What is behavior modification therapy?
Behavior modification simply means changing or modifying behavior. Most commonly, the term "behavior modification" is used to describe the identification and alteration of complex or serious behavior problems.
Why do I need to train my dog?
Training for all dogs is essential. Dogs, like children, have to be taught how to live and behave in our society. It would be unfair and even cruel to "ask" or "expect" dogs to fit in without teaching them how to do so. Dogs are inherently pack oriented and thrive in a well-defined social hierarchy. They need to learn their place in the human pack and are usually very willing to do so when properly trained by a calm and confident leader.
Obedience training your dog insures effective communication between animal and human, instills confidence, and provides purpose. Your dog will learn good manners and impulse control by earning resources such as food, toys, and affection. Obedience training is an essential element when creating and maintaining structure, and it teaches the dog that it is not the leader. Over 95% of all behavior issues can be prevented or solved through proper obedience and owner education. Training provides a way to praise your dog rather than having to constantly correct and scold it. This is how your dog will learn to trust and respect you. The bottom line is that training will help create a happy, stable, dog that is well-mannered and a pleasure to be around.
Why do dog owners need education?
Dog owners mean well. We love to spoil our canine friends. Unfortunately, we sabotage them unintentionally. People often mistakenly apply human psychology and emotions to their dogs. This is when the trouble begins. Most people will say, "I don't understand why my dog is so bad because I provide everything a dog could want or need!" Owners don't realize that their behaviors are the cause of their dog's unwanted behaviors. Consequently, they also don't realize that their behaviors can eliminate unwanted behaviors in their dogs. By understanding the correct way to fulfill your dog's needs, you unlock his or her true personality which gives you the relationship you really desire.
When is the best time to train my dog?
The sooner the better! Conscientious breeders begin training their pups as early as 5-6 weeks, so that by the time they are placed in homes, they already have a good foundation for future learning. Crate training so that the puppy learns to sleep through the night would be one example of this. Your puppy begins learning the moment he or she enters your house. So, make sure your pup learns the right things from day one.
The common belief used to be that training should be delayed until approximately six months of age. This is because dog training used to be (and with some trainers still is) a forceful and punishing experience. Even though a dog can and should be trained at six months, training must begin much earlier. A six month old dog has generally already had time to acquire a multitude of bad behaviors and habits. Most puppies go home between 8 and 10 weeks old. You may be surprised at how much a puppy can learn at this age. At this age, a puppy is fully able to learn and assimilate information and generally responds very quickly and eagerly to a training program. 
Is my dog too old to train?
That depends. You can teach your old dog new tricks unless it has a physical condition that will prevent it from performing. Your old dog may also have to “unlearn” a few undesirable behaviors first. Older dogs can learn just as quickly as, and in some cases, faster than younger dogs. Even the most stubborn mature dogs can be conditioned to “learn new tricks.”
Do you train aggressive dogs?
Yes. More accurately, I instruct owners of aggressive dogs on how to train their own dogs. There are numerous types of aggression so a determination of what type(s) of aggression your dog is displaying will be necessary. If a dog has a history of attacks where the dog has bitten someone or caused injury, a muzzle will likely be required.
Do you train dogs with separation anxiety?
Yes, absolutely. Separation anxiety can be the result of many contributing factors. Typically, the dog simply lacks confidence. With time and determination this condition is treatable and reversible.
Do you train rescue and shelter dogs?
Adopted dogs are wonderful! These dogs are grateful for the opportunity to be terrific companions, and even if they have been abused or neglected in the past, rehabilitating them is almost always possible.
Why should I train my dog at home?
You should train your dog at home because training cannot be limited to structured training sessions alone. Depending on the training exercise and motivators, your dog's attention span will last between 5 and 20 minutes. The maximum formal training time that you will achieve in one day is likely to be only 1-2 hours. That is not a lot of time in the grand scheme of things. Also, a dog that understands basic commands, but has no comprehension of good manners is going to be an awkward companion. If you train your dog at home, you bond with your dog in its environment. You can catch your dog being good and offer rewards and praise as they occur; thus shaping the behaviors that you observe and desire to have repeated.
Do you offer group classes?
No. Canine Behavior Consulting only offers private, in-home training.
What is socialization and why is it important?
Introducing your puppy to other puppies is crucial to its mental development. Puppies need to be exposed to all kinds of people with a variety of attributes - different genders, sizes, shapes, ages, etc. This will reduce the likelihood that your puppy will fear or mistrust strangers. Puppies must also mix and mingle with as many different types of dogs and other animals (including cats) as possible. Cats are very good at teaching puppies to respect them. If a puppy can be taught to respect cats while it's still young, it will be less likely to chase and harass them as a dog.
You also want to expose and "desensitize" your pup to everything that is a part of your world and daily routine. Examples include: vacuum cleaners, lawn mowers, leaf blowers, stairs, plants, water, toys, and just about anything that moves, smells, feels different, or makes noise. The more pleasant experiences your puppy has, the less skittish it will be later. NEVER force a scary situation on any pup. This will backfire and only result in fear and anxiety disorders.
Early socialization is absolutely essential, especially during the all-important 8 to 16 weeks of life. The prime window of opportunity for puppy socialization ends somewhere between the 13th and 16th week after birth. Failure to properly socialize during this time will result in the pup being less likely to form strong attachments to people and may cause it to be timid or even aggressive later in life. Canine Behavior Consulting recommends that a puppy stay with the dam and littermates until at least eight weeks of age since the interaction with littermates helps prepare a puppy for meeting other dogs and also teaches it bite inhibition which prevents overzealous biting and/or nipping. Also, puppies should be kept in an environment where they are able to see people and are handled regularly. Socialization will help to ensure a stable and friendly dog.
Do you use choke chains or training chain prong collars?
No. Choke chains and prong collars are compulsory training tools designed to deliver discomfort to a dog so that it will comply with commands to avoid the delivery of further discomfort. This type of training uses force and intimidation to encourage compliance rather than the more powerful positive training methods that encourage a dog to comply because it is pleasurable and fun to please its owner.
What method of training do you use?
At Canine Behavior Consulting we use positive reinforcement training, meaning that we consistently reward the desirable behaviors we want from our dogs while also managing or ignoring (when possible) the undesirable behaviors.
What is positive reinforcement training?
Positive reinforcement emphasizes the rewarding of desirable behaviors. It is based on the principles of operant conditioning, in which consequences guide behavior. Simply stated, this is motivational training in a positive sense. A trainer uses motivation to encourage desirable behaviors. Unwanted or undesirable behaviors are either redirected into desired behaviors or they are ignored. With repetition, rewarded behaviors prevail and unrewarded behaviors are extinguished. The unrewarded and ignored behaviors eventually become extinct. We have to be careful about which behaviors we reward and which ones we ignore because we can unintentionally teach bad behaviors. (Example: your puppy whines in its crate and you go over, open the door, and let him out). Your puppy is acting on the environment (you) and is being reinforced for doing so because you let him out. Your puppy quickly learns that "Whining gets me out; therefore I will whine more often." The next thing you know, you have a puppy that will not settle down and be quiet in its crate. Trainers utilize this same principle; we reinforce or reward the animal for desirable behaviors, and ignore or remove something of value for undesirable behaviors.
The principles of classical conditioning are also commonly used and combined with operant conditioning in positive reinforcement training. Most dogs know the sound of a potato chip bag and they will magically appear licking their chops and salivating when they hear that sound. They weren't born knowing that potato chip bags contain yummy, salty, crunchy food, but they learn quickly to associate the sound of the bag with food. Trainers use this stimulus-response relationship to elicit and shape desirable behaviors. For instance, if a dog offers a desired behavior, the trainer can immediately communicate his or her approval by way of a secondary or conditioned reinforcer, (a once neutral stimulus such as a clicker that has come to have a positive association for the animal due to the fact that it is paired with a primary or unconditioned reward such as a food treat). This conditioned reinforcer can take many forms: a whistle, a click, a word, or any number of indicators. With dogs, the conditioned reinforcer is commonly referred to as a marker. The marker, such as a click, or the word "good!" or "yes!" is a time gap bridge between a desired behavior and the delivery of the food treat that indicates "good things are coming." Reward examples include: treats, affection, praise, play, attention, or a favorite toy.
Positive reinforcement techniques were originally developed for use (with great success) in training marine mammals and even horses. These same basic techniques are now being used extensively in dog training and have taken obedience training to a whole new level. The use of pain, punishment, and harsh corrections is quickly becoming a thing of the past. When used correctly, positive reinforcement methods are extremely effective and result in a happy, confident dog rather than a dog that hangs his head in submission and crawls timidly towards you with his tail between his legs. The training methods you use can make all the difference!
Why is it not okay to punish my dog after the fact?
Dogs live in the moment; therefore a dog does not connect a prior act to subsequent punishment. For example, your dog chews and destroys your shoe, but you do not see it happen. You are upset and you call your dog to you to receive punishment for its prior misdeed. If your dog comes to you and you punish it, you have now punished the dog for coming to you. At least that's how the dog perceives it. It doesn't understand that it is being punished for something it did two or more minutes ago. To make matters worse, it is highly likely, even probable, that it will develop a negative association with the recall cue so that coming to you is the last thing it wants to do. Repeat this scenario enough times and your dog might even begin to fear you!
Similarly, if your dog leaves a "present" for you on your bedroom floor and you discover it after the fact. And then you stick your dog's nose in it while saying "NO, bad dog"! Your dog will learn to fear and mistrust you. It will not make the connection between your current feelings of anger and frustration, and its previous accident. If the dog looks guilty it is because it understands that you are upset. Dogs are terrific at reading our faces and moods, including our body language and tone of voice. A dog's guilty look is not an indication that it understands what it is being punished for. You must catch your dog in the act of eliminating and immediately take the dog outside or to the inside designated "potty" spot. Very often, dogs that are punished for eliminating in the house begin to fear the act of eliminating, especially in front of the owner which can cause them to do their business secretly. 
Is a crate really necessary?
No, but one could be quite useful for various reasons. A crate is an enclosed, portable kennel that is used to contain a dog and can be used as a dog den (a nice, secure place). Crates are handy when traveling and are especially helpful when housebreaking a dog. A crate should be barely spacious enough to allow the dog to stretch out and lie down. You do not want the crate so large that the dog has excess room in which to roam (or eliminate). It is uncharacteristic of dogs to eliminate where they lie. A crate also prevents the dog from eliminating in the wrong areas (e.g. in the house) until it can be taken to a proper spot outside.
Crate training is only one aspect of housebreaking. Puppies need to eliminate shortly after eating and/or drinking, so regulating their food and water is helpful. Do not leave the food bowl down for puppies. Feed at set times and allow no more than 10-15 minutes in which to eat and drink. Within a few minutes of playing, eating, drinking, and just about any other activity, puppies need to be taken outside and escorted to "the spot" where they can have the opportunity to relieve themselves. Additionally, puppies should not be kept in a crate for longer than 2-3 hours during the day (4-5 hours is optimum for grown dogs - 8 hours maximum). Puppies need to be given several opportunities to exercise/play and relieve themselves before retiring to the crate. A puppy that is left in its crate past the point of its ability to "hold it" is being set-up by you to fail or have difficulties with housebreaking. It could even elicit a behavior known as coprophagia where the dog consumes its own feces.
The crate should be a comfortable and secure "den" for your puppy. Consider throwing a few treats or a chew toy in for your canine pal from time to time. Articles of clothing that you have worn will offer additional security. Slow classical music, the television, or a sound machine can be helpful in keeping your puppy calm as well. Be careful not to isolate your puppy from the rest of the family or "pack" by keeping it in a distant room away from the center of activity. It is preferable to have the pup included and in the same general vicinity as its human pack whenever possible.
A crate is a very useful behavior management tool. It makes puppy-raising much easier by keeping your pup safely contained when you can't directly supervise it. Puppies are typically housetrained in a surprisingly short time with the use of a crate, and the crate offers you peace of mind knowing that your dog isn't peeing and pooping all over the house, or chewing on electric cords and family heirlooms when you're not there to watch it.
Are electronic (non-visible) fences good to use?
I am not a huge fan of electronic shock fences. I have had to test them on myself for clients and it is a very unpleasant experience. Realistically, electronic (non-visible) fences are a necessity for some who are either not allowed to enclose their property due to HOA covenants and/or government restrictions, or they cannot afford to fence in multiple acres. A dog that is correctly and carefully trained on a high quality and properly calibrated system should not have to endure multiple shocks to learn the boundaries of its property.
Regrettably, there are too many electronic fence horror stories that have occurred because proper care and training were not instituted by dog owners causing their dogs to suffer permanent physical and/or psychological damage. Proper installation, training and supervision must accompany any electronic fence system. 
Do you train therapy dogs?
No. Canine Behavior Consulting is not currently an Associate Member of TDI (Therapy Dogs International) and does not have a TDI evaluator on staff. For more information refer to the TDI website at www.tdi-dog.org.
Do you train K-9 service dogs?
Canine Behavior Consulting trains only pet dogs. Training services not offered by Canine Behavior Consulting include the training of: Bomb Dogs, Drug Dogs, Mine Dogs, Dual Purpose Patrol & Narcotics Dogs, and Dual Purpose Patrol & Explosives Dogs.
How do you charge for your services?
Prices for services vary depending upon the estimated number of visits required, the number of dogs being trained, and the distance from Canine Behavior Consulting to your home. Once a phone consultation has taken place and a client information form has been received, a proper estimate of the number of required visits and the total cost of services can be discussed prior to scheduling the first appointment. Clients are not asked to make a decision about whether to pay full price for individual sessions or pay-in-full for a discounted package until the conclusion of the first visit.
Contact us today with any other questions regarding dog training that you may have. We can help.
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