Dog Training Philosophy
Lindsey’s Dog Training Philosophy combines multiple techniques and focuses on a positive learning process through Praise-Based Reward system. Her results-based approach is tailored and personalized to each individual dog she works with, taking into consideration the dog’s pre-existing behavior patterns, personality & temperament, and motivations. Once the dog understands a command, distractions are introduced gradually and increased to challenge the dog and strengthen the understanding of the command. Corrections are introduced when necessary to proof obedience. Training sessions are kept short to keep training a positive experience with minimal stress, and to reduce wasted time and overwhelming the dog. Consistency is absolutely essential to maximize the speed and quality of the learning, and to minimize confusion.
The reward comes from the handler. The dog associates the touch of the handlers hands as a positive experience, which helps to build a bond between dog and handler. No extra training tools (food, toy, clicker, etc.) are necessary for praise-based rewards. You may not always have a toy, food or clicker at the ready when your dog does something incredible. However, rewards must be administered very quickly to ensure the dog associates the reward with the behavior. Praise-based reward allows you to respond quickly. With praise-based reward the handler easily controls the value of the reward as well. For example, simple verbal “good” can be used to reinforce a stay command without the dog breaking position. After the release command is given, the handler can then use high-energy praise as a high-value reward for a job well-done.
Corrections are a necessary part of proofing obedience work, and it is extremely important that they are applied properly. Corrections can be verbal (a harsh “no”) or physical (a leash pop). Corrections should NEVER be administered with hands. The handler must NEVER hit, kick, or otherwise abuse the dog. Corrections should be as soft as possible, but as firm as necessary. Over-correcting can shut a dog down and end up being counter-productive. However, corrections that are too soft can be confusing, ineffective, and also counter-productive. One solid correction is better than any amount of ineffective corrections. Only apply a correction if you are 100% sure the dog understands what he/she should be doing. As with rewards, timing is also an essential factor for corrections which ensures that they are properly associated with the behavior.
Keeping Sessions Short
The average dog has a very short attention span. Shorter sessions means dog remains focused on the handler for the entire session. During this window, the dog learns more, performs better, and receives more rewards, all of which creates a very positive experience for the dog and handler. This way the dog will want to continue more training work later. Once the dog loses focus, he/she is more likely to make mistakes and be disobedient, which may lead to confusion or corrections. This may create a negative training experience, which means the dog will need more time to recover and have less desire to return to work. Attempting to do training work with an unfocused dog is not productive, so recognizing signs of stress and loss of focus - as well as letting the dog rest when he/she needs - is critical to success in the training process.
The handler must always be consistent, always rewarding good behavior and always correcting when necessary. The handler must follow through with commands; if a command is issued that the handler is 100% sure the dog understands, the handler must persist until the command has been executed. The importance of consistency cannot be stressed enough and is fundamental to reliability, performance, and training success.