Showing posts with label Training. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Training. Show all posts

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Ottawa Puppy Training, In Your Home with Ottawa’s Dog Whisperer


For all Breeds of Puppies...
Including physically challenged pups - i.e. blind and/or deaf dogs.  All breeds from tea cup Yorkies to Pit Bulls, Mastiffs, Great Danes, Irish Wolf Hounds and every breed in-between. In-your home, your neighborhood, your pet store, your dog park - sessions designed for you and your dog, to address your personal situation, in your daily environment and no additional fee for households with multiple puppies/dog. 


Just imagine if you knew how to use those subtle and effective forms of communication that dogs employ with each other.

A  perfectly attainable goal
 in an in-your-home session with Ottawa’s Dog Whisperer.   
What better way to provide your puppy with the life skills it needs 
to grow into a healthy, happy dog...

A  puppy needs life skills of which a few simple commands like sit, down, stay are only a small part…do you know that it takes all of a few minutes to teach a puppy to sit when one uses the language of a dog? 

Why would you take a multi-week course with a trainer 
who takes a full hour of your valuable time to teach you how to get your dog to sit?  
 And another hour a week later to teach your dog to lie down and yet a third hour - three weeks from your first session, to teach your dog to stay? 

What if you could learn 100’s of times more in one day,
in the space of 4 to 5 hours? 
What if,  in the space of only one day, you could learn all you need to know...hear it, see it, understand it, and do it...
  
To ensure that your puppy becomes a happy, healthy well adjusted canine.
Imagine never having to worry about your puppy developing behavioral  problems in the future....and what if, in addition to all of that you could learn about whole health nutrition for your puppy - good behaviour and good health and wrapped up in one!

Well with me you can achieve all of this in an in-your-home 
Full Boot Camp Session.  

Too good to be true? Just take a look at some of the client comments provided further below.

We humans have a wonderful opportunity to do things right...
when we have a new puppy enter our lives...


IN-Depth information about a session


  1. Why Me - a Comprehensive Approach
  2. What Gets Addressed in a Session
  3. What is Included in the Session Cost
  4. My Philosophy and Methods
  5. Regions Serviced and Session Cost
  6. Session Schedule
  7. Securing a Session Date and Payment Options
  8. Information That I Will Need from You
  9. Special Arrangements 
  10. Guarantee
  11. Client Comments and Recommendations
  12. Contact Me

1.0 Why Me...A comprehensive
      approach



1.1 Because I Do...

Go to your home to do a session I address everything that affects yours and your dog’s ability to successfully cope with daily life together...
  • Communication, 
  • Human and canine psychology;
  • Behavior; 
  • Diet;
  • Nutrition.   
When a dog has the opportunity to be mentored and directed using methods that respect the great intelligence of a dog, age is not a predictor of the dog’s ability to understand and alter his/her behavior, nor is blindness or deafness.
  •  I work with puppies that are as young as eight to ten weeks of age and; 
  • These youngsters are able – in a single session, to both understand and learn so much more than sit and lie down, and;
  • On the other end of the scale I work with dogs that are ten, thirteen or more years of age.  
  • I work with blind dogs and deaf dogs. 
My methods consistently produce excellent results because:
  • I use communication techniques that dogs naturally employ - universal forms of communication that are applicable to dogs of all ages, breeds, sighted and non-sighted, hearing and hearing impaired;
  • I teach in a manner that is designed to see, analyze and address each client, their current problems and the required solution as a unique case;
  • I teach in a manner that is designed to enable retention of information and techniques for the long-term;
  • I have a keen ability to understand and read both people and dogs;
    • Dogs are amazing, sensitive and insightful communicators - heightened sensitivity is an important asset that I  rely on to bridge gaps in understanding between a clients and their canines;
    • Heightened sensitivity is a huge asset and provides me with a real advantage when working with dogs and their people...it is also an asset that many dogs posses
 Diet, Nutrition and Health-Care
  • I also cover diet, nutrition and health-care in a session as all are contributing factors affecting:
    • Behaviour;
    • Overall well being, and;
    • Longevity.
I work with all breeds including Pit Bulls.


I do not charge an additional fee for multiple dogs – the fee is the same whether I work with one dog or more…as I live with my own pack of 10 dogs (8 rescues) working with multiple dogs is second nature to me. If you are curious you can check out a road walk or trail walk with my dogs.

1.2 Because I Don’t...

  • I don't rely on treats in my work with dogs;
    • I will, however teach you how to give your dog treats and food in a manner that truly enables and supports mutual love and respect between human and dog;
    • The reason I don't use treats is because dogs are incredibly intelligent, they need and love to work and they know when a human is proud of them;
    • For these reasons alone a dog does not require treats in order to 'be normal' and 'do normal';
    • What they do require is opportunity in the form of honest and clear communication from a place of understanding and respect;
  • I don't rely on dominance and force in my work with dogs;

1.3 Because dogs...

Offer us so much more than we humans sometimes understand. Dogs offer us the opportunity to engage ourselves, learn and grow past our own bad habits...
As Edward Hogland once said..."In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn't merely try to train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming partly a dog."
 

1.4 Because attaining and maintaining a
     good relationship with your dog..
.

  • Is not about intrusive physical force - unless you are a dictator and a despot, in which case force is the standard means by which to enthral and control others;
  • It is about learning to lead by true example  - and that is what I teach you, and;
  • While I communicate to and direct your dog, he/she learns social and life skills...and in the case of a dog that has developed bad habits - he/she learns a better and safer way of living life;
  • As I also address diet, nutrition, health which has a direct relationship to achieving optimal: brain function, serotonin levels, immune system health which all have a direct impact on behavior, short and long term health and longevity.

1.5 Because my methods work...

I achieve success for clients that have previously been to two, three or more trainers or behavourists who unfortunately where unable to address and turn-around unwanted behaviour, or made the behaviour worse!



2.0 what gets addressed in a
      session?

My Boot Camp session (in your home) covers a full scope of topics and issues, everything from physical to psychological to diet/health. This type of session is invaluable as it addresses every aspect of daily life with your dog and ensures that your dog does not develop behavioral issues or if your dog is currently exhibiting behavioral issues such as those noted on the list below, a boot camp session provides the time needed to work through issues.
  1. How to be an effective communicator for your dog;
  2. Awareness – yours and your dog’s;
  3. Facial expression and body language – yours and your dog’s;
  4. Did you know that dogs are better communicators than most people? – I teach you how to be a better communicator…
    1.  Learn to direct your dog without speaking (voice is not the best way to direct a dog).
    2. Understand all of the ways in which humans actually communicate and how it affects your dog;
    3. Know how to occupy space to communicate effectively;
    4. Know how your state of mind affects your dog;
    5. Know when your dog is asking for direction;
  5. Socialization as applicable to your situation – i.e.
    1. Manors with other Puppies/Dogs;
    2. Manors with other Animals (cats, rabbits, etc);
    3. Manors around Children;
    4. Manors around Guests;
  6. How to get your puppy to stop chewing on your hands, your clothes, shoes, household items, etc.;   
  7. Manners in the house – i.e.
  8. Entering and exiting the house with respect;
  9. Respectful use of furniture such as the couch, bed etc.;
  10. Avoiding the development of counter surfing, food begging, etc.
  11. Your dog’s food and treats – how to ensure gentle, respectful behaviour;
  12. Teaching your puppy not to grab food, etc. that falls on the floor;
  13. How to avoid creating separation and other anxieties in your dog, including aggression;
  14. The walk;
  15. Advice on food diet and nutrition for your puppy;
  16. Advice on health care products for your puppy;
  17. Advice on Gear/Equipment for your puppy... 
    1. There are so many types of collars, leashes, harnesses, toys, chewables, crates  – do you know what is best for your dog?
  18. Other Behaviour:
    1. Anxiety or over-excitement and/or motion sickness in vehicles; 
    2. Barking; 
    3. Begging for Food, Food Surfing (tables, counters, from children, etc.) 
    4. Bolting out your door; 
    5. Chasing your cats, and other small animals; 
    6. Chewing/ biting your hands, feet, clothing etc.; 
    7. Crate Training; 
    8. Dog-to-Dog Aggressive-reactive Behavior; 
    9. Dog-to-People Aggressive-reactive Behavior; 
    10. Fear of People, Places and Things; 
    11. Food Aggressive-Reactive Behavior; 
    12. Grief; 
    13. Unwanted Guarding Behavior of people, places and things; 
    14. Inability to Settle-down (calm) and Relax…’hyper activity’; 
    15. Inappropriate Behavior with Guests; 
    16. Obsessive Behavior, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD); 
    17. Marking in the House;
    18. Poor Leash-walking habits (pulling, weaving, flopping);  
    19. Separation Anxiety; 
    20. Etc.

Dogs and humans are alike in that we both have 3 types of memory: 1) short-term, 2) medium-term and 3) long-term. I design my session to ensure that all 3 types of memory are supported and truly enabled. This can only be accomplished by following a logical process, which allows each piece of information and instruction to fully support and ingrain the next. I will help you understand: 
  1. How evolved and acute a dog’s senses and awareness truly are;
  2. How a dog reads other dogs and humans;
  3. Why a dog is a better and more aware communicator than an untrained human;
  4. How dog’s communicate with their body and the occupancy of space in the most subtle of ways;
  5. I then follow-up the session by providing you with reading material that reinforces everything that we cover in the session;
  6. You do not have to remember each and everything I say and do during the session…your short term memory will absorb what we do during the session (theory and implementation) while the articles – which you can read at your leisure support your medium and long-term memory…ensuring that the learning experience is completely solidified.

3.0 what is included in the
      session cost


3.1 pre-session Preparation
  1. My time corresponding/talking to you pre-session;  
  2. Preparation and printing of your receipt;
  3. Mapping and printing directions to your home;
  4. Travel time, km/gas to and from your home.

3.2 the session
 
I go to your home and work with you in a *4 to *5 hour session in which I provide you and your dog with a comprehensive training/learning experience...
*if for any reason you want additional time when I am at your home you can extend the session by purchasing additional time while I am there)
  • In session I work with you and your dog to teach you how to be an effective communicator,  and I address and correct behavioral problems;
  • One dog or multiple dogs - the session cost is a flat rate, I don't charge you an additional fee;
  • For those clients who are interested in addressing their dog’s well being in broader terms, I also include consultation on diet/nutrition/general healthcare…
  • Poor diet can also have a contributing influence on behavior. While poor diet has a definite effect on physical health it also affects mental/psychological health. Insufficient intake of specific nutrients affects brain function as well as the body’s second brain – the GI Tract. Diet has an effect on moods, ability to cope and be happy. Avoiding and eliminating certain foods and additives helps to: a) prevent the development of food sensitivities which compromises the:
    • Immune system; b) normalizes insulin and 1leptin levels and c) avoids toxic loading. Optimizing GI tract heath can help to ensure optimal mental health  - the gut actually produces more mood-boosting 2serotonin than the brain does. 
      • 1Leptin is a protein hormone that is essential in regulating energy intake and expenditure – including appetite/hunger and metabolism. 
      • 2Serotonin a) regulates aging, learning and memory; b) mood; c) sleep and other important functions. Unbalanced serotonin levels can play a role in anxiety problems, digestive and appetite issues.
    • I have yet to see a commercially made dog food (dry, wet or raw) that provides a proper balance of Omega 3 to Omega 6 fatty acids;
      • The simple reason is because such a food does not exist;
      •  Yet the impact of a low intact of Omega-3 and high intact of Omega-6 on your dog’s physical and mental health is enormous;
      • Do you know how to achieve a balanced intake?
      • Further complicating matters - the majority of supplements sold are derived from poor sources, contain  toxins and fillers;
    • Many commercially manufactured dog foods  (dry, wet and raw) contain a substantial array of species inappropriate fillers, dangerous health threatening toxins and carcinogens;
      • Do you really know how to read a list of ingredients, understand the nutritional values or deficits and the very real health risks of what is in your dog's food?
      • How about...
        • Your dog's treats?
        • Your dog's shampoo?
        • Your dog's dental chews and toothpaste?
      • Even the expensive dog food and health care products cut corners and can include health threatening substances…
      • Do you know how to compensate for this?
      • Do you know what you need to add to your dog's diet to make it nutritionally complete?
      • Do you know what to avoid and what to look for?
      • In the pet food manufacturing industry the term 'nutritionally complete' is not a regulated term,
      • All 'natural' 'wholesome'... none of these terms are regulated;
    • By knowing what is really in your dog’s food and how to design a better diet:
      • You will spend substantially less money in the short and long-term on food and at the Veterinarian’s office as your dog...
      • Will have a much more robust immune system;
      • Will be less likely to contract illness and attract parasites;
      • Have healthier skin, coat, bones, teeth, ligaments and joints;
      • Will not incur massive toxic build-up; 
      • Will have better brain function;
      • Will have less chance of acquiring cancer;
      • Will have a greatly reduced chance of developing immunity to antibiotics.
Did you know that the #1 cause of 'natural' death in dogs over 3 years of age is cancer. The life expectancy of dogs before the 1950's was twice what it is today - do you know how to help your dog defy today's statistics?

Did you know that 10 of the top 10 reasons for a veterinarian visit can be directly related to inappropriate diet and exposure to ingested, inhaled and topically absorbed toxins. Did you know that many of these issues can be treated simply and effectively without the use of chemical-based mendicants and their side-effects?
    • In 2012 ear infections where at the top of the list...
      1. Ear Infections 
      2.  Periodontal Disease
      3. Skin Allergies
      4. Skin Infection
      5. Non-cancerous skin growth
      6. Upset Stomach
      7. Intestinal upset/diarrhea
      8. Arthritis
      9. Bladder Infection
      10. Under-active Thyroid – triggered by immune system or lack of iodine (diet).
When you do a session with me issues get addressed in a manner which truly supports the well being of your dog, your heart and your pocket book.


3.3 session follow-up


I believe in providing my clients with a full circle of learning in order to ensure maximum absorption and retention of what you have learned from me in your session;
Either the evening after your session or the next day, I send the following to you…
  1. Detailed and comprehensive nine-page handout ‘Reminders for Directing Your Dog’ – a reinforcement of the communication techniques that I teach you;
  2. A series of articles specifically selected to reinforce what we went through in your session, includes;
  3. Reading material on:
    1. Psychology and Communication;
    2. Behavioural Issues that I addressed during your session;
    3. Diet, Nutrition, and Health as discussed during your session.
  4. Dietary recommendations as presented/suggested in your session.

4.0 My Philosophy and methods


4.1 meet me on CTV’s morning live show



Interview 
 Part One just click here

4.2 my philosophy and methods

‘Why did training and obedience classes not correct the problem? How did my dog end-up being so aggressive with other dogs or people? My dog is hyper, even though he gets 2 to 3 hours of exercise a day he/she never stops, can this be changed? Why is my house-trained dog now peeing and pooing in my house? Why did my dog suddenly start to develop anxious behavior? I have been to multiple trainers and behaviorists - I have spent so much money...can you really make a difference when everyone else failed to? My dog has terrible separation anxiety, is this curable - other trainers have not been able to fix the problem?’ Just some of the FAQ's I am asked on a regular basis…and here are some answers…

4.2.3 Trials and Tribulations #1

In this day and age what you need to know isn't always so easy to find, there is so much mis-information out there. This can make life very confusing for you and your dog. Enabling the best in your dog can become a difficult if not completely unattainable task at times.

Many people make the innocent mistake of thinking that their puppy, teenage or adult dog  will grow-out of an unhealthy behavior. Unfortunately quite the opposite is usually true.When unhealthy behaviors are left unaddressed or when addressed improperly, the behavior gets exponentially worse, leaving the dog no choice but to escalate to the next stage of behavior.

4.2.4 Trials and Tribulations #2

It starts when we are very young...
  • We are taught to think of dogs as beings that:
    • Are very cute and need to be greeted with great exuberance, or;
    • Are aggressive and to be avoided
  • Our main-stream society and our culture provides us with:
  •  A minimal understanding and often a complete misinterpretation of the real capacity of a dog's intelligent and sensitive nature. ...
    • The only sense a dog has that is less than a human's is the sense of taste - dogs are amazing communicators and use all of their senses to communicate and to understand what we humans are communicating;
      • But 'why?' you ask does your dog not listen to you...
      • Well actually he/she is - its just that you are not aware of all that you are communicating.
  • A dog has more patience than the average human, to...
    1. Wait patiently, or;
    2. Persistent with great will and determination ;
    3. Both are forms of patience.
  • A dog quickly and expertly learns how to manipulate a human...
    • Dogs are very observant;
    • They quickly figure out the capability of their human to direct;
    •  If there are gaps in your ability your dog will leverage the gaps and manipulate you! 
    • So, just how smart is a dog - very.
  •  A dog can have so much empathy, they love selflessly (an attribute that humans struggle to achieve).
Undeniably we love our dogs but do you really understand your dog? Do you really understand your own capacity to communicate? Dogs are beings who actually have a lot to teach us humans…
  • About communication;
  • About being more aware, more connected to both self and those around us - human and canine; 
  • About true patience;
  • About true selflessness.
Sometimes it takes someone who can interpret and explain these things to bridge the gap between what you know, what you assume and what you are missing - bridging the gap is my forte.

4.2.5 trails and Tribulations #3


Absence of knowledge regarding...
  1. How to deploy the techniques that dogs use to teach and guide each other;
  2. Not having an understanding of the psychology of humans and/or dogs.
Both are critical fail points which can cause minor and major trauma in the short and long term for the dog and his/her human. In the absence of skill/knowledge the trainer, behaviorist, communicator and dog owner are forced to rely on methods that:
1.     May not be affective;
2.     May increase the level of unwanted behavior, or;
3.     Cause the development of additional issues.

We tend to think of ourselves as more intelligent than a dog, yet in this age of technology we are becoming extremely poor communicators.


4.2.6 understanding the true meaning of
        leadership

A psychologically well adjusted dog - a dog in its natural state, not having been unduly set off-track by inadequate or mis-intended human instruction; will rarely if ever resort to forceful physical intervention to teach another dog social skills and life skills. 

Instead the well adjusted dog relies on more subtle and affective forms of communication. These dogs do not have man-made inventions that they use to instruct another dog – yet they are able to teach the other dog in an effective and respectful manner. Without being excessively physically invasive a well adjusted dog can teach another dog how to behave in a socially acceptable manner. We humans have access to the same humane effective methods used by a well adjusted dog…and it is these methods that I teach my clients to understand and employ.

It has been my experience that insecurity is the number one cause of aggression, anxiety and/or obsessive compulsive behaviour in dogs. The most effective way to deal with these undesirable, harmful behaviours is to address them in a manner that respects the true intelligence, sensitivity and nature of a dog. 

In his/her natural state a dog would learn social grace and life-skills from his/her adult canine family. However we humans interrupt that process of learning when we separate the puppy – at a young age, from its canine family. In addition, historically dogs had to work to survive – in order to eat a dog had to hunt. Work in the form of the hunt provided both mental and physical exercise. Dogs are evolved, like humans to work equally physically and psychologically. When one of these two requirements is not met, chaos and harm can ensue.

Jordie my GSD x Alaskan Malamute and Robbie my Boxer x Pit Bull
While the present day canine is primarily a companion animal – both physical and mental stimulation remain an essential need of the dog, as is structure and the presence of one who can be the dog's coach and mentor…

My Dog Pack - there are ten in this photo...can you find them all...

Access to true leadership is essential for a dog's overall well being...

In the absence of opportunity to learn life and social skills from other dogs, the role of coach and mentor becomes the human’s responsibility but:
  • What if the human is not a good communicator? 
  • What if the human does not understand all of the ways in which both humans and dogs communicate?
  • Voice is not the most effective means of communication, nor is it the primary means of communication among dogs. 
Jordie my German Shepherd (GSD) x Malamute
When a puppy, teenage, adult or senior dog begins to acquire undesirable, unhealthy behaviours the root cause is almost always human error with multiple contributing factors.

Robbie my Boxer
Lack of Understanding is Really Our #1 Critical Failure in our relationships with our dogs...

This can be categorized into two major elements as follows:
    • Communication
    • Understanding Your Dog as an Individual
Within these two elements many sub-elements co-exist and also great opportunity to leverage success or to create failure.  

Dogs and humans are very similar in some very fundamental ways.  Both species require the same basic building blocks in order to evolve as happy, well-adjusted individuals. A human who lacks the guidance of a good role model, who does not have access to calm, considered, communicative mentoring, who is devoid of constructive physical and mental stimulation, who instead is flooded with stimulants that create excitement and constant emotion, who has not been fairly taught rules – that human becomes very unstable…and so too for a dog. Being in a compromised state becomes the norm – an altered state of normal becomes reality. Traumatic incidents can also trigger instability – however if the proper support is available the resulting trauma can be lessened and in many cases completely reversed. 

Abby my Belgian Shepherd x GSD
We all mis-communicate at times with our family members, friends, co-workers and strangers. If we struggle at times to communicate with humans, it should not be a surprise that we can also have the same issue communicating with another species. If you were to stop and consider – are you truly aware, consciously aware of all of the ways in which humans communicate? How about all of the ways that dogs communicate? Are there any differences? And are the differences really different? Are you sure you know? This gap in knowledge is the single largest factor placing both you and your dog at a great disadvantage.

Tasha my Australian Shepherd
The unique attributes of each individual being (human and canine) must also be taken into consideration. It is important to understand that like humans each individual dog has its own distinct combination of personal attributes…pre-dispositions, inherited and acquired traits. And in the case of the individual human or canine, some of our attributes will be desirable and deployed in the best possible of ways, and some traits will be less desirable and may require a little effort to ameliorate. When a human is not aware of how they enable the less desirable pre-dispositions of their  dog (i.e. anxiousness), the human inadvertently enables the development of that undesirable trait.  You are directing but not in the way that you intend to do.

Jordie my GSD x Malamute
When Un-Healthy Behaviour Develops:
The unique combination of traits has not been recognized, identified and the undesirable traits have not been properly discouraged – instead those unwanted traits have been enabled. Instead focus must be placed on enabling and growing positive traits – but the enabling and encouraging must be done in the right way.

Sarah my GSD x Husky
When a dog or human is in a state of prolonged or constant stress (aggression, anxiety, obsession are all stressors) the immune system may become suppressed thus placing the physical body under additional strain. When an unbalanced diet, poor or inappropriate food stuffs (i.e. grains, sugars, trans fats, chemical based preservatives, food colouring, etc.) are combined with acquired toxic load – the overall health of the dog’s body and optimal brain function is further compromised.

Jacob my teacup Pomeranian
The Dog is Not Bad, It Is Instead Misunderstood and Misdirected...

Having read the above you can start to understand that unwanted and unbalanced behaviours do not occur because the dog is bad, nor because the dog is of a certain breed…i.e. a Pit Bull. Did you know that Pit Bulls were bred to be non-aggressive towards humans? It’s true – aggression is not breed specific…nor is it hard-wired into a dog. Aggression, anxiety, insecurity and obsession are primarily acquired, enabled (either inadvertently or intentionally) behaviours.

Carmen my Chihuahua
Inadvertently many people fail in the roll of coach and mentor as the direction provided to the dog has serious fail points, for example, the direction provided:
  • May not be consistent;
  • May lack firm, considered, patient confidence;
  • May not leverage the intelligence of the dog;
  • May be provided from and emotive state of being. 
Consistency is required in all its nuances and is not defined as a singular entity – i.e. the fact that you always tell your dog to ‘stop’ does not qualify as constructive, effective directive consistency. Direction must be 100% free of contradiction; must consider and leverage the great intelligence of a dog and should incorporate the communication techniques most commonly employed by dogs.

When a dog ‘misbehaves’ the dog does so simply because it has not been taught another way to navigate thru the situation. In addition, when a dog does not have structure or protocols for dealing with low intensity situations the dog will have little to no opportunity to behave in an acceptable manner in medium to high intensity situations.

Buddy my American Cocker Spaniel
Approximately 50% of my client's have had their dog(s) since it was a puppy - the other 50% acquired their dog(s) past puppy-hood - i.e. a teenage, adult or senior dog. 

Tasha with Stevie my Shetland Sheepdog and Zoey my Pomeranian
While Positive Reinforcement techniques such as food/treats and vocal praise do have a place (in working with a dog) if they are the only technique used behavioural problems can develop. Once an unhealthy behaviour has taken hold treats and vocal praise are often not sufficient to change the unhealthy behaviour…and can in some situations end up increasing the intensity of the undesirable behaviour. Other techniques must be used by the trainer, and these techniques should always remain within a threshold of respect and logic.

Positive-Reinforcement only makes sense when the definition of the term is used with depth and breadth. Unfortunately the term has been popularized in the training world as a concept in which ‘positive’ becomes a very narrow concept. For example Positive Reinforcement via Reward-Based Training that relies solely on vocal praise and treats is a concept that is taken too far and/or applied in ways that can lack logic and have an undesirable outcome.

While treats and praise do have a place in working with a dog overuse can have deleterious effects on the dog’s ability to cope and understand normal. Treat training can cross the line into irresponsible and unethical, as can other approaches such as force domination. It is always best to return to logic as a yard stick for measuring the validity of the chosen technique. Dogs do not coach and mentor each other by constantly handing out treats. So, a logical approach to working with a dog would be to use treats for some situations but not for all.

Some of my dog pack members taking a break on the trail
Voice praise while it may seem fun and sensible as an approach at first, when examined a little closer can be another trigger for escalation of unwanted behaviour. By employing logic we can reason that a well adjusted dog can tolerate various tones and energy behind vocal praise and still remain within a happy, comfortable range, but a dog that is not so well-adjusted can be quickly triggered into an excited state by an excited vocal praise. When a dog teaches another dog social grace it does not flood the other dog with excited high-pitched noise (such as a human makes when over-excitedly praising a dog), nor does the dog lavish treats on the ‘student’ dog. Both dogs look upon the learning process as a normal event of daily life. The dogs create an atmosphere of acceptance and normal. Imagine if a child was given a piece of food each and every time they did something right…the child would likely be overweight, have bad teeth (physical impact), the child would expect a ‘reward’ for each and every normal thing that they do – thereby creating a very un-normal situation, the child would be co-dependent on food rather than having learned that doing the right thing is routine…the child would become either obnoxiously spoiled or exceedingly anxious and insecure…so to for a dog.

Robbie and Sarah waiting for direction
People often ask me why the training they have been through previously with other trainers did not work. The following provides some information on why some techniques just don’t work…

In the case of a trainer that relies solely on treats and voice praise…
Teaching the dog sit and stay will not bring a resolution of medium to high intensity behaviours – simple obedience is just one element of what a dog needs to know to be well adjusted. Just like a child – you can teach a child to sit, but that is all the child will know if you do not instruct beyond. A full circle of learning must be provided - you must also teach a child how to behave once they stand-up and find themselves (for example) surrounded by strangers. Once the dog has learned to stay within threshold a treat or praise may be provided but the truth is that the dog will be more than happy just to feel your warm pride in his/her ability to cope in a normal fashion. A dog that is in a medium to high state of anxiety becomes intensely fixated and is not going to come out of that state because:
  • He/she is being offered treats;
  • He/she is being offered vocal praise;
  • He/she wearing a pheromone collar, etc.
  • If, however the dog is not truly imbedded in a state of fixation these methods may have positive impact. For dogs that are not currently well-adjusted and are truly fixated these methods can work at least temporarily, but the behaviour may return and worsen.
Abby, Jordie, Tasha and Stevie taking a break in the Meadow

In the case of a trainer that uses distraction techniques such as:
  • Throwing a bag filled with chains on the ground in front of it;
  • Someone is slamming a crate door in the dogs face;
  • Someone is spraying water in its face;
  • Someone is placing little piles of food on the floor;
  • Someone is yanking, dragging, kicking, yelling at, dominating and otherwise intimidating the dog.
It has been my experience that employment of such techniques can indicate a very low level of understanding on the part of the trainer/behaviourist and certainly indicates an absence of analytical and logical thought. I see reactivity (as opposed to self-restraint, self-awareness, self discipline, respect, kindness, grace) on the part of the human in some of these techniques – be reactive, create reactive…hardly a fair intervention when the end-goal is to stop reactivity in the dog. The human that chooses such techniques simply does not understand that they are leading by the wrong example and what they get back will be a reflection of what they do.

Robbie sharing with Tibby - one of my cats
While the distraction techniques bulleted just above may work with some dogs, for many other dogs such techniques increase a dog’s anxiety level, creating shut-down, creating or intensifying the existing behaviour or existing fear submission or fear aggression. Techniques such as this do not teach the dog positive life skills. Avoidance will not teach the dog how to cope, aggressive interventions will make the dog wither more aggressive or more submissive insecure – either way the dog remains in an unhealthy mal-adjusted state of being. 

Unfortunately some trainers do use force-domination techniques. When a trainer/handler etc. chooses force domination rather than respectful and logical direction - the dog’s confidence can be severely damaged. Anger and force have two common results. Result #1 is creation of or intensification of aggression. Result #2 is fear submission. Both #1 and #2 are anxious states which do not build a dog’s confidence and can read to exponentially worse physiological damage (and depending in the situation, outward physical damage) to both dog and human. The ongoing stress resulting from an anxious state can also place the dog’s immune system and endocrine system at risk.

Robbie, Sarah and Carmen - a favorite bench in the sun
It is important to understand that the simple act of using physical contact does not predicate whether the technique is force-based or dominating. Touch, physical contact can play a very important role in working with a dog – I use physical touch a lot. I use therapeutic touch, I use gentle touch to stay connected and to a dog that is insecure and easily flooded by visual and audio stimuli, I use touch to get a dogs attention, there are so many positive ways that touch and physical contact in general can and should be used. However touch should never be used in frustration, anger, punishment or with force to harm. As well the concept of ‘Alpha’ is not what a human should seek to emulate when working with a dog. Instead the human should seek to provide real leadership. Leadership and Alpha are not interchangeable concepts and words. Alpha is a much mis-understood and mis-applied concept.

Remember as mentioned earlier – a well adjusted dog does not use domination to adjudicate. I am not the Alpha of my pack of 10 dogs, nor so I attempt to be the Alpha to the dogs I work with – I provide leadership not domination. Any trainer that tells you that you need to dominate your dog does not understand the concept of true leadership or how to effectively and respectfully work with, relate to dogs, nor do they understand how to best support a healthy, happy human-dog relationship.
  • Dogs that are  in medium to high states of anxiety need someone that can communicate effectively to them to draw them out of that state without creating additional psychological or physical harm and teach them how to normalize the stimuli that creates the adverse reaction.
  • Dogs should not receive punishment from their humans, or from trainers, etc. – What they should receive is correction and guidance. If a dog behaves in an unwanted fashion the intent should be to show the dog what behaviour is acceptable, and this should be conveyed logically by leveraging calm, directive example – something that cannot be truly accomplished when addressed emotively or from a position of  anger-based punishment.
Carmen and Robbie - nap time
Dogs do have memories, they do associate feelings, outcomes, states-of-being with inanimate, animate objects and locations but a dog does not hold a grudge like a human does…hence the saying ‘dogs live in the moment’. What does that mean? Well basically because dogs do not hold grudges dogs are able to accept a new way of approaching and viewing a situation, thing or location. This is fundamental to understanding a dog’s ability and enduring willingness to adopt a new behaviour. From this also arises the importance of teaching a dog to deal with a situation rather than – as many humans seek to do – avoid the situation. Confidence cannot be gained by avoidance it can only be attained by learning how to safely, comfortably and effectively cope with situations in a balanced ‘normal’ way.

Robbie napping in the car with his best friend
Willow, a Beagle x Fox hound

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Article and graphics by Karen Rosenfeld.