How do I train?
Often people use food ineffectively in dog training. It helps to use food when teaching a behavior that is new to the dog, but you need to phase out the lure quickly. I don’t want your dog to refuse to come if you don’t have a treat.
Reward, or consequence, drives behavior. This concept gets you away from having to show the dog a lure before she will perform the task you require. I want the dog to come quickly and willingly, so I do like to reward a job well done.
Does your dog jump on company? Or your children? Does this worry you a little…like it could get worse?
I will place parameters on your dog’s behavior. Parameters are limits or boundaries. If you don’t set limits, you are missing an important opportunity to clarify your expectations to your dog, who wants nothing more than to know what he is supposed to do.
I like for you to work your dog on a buckle collar with a six-foot leash. If you need or prefer other equipment, that is open for discussion.
“But I watch the shows on TV and read blogs on the internet….”
The element of context is often missing from dog training advice you find in the media.I harp on the idea of context because dog training cannot be reduced to a series of advice nuggets. What happened before, who is around, where am I ? Answering these questions often gives us a strategy for resolving the problem. We get nowhere when we consider a problem behavior in isolation.
The Family Pet Today
Back in our parents day, almost all family dogs lived outdoors. They weren't allowed in the house.
We have a new normal. Most of us get our dogs for the purpose of having a close, loving relationship. We expect that. Our dogs are family members, not farmhands. We want to trust them in a much more intimate context.Things that didn't matter before matter now.
This is great for the dog in theory, but confusing . Human culture has changed dramatically but our dogs are still dogs.
How could they intuitively know what we want? How could they possibly have acquired awareness of human rules and expectations? We cannot expect dogs to know anything we have not taken the time to teach them.
Do you need to prepare your dog for the arrival of a baby?
Do you find that your rescued adult dog has irrational fears?
It is perfectly reasonable for people to need some guidance when confusion arises. If you are not able to make progress with your dog's behavior, please call me.
As I've lived and worked with dogs over the years, I've learned that they are completely honest. If they are behaving badly, there is a good chance they really don't know what we want. I can help you clarify your message.
Just Hanging Out
My favorite thing about living with dogs is just hanging out with them.You might want to enjoy a football game in your living room with your dog lying on the rug or on the couch beside you. That's not too much to ask…if you know how.
Some dogs head out for a walk with the attitude, "Every man for himself!
This is not disrespect or dominance: the dog just doesn't know another way to go. Like human children, dogs are interested in the environment around them. Life with a dog is a lot more fun if you are doing things together rather than at odds with one another. I will help you teach your dog to enjoy going along with you so that he puts aside the contest to see "Who can get there first!"
You can be absolutely clear without being a bully. But clarity requires that you choose a set of rules and stick with them so the dog knows what he can count on.
I will make sure you have the handling skills to bring these ideas into reality.
Increasing numbers of people with mobility impairment choose to train their own service dogs. Demand is great and waiting lists are long with the Service Dog organizations. If this is your situation, please let me support your efforts.
Teaching a dog to stay with his person and to adjust his pace beside a walker or wheelchair is the beginning. But a service dog is required to be responsive, committed and attentive to his person. This is training for a profound relationship--not just assistance with tasks. I can help you build the mutual understanding, communication and trust you need.
Over time, aggression toward people and other dogs has become an area of deep interest to me. For one thing, it is often fixable. That's tremendously gratifying to a trainer who really loves dogs and wants to see them become well-adjusted.
Of the aggressive dogs I have seen, I estimate that about 90% of them are operating out of uncertainty rather than meanness. Irrational fear sounds scary, but it is often a learned behavior or an ill-chosen coping mechanism. In many cases, it can be replaced with new learning through what we call counter-conditioning. That means teaching the dog to expect something new and positive to happen when the questionable person or dog shows up.
No matter what motivates it, aggressive behavior requires specific skills in handling. Do I move forward or back? How do I hold the leash? Do I look the dog in the eye at this point? I will teach you how to use your leash and your body to keep yourself safe. Defensive handling is essential for liability issues as well as your own safety.
Certainly there is inherited aggressive behavior, and this is where setting clear parameters and practicing assertive handling skills become paramount. If you choose to have a powerful and difficult dog, you are taking some risks. I will be clear with you about handling the dog for everyone's safety.
Often people wonder if training will make the dog love them less. They want to know that the dog will not become afraid or hesitant to trust. Please let me assure you that I understand this concern. I will do nothing to hurt your dog, and I will not allow you to hurt your dog.
What we will work toward is clarity and understanding. The result is a dog who is happy to know his job, and how to make you happy at the end of your day!
Teaching Canine Behavior at Mt. Ida College
There are very few academic programs in the United States where an undergraduate can focus on behavior of the domestic dog. I am Head of the Certification Program in Canine Behavior and Training at Mt. Ida College in Newton, Massachusetts. Mt. Ida has a long tradition of seriously studying the domestic dog. Our Veterinary Technology program is rated number one in the United States.
My program is part of the Continuing Education and Graduate Studies division. We award a Certificate in Canine Behavior and Training, so that the degree a graduate uses after his or her name is CPDT, Certified Pet Dog Trainer. Our focus is dogs who get themselves into trouble at home or in the community.
Many of my students work at municipal shelters, and I encourage them to bring in dogs who are not ready to go to family homes. I teach my students how to help these dogs develop the skills they need in order to get a safe and peaceful placement.