You Asked

You Asked

Why hire a trainer?
Hiring a dog trainer can help set you and your dog up for a long and successful relationship. It is much easier to prevent a behavior than to fix it after it has been established. Even if you feel you can train a dog yourself, it helps to have someone guide you and further your knowledge about the newest and most effective dog training techniques. Even experienced dog trainers often go to classes or seek assistance from other knowledgeable trainers when training their own new dogs. Someone else’s informed perspective, extra set of eyes, and coaching are always helpful.

kids and dogsIf you are a new parent, expecting your first child, or already share your home with children and dogs, you may also benefit from a trainer’s assistance. As licensed representatives of the Family Paws (Dogs & Storks®, Dog & Baby Connection™ program, we can assist you with safe and practical solutions to help keep dogs and kids safe in homes together. If you are expecting a child and wondering how to introduce your baby and your dog to each other, are concerned that your dog may not have had any experience with children, or perhaps you were given conflicting advice (put the baby on the floor with the dog; never let the dog near the baby) – we can help.

What should I ask a trainer?
We recommend that you interview trainers.
Ask about the methods, tools, and equipment they use and the evidence upon which their use is based.
Expect clear answers.

A few other questions to ask and consider:

  • If I make a mistake with my dog, how will you give me feedback regarding my handling skills?
  • How will you let ME know I’m doing the right thing or what to change if I’m not?
  • How will I know we’re making progress?

A dog-friendly and human-friendly trainer builds upon both your dog’s strengths and your strengths while suggesting and implementing humane methods for effective change.

Your dog needs positive feedback – and so do you.

What training methods does Dependable Dogs® use?
Our training is based on reinforcing desired behaviors without the use of methods that the dog finds aversive. We give the dog information about what we want him to do without hurting him, scaring him, or otherwise running the risk of affecting his ability to trust and work with us. No one likes a teacher, boss, or spouse ready to pounce on every misdeed. Your dog doesn’t like it either.

We use methods that emphasize progressive and positive reinforcement as recommended by veterinarians, behaviorists, and other experts. We specialize in clearly identifying realistic goals, steps to achieve these goals, and methods to problem solve so owners can clearly communicate with and measure progress with their dogs. While positive methods are sometimes criticized as “taking longer,” the training tends to “stick” better. Training is about teaching. It’s about showing your dog what he needs to learn to be a member of your household and human society. Your dog needs structure and guidance – your job is to provide it in an effective and compassionate way.

In the training process, you’ll have fun while learning a lot more about your dog and how to communicate most effectively as you move forward.

Do I have to use food to train my dog?
You don’t have to use any particular tool to train your dog. Food is popular because it is one of the most powerful motivators in animal training. Training with positive reinforcement allows your dog to relax and learn and also strengthens its bond with you. We help you learn how to fade treats and how to get more desirable behaviors with fewer treats. You will also become more skillful at incorporating other rewards into your training.

What training tools or equipment do you use?
At Dependable Dogs®, we are committed to using methods, tools, and equipment that are humane and dog-friendly, including clicker training, if owners are interested in and want this type of training. We have experience training dogs to high levels with complex trained behaviors, such as those behaviors needed for service dog work.

We recommend harnesses, martingale style collars, buckle collars, and head collars depending upon the individual dog’s needs.

We do not use or recommend tools like shock collars (sometimes called “e-collars”), prong collars, or chain (choke chain) collars. We have successfully addressed behavior problems without using these tools, which science and research have shown can physically harm a dog and often worsen behavior.

For most training purposes, we work with a 6-foot leash made of leather, cotton, or nylon. For recall exercises or to let your dog have a little more room to explore, you may have a longer line of up to 30 feet. We do not recommend retractable leashes as these present several risks to dog and owner and do not teach a dog to walk politely on a leash. In order to extend the leash, the dog must pull against the retraction mechanism – in effect, teaching a dog to pull on the leash. The mechanism also puts constant pressure on the dog’s neck and may contribute to health issues. Because the length of the leash is variable, it is also more likely to get trapped around either human or canine legs, causing rope burns or lacerations or a fall.

What is your approach in working with families and children?
Much of Dependable Dog’s® training focus is on education. We know that when people have better information, knowledge, and skills – they are able to do more, “do better” and they often become more effective, creative, and empowered problem solvers.

dog training for the familyWe teach parents and children to read dog behavior, how to approach dogs safely and how to work with their own dogs appropriately.

We place an emphasis on humane interactions that are based on kindness and caring rather than coercion and control. Recent studies on severe, disfiguring dog bites to children support the fact that these bites and the resulting trauma are often caused by children being intrusive and acting inappropriately with dogs.

Our family training sessions include a combination of assessment and training sessions, written materials, visual aids, opportunities to practice skills with dogs, and ongoing coaching. Education and role modeling are powerful tools. Paraphrasing our colleague, the highly regarded children’s therapist Risë VanFleet: “We also believe that we, as adults and parents and as professionals, need to be the best possible role models for children in interacting with animals. Ultimately, the way children learn to interact with animals relates to how they interact with people. We need to demonstrate kindness to living beings, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because our children and our dogs are watching and learning from us all the time.”

What makes Dependable Dogs® different?
We have 20+ years of experience with humans and dogs in a variety of settings. We bring an understanding of human and animal behavior, physical, emotional, and cognitive function – and how these may be challenged or compromised due to illness, injury, development issues, and environmental inputs. At the same time, we have skills to promote adaptation and learning to address these challenges in all of our training work. We specialize in providing dog training services for individuals with physical disabilities or other specific challenges. We love family dog training and work to promote safer lives for children and dogs living together. We also want you – and your dog – to have fun while learning.

How long will this take?
We understand that you are busy. We help you figure out how to easily incorporate training and practice into your everyday life. Even a little training can go a long way toward helping you have a well-behaved dog.

At our first session, we come up with a set of goals and a plan that you can begin to implement right away. The total number of sessions will depend in part upon both your goals for your dog and your dog’s behavior.

“How much training do I need to do?” and “How long will this take?” are common questions. Training takes place all the time, every day that you interact with your dog over the course of your dog’s life. Your dog learns from you even when you don’t think you’re actively teaching. Dogs are masters of association and most can figure things out quickly. We help you to both manage your dog’s behavior and help your dog practice the behaviors you want – easily. We’ll help you make this part of your day-to-day interactions with your dog.

Why should I hire Dependable Dogs®?
Dog training is a largely unlicensed and unregulated industry. In recent years, a number of franchised businesses have sprung up, many of which claim to “guarantee” training and behavior outcomes. Neither human nor canine behavior can be guaranteed. Training also takes more than the 30 to 60 minutes portrayed in popular and heavily edited television shows. Effective and humane dog training is not dramatic – nor is it based on outdated methods, dominance mythologies or folklore. The snap of a choke chain, use of a shock collar, and repeated chant of “no” are outdated methodologies. Scruffing, shocking, or pinning a dog to the ground is not training.

Dependable Dogs dog trainers in Ann ArborWhen you hire and place your trust in someone to help you and your canine family member, you should expect that person to exhibit competence, kindness, care, and transparency about the methods he or she will use. Dependable Dogs® is committed to transparency, and to using least intrusive, most effective science-based practices in helping you with your dog. We structure our programs so that you can make progress not only while in training sessions with us but also on your own in your day-to-day life.

We know that training a dog involves both managing the dog’s current behavior and at the same time teaching the dog what you want from him.

Training also demands a broad knowledge of animal behavior, human behavior, learning theory and science, as well as a commitment to best practices, enthusiasm, compassion and a desire to make a difference in the lives of animals and humans. Our work centers around helping owners build strong relationships with their dogs so that they may live happily and safely together in the future. If dogs are our best friends, we need to treat them like we would treat good friends and family members.