question_icon  What dog training methods do you use?

answer_icon   I use a combination of life rewards, lure/reward training, and clicker training. I try to prevent bad behavior as much as possible, thereby denying the dog an opportunity to practice those behaviors & get better at them. By setting the dog up to succeed you are doing both yourself & the dog a huge favor. Our job is to be educational, not punitive.

question_icon  How long does it take to housetrain a dog?

answer_icon   Well, that depends on how old the dog is when you start. You can usually count on a dog being house trained by the time they are 6-8 months old. Though of course that depends on the dog and method you are using for training. Some dogs are trained sooner, others later. It also can depend on the breed of dog. Quite often I will get a call about a dog that will go outside if the door is left open, but goes in the house if the door is closed. That tells me the dog understands the concept of going outside, but doesn't understand how to let someone know when they have to go out. If a dog does not have a natural indicator then we can install one. Whether it is barking at the door, coming to tell you they need to go out, or ringing a bell. Those are just a few options.

question_icon  What does it mean when my dog barks at me? Is he being "dominant"?

answer_icon   Most dogs bark at you when they want something. Whether they want you to play with them, let them out, feed them, pet them, and the list goes on. It is called attention seeking barking. In order to stop the behavior you need to figure out what they want and either not give it to them, or do the exact opposite. If it no longer works they will stop doing it. Unfortunately, the term "dominance" is very overused. Many Veterinary Behaviorists are now saying that referring to a dog as dominant is incorrect. A dog can display dominant behaviors, but labeling a dog as dominant is doing a disservice to both the dog and the owner. The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior has published this position statement about dominance.

question_icon  How many sessions will it take to train my dog?

answer_icon   Since each dog is an individual, and each person's goals are different, the number of sessions is entirely dependent upon a few things. The first is, what are your goals for the dog? Do you want the dog to know every basic obedience command and a bunch of tricks, or are you just looking for basic house manners and how to walk on a leash properly? Obviously, the latter of these will take less time. It also depends on how much time you spend training your dog between our training sessions. If you don't practice what we go over in a session then we won't be able to move forward as rapidly. And, are there behavior problems? Sometimes behavior problems can take a little longer because we need to include some of the basic things before we can move on to the actual problem. Although there are a few problems that can be taken care of quickly. It's just a matter of changing the dog's mindset (as well as yours).

question_icon  What if I don't want to use food in training? I heard it was like bribing my dog to do things.

answer_icon There is a huge difference between bribery and reinforcement. By definition, reinforcement means to strengthen. So we use the things your dog needs most in life, his food, social interaction and make him work for a living. We are using the technique of luring to teach the dog what a specific word means, and then we begin to reinforce each behavior using other rewards. We begin with food because we can get a lot more practice in more quickly when we use his bowl of kibble. Once the dog learns how to sit, down, come, etc., we can begin using things like his toys, petting from you, getting to go outside or for a walk, etc. as the reinforcement.

question_icon  I don't want to have to give my dog treats for the rest of his life, he should just do it.

answer_icon   Well, I don't know about you but I get paid for doing my job. This is work for a dog, and dogs behave according to what pays off and what doesn't. If a behavior no longer has some type of reward for them they will stop doing it. This is work for dogs and as their skill level increases so should their pay scale. That is the same as you & me. But again, we use life rewards, which means using the things they want in life, not just food.

question_icon  Once my dog is trained do I still need to practice with him?

answer_icon   Yes! You are installing skills that will be lost without practice. Think of a skill you had as a child or adolescent that you haven't done in years. Skateboarding or turning cartwheels maybe, or tennis or playing basketball or the piano. Do you think that if you went back to that today you would be as adept as you where when you stopped years ago? The concept is the same for dogs. If you don't use it you lose it.

question_icon  But my dog is only a puppy and I've heard he shouldn't be socialized until he's older. Can I still train him?

answer_icon   Absoultey! It's better to begin training as soon as possible to prevent any bad habits from forming. In addition to that, it is very important to socialize your new puppy. That doesn't mean taking him to a dog park where he is more likely to catch something, but you can still take him out of your home. The window for socialization is very small and should be done well before he is 16 weeks old. The truth is if you wear the same shoes inside that you wore outside you are just as likely to bring some disease into your home as your puppy could catch by going out. You just have to be smart about where you take your new puppy. His feet don't have to touch the ground to start socializing. The AVSAB has great info about puppy socialization as does UC Davis Veterinary School.