My dog is rambunctious and doesn’t listen to me. How can this training program help him?
This program is all about something called “impulse control.” In other words, we’ll teach your dog to think before acting. You’ll learn methods for how to encourage your dog to calm himself down and make polite choices. He’ll learn that thinking before acting is something he’ll be rewarded for. He’ll look more to you for direction instead of “going his own way.” And, as a result, he’ll start to pay more attention to you as it will feel good to him!
I’d like my new puppy to get a good start on her manners and socialization. Is this a good training program for us?
Yes! We highly encourage all puppies to enroll in positive reinforcement manners classes and also have opportunities for safe socialization with other puppies. We offering puppy classes at our new training academy in Saranac Lake, NY. For more about the special needs of puppies, visit this page:
Do you work with dogs who react to other dogs or humans? Will you work with them even if they’ve bitten someone?
Yes! Depending upon the severity of your dog’s situation, we might recommend working in conjunction with a veterinary behaviorist who is familiar with our training method. We certainly work with behavior issues such as fear, anxiety, and reactivity with all animals – our goal is to heal these animals through compassion, empathy, and confidence building.
Will you accept us into your program if we’ve used negative training in the past such as prong collars, shock collars, invisible fences, or other electronic devices?
Yes! We just require you stop using these devices as they are inconsistent with our positive reinforcement training method and have a host of negative side effects. We will help you make the switch with a program to build behaviors and help your animal become enthusiastic about working with you. If you’re willing to switch to an all positive approach, we’re willing to help you in any way we can!
Can you explain a little about how your program works?
We teach animals with a straightforward, all positive approach. We train them to recognize a particular signal means they reached the step we want. And they learn we’ll always reward them when they hear the signal. This is called marker-based training or clicker-training. It’s the clearest form of training we know and as a result, very effective and fun. It works with all animals, so let us know who you’d like to train and we can help you out!
We only use 100% positive methods. This approach is about building behavior in a way the animal is excited to repeat and learn more, so there’s no room for any device or tactic which suppresses behavior by scaring, hurting, shocking, or even annoying our partners. We always want our animals to feel safe expressing their feelings to us – this is the cornerstone of any deep relationship between species. We trust that if they are anxious, fearful, distracted, reactive, or just over excited, they need our compassion and understanding.
You emphasize it’s important to keep your dog from practicing the undesireable behaviors – why is this?
We’ll let veterinary behaviorist Amber Batson sum it up (here’s an excerpt from the report of her 2018 Norway Dog Symposium report):
The amygdala and memories of fear
The amygdala is where a lot of fear-based memories are stored. So, if we have a fear-based reactive dog, those memories are accessed instantly. It is possible that the amygdala is where fear and pain memories are stored in a different way than other memories. It affects the ability of a dog to learn something new.
If we are trying to teach the dog that it is okay to be at the vet’s, but the dog has previously experienced fear of going there, the instant access to those memories in the amygdala makes it virtually impossible to override them with something else that needs to travel from a slower part of the brain.
This is why long-term potentiation (the more something is practiced, the more it will become a habit) is so important. We have to keep those dogs from practicing the undesirable behaviour at all, particularly while we are teaching them something new.
We hear you intuitively communicate with animals – can this help with our animal’s training?
Yes! Many surprises come up when we check in with the animals before and during lessons. We learn more about what motivates them to choose the behaviors they do (the behaviors we humans often don’t like)! We also learn a bit more about the personality of the animal – so we can tailor the training to their likes.
Here’s a quick story: We started training an elder Malamute cross just for the fun of it (a relative’s dog). He was hesitant, but willing to try. That evening, he started to howl and groan. I (Kinna) went downstairs as we were dogsitting and I was worried he had a health problem. When I saw him on his dog bed, he did not seem to be in pain, nor did he seem to be physically upset.
I decided to intuitively check in to see what was up. He told me, very clearly, that he didn’t like the training because he didn’t want anyone to know he was smart! In other words, he loved his life as it was — he often escaped, ran around the neighborhood, took off on mountain hikes despite hearing his name being called, and was not considered a very intelligent dog by his people. He felt comfortable with his role of being the irresponsible dog and his people having low expectations of him staying around!
I laughed and reassured him the training would be a secret between the us. I also told him he might someday like to be considered a responsive, intelligent dog – that he’d still have his freedom….but, it was entirely his choice if and when to divulge this secret!
Communicating intuitively with animals is fun – and almost always shows the sense of humor all animals have. While we aren’t professionals in this field (we can recommend professionals if clients would like), we’ve studied long enough to at least use this tool to help with our training. Nothing wrong can come out of hearing an animal’s perspective!