Set Yourself Up for Success

Dogs are a species uniquely qualified to work with people, but they are animals. As such, they deserve an approach that meets their physical and emotional needs.

Partnering with a trainer involves change, risk, and resistance. You may find how you think about dogs challenged when you start working with us, but the following suggestions are crucial to our partnership.

  • Dogs need daily exercise. Most dogs need more than a walk around the block, but walks do help further their socialization and enrichment. Explore other types of exercise: swimming, hiking, jogging, trotting beside a golf cart, and fetch. Daily walks should focus on training, bonding, and movement, with elimination happening at the beginning and/or end. Take sniff or play breaks, but do not allow your dog to pull you or direct where you will go.
  • You must not allow a dog to continue to practice behavior you don't like while you are developing a training solution to it. For example, if he jumps on people, we will tell you what to do to manage the bad behavior (jumping) while you are teaching him the new, good behavior (Sit/Stay or Go to Bed). If he chews the baseboards, he will need to be confined until no longer chewing or until he has mastered Leave It.
  • Dogs benefit from earning their food through obedience practice or interactive food toys. Daily exchanges of food for Sit, Down, Come, Stay, and Leave It will make your relationship entertaining and mutually beneficial.
  • Let your words be few. Dogs are better at reading our body language than processing language, so take care that your words are significant. Follow a distinct sequence in giving commands: "Dog Name, Command, Yes (reward)." Do not repeat commands. Only give them when your dog is oriented towards you and able to give you his attention.
  • Know what you will do if your dog does not comply with your request. Often, noncompliance originates with undertraining, so you will lure the behavior. If it results from distraction, change the environment or add distance between your dog and the stimulus so he can comply. Puppies and adolescent dogs benefit from your empathy and understanding -- most "stubbornness" results from undertraining and/or distractibility. Be patient.
  • Adapt your rewards to what your dog appreciates. Most dogs work for food, especially when they are hungry, but many also like toys, petting, and the opportunity to go outside.
  • Interrupt behavior you do not like so you may ask for behavior that is incompatible with it. Rather than wondering how to stop a behavior, think about what your dog might do instead.
  • Memorize the words your dog will learn: Sit, Down, Stay, Come, Leave It, Off, Ah Ah, No, Go to Bed. Practice the correct syntax for giving commands: "Dog Name, Command >>> Yes/Treat." Don't add extra words like second commands or "Good girl" or "Come on." Keep it simple.