We offer a unique balanced approach to training, carefully cultivated through decades of experience. We believe every dog is different, some learn faster than others, and some learn better with different techniques. Every dog that works with us goes through a consult and receives a customized training plan so they can reach their full potential.
Our training is based on pack behavior. Dogs will naturally try to climb the pack order to be the leader. Unfortunately, very few dogs have the temperament necessary to happily stay in that position. Many become overwhelmed, which can lead to fear, anxiety, and even aggression. Our job as their guardians and owners is to take that responsibility for them. We become their leaders, make the important decisions for them, and work to keep them safe, fit, healthy, happy and mentally stimulated.
Happy dogs learn faster and behave better, so we keep our training sessions 90% play and 10% work. To keep things fun and interesting we use short, intense work sessions of five to ten minutes at a time, repeated frequently throughout a day/lesson. We have found this helps to maximize the effectiveness of the training, and keeps dogs from getting bored.
Sue and "Hulk" work on some sit stays.
Sue and "Tripper" have a well deserved play session.
Using our methods, we become more important and exciting than the squirrel, and we always have our hands and voices with us so praise is never lacking. We've also found that plenty of dogs simply aren't motivated by food, and would much rather play with you or a toy. Dogs have an instinctive vested interest in pleasing their leaders, which is what makes verbal and physical praise so effective.
Our dogs also hear the word, "No". We let them know when they are doing something wrong just as we praise them when they do something well. We have found this balance to be important to true communication between dog and handler. Think of it this way: you've just been hired at a new job in a field you have little experience in. This job also happens to be in a country whose language you don't speak or understand. If your boss only tells you when you've done something well, it will take you weeks or months to figure out all the nuances of the job. Conversely, only being punished and never praised is apt to make you confused, stressed, and nervous. Neither scenario ends well, and both are needlessly confusing and sluggish.
As trainers, we expedite the learning process despite the language barrier. We show the dogs what we expect of them, and help them to follow through. Praising and correcting as warranted help dogs pick up lessons quickly with no confusion.
"Washi" demonstrates sometimes you just gotta play!
We don't use a lot of food when we train our dogs. While we may give them a tidbit or two at the end of a lesson, we do not use "treat training" (or clicker training) methods to achieve our obedience results. When dogs work with us, their reward is lots of physical and verbal praise. We want the dogs to follow our commands because they like us and because we told them to, not because they might get a cookie.
We train like this for a few reasons, the primary reason being safety. If your dog gets loose and chases a squirrel across a busy road, you need to know that your dog will sit and stay as soon as he hears the command. If he's been treat trained, the liver snap in your pocket may not be enough motivation to get him to leave the squirrel- and that's hoping you didn't run out of treats before this happened!
"Jamie" demonstrates his "sit stay" in adorable fashion.
We generally work our dogs on six foot leashes and metal choke collars. We have found that choke collars, when used correctly, are safe, reliable, and excellent for communication.
We stay away from flat collars, prongs, E collars, head halters, no-pull harnesses, etc.
This is not to say that some dogs can't learn with clicker training, treat training, or positivity only training. It just isn't how we choose to train. As our founding member said, "Our methods are as good as any, and better than most." We've found they tend to bring solid results around faster, leave the dogs happier, and increase the bond between dog and owner.