As a dog trainer, my mission statement is simple: "To provide dogs and their owner's with the tools, training and techniques needed to establish a mutually beneficial, responsible, loving relationship between dog and owner and within the community at large". The goal is to leave the client with a life long, shareable skill set. The hope here is that by doing so, we help keep evermore dogs from ending up at shelters in Montgomery County to begin with.
I do in home basic training at your home and on your time. For Therapy and Mobility Service dogs we will work with dogs in groups and out in public place to acclimate the dog to these new circumstances and environments. Because I can not be there 24/7, I spend most of my time training the owner and not the dog. My goal is to leave the client with a skill set that is shareable and that will last a life time. This way the client can teach children, other family members, neighbors and friends the basics of obedience dog training. Remember, the number one goal is keeping dogs out of shelters. So why not just use a doggy drill camp? I feel that the training process is critical to the development of the bond that you and your dog should share. You would not farm out your child to learn how to take those precious first steps or how to tie their shoes, because those are precious opportunities and moments to make bonds that will last a lifetime. So why would you do that with you dog/ best friend? Also, if I train your dog for you to be the Ferrari of obedience dogs and you have no idea how to "drive" (work your dog), then what have we accomplished? As the primary handler, you would not know the parameters of performance, you wouldn't know about realistic expectations, verbal commands or even proper hand signals. Further, and perhaps most importantly, at a dog boot camp, you don't know how your dog is being treated when you are not around. I worked at a local dog training camp for one day. They ran those dogs with shock collars from 9:AM to 9:PM over obstacles such as wheel barrows turned sideways and over rusty oil drums. Needless to say, that was my first and last day there. And I'm certain none of the owners that had paid $2000.00 per their month had any idea what their babies were being put through.
We use Positive Reinforcement, which means treat training, slowly replaced by lot's of love, combined with proper socialization. We don't use shock collars or any negative reinforcement.
We always start with teaching a proper "Heel". This sets the nature of your relationship with your dog. This establishes you as pack leader and dog as pack member. This is hugely important. If the dog is acting as pack leader on your walks and is walking (pulling) you down the street, instead of you being the one in control, then in it's mind it is the pack leader and this dominant position will carry over into the house, resulting in any number of behavioral issues such as unwanted chewing or getting into or on things that it's not supposed to, etc. From there we progress to:
* Leave It
While I am not an animal behaviorist, I do come across and get asked about behavioral issues. I do my best to address these on a case by case basis. The saying "There are no bad dogs, only bad owners" is frequently true. Sometimes, unfortunately, as owners we learn things the hard way. A prime example is wondering why our dog pulls us down the street on walk. My first question is always " what type of leash are you using"? "Well, he's on a 6 foot leash and we always let him walk out in front of us". So there's your problem, wrong technique and wrong equipment. A simple problem to fix. Other times the issue may have nothing to do with the owner. Many people rescue dogs from shelters these days. And that is AWESOME (I have 6)! But what some people fail to anticipate is that if a dog is coming from a shelter, it is almost a given that that dog is going to be carrying some emotional baggage. Generally speaking, the dog is not at a shelter because it is coming from a responsible, loving home, quite the contrary is usually the case. Sometimes these problems are readily apparent and have a simple solution. other times these behaviors can take months to manifest and years to solve.
That's actually a good question. It's like asking what is a Lawyer or what is a Doctor. Most trainers work in specific areas. So as you don't see a Family Lawyer practicing Criminal Law or a Heart Surgeon working on cancer patients, you won't find a Hog Dog trainer training Duck Dogs. I am only stating what may seem obvious here because of the wide variety of questions I have gotten when I tell someone I am a Dog Trainer. I will tell someone I do basic obedience , Therapy dogs and Mobility Service Dogs. And right away I will get asked if I can do a Seizure Alert dog or a rabbit hound. Or perhaps the question will be health related such as "My dog sleeps a lot. Do you think he might have a heart condition"? The spectrum of "Dog Training" out there is enormous, from attack dogs to seeing eye dogs and everything in between. So it is important for you to find the right fit for you and your dogs needs. And while some of us may have some cross training and or cross knowledge, most of us are specialists, just like a Doctor or a Lawyer would be.