What Makes Pawsitive Steps Different than other Training Facilities?
At Pawsitive Steps we have made a commitment to the dogs we train. That commitment is to help their people to communicate with them through positive non threatening training techniques.
At Pawsitive Steps we will never hurt, threaten or intimidate your dog into doing what we want. Animal training has come so far in the last 20 years with the use of positive reinforcement training through operant conditioning and basic learning theory. There is no longer any excuse for the use of pinch/prong collars, shock collars, choke chains, leash jerking or physical corrections of any kind in dog training.
Dogs have been punished unnecessarily for years because of the lack of understanding and education of the people doing the “training”. Yes these harsh methods will “appear” to work, torture has been used for many years to modify behavior, but it doesn’t make it right and most of the time it does not “change” behavior, it just “hides” the bad behavior. On top of all that, dogs do what dogs do, it doesn’t make them “bad” it just makes them dogs. Punishing them for being a dog with the threat of pain is archaic, inhumane and unnecessary and is something that will never be allowed at Pawsitive Steps. There ARE better ways to train your dog. Ways that are fun for both of you!
At Pawsitive Steps our instructors must complete an intense 2 year training program before they are able to instruct our public classes. Prior to that we expect our instructors to be training and competing in at least one canine sport with their own dogs for a minimum of 2 years. So our instructors have a minimum of 4 years of practical experience before they start training other people and their dogs. They are also expected to continue to update their education through seminars each year.
At Pawsitive Steps we feel that the “classroom” environment is the most important place for dogs to learn. In the classroom we will be able to see behaviours that we may not see in the privacy of the relaxed home environment. People want to be able to take their dogs out in public so they need to train their dog’s in public. However a classroom overflowing with dogs is not ideal either. We aim to keep our class sizes around 7 dogs maximum. This allows for some dynamics in the room but doesn’t overwhelm anyone, dogs, handlers or instructors. We also require the dogs to be comfortable in a kennel during class. This is for the safety and comfort of everyone. Dogs and people should never be worried about safety in a training environment. Therefore Crate Games are a big part of our training program.
Crate Games are our foundation training game and we start these with our own dogs at 8 weeks old. Crate Games teach 3 things. Self control and work ethic for the dogs and how to set and maintain training criteria for the handler. They are the foundation of all our future training and they create a dog who is comfortable in a kennel anywhere, well behaved, has a passion for learning and has self control in any situation.
Canine sport training is one of the best ways to develop a strong bond between you and your dog. Most dogs with behavior issues are just dogs who are bored or are not getting enough exercise. Getting into a training class once a week with your canine companion will help you with ways to exercise your dogs brain and body. Many of the exercises can be done at home with minimal space requirements. If you feel you want to progress with your training to higher levels we have a class for that too!
Our training program is not like any other program you will attend so a cross over from other training facilities is not usually very successful. If you have come from a force based ( pinch/choke collar training) or mostly lure based ( cookie in the hand and dog follows the cookie) training program you will need to start from the beginning of our program. All our training classes build on each other. Except for our very first level ( Family Manners) our Instructors are expecting you to come into our more advanced classes with certain skills so coming in from another training program will be frustrating for you and the instructor. Therefore we suggest you start at the beginning with our Foundation Class which is our Family Manners Class. All elite canine sport dogs should be first and foremost, a great family pet!
Dogs with fear aggression issues….Things you should know…
If you come to our classes with a dog that is showing aggression towards dogs or people the instructor may require you to have a Gentle Leader Head Halter on your dog to participate in the classes. This is not a suggestion with these dogs, it is a MUST. If you show up without your dog on a head halter you will be asked to leave the dog in the car and attend the class without the dog. This is a safety issue for the other participating dogs and people, the instructor and the fearful dog.
We have had many fearful dogs in our classes. Some are fearful of only dogs (it can be size, color, shape or breed specific) or of only people (sometimes it is all people or it may be men, men with hats, children, babies, etc). This is not uncommon and it is these dogs that need the most help and the earlier the better.
What we WILL NOT do is put choke chains or pinch collars on these dogs; we will not alpha roll or correct these dogs in a violent or aggressive manner. It has long been proven treating fear aggression WITH aggression or pain only makes things worse.
What we WILL do is make sure we have control of the dog’s head (that is why we REQUIRE the use of the head halter) and we will do everything possible to ensure the dog is HIGHLY rewarded for calm and appropriate choices around other dogs and/or people. We are not saying the dog cannot bite, growl, lunge, etc on a head halter. They can still do all of those things. What we want to do is have a safe and painless way to manage the dog when they are aroused. But to do this we MUST have control of the dog’s head.
So please if you have an issue like this, we are here to help both you and the dog learn to manage, and ultimately to change, this behavior. We will not sugar coat this, the longer the dog has practiced this behavior the less likely we are to change it totally. What we can do is give you some tools (your head halter can be used for the lifetime of the dog anytime he is on leash in a situation you are not sure of) and some skills to manage and predict this behavior.
The sooner we can get these dogs into class the better. And PLEASE…do NOT buy into the philosophy that you just have to “show the dog who is boss”. That kind of approach with a fearful and anxious dog only makes them MORE fearful and anxious and when a dog is in an anxiously aroused state of mind it can NOT learn. And when you are in an anxious and aroused state, you as a trainer will not be in a frame of mind to do a good job.
Training an animal means you are developing a line of communication that goes two ways, both to and from the dog. It requires a calm emotional state from the trainer, good timing, observational skills, and understanding of reinforcement. If you are upset or angry at the dog or trying to “dominate” the dog (we always say, “do not get into a dog fight with your dog…you will both lose”) you will not be in a good place to give and receive the information your dog needs.
So please, come to class and ask for help. We are happy to help these dog’s live a calmer, happier, well adjusted life with their families. And don’t think that we as Instructors don’t have dogs of our own with similar issues! We have, and we do! These are DOGS we are living with and these issues are not uncommon! You are not alone!
Owner/Head Trainer of Pawsitive Steps
For more information on training check out our Articles page. For a schedule of upcoming classes check out our Classes Schedule.
|From the Ground Up: Agility Foundation Training for Puppies and Beginner Dogs available from Dogwise|