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Last updated 2/2016



My Training Philosophy

There is no perfect way to train a dog.

 However, there are ways NOT to train a dog.


Techniques that force a dog through pain (or the elimination of pain when the dog performs - i.e. "I keep yanking this leash until you listen and will stop when you do.") are to be avoided. Dogs need to want to work with us and we can teach this through positive motivating, redirecting and fun. You do not have to yank a leash every time a dog fails to listen maybe you just need to make yourself more appealing! Food, toys, happy voice and even teaching the dog a VERBAL cue to try again (only once the dog has a solid idea of what is expected) when  you are going to take a moment and show the dog what to do, as opposed to ear pinching, hauling off and jerking the poor dog around or yelling, make for far more encouraging training. 

On the other hand, some techniques such as clicker though very positive, are not for all dogs either.  I have known dogs to be afraid of the clicker sound.  Does this make training fun?  No. Not really.  A clicker for a dog afraid of the sound can be a negative.  Do I want to take the time to counter condition the dog to a clicker or should I find something else to mark the desired action?  Even something like an owner not wanting to use a clicker affects how effective a clicker can be.  Will the tool be used when I walk out of the house? If not, how effectively will the dog learn or will the dog become even more confused?  Confusion leads to undesired behaviors. Some owners physically cannot manage a clicker due to arthritis or other problems. 

I like to find a combination of fun-based and enjoyable techniques and fit training to the dog NOT dog to the training. I do not want to yank a dog, roll a dog, poke behind the ear, put a prong or electric collar on a dog. This negatively impacts the relationship we need to develop with dogs. Training is not a dominance thing. Dominance is seriously misunderstood by many owners and trainers. Training is building a relationship. It is taking a different species and teaching what is needed to live in a human world, in harmony.  You cannot do this through pain and intimidation. Over time, or even immediately, pain and intimidation  leads to other undesired behaviors developing.  (For example, dogs who are punished by a scruff or whack to the muzzle may develop hand-shyness. Now what happens when I have to get my hands in a dog's mouth or someone else does like your veterinarian?)  Learning to live in a human society must be postive, fun, encouraging and above all, painless. All animals have positive motivators: even humans. All animals stress when the negatives outweigh the positives and moreso when pain and fear are involved.  You can teach discipline and self control without pain.  You can teach a dog to behave without pain or fear. Pain and fear increases stress which leads to a whole host of scary things happening.

I want to find what motivates your dog in the most enjoyable way.  Some dogs are motivated by food, others by toys, yet others by the ability to do what the dog was developed to do such as have a chance to go sniff.  For more on this please read "Thinking Outside the Cookie Jar."

What works great for one dog may not work great for the one next to it.  And if a techniques does not work, then the instructor and student need to work together to find what best motivates the INDIVIDUAL dog to want to work with us and utilize the most humane methods we can.


Memberships and Associations:

 Pet Professionals Guild * Association of Pet Dog Trainers * International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants * United Shetland Sheepdog Association * Blue Ridge Shetland Sheepdog Club * Granite State Shetland Sheepdog Club * Will O'Wisp Shetland Sheepdogs

West Wind Dog Training is registered and licensed in Prince William County, VA and insured.