Dog Training & Behavior Modification Philosophy and Methods
As I organize my thoughts on my approach to dog training (including canine fitness) and behavior modification, I realize that I could type for a very long time on this subject! And you probably wouldn’t read it. I wouldn’t blame you. In addition, I am always learning more and adapting the way I do things to incorporate the most recent knowledge and research on dog training and behavior. More tools means more options. The bottom line for me?
Training, and learning, should be fun. Your dog should be excited to learn new things and to train with you. Usually this means using positive reinforcement, a reward-based approach to training. If your dog is reluctant to train, we need to learn why and to make changes.
Behavior modification is by definition somewhat invasive. Often we are asking a fearful or anxious dog to change their reaction to a scary-to-them person, situation, or whatever. If you’ve ever tried to overcome a fear, you know that process can be more stressful than just avoiding the thing that frightens you. Even though the outcome of not being afraid is desirable, the process to get there can be hard. I strive to use the least intrusive, minimally aversive (LIMA) method possible.
For me, LIMA means making sure a fearful or anxious dog’s needs are being met before trying to change the way they react to a “scary thing.” Many times, a so-called behavior problem is the result of a dog’s needs not being met. A dog is a product of its breed and genetics, experiences, and environment, and personality. This means that different dogs have different physical, mental, and emotional needs. Once all the dog’s needs have been met, any remaining fears and anxieties are addressed using methods that adhere to the humane hierarchy.