When I originally started this blog, it was meant to be a way for me to document the way I was feeding my pets while also helping other people who were looking for ways to improve their pets diet and well-being. Since my last post, which was a long time ago, I embarked on a journey to not only help people keep their pets healthy by feeding them a good diet but also helping to improve their overall health by learning a different approach to training and behavior modification.
When I decided I wanted to get my certification as a professional dog trainer I searched around the internet a lot and found a lot of different schools. There is no real governing body that oversees the industry so anyone can call themselves a “professional dog trainer” but there are a lot of schools out there willing to sell you a certification. I reached out to people in my dog loving community (which was WAY smaller at that time than it is now) and told them what I wanted to do and asked their opinions. During my research I came across the Karen Pryor Academy. I read a little bit about their philosophies and programs. What really stood out for me in this school was their “no aversives” approach to training, meaning no choke, pinch or shock collars. No corrections. This was exactly the kind of training I was looking for, these were MY people.
I really want to post more about my journey going through the Karen Pryor Academy because it is, and continues to be, so exciting for me but there’s just so much to write!
So to begin with I want to explain why I am so averse to aversives: When Chile was about three years old (she’s now twelve) I decided to take her to a “professional” dog trainer to help me make her stop doing things that I didn’t want her doing (barking at the doorbell, pulling on her walks, barking at other dogs, etc). The first thing this trainer did was take off Chile’s body harness and put a choke collar on her. I was about 23 years old at that time and my only excuse is, I did not know any better. I had paid for 5 sessions with this trainer but after the second session decided I didn’t like her methods (popping/choking Chile every time she didn’t obey a command and giving her praise and treats when she did) so I stopped going. We did, however, keep the choke collar on Chile while we walked her even after we stopped the lessons. In our minds it was helping us to have more “control” over her while we were outside. Long story a little shorter; pulling on the choke collar resulted in Chile getting a herniated disc in her neck. Chile was in indescribable pain for days, even on medication, before we finally got her in for surgery to fix the disc. Any disc/back problem is always a risk with a dachshund, but one that was the result of equipment I chose to put on her was pretty much the most horrible feeling in the world. Needless to say, Chile has never been walked on anything other than a body harness since then and I have been an advocate of only using positive reinforcement training, although nine years ago I didn’t really know what that meant.
Again, the bottom line is, I just did not know any better when I started using the choke collar as a tool for training and there are so many people out there who are in the same boat. I thought I was doing what was best for my dog by taking her to this professional trainer and followed what she told me to do. I was seeing improvements in the behaviors I wanted to change so I continued to use the tool, even though I stopped seeing the trainer. There was no one around at that time to tell me there were other ways that I could teach the behaviors I wanted while building a stronger relationship with my dog at the same time. So now I love telling anyone who will listen, there is another way! A way that makes your dog an active learner in the process and gets you both to the training goal you want to achieve in a fun and positive way!
I plan to post a lot more about the things I’ve learned but for an overview of the methods and philosophies you can checkout: http://www.clickertraining.com/
And my very own training website!: http://www.doggyeinsteinstraining.com/