- What dog training equipment do you use when training a dog or do you recommend I use? Force-free professional Dog Trainers Newport Beach will recommend using equipment that has been designed with a dog’s safety in mind. While collars are great for holding ID tags, they can do damage to a dog’s neck and throat if the dog is walking with pressure on the leash (i.e. pulling). We recommend using a properly fitted front- or back-clipping harness to lessen the chances of damage to the dog’s neck and to keep him comfortable as he learns to walk on a leash nicely without pulling. We also suggest a 6′-8′ flat leash rather than a retractable leash. These give the handler much more control and help avoid injury. If a dog is prone to slipping out of a harness then we suggest double-clipping the leash to a collar as well as to the harness. This is an additional security measure.
A force-free training professional will never recommend the use of equipment that is designed to cause pain or discomfort or restrict a dog’s breathing. This includes pinch/prong collars, choke/check chains, spray collars and electric/shock collars. These collars are unsafe for the dog wearing them. Both the collars and the pain they elicit may become associated with people and places in the dogs environment, a pairing that can cause a potentially dangerous behavior
- What happens in your training program when the dog responds in the way you want him to? Fabulous things happen to the dog when he gets it right. Fun, toys, food… Whatever the dog wants suddenly appears. A force-free trainer will say the dog gets “positively reinforced” when he does the right thing. This means the dog “gets paid” and receives something he deems of high value. Positive reinforcement should be delivered by and paired with a happy, stress-free trainer or pet owner.
- What happens in your training program when the dog responds in the way you do not want him to? We believe that “bad” behavior should be ignored or redirected. If we teach our dog alternative behaviors then we can ask him to perform one of those instead of what we perceive to be inappropriate behavior. This helps the dog learn what to do and makes us feel better about our dogs. For example, when our dog jumps up on us we can either get angry with him or we can ask him to sit (which we will have previously taught him) and then reward him with our attention or a treat. It will not take long for the dog to realize that it is better to sit than to jump. This puts the onus back on us to teach our dogs the things we DO want them to do so that we can feel good about the dog and his behavior, rather than just get angry because he is not doing the right thing.
- How will you punish the dog or advise me to punish the dog if he gets something wrong or exhibits a behavior I do not like. Very simply, we ensure we are teaching the dog age appropriate skills and always make sure we are not expecting too much too soon. We constantly ensure we are motivating the dog correctly. If the dog has been trained and the skill is appropriate for his age but he still gets it wrong, we very briefly remove something he wants – such as treats, toys or attention – and then try again.
- How do you ensure that my dog is not inadvertently being punished? In a force-free training environment it would be reflected in the dog’s demeanor and performance if he were being inadvertently punished. A professional force-free trainer is well-versed in canine communication and will immediately be aware of any signs that a dog is uncomfortable. A professional trainer will regroup and reassess what they are doing to create the most empowering learning environment.
- How can you determine if the reinforcement you choose to train your dog is appropriate? You can have a professional trainer who is not forceful help you decide what reinforcement to give your dog. This will be based on his preferences, motivations and how reinforcement is best delivered in a training setting. A professional trainer who is not a force-free will help you understand the differences between reinforcements and when they should be used.
- How do you determine if your dog is stressed? Professional trainers will not use force to make sure your dog is happy during training sessions. Canine communication is a skill that professional trainers have mastered. Although dogs who whine, growl, snarl, or snap are clearly stressed, there are subtle signs that can also be present. We can identify signs of stress by looking at the dog’s body language.
These signs may include:
- The whites of your eyes can look like crescent moons in whale eye.
- Eyes should be wide and open, rather than round and soft. It is possible for pupils to be dilate.
- Furrowed eyebrow.
- The mouth is closed, and the corners (commissures), are pulled forward to form an offensive pucker.
- It is not a good idea to wear pants when it is too hot. Also, you might see sweaty paw prints.
- Ears can be set very far forward or flat against the head.
- Legs may be stiff and roll forward on the toes.
- The tail can be held high (or low) or tucked. The wag is short, stiff and does not include the rear end.
- To raise the head high, you can extend your neck (ostrich neck).
- The trainer or object of training is in front of the head.
- Do some body shaking.
- Paw lifts.
- Lip licking and tongue flicks
- You can randomly sniff the ground (not following a scent trail).
- Run away and refuse to answer the phone when asked.
8. What professional dog training organizations are you a part of? Only select professional dog trainers should be members of organizations that promote humane and ethical training methods that are gentle on animals. They should not be allowed to or willingly endorse any methods or training styles that use force, intimidation, punishment, fear, or force.
9. Can you guarantee your training results? Professional dog trainers who are not force-free will not be able to guarantee the training results. There are many variables that can be controlled by a professional dog trainer. Your professional dog trainer will work with you to achieve the best behavior change that meets your goals. Your commitment to the program and your compliance will all play a role in how successful you are.
10. What should you do if your dog starts snapping at other dogs or growling? A trained dog trainer can assess whether your dog is acting out in a fearful or aggressive manner. A program of desensitization (respondent learning), can be used if your dog acts out aggressively or is fearful. This program is designed to alter the dog’s emotional reaction to stressful stimuli, thereby reducing his likelihood of reverting to these behaviors in the future. Your dog will learn how to use positive reinforcement, also known as operant learning. Your dog’s specific circumstances may require you to take safety precautions or consult a veterinarian in order to address any medical concerns.