How Long Have You Trained Dogs?
For over 12 years! I started training at PetSmart in 2008, and stayed there until late 2011. I then founded Monterey K9 and began training privately in early 2012 and I have been doing it ever since! I love training dogs (and people)... I can’t see myself doing anything else other than this.
Are You Certified?
I have 6 certifications to my name, as well as a member to a few professional training organiations. I also attend several workshops and seminars throughout the year.
Here are the certifications I have achieved over my career:
IAACB Certification - (International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants)
CBCC-KA - (Certified Behavior Consultant Canine-Knowledge Assessed)
CPDT-KA (Certified Professional Dog Trainer - Knowledge Assessed)
CTDI (Certified Trick Dog Instructor)
AKC-CGC Evaluator (American Kennel Club - Canine Good Citizen Evaluator)
PetSmart Accredited Dog Trainer
He is also a member of these professional dog training organizations:
APDT (Association of Professional Dog Trainers)
NADOI (National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors)
Additionally, I am fully insured through the Business Insurers of the Carolinas.
Why Use Treats As Your
Main Method Of Training?
Treats serve as a great communication tool with our dogs. If you look at any dogs face you'll see their nose first, then their eyes, then ears. While focusing on most tasks, dogs will smell, look, then listen. When training, we want to utilize that, and take advantage of it. Using treats, we can capture their attention, lure a dog into a position we want to teach, then label it with a word later. Essentially, treats help you shape the behavior you want from your dog, and bridges the gap of communication between you and your dog. Establishing behaviors this way is fun, and an effective way to train anything for both us and our dogs!
You can also think of it this way. Treats can also be seen the same way we look at a paycheck. Even if you have a job you love, and have a great boss, chances are if you stop getting a paycheck, you're going to stop showing up for work. Dog treats are your dog's paycheck. When learning new behaviors, you want to keep giving your dog their paycheck for achieving desired results!
Will I Need To Use Treats Forever?
No. However, during the learning process of any new behavior (or ones that are becoming inconsistent), it’s an extremely good communication tool and easy to achieve desired behavior through use of Positive Reinforcement. After the learning process, you want to start slowly fading the treats away from a specific behavior until they do not need them anymore for that specific cue.
Think of it like potty training a child. When he or she is first learning to use the bathroom on their own, you probably would have verbally praised the child, or maybe even given them something good (like a piece of candy) for doing it, right? That's an adult thing to do, but it's also a form of positive reinforcement! Fast forward 10 years when they’re a teenager. Would you still praise him for going to the bathroom on their own? Of course not. That's ridiculous. It’s the same way with dogs. Once your dog has mastered the lay down command for example, you’re not going to give him a treat every time they do so. That's also ridiculous. So, no, you will not need to use treats forever. In the end, your dog will be able to perform the commands you ask without the expectation of a treat.
What Is Positive Reinforcement?
Positive Reinforcement is one of the four quadrants of Operant Conditioning. Positive Reinforcement literally means "to add a stimulus to increase a behavior." Using Positive Reinforcement is actually a very scientific based learning technique and is an incredibly effective learning tool to use. In brief, an example of this is to give a dog a treat as soon as your dog sits for you. The treat acts as a stimulus that you are adding, and since you gave it to your dog, he’ll sit more often, which will increase the behavior. Doing this will successfully teach your dog how to sit very quickly.
Are All Positive Reinforcement Techniques Good?
Short answer, surprisingly, no. Think about the definition of Positive Reinforcement in this example… Your dog jumps on you, and you push him off using your hands. Even if you tell your dog “no” or “off” you probably don’t see much progress in training your dog not to jump. Why? What exactly did you do? You have Positively Reinforced jumping. Here’s how.
Everyone knows dogs like to be touched and petted. By pushing your dog off of you, you have essentially touched your dog (adding a stimulus, which in this case he sees as a positive thing) thereby “reinforcing” jumping! Just as you taught your dog how to sit using Positive Reinforcement, you’ve also taught your dog how to jump using the same technique! The only difference is the reinforcer (treats vs touch).
This may be just as confusing as it is difficult to train your dog, and it's exactly why you need a dog trainer. This is just one of many examples dog owners regularly do that unknowingly cause unintentional behavioral problems. Knowledge and consistency are essential in combating behavioral issues. No matter how big or small the problem may be, I’m here to educate and train you to solve any issues you may be facing. Please contact me if you need help with any issue!
What Are Your Training Methods? What are your Philosophy's?
I feel like I am a pretty unique individual when it comes to dog training. I believe very strongly in positive reinforcement techniques, as I almost always use treats and am a huge fan of clicker training, especially when it comes to teaching tricks. For almost all instances of helping a client with general obedience, recall issues, problems on leash with pulling, and other general issues you will see me using treats, clickers, and praise. However, I do consider myself what you call a "Balanced" Dog Trainer for some issues.
There are many "Pure Positive" dog trainers out there, and while I feel they can be effective at times, in certain instances these types of philosophy's can be problematic for some situations. Pure Positive trainers will almost never say no to a dog, nor use any adverse techniques whatsoever. For example, jumping dogs. A technique to stop jumping is to turn your back to the dog, give them no attention until they stop, then reward them when they calm down. But what if the client is an elderly individual on blood thinners with weak skin and their dog is drawing blood with nails when they jump? Or what if the family Labrador is jumping on small children and knocking them over? Turning your back and waiting just isn't an option - you're going to get hurt. Using your knee and/or to correct a jumping dog (which is a "no-no" for pure positive trainers as is) works for able-bodied adults, but small children aren't strong enough for a 100 pound Shepherd. Also, an elderly person may not physically be able to balance, or perform that technique without fear of falling over and/or being pushed down by even a medium sized dog.
I hear all the time from other trainers "Oh, he's just a puppy. He's still young, I'm sure they'll just grow out of it when he's older." That isn't always true, and that recommendation makes it so the clients will have to deal with being jumped on for a long time, and the recommended solutions just aren't going to solve anything. So, what do you do in these instances? This is where my stances of "Balanced" training comes in. In those situations, if treats and redirection are not working, and problems are still happening, I may suggest remote vibration collars or even low level stimulus collars to stop jumping almost immediately. Safety of your family, friends, strangers, or even other dogs come into play as a final resort if more positive approaches are not working.
That example just covers jumping. What about barking? What if if your landlord is threatening to evict you if the dog doesn't stop barking, or the police has given you warnings about the noise? What if your dog is extremely reactive or even aggressive to people and/or dogs? What if you need solutions NOW, and can't afford to wait months or even years for your dog to "grow out of it?"
Most importantly though, the reason I am a balanced trainer is because of aspect of potentially saving lives. Far too often a dog nips a person, is too destructive in the house, is a little reactive on walks, or is just too challenging for the owner, and that dog may end up in a shelter. If that dog goes to a shelter, he/she may be deemed unadoptable. And if that's the case, that dog may be subject to euthanasia. If there's a bite history, even by means of a crazy accident, it's almost an automatic euthanasia for most cases. 9/10 times, this last case scenario of E-collar training to desensitize him/her to stimulus and/or stop simple problematic behaviors are lifesaving techniques. It's something I will always recommend to someone to save a life, and I will always stand by in order to solve key problems that more traditional methods cannot solve if needed.