I am a dog trainer.  This sounds like such a simple statement but it doesn’t come without many years of work and a variety of experiences.  As a trainer of dogs I have found that certain principles are universal.  When I started training the general consensus was to plop a choke chain on the dog, when it didn’t listen, Wham, give a jerk on the collar and the dog will listen.  As I have progressed I have found that this technique is not the best way to get a happy healthy relationship with your Canine Companion.

Dogs learn best by using a set of behavioral methods called operant conditioning.  Basically this means that if you provide a stimulus and get a response, you can mold this response by rewarding the right response and ignoring the incorrect response.  This reward can be a treat, a happy voice or even a bit of play time.  Being consistent with your rewards and providing rewards only when the correct behavior occurs you can cause the bad responses to extinguish and the good responses to occur more frequently.

I have been training with Companion Dog Obedience and Services for about 6 years.  This company provides puppy training classes, Intermediate and Advanced obedience training, Rally Obedience training and Therapy Dog classes, we also provide training for the AKC puppy STAR program and CGC.  The main instructor, Glenna Godown, has worked as the puppy coordinator for the now defunct Upstate Guide Dogs, she has bred and raised Corgis and has shown her own Corgis in the Show ring.  Many of her dogs have titles.  Her daughter is also a trainer of note.  Her daughter makes a fair living at handling dogs for shows.  She shows mostly Burnese Mountain Dogs.  We also provide Dog sitting services and have a limited boarding capability.  All dogs are boarded in our own homes and get personalized attention.  Training is available to boarded dogs although we prefer to train the owners as well as the dogs.

One of my Labs is undergoing training (with me) to become an air scenting Search and Rescue K9.  She can be a bit of a challenge from the obedience perspective but she seems to be progressing quite nicely.  We have a solid indication and her nose is amazing. Soon she should be starting to take her on team tests.  With each one she is closer to the goal of becoming a full fledged Air Scent K9.

We use clicker training as one of the tools in our basket of tricks to train the Search Dogs. It seems to be a good way to identify, for the dog, the moment when the right thing was done. It is a positive reinforcement and its amazing how well it works when the light comes on in the dog’s brain.



Home Page — 14 Comments

  1. I just got a english bulldog puppy for xmas and he is the cutest thing I have ever seen, but I am worried that once he gets bigger he will start ripping up the furniture. Thanks for the tips and insights I will be following your dog training advice.

  2. Yes, Craig, THIS is my concept of a traditional blog! I also learned something else about blogs just now — write a few sentences in the comment section, leave the page to go read something else, and then when you get back, your original sentences will be GONE! Live and learn. I won’t make that mistake again. But if I do, I DESERVE to have my text taken away! I’ve always wondered about a certain aspect of dog training: they used to tell us to rub the dog’s nose in the ‘doo when they made a deposit in an inappropriate place. Seemed rather barbaric to me. I’m just glad that didn’t do that to ME when I was a baby. So, were my previous ‘doo training methods inappropriate? How do you train a young dog to, you know, do the ‘doo? 🙂 Bill

  3. Hi Craig, I am so happy to find a page like this. I hope I am not late for training, my puppy is a golden lab mix and she is 4 months old. The responsability really lies on my son to train her and he is kind of soft with her. Although she is actually very well behaved, I was fearing she would be destroying everything in the garden, she might need more authority for some things. One problem we have is that there is somewhat of a living fence, between some wire and plants, sorry I don´t have the words in english, that has some spaces where she can get out and I don´t know how to train her to not go outside. Plus now I can´t invest to seal it. She seems to be learning but I want something very effective so that I don´t worry someone may steal her.

    • The most effective way to keep her in is to teach her where the boundaries are. Each day when you go outside. Walk her around the edge of the allowed property. Keep an eye on her and when she looks like she might test the property limit tell her firmly. Ah, Ah, Ah. Then call her to you and give her a great reward.

      The most important thing you can do with a young puppy is to make sure that the recall or Come command is well set in her mind. Always, have a great greeting for her when she comes to you. Even if you have been playing catch me if you can. When she finally comes to you. Touch that collar and treat her.


      • Thanks Craig, that´s great advice and easy to implement. Now what kind of treats should I give her? Maybe give me some brands as well as types since I don´t know which suggestions I´ll be able to find here in Mexico.

          • Here is my page where I talk about starting clicker training. There is a picture of a clicker. When I was growing up these were available at the arcades and amusement parks. They were called Crickets. It is essentially a plastic or metal tab that when pushed makes a clicking noise. Once when you push and once when you let go..click,click. The sound is used to mark a good behavior so that the dog knows exactly when they did something right.


        • I take hot dogs, cut them lengthwise into strips and microwave them until they have the consistency of jerky (time varies but around 5 minutes usually does the trick). They should be dried out but still moist in the middle. These are very attractive to the dogs, you can break off small pieces (pea sized) to feed the dog. You are not feeding but rewarding. My labs will also work for bits of Kibble but the hot dogs have a higher reward value.

          The longer treats can be held in your hand, if you make a fist with the treat sticking out by the little finger, the pup can get a nibble and by opening one finger at a time can reach a bit more, then a bit more with each finger lift. This also allows you to treat the dog easily by your left leg where you will want her to walk at heal. I will do a post on this so that you will understand treating and rewarding for behaviors.

          • Wow! What a great niche’! Reading this reminds me of my Brother’s family…They are big on labs and other type big dogs. They would love this..

  4. When I was in my teens, very long ago, we (my family) became the owners by gift from good friends of a grown Chesapeake Bay retriever. We came to love this dog with his great disposition. Although we lived on Gibson Island which is on the Chesapeake Bay about six miles north of Annapolis at the junction of the bay and the the Magothy River, we did not use the dog to hunt. He came by his breeding to do things like retrieving naturally. An instance of this was his picking up of a baby rabbit from a nearby woods one day when we were working in the yard and bringing it to me unharmed and placing it on the ground at my feet.

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