Our Training Philosophy & Style...
Quite often I am asked what my "Training Philosophy" is. So I thought it would be helpful to have a bit of insight on this topic as there are lots of terms out there that make this a little confusing.
We don't prescribe to just one theory of training... we've created our own blended approach from lots of experience and education to bring the best things of different types of training to you... We like to say we are...
"Humane - Holistic - Relationship Based"
Do you want a dog that just listens?
Or, do you want a dog that BEHAVES?
This is a VERY important distinction that I find owners almost never think about. You want a do that listens to you. But, do you Always want to be having to tell your dog what to do? Because that's what regular obedience focused training gets you. A dog who "listens" when you give them commands, but otherwise checks out and doesn't know how to actually behave. Which means unless you're standing over them telling them what to do like a drill sergeant, they're doing things you don't like. Which makes you frustrated, and makes you think you have a "bad" dog. You get frustrated with training classes and training which simply perpetuate the cycle of "my dog is great in class" but outside class or practice time? Forget it.
What if I told you, there's a way to train your dog that
actually transfers over into your REAL LIFE and not just "training time."
This means a dog that BEHAVES AND LISTENS?
There is, and you're going to find it here with us!
Why We're Different
Dogs Just Wanna Have Fun & Dogs Think Work Is Fun
Dogs Just Wanna Work
We Train by harnessing this VITAL INSTINCT in your dog,
and teach them how to control it.
Notice how I said there we teach your dog to control their instincts? That's NOT how most trainers train. Most trainers use your input to constantly control your dog. But what happens when you aren't standing over your dog and telling them what to do? Do they know how to behave? Have you ever taught them your expectations for when you're not giving them specific instructions? I bet not!
It's a mind blowing thought, I know.
Think about how when you raise a child, you TEACH them right from wrong,
Then you hope that they practice right from wrong when you're not around to tell them.
This is what allows us to give our kids the freedom to not need supervision and input right?
So, why exactly aren't we doing the same thing for our dogs? Most trainers only work on the concept of you constantly telling your dog what to do. This means you always have to be there to tell them. And if you get distracted or busy? Well it's a gamble as to whether your dog is going to behave in a way you want or not.
Training is Interacting
Every Single Interaction You Have With Your Dog
IS A TRAINING MOMENT.
This is happening whether you acknowledge it or not,
Whether you pay attention or not,
Whether you want it to or not.
So the reality is that every interaction either:
works for you - moves you closer to the behavior you want from your dog
or works against you - does nothing, or gets you further away from the dog you want.
What this means? There's no such time as "training only" time. There's no half an hour set aside to run obedience drills that gives you a better behaved dog when you aren't telling them what to do.
Training is 24/7/365
For Your Dog's Life.
We show you how to take advantage of every single interaction with your dog to move your dog closer to the behaviors you want from them. And we show you how to do it in a way that incorporates it into your already hectic daily life. And in a way that makes your dog responsible for their own behavior once we teach them what we expect and want.
We Teach and Build On Default Behaviors
We first focus on teaching your dog WHAT WE WANT THEM TO DO IF YOU AREN'T GIVING THEM A SPECIAL TASK.
Think about when you go to work.
Let's say you're a mechanic.
The car is the same no matter what shop you take the car to, it's the same car.
But the expectations or ways of doing things at one auto body shop are different.
So as a mechanic, when you start a new job, you have an "initial training period" where the specific expectations of that shop are taught and explained to you. This is where your boss is hovering over you making sure you know how to do things the way they want.
But, after your initial training period? Your boss doesn't hover over your shoulder for every e-mail you send or phone call you return. Because they know you know what's expected and how to get it done.
Your boss may call you in for a special assignment, or specific things they need done that day. But, if they don't have anything specific, they let you go about your normal work day knowing you know what's expected of you right?
We do the same thing with our kids.
Why exactly don't we do the same thing with our dogs?
So our initial training, is creating "default behaviors". Your dog learns what's expected of them when you aren't telling them what to do (i.e. giving them special projects).
Because once you have a dog that knows how to behave, you have a dog you can live, not worry about making bad choices when you aren't watching, AND a dog you can play with and enjoy!
After the default behaviors are established, then we go into the fun cues and commands.
Because yes we want a dog that listens when you ask them to do something, but we want a dog we don't need to constantly watch unless we want them to do something specific.
Thirdly, we go into harnessing your dogs Drive and Energy using default behaviors AND special cues to make your bond and their ability to respond in highly distracting situations.... well REAL.
It's About Communicating With Your Dog
My dog training is Relationship Based all the way... but what does this really mean?
Instead of working against your dogs instincts, desires, and energy, we show you how to hone those things to work for you. Which means you get REAL LIFE RESULTS.
Because any other kind of training relies on your input all the time for your dog to know what to do.
Force based training ONLY WORKS as long as the fear of what you're going to do to your dog outweighs their desire to do something.
Obedience training only works if you have a chance to tell your dog what to do before they notice it. Well, what if they notice it first?
Have you ever heard the saying, "if you have a dog's nose, you have the dog"?
Well I've come to find that "if you have a dog's brain, you have the dog".
We practice teaching your dog how to make "GOOD CHOICES" on their own!
Without your input. We make them responsible K9s!
We work WITH YOUR DOG and THEIR BRAIN not by using Force, Fear, or Intimidation.
It's About Communicating With Your Dog
My dog training is Relationship Based all the way... but what does this really mean? Well, at the end of the day you are only going to always have two things to work with your dog: Your Voice and Your Body. This means that you should be able to work with your dog and get him or her to do what you want using ONLY these two things. If you need anything else to get your dog to listen to you (after proper training) you run the risk of not having those items on you when you NEED something for your dog (i.e. treats when they run out the door, a leash, a clicker, a whistle... the list goes on). Yes we do utilize many of these items while training your dog, but the goal at the end of the day is for your dog to listen to just your voice and your body.
P.S. when I say "your body" I don't mean putting your hands on the dog in any way with force, I mean hand signals and body posture.
This means that when we train, our main focus is on YOUR RELATIONSHIP with your dog and how he/she responds to you (and your family). Cues, behaviors, and fancy tricks mean nothing if your dog doesn't want to listen to you. So lots of what we focus on in training is Relationship Building while we work on behaviors.
Humane Techniques Only
Ok, so you've probably heard all about this "latest-greatest" concept of Positive Only Trainers. And what I have to say is that's not me. I am not a Positive Only Trainer. Before you go having a heart attack after reading that, give me a chance to explain... When you truly learn about "Positive and Negative" dog training styles, you learn that those terms in science are like they are in math. They mean adding or subtracting, NOT good or bad.
So a Positive Only Trainer, is someone who can ADD things to a situation to make your dog do something or NOT do something again. This means ... a positive only trainer can technically physically correct your dog and still be considered positive only... think about that for a second. People keep getting wrapped up in "Positive Only" because they think it "sounds like someone will be nice to their dog." When technically it's a marketing gimmick that actually lets them use force on your dog and still be considered "positive".
Our methods at K9 Manners Matter are FORCE FREE.
Anyone can use Physical Force and make a dog do something.
Forcing a dog into a response isn't teaching your dog anything.
Forcing a dog into something doesn't get you respect from your dog, it makes them afraid of you.
DOGS DON'T RESPECT FORCE, THEY FEAR IT.
Now Force Free said, that doesn't mean "soft" training. Doesn't mean for even a second that if I ask my dog to do something they aren't expected to do it. It does mean however that I don't need to put my hands forcibly on your dog to make it happen.
#1 - If you wouldn't put it on a toddler, don't put it on a dog.
This means you will not find me using: choke chains, prong collars, electronic collars, or any method of any kind that inflicts pain or fear... it's just not going to happen.
And for those who want to argue that these items are "humane" I will gladly have that discussion with you.
We believe that animal behavior, like humans, is not all "behavior based". A dog's behavior depends on so many factors: nutrition, supplements, environment, exercise, health, social activities, their relationships, and much more. So in order for us to truly get to the root of your pup's behavior, we can't just "train" a dog to do something and ignore the rest of it... We have to cover ALL those bases in order for your pup to have what he/she really needs. This means when you work with us we're going to cover
Health: A dog that doesn't feel it's best won't act or perform his/her best and we
will work with your Veterinarian if we need to.
Nutrition: Nutrition is the base line to all of health and behavior. No, I'm not exaggerating even a little bit! This is your most vital component to your dog's life! Think of it like gasoline for your car to run. If you put in water or vegetable oil instead of gasoline, you're car isn't even going to run. If you put in the super cheap stuff versus the premium stuff, your car is going to run differently. The same is true for you and your dog! So we want to make sure your dog's nutrition is stabilized (without breaking your bank account) so that your dog can perform at his or her best!
Exercise: A tired dog is a good dog. This may be an old adage, but it's one of the few "old school" concepts I can say is really true. Exercise is imperative for your dog's health and behavior! Exercise helps them burn off their "extra energy" which a lot of the time is causing common behavior problems that you don't like.
We could keep going, but I think you're getting the idea that training isn't just about teaching your dog a behavior.