Training

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Dory and Diana doing tricks

Understanding. Consistency. Time. Management/Prevention.

Training our animals is the best thing we can do for them. Well trained dogs enjoy lives full of variety and privileges. As their caretakers, we owe it to them to give them what they need to thrive in the human world while allowing them to satisfy their canine needs. Training is a big part of the equation.

Trainer Noun
  1. One who trains other persons or animals
  2. A person who guides or inspires others
  3. A coach, teacher or leader

Anyone who is strong enough can force a dog to do something, but only a good trainer can skillfully use the science of psychology, behavior and learning combined with the art of observation and good timing to get the dog to WANT to do the behavior. If the dog is an enthusiastic part of the learning process, we are not only be able to get lasting results, but the relationship we have with our dogs strengthens.

Would you like to get your puppy started in the right direction? Would you like him to learn to come when called or walk nicely on leash? Is your dog too, um, “vertically endowed”? Would you like to be less frustrated with your dog, have a better line of communication? Does your dog have habits you’d like to change? Does he have fear or anxiety issues? Would you like to teach your dog (or horse) some fun tricks?

Of course you can train your dog yourself. But like everything else, the insight and experience of a professional can make all the difference in the world. It’s easy to get confused about how to approach a specific training or behavioral challenge; hiring a professional can get the ball rolling in the right direction and save you significant time, frustration and money.

Training is an Ongoing Conversation with your Dog

My approach to animal training focuses on cultivating healthy, trusting relationships and building solid foundations to create a well-balanced, confident dog who is a joy to live with. A healthy relationship with your animal companion requires the same elements as any other relationship, including trust, understanding and communication. Having a basic appreciation of the fundamentals of animal behavior is essential and being able to “think” like your pet is a valuable skill. When the relationship is based on mutual trust and communication is effective, the sky is the limit!

“We’ve always been impressed with Diana’s knowledge of dogs and what makes them tick. She has vast amounts of patience and has fun doing what she does. We cannot recommend her enough.” Tania Hathaway with “Lucy,” Yarmouth

TRAINING = COMMUNICATION

Our dogs already know everything we want them to do such as sit, stay, come, etc. The challenge is in getting them to respond to us when we’d like them to. Communication is a two-way street, so even though we understand perfectly what we are saying, they might not.

Walk the training path together with your dog!

Realistic Expectations

“Don’t blame the dog for failing to meet human expectations.” – Chris Bach

It is important to have realistic expectations. There is no secret pill, no easy solution, no quick fix for any training challenge. Progress relies on understanding, consistency and time spent training. Sometimes the idea of what our dog should be like is just not attainable in real life. We have to work within realistic parameters and make differences where they are possible, but small, careful steps can lead to big changes in the long-term.

Consequence drives behavior

Two poodles in shopping cart

A good trainer (or any leader) knows how to control consequences in a dog’s life so that she gets the behaviors she likes. In doing so, we avoid CONFRONTATION and cultivate TRUST and GOOD HABITS.

We frequently hear the term “positive reinforcement training” when it comes to training our dogs. It’s often considered synonymous with “permissive” or “indiscriminately shoving treats at our pooches.”

Here is some clarification…

The Process...

Positive-reinforcement training (or “dog-friendly training”) focuses on:

1. Setting up a dog’s environment so he can do the behaviors we want;

2. Reinforcing* desirable behaviors through good observation and timing so the dog wants to do the behaviors;

3. Preventing undesirable behaviors through careful management.

The Result....

1. Desirable behaviors get stronger = good habits are born!

2. Trust is cultivated and deepens

3. A solid line of communication is established

We learn a lot more from what we do “right” than from what we do “wrong.” PRT capitalizes on this and the result is powerful and long-lasting.

*reinforcing” simply means allowing access to whatever the dog finds motivating that given moment. It might mean opening a door to go outside, tossing a ball, petting, offering a meal.

The above philosophy and methodology are just what we use with other humans. It’s how we raise our kids.

PSYCHOLOGY IS LIKE GRAVITY. No one, not human, not dog, not horse, not cat etc. is immune to the laws of psychology. We learn more from our “right” guesses than from our wrong ones.

Why not “Dominate” or be “Alpha”?

It can be very appealing to some people to want to use force and intimidation to get what they want, whether it’s with dogs or other people. Humans have discovered that confrontational methods provide good food for our egos. We do it simply because we can.. or because we don’t know another way. But at what cost?

TRUST. Trust is at the center of any relationship.

Confrontational tactics erode trust and leadership.

Use training PSYCHOLOGY, not MYTHOLOGY.

Dr. Sophia Yin on Dominance