A Balanced Approach
We 100% believe in a balanced training approach. This means that we use a lot of positive reinforcement to teach new behaviours but use corrections in the right time or place or when the need arises to ensure behaviours are solid and last.
We believe in Positive First and try and teach or train everything with positive reinforcement first, especially when learning new skills in obedience. However, as with children, dogs need boundaries and consequences and can't just run the show however they please that's often how they got their behaviour problem in the first place.
We do not believe in 'Fear Free' training because a healthy dose of fear is important for any living animal to have to survive. Fear isn’t bad. Misplaced fear is.
If we weren't afraid to cross the road without looking we would end up dead. It is however important that fear isn't misplaced.
A dog that is afraid of you in the house for getting up out of a sit or afraid of certain objects because he's been punished with it, is NOT what balanced training is about or what I mean with 'fear'.
For the dog to know that there is a consequence for jumping on the table that they might be apprehensive of is in incredibly important. Because what if the dog eats a bowl full of grapes? Or a block of chocolate? This can kill him.
If there has never been a consequence that made the dog pause and reconsider, there is always the chance they will give it a go to see what happens.
Can you train that with Positive Reinforcement only? Up to a degree. But you are looking at a much longer timespan and still the risk of your dog doing it when you're not in the room to reward good choices. And sometimes we just don’t have the time to teach a dog a skill in 6 months, which can be achieved in 2 weeks.
It is important that corrections are used properly. We never use physical corrections. Hitting or kicking a dog has NOTHING to do with dog training and we very much disapprove of it.
It's important to find the right correction for the dog and this is what makes dog training so interesting.
For example one dog reacts very well to a leash correction but another dog doesn’t care. We now have to find a DIFFERENTmethod to correct the dog. If a correction doesn’t work there is no use doing it harder or for longer periods of time.
Here is an example:
If your dog rushes the door every time there is someone at the door and you shout at him to stop and he doesn’t listen, shouting harder or longer probably isn’t going to make any difference. That that correction is useless to the dog that doesn’t care for shouting.
So we have to look at different options. Maybe your dog isn't a fan of a mop. So next time he runs to the door instead of shouting at him we show him the mop and come closer to him with the mop. Your dog backs up from the door to avoid the mop (which again, you're only showing! You're not using this on your dog). Once the dog backs up and makes the right choice that's when we reward with treats for making the right choices (and moving the mop away). Soon your dog learns: when I rush the door = the thing I don’t like happens. When I leave the door alone = I get treats.
We have to find the right correction for the dog. Once you have found the correct one, we shouldn’t need more than 3 or so reps for the picture to be clear.
It's important to find the right correction for the dog and that’s why our training is always customised to your dog.
Here is some of the corrections we could use: leash pop, withholding something they want, verbal corrections, using body pressure, squirt bottle with water, rattle tin (to make a noise). We predominantly use slipleads for training.
I generally do not use ecollars or prongs. Wishes to use these tools will mean an extensive evaluation of your skills and understanding of the tool to ensure its use is warranted, ethical and properly applied.
If you're interested in training we are located in Stanmore Bay on the Hibiscus Coast in New Zealand. We service surrounding suburbs such as Silverdale, Orewa, Whangaparaoa, the North Shore and Rodney district council including Kaukapakapa, Warkworth and Snells Beach.