Modern Day Dog Training, LLC

Tacoma's Force-Free Dog Training

Modern Day Dog Training, LLC in Tacoma, WA is an all breed positive reinforcement dog training service. Offering excellent Bully Breed classes for all Pit Bull type dogs.

10 QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE HIRING A DOG TRAINER

1. What dog training equipment do you use when

training a dog or do you recommend I use?

A force-free professional trainer will recommend using

equipment that has been designed with a dog's safety in mind.

While collars are great for holding ID tags, they can do damage

to a dog's neck and throat if the dog is walking with pressure

on the leash (i.e. pulling). We recommend using a properly

fitted front- or back-clipping harness to lessen the chances of

damage to the dog's neck and to keep him comfortable as he

learns to walk on a leash nicely without pulling. We also

suggest a 6'-8' flat leash rather than a retractable leash. These

give the handler much more control and help avoid injury. If a

dog is prone to slipping out of a harness then we suggest

double-clipping the leash to a martingale collar as well as to the

harness. This is an additional security measure.

A force-free training professional will never recommend the use of

equipment that is designed to cause pain or discomfort or restrict a

dog’s breathing. This includes pinch/prong collars, choke/check

chains, spray collars and electric/shock collars. These collars are

unsafe for the dog wearing them. Both the collars and the pain they

elicit may become associated with people and places in the dogs

environment, a pairing that can cause a potentially dangerous

behavior

2. What happens in your training program when the

dog responds in the way you want him to?

Fabulous things happen to the dog when he gets it right. Fun,

toys, food… Whatever the dog wants suddenly appears. A

force-free trainer will say the dog gets “positively reinforced”

when he does the right thing. This means the dog “gets paid”

and receives something he deems of high value. Positive

reinforcement should be delivered by and paired with a happy,

stress-free trainer or pet owner.

3. What happens in your training program when the

dog responds in the way you do not want him to?

We believe that "bad" behavior should be ignored or

redirected. If we teach our dog alternative behaviors then we

can ask him to perform one of those instead of what we

perceive to be inappropriate behavior. This helps the dog learn

what to do and makes us feel better about our dogs. For

example, when our dog jumps up on us we can either get

angry with him or we can ask him to sit (which we will have

previously taught him) and then reward him with our attention

or a treat. It will not take long for the dog to realize that it is

better to sit than to jump. This puts the onus back on us to

teach our dogs the things we DO want them to do so that we

can feel good about the dog and his behavior, rather than just

get angry because he is not doing the right thing.

4. How will you punish the dog or advise me to

punish the dog if he gets something wrong or

exhibits a behavior I do not like?

Very simply, we ensure we are teaching the dog ageappropriate

skills and always make sure we are not expecting

too much too soon. We constantly ensure we are motivating

the dog correctly. If the dog has been trained and the skill is

appropriate for his age but he still gets it wrong, we will break the behavior down into smaller pieces to help the dog understand better what we are asking it to do. We do not punish the dog, we ignore the behavior that we do not like and this tells the dog to try again.

5. How do you ensure that my dog is not

inadvertently being punished?

In a force-free training environment it would be reflected in

the dog’s demeanor and performance if he were being

inadvertently punished. A professional force-free trainer is

well-versed in canine communication and will immediately be

aware of any signs that a dog is uncomfortable. A professional

trainer will regroup and reassess what they are doing to create

the most empowering learning environment.

“If you think it’s expensive

to hire a professional to do

the job, wait until you hire

an amateur” Red Adair

6. How do you know that the type of reinforcement

you have selected to train my dog is appropriate?

A force-free professional trainer will help you determine what

is the most suitable reinforcement for your dog based on

what he likes, what best motivates him and how the

reinforcement can best be delivered within a training

environment.

Your professional force-free trainer will educate you on the

different types of reinforcement and when to use them.

7. How will you know or how will I know if my dog is

stressed during the training?

A professional force-free dog trainer will do everything he/she

can to ensure your dog is not stressed during training

sessions. Professional trainers are educated and experienced

in interpreting canine communication. Dogs who are whining,

growling, snarling or snapping are obviously stressed but

there are also more subtle signs of stress that we also need to

be on the lookout for. To do this, we watch for signs via the

dog’s body language.

Some of these signs of stress may be:

1. Whale eye – the whites of the eyes look like crescent

moons.

2. Eyes – wide open and round rather than soft and almond

shaped. Pupils may be dilated.

3. Furrowed brow.

4. Mouth is closed and the corners of the mouth

(commissures) are either pulled forward into an offensive

pucker or pulled back and down.

5. Panting when the temperature does not warrant it.

Additionally, sweaty paw prints may be seen.

6. Ears set flat back against the head or very far forward.

7. Legs are stiff, possibly rolling forward up on toes.

8. Tail may be held high or low (possibly tucked). The wag is

short and stiff and does not involve the entire rear end.

9. Neck may be extended to raise the head up high (ostrich

neck).

10. Head turns away from trainer or training object.

11. Body shaking.

12. Paw lifts.

13. Lip licking or tongue flicks.

14. Sniffing the ground randomly (not on a scent trail).

15. Running away and refusing to come when called.

8. Which professional dog training associations are you

a member of?

Your professional force-free dog trainer should maintain

memberships only with select organizations that advocate

humane, ethical training methods that are minimally aversive

to animals. They should not or will not participate in any

organization that promotes or endorses methods or training

styles that use punishment, force, fear or intimidation.

9. Will you guarantee your training results?

A professional force-free dog trainer will not guarantee their

training results. There are too many variables involved and a

professional dog trainer cannot control these. Instead, your

professional dog trainer will work in tandem with you to

effect the most appropriate behavior change in line with your

goals. The results will be dependent on many things, including

your level of commitment and compliance to the

recommended program.

10. How do you think a dog’s behavior should be

addressed if the dog is growling or snapping at

people or other dogs?

An experienced force-free dog trainer will assess whether

your dog is just overly aroused or has a genuine fear or

aggression issue as the two can look similar. If your dog is

anxious or fearful, exhibiting avoidance or acting out in an

aggressive manner, then a program of desensitization and

counter-conditioning (respondent learning) can be used. This

type of program aims to change the dog’s emotional response

to stimuli that previously upset him, thus reducing the

probability of him feeling the need to resort to those

behaviors in the future.

Using positive reinforcement (also known as operant

learning), your dog will also be taught behaviors he can have

recourse to in place of the unwanted behaviors. Depending on

your dog's individual circumstances, your trainer may ask you

to take certain safety measures or consult with a veterinarian

to rule out or address any relevant medical issues.

The Pet Professional Guild has given permission for active Guild Members to use this educational piece in their businesses