About Jeff

Having owned well-trained dogs all my life, I started Better Nature Dog Training to exploit decades of experience teaching across a number of fields. I am nationally-certified through the highly-respected Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers, attaining the CPDT-KA distinction.

Based in San Francisco and working with clients all over the Bay Area, I teach people how to effectively train their dogs by clearly demonstrating that every interaction counts when training a dog to come when called, for example, or instructing a puppy how to best get along in life.

I take a scientific and holistic approach to dog training. The scientific aspect comes from understanding dog psychology from an evolutionary perspective, knowing how dogs are both similar to and distinct from their ancestors, including the grey wolf. The holistic component derives from taking into account all facets of any particular dog’s situation, including upbringing, prior training, traumatic events and—most importantly—the characteristics of his home and family life.

Training a puppy or dog can be a most rewarding life experience; it can also be stressful and perplexing. One of the best services I provide is taking the guesswork out while lending a sure, guiding hand in successful dog behavior development and modification. I also volunteer at the Pets Unlimited Animal Shelter.  If you’re considering adopting a rescue, please come and meet the dogs and puppies in this fantastic facility.

In addition to my CPDT-KA certification, am a professional member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers.

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10 Responses to About Jeff

  1. Ashley says:

    Hi, Jeff. Your Litter Mates article from 2013 is excellent advice. We are raising litter mate Goldendoodles. We, like so many others, had no idea that this syndrome existed. As dog lovers, we adopted two, thinking they would be happier together. It definitely needs to be broadcast loud and clear to all breeders, shelters, etc. that getting litter mates is not a good idea. The one thing I would say to people who find themselves in this position, is that it is not impossible if you start from the beginning and do everything separately. It completely voids the reason for getting two, but it is possible to allow the pups to develop their own personalities, if one is willing to spend an immense amount of time and money doing so. I am writing to you, because we decided to keep both puppies, and we are running ourselves ragged trying to avoid this syndrome. They are 18 weeks old and are doing very well. Anyway, I thought you might be interested in following our story and seeing if our plan ends up being successful in the end. We have a blog on DoodleKisses.com under Ashley, Sadie and Coal.

  2. ulabie says:

    Hi Jeff,
    I have two 5 year old golden retriever siblings, who display some of the symptoms of littermate syndrome. I never heard of this until a few months ago, and had the best intentions when getting the puppies together. I read some articles about this, and while I find out situation isn’t extreme, it appears that it might be getting worse recently.

    They are already five years old; there is no way I am rehoming either dog. Is it too late to fix this situation? Is there anything I can do? Please email me pipcio@hotmail.com.
    Thanks! I would really appreciate it.

  3. Ashley says:

    Hi Jeff,

    My family has two year-and-a-half old white shepherd girls who are littermates. We purchased them from a breeder at eight weeks old; it was a gift of sorts from my grandfather (who was extremely ill) to me and my aunt (one dog is supposed to be hers, and one is supposed to be mine). I knew vaguely of littermate syndrome when my grandpa decided to get littermates, and tried to train them when they were younger despite having no help from the rest of the household. However, only two months after we got them I had to leave for almost 5 months for a job, and my aunt was caring for them in my stead. She didn’t keep up on the training and when I came back they were showing a clear case of it; they could no longer be separated for even a few minutes, and when I tried to take them for separate walks when I returned they would act out on the leash and freak out. The wouldn’t even eat separate any more. Same went for their first separate vet visit when I came home – the one that went to the vet was very shy, nervous, and fearful while usually they would be fine at the vets, and the second one actually broke the crate door and got out and did a bit of damage in the house due to anxiety. Over the past few months, it’s escalated even more and now one of the dogs is showing aggression towards her sister over toys, bones, and even attention from my family or I. We would rather not re-home either of them if possible, and I would really appreciate some advice on the matter if you could please email me at ashbryant1993@gmail.com. Thank you.

    Ashley

  4. nicole hollier says:

    i have 2 boxer male that just turned 2, we got one at 6 weeks old and had him for a whole year before being contacted that the owner who bought his brother could not keep him . we took the brother a year ago and its been a looong and hard year .we had the brother fixed about 6 months after getting him and it has not helped the fighting at all .Could this also be littermate syndrome even if we took the brother a year later

  5. Kimberly Nilsson says:

    Hi Jeff. I just read your article. I am in that situation right now and issues have arisen. I fostered two 4 month old sisters. I don’t feel that the rescue I worked with made an honest effort to find homes so we ended up adopting them. They are now 10 months old and Violet attacked her sister yesterday. She had a bird and I guess thought Dora was going to take it and just attacked. Both dogs ended up atthe vet with puncture wounds. Violet is food aggressive and when she gets excited she turns on Dora. I’m scared to even put the two together anymore and feel it’s necessary to re home Violet but don’t know how to go about finding a good home and I don’t want to take her to the Shelter. They were initially rescued from the Shelter on the morning they were to be euthanized. I’m sick about this because I love them both. I’m hoping you can give me some suggestions on finding a new home?

  6. We are in a similar situation as commenter Kimberly. We actually rescued two hound pups who had been dumped in our neighborhood and lived on their own for months. The local animal control told us they were feral and couldn’t be caught. Now, we’ve had them for six months and we’ve run smack into a huge problem.

    The evolution of Butter & Sugar went something like this:
    Two emancipated hounds were spotted running through the woods, wouldn’t come anywhere near people
    Two emancipated hounds began eating the dog food we left in the yard, while still running when they saw us
    They stopped running, but still wouldn’t let us come near them
    They let us feed them but would take off if we attempted to touch them
    They let me touch them but not my husband
    They let us both pet them
    They slept in the laundry room
    They slept in crates
    They slept on the couch
    Both slept in the bed with us
    Began guarding toys or bones
    One of them has become very possessive of my husband
    They have gotten into several dog fights, some resulting in stitches, the latest was very difficult to break up and resulted in several puncture wounds on one dog.
    Now, we are worried about letting them freely spend time around each other due to the fact that the one who was the aggressor in the last fight still stiffens up and growls at her sister.

    Hubby says we need to split them up and adopt out separately. Is this honestly the best solution for the dogs?

    • Kudos to you for rescuing these dogs. You might want to consult with a veterineary behaviorist in your area. But rehoming one of them may be the best option. But it sort of depends on how each would get along with other dogs.

  7. jlb0017 says:

    Hi Jeff I found you in the litter mates article. And I have a question. I recently rescued a puppy. Momma had her puppies while at the rescue. I went to pick up my puppy at 8 weeks with my mom and while we were there they had one puppy left. So my mom decided to adopt it. So now we each have a puppy from the same litter. We spend a lot of time together. But we do not live together. However our dogs will see each other sometimes several times a week. Also my mother was originally going to take my dog during the day to help keep potty training going. Now we are thinking that’s not a good idea.

    So I guess my question is. Can dogs get litter syndrome if they see their siblings often but do not live together? At first we were so excited they were going to grow up together. Now I’m thinking this was a major
    Mistake.

    • Your situation sounds fine! The dogs get to spend lots of time apart. The issue is constant contact with no room to develop or socialize individually. Plus it does not happen with every set of siblings. Be sure each gets to puppy socials separately, meet 100 people before 12 weeks separately, goes to separate training classes, vet appointments, etc. Spending lots of time together is not the same as 100% of time together

  8. jlb0017 says:

    Thank you! I’m more worried about this then my mom. But my dog will be watched by her 2-3 times week with her sister. At first I was so excited about this. Then I panicked after reading some articles! I appreciate the advice

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