Training Philosophy

HOW WE TRAIN

Effective dog training is based on force-free, humane and scientifically proven training methods. We DO USE a lot of food, toys, our attention or anything else in the environment that the dog wants to build polite behaviours. We DO NOT USE prong/pinch/electronic/choke collars, leash corrections with any type of collar, spray bottles, physical corrections (pokes, jabs, pinches), intimidation or startling techniques.

We teach you and your dog the principle of clicker training: the use of an event marker followed by a reward, this way your dog knows exactly what he is being rewarded for. There is no doubt about the fact that training with the clicker is quicker! We do not employ food luring, which enables you to easily fade out the food rewards later. Clicker training is completely safe for the whole family to use and will lead to a mutually rewarding relationship with your dog. We do not only train the dog using positive reinforcement, we employ the same principle to teaching people which makes learning efficient also for you. Since you will be in the hands of a Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner (KPA CTP) you can rest assured that the training is based on the latest knowledge on dog behavior.

WHY CHOOSE US?

It can be difficult to choose a dog trainer from the abundance of services out there. But think of the following: even if you have driven a car for 30 years does this mean that you can take the engine apart and reassemble it? Probably not unless you have studied it. The same principle applies to dog training: you need a trainer who has studied how dogs learn and understands how you can successfully modify your dog’s behavior. This way the relationship between you and your dog improves right from the beginning. We make sure that you and your dog will receive the attention that you deserve.

WHAT IS CLICKER TRAINING?

Even though dogs have been trained for centuries using punishment we are now getting more and more research evidence that positive reinforcement is the most efficient and quickest way of learning. Just think of yourself in a new job you just started, would you rather have a slap on your fingers every time you do something wrong or a five dollar increase in your pay check every time you do something right? And depending on which response you get how do you think it would affect your relationship with your employer?

Positive reinforcement is a reward that the dog wants, for instance a piece of a hot dog or a tennis ball. If the dog doesn't respond to what we would like him to do it only means that we haven't trained the behavior to a high enough fluency under those circumstances. The very first step in positive training is finding reinforcements that the dog is willing to work for especially under distractions. We cannot decide this for the dog, the dog will tell us what he wants. Therefore, it is worth experimenting a little what really motivates YOUR dog.

To be able to use positive reinforcement training, the dog has to get the reward exactly at the same time as he is doing the behavior we want to reinforce. For many behaviors the exact timing of the delivery of the reward can be trick. To overcome this dilemma we use a method called clicker training. Clicker is a little device the sound of which tells the dog that the tasty treat is coming. By clicking at the time the dog is for example sitting down and then delivering the treat we can provide him a very precise snapshot of what earned him the treat. Soon the dog will start offering the sits that he was doing exactly at the time of the click and there, you can reinforce the behavior again!

While teaching a new behavior, once the dog offers it reliably, we add a cue to the behavior, and gradually start rewarding for that behavior only after we’ve said the cue such as sit. And when the cued behavior is very strong, and it works in all the environments where we want it to work, the clicker is not needed anymore. We will just occasionally and randomly give the reward for the behavior in question and the dog will happily offer it even though he is not rewarded every time. This is exactly why the slot machines are so addictive to people, you never know when you hit the jackpot!

How about teaching the dog who is the leader in the household? Doesn’t my dog have to obey me the instant I tell him to do something? A fact about clicker training and positive reinforcement that many people do not realize is that positive is not permissive. We will not allow our dogs to jump on tables after treats, and offer whatever behavior pleases them. Of course we can physically or verbally stop them from doing something harmful/dangerous. But physical manipulation is not what teaches the dog what to do. The beauty of clicker training is that we will teach our dog what to do instead of them eating the pizza from the table or barking at us when we want to watch TV. This way we don’t even need to think about the leadership issues or other urban myths because we will have consistently taught the dog what behavior we want in each situation.