Our Training philosophy
Our training philosophy centers on three basic principles.
- A dog owner should be able to provide the appropriate amount of exercise and mental stimulation that their specific dog needs so that the dog is able live and thrive in a domesticated home environment.
- Both the dog and owner benefit when there is mutual understanding of what is expected as appropriate behavior. It is the dog owner’s job to make it clear to the dog what is acceptable behavior, so the dog learns how to become a well-mannered enjoyable family member.
- Participating in dog training with an instructor should not only be informative, but also an enjoyable experience for the dog owner.
Along with these basic principles, we take various approaches or methodologies to help our clients reach their training goals with their dogs. We believe strongly that the use of positive reinforcement through the proper use of food, attention, and toys is one of the best ways to teach your dog how to learn and maintain various desired behaviors. In fact, we will simply turn away clients who are against using food rewards in training.
Along with the vast amounts of positive reinforcement we use with the dogs that we train, we also believe there are occasions when consequences for certain behaviors need to be put in place. For example, I recently worked with a dog that had killed one of the client’s chickens. I usually can resolve these types of situation, but in order to do so I have to install a negative consequence for attempting to chase and kill the chicken. The type of consequence needed will vary depending on the dog and situation.
As you can see from this example, we believe that there are occasions when negative consequences may be needed in order to keep the dog safe, other people and animals safe, etc. This does not mean that our training methods are based on only showing the dog consequences for every unwanted behavior. In fact, training is fairly simple when you look at it from the dog’s point of view.
A dog will repeat behavior that it finds reinforcing and will avoid behaviors that lead to negative consequences.
If we know this to be true, then it becomes obvious that you must reinforce behaviors that you want. It is the type of negative consequences that a trainer uses that separates trainers into various categories. Some trainers believe firmly that you should never implement punitive consequences with a dog. Then, there are other trainers that believe you should never reward your dog with food treats for behaviors.
In the case of the dog chasing chickens, some trainers would recommend management (keeping the dog on leash) rather than instilling consequences if training the dog through positive reinforcement isn’t enough to stop the dog chasing the chicken. We on the other hand would work to instill a negative consequence for the behavior so that if management fails, the dog knows it is unacceptable to go after the chicken. Then, we would also use positive reinforcement to reward the dog for leaving the chickens alone.
I don’t have chickens, so what about my dog?
We understand that most of our clients want the best for their dogs. Unfortunately, because of some bad trainers out there and the vast amount of propaganda on social media, dog owners are often worried if their dog will experience some type of trauma or pain in the name of training. I can assure you that we are in this business to bring out the best in dogs, not hurt or intimidate them.
I can’t simply write an exact training formula for your dog because I don’t know your dog and I don’t know your skillset. It is important to understand that when you are curious about what method we utilize; you are basing your thinking about your dog and your specific situation.
In order to truly help people with their dogs, we believe we must be flexible in our methods to meet the needs of all the different training issues we face. To give you an example, here are few cases this past week that we have been hired for:
- Italian Greyhound injured itself by trying to escape out of crate because of separation anxiety
- German Shepherd puppy that is mouthing owner and needs to learn basic commands
- Mix breed dog killed another dog after it got into a fight after jumping a fence
- Labradoodle grabbing stuff off counters, jumping on owner, and not coming when called
- Mix breed dog fearful and leash reactive toward people and other dogs
- Newly adopted puppy that needs housetraining and how to learn to respond to basic commands
As you can hopefully see, all of these cases differ in the approach we as trainers may take. The methods we will choose will vary depending on the training situation, the dog, and the owner’s ability. Once we know your dog and your situation, we are much more equipped to discuss the best training outlet, tools, methods, etc.
What type of tools do you use
There is a misconception out there that the type of training tools a trainer uses solely defines the trainer’s approach towards training. A training tool is just a tool that is incorporated to make it easier for the owner to get desired behavior. A training tool could be defined as anything that a trainer uses to teach the dog to respond accordingly for a specific desired behavior. Food, leashes, various collars, harnesses, toys, and crates are a few common tools a trainer may use to accomplish various training goals.
It is also important to take into account that we are not only dog trainers, we are instructors. It is our job as instructors to empower our clients not only with knowledge, but also with training tools that aid in successful training. Just because an experienced dog trainer may not need a certain tool for say teaching loose leash walking does not mean that a dog owner with less experience would not benefit immensely with an equipment change.
I have seen too many clients to count getting pulled to the ground on leash by their dogs when a simple change in the type of collar would enable the client to not only walk their dog, but walk them in a controlled manner. What’s worse, is often these clients have seen multiple trainers beforehand and were not getting results due to the trainer’s strict ideological stance against certain collars. We are not here to preach to you, we are here to help you with your dog. For leash walking, we always discuss all available tools and help you decide what would be the best for you and your dog.
What type of training tools do you use in boarding and training?
Many clients call us and ask us if we use remote collars in our boarding and training programs. We are aware that many board and train businesses use electronic collars as part of their program. In our program, remote collars/e-collars are not part of our curriculum. I don’t need a remote collar to teach a dog to have good manners and to respond to various obedience commands such as sit, down, stay, leave it, walk on leash, etc. I am not saying that a remote collar can’t be used effectively and humanely to teach these behaviors, it is just not how we like to run our boarding and training programs. However, there are situations in which I find a remote collar to be highly useful because of the ability to communicate with the dog at great distances off leash. Certain breeds that have difficulty in off leash recall or dogs that chase and injure other animals are just two examples in which we may use a remote collar to improve upon desired behavior. We handle these cases in private lessons to make absolutely sure the client learns how to use a remote collar properly. It is also important to note that most dog owners have no idea how modern e collar training is done. It has nothing to do with simply shocking a dog for not complying. Any client interested in e-collar training ABSOLUTELY should be given instruction by a professional on how to properly use this tool.
All of the skills we teach within our boarding and training programs are taught with a combination of food, leashes, praise, and body language.
When teaching a dog to walk on leash, the chosen tool will depend on what we believe is best for the dog and the owner. Leash walking tools could be a harness, head halter, flat collar, martingale, star mark, or pinch collar. As you can see, we remain flexible. We also have a discussion on leash walking tools either before drop off or on the day of drop off with the owner.
Can I See Your Method in Action?
Absolutely! We are excited to share our training method with you. In fact, the best way to know if your trainer’s method is a good fit for you, is to experience it with your own eyes or in person. We have videos on this website and an extensive and ever-growing video library on youtube at My Dog Training Spot. You can see videos of our personal dogs and instructional videos of client’s dogs. We believe any trainer that says they can help you with your dog’s problems should be able to at least show you some type of video demonstration of their own dog(s) performing the behaviors you are asking them to help you with.
If you are thinking about a boarding and training program and would like to get to know our method beforehand, you can schedule a private lesson prior to the board and train.
We look forward to working with you and your dog!