- Am I the right trainer for you? Are you the right client for me?
In order to be successful at transforming your dogs behavior, it is important for you to be familiar with my philosophy and the training techniques I use. I make information readily available to all my clients (and non-clients) on my website and Facebook Page. I want you to be comfortable with my training tools and just as excited to train dogs as I am!
Here are some qualities in a client that I feel are absolutely necessary for success:
• If your dog has behavioral issues, I want you to recognize that there's a problem. You're not the problem, but there is a problem. Somethings you're doing and the environment your dog lives in are contributing to that problem. To see different results in your dog, you will have to make some changes in your lifestyle and relationship. I will help you see where and what those changes are! I am ready to do whatever it takes to help you and your family be successful , as long as I know that you are willing to make the same commitment to me and your dog in this journey! We are a team :)
• I need you to be 100% comfortable with my training techniques--I need you to trust me and be open to a balanced training approach. Yes, we will use praise and reward our dogs, but we will also correct bad behavior. We will be using tools, rewards, praise, and consistent information to help you have the most clear and steady communication with your dog.
• With dogs who have behavioral issues (especially aggression, anxiety, or fear issues), I ask clients to stop "over-praising" their dog. That doesn't mean you can never give praise, but I'm talking about OVER praising your dog--it's not helping! If giving your dog constant verbal, physical, and food praise and affection was working, you wouldn't be looking for help--and in fact, you may be encouraging the bad behaviors by doing so. There will be plenty of time for praise once your dog's behaviors are in a better place, but to help our dogs live peacefully in our lives we have to set some boundaries. You (and your dog!) will be very happy when we create an environment that can be shared with your dog in a controlled manner, where your dog behaves politely, predictably, and understands what is expected of him.
• I need you to follow up with 100% of my training program. I have a system and philosophy of training that works and I'm looking for people that are going to take my advice, techniques, and tools, apply them to their lives and get positive results. This is a teamwork effort!
• I'm looking for clients that are going to follow through with their homework. The concept that we're going to work together an hour per week or that sending your dog to a board and train will be all the training your dog needs, will not work. Your follow through at home is imperative to the success of your dog's training. Without follow through, you will be wasting your money and time--and will be dissapointed in the results because of the lack of effort.
• I need the whole family on board. This includes the other dogs in the home, as well. Dogs are influenced by everyone around them, so I need everybody to be on board with everything--my tools, my techniques, my philosophy, the exercise, and the household management program. We're not just training ONE dog--we are creating a new lifestyle for an ENTIRE family!
• I want to make sure that you're going to follow through with my household management program--this can be tricky for people. Your dog might have to get off of the bed and furniture. You may also have to start crating your dog at night. Your dog will need to be in a command for long periods of time, multiple times per day. There's a reason that I'm going to make these suggestions--I want your dog to be happy and fulfilled while cohabiting with your family. I want our messages to be consistent. It is counter productive to send mixed and confusing signals to your dog. I want your dog to give you predictable and consistent behaviors, and it only comes with practice and application of the training!
• Just like people, dogs need daily exercise. I need all of my clients to commit to a daily exercise routine. That doesn't mean just letting your dog in the back yard, but actually taking daily structured walks. Exercise and routine are key to the success of my training.
• I know there are a lot of "rules and regulations" listed above, but ultimately I want you to have FUN and be successful with your dog! To get your dog to an amazing place where you can do new things, have control in places you didn't before, and watch your canine delinquent become an exemplary canine citizen, it's going to take some work--a lot of elbow grease, a bit of tough love, consistency, loving by leading, FUN, and setting an example for your dog! Dogs can live for over 15 years, s you put in the hard work now, you can have an amazing dog for the rest of his life! The dog you have today does not have to be the dog you have tomorrow--you can improve your circumstances and change your world with your dog.
To me, dog training is not a series of commands rewarded by a treat. Dog training is a lifestyle, rewarded by inclusion in our lives. I want the whole family to benefit from our experience together--I want a successful and balanced pack of humans and dogs living peacefully and happy together. If you are willing to take this journey, we can make that happen!
- Should I book private lessons or a board and train?
The success of dog training and behavior modification is repetition, consistency, and application! Deciding if your dog would benefit from private lessons or a board and train comes down to two main factors: your dog's behavioral issues and/or the lifestyle and availability of your family.
Board and train programs are incredible for achieving outstanding obedience, behavior modification, and solid results with your dog in a short period of a few weeks. During your dog's stay I do a lot of the "heavy lifting" by working with your dog multiple times per day, teaching basic obedience, off-leash e-collar training, socialization with other dogs/people/animals, and in some cases behavior modification. Your dog is challenged daily around distractions (like other dogs, public places, and new people) which is a huge part of the "real world success" of this program. This is what I do for a living, and your dog's behavior, obedience, and improvement is top priority everyday! When your dog goes home, they will have their obedience training foundation and a new, calmer, tuned in, obedient, and more polite state of mind--as an owner, you just have to apply the training and follow through (they already know their stuff, you just keep up with it! I supply you with thorough after training protocols and am always available to you with any questions).
WHICH BOARD AN TRAIN SHOULD I CHOOSE?
- Our Two-Week Basic Obedience and Problem Solving Board and Train Program is for dogs who are not exhibiting any serious behavioral issues. Our typical 2 week board and train client is an adolescent dog (or older dogs who don't display any aggression/anxiety/OCD/fear issues) who pulls on the leash, jumps up on people, barks, chews on things, doesn't come when called, plays well with other dogs, counter surfs, is mouthy or pushy, chases the cat, plays rough with the kids, can't settle down easily, barks but doesn't act aggressively when people come over, and has a hard time focusing around distractions.
- Our Four-Week to Eight-Week Behavior Modification Program is designed for dogs of all ages who are displaying behaviors that are more serious such as aggression (growling at often or biting other people or animals), leash reactivity (severe barking and lunging at other dogs, people, cars, bicycles, etc when on a walk), intense fear, severe separation anxiety (constant crying, barking, crate escapes, soiling the house or crate, destruction), or Obsessive Compulsive Behavior. The reason these behaviors take more time is because a dog exhibiting such things has been practicing a learned behavior for a while and has an underlying level of stress/anxiety/genetics that have to be addressed and considered. Think of it like this - a radio channel with clear reception: a dog without behavior modification needs can cover remarkable ground in 2 weeks because their mind is clear, and my teaching and communication and come through without any interruption. Dog's with behavior modification needs are like the radio channels that are fuzzy because you are out of range - the static that is interrupting your ability to hear things, is like your dog's anxiety/stress/genetics/fear and it is clouding their their ability to learn/understand. As we progress, build relationship, new habits, and new associations, your dog's state of mind starts to improve and their ability to make better choices becomes clearer- just like as you drive in range of the radio channel :) The bottom line is that behavior modification takes more time because your dog is experiencing a level of stress that hinders their ability to learn and has been affecting their impulse control and poor choices. Learning new skills and acceptable behaviors is not just about them learning obedience, but actually developing new COPING skills for things that previously caused them stress. This way they can learn how to relax, make better choices, and give better behavior for you at home! This journey requires a lot of repetition, proofing, and exposure during their stay with me, as they continue to learn new ways to practice impulse control and change their associations with things that previous caused them stress. If you have any questions about which program is right for your dog, do not hesitate to contact me! The success of your family and your dog is what is most important!
Private Lesson programs are an opportunity for you and your dog to learn together at the same time! In a sense YOU are really the dog trainer (not me), because once a week we work together for an hour, but you become the teacher at home. After our lessons you become the dog trainer as you teach, proof, and apply the things we've covered with your dog during the week. The success of your dog's training lies in your ability to practice training, setting boundaries, and following the rules I give you multiple times daily. Ultimately you have the opportunity to have a dog with precision behaviors and obedience (close to what they would achieve in a board and train at my facility) in a matter of 4-8 weeks as long as you put in the work! The more time and challenges you dedicate to your dog's training, the better your results will be! Remember, it's your effort that makes or breaks your dog's success. Because many people work full time jobs, long hours, and have very busy lifestyles that don't lend themselves to dog training an hour or so per day, the Board and Train becomes a great (and highly recommended) option. That said, if you're willing to put in the work and have the time, private lessons may be right for you!
The most important thing is that we match you with the program that fits best for your dog and your family!
- Do you use food in your training?
My training system is reward based through inclusion in daily activities, gentle praise, and building a working relationship together. I will use food in the early stages of training with dogs as a great reward and motivator, but it is not what I want the training relationship based upon. Your dog should listen to you--treat or not! I want a dog to respond to its handler because it respects and understands what is being asked, not because it is being bribed by food. Take the Lead takes a balanced approach to dog training by creating CALM dogs with a relaxed state-of-mind. We do that through leadership, duration work, lots of repetition/practice, and calm-consistent commands/expectations. Often with strictly food-based training, when the snack isn't present, the dog doesn't listen. Our goal is for dogs to understand inside and out what the owner is asking of it, so that they can trust their dog to do what they are told–and the dog can trust their owner to be consistent in what they are saying. Can their hard work pay-off with a food reward? Absolutely!
- Why don't you teach the "look-at-me" or "stay" command?
Many trainers like to teach a command often called “look at me”, however in my training system we do not. This does not mean your dog will not look to you! On the contrary, because of guidance, consistent information, gained trust and respect through rewarding the good behavior and correcting the bad behavior, your dog will be looking to you because he is following instep to your Leadership!
“Stay” is another command we do not teach, but this does not mean your dog won’t STAY! The meaning of stay is introduced with any of our commands (sit, down, place). Instead of teaching an extra word, we teach our dogs that “sit” or “down” means to stay in that position until given another command. Our training is all about duration and the true meaning of the command, not tricks- we expect our dogs to be able to lay down for long periods of time if we need them too. Instead of dogs on edge waiting for us to release them from “stay”, they’ve learned they can plan on relaxing because “we could be here a while!”
- What tools do you use?
I find it is important to have a large "tool box" when it comes to training dogs, because there is no "one-size fits all" approach to dog training. Some tools that I use include: prong collars, slip leads, e-collars, the Pet Convincer (compressed air for interrupting behavior), treats, my dogs (and cat!), long-lines, bark collars, agility equipment, the treadmill, the pool, and toys/food motivators. The goal of this training is to achieve the result of a calm, relaxed, tuned-in, confident, happy, and obedient dog! Together we will use a variety of techniques and approaches to get there!
- Can you tell me about prong collars?
Yes! Prong collars are excellent tools of communication to our dogs. I use them because it allows you to use very little force to communicate to your dog on-leash, much less than many other training tools available. Most tools tend to only mask or manage the behavior, while the prong collar allows us to actually break through and effortlessly communicate, creating a vastly different state of mind and a highly responsive dog. It sits much higher on the neck, where you have more control of the dog, and there is no pressure on the dog’s trachea. Dogs of all situations can benefit from prong collar training–even nervous or fearful dogs, because the clarity of the communication is so gentle. They come in a variety of sizes and work for all dogs, 5lbs to over 200lbs! While prong collars tend to look horrible, when used correctly, they have been proven to be the least physically taxing, most humane, and one of the safest tools available to work with your dog and are valuable option to have in your dog training tool-box. To see me working dogs with prong collars, take a look at the Photos & Videos page.
Please check out this video of me introducing a dog to a prong collar. You will see how gentle and effective a properly used prong collar can be:
- Will the E-Collar shock my dog?
No. We are very fortunate to be in a day and of age of new technology. Modern e-collar training is nothing like it was in the past. We use top-of-the-line Educator remote collar systems that have over 100+ levels. This enables us to really fine tune our program so that each dog is using the lowest level possible for communication. Can this tool be misused? Of course. Any tool can be misused. However, our training system uses this tool in the most gentle and humane way possible. E-collar training opens up a new line of communication and trust with your dog. I have some videos of myself introducing a dog to the e-collar. You can view them on my Photos & Video page. Please enjoy these videos of dogs learning with the e-collar!
- My dog is fearful and nervous--I shouldn't use the E-Collar with him, right?
Actually, modern E-Collar training is the best training for dogs with these types of issues. Our E-Collar training system is designed to create more confident, relaxed, and comfortable dogs. Please watch these videos of me working with very nervous dogs on an E-Collar.
- Small dogs and puppies don't need e-collar training, right?
Because of the size difference between humans and small dogs (especially dogs under 10lbs), even the gentlest attempt at leash pressure during training can still be more than required with a small dog. E-collar training allows you to find just the right amount of unique, low-level, e-collar pressure needed to communicate with your dog, in a gentle, less physically taxing way. I see most small dogs actually perk up and enjoy training more when we start working with the e-collar! (Make sure to watch the video above with Chi Chi the (7lb) Chihuahua, who was very nervous and couldn't walk on a leash when she came to training! All improved with the e-collar!) Puppies as well can benefit from e-collar training! Once you have a solid obedience foundation, you can start to layer that with low-level e-collar work to create a reliable off-leash communication between you and your pup! I start puppies on e-collar training between 5-6 months of age, depending on the dog.
- What happens if I don't get the results I want from the training? Is there a guarantee?
Due to the many variables involved to create a well-behaved, balanced dog, including owner commitment, consistency, and follow-through, it would be unethical for us to offer a 100% guarantee. However, we only choose the most dedicated and diligent owners so, in our experience, no matter how severe the issues, we consistently see breakthrough results and amazing transformations. We have never come across a dog we could not help. We work hand in hand as a team in your dog’s rehabilitation. This process of teamwork and collaboration begins before we even meet your dog, moves through the training process, and continues long after your dog has gone home. Once you hire us, we consider you part of the Take The Lead family, and your success is our utmost priority.