Training should always, and needs to be, fun. After all, I wouldn't go to work if it was scary. Why do we think dogs are so different? The relationships we form with dogs are built on trust. A dog who is afraid of you, or what you might do, will not trust you. A dog who is afraid of a consequence, does not perform confidently. I want all of my canine students to be confident and to have fun; and I want each of my clients to have and build a strong and positive relationship with their dog.
Research has shown us that using punishment, intimidation, or fear based tactics during training actually increases fear and anxiety. These methods also do not teach. They suppress behaviors without offering another to do instead. It is not fair to punish or correct a dog for exhibiting (a frequently normal) behavior and expect him to choose the correct behavior – especially when he doesn't know what that desired behavior is or how to do it. I'm going to teach him what that desired behavior is, I will teach him how to do it, I will teach you how to teach him to do it, and we will all have fun along the way.
As a graduate of the Karen Pryor Academy for Animal Training and Behavior, my primary training tools are a clicker and treats. No painful prong, choke, or shock collars. The use of clickers in training allows us to bridge the gap in communication between human and animal. It gives us a way to tell the learner the precise moment that the correct behavior was chosen and reward that behavior. Clicker training is also flexible. I believe that every dog is smart, but because they all learn differently, some methods work better for some dogs than others. Unfortunately, sometimes those dogs who need something different are overlooked as “stubborn” or “unwilling to learn”. How Frank learned to lie down may not work for Fluffy, and that is okay. What works for one dog may not work for the next. It is my responsibility to discover what each individual dog requires in order to allow them to excel in their individually designed learning program. It is then my responsibility to explain to you, the owner, how your dog learns so that you can begin to understand his or her individual needs as a student and as a part of your family.
The strong bond that a human can have with an animal relies on reinforcement history. Make it positive. Make it great. Make it memorable. Let me teach you how.