The Philosophical Canine


When I started looking for dog training for Allie there were two types of trainers – those who used treats and those who didn’t. I talked to many trainers and they couldn’t tell me any theory behind why they did (or didn’t) do this. The reason I chose the trainer who changed my life (and Allie’s!) was because she could tell me why – she did not use treats because no dog on the face of this planet ever said to another dog “come over here sweetie and I’ll give you a Milk Bone”. That made so much sense to me and, is the main reason why I do not use treats to train now. The other reason is one that I find many of my new customers have found already – the dog will only behave if a treat is presented. If there is no treat then there is no obedience. This is a recipe for disaster if you need your dog to come when called after running out of your front door!

I believe that families (be they human or canine) should have structure and hierarchy. I believe that, as the one who can make the sensible, life saving decisions in a human world, you (the owner) should be at the top level of that hierarchical structure. You should be the alpha.

Being the alpha does not mean that you have to be cruel, unkind, heartless or physically aggressive to your dog. Quite the contrary – no dog will do as it is told if it lives in fear of its master. Respect and fear are two very different things. When we raise children, they have rules. As they get older those rules change and become less structured (when was the last time that a mother asked her thirty year old son if he cleaned his teeth this morning) – the same applies to our dogs, when our dogs are young (or unruly) they need rules and structure so that they can learn the rules of your human house, as they get older and learn the rules as a part of daily life the need for such formal structure becomes less.

It is ESSENTIAL that we TEACH our dogs what we want them to know before we expect them to know it. All too often a dog has no idea what a word means and yet the owners are saying the word over and over getting louder and louder with each repetition. Yelling at your dog is not going to give you an obedient dog! Dogs do not speak English, they have to be taught what “sit” and other commands mean (the most important part of the training process), what is expected when you say the command, what happens when they get it right and what happens when they get it wrong. You are accountable too – you are responsible for giving the correct command and following through with ample praise or the appropriate correction.

It is my job to teach you how to be the alpha. When we learn words (commands) it is my job to break this learning process down into a plan that enables you, your family and (most importantly) your dog to succeed. Every dog, every owner and every situation is different - every one of my customers has a slightly different learning curve and plan. Good dog training becomes a way of life and I am responsible for teaching you how to change your life with your dog for the better.