Philosophy About Dog Traning

We have several goals for teaching you about teaching your dog.

The first is to use positive reinforcement (by clicker or lure) to get the behavior we want so that the dog is more likely to repeat this.

We don’t hit, kick, tap or force the dog to offer the correct behavior. As there are many ways for the dog to be wrong, we focus on positively reinforcing the correct choice. We make it the best possible choice so that the dog wants to keep doing this.

A human example: how many times have you ever heard a mother yell at her kid, “Johnny. Johnny, don’t run.” Can you see the wheels turning in his mind, “Hmm? She didn’t say I couldn’t use the pogo stick in the living room, did she?” But if she said, “Johnny, grab that book and I will read to you.” she is channeling him into what she considers the correct choice and makes it reinforcing to him. There are some similarities between raising kids and training dogs.

We will not teach leash pops (when you yank sharply on the leash) or other pain causing methods as a way to have the dog stop pulling or if they made a mistake. This does not teach the dog the correct choice. Nor does it teach confidence should the correct choice be made.

A human example: I am a bad speller. So if my mother was drilling me on my spelling words and I made a mistake; having her hit me on the side of the head would not send the correct spelling down her arm and jump into my brain, would it? It might make me afraid to see her walking towards me but it won’t teach how to spell a word correctly.

The second goal is to teach alternative behaviors in place of less desirable behavior. If you don’t like the fact that your dog is jumping, what would you rather have the dog do instead of jumping? That is what is taught and reinforced to offer in place of jumping. Many less desirable behaviors “disappear” when alternatives are taught and reinforced.

The last goal is to have fun teaching you and your dog by playing games to sharpen your skills. Dogs love to play games; they want to be with you. Why not make training fun?

Below is a link to the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior's position on dominance theory and the resulting behaviors. It has good explanations of the definitions and the fall out from using confrontational methods as well as the scientific studies to back up their statement. statement.pdf

Equipment used:

We prefer a soft collar and 6-foot lightweight leash. For dogs who pull, we often will suggest a Gentle Leader head halter, Easy Walk Harness or Comfort Harness. We do not sell any of these products but do have a couple in common sizes so that students may borrow if they feel a need just to try during class.

We do not recommend a choke collar or pinch collar as these can cause pain to the dog.

Why use pain to train when there are other options that don’t cause pain? This is especially true when the dog has issues with other dogs or people. How can the dog learn to tolerate the upsetting objects when every time it sees one, it feels pain?

Retractable leashes are great for potty runs but not easy to work with for teaching obedience. We suggest a 6 foot light weight nylon leash.