There has been a new challenge going around called the World Dog Trainers' Motivation Transparency Challenge that is based on Jean Donaldson's three questions that you should ask any trainer that you are considering having work with your dog... and of course, you.
While I personally have not been 'challenged', I feel that these questions are important and ones that I'd like to answer now.
1) WHAT HAPPENS IF MY DOG GETS IT RIGHT? If your dog gets it right, I am going to MARK IT, either using a clicker, a noise like a click with the mouth, or a word - such as Yip!, then I am going to REINFORCE your dog by giving him something he likes. Usually that will be a food reward. I use a lot of food in my training because it's fast and easy, and dogs love to eat good food. Sometimes the reinforcement will be play, such as a quick game of tug or throwing of the ball, and other times it will be something the dog wants to do in the environment. In other words, if they want to go sniff a certain spot, or chase a squirrel, they will either be off of the leash and released to go do it or we will do it together if they have to stay on the lead. And yes, I have run to "sniff" with my dogs.
2) WHAT HAPPENS IF MY DOG GETS IT WRONG? In a nutshell, nothing. I will take a brief pause then give your dog something to do that he can do correctly, no matter how simple, and get reinforced for. If I am having to many incorrect responses, I will stop training and go back over what it is we are trying to teach your dog, and figure what needs to be changed to make your dog successful. Generally that will mean breaking it down into smaller steps and/or changing the learning environment. However sometimes, and for whatever reason, it's just something that your dog cannot or will not do. Your dog has the right to say "No"
3) IS THERE A LESS INVASIVE WAY OF DOING WHAT YOU DO? Not as far as I know. I promise to do my best to have everything set up so that your dog is having fun and is happy to be learning. There is never a reason to say "No" or "Uh-uh" "Tzz" to your dog, to yell, intimidate, poke with hand or foot, do a leash correction (jerk the leash), use a choke, prong, or shock collar. Nothing is important enough to warrant those actions. And I mean Nothing.
So when you are looking for a dog trainer, please remember these three simple questions. If you do not get the answers you are looking for, keep looking. There are a lot of wonderful positive trainers out there.
Small and tall Dog Training
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