Christine is committed to using scientifically sound, rewards-based methods, to teach dogs how we would like them to behave and to modify unwanted behaviors.
‘Scientifically sound’ methods are based on the science of animal learning theory and canine behavior, or Applied Behavior Analysis, using Classical and Operant Conditioning. These methods are lawful and scientific (as opposed to things such as ‘energy’ or ‘leadership’ and other murky ideas), and have long standing history of proven effectiveness.
‘Rewards-based’ training methods. When we are working with animals, we have to motivate them somehow – this is a very lawful principal of behavior in the animal world. There are two ways to motivate an animal, either with things the animal seeks to gain (‘good stuff’) such as food, toys, play or praise; or with things the animal seeks to avoid (‘bad stuff’), such as pain (shock, choke, prong, or other forms of physical punishment), fear, coercion and intimidation tactics. Although pain and fear can be powerful tools to motivate behavior, they do come with some pretty hefty side effects that should always be considered. When deciding which methods to use, we have a choice. At Family Dog Training, LLC, where our animals are like family, we chose to teach using the ‘good stuff’.
Chosing a dog trainer or a dog training method can be wrought with confusion for consumers. Between the internet, T.V. celebrity ‘trainers’, and well meaning advice from neighbors and family, how does one know what to believe when it comes to dog training? In an unregulated industry, where anyone (yes, absolutely anyone) can build a fancy website and take money to ‘train’ your dog, without any education related to animal learning or behavior, and without any disclosure about what they will do to your dog and the possible side effects for the animal, choosing a dog trainer is ‘buyer beware’. It’s left up to you, the consumer, to become educated about the options. If you would like to learn more about training methods, why we chose rewards-based methods, and the potential negative side effects of using pain, force, fear or coercion in animal training, please check out this link to the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB):
Rewards-based training is not permissive. Dogs do what works, and if a behavior does not work for a dog, he will stop doing it. With rewards-based training, when the dog does what we like, we give him something he seeks (such as food, toys, play or praise) to let him know that he is on the right track and this behavior works! This motivates the dog to do that behavior more. When the dog does something we do not like, we remove what he seeks, and this communicates that his behavior is not going to work for him, and he is less likely to do that behavior in the future. Consider the human analogy of a parking ticket. If you park illegally and get a $200 parking fine, you will likely avoid that behavior in the future. You lose your money, and perhaps, you also lose your time going to court. Next time you will park in a legal spot and avoid the fine. This type of motivation is a very powerful way to affect behavior change, and it is accomplished without pain, force or fear.
It’s all about Relationship. What kind of relationship would you like to have with your dog? If you consider your dog to be a beloved family member and you would like a cooperative relationship, verses a confrontational one, then rewards-based training methods are for you!