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Commonly Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you use food treats?

Silver Valley 210When a dog is learning a brand new skill, food treats are usually the paycheque of choice.  It keeps your dog motivated to try hard and learn fast.  Once he understands what is wanted of him, food treats can be very quickly replaced by verbal praise, petting, etc.

Aren’t food treats a bribe?

The way I use treats in training, they are not used at all as a bribe.  They are used as a paycheque, and a way to facilitate and accelerate learning.

Do you use choke collars, shock collars, jerking on the leash, or other methods that are painful and/or frightening for my dog?

No.  My methods always keep the dogs wellbeing in mind.  I want your dog to learn that he can always trust you.  This simply cannot be accomplished using painful or frightening methods.

These methods are too easily misused, and can very quickly ADD to fear and aggression issues rather than solve them.  What most people arent aware of is that these methods (especially leash jerking) are also used to increase aggression in dogs to train them to fight in sport dog fighting.  They are best avoided.

Besides, I would never want these methods used on me, so I dont use them on dogs.

Is there any breed or behavior issue that you will not work with?

My motto is pitbulls, poodles, pinschers, and pugs.  I work with all breeds and will never turn a dog away based on breed.

If presented with a behavioral issue that I am unfamiliar with, I will consult with other trainers and veterinarians, or refer you to a trainer experienced with that particular issue, depending on your preference.  However, in the huge majority of dogs, this will not be the case.

How long will this take?

Every dog is different, just like we are all different, and they each learn at their own pace.  However, as a general rule, the more time you’re able to put in each week, the more progress you’ll see.  We will set goals together at the initial assessment, and work together to reach those goals.  Exactly how long that will take will depend on you and your dog as individuals.

Is working with you going to be like what I see on TV?

No.  TV is meant to be dramatic, or no one would want to watch it.  This often means getting into a face-off with the dog.  Also, thanks to the miracle of editing, changes appear to be very quick and sometimes almost instantaneous.  This is required so that issues can be resolved by the end of the episode.  In real life, change does take time.  It took more than a week for your dog to reach this point, and it will take more than a week to resolve your struggles.  Also, the face-off is never a good idea, and simply isnt how I work.  I work to keep everyone as calm as possible, and in the best possible mental state for learning.

Why is it so important to have a dog that walks politely on leash?

When your dog is polite and responsive on a leash, you enjoy many benefits directly such as a more relaxing and enjoyable walk, and a dog that does not require a leash (or other equipment) to be within your control. However, there are also many indirect benefits such as having a dog that will walk calmly past other people and dogs, children, strollers, skateboards, cats, etc.  Your arm and your dogs neck will thank you, and your stress level will drop dramatically!

My dog bit me. Is he trying to dominate me?

This one is really important to me.  All aggressive dogs seem to get painted with the dominant brush these days, when most often that simply isnt whats going on.

Dogs show dominance in a lot of ways, most of which dont lead to aggression.  And aggression happens for a lot of reasons, most of which have nothing to do with dominance.

A dog jumping on you, sneaking onto the furniture, or begging for your food MAY be showing dominance, but more often than not hes just being naughty.  If something has worked in the past, he will probably try it a few more times.  If its worked a few times, hell continue trying until it neverworks anymore.  Thats not dominance, thats just smart!

When it comes to growling or biting, it can be the same thing.  Your dog may have bitten you or someone else in the past, which inadvertently resulted in a reward.  Either the annoying person (often a child) went away, or someone fussed over him and gave him attention, or someone simply dropped their cheeseburger in fright and your dog found that deliciously worthwhile.  Again, this is simply repeating an action that has worked in the past, which in the animal world is smart even if it isnt polite.

On the other hand, your dog has a fight-or-flight survival response to being stressed.  If he is scared, in pain, annoyed, frustrated, or confused and he cant get away, he will bite as a natural instinctive response.  Thats not dominance either, its survival.

Some aggression definitely IS dominance related, but as these examples show, you need to look closely at why your dog is biting to determine the real cause.  Its very often fear, or simply bad behavior.  A good trainer who is experienced with these issues can help you determine the cause.

Do I have to book a minimum number of appointments?

No. Every dog and owner team learn at their own speed, and some issues take longer to resolve than others. Since some issues can be resolved in only one or two appointments, I don’t believe it’s useful to you to require a minimum number. We will continue booking appointments until you are happy with the results!

Bo July09bIf you have more questions you’d like to see answered, email them to:

and check back often!  I will post answers to other FAQ as I receive them.