Canine Good Citizen. 

Image by Christof W.



Prepare your dog to handle the real world in a fun, supportive group of fellow dog lovers. Learn how to keep your dog's focus around distractions, how to prevent behavior problems, and how to handle common unwanted behaviors like jumping up and play biting. Plus, detailed written training guides, email support, and educational articles for raising a well-adjusted dog.



An exciting new course is coming Spring 2022 for dogs who pull hard on their leash and don't come when called. This course will only be offered at the Sutton's Southern Pet Retreat location. It will focus solely on improving leash sklils and coming when called, even when there are distractions. Check back next year for more information!


There is more to your relationship with your dog than "obedience". We go beyond dog training to help you communicate better with your dog, have a deeper connection, and love them even more!

You love your dog.

Woof U helps you love them even more 

Have you ever felt like something was missing? Like there must be more to being a Dog Owner/Guardian than just training them to Sit and Down when you say so? 


We hear you! We know that you didn't get a dog to have more stress. You don't want to yell at them. You don't want tension. You don't want chaos. You want a mutually enjoyable relationship with your dog!

That is why Woof University is NOT "Dog Training", It is Education on BOTH ends of the Leash. We help you understand and communicate with your dog better so that BOTH of you are more fulfilled in your relationship. 

Understand your dog better - WHY they do the things they do and HOW you can meet their needs as an individual

Deal with frustrating behaviors without hurting or scaring your dog or damaging your relationship

Give your fearful, anxious, or aggressive dog better coping skills

Prevent problems before they start so your new dog doesn't become fearful, anxious, or aggressive in the first place

Set your dog up for Success and help them become their Best Self!



Individual training for everything covered in the basic group class, including access to detailed written training guides and informative articles for improving behavior.

Private obedience lessons are ideal for dogs who cannot cope with a group class and owners who want individual help that a group class cannot provide. Also works with your schedule.

Columbia, Lexington, Irmo, Chapin, and surrounding areas
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Individual support for dealing with undesirable behavior that goes beyond the basics. We help you get to the root of the problem so that new unwanted behaviors don't crop up to replace the old one. We use proven humane methods that address behavior, not suppress behavior.

Columbia, Lexington, Irmo, Chapin, and surrounding areas

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