Training Philosophy

“Power is of two kinds. One is obtained by the fear of punishment and the other by acts of love. Power based on love is a thousand times more effective and permanent then the one derived from fear of punishment.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Photo: Heads and Tails Photography

I believe the relationship and trust developed between trainer and animal is the key to effective and lasting results. I want every animal I work with to be excited and want to work with me, not fear the repercussions if they don’t. Through experience, over many years and with a variety of species, I have found investment in this relationship makes an animal more likely to choose the behaviours you find important.

Photo: Heads and Tails Photography

 My training is based on a simple concept: reward the behaviours you want. A behaviour that is rewarded is more likely to be repeated. To change behavior, we have to remove rewards (consciously or unconsciously bestowed) for unwanted behavior and focus instead on rewarding good behavior. Although being kinder in our approach is great in itself, it is not the only reason that this is an effective and time-tested training practice.

This simple approach allows the animal to become confident, engaged, and enthusiastic, as they expect the consequences to be pleasurable. In my experience, an engaged animal learns quickly using its own creativity and initiative. Through positive reinforcement you also strengthen your bond with the animal, due to shared positive experiences. All relationships in life are stronger when you take your focus away from the negative and look at the positive. When you align positive feedback with a clear and simple method of communication, the results can be astounding. This simple concept can be life changing. Couldn’t we all benefit from clear communication combined with continuous praise and encouragement?

 I agree with and support the positions taken against punishment- and dominance-based training by the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB), and endorse the AVSAB approach to puppy socialization. Please see the following link for more information on this organization and its policies.