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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between basic obedience and behavior modification training?  

The short answer is, with basic obedience training the dog typically has no emotional response to what you’re asking until you create one.  For instance, when training “Sit” we use food to make the dog feel very positive about sitting for us!  Behavior modification is utilized for dogs that have an emotion-based reaction to a specific trigger (like reactivity to other dogs) - you will be trying to change how your dog “feels” about a situation.


What are some examples of behavior issues needing specialized training?  

Reactivity (dog-to-dog, people); obsessive/compulsive behaviors (tail-chasing, shadow-chasing, barrier obsession); resource guarding (food, toys, places, people) are some of the examples of dog behaviors requiring specific modification methods.   


How quickly can I expect results? 

It depends; some dogs noticeably change within one or two visits, others take months of gradual exposure to a trigger to be able to tolerate it in a more acceptable way.   In addition, behavioral modification can be taxing on the dog; we are careful to watch for any different behaviors that crop up during training so that adjustments can be made to the treatment plan, and we strongly encourage contact between lessons to inform us of any changes.


How are behavioral issues addressed?  

Behavior modification has several components - management (how you set up your environment to prevent or interrupt the unwanted behavior); enrichment (offering additional activities to mitigate fallout from the management strategies); and training (what you want your dog to do “instead”).  The most important of these components is management - you MUST be committed to controlling your dog’s ability to engage in the old behavior.


How do I practice these exercises?  

You will receive a detailed treatment plan specifically created for your dog, as well as demos for how to perform any exercises.  We remain available to you between your sessions so that we can monitor any behavioral changes resulting from training.


Anything else to expect?  

BE PATIENT!!  Your dog may resist, especially if the behaviors are fear-based.  Training itself is exhausting, but behavioral dogs are trying to figure out what else to do with heightened emotions, and that can be overwhelming for them.  It’s best to do less than more with these dogs.

BE GENEROUS!! Remember, you are trying to CHANGE an opinion your dog already has about something, and you want your dog to choose you/what you want.  Make choosing you extra appealing and rewarding, especially in the beginning.

BE FLEXIBLE!! Your dog will have successful days and less successful days.  Provide your dog space to recover when you think it’s necessary, and don’t push your dog beyond his/her coping limits.


When do I punish my dog?  

Whether your dog has behavioral issues or not, the answer to this is a resounding “NEVER!”  Your dog is doing what it feels will work to relieve stress.  Your dog is NOT misbehaving in order to make you miserable or to challenge your authority.  Your dog simply has opinions that don’t align with yours.  Positive reinforcement methods cultivate the bonds of trust with your dog, resulting in more cooperation.

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