Show Your Dog Who’s Boss

Mastermind Weekend 1/16

Hey there!

I'm Tina

I’m the owner of Carrots ‘N’ Cake as well as a Certified Nutrition Coach and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner (FDN-P). I use macros and functional nutrition to help women find balance within their diets while achieving their body composition goals.


An in-depth, 4-week reverse dieting course for women who feel like their metabolism has slowed down, think they might have hormonal imbalance and can’t lose weight no matter what they do.

Hi, friends! I can’t believe how quickly this week is flying by. Holy moly. Does anyone else think so or is it just me?


Today’s lunch was another mix of random leftovers from the refrigerator: fresh greens, potatoes, spicy lentils, and homemade blue cheese dressing.

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There wasn’t a ton of blue cheese dressing, so I built my salad in its Tupperware container so I could sop-up as much cheesy goodness as possible. I didn’t want any of it going to waste!

Please note the pug snout at the lower left of this photo:

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When I’m taking photos of my food, Murphy is almost always inches away from it. He’ll never try to eat it (he knows better), but he makes sure that he’s close to the action.

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Lunch also included a special treat: Coffee Mug Carrot Cake. Ooooh, yes. It was awesome times a million. This new dessert could be serious trouble for me.

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At the gym today, I did a 30-minute treadmill workout followed by a 30-minute elliptical workout. I planned to do some strength training afterward, but my muslces were still pretty sore from Body Pump, so I just headed home. Tomorrow will be a strength training day for sure.


When I got home from the gym, I made a peanut butter and banana sandwich on a whole wheat Sandwich Thin as an afternoon snack. I didn’t snap a photo because as soon I finished making it, I chowed it down in 60 seconds. Honestly, I just forgot.

Show Your Dog Who’s Boss

Over the past few months, I’ve received a number of emails and comments asking me how Mal and I trained our little puglet. Murphy is a really good dog. Occasionally, he acts like a jerk, but 95% of the time, he’s very well-behaved.

Mal is definitely the Alpha dog in our house. He worked at a pet supply store all through high school, so he had a good idea about dog training before we even got Murphy. However, neither of us knew anything about pugs, so we bought Pugs for Dummies (for real), and both of us read through it, cover-to-cover. We also watched a lot of Cesar Millan on TV before we got Murphy and while he was a puppy.

As far a specific training advice, here are four rules from Cesar Millan that were most helpful to us for training Murphy:

Set a routine. Your daily schedule should include at least 30-45 minutes of power-walking in the morning as well as meals and bathroom breaks at regular times, so your dog knows what to expect when.

Pugs love schedules. Mal and I do, too, so it was easy to get Murphy into a routine. We created a schedule that worked for us and stuck to it. Now, Murphy knows when to expect meals, relieve himself on walks, and go to bed when we do.

Reward good behavior. Reserve time each day to practice following rules (i.e. no running out an open door!) and give him pets in return. He’ll interpret your affection as payback for positive behavior, reinforcing good habits.

Pugs live to eat, so we knew from the very beginning that training Murphy would involve food as a reward. Instead of just rewarding him with affection, Murphy also received a treat (aka a piece of his dog food) for his good behavior. (I also think the treats sped-up the learning process!) Now that he’s older, Murphy doesn’t get treats as often, but we still give him lots of praise for good behavior.

Establish yourself as a pack leader. Always walk out the door in front of your dog, and keep him behind or beside you on walks, rather than ahead of you.

Mal and I have gotten a little lazy with this one. As a puppy, Mal and I spent so much time teaching Murphy that he needs to walk next to us and wait his turn walking out the front door. Murphy learned ”˜stay’ from this and does it well, but we don’t enforce this rule as much as we should.

Don’t indulge tantrums. Paying your pup attention whenever he demands it encourages hyperactive and anxious ways. Instead, don’t touch, talk to, or make eye contact with him, and you’ll see how quickly he settles down.

When Mal used to come home from work, Murphy would spaz-out, bark, and jump all over him. Of course, Mal and I would yell at him, but Murphy just didn’t get it. (Ok, well, Mal and I just didn’t get it.) Eventually, Mal started to ignore Murphy when he jumped on him. Mal turned his back to the pug and stayed completely silent until Murphy calmed down. And when he did, we’d reward him. Now, Murphy doesn’t freak out at all when Mal comes home. However, we’re still working on this one when guests come over!

What are your best tips and advice for dog training?



  1. Thank you so much for these awesome tips!! Our almost 8 month old Great Dane has been a little feisty lately and unfortunately, we have to leave him for long periods of time during the day, so we don’t get to work with him as much as we’d like.

    I had never heard the tip about making sure we walk out the door before the dog. I will definitely be trying that in the mornings!

  2. I totally did the chocolate cake in a mug for lunch-dessert. 🙂

    We’ve tried ignoring our dogbert when he barks at the mailman, but it doesn’t seem to have the effect of making him stop 🙁

    1. @MindyG: Murphy does that too. I tell him to ‘sit’ and ‘quiet’ and we wait until the mailman leaves. If he stays quiet, he gets a treat. But, usually, he gets his treat and then runs to the door and barks even after the mailman is long gone. We’re working on it! 😉

  3. I know nothing about dog training, which worries me because I want to get a dog pretty soon. But these four rules seem pretty doable.
    And yes, I always wondered how you got Murphy to not eat your food.

  4. You are so lucky that Murphy doesn’t know the difference between “treat” and his food. If we try to give Olive her food as a “treat” she will literally spit it out and wait for something better. She’s a jerk like that….or maybe just really spoiled. 🙂

  5. Great advice! We have a choc lab who will be two in November. He is really a good dog even though there are those days when we acts up…which I think is totally out of spite! We have the same problem with guests…he is so good at home and listens but when people come over, he is SO excited and in their faces and it’s a little embarrassing because they are probably thinking our dog is a wild animal that we have no control over!

  6. OK so I’ve never trained a dog but I lived with a really well trained one for awhile (the dog did agility). A tip I would use if I ever got a dog is to use nontraditional commands. The dog obeyed “sit” but instead of “come” it was “let’s go” and “slow” instead of “heel”. I think this helped a ton when she was around other dogs because she wasn’t confused!

  7. Those are great tips and when reading them realized that they totally transfer to how to “train” kids. I don’t have a dog, but do a have a 4 year old stepson and my husband and I used a lot of these same things to get him not to act out and to be respectful of us. (No we did not reward him with food nor make him pee outside, but a lot of the others are easy to draw parallels.)

  8. Tina! Thank you for this post, its perfect timing! I’m getting two Australian Shepherds in a few weeks, and just found out today that one of the pups that we thought was a girl, is actually a boy lol. So it looks like we’ll be getting two boys.

  9. Hello Tina, I have been a longtime reader but have never commented before..thanks for sharing the tips on how you trained Murphy who is seriously the cutest Pug I have ever seen! I have 2 little shih-tzu puppies and training isn’t always fun that’s for sure. Murph seems to be pretty well behaved!

    On a side note, I was reading our local paper today and thought of you as they were discussing Nuval being used in our school! Very Cool

  10. Our two terriers are not exactly the picture of good training, so I’ll stick to reading the tips rather than sharing. I’ve obviously got some learning to do. 🙂

  11. ohh thanks for the dog freak out tip… my roommates dog absolutely goes crazy anytime anyone walks through the door. I’ll definitely be passing on the ignoring trick and trying it out!

  12. I am late to responding. The best advice i can give you all is to take a dog obedience class as soon as possible. The younger the dog the better. Local community colleges and pet store have very reasonably priced classes. You will learn the basics. Another tip, do no let the dog do anything as a puppy that you do not want it to do as an adult. Cute at 5 pounds but not so cute at 50. I give dogs carrots and green beans as treats. Keeps them happy and trim.

  13. I like the fact that you guys trained him on your own as opposed to going professional….although I don’t have a dog, I’m sure it make a huge difference in the bond between the owner(s) and dog! As for Murphy, I think his cuteness gives him some leeway in getting away with his occasional tantrums! 🙂

  14. Sweet, thanks for the pug advice! I’ve recently fallen in love with pugs (not gonna lie, Murphy probably has something to do with that), so it’s good to see some more info on what they’re actually like in case I get one in the future!

  15. Sounds like your pug’s almost exactly where mine is in terms of behavior (we utilize a close command to keep him by our side during walks), but we’re still having trouble when guests come over. Pugs just love people so much it’s hard to restrain that and then it’s hard to tell your guests to ignore him because they always want to indulge the cute little dog. Not the best training situation.

  16. mmmm i love the mix of leftovers… its like all those meals in one, ha;)

    i really, really want a dog; glad you posted this, i think it’s important to keep training, etc in mind, espc when there are people who don’t…. i can’t stand people who fawn over their dogs or let them pee all over their apartment or bark, etc etc. murphy seems to be a good balance of an enthusiastic and happy personality and well behaved, i would say you’ve raised that little pug well :] 😛

  17. Funny you posted this because my dog has been SO bossy lately! He will bark until he gets exactly what he wants and he never used to be vocal at all. He’s too cute for me not to listen =/

  18. I wish I had known about Cesar Milan’s shows and books before I got Kip. I learned about the series about two months ago and have been trying to “rehabilitate myself” into becoming the “pack leader.” My biggest struggle is having to leave Kip alone for most of the day while I’m at work. Was Murphy ever left home alone for long hours when you were working full time in the past? If you have any tips, please do share:)

  19. Pingback: Pug Pimple

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