Handlers Manual

We know you love your dog and want to be sure his or her training is a positive experience.

 To build your confidence in us we would like to present our credentials.

Scotch Pines Dog Training, Specializing In Off-Leash Obedience, was started in 1993 by Will and Vivian Stoppel when they lived on Scotch Pines Road in Payette, Idaho. Their daughter, April, is the current owner of what is now the largest dog training school in Idaho and one of the largest in the nation.

Sarah is the local franchise owner/trainer and is eager to meet your training needs through this exceptional program. We enjoy tremendous support from veterinarians, law enforcement officials, and humane societies. We train over 850 dogs per year so we’ve been privileged to work with all breeds and all personalities. We love them all, and look forward to getting to know you and your best friend this session.



“As a veterinarian I highly recommend Scotch Pines Dog Training. A bond of loyalty is created by the humane training methods.” - Dr. Swane, Pet Haven Veterinary Clinic 

"I have seen graduates from other obedience classes, and there is no comparison. Scotch Pines is the only school I will recommend to our clients.” -Julia Bowen, Kindness Small Animal Center

 “Scotch Pines Dog Training is well known and highly recommended by this department.” -Bud Reifsnyder, Fruitland Chief of Police

“Your presentation on the topic of dog behavior was excellent.” -Phillip Mamer DMV, Idaho State Veterinary Medical Officer -Investigation of Cruelty to Animals and Humane Animal Restraint Techniques “

The training methods of Scotch Pines are serious, but not harsh or inhumane. Many dogs’ lives have been saved because of the training methods Scotch Pines recommends.” -Jan Zimmerman, Director Canyon County Animal Shelter




Thank you for choosing SCOTCH PINES DOG TRAINING Specializing in Off-Leash Obedience


THE KOEHLER METHOD Scotch Pines Dog Training uses the method devised by William Koehler, chief animal trainer to Walt Disney Studios for twenty years. During his career, Mr. Koehler oversaw the training of 40,000 dogs and wrote the world’s number one selling dog training book, The Koehler Method of Dog Training. The distinctive results of the Koehler method are dogs who will happily obey off-leash in the presence of distractions.

At Scotch Pines we diligently researched other methods before settling on the Koehler method. As part of this investigation, we took a three week trip across the United States, asking dog trainers about their methods and the results. We found methods that are easier, methods that use no force, and methods that are great for getting dogs to perform tricks (food training, click and treat), but NONE of them could compare to the Koehler method for off-leash reliability in real life distractions. The Koehler method works and we are very enthusiastic that it will work for your dog also!

1.Why should my dog learn to obey off leash if I live in the city? If a dog is not obedient without a leash, there is one command he will never obey – COME! Even in your backyard, you need your dog to come when called. Country walks, camping, or romps in the park are pretty bleak for the dog that must forever be on a leash.

2. Does Scotch Pines train for the show ring?

A dog that has been through our course can certainly compete well in the obedience ring, but our focus is on a greater level of obedience than a rote routine in an artificial environment. We gear our training toward real life obedience.

3. Is this method right for all dogs? Tens of thousands of dogs of all breeds and temperaments have successfully and happily graduated from Koehler courses throughout the world. Why not your dog too?


4. Why are the classes so big? Will I get personal attention? Dogs trained in quiet, calm settings only obey in quiet, calm settings – not in the hustle and bustle of real life. Thirty other dogs is a wonderful distraction, along with a goat, rabbit, hamburger, cat food and other distractions we bring to class. We have found that students trained in a private setting never do as well as participants in our group class setting. If you really think you need extra personal attention, we have private lessons available by appointment for a fee. Talk to your trainer for information.

 5. Will we be using food treats? NO. Food treats are great for getting dogs to do tricks, run agility courses, and look good in the show ring. However, food treat training is worthless in producing an off-leash reliable dog in real life distractions, because eventually the distraction is desired more than the treat and your dog will not obey. Guide dogs, police dogs, search and rescue dogs – dogs that require serious obedience are NOT food trained. We will be using instruction, correction and praise.

6. What about no-force methods I have read about? If there were a no-force method that could truly produce off-leash reliability, Scotch Pines would be delighted to teach that method. Sadly, because of the psychology of the dog, no-force methods (clicker, treats, etc.) produce a trick performing dog that cannot be trusted off-leash in the presence of distractions. (A dog a quarter mile away in hot pursuit of a rabbit will not come for a cookie!) This truth is even admitted by treat trainers and those who use inductive, rather than compulsive, methods. Here are their quotes: “Can inductive training override instinctive behavior, such as a male dog’s pursuit of a female in season, or the hunting dog’s following the trail of game? Our experience is that it cannot. . .” -Joachim Volhard, Teaching Dog Obedience Classes “

The most potent reinforce wins out over the less potent . . . be advised that if you are trying to obtain COME using freeze dried liver, but the forest is offering rabbit trail…the forest will win.” -Jean Donaldson, The Culture Clash

7.  Some people have criticized the Koehler method as harsh because it involves a collar yank for correction. Will this training break by dog’s spirit? All you need to settle this question is to watch our graduates and talk to their owners. The self-confident, happy obedience of the dogs and the delighted enthusiasm of the owners will immediately dispel that notion.

 8. Will my dog dislike me if I correct him? Dogs are born to follow, respect, and adore a pack leader who guides with gentleness and keeps order through fair, but firm, discipline. Your dog began accepting discipline as a puppy from his mother. His littermates helped civilize him and each other through discipline. Discipline is a fact of life in the animal world of the dog. He expects you, as his leader, to guide him, love him, protect him, provide for him— and discipline him, when necessary. If you fail to do so, and let him get away with bad behavior, he will know that you are not leadership material. We have watched thousands of students be firm with their dogs only to have the dogs love them more! We have also watched students pathetically tug at the leash and futilely beg their dogs to behave, only to have those dogs snap at them when they had enough of such irritating pestering. Give your dog the gift of security—become his beloved leader.

9. Will my dog enjoy training? Your dog will love training as long as he is being obedient, pleasing you and getting wonderful PRAISE. When he resists and needs correction, he will not be having fun, just as you do not have fun when you have broken the law and a policeman is writing you a ticket. Until you correct firmly enough to bring him past contention, he may sulk, act timid, or even bite at you. Once he decides to accept you as his leader, he will be a happy fellow again.


10. Can I expect results even if I don’t do the homework? Yes, you can expect results, but they won’t be good. If you don’t do the homework you might as well drop out now. It’s not fair to your dog, your classmates or your trainer if you don’t try to succeed. You have invested money and time . . . so give it your best effort!! The results will pay rich dividends. In the whole scheme of things, 8 weeks is a short length of time compared to the life of your dog.



I physically can’t make the moves? Call the trainer. This course can be adapted to your abilities. Handlers in wheelchairs and on crutches have successfully graduated their dogs. . . .

 I miss class? In the first six weeks, missing class without getting a makeup lesson can be disastrous. If you absolutely must miss, make arrangements with the trainer as soon as possible. Sometimes you may be able to attend a different class, at a different time, as we often teach several classes running concurrently on the same track. You may also buddy up with a classmate who can show you what was taught that week. Homework will not be given in the first six weeks without a makeup lesson. There will be a fee for makeup lessons with the trainer. . . .

 I am doing so poorly with my dog that I am embarrassed enough to drop out? If you really love your dog, and want to give him a chance to succeed, you’ll hang in there. Call the trainer for a private lesson (I am always happy to meet early before class to help!) At Scotch Pines, we will do everything we can to help you – but we can’t help you if you give up. Remember: winners never quit and quitters never win. . .

 I’m hard of hearing? Stand directly in front of the speaker and watch the other handlers. Talk to the trainer. We will do what we can to help! I have some ASL skills. .

 My dog starts acting sad or runs away when I get the leash? Only one thing makes a dog act sad and sullen during training. HIS OWNERS NEGATIVE EMOTIONS! If you are tense, worried, and unhappy about giving corrections, your dog will immediately sense your uneasiness and become depressed and insecure. Correct with vigor and a smile. If you are a weak leader and do not insist upon obedience, he will rebel with sulkiness. Press through his resistance with firm corrections and he will recognize your worth as a leader and cheer right up. If you are training your dog for your own ego and glory, he will know. Dogs are very intuitive. Be considerate of your dog, praise with enthusiasm, and always keep a relaxed cheerful attitude, NO MATTER WHAT. His tail will start wagging again. You set the tone. .

. . . . I don’t have time to do my homework? You and your dog will flunk.




 HOW FAST WILL MY DOG LEARN? All dogs are wonderfully brilliant! The best results come when the handler is sensitive, timely and appropriate with praise and correction. If your dog is not doing well, look at your handling methods before blaming your dog. It is true that different breeds learn at different rates, but what really matters is the mind-set and diligence of the handler. YOU influence your success more than your dog does. Aim high and you can experience amazing and rewarding results. If you are sloppy, your dog will be too. If you get discouraged, ask the trainer for help  



 To Owners of Insecure Dogs My beagle was desperately afraid of everything. Now she has become secure and unafraid.

To Owners of Rambunctious Dogs My puppy was wild and uncontrollable. For weeks she was absolutely crazy in class with the other dogs. Now to see her on a distant down in the group of dogs amazes me. I enjoy her even more.

 To Owners of Aggressive Dogs, I thought I could win my dog over by kindness, love and an extra treat, but it did not work. I used the aggression correction and was sorry I didn’t start being stern earlier when it was suggested. It would have been easier on both me and my dog. I was afraid the aggression correction would make her afraid of me, but now she walks tall and proud and is confident and we love her. I stuck with the class and I’m glad I did, because my formerly impossible dog is now a respectable member of our family. Does she hate me for using the correction when she tried to bite? NO, she can’t do enough to please me and is happiest right by my side. One quick correction and our bond actually deepened.

To Owners with Limited Strength I am in my upper seventies with a prosthesis in each knee. When asked to run, I was really in trouble. I walked as fast as I could, and it worked very well. My dog has become a wonderful, obedient pet. I started class with apprehension. I have a heart problem. We tried three weeks and were going to give it up, but our trainer fitted us with a new collar that made all the difference. If you have a disability, don’t quit. Ask your trainer to come up with something that will help you get the most out of class.

To Young Owners The way I trained Joker was lots of hard work. The main thing was to praise a LOT, even if I had to correct. Listen and follow directions exactly. I did a bad thing at first; Joker was showing aggression in the second week, but I ignored it. By the third week he growled at me so we “treated” it, and now he is fine. A problem you may have is being shy. A thing you can do is talk to people during the break, like ask a dog’s name. P.S. Don’t be afraid to give firm corrections. It saves a lot of work.

 To Owners with Stressful Lives In spite of muscle aches and arthritic pain, we hung in there – not to say there weren’t days of frustration, tears, and times of thinking “I quit.” Sometimes when family life was trying, dog training would seem like the last straw, but when she would come through for me and start to shine, it would be the one point of light that made all the other problems not so insurmountable. I will forever be grateful for this training

. To Busy Owners Dog training has been like watching a baby grow and seeing it able to do new things. One week may be difficult, but it brings results the next week. As I began, I was not sure I could give the time needed. I made the commitment, and now my dog and I respect each other more, and we are better friends. So be consistent and don’t give up. If you want a great dog, you must work very hard. But all worthwhile relationships demand this commitment. There will be peaks and valleys, but there will be a huge sense of pride when you finish. Not just in your dog, but in yourself as well. I get positive comments from onlookers all the time. Nine weeks is such a short time invested, and the return is a wonderful relationship with your dog. DON’T GIVE UP!!!




Timid – This dog shrinks from entering class, spooks at new sights, and cowers at being corrected. Owners tend to coddle, protect, and soothe, being afraid the training will break the dog’s spirit. Soothing a timid dog always makes it more timid. Build his confidence by ignoring cowardly behavior. Work your dog in a peppy, no-nonsense fashion with lots of praise.

 Sullen – This dog drags along grudgingly, sighs, and rolls their sad eyes. You feel guilty for putting your dog through such “misery.” Would you take a child out of school because he was too lazy to try to learn? Work fast and happy, giving lots of praise. NEVER feel sorry for a sullen dog – he can read you.

Previously Abused – Half of all dog owners we meet think their dog has been abused, because it is fearful or shies from certain people, objects, or motions. Most of the time, the dog is simply timid or under socialized. In the case of the rare, truly abused dog, training, even with stiff corrections, will greatly build confidence.

 Happily Berserk – This party fellow takes life with a bouncy zest and nearly pulls your arms out of their sockets trying to play with the other dogs in class. He may leap and play bite the leash or you. You feel like a party–pooper making such a jolly boy behave. Don’t worry – training will give your happy go-lucky dog manners, not take away his jolly nature. Give very stiff corrections and mild praise.

Aggressive - This dog grumbles, growls, and even snaps when you try to enforce a command. Owners sometimes try to cover for such dogs, claiming he was just “sighing” or “yawning” or that training caused his aggression. Proper training never causes aggression – it simply reveals the resistant nature of a dog that has never been required to obey. This is a serious problem. Aggression never goes away by itself; it gets worse and ends up being dangerous to humans and fatal to the dog itself. Contact trainer for proper aggression correction methods.

 Crowd Shy – This dog isn’t timid at home but hates class no matter how cheerful his owner is. Some dogs, just like some people, simply hate crowds. If you are sure, you are not being tense or overprotective, chances are your dog just lacks socialization. Ignore his discomfort, be as positive as you can, and figure he may never enjoy the bustle of class, but he will benefit from it.

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