Times have changed, don’t stay stuck in the past

I get a lot of phone calls everyday, sometimes its easy, new puppy, owners want basic obedience class.

Some times its a nightmare. Dog has attacked and injured 3 people. Dog guards food, dog attacks other dogs.

They want answers, they want reassurance, they want the dog fixed before i even see him. I’m not a miracle worker, and i wont compromise my ethics either. I train dogs, i manipulate dog behavior to achieve a desired outcome, and I systemically desensitize dogs with issues. I rehab, i retrain, and i work with them to correct behavior, and i’m not talking about the dog most the time, i’m talking about the owner.

We live in a world were you don’t house train your dog by rubbing his nose in the pee, you don’t stop him from jumping on the counters by hitting him with a newspaper (all your teaching him then is that newspapers are bad) and you don’t get obedience by yanking the choke collar and lead till they sit.


I can’t tell you my way is faster, i can’t promise its the best, but i can ASSURE you that it will be based on mutual trust, respect and clear communication. I want a dog who enjoys being with me, I don’t want a dog who is scared of a newspaper. I want to invest time and energy in my relationship with my dogs, I don’t want a quick and dirty fix.

What do you want?


Supply Sunday

This weeks Supply Sunday post we are going to do a review on one of the cheapest training tools i use. You can nab one of these at your local Home Depot, or Lowes, or even Walmart.

Treat and toy pouch

Treat and toy pouch

This handy treat and ball holder costs about a dollar, is easy to adjust to anyone (so you can pass it off while training) and is washable. 

I always have one of these in my truck and training room, and find that i use it a lot more then regular, smaller, more expensive treat pouches. 

Grab one today, tell me what you think!!!!!

Supply Sunday- Wing a Ball

This weeks supply sunday post features a little toy we plan on stocking up on prior to our “A” litter

The Booda ball (called wing a ball) comes in 3 different sizes, featured here is the smallest, which we use with puppies and small breed dogs. (Kaze LOVES this thing!)


The nice thing about the wing a ball is that its soft for puppy teeth, and really imprints the ball on a string concept for obedience, searching, or whatever your doggies job might be. While not for the adult GSD or Mali (we usually move the working dogs off these once teething has been completed and the reward system has been instilled) it holds up excellent to numerous pups and small dogs, and we have yet to replace any of ours!


Soren practicing self control

Pride, every dog owner and dog trainers downfall. Post #3



This wonderful snowy Saturday brings us post number 3 in our series this week of Positive training, Pitbulls and Pride.

I chose pride for a few reasons, mostly because of my past experiences and observations of other trainers and handlers and after analyzing myself and the areas i could improve upon as a trainer, owner, and K9 handler.

The definition of pride is as follows

a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.

Don’t get me wrong, pride has a place everywhere in life, and defiantly in dog training. I hold tons of pride for my dogs and what they have achieved. The big difference is, i try not to be prideful. I try to accept what i know and can teach others, and always keep in mind that i can learn something from EVERYONE and from every interaction i have. I cannot tell you how many times my kids at Allynwood Academy have taught me something about my training, or my dogs even when they have only been in my class for a few days! I also make sure that i do not place pride into my interactions, that i deliver the information and the suggestions or advice i have in the most direct, emotionally free way i can as factual information based on what i have seen, done, or experienced.

You see pride tends to scope people into the I AM RIGHT AND YOU ARE WRONG till death niche. What I mean is you become so prideful in what you just stated that you push it to the end extreme very frequently making a mountain out of a mole hill and causing undue stress on dog or worst yet if your a trainer a client, family, and dog! We have opposition reflex’s too!!

So in tying together positive training, pit bulls, and pride we see that the mountain that has been made about aggressive pit bulls and the rift between “positive only” and “bad negative trainers” is really a result of to much pride.

Meet my dogs and i for 15 minutes and ill spend 2 telling you about their and my accomplishments, and 13 about our faults, and for that I am becoming a better trainer, handler, and dog owner! 🙂

Positive training- can we un-bury our heads please????

Ripley with Raina at 5 days old

Ripley with Raina at 5 days old

So in my attempt to tackle what i believe is an insanely prideful, pointless battle between “trainers” on the topic of positive only training I will  outline below what is actually the most accurate method of training that curtails to both “positive only” and “must keep negative and punishment” trainers. I do not believe that people are actually arguing the correct point, see it is not about being “positive only” or not, there are four quadrants of operant conditioning for a reason, we need to utilize them all while training, but the fact is that trainers pride and emotion have taken the correct utilization of positive punishment, and negative reinforcement and developed them to be incorrect and ineffective on a canine, but yet completely self fulfilling for them!! See, self centered humans with heads in asses!!!!!!

Ok so to be a bit more clear in my above point. Physical punishment is not necessary to train the dog, but a corrective action is. Dogs DO need to be told what is wrong sometimes, as well as what is right, but in a correct balanced proportion so that the brain can function unstressed and learn more successfully. So is positive punishment or negative reinforcement wrong to use??? NO not if used correctly, for the benefit of the canine and how he learns, instead of correctly for the prideful emotional, egotistical dog trainer!!!!!!!

So try this on for size………instead of trying to eliminate half of the methods of operant conditioning, why instead can we not fix where the errors lie in the methods of applying it?? With most dogs i train, 9 times out of 10 if the behavior i ask for is not executed correctly it is because

A. The behavior has not generalized, or is not fully known (this process takes MUCH longer then most impatient people are willing to commit)

B. The distractions are to high and the behavior is not proofed yet.

C. You have set criteria that is well beyond what the dog can achieve, so instead of dropping back you punish because your own human emotions come through and you feel better leash jerking the dog.

So i reset my trial in a more appropriate setting and continue to proof. Occasionally with a behavior i know the dog fully understands, is proofed, and is now variably rewarded, and the dog blows me off a corrective action is needed, and no it isn’t stringing the dog up, or kicking it but a corrective action that shows the dog he can control his environment and what he wants can be taken away when he makes a mistake. (and what is that called kids??????) Viola! I have utilized more then just positive methods “technically” and haven’t inflicted any physical harm or pain on my dog!

Why is it that we have just assumed negative reinforcement, negative punishment and positive punishment always inflict pain and harm, and thus jumped to eliminating them all together scoping our operant conditioning to 1 out of 4 ways to teach our dogs??

Let us then look at our training methods as individual trainers. What i find most often in working with other trainers and K9 handlers is that they are not ever clear in the communication aspect with their dogs, nor do they really even understand how they are training the dog. Sure they have watched a few videos and can repeat what they see and get results, but unfortunately inappropriate negative reinforcement and positive punishment frequently yield faster results with undue stress on the dog that leads to a break down in the trained behaviors later on down the road. But of course in the moment they look great and feel good too!

It can be said that communication gives confidence, and while positive communication is significantly better for the learning process of canines, you cannot achieve everything with positive only communication, however you do not need to physically punish nor abuse training methods to utilize the other quadrants of operant conditioning.

So it is not that we need to turn “purely positive” in our training methods, it is that we need to become educated on, and remember how to humanly and appropriately use the other tools in our operant conditioning toolbox without the humane propensity to inflict pain and harm!

Positive training, pit bulls, and pride



The 3 P’s here bring up some very interesting controversy which i plan to cover over the next week. Probably one of the most controversial “dog topics” today is the battle of purely positive dog trainers with the rest of the world. What i think people don’t get is that everyone is really arguing the same point, but both have their heads stuck into their asses so far they cannot see it!

And as far as pit bulls go, well we know their heads have been buried in asses for years so honestly we can only chip away a little at a time!

Well pride made my list mainly because it was a P word……..no but really i see pride as one of the biggest faults in most dog trainers and one that definitely causes both the above P issues. A serious fault that leads to extremists on certain topics because the pride battle that is going on inside of them actually changes their focus and pushes it further and further to what they had started to believe was right. It’s like taking a ham sandwich and me saying, well it would taste better if it was ham and cheese, and you adamantly stating the only way to eat a ham sandwich is with ham, and while arguing with me adding on so much ham that the sandwich becomes a foot tall, and your pig supply has diminished just to overly prove your point that you are correct beyond measure and I am wrong.      *******But honestly did you believe in the first place the only way to eat a ham sandwich was with a foot of ham, or did your pride just push you to standing behind what you have already stood up for that you had to push it to extremes that didn’t make sense??? Hum sound familiar????

First and arguably most important will be our purely positive training dilemma. Stay tuned!!!

Time sense

Kaze and Annecy

Kaze and Annecy

The holidays always bring sort of a peace around both the humans and the canines. We always say “I love this time of year” or “I cannot wait for the holiday time” While i do believe the dogs have “emotions” i do not think they understand time in the sense of the year like they can in the sense of the day. What i mean is that you frequently see Fido get really excited everyday around a certain “time” which almost insinuates that your dog can tell what time of day it is. One of our dogs Max is always sitting by the window at the front of the house around 4:30pm on Tuesdays when i’m home. I’m sure he does it when i’m not home too, but i see it on my day off, he sits and waits anytime between 4:20-4:40 because that’s when my significant other comes home from work. If there is a disruption in the schedule then he waits it out till 5 or so and eventually gives up. While Max has a concept of “time” for the day or the routine, dogs do not appear to be capable of having a concept of “time” for the year. Maybe because it doesn’t happen frequently enough, or within a close enough proximity of the other trials for learning to actually take place, but i have never seen my dogs get thoroughly excited on thanksgiving weekend when we always put the tree up or go crazy waiting to open their presents Christmas morning.

A dogs sense of “time” is what distinguishes how they live, and why so many dogs can be rehabilitated even after experiencing traumatic events in their lives. A dogs sense of time is what they are experiencing right now, in this very moment. For the kids at Allynwood this frame of mind is exactly what they need to follow, living in the moment a day at a time. Everyone forms behavior patterns, human and canine, from certain repetitive events in their lives, but the overall sense of “time” is what allows us to live either care free day or day or burdened by our haunts from the past and our fears of the future.

A busy summer and all that jazz- or just a rant!

Certified SAR dog and Therapy dog

Certified SAR dog and Therapy dog

The summer has kicked off to a wonderful start!!! We have some big plans for the rest of this year and thought we might share an update.

For myself i have set a few goals, which include MORE behavioral certifications and continuing education credits to fulfill all those i already hold. For me the mark of a GOOD dog trainer requires a two fold approach- 1 you must have outside organizations that have “tested” and “certified” you, it is not as simple as putting together a webpage and showing off that you have taught your dog to sit. I’m sorry but dog training is a PROFESSION and to many people out there have watered down and defaced my profession and i’m sick of it!  2- proof is in the pudding!!! in other words you must have your own dogs that you have trained and reached goals with. Most anyone who sees my certified SAR girls work are more then thoroughly impressed. Not only have i achieved certification and deployments but i have gone to other outside agencies on top of already being certified to continue to prove my skills as a trainer and my dogs skills at their job. The reason we have a larger pack of a mixture of breeds is to show the variations in the breeds and tasks that I train.  In addition to your own dogs you must have good clients with successful training. I have numerous clients who have come back for more training for different dogs or advanced training for those they already have, or just brush up training for themselves! I only do this part time so just imagine if i could dedicate 40 hours a week to it!!!!

That turned into a bit of a rant but i cannot help it. I see so many dogs being put to sleep, or given up because of inadequate training, and many times the people have actually hired “trainers” to help who have inevitably just made the problems worse and a bigger mess for me to clean up. Am i perfect, or the best trainer in the world???? NO but i have ethics, i have experience, and i have proof on many levels of why i can and will help you have a better relationship with your dogs. I also have the ability to say NO, i’m sorry i cannot help you or i am not qualified to deal with that issue. I will not take on something with a dog i do not understand or cannot get a good read on when meeting the dog and owner unit.

Though i digress  and this post should have been filled with more positive and happy goals we wished to achieve i do feel a bit better going into this morning having gotten that off my chest.