Dogs in Good Hands
I seek to decrease tension on both ends of the leash by helping people and dogs understand each other better. My goal is to improve the life you and your dog live together.
I use dog-friendly training methods that do not rely on pain or fear to motivate behavior changes. The methods I use are those endorsed by the most well-educated in the dog training world—veterinary behaviorists and certified applied animal behaviorists (PhD’s in animal behavior).
We have brought dogs a long way from the wild to our fields, our country yards, our city yards, and not only onto our couches, but as companions in public spaces like cafes, busy walking paths, and even department stores. Not long ago, dogs roamed neighborhoods and towns freely, but their access past their owners’ property lines is now much more limited. Most dogs are now quite lucky to get 30 minutes of walking off their owners’ property per day.
Dog breeds are almost all the result of people selectively breeding for a type of dog that would serve a specific function, such as herding or guarding livestock, guarding property, flushing out wild animals for hunters, and killing vermin. But that kind of work has dried up. We focus more now on what we don’t want dogs to do rather than we want them to do. Our expectations have changed with our lifestyles. We’re not working in the fields or hunting in the woods with the dogs anymore. We’re leaving our dogs home for 8+ hours per day while we work. We want to hit the gym and come home to eat dinner in front of our favorite shows while our dogs don’t bug us. We want a dog, who is designed to be very active, to be quiet and still most of the time. And when we do take him out, we want him to walk calmly on leash and be friendly, but not overexuberant, with every person and dog he sees.
We’re expecting a lot! Dog training is not about making a bad dog good. It is about aligning a dog’s behavior with his owner’s expectations of his behavior. Largely, I teach people to do this by rewarding their dogs for the behavior they like. For example, if you would like your dog to sit instead of jumping on guests coming through the door, we teach your dog he gets rewarded for sitting when someone comes through the door. It’s sitting, not jumping up, that makes good stuff happen.
I’ll tell you a dog trainer secret: our dogs don’t all precision heel at our sides and live to follow our cues (commands). I allow my dog to jump on people sometimes. My dog was shy when I got her and worried she needed to appease everyone she met. She was afraid of stairs, the car, hardwood floors, bugs that buzzed when they flew, televisions, brooms, cameras, anyone raising their hands, and men. Most of the people she sees on a regular basis now allow or encourage her to jump up on them. I don’t stop it unless I think the person will be bothered by it because it is a sign to me that she is being bold and thinks this person is a source of good stuff. She’s being optimistic about people.
She also jumps in the car like a champ now. She poses for photos. She has no problem walking into rooms with TV’s and she tries to find bugs when she hears them buzzing. She also quietly lies at my feet when we’re eating at my favorite café, sweetly accepts petting from children who have rushed up to her en masse, and stays with me on trails.
We train what is important to us.
What behavior is important to you with your dog?