Our Dog Training Ethics and Methods

Dog Training Methods

Note: All of our methods and ethics also apply to our cat clients.

You can change your dog’s behavior by changing his environment. If you don’t like him getting into the trash, you can put the trash inside the bathroom while you’re gone. If he jumps the fence, don’t leave him outside unsupervised.

There are five main ways to change the behavior of your dog using training:

Classical Conditioning

What It Means: Pairing a reward with a stimulus or environment so that your dog makes an association.

Example: Give your dog treats whenever he sees a scary garbage truck, so he learns that trucks = treats and starts to like seeing the garbage truck.

Our Philosophy: This is one of the two main ways we’ll train your pet.

Positive Reinforcement

What It Means: Giving your dog something rewarding so that he is more likely to perform a certain behavior again.

Example: Give your dog a treat after he sits.

Our Philosophy: This is our other main training method here at Journey Dog. If your dog “gets it right,” he gets a reward. This doesn’t always have to be treats – we can use almost anything that your dog likes, such as toys or praise.

Positive Punishment

What it Means: Giving your dog something bad or doing something unpleasant to your dog so he is less likely to perform a certain behavior again.

Example: Administering a leash correction (yanking on the leash) when your dog lunges at a squirrel.

Our Philosophy: We not support the use of positive punishment, as it can have negative consequences such as damaging your dog’s relationship and increasing fear or stress. Positive punishment is also largely un-necessary in most cases.

Negative Reinforcement

What it Means: Removing something unpleasant from your dog’s life when he performs a desired behavior, so that he’ll be more likely to perform that behavior again.

Example: Putting pressure on your dog’s collar until he sits, then releasing the pressure.

Our Philosophy: We do not generally support the use of negative reinforcement, as it can also damage your dog’s relationship and increase fear or stress. It’s also, again, largely un-necessary when other training options are implemented.

Negative Punishment

What it Means: Removing something pleasant or desirable from your dog’s life when he performs a behavior that you don’t like, decreasing his likelihood of repeating that behavior.

Example: Leaving the room and ending playtime if your puppy bites you.

Our Philosophy: While we do not often implement negative punishment, we do not generally take issue with negative punishment when implemented ethically.

Journey Dog Training primarily uses environmental management, classical conditioning, and positive reinforcement to train our dogs.

If your dog “gets it wrong,” we’ll re-set and try again on an “easier setting.” Usually, an error is information telling us that we’ve done asked our dog to do something that’s too hard!

We never recommend training methods that are likely to cause the dog pain or fear (that means we use clickers, leashes, exercise pens, crates, toys, and muzzles – not e-collars, pinch collars, or choke chains).

We don’t force dogs to do things, we don’t startle them. We set up training so that they can easily succeed, then reward them when they get it right. You can read more about all of our training methodologies here.

Journey Dog Training strives to stay on top of the latest in animal behavior science. We’re constantly taking note of what works in our lives, attending conferences, taking classes, and reading books.

Dog Training Ethics

It’s easy to make a case for using punishment in dog training – it stops a behavior, after all. Sometimes we want our dogs to JUST STOP.

It’s also easy to make an argument for using all of the five tools that I outlined above (called balanced dog training).

That’s not what we do.

Our main goal is to change the dog’s behavior effectively in a way that build our relationship with the dog.

We always want the dog to want to come back to training. Training should be fun!

But it also should be effective – we know that the humans are the ones reading and the ones with the wallets. It’s not our goal to coddle the dog and disregard our client’s needs!

We work with our clients to find easy-to-execute training solutions that make the humans AND dogs happy.

We adhere to the Humane Hierarchy and LIMA – the Least Intrusive, Minimally Aversive training methods.

That means that we’re concerned with getting your dog the medical care, exercise, social outlets, mental enrichment, and TRAINING that’s necessary to make both of you happy.

Online Dog Training

We offer fully remote animal training and behavior help.

That comes with some extra challenges – we can’t take the leash from you and demonstrate a training exercise, and we can’t observe the dog in real-time.

But it also comes with some huge benefits:

  • We can work with clients anywhere in the world. Because our team operates online, we have clients all over the world — including clients from rural Alaska, the prairies of Oklahoma, Guatemala, Japan, and Poland!
  • We can help clients for a lot less money. In-person animal behavior experts are expensive. In-person dog trainers can cost between $80-$150 per hour (and behaviorists cost even more) – but due to the lower overhead costs, we can offer services starting at just $30-$50. We know that many people who love their pets simply can’t shell out hundreds or thousands of dollars, no matter how desperate their need!
  • We can work across time zones and busy schedules. Our text and email services mean that we can respond to your questions while you sleep, and you can ask us questions while you’re on the train coming home from work.
  • We can go back-and-forth a lot more. When driving to clients’ homes, trainers would normally work in one-hour sessions to make it worth their time. But now that our trainers can work with you from anywhere, they can work in shorter and more frequent training sessions. This means you can ask a lot more, “Ok, that didn’t work. Now what?” sort of questions.

We are constantly adding and changing to our services. We have e-books, group classes, private phone or video calls, and text subscription options – pick what works for you!

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