I am a dog trainer. This sounds like such a simple statement but it doesn’t come without many years of work and a variety of experiences. As a trainer of dogs I have found that certain principles are universal. When I started training the general consensus was to plop a choke chain on the dog, when it didn’t listen, Wham, give a jerk on the collar and the dog will listen. As I have progressed I have found that this technique is not the best way to get a happy healthy relationship with your Canine Companion.
Dogs learn best by using a set of behavioral methods called operant conditioning. Basically, this means that if you provide a stimulus and get a response, you can mold this response by rewarding the right response and ignoring the incorrect response. This reward can be a treat, a happy voice or even a bit of play time. Being consistent with your rewards and providing rewards only when the correct behavior occurs you can cause the bad responses to extinguish and the good responses to occur more frequently.
I have been training with Companion Dog Obedience and Services for about 6 years. This company provides puppy training classes, Intermediate and Advanced obedience training, Rally Obedience training and Therapy Dog classes, we also provide training for the AKC puppy STAR program and CGC. The main instructor, Glenna Godown, has worked as the puppy coordinator for the now defunct Upstate Guide Dogs, she has bred and raised Corgis and has shown her own Corgis in the Show ring. Many of her dogs have titles. Her daughter is also a trainer of note. Her daughter makes a fair living at handling dogs for shows. She shows mostly Burnese Mountain Dogs. We also provide Dog sitting services and have a limited boarding capability. All dogs are boarded in our own homes and get personalized attention. Training is available to boarded dogs although we prefer to train the owners as well as the dogs.
One of my Labs is undergoing training (with me) to become an air scenting Search and Rescue K9. She can be a bit of a challenge from the obedience perspective but she seems to be progressing quite nicely. We have a solid indication and her nose is amazing. Soon she should be starting to take her on team tests. With each one, she is closer to the goal of becoming a full fledged Air Scent K9.
We use clicker training as one of the tools in our basket of tricks to train the Search Dogs. It seems to be a good way to identify, for the dog, the moment when the right thing was done. It is a positive reinforcement and it’s amazing how well it works when the light comes on in the dog’s brain.