Can you guarantee that my dog will be trained after our lessons? As a professional member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, I adhere to the Code of Professional Conduct and Responsibility. I can not give a guarantee regarding the outcome of your dog's training, because there is no sure way to guarantee the cooperation and performance of all parties involved and because the knowledge of animal behavior is incomplete. I do, however, guarantee client satisfaction with my professional services.
Is there any breed of dog that you don't train? All breeds are welcome. I provide you with a detailed questionnaire to get your dog's background and history. Based on that, and an in-person evaluation, I am able to form a knowledgeable opinion of your dog's challenges. I do not train dogs with human aggression issues (those that have bitten a person).* In those cases I will refer you to a qualified veterinarian behaviorist for professional guidance.
* Puppies under 5 months old are the exception to this policy.
My dog is the alpha dog and very dominant. Can he be trained? When a dog growls and acts bossy this is often mislabeled as being alpha or dominant behavior. In actuality, the Alpha dog is the one who is secure in his position in the world and doesn't need to "posture" or act tough. Think of a household where a little dog is the boss of all the bigger dogs. For more information, check out vet/behaviorist Dr. Ian Dunbar's website: http://www.dogstardaily.com/training/alpha-fallacy
I think my dog is too stubborn and stupid to be trained. We humans often misinterpret a dog's actions in relation to training. Dogs are quite intelligent, however, depending on what the dog was bred for, some need a reason to comply, and others need more motivation than some. For example, a hunting breed like a Beagle might care less about receiving treats or a toy as his reward, but being allowed to sniff might be his greatest thrill. Using Positive Reinforcement techniques and rewarding the dog appropriately (in the Beagle's case, letting him sniff after performing a command correctly) usually produces excellent results.
We just adopted a dog from a shelter; do you offer a training discount? Yes! I offer a discount on most training services for dogs adopted within 1 year from animal shelters or registered, non-profit (501-3C) rescue groups Just provide me with a copy of your adoption contract. I have lots of experience working with adopted dogs and I want to help you train your dog so s/he stays in his new "forever" home.
Why is the trainer on TV able to train his dog in an hour? He isn't. There is a lot of editing on the TV training shows. Truthful trainers who use positive reinforcement will tell you up front that it takes time to teach your dog (and you) various commands in all sorts of situations because the exercises must be practiced (about 90% of the training is for the people and 10% is for the dog). Some types of training takes days or weeks or months. Some trainers use old-fashioned "aversive" equipment (electronic shock collars, choke chains, pinch/prong collars) and methods (jerking your dog's collar or giving him a shock)that causes pain to your dog. The training doesn't always carry over to when your dog is not wearing that equipment. Think about this: Trainers who work with Killer Whales can't use any of the aversive methods, or collars or harnesses - in fact, those trainers use positive reinforcement to teach marine animals.
Positive reinforcement training doesn't cause any pain! It isn't necessary to train with fear or pain for your dog to learn well. And, if your dog is having fun learning he is a lot more responsive and trusting of you than those trained the old-fashioned painful, aversive way.
Why shouldn't I use a retractable leash? Retractable leashes maintain pressure on your dog at all times, increasing your dog's desire to pull. (Remember the opposition reflex that dogs have? They feel pressure and they want to go the opposite way.) Retractable leashes basically encourage your dog to pull. It makes it easier for you to jerk him (and more unpleasant for your dog) when you try to "reel him in" once you've let him get out ahead of you. There have been dozens of cuts, eye injuries, broken teeth, broken collarbones, concussions and amputations directly attributed to retractable leashes. Lastly, the farther away you are from the dog, the less control you have.
I'm confused about the kind of collar to use for my dog. I recommend using a flat, buckle collar (with ID tags) or a martingale/greyhound collar. If your dog is strong/pulls a lot there are some special body harnesses (Sense-ation™, Easy Walk™) that will help you (this is only a temporary tool). Any kind of metal collar (like a pinch/prong collar or choke chain) is discouraged for a few reasons: 1) they can cause severe damage to your dog's windpipe; 2) they work on the pain principle; (once removed it is not uncommon that the dog reverts to the old behavior); and 3) such collars can increase aggressiveness in already aggressive dogs.
How can a collar make my dog more aggressive? When a dog wears a collar that causes pain (a choke or pinch/prong collar or an electronic collar), Animal Behaviorists have observed that a dog aggressive dog feels the pain from the correction (the pinch, choke or electric shock) so the dog redirects his frustration and distress toward nearby dogs by lunging, growling and acting as if the other dog is causing the pain, thus reinforcing his action. The dog aggressive dog tries to scare other dogs away with his "aggressive" displays (lunging, barking, etc.) to avoid the pain he knows he will feel when his owner jerks the leash/collar.
What do you mean by the phrase "temporary tool"? Dogs have an opposition reflex that makes them pull against us when they feel pressure on their neck from a collar. If your dog is a big puller he won't be concentrating on anything except trying to pull forward. Using a "temporary tool" like a body harness takes the pressure off his neck and allow him to concentrate on learning. Once he's learned the command (walk next to me), you'll be able to switch back to his regular buckle collar.
What if I don't want to bribe my dog with treats? Treats aren't a bribe. Instead, they are a motivator similar to your paycheck. When a dog (or person) is rewarded he is much more likely to repeat the behavior. Once the dog understands what we are asking him to do, we fade the amount of treats and use them as a variable reinforcer. We also eye, touch and voice contact, and toys and game playing with the dog if that is his idea of the best paycheck.
So what kind of treats/rewards should I use for my dog? All sorts of things - you'll have to try and see what your dog likes best. Maybe his idea of a reward is being allowed to sniff, or play with a favorite toy. Food examples are: Honey Nut Cheerios™, bits of cooked hotdog and chicken, dog kibble, broken bits of dog cookies, liver biscotti bits of Nutro Lamb and Rice Sticks™, soft chicken jerky, dehydrated liver, etc. If he likes fruit or veggies you can also use bits of apple, carrots , etc.
Get a variety of treats too. Small button sized treats are appropriate (so you don't fill your dog up). For little dogs use BB sized treats. Treats count as part of your dog's daily calories so adjust his food accordingly. NEVER GIVE YOUR DOG RAISINS OR GRAPES - Animal Poison Control has determined that those fruits are extremely harmful to his renal system!! For a detailed list of poisonous substances and plants click here.