Training Philosophy

I believe in choosing effective and humane training strategies that will enhance the bond between animals and their guardians. I am committed to using positive reinforcement as the engine that drives behavior change in my training programs. My goal is to help animals feel safe, comfortable and empowered to make desirable choices. For these reasons, I intentionally avoid the use of training techniques that incorporate any type of psychological or physical intimidation which can lead to negative associations, fear, and fallout between the animal and their guardian. 

Teaching using positive reinforcement involves providing consequences for behaviors that we would like to see animals repeat. I will often recommend clients use food as a reinforcer to teach new skills, but life is full of reinforcement opportunities and we can work together to determine what motivates your animal companion. 

I use "event markers" in my training to help communicate clearly with animals. A marker is a distinct signal that helps a dog or a cat learn exactly what behavior caused them to earn a treat or other reinforcement. I most often use a clicker in my training with animals but also incorporate verbal signals like the words "yes" or "good," or hand signals for deaf animals.

Event markers give us many advantages when training. They can help reduce the risk of animals learning to perform behaviors only when food is visible. In clicker training, reinforcement is delivered AFTER the sound of the click is heard. The click bridges the gap between the behavior and reinforcement making it easier to work at a distance from an the animal, and the sound of the click provides clarity to the animal about what behavior will be reinforced in the future. Developing timing is an important skill in animal training and I have seen that clients who learn to use an event marker such as a clicker or verbal marker will improve their timing very quickly.

My goal when working with a guardian is to teach them to think like a trainer and to develop the skill of breaking down a complex task into small steps that they can teach to their companion. I'll use this same process of breaking down tasks into small achievable steps with you to make your goals attainable.