What is the difference between training vs. behavior modification?
Dog training is essentially obedience and manners training. We teach the dog how to do something (a command) i.e. sit, stay and to come when call. Dog learning and training is cumulative. We usually start by laying a foundation (e.g., how to sit), and as the dog masters cues and commands, we build upon his abilities by adding distance, distraction, duration and complexity (for example, practicing commands in a noisy environment). Behavior modification is a treatment or an approach, based on the principles of operant conditioning, that replaces undesirable behaviors with more desirable ones through positive or negative (negative does not mean harsh)! reinforcement. Often we address behaviors that already exist - behaviors that are undesirable, detrimental or dangerous and replace them with more appropriate behaviors. For example a dog that lunges and barks at other dogs when on lead, and replacing that learned behavior with a new behavior, such as sitting in a calm manner and looking at the owner as the dogs pass by. By modifying the dog’s behavior by teaching him what we want (and rewarding him accordingly), the dog starts to make better choices! Most behaviors can be improved, managed or in some cases extinguished, however, the key success factor is to teach the dog what we want him to do instead (rather than just teaching him what we don't want him to do). If you want your dog to learn commands and cues, and exhibit more obedience, then standard dog training is going to be an excellent choice for you. If your dog is exhibiting behavioral issues such as excessive barking, biting, chewing, peeing the house, anxiety, fear, aggression, then behavior modification will be the best choice. At Canine Path we are well versed in both training and behavior modification. When looking for a professional, be sure that they are knowledgeable and experienced in the area of your need.
What are your qualifications?
We are continually educating ourselves based on current, scientifically proven research. We often attend workshops, seminars and conferences. We pride themselves in the use of positive methods and use LIMA methods (for more info click here) to train dogs quickly and effectively. We own and work with rescue dogs (and dogs from puppy mills, breeders and strays too!) . We understand the uniqueness of each dog. We have trained thousands of dogs over the last several years - and have worked with some very challenging dogs. We are a recommended trainer for several local rescue groups. We are nationally certified or working towards a national certification. We are also pet first aid and CPR certified. We are members of organizations such as Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) and International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) which helps us stay abreast of the continually expanding field of animal behavior.
Do you Guarantee your Training?
We guarantee best efforts to help you and your dog with training and behavior modification protocols. But we do not guarantee specific results. Be wary of trainers who guarantee dog training results. Behavior is fluid and ever changing, and your dog is not a furry computer that can be reprogrammed. The success of any dog training program depends on many factors, many of which can’t be ethically placed under a guarantee. (It's similar to taking a class, can a tutor guarantee that even with his tutoring you are going to get an A in the class?). As a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, I have pledged my dedication to a better and more humane approach to training. What I can, and do, guarantee: To understand and promote Least Intrusive, Minimally Aversive (LIMA) training and behavior work. To continue professional development by reading relevant material; attending conferences, workshops and seminars; and pursuing other educational opportunities. To review and understand source material and academic texts for information. To abstain from representing training and behavioral information as scientific, unless the information is derived from peer-reviewed and published research. To refrain from offering guarantees regarding the outcome of training and behavior work. To always maintain professionalism through: Providing your services honestly Treating animals and clients respectfully Valuing and preserving the privacy of clients Maintaining professionalism with colleagues and other professionals click here to refer to APDT’s Code of Professional Ethics (https://apdt.com/about/code-professional-ethics/)
What is your training process?
We first evaluate your dog (usually in your home environment) during a private consultation. Our first consult lasts about 1.5-1.75 hours. When evaluating a dog we take into consideration 5 major factors: Genetics: the physical characteristics & temperament of your dog. Is your dog herding breed, guarding breed? , etc.. Environment: Stimuli (noises, moving objects , etc.) that your dog is exposed inside and outside your home. Are there other pets in the home? How do they get along? Socialization: How your dog is exposed to and interacts with people, dogs and other animals. Training: teaching your dog what is expected of him, and rewarding him accordingly. Owners: We take into consideration your lifestyle. How active are you - does your dog’s energy match yours? Do you have children in the house? Is everyone in your household on the same page? What is your personality (gentle, confident, playful, anxious , etc.) and how do your traits affect your dog and his behavior? Once the evaluation is complete we build you custom training plan that outlines solutions and training goals for you and your dogs. We use this training plan as general guide and make adjustments and the training progresses. Canine Path’s 'Open Toolbox' method and positive techniques allows us to help you build a balanced and harmonious relationship with your dog. We use traditional and scientific training methodologies (e.g., operant conditioning) and use rewards - food, fun, games and of course lots of praise to help you teach your dog good manners and address problem behaviors. Once we understand the issues you are experiencing or what you wish you dog to learn we can then set realistic goals and expectations. Canine Path primarily offers private lessons (in your home or an agreed up location). In some cases we will take on a bootcamp client.
Are private lessons or classes/workshops right for me?
The best learning environment for your canine companion to start out in is the safety and security of your home. Our private lessons offer just that - we come to you! Our expert dog trainers will visit your home 2 days a week for (usually 3-6) weeks. During these lessons we teach you and interact with your dog so that all obedience commands and socialization exercises are taught and experienced in an environment you and your dog can be comfortable with. For the vast majority of students learning occurs fair quickly and progress is seen immediately. Some owners want more than just obedience ~ they request more social interaction or desensitization in specific settings. We can customize this program to fit almost any owner's needs, wants and desires. Whether you choose private training or classes this is ultimately a personal choice. Classes offer you a convenient way to practice with your dog around distractions, and allow you to meet other dog owners and compare notes and stories. Canine Path is not currently teaching group classes but we are happy to refer you to a local trainer that does. Private training is more costly, but achieves faster and often better results. If your dog has a particular type of behavior problem (like aggression or fear of other dogs), private lessons or bootcamp may be your best or only options.
Do you work with all breeds of dogs?
We work with all breeds of dogs. We do not discriminate! Whether you own a Chow, Pit bull type dog, Chihuahua, Labrador, Wolf-hybrid or a mixed breed - we train them all. We love training any breed or mix.
Do you teach dogs house breaking/house training skills?
Yes, we teach owners how to house train their dog! We help owners figure out the area your dog is to be confined in, and what type of surface your dog will eliminate on (grass, concrete, pee pads , etc.) The amount of time it takes to house train your puppy is primarily dependent upon you. Stick to a regular schedule and some dogs may be housebroken within a few weeks. Older dogs, the breed of dog and other factors influence dogs. Dogs, like babies, are unique - some "get it" right away and others don't. The key success factor is usually how consistent the owner is in following good house training schedules and protocols. As trainers we believe that crate training is the best way to house train your puppy. The concept behind crate training is that dogs instinctively do not wish to soil the place they sleep or spend time so they will try to "hold it" until they are out of their cage. Other methods exist which we can always explore.
Do you work with aggressive/over reactive dogs?
Yes! At Canine Path has been working with aggressive/overreactive for several years. We have helped many owners and their dogs to better understand their dog’s aggressive tendencies and implement solutions to help them both by reducing, managing or in some cases extinguishing the aggression. Ideally, we want to prevent aggression from developing, however, once an incident involving aggression has occurred, it is vital that an honest assessment of the severity of the problem be made. To do so requires an awareness of the signs that a dog is becoming aggressive. Many people tell us ‘the dog bit out of nowhere’ or they mistakenly assume aggression is only when a dog bites. In the vast majority of cases aggression is usually prefaced by early warning signals that went unrecognized or were punished so as to extinguish the dogs ability to warn with a growl or bark rather than biting. The subtlety or severity of aggressive displays or behaviors in response to a real or perceived threat can vary on a wide scale and include some or all of the following: Freezing when approached Stiff, frozen body Hard stare-glassy eyes Lifting of the lips/bearing teeth Tight mouth/tight lips Tail that is very upright, tucked under or wagging (a wagging tail does not mean a dog is happy)! Growling Barking Snapping Lunging Biting When we are evaluating a dog to identify aggression/anxiety/fear , etc., we look at the whole dog - when he’s triggered what signals does he give off. It is advisable to retain the assistance of an experienced professional who takes a humane, motivation-based approach who can assist you with implementing a behavior modification plan. At Canine Path our training plans include: Identifying your dogs triggers preceding aggression. Implementing management and supervision to prevent triggering aggressive displays. Obedience training to provide a foundation for a cooperative relationship. Adhering to a Nothing in Life for Free program to help your dog better understand the basis of the canine-human relationship (e.g., you control all of the good stuff in life). Systematic desensitization and counter-conditioning to aggression triggers. Developing a program incorporating plenty of physical and mental exercise to prevent boredom and related stress. A nutritionally balanced diet designed specifically for dogs with aggression issues (talk to your vet about the potential use of a lower protein food). Discussing any potential underlying medical issues with your veterinarian. When dealing with aggression issues our primary concern is maintaining the safety of all who come in contact with the dog. This is best achieved by pinpointing to the best of your ability (and help from trained professionals) what specific situations elicit the dog’s aggressive response. This will help you avoid possible triggers, and by doing so you can help prevent injury to yourself or others. It’s important to understand your dog’s triggers and limit the opportunity for your dog to rehearse aggressive behaviors.
Do you work with fearful or shy dogs?
Yes! Fearful, shy dogs are fairly commonplace. Many dogs are fearful because they have not been properly socialized or exposed to common sounds: activities, people, dogs, noises , etc., or scary things have happened to them if they have been exposed (e.g., punishments, bullied by other dogs , etc.) Once we understand what triggers his fear of we can put a training plan in place. We work with the owner and the dog on several things: Building a foundation of trust by having the dog take food from us, follow obedience commands and being rewarded. (Some fearful dogs will not even take food from us - and we work through this.) Slowly exposing your dog to objects that trigger fear - we use threshold training to get him close to the objects he needs to learn to accept, but keep him under threshold - where he’s non - reactive and focus on the hander. As we build his trust and tolerance we get closer and closer to these objects. Finding outlets (scent work, games, chasing ball) that help ease his fear and help him engage with and trust his owners.
Do you work with deaf dogs and other special needs dogs?
At Canine Path we own deaf dogs and also train others to work with deaf, blind or other special needs dogs. For example, deaf dogs are very capable and other than hearing, can do everything other dogs can do including becoming a service dog!.
How soon should I start training my dog?
Training should start the day you bring your dog home! Whether your dog is a puppy, adolescent or adult dog you need to define boundaries and expectations from day one. Additionally you need to figure out what does he see as a reward - food, praise, toys? Here are a few things to think about ahead of time: Where is your dog allowed to be in your home? Is he allowed in every room or just one or two (we recommend giving a new dog limited access in your home). Where do you want your dog to eliminate in your yard or (take him out). If there are other people in the household - they need to be on the same page in terms of training and supervising your dog (If you are crating your dog, and someone in the house thinks that’s mean - and lets them out, it undermines the training process.) Is your yard, house secure or do people leave doors and windows ajar? Your dog is not psychic, he cannot read your mind and he does not know inherently where to go or what to do - in your home or how to behave in various situations. It is your job to teach him and Canine Path is happy to help! Give us a call!
Do you use food/treats when training dogs?
Yes! Food is what behavior professionals call a “primary reinforcer;” that is, it’s something that is rewarding, or pleasurable, in and of itself, because it is necessary for survival. Food is also instant gratification for your dog. It’s not by any means the only positive reinforcement tool used in dog training, but it’s often the easiest and most powerful.
Can you train my dog if he does not like treats?
Of course we can! Some dogs aren’t born immediately inhaling everything you put in front of their nose; that’s OK (and beneficial in some ways)! The important idea is to understand what’s making your dog tick. We work together to find something your dog sees as a reward: toys, balls, praise , etc.
Will I always need to use treats to train my dog?
No - you will not always need to use treats to train your dog. We often pair treats/other rewards with praise and affection. We can alternate our rewards and fade out food but at the same time we think it’s a great idea to reward your dog often and generously when they do the right thing. Think of it this way, you get paid to do a job. Would you continue to do that job, or show up if you did not get paid? Same goes for your pup, he likes to get paid to for doing the things you ask him to do. Have a look at this excellent article, written by Dr. Ian Dunbar, world renowned animal behaviorist: Food Critics - https://www.dogstardaily.com/training/food-critics
Yes, we work with anxious dogs on a regular basis. Dogs have anxiety for a number of reasons: genetics, lack of proper socialization, not understanding their environment, having constant stressors within their environment , etc. At Canine path we seek to understand the root cause of your dog’s anxiety and develop a program that will help you manage his anxiety more effectively. Additionally, we look at developing solutions and protocols that address your dog’s anxiety and reduce the stressors in his environment. Whether your dog has separation anxiety, generalized anxiety or anxiety that is triggered by certain events (other dogs, leaf blowers, children, strangers) we can develop a program to help you and your dog.
I’ve used other trainers - why are you different?
At Canine Path we are constantly in training ourselves! We attend workshops, seminars and conferences on a regular basis to stay abreast of the constantly expanding field of training and behavior. We have trained many difference species of animals including: dogs, cows, pigs, horses, fish and others! Because of our extensive experience we are often a last resort trainer after clients have been through multiple trainers or training classes. Unlike other training approaches that only focus on teaching obedience, or bribing dogs with treats, we have developed a unique approach that fundamentally changes the dog’s state of mind. We work extensively with you as the owner and your dog to find the root of the problems you are experiencing (genetic predispositions, environmental stressors, lack of training) and so forth. By cultivating new habits, teaching the dog to make better choices, training calmness instead of excitability work, and understand your dog’s mental and exercise requirements we are consistently successful with the vast majority of the dogs we train.
Do you believe in correcting dogs?
At Canine Path our goal is to teach dogs what we want and expect of them is a positive manner and redirect unwanted behaviors. At the same time we help you set boundaries for you dog and if necessary correct your dog. When necessary, the corrections applied are usually minimal and in accordance with LIMA - Least Intrusive, Minimally Aversive principals - click here for more information: https://apdt.com/about/position-statements/. We work with both owners and dogs to teach appropriate commands and behaviors which are reinforced by rewards, praise and affection and when necessary introduce corrections on an as needed basis. We find that frequent, harsh punishment can erode trust. We do not generally use prong collars or choke chains when we train dogs as there are usually better alternatives.
Can older dogs be trained?
Absolutely! The old adage, ‘old dogs can learn new tricks’ is true! Training older dogs maybe more time-consuming, and often more challenging than training a puppy, but it’s definitely do-able! Most older dogs can master the basics of obedience, social behavior and housebreaking given time, practice and a patient owner. However, there may be some habits that may need to be unlearned. Younger dogs often learn faster, but being older and taking longer to learn a command does not mean your dog is stupid. An older dog may come from a previous situation where he was never taught how to behave or he’s been doing things the way he always has and does not realize it’s unwanted behavior (by you) or that the behavior is no longer safe or appropriate. The good news is that just as most adult humans can learn new skills, even in their middle-aged or senior years, so can dogs, Some of the common training and behavior situations we help owners with are: Potty Training An Older Dog Basic Obedience Socializing Your Adult Or Senior Dog Training For Behavior Issues Factors that affect the learning curve of an adult/older dog: Background (what is known) Previous training experiences His personality and inherent temperament General health and age Any one of these, or combination of them, can make a difference as to how quickly your dog understands what is expected of him. Either way, training older dogs often means that you’re starting from scratch, so it’s important to keep you expectations realistic. Just because your pup is a grown up doesn’t mean he automatically understands even the most basic commands such sit, down, come or walk nicely on a leash. Things like chasing cats, barking at strangers, snatching treats, guarding toys/food, begging, jumping , etc., are par for the course. Of course, these are pretty common behaviors in puppies and dogs of all ages! Just like with every other aspect of training older dogs, the key to success is to be patient and consistent. Behavior problems come in all shapes and sizes, and with older dogs bad habits are often part of the package. At Canine Path we can help you to pick suitable activities and experiences, and how to introduce them at the right pace to your dog. As long as you clearly show your older dog what you want from him, and lovingly and calmly help him to shape the right behaviors, he will gradually forget the bad behaviors and start using the new ones.
Will our children be part of the training program?
Yes, children are welcome in our training program. Depending on the age of the children and their abilities we incorporate kids at the various times into the training. Having your entire family on the same page is a key success factor when training your dog. We often work with parents first to establish goals and appropriate protocols then incorporate the kids into specific lessons. Consistency amongst family members will help your dog learn faster and usually decreases unwanted behaviors more quickly. Additionally, teaching children and parents how to safely interact with their own dog and other dogs they encounter is extremely important for the well being of humans and dogs!
We are about to have a new baby in the house, can you help us train our dog before the baby arrives?
Yes! Canine Path is happy to help you prepare for your new baby by helping you ready your dog for your newest addition. Even if your dog is friendly with most people, don’t assume he will be friendly with your baby. Keep in mind many dogs do not see babies as human. Babies are small, wiggle, make noises just like small animals and compete with your dog for attention. Dogs evolved as predators and instinctively chase moving animals and objects, often without thinking. Furthermore, babies and toddlers are at ‘eye level’ and unknowingly, they can challenge a dog by looking him in the eye, which may fuel an attack or a rough play session. Our trainers help you prepare for your baby by helping your organize your home (create dog free and/or baby free zones). For safety reasons dogs and kids will need to be separated at various times into separate rooms, a crate , etc. Additionally, it is imperative that a dog get used to baby noises, smells and get used to an environment that has a baby in it 24/7 rather than being overwhelmed by all the noises and bustling a new baby brings with it. At Canine Path we are happy to help you prepare your dog for the arrival of your new baby and make this a smoother transition.
Can you help us select a new dog for us?
Canine Path has helped many dog owners find another canine companion. We do have a dog matching service that helps owners narrow down the breeds/mix of dogs that is right for them. We can also help evaluate potential dogs to see if they are a good fit for your household. Your lifestyle, future lifestyle (do you plan to have children, move to a smaller place , etc.)?, current pets and other important factors are taken into consideration when helping your find another dog.
My dogs are not getting along/fighting - can you help?
At Canine Path we’ve integrated many dogs over the years. Whether you’ve brought a new dog home and he is not getting along with your other pets or dogs you’ve had for a while have begun to fight, we can help. We focus on what factors have lead up to the altercations or what seems to trigger the fights (food, jealousy, etc.). Once we understand the root cause we help owners put training protocols in place to address the situation. We seek to understand what makes each of your dog’s tick, what they are fearful or worried about (which causes them to fight) and then start modifying the behavior. In most cases we can find a solution and can limit, reduce or extinguish the infighting. *Keep in mind there are those rare cases where the dog’s have been fighting a very long time or have inflicted a great deal of damage, other solutions need to be pursued."
What do you think of famous trainers such as Cesar Millan, Ian Dunbar,Victoria Stillwell, Patricia McConnell, Sophia Yin, Pat Miller, John Rogers and other famous trainers?
Each trainer employs different methods when training a dog or modifying behavior. It’s fantastic that these dog trainers bring so much awareness to pet owners about the possibilities of dog training – gone are the days when the family pet had to be relinquished or euthanized because he has behavior problems. There are many different trainers each with their unique approach. We have found that by combining techniques of various trainers and developing our ‘own tool box’ leads to lasting results. Knowledge is power. The more you know about how dogs truly learn, the more tools you have for enhancing your relationship with your dog. We encourage you to read dog training books, watch videos and constantly expand your knowledge of dog training. At Canine Path we focus on training that uses a positive approach built on a scientific foundation. We find that a positive approach gets owners and their dogs communicating quickly and more fluently.
Do you offer followup after my lesson/class is over?
We do offer followup training to continue you and your dog’s education. Subscribe to our newsletter, blog and check out our social media for important training tips and events. Additionally, we are available for phone and in person meetings and lessons to help with any new issues or for just for a training tune-up!