We specialize in the training and management of aggressive dogs, which has been our focus from the beginning and continues to be on a daily basis. Our mission is to be a resource which owners of aggressive dogs can trust and learn from to be able to successfully live with and safely manage this type of dog. Within this growing area of need, we have created and implemented training plans for owners, trainers, rescue and shelter organizations, and government agencies. This is accomplished by being able to systematically map out training plans through the use of scientifically proven models of learning; implementation; and real world practicality, performance, and safety.
A Scientific Approach to Training
Every aspect of the training or teaching process can be mapped out as a set of blueprints. By utilizing a systematic approach, any deficiencies, or unwanted behaviors can be quickly pinpointed and then addressed in a very efficient manner. This systematic approach not only successfully addresses issues within obedience training, but also flushes out and then directly addresses many of the underlying, root issues that can go unchecked and eventually lead to unwanted behaviors such as displaced aggression in the form of: extreme resource guarding, social aggression, or predatory behaviors (often interpreted as “out of nowhere” by owners).
The easiest way to understand this system is to think of it as a layered triangle. As in any structure, the stronger the foundation, the more stable it is. That is why we always start at the bottom and work our way up looking at the relationships the different layers have, and in what context they apply to the situations at hand. As we start looking at these layers, you will start to see how they are all interconnected with one another. Every layer below has a direct impact on the success of the upper layer we want to focus on. If something is skipped or overlooked in the lower levels, it creates a hole in the foundation and the layers above won’t be as stable as they should be.
1: Knowledge (Canine Behavior): Understanding what is normal in dogs
2: Health: Proper food and care and how it can impact behaviors
3: Attitude: It greatly influences your dog’s behaviors both positively and negatively
4: Applied Behavior Analysis (Learning Theory): Setting up an environment in which an animal (humans included) has the ability to learn as much as possible as quickly as possible without sacrificing confidence, trust, and respect
5: Leadership (Pack Structure): Instills a mental framework that passively denies a dog an authoritative role while setting up the human in a leadership role of respected authority
6: Drive Balance: Understanding and addressing the genetics that are at play with that individual, or breed of dog. If not properly addressed, it often leads to Restless Spirit (destructive or unwanted behaviors)
7: Anxiety: Psychological and physiological influences
8: Habitation and Cohabitation: Shaping desirable behaviors while addressing any undesirable behaviors within the living environment
9: Obedience: A dog complying out of respect while actively asserting your authority as leader
Performance, Reliability and Respect
When dealing with dogs that have a greater potential to respond with aggression, or a dog that has already proven their willingness to follow through with aggression, safety and owner liability is always of great concern and importance. The reliability and performance of this kind of dog can’t be left to chance or based on what is popular at the time or sounds good on television. This is why we employ a system based on the proven science of Instrumental Conditioning. Instrumental Conditioning is how the application of reward and punishment can change the strength and probability of prior behaviors. It can also be explained as: behavior is modified by its consequences (we work under this premise every day in our own society). We can further add to the reliability of this system through scientifically proven reinforcement schedules to encourage good behaviors and discourage bad behaviors along with the Premack Principle. When all of these elements are combined, we have one of the most scientifically reliable training systems while always maintaining the utmost respect for the dog.
Clear communication is a critical component of dog training. It is absolutely needed in order to have the dog understand the relationships that exist between its behavior and potential consequences, while maintaining a mutually respectful relationship with the owner/handler. Many times a breakdown in communication is the root cause of a dog being disobedient or defiant. By taking the time to make sure we have clear and consistent channels of communication with the dog, we can create a learning and living environment in which the dog can trust in our leadership. This trust is accomplished by using a command structure which is predictable and consistent and allows the dog to: know when they are being spoken to, understand what we are asking them to do, when they are doing right, and when they are doing wrong. As the relationship grows and the dog gains a better understanding of what is expected with confidence, we then can add to the complexities of those expectations with more indepth command structures. This allows us to achieve reliability and performance through the use of fair and scientifically proven means of accountability which translates to the highest degree of reliability possible in the real world.
Training as a Blueprint
The process in which the dog is trained is even more important than the “finished” results. If someone doesn’t have a means to map out a plan and just jumps all over the place, there will be side effects because of that lack of structure. Even if a dog looks like it is performing well in a controlled environment within a given set of parameters, it does not mean that the dog has a deep understanding of what they are doing, why they are doing what they are doing, and/or why their behaviors incur consequences in both a positive or negative manner.
By applying the science of Behavior Analysis (learning theory) in conjunction with an emphasis on the actual process, we can be sure we don’t skip any steps that could lead to a dog being confused or misinterpreting what we are asking of them. This creates an environment in which the dog has great confidence and a tremendous depth of understanding what we have taught them. If any side effects should occur, it is very easy to look back at the blueprint and quickly pinpoint in a very controlled and scientific manner where the issue is stemming from.