Training your dog should be fun! And that means, fun at both ends of the leash 🙂 There’s no need to think about dominance, no focus on being the alpha, no use of shock or prong collars, and absolutely no fear, force, or coercion as part of training – does any of that sound like fun? We believe that building a strong foundation of learning is reliant upon trust, consistency, and two way communication. Our approach is science & evidence based, humane, and promotes the use of positive reinforcement.
Learning Theory has been around for a long time, like a REALLY long time. Unfortunately, the misconception that dominance theory or force is needed to train a dog still exists in the mainstream culture. That idea is not supported by scientific evidence and often leads to a broken relationship, a dog who shuts down or worse…becomes aggressive.
“Dogs do what works!” These four words are a simple way to describe learning theory. If a dog is reinforced for doing something (a behavior), the behavior will be repeated or grow stronger because quite simply, it worked! The behavior provided something that the dog found rewarding. If the behavior is not rewarded, it will go away. Would you keep going to work if your paycheck stopped showing up every two weeks? If instead of being shown appreciation for a job well done, you were constantly ridiculed?….us neither. Dogs are very much alike us in this way.
Positive Reinforcement, Choices & Control
Once our eyes are opened to power and simplicity of learning theory, we can achieve tremendous training results while having a lot of fun along the way. We always start by laying the groundwork which includes arranging the environment in a way that makes success as likely as possible, while giving our dogs choices and control throughout their training.
We rely heavily on positive reinforcement techniques utilizing what’s referred to as an ‘Event Marker’. Almost anything can function as a marker but we keep it simple by using a Verbal Marker such as “Yes”, or a Clicker. The marker makes it easy to start training irregardless of your past experience. It helps to create a clear and consistent form of communicating with our dogs.
We can use anything our dogs find rewarding to reinforce the behaviors that we are ‘marking’, whether it’s leaning something new, correcting a bad habit, or changing how our dog feels which is often the case when working with aggression or reactivity. We often start with food and toys while always heaping on a lot of praise, but will adjust to each individual dog. This flexibility helps to achieve success while ensuring that both dog and human are happy and having fun along the way.