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Philosophy

We are committed to teaching people how to train their dogs using positive training methods. These methods are based on scientifically supported learning theory, paired with animal behavior knowledge. Our goal is to teach people in a fun and inspiring way, how to motivate their dogs to perform desired behaviors. Our teaching practices involve no force or coercion. All lead trainers are Certified Professional Dog Trainers (CPDT). This is to ensure students are guided by committed and skilled professionals that have been independently tested on their knowledge and skills through the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers. Learn more on how to choose a trainer or behavior consultant.

What is Positive Training?

There are many different approaches available to train dogs. In the past, traditional training methods were predominantly used to train animals. These methods focused heavily on using force and punishment. Positive training is a more modern, reinforcement-based technique that has been steadily growing in popularity since the mid 1980’s. It has become the standard for humane animal training. We believe positive training is the most effective and it is part of our mission to educate new dog owners and trainers on this approach.

Positive dog training is much more than give your dog a treat. The methods are based on scientific studies of animal behavior and learning theory.

  • It is based on being proactive to set the dog up for success as much as possible.
  • It emphasizes rewarding wanted behavior and managing the dog from engaging in unwanted behavior.
  • It motivates the dog to learn new behaviors using food, toys, praise, and attention or anything else the dog really likes.
  • It focuses on the entire relationship with the dog, based on trust, respect and joy.
  • We do not want the dog to respond to us out of fear or to avoid pain.
  • It uses equipment like buckle collars, martingales, no-pull harnesses and head-halters.
  • It does not condone choke chains, pinch collars or shock collars.

You can also read more on the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers position statement regarding the Application of the Humane Hierarchy and the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior Dominance Position Statement and Punishment Position Statement.

Benefits of Positive Dog Training

  • It enhances the human/dog relationship.
  • It focuses on teaching the dog what we want him to do, not on punishing him for behaviors we do not want him to do.
  • It teaches the animals that paying attention to us is fun, pleasant and rewarding and to respond to us because they want to.
  • It is an effective method for all dogs as the method is built on finding what motivates that particular individual you are working with.
  • It takes into account the entire dog, both physical and mental state, and both the cognitive and the emotional part of the brain.
  • Suppression of behaviors would never be part of any behavior problem solving technique.
  • It encourages the dog to think, be creative and problem-solve because we offer a safe environment.
  • It minimizes the dog’s stress level and thus the need to act out aggressively, whether toward you in self-defense or by creating unintended associations in the environment.
  • It builds on success for both you and your dog. Errors are an integral part of the learning process, you both get more practice and improve your skill set but no one gets hurt in the process.
  • It will build your dog’s confidence level.
  • It is more fun!

How Did Positive Training Begin?

While there are many people who have contributed to the increased understanding about how animals learn, including Ivan Pavlov, B.F. Skinner, Edward Thorndyke, Robert Bailey, Marian Breland-Bailey and Keller Breland, it was Karen Pryor who introduced positive training to the public. She was a marine mammal trainer that through her book, “Don’t Shoot the Dog (1984) really managed to translate the behavioral concepts to a very practical level and the positive dog training movement picked up from there.

We must remember that dogs are living beings who have good and bad days just like us. Some exercises they will find harder to learn than others and sometimes competing motivations can conflict with what we are asking the dog to do at any given moment. Our job is to learn how to recognize what the various motivations are and use them to our advantage. With time and through a developing habit the dog will respond to you automatically most of the time. Dogs do not disobey out of spite or stubbornness. Also, dogs live in the moment. Our lives become more complicated because we live in the past, present and the future all at the same time. The fact that the dogs live in the moment is why they are such wonderful companions!