Training PhilosophyPack Leadership
At Seattle Family Dog Training we use a relationship-based method that taps into the "pack" hierarchical instinct that all dogs have. For long-term effects on your dog's behavior you first have to convince them of their "job description". They need to believe that you are the leader and they are the follower. In our program we don't use food or toy rewards. Instead, we use verbal and physical praise to acknowledge appropriate behavior and we use a leash and collar to direct the dog and we provide a quick light pop on the collar to identify and correct inappropriate behavior.
The reason we don't use food and toys to artificially reward our dogs is because we want to train our dogs in the way that they train each other into the rules of the "pack". Dogs don't flip food treats to one another to train new pack members; instead, they interact socially, using vocalization, body language, and physical contact to approve of appropriate behavior and to disapprove of inappropriate behavior. Our method uses techniques that draw on the social interaction that dogs naturally use with one another. There's no need to be concerned though, we won't have you growling at your dog or trying to grab them by the scruff of the neck with your teeth. While we're trying to tap into, as much as we can, the communications styles that dogs use with one another, we also understand that we simply don't have the speed, quickness or power to interact with dogs exactly as they do. Instead, we try to interact in ways that tap into natural communication that dogs use with each other.
Once a proper leadership relationship has been developed we work to create a consistent set of rules or "policies" that you agree to abide by with your dog to fairly and consistently interact with them. For example, we can do things that convince our dog that we're in charge but if we sometimes praise him for jumping up on us and sometimes correct him then he will become confused and unpredictable.
Private Lessons to Train the Human
We don't do the traditional group classes that you may have seen at your local community center or nearby pet store. Our program is done in private lessons at your location. We don't do the group classes with untrained dogs for two reasons. First, because we use a relationship based method we must train you to train your dog rather than training them for you. In our private lessons we teach you how to: read your dog's body language, how to communicate clearly with them, and to think "one step ahead of them" so that you can respond with the appropriate timing that is required. To accomplish this, we need to focus only on you and, therefore, a group class environment is not conducive to what we are trying to accomplish. Second, the group class environment is far too distracting for untrained dogs. We want you to eventually be able to have your dog in a very high distraction environment but starting them in that environment (i.e. a group class with 10 other dogs) is not setting your dog up for success. It's a little like taking your child to a birthday party and trying to teach them math for the first time. We prefer to take your dog and you through successively increasing distractions that lead gradually to being able to focus on what you want them to do while at the park or the fair or a "group class".