In 2003, while volunteering for a no-kill animal shelter in Atlanta Georgia, I heard the term “positive reinforcement” for the first time. It was often followed by things like “bribery” and “won’t work with hard cases”.
Not long after I watched a documentary on Elephants. For as long as anyone can remember, elephants have been trained with something called a bull hook. If you don’t know what a bull hook is, it is something rather unpleasant, but had proven effective against the gentle giants. The documentary showed that using raw sugar cane was significantly more effective in coercing these beasts to do weird things like stand on their heads. When Mother Nature created elephants, I’m pretty sure she never intended for them to stand on their heads, but nonetheless they complied. And teaching them to do it through positive reinforcement resulted in a more rapid acceptance, and a stronger bond between the animal and the trainer. The same goes for dogs.
While growing up in the Southern United States, I saw a lot of dominance based training. In fact someone once told me, “if you want a dog to respect you, you must be hard on it”. So I was taught to use choke chains and prong collars, the “old school method,” but in the back of my mind, I knew there had to be a better way! And after watching that documentary, I pursued learning that better way…
I have been working with dogs for twenty years and I am member of the Canadian Association of Professional Dog Trainers. I firmly believe in positive reinforcement, and have successfully removed choke chains and other dominance based tools from the hands of my clients; showing them that once you and your dog learn to trust and respect one another, anything is possible.
I look forward to working with you and your pup!