The way in which I approach training is with a thought process based on principles that are firmly based in science and dog psychology while keeping respect for the dog at its forefront. It is an approach that is not locked into specific techniques, so it does not neatly fit into one training style or another. This kind of approach is a very important distinction, because training styles that are technique driven do not allow for the many variations in ourselves, our dogs, and the ever changing and diverse world we live in. It isn’t simply an accumulation of training styles either. It is a constant evolution of careful research and testing.
When techniques are properly chosen, they give the owner and the dog the flexibility to deal and adapt to any situation. In order to properly choose the right techniques, the entire package of owner, dog, and environment needs to be looked at and taken into account. That is why obedience, even very advanced obedience, is less than ten percent of the total equation for success. This fundamental level of evaluation and understanding allows me to truly adapt and use any and all tools that are out there.
Training, or learning for that matter whether dog or human, is done by the building of layers. Understanding these relationships allows for a very efficient and effective means with which to pinpoint cause and effect when it comes to behavioral and environmental issues. Once this is accomplished, a short term and a long term plan can be developed and mapped out to reach your goals. As in any structure, the stronger the foundation, the more stable it is. That is why we 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 intertwined 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. What does this mean in the real world? It could be anything from being told you have an untrainable dog, to the extreme of being told your dog needs to be put down for behavioral issues or aggression.
Obedience for example is layer 9. What this means is that there are 8 underlying layers such as health, pack structure and attitude which can affect the outcome of an obedience plan either positively or negatively. Most of the time when an obedience plan fails, it’s not the dog’s fault. The obedience fails because there are issues that were never addressed by the owner or trainer which may have hindered the dog from succeeding. That is why these 8 underlying layers are looked at and dealt with before obedience is even considered.
When we start working on obedience together, knowledge is going to be one of your biggest tools. I am teaching you the skills to be able to teach your dog for the rest of its life. I take the time to not only show you all of the techniques we are using for your plan, but explain to you why we are doing them so you can confidently reach your goal. We will use positive reinforcement techniques first to build trust and make sure your dog knows 100% what we want from them. From here, when we know without question that the dog understands the command, we then will teach the dog responsibility through the introduction of gentle, corrective based training. This creates the reliability that many owners want in the crazy world we live in. This approach if done correctly, will keep your dog confident, happy and will build a stronger bond than ever before. This is where patience is a huge factor. If you don’t have the patience to create a dialogue that your dog understands, then you have no right to hold your dog accountable for their actions. All you are then showing is disrespect of an animal that relies on you for guidance and leadership by letting them down when they need you the most. If you aren’t willing to show them respect by teaching them what is expected and how to successfully accomplish what you ask, why should they ever give you the respect you seek by listening and wanting to do what you ask?
I do not pretend that I know everything, far from it. I will continue to learn, evolve, and even change my techniques as needed over the course of my life. I was taught to look at and evaluate the dog and owner within their environment instead of blindly going through the motions of teaching a preset obedience routine with no regard to the ever changing dynamics of life. When this kind of approach is taken, it can only lead to one outcome, successfully reaching your goal!