Balanced Dog Training
My method of training is known as balanced training. The fundamental principle of dog training is pressure on, pressure off. Pressure can be spatial, verbal, and/or physical.
Spatial pressure is when you position your body strategically to claim space. I use spatial pressure to communicate as well as guide the dog into completing a command. There is a difference between intimidation and guidance. The idea when using spatial pressure is to keep the dog engaged in training, not scare the dog into compliance. Depending upon the personality of a dog, this can be a delicate balance, but I am happy to show you how this technique can be used safely and effectively when training your dog.
Verbal pressure is when you use the correction word “no.” Typically, as the training progresses into advanced obedience, you will be able to say “no” and have your dog respond without having to use either physical, or even spatial pressure.
Physical pressure is any kind of physical connection made between the handler and the dog. This can range from a correction with the training collar, to being distracted by receiving affection while in a down/stay.
During our training sessions together, you will learn how and when to apply pressure, and when to release pressure in order to achieve results. Our goal is to correct bad behavior and to train your dog impulse control. In short, I will show you and your dog how to calmly make better choices. I believe it is important to always correct bad behavior the instant it occurs. Dogs exist in the present moment, they require us to exist in the present with them. The virtue of correcting instantly is to prevent your dog from intensely acting out either by barking, lunging, growling, whining, etc. By consistently applying pressure, and releasing when better behavior is presented, your dog will learn to calmly make better choices. When you correct the subtle bad behavior, you will avoid having to be challenged with much more dramatic bad behavior.
Together we will follow this four-step process:
- Repetition & Consistency
My Dog Training Tools...
Traditionally, I perform basic obedience training with prong collars, nylon dominant dog collars, and a product called Pet Convincer. Pet Convincer is a harmless, burst of chemical-free cool air designed for correcting all sorts of unsavory behavior. The reason why I choose to rely on these training tools is because they work. In my experience, walking a dog in the heel position can be achieved using a properly fitted prong collar or a nylon training collar depending upon the circumstances. I frequently rely on the Herm Sprenger brand prong collar because it is a safe, durable, quality product. The virtue of Pet Convincer is that when used properly it can provide an excellent distraction for the dog if you are looking to interrupt fixating behavior. My goal is to teach you and your dog to simply enjoy a calm walk side by side. Using a properly fitted, prong collar, coupled with calm corrections, will prevent your dog from pulling, marking territory, jumping, leash biting, dog fighting, barking, and other aggressive dog behavior. The reason why heeling is important is to establish you are the pack leader. I invite you to watch my free training videos on YouTube to help you understand what it is like to train with me, and also how I use balanced training tools.
Visit the testimonial page to discover how obedience training has positively changed the lives of my clients.
How does a prong collar work exactly?
If properly fitted, the prong collar is designed to give an evenly applied correction. As the dog experiences a correction, pressure from the individual prongs on the collar is evenly applied to the dog. The handler releases the pressure the instant the command is executed. This training tool is meant as a momentary correction. Pressure on. Pressure off. For example: the momentary pressure goes on when the dog chooses to walk out of the “heel” position. Pressure is released the instant the dog returns to the “heel” position. The duration of a correction is typically one second or less. The idea is to get the dog's attention and calmly move on.
The virtue of a prong collar (again, when properly fitted) is that pressure during a correction is evenly applied. Which is different from many styles of training collars such as flat collars, metal training collars (also known as choke chains), martingale collars (commonly used in dog shelters), and nylon dominant dog collars. When a correction is not applied in time before the dog exits the “heel” position, the handler ends up inadvertently choking the dog as the dog pulls in front of the handler. When not properly used, these various other training collars, can cause the dog to not only experience a choking sensation, but uneven pressure is applied to its neck. From my perspective, I see the choking dog at the end of the leash in front of the handler, as operating in a state of confused adrenaline.
When training tools cause harm...
Like with any tool, when it is not used properly, it can be ineffective or even cause harm. While I am familiar with the horror stories of neglect, where people say prong collars can become embedded into the dog’s neck, I have also heard of similar stories regarding flat nylon collars and metal training collars. I highly recommend removing the training collar when the dog is resting in its crate and playing with other dogs. It is also important to replace any training collar if the dog has outgrown the collar, or the collar is worn, rusted, or shows any other sign of deterioration.
If you are using a training collar and your dog is choking at the end of the leash, then you might consider learning more about how to properly use the training collar, either from a media source, or by working with a dog trainer. In the past, I struggled with how to make a correction using a metal training collar. This is the tool I currently use on Karma. It is not an easy thing to coordinate making a correction when your dog is trying to yank your body all over the neighborhood. I can completely understand and relate to how awkward this looks and how frustrating it can be to learn. Using these training collars effectively is possible. Obtaining training to use a tool is a reasonable situation and absolutely nothing to be embarrassed about. If one tool fails to work with either you or your dog, another tool will likely do the trick. Never give up! I have used at least three different training tools on Karma until we arrived at the tool which worked best for both of us.
How to put on a prong collar
I recommend fitting the prong collar on your dog so that the collar is high up on the dog's neck. The prong collar should be snuggly fit. The prong collar should be snuggly fit, and rest behind the dog’s jawline and ears. The prong collar should never be pressed over the dog’s face in order to put it on. If improperly applied the prongs of the collar could injure the dog’s eyes. When fitting the collar, you must pinch one link at the narrowest part of the collar, in order to release an individual link and open the prong collar. Then the collar is placed around the dog's neck, (think about how you would put on a necklace).
If the prong collar is too loose it can sag around the dog’s shoulders, which is ineffective when making a correction. Instead of an effective correction of pressure and release, the prongs rest into the dog’s shoulders contributing to constant state of correction (pressure). Being constantly corrected is confusing to the dog and will almost certainly slow the progress of any obedience training regimen. The key to good obedience training is to communicate clearly to the dog as to how their behavior can turn the pressure both on and off.
As a safety feature, I recommend connecting the prong collar to the dog's flat collar with a carabiner. This is a safety net of sorts. If the prong collar were to break away at any point, the flat collar will still be secured to the dog. The attached pictures should help to illustrate the safest most humane use of a prong collar.
About harnesses and retractable leashes
I do not use any kind of harness during my training because in my experience, it is not possible to achieve the "heel" position with such an apparatus. My clients that have used harnesses were not only unable to have their dog walk at their side, but they also complained their dog was pulling them during the walk. Harnesses are excellent tools when used properly, for example in sledding, or even teaching a puppy to walk on stairs.
I do not use retractable leashes when I teach basic obedience. It is not ergonomic or comfortable when trying to make a correction during the instruction of commands. Instead I recommend my clients purchase a standard six foot nylon leash for training. If your dog has an issue with biting the leash, your best course of action is to purchase a leather leash. Retractable leashes are effective tools when teaching E-collar/remote collar training.
E-collar/remote collar training
I am also an E-collar/remote collar trainer. If your goal is to progress into advanced obedience training, and have complete freedom and dependability off-leash, inside, and outside, my approach will give you reliable results. E-collar/ remote collar training will provide an exceptional level of freedom for both you and your dog. Consider how many places you could go with your dog if you were absolutely sure your dog had an exceptional level of obedience training and recall response! Please be aware the E-collar/ remote collar training I provide is performed with a low level of stimulation. Low level stimulation work is meant to motivate the dog with a slight amount of pressure (similar to the prong collar pressure). This training is done with the utmost respect for the calm state of mind I am looking to achieve and maintain in your dog.
Are you interested in balanced training? Then let's get started!
The adorable picture above was sent to me along with a behavior update by Lupe's owner. I appreciate staying in touch with my clients. It is really a great feeling to hear my clients consistently practicing the training plan provided. Being able to transition from feeling fearful, and anxious about spending time with their dog to feeling calm, and confident about involving their dog in daily activities, is truly a remarkable experience for any dog owner who has ever struggled to trust their own dog.
The best part about using balanced training tools and methods, is that you can take your dog anywhere with you. Often, I hear people say, "But if you don't offer treats, where's the dog's pay check?" The reward in balanced training is inclusion. My clients have dogs they can take along with them to enjoy everyday moments. No hotdog and cheese bits required. No frantic barking dog locked away in another room, excluded from the party...Just a calm family dog, that knows what behavior is expected of them.