Q: What is your training philosophy?
A: I am a Holistic Trainer who believes the relationship between you and your dog is the foundation for all learning.
I used to call myself a “Positive First, Balanced Trainer” – but I am pretty sure I made that term up. 🙂
As a licensed Family Dog Mediator, I evaluate all four of the dog’s LEGS:
Basing my assessment on the unique needs of each dog and family, I select the training method and tools that I have found through experience to be both humane and effective.
A Relationship Based approach is self-evident, so we start by building a healthy bond between you and your dog. A healthy canine-human bond includes these basic principles:
I do not believe there is one right way to do anything. I believe that unique circumstances and conditions affect what methods or tools will be the most effective, and each dog and situation should be assessed as an individual.
To encourage desired behavior and reduce unwanted behavior, I rely on a combination of:
- Operant Conditioning
- Behavioral Shaping, AKA Successive Approximations
- Contra-Freeloading / Learn to Earn
- Loving Leadership; akin to Authoritative Parenting + physical “dog language”
- Counterconditioning & Desensitization
- Aversive Control for dangerous behavior
I use a variety of methods to achieve the best result.
This could be management: crates, tethering, “puppy proofing”; a system of rewards: food, toys, verbal praise; or gentle corrections: verbal feedback and/or a physical stimulus.
My emphasis is always on building a strong bond between dog and handler.
Dogs respond very positively to modes of communication that provide clarity. If a tool supports better understanding of handler intent, I’m all for it! But I also believe in completely phasing out tools whenever possible.
Ideally, dogs learn to follow their leader because they are simply accustomed to doing so and love to work with us – NOT due to fear of punishment or bribery with treats.
In a nutshell? I love facilitating the joy of using socialization and training to establish off-leash reliability – and a happy life – for all dogs.
Q: Can you help with an aggressive dog?
A: That depends.
Is your dog reactive on leash (lunging or barking at other dogs or people)? Does she bark at the UPS man through the living room window, or chase passing cars? If so, then YES, I can help!
Sometimes dog lovers accidently “reverse train” our dogs without meaning to. Often, there is a simple solution to change patterns of behavior. By gaining a better understanding of your pup’s behaviors, the reasons for them, and any contributing factors, we’ll be able to support positive change.
However, I do not work with dogs with serious bite history. If you need more help than I can provide, I will refer you to a trainer with experience in rehabbing true aggression.
Q: What is your #1 training tip?
A: Love your dog.
Seems obvious, right? 🙂 Let me explain what I mean by that.
Honor her dog-ness by giving her what she really needs.
Dogs by their very nature want to follow the leader. And fur parents sometimes forget their canine companions aren’t actual babies…
So, when raising a dog, it’s important to remember you are sharing your home with an opportunistic predator.
All dogs, regardless of breed or size, have:
- Prey drive
- 42 teeth in their skull
- A bite force that can break bone
And all canids – wolves, coyotes, jackals, and dogs – are so genetically similar, they can interbreed.
That doesn’t mean dogs are exactly like their wilder brethren… but they’re pretty close. 🙂
So what does this mean for you, the dog lover living with one of these fascinating creatures?
For maximum JOY with the least amount of conflict:
❥ Learn to “speak dog”
❥ Respect their genetic heritage
❥ Give them what they need to feel secure!
Returning to the parenting analogy for a moment, similar to raising a human child we shouldn’t just give our dog what she wants (that’s spoiling), or do whatever is easiest for us (that’s selfish).
As loving stewards, we must provide dogs with the things they actually need to feel secure:
1) Purpose (AKA work)
2) Boundaries (AKA discipline)
3) Commitment (AKA time & effort)
This is the way to truly help pets live their best life.
Training IS Love. 🐕💕