I use proven-effective, force-free methods in our work together. These rewards-based training methods are grounded in the science of applied animal behavior and are recommended by veterinary behaviorists (see below for more). You may sometimes hear them called “positive reinforcement,” which simply means we reward the behaviors we want to see the dog do more of.
In most cases, I create a detailed training plan. Think of it as our road map to the behaviors we want for our dog. We’ll work in well-defined steps, with your dog succeeding at each stage and eager to move on to the next. Between sessions, you’ll do a few minutes of homework several times a week.
A leash, a body harness, treats, and a hungry dog! If a dog needs extra assistance with loose-leash walking I can help fit your dog for a front-clip harness and teach her to enjoy wearing a head halter.
You will never need to use any tool or implement such as shake cans, squirt bottles, yelling, shocks, spray collars, prong or choke collars, or physical force. Research studies show that these methods can actually worsen behavior problems.
Full disclosure: I once used choke and anti-bark spray collars on my dogs, not knowing any differently. If you’re currently using any of these tools to try to manage your dog’s behavior, let’s talk about how we can transition to proven-effective, more humane, and happier (for you and your dog) options.
I’ve been in your shoes and understand the challenges you’re having with your dog. I’ll bring expertise, compassion, empathy, knowledge, and the latest modern training practices to our sessions together. I am your greatest cheerleader on your training journey!
One perk I bring to my clients is that I can consult with my colleagues, when needed, on training plans and behavior issues. These are leaders in the field of modern dog training and behavior, including Jean Donaldson, founder of The Academy for Dog Trainers, Jen Shryock, who created the Family Paws program, and Malena DeMartini, who literally wrote the book on treating separation anxiety in dogs.
Some of my peers work exclusively on body-handling issues, others specialize in dogs who display fearful and aggressive behaviors, and so on. We share our expertise, as other professionals do, reaching out to each other so we can best serve our clients.
I regularly attend webinars, workshops, and continuing education programs taught by leaders in the field of force-free animal training, and I follow advances in animal behavior and dog training research. For instance, I’ve recently read a study that shows dogs work harder for their preferred food rewards. That’s a super-useful tip to have in my training toolkit and to share with clients.
The science of how animals learn is more than a century old, and has been used to train animals with positive reinforcement for decades. Animals learn new behaviors in a similar way to how we learn a musical instrument, magic tricks, to drive a car, or a dance routine — mastering easier steps or pieces of the end result and building from there.
The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior — veterinarians who specialize in and treat behavior problems in animals — has concluded:
Based on current scientific evidence, AVSAB recommends that only reward-based training methods are used for all dog training, including the treatment of behavior problems.
AVSAB specifically recommends trainers with credentials from The Academy for Dog Trainers. Read their paper here.
There are many variables in training. Some people take to training and creating new routines easily, while others find it a challenge. And dogs have learning aptitudes, just like people do. It’s also very normal for dogs to progress a bit and regress a bit when learning new behaviors.
It is most effective if the whole family helps with the training plan. Young folks are usually fabulous trainers! I will be able to give you an estimate after our second training session together.
Download my free tip sheets on welcoming home your new puppy or dog, how to choose a dog trainer, top tips for families and dogs, and understanding reactive behaviors.