“What is love, except another name for the use of positive reinforcement?”– B.F. Skinner
Animal training is both a science and an art. There are many labels for the type of training that I do, including positive reinforcement training, clicker training, humane training, relationship-based training, and force-free training. In my opinion, dog trainers and behavior consultants need to adhere to the same standards as medical physicians: First, Do No Harm. My ultimate goal is to support clients in creating behavior change in their animals, but I will not use force, fear, intimidation, or pain to reach our goals. In short, effectiveness is not enough.
I adhere to the humane hierarchy and the principles of LIMA (Least Intrusive, Minimally Aversive) in order to ensure that the animals I work with have the highest welfare possible during the behavior-modification process. I know that learning theory applies to all species of animals—including humans—and I am as passionate about facilitating my clients’ growth as I am about training their canine companions. We are all individuals with varying cognitive abilities, needs, and desires. I create a unique program for each individual canine/human partnership I work with.
“Dogs Are People, too.”
Dogs are our family, our best friends, our fur kids, and our loyal companions. While anthropomorphism can be a dangerous road to follow when approaching behavior change, cognitive research points to many similarities between dogs and humans. While dogs do not feel guilt, do not show remorse, and can’t speak in full sentences, their ability to not only communicate but to cooperate with us is unmatched in any other species. We also know that we experience many of the same emotions as dogs—love, joy, anxiety, fear, frustration—and that as a social species dogs thrive when they have human companionship. Fostering a good relationship with our dogs is an integral part of making sure they are happy, healthy, and well behaved.