Sunday, September 20, 2015

STOP in the name of dog!

Transparency: the condition or state of being transparent which simply means the condition or state of being honest and open. Not secretive. What does this have to do with dog training? A lot.

Dog Training is a very unregulated industry. One can call themselves a dog trainer right now. Within minutes you can have a professional looking website, have business cards printed, start a Facebook page and call yourself a professional dog trainer. Question is are you one? 

Professional: a person engaged or qualified in a profession

The industry's lack of guidelines and laws concerning the various professions in the pet care world make it a desirable place for many to start their own businesses without any prior knowledge or experience in that field. The only profession that is regulated is that in the Veterinary field. All others such as groomers, walkers, sitters and trainers are not bound by regulations other than city and/or county laws of running a business. Most pet care providers don't comply with those laws either. They are neither registered with the city and/or county, have insurance or the required licenses to run their business.

My personal interest goes to the "About" page. What have they done to become a dog trainer? Where did they gain their knowledge? Are they self-taught? How do we know if these people really know what they are doing? This is where I ask you to STOP and think! 

For someone to call themselves "professional" the requirement should be: special education, training and skills relating to that specific job. Self taught is absolutely acceptable but then have your knowledge tested and/or certified to ensure you provide the services you get paid for and follow ethical rules in the treatment of dogs by using methods that do not include pain and fear as training methods.

Any educated dog professional will proudly and without hesitation provide all that information. They are transparent! They will provide a clear overview of their education and provide clear answers on the methods they use. Thanks to scientists such as Skinner, Pavlov, Watson and Thorndike we have the knowledge we have today of dog training. We know for a fact that dogs learn two ways: through association and through consequence or better known as Classical and Operant Conditioning. Thousands of experiments support the animal learning theory and the theory has successfully been applied to millions of animals. Sadly we have trainers that make up their own theories when it comes to dog training. Claiming to have developed a new method when it all comes pretty much down to above mentioned ways of how dogs learn. Some use force and some don't.

Trainers that use the good stuff (food, play, access to other dogs, toys, etc) in training are the trainers that provide clear information on their websites! All others are usually pretty vague and often manipulative in their description. 

Here is a great example of an "about page" of a random dog trainer and self-proclaimed behaviorist. 

"... She has since been educated in animal behavior as well as canine obedience and training. [Name] holds a BS degree from ##### University and a Masters from #####  University. “ Two sentences glued together almost on purpose providing no substantial information about the education. It almost seems like this person is trying to camouflage the part that is important: “educated in animal behavior as well as canine obedience”. The question here is where? Not at University Number 1 and 2. A quick research provided that the person in question got their degree MS, Math & Computer Science and their Masters in MBA, Marketing and Finance. None of the degrees have anything to do with animal behavior or training. Marketing at its best but not in your best interest.

Another interesting point here is the use of the word "behaviorist." The trainer in this case is misusing the term behaviorist. She has no education in the field. Is it allowed? Regretfully it still is. It is deceitful and unjust for anyone to use that term unless they have been educated in the field. 

"Animal behaviorists are behaviorists that focus on companion and domestic animals, such as dogs and horses, or they may concentrate their studies on animals in the wild. Behavior topics can include what causes certain behaviors, why the animal exhibits that behavior and how the particular behavior influences the behavior of other animals."

Degree level: Bachelor's degree for entry-level positions in the field/ master's or doctoral degree for animal behaviorist positions. 

Here is another example of an "about page" but one of an educated trainer:

"[Name] is a graduate of Jean Donaldson’s world-renowned SF/SPCA Academy for Dog Trainers, and holds a post-graduate honors Certificate in Curriculum Development & Design, and a graduate degree in Social Work. She is a certified professional dog trainer, holding her CPDT from the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers, and is a professional member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers." The trainer did mention the other degrees but was very clear where the knowledge of dog training came from and what else she did to be a dog trainer. 

Another good way to identify a qualified dog trainer from an unqualified one is the terminology. If you see words such as methodology, dominance, alpha, pack animals, pack leader, energy, empathic dog training, corrections, commands, understanding the way dogs think, respect, submission, alpha rolling, can full of pennies, helicoptering, tapping, slip leads, every dog has their own unique approach, etc. you know you are venturing into the world of dog trainers who practice training based on the dominance theory. See references for further information.

Terms you should look for:

Those words provide you a clear answer which means these professionals train without pain!


Monday, April 13, 2015

Misinterpretation of a Smile

We idolize our dogs and often attribute human characteristics to them. In scientific terms it is called anthropomorphism.

"an·thro·po·mor·phism. anTHrəpəˈmôrfizəm/ noun 
the attribution of human characteristics or behavior to a god, animal, or object."

We want our dogs to smile. A smile is a pleased, kind or amused expression and when it comes to our dogs we want to show nothing more than the good side of our canine companions.

 Picture copyright and courtesy of

A smile as expressed by humans is one of those human characteristics that does not exist in the world of our dogs. They don't show their happiness, kindness or pleased mind set through a smile. It does appear on occasion that some dogs do provide us with an expression that looks very similar to a smile. It is called a submissive grin.

Submissive grin

Some dogs exhibit a type of passive submission (or otherwise defined as a calming or appeasement signal) by means of a facial expression we consider a grin or a smile. The dog pulls his lips up vertically and displays his front teeth. The grin is usually accompanied by a submissive body posture. That posture could be a lowered head, squinting of the eyes and overall lowered body. The dog also will avoid any kind of eye contact. It is believed to be an inherited trait as defined by Beaver (1999. Beaver called it the mimic grin in which he determined that it is a facial expression that is an inherited submissive behavior.)

Here are some great examples:

Copyright and courtesy of

Picture copyright and courtesy of Memphis Mutts Pet Photography

Often people identify a submissive grin as a warning signal and consider their dog aggressive when the dog is communicating exactly the opposite.

A Step closer to Aggression

There are people who believe their dog is displaying a submissive grin when in reality the dog is not. A smile misinterpreted. We have had a famous example not too long ago of an upcoming photographer and mom who submitted her picture to C'Oeur D'Alene Press of her young son sitting next to a dog she believed was smiling. Up until today she heavily defends her dog's action saying her dog and her son have the best relationship and that no aggression is involved. When we evaluated the body language the dog is signaling we analyzed the following: the dog's nose is pulled up and wrinkled. The forehead is in a frown. A stare. Ears pinned back. The bunny ears another stimulus that most likely contributed to the facial expression as did the little boy kissing the dog on the cheek. The dog does not have the ability to move due to being pinned between the boy and the glass door. 

C'Oeur D'Alene Press

Another example of a misinterpreted smile. In this case the dog is petted on the side of the muzzle and the owners believe he is smiling in response. 

Picture screen shot of Golden copyright B.C. Marshall

What do these dogs signal? Aggression with the intend to hurt. A dog providing signals as above will retract his lips to expose his teeth clearly. The wrinkle of the muzzle and frowning of the forehead are typical expressions of a warning. The pinned back ears, the stare, the stiff body posture inevitably signal discomfort and dislike. 


No matter what causes the dog to provide a submissive grin or a clear warning signal the information the dog is providing us is the same: These dogs are not comfortable. With submission the dog intends not to harm but wants whatever is happening to stop and with aggression the dog will harm to stop whatever is happening. 

As far as we are informed neither of the dogs displaying aggression has bitten a person. Just because a bite hasn't occurred doesn't mean it will not happen. It does show us great restraint on the part of both dogs. The response of both owners was denial. Honestly, who wants to accept that their cute family companion may not be as cute as they thought he would be. Understanding dog behavior is a crucial element when it comes to preventing injury. Dog bites occur too often and commonly with devastating results. Most dog bite victims are children. When dog bites occur the dog bares the blame. The dog also becomes a victim like the person who got bitten. The very bite the dog placed often result in euthanasia of the dog. Was the dog to blame or were the humans involved responsible for what happened. Either way we know that the dog bite could have been prevented. Never set up either involved party to fail. 

Educate yourself on dog body language. Educate yourself on dog behavior. We have a lot of work ahead of us!

For more information:

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Spring 2015

Spring and Fall are my favorite time of the year. Let the joy begin!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Confessions of a dog trainer. Pet Peeves. Part I

When it comes to dog training many people feel confident and knowledgeable in the field. No one ever seems to hesitate to provide advice. Question: "How accurate is the information?"

In most cases the well intended advice of friends, family, acquaintances or even complete strangers can cause more of a headache than do good. It always amazes me with what easiness people provide training and behavioral advice. Where do these people get their knowledge?

The knowledge has been picked up by maybe reading a few books, watching dog training shows on tv, attending a dog training class, through other people, owning a dog and learning through trial and error. Is this knowledge a good base to provide accurate information about dog training and especially behavioral issues? The answer is NO.

Dog behavior is a complex field. We are looking at the psychology of another species. We are talking about Behaviorism. Have you ever heard of Pavlov, B.F. Skinner, Watson or Thorndike? These individuals were responsible for providing us an insight to the phenomenon of how we learn. This applies to humans and animals alike. The behavioral psychology these famous individuals provided us is still used today. Thanks to all their scientific experiments we know how humans and animals learn.

We humans don't come with innate guidance when it comes to dogs. There is no pre-programmed software package that we get born with. Some people simply have better dog skills than others which were most likely acquired by an early exposure to dogs in their lives. It is not instinct but something we have learned over time.

Now what bugs us trainers? The well-intended but often wrongful advice of others to a dog owner who is dealing with some kind of issue. Why do people do it? Why do people accept it?

"Advice: guidance or recommendations concerning prudent future action, typically given by someone regarded as  knowledgeable or authoritative." Definition 

In human psychology it is known that people usually hesitate to take another person's advice. Your opinion is your opinion. Period. A human will take someone's advice if advice is sought. An answer to a question. If the question is paired with despair and hopelessness and humans believe they have drained all of their options then advice is easily taken and often not even checked for accuracy.

"Are you having behavioral issues with her that you're not figuring out? Let me know what those are - perhaps I can help you." - Quote from a friendly stranger

One of the many examples that turned well meant advice into a disaster is the one of my neighbors. They rescued two dogs from the pound that had belonged to a distant cousin who had recently passed away. My neighbor knew nothing of dogs and nothing of dog training. The dogs were very well trained. The older one was not an issue but the younger one was. He was energetic, pulled on-leash and jumped on people. The dogs stayed with me and I was able to start training the younger dog. He only stayed with me for a few days which allowed me to reinforce some of his good behaviors and start working on the issues they had with him. All of the issues were basic obedience issues. No behavior ones. I provided them with a no-pull harness to decrease the pulling and some tips on how to continue.

Two weeks had passed and I ran into my neighbor. Harness was gone. Choke collar was put in place. He was pulling and she continuously jerked the leash to slow him down. When I approached her she pulled the collar up and used her leg to push his butt down.

A close friend and dog owner of my neighbor had shown her how to train the younger dog. She was not a professional. She had taken a few dog training classes from an aversive trainer. Aversives trainers use force in training. Aversive trainers also often don't have a formal education in dog training. I will be focusing on that in part II of  "Confessions of a dog trainer. Pet Peeves." A choke collar is what it is: it chokes the dog which means air is the training tool and it is used to get the desired behavior. The dog was shut down, ears pinned back, mouth slightly open, panting and his eyes were big. The dog was stressed. A new behavior was developing and it wasn't a behavior that could have been tackled with some basic obedience. The new behavior was becoming a behavioral issue since he was starting to get fearful.

"Again, happy to hear if there are other behavioral issues that you're dealing with to try to guide you. I'm not a trained behaviorist but seem to have had an innate guidance about doggies since I was a little girl." - Quote from a friendly stranger

Another good example I recently encountered. A house training issue. The owner at the end of her wits put up a post to re-home her dog. She had followed through with well intended advice from others. The result was that the dog was still house soiling.

Advice from the online group flew in from all directions. I offered to help the person seeking to re-home her dog. At the same time I engaged with the unofficial dog behaviorist with the innate guidance about doggies. As a professional one of my biggest pet peeves. My advice to her advice was to not provide advice in a field she had no accreditation in. I did so without pointing out what part of
her information was incorrect. Oh my! My advice was not taken well. Human behavior at its best.

"Potty training is something that has been done with doggies long before there was a "professional certification" around how to do it ... that's all I'm saying. I've had dogs all my life." - Response from the non trained behaviorist to my advice not to give advice.

I had to endure insults, belittling and discrediting to my profession and my person. Made we wonder how they would have responded if someone had given advice in their field of expertise. It came down to science schmience. Who needs it? You need no certification to provide advice. Good point. Maybe you don't need a certification but maybe providing correct information would be a good start.

The woman contacted me for help. We talked on the phone for an hour and I wrote up a 6 page training plan providing her with exact information on what to do and why she was doing it. The training will start soon. No more yelling "no" at the dog or pushing the nose into the pee. That well-intended advice just resulted into the dog sneaking off to a save place to eliminate. We are now pushing towards results which means we are finishing the house training by helping the dog to discriminate between inside and outside without any form of harsh punishment (no screaming, yelling or physical corrections). If the owner will pull through with the training she can keep her dog and all will be good!

My advice to people is to stop and think. Use your common sense. Have you ever asked yourself why professionals have agreements? Insurance? Professionals tend to exceed the level of knowledge and expertise in the dog behavior field. That is a fact. Education and training does do wonders! Looking like a dullard is not difficult especially when when the information is not correct. Google is probably not going to be your best friend either since the unregulated pet industry allows all kinds of dog training. Training that is based on science and training that is based on myths. Where do you look? What do you remember? Now that is exactly my point and one that I will discuss in our next part of the series: "Confessions of a dog trainer. Pet Peeves." If you do get the advice from a professional not to provide dog training to others unless you are a qualified professional don't consider it a "slap on your wrist, territorial or stealing the professionals business." You are actually helping the professional get business without realizing it. You are not a competitor. You never will be. I hate to say it. A professional is just providing you advice for your own protection.

"For now stay calm and assertive!" - Definition: Dog Trainer joke!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Cesar Millan's epic dog trainer fail

It has been an interesting week. A dog trainer friend of mine, Karolin Klinck, brought the following story to my attention. With anticipation I followed the development in Germany involving well-known American television star and controversial dog trainer Cesar Millan better known as The Dog Whisperer. 

Cesar Millan's intent was to invite 5 people with their dogs to his show. These people were to be chosen about 4 hours before each show and would go on stage for a period of up to 10 minutes in which Cesar Millan would handle the dogs. The conflict arose due to the possible negative consequences that could evolve due to the short interactions with Mr. Millan. A possible follow up training session and/or consult may be required after the show and therefore according to German law the trainer needed to have proof of knowledge on the field of dog training and behavior.

According to the German newspaper "Hannoverische Allgemeine", a Veterinarian met Mr. Millan at the airport for the test. According to Mr. Millan's spokesman Florian Wastl "That was unfortunate. Mr. Millan failed the test due to linguistic problems." although an interpreter was present but Mr. Wastl claims "a lot was lost in translation." This was contradicted by city spokesman Udo Möller: "The test was taken in a correct manner. We are not here to boycott the dog trainer from the United States but we just want to ensure that part of his show is performed by a trainer who as a corresponding competence certificate in the field." he stated.

Link to above mentioned article:

Translation *1 of above pictured article concerning Mr. Millan's 

"Cesar Millan, an animal trainer known as the "Dog Whisperer", has received a legal slap on his fingers. Hollywood stars such as Jennifer Aniston and Charlize Theron have sought Mr. Millan’s advice but Mr. Millan needed an animal welfare law permits like any other less famous dog trainer. According to media reports, however, Millan failed the required exam for dog trainers on September 10, despite a present interpreter.

On Wednesday, the judges of the Supreme Administrative Court of Lüneburg, Germany refused an urgent application of the dog trainer. Millan wants to show his controversial methods on tour in Germany, which was to begin on Wednesday in Hanover.

In the show training methods would be demonstrated on dogs with respectively their handlers. That would require the handler to handle the dogs within the terms of the Animal Protection Act. This applies the licensing requirements of the authorities and Mr. Millan’s lacked the proof of competence which is required. The decision is final.

Events are still taking place

"The event in Hannover will take place as planned," said Millan's spokesman Florian Wastl after the decision. The other seven shows were taking place as planned as well. Millan will comply with the requirements of the authorities. "The Animal Welfare Act applies nationwide," said the spokeswoman of the Supreme Administrative Court. The city of Hanover had invoked this law. At least a part of the show should therefore be carried out by a trainer who has appropriate certificates.

The once illegal immigrant from Mexico came to the United States and Millan is a star there with his own show. In Germany his show " The once illegally from Mexico have come into the United States Millan is there a star with his own show. In Germany his show " Der Hundeflüsterer " (The Dog Whisperer) is running at Sixx. However, the so-called Super-Nanny for families with problem dogs also has enemies. Some call Millan an animal abusers. His principle: Dog owners have their animals not only love, but also lead. Man must occur as the pack leader - quietly but firmly and decisively.
Controversial training methods

Millan's crackdown on problem-dogs are based on punishment, submission and threatening gestures, the animal welfare organization Four Paws complained recently. "This in no way represents our current scientific knowledge", criticized the association for the German Kennel Club and accuses Millan of "violent emphasized techniques such as punches, kicks, choke collar, electric stimuli".

Millan rejected this: ". understand you do not know who Cesar Millan really is. I'm the biggest fan of dogs on this planet," he announced in Spring confidently."

Here are questions to tests that are given to dog owners that handle dogs (not trainers!). We haven't been able to locate any dog trainer tests online. The dog trainers test is more complex. If we can get our hands on it we will post it. Example of dog owner's test:

Test 1
Test 2
Test 3

Here are links to the test requirements:

The interesting part is that some of the questions are based on outdated information. That has been criticized by some German dog trainers. We may assume it was those questions that Mr. Millan may have gotten right. Nevertheless, it is a start to help ensure that in the name of the dog a dog trainer needs to have some background in dog training and behavior. Becoming a dog trainer is not going to be an overnight decision but requires some education and knowledge.

Thank you Mona Steffi Glen Fallon and Angela Reiss for providing us the links. I will be providing a translation soon!

While Cesar Millan fans are crying bloody murder the decision has been highly welcomed by animal advocates and trainers of modern and scientific based dog training methods. His methods have been doomed outdated, brutal and painful. Many of his opponents have contributed his success to his ability to empower humans but using horrendic methods to control and submit defenseless dogs. His fans contradict these accusations by saying people are against him because he is successful and that draws jealousy and hate towards him. No matter what side you are on, the decision in Germany made another contribution to the endless bickering about dog training methods.

What dog training method is right for you? I think we should start thinking about using methods that support the welfare of our dogs. Methods that are humane. Methods that don't use corrections on verbal or physical level. Methods that use motivation and that can achieve the same results without the long term negative consequences. That method is called aversive free or force free dog training. We do have those options so why not use them?

Hannoverische Allgemeine
German Court Decision
Against Cesar Millan German Facebook page

*1 Translation was made by me. It is not perfect. I am not a professional translator and translated the article with the best possible intend without changing the context of the article.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Norah our foster puppy

Meet Norah! My newest foster puppy. She is a Formosan Mountain Dog, a native breed to Taiwan. Norah is around 5-6 months old, probably around 35 lbs and just a sweetheart. Norah is the second Formosan Mountain Dog I am fostering. The first one got adopted by one of my best friends.

I decided to do more research on this breed as KanDee, my first Formosan Mountain Dog, was super friendly and very mature. Norah is a shy girl and in desperate need of exposure to the daily things in life.

Wikipedia has this to say about the breed: "The Formosan is a high energy, loyal, affectionate, and intelligent breed that learns very quickly. In unfamiliar situations though, they tend to be wary of strangers and sounds, and at times, they can possibly become fear-aggressive. In new situations where the dog is fear-aggressive, it can take a few days before the dog will calm down. If comfortable and well-trained, the Formosan will be friendly to people and other animals, though they tend to be a bit aloof or suspicious of strangers, once they have bonded with their owner. Once bonded, they are extremely loyal and affectionate to their owners. Due to the breed's alertness, these dogs can make great guard dogs, but if not well-trained, the Formosan can become overly protective and aggressive towards strangers."

With this info in mind it will make it easier for me to set up a training plan. I've only had her for 12 hours but it wasn't difficult to figure out her energy level, her affectionate part and the fact she learns fast. She is fearful but we are about to change that. I will post more pictures either on the blog or on our Facebook site if you would like to follow Norah's adventure to becoming a well trained dog.

Below is my first attempt to capture a picture of Norah with my big camera. She does not like the big black thing and we let it be. Over the next few days we will use DS/CC to help her overcome her fear of all the scary things in life! If you are interested in adopting her please contact Love & Second Chances Rescue.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Are dog parks great places for dogs?

Dog Parks are often considered a great place for dogs but is that really true? Recent studies have shown that dog parks are actually not such a safe environment for your dog. Sue Sternberg, well known author and dog behaviorist, who has spent the last few years filming and observing dog interactions recently revealed that she identified 5 behaviors in dog parks throughout the United States:

  • bullying
  • targeting
  • group chasing
  • mobbing (ganging up)
  • hunting

These behaviors have been identified among groups of unfamiliar dogs such as dogs that happen to meet in dog parks. Dogs are often no different then unsupervised children on a playground and tend to engage in mentally, emotionally and sometimes physically abusive behavior.

Is a dog park a risky place? Generally a dog park is a very risky and unsafe place for you to take your dog. There are always exceptions of course. Those exceptions are dog parks that provide more than just a hang out place for humans. Dog parks such as Fort Funston, Carmel Beach and Point Isabel just to name a few in and around the San Francisco Bay Area. What makes these places a better place for your dog? Dog owners usually tend to be on the move, are more likely to engage with their dog and beaches are simply hard to beat when it comes to wearing out your dog. Water and sand will provide what a small and enclosed area in a city cannot.

When visiting places like these ensure you respect local laws. Do not let your dog off-leash when leash laws are in place. You are not only setting yourself up to fail. Respect fellow visitors with our without a dog. It is not a right but a privilege to have your dog out and about.

Sue Sternberg has some great off-leash park rules:
  1. Recognize that your dog may not get along with ALL other dogs, and that some combinations simply don't work. It is fine to leave the dog run and come back another time, or take a personal, one-on-one walk with your dog in the neighborhood and come back in a few minutes to see if the run has emptied out a bit.
  2. Consider leaving your cell phone off, or not taking calls, unless it's an emergency, during your dog's time at the dog run. The more attention you give your dog, and the more you participate, the better the relationship. This is a good time for you and your dog to be together, and doesn't your dog deserve your undivided attention?
  3. Make sure your dog's play partner(s) are playing fair, and that your own dog is playing fair, too. This means that each dog takes turn pushing and initiating physical contact (being on top) and that neither dog is pushing another dog relentlessly. There should be frequent role reversals in healthy play.
  4. Make sure your own dog is actually playing with another dog, and not just responding in a defensive, deflective way based on fear. Call your dog to you, and when you release him to go back to "play," see if he indeed does return to engage with the same dog(s). If not, he may not have felt that what he was previously experiencing was really playful or fun for him.
  5. Watch your own dog, and make sure he is not targeting ONE other dog exclusively and going after that particular dog relentlessly - even if you think your dog is "just playing." Playing is a balance between the dogs, a give and take - not one dog pushing and jumping and mouthing the other dog over and over and over again. If your dog is doing this to another dog, go and get him, or call him to you and get him under control. The same holds true if your dog is the target of another dog's obsession. Go and rescue your dog from the situation.
  6. Watch out for "ganging" up; when two or more dogs "gang up" and relentlessly chase or surround another dog. Have all the owners call their dogs, and probably one or more of the gang members should leave the run for that time, as they'll usually start back up again.
  7. Toy dogs should play with other toy or smallish dogs, and should absolutely not be in the run with the big dogs. A predatory attack can happen instantly and without warning. The risk to toy dogs is too great.
  8. Beware of high-speed games of chase. Alone, two dogs playing chase is probably fine, but if other dogs join in, then a high-speed game of chase can arouse other dogs, and in an instant this can turn into a predatory attack. It's hard to get control once dogs begin this high-speed chase, which is why you want to catch it early, and why you want to spend a lot of time training your dog in the run. You want control when your dog starts to get out of control. But you can't wait until he is out of control to train your dog to listen to you. Train him while he is relatively calm.
  9. Participate in your dog's playtime. Interrupt every few minutes by calling your dog to you, rewarding with at least one treat every two seconds, and keep your dog with you for at least 10 seconds. For this entire 10 seconds, praise, pet and reward your dog often enough so that he doesn't have a chance to look away from you. This encourages attention, and allows your dog to calm down and focus on a human in between aroused playtimes.
  10. Playing with other dogs is very, very fun for your dog, sometimes more fun than being with people, and sometimes more fun than being with YOU. This puts you at a disadvantage in every other situation with your dog. It is important to include yourself in your dog's play activities. Watch your dog, encourage your dog, interrupt your dog, play with your dog.
  11. Call your dog to come to you frequently, not just when it's time to leave. By calling him over to you frequently, rewarding him with something valuable, and then releasing him back to play, you can avoid the difficulty many dog park frequenters experience: the dog who can't be caught when it's time to leave. Make sure that calling your dog to come to you doesn't just signal the time to leave. By calling him and having him sit by your side, receive your praise and petting for a brief time before releasing him with permission to go back and play teaches your dog that coming to you is merely a pleasant interruption, and not an end to his fun.

Info from: Sue Sternberg's book, Out and About With Your Dog available from