Our Training Philosophy

We Take A Balanced Approach to Training Our Dogs

What is Balanced Training?

Balanced Training by definition and application uses the 4 quadrants of Classical Conditioning and Operant Conditioning to effectively communicate, train your dog, and modify behaviors.

The 4 Quadrants

  1. Positive Reinforcement: Adding a reward in the form of praise, or a treat to increase behaviors.
  2. Negative Punishment: Delaying rewards to decrease a behavior.
  3. Positive Punishment: Adding in something negative to decrease a behavior.
  4. Negative Reinforcement: Taking away, or delaying the negative to increase behavior.

Positive Reinforcement and Classical Conditioning

Learning by Positive Association and Reinforcement

We use Positive Reinforcement Methods called Classical Conditioning, to shape and create the behaviors we want such as Sit, Down, Come, Stay, Heel, etc., (this is also known as Pavlovian Conditioning).

Motivate with Food, Praise, and Play Rewards

Some examples of how to use positive reinforcement include using food rewards along with praise and play to reward the dog for the desired behavior. This motivates your dog to repeat these desired behaviors because they want more of these rewards from you.

It’s positive and fun. By doing this you can engage the dog in ways that create and reinforce a motivating bond that will carry through to all aspects of your lives together.

Next, We Generalize and Proof Those Commands to Different Environments and Situations

Once those behaviors are learned and we are getting the dog to respond reliably to the command, we begin the process of generalizing and proofing those commands. This means we want to get the behavior no matter where we are and no matter what the situation is.

Dogs Contextualize Everything

Sometimes when a dog is introduced to a new environment, it seems as if all the training goes out the window!

This happens when the training wasn’t generalized and taught in that specific environment. Dogs contextualize everything. If a situation is out of context, the dog perceives it as “different” –  in other words, a command that you only practiced at home or with us at our training facility only works at home and/or at our facility.

Practice Your Training in Real-Life Situations

The takeaway from this is you must get out there and train as you live – in real-life situations and in the places you want to take your dog.

We Introduce Operant Conditioning Corrections Once There is Reliability

Once we’ve created some reliability in the behavior we’re looking for, we can then introduce Operant Conditioning methods in the form of a correction.

What are Correction Consequences?

A correction is a consequence for the undesired behavior or misbehavior. Corrections are applied when we know the dog understands and knows what we are asking it to do but doesn’t perform and blows us off.

Corrections Are Different Than Punishment

Punishment is confrontational and demoralizing to the dog. Punishment does not provide an alternative to the bad behavior or a way to win, it just scolds the dog for being “bad.”

In contrast, when we deliver a properly applied correction, we are effectively communicating with a dog in a clear and humane way, “telling” them that what it just did was wrong.

Offer Your Dog Better Options and Winning Choices

After a correction is applied, we must then show the dog a better way, with rewards once they choose this better option.

We want the dog to win. We want them to win a lot!

When We Use Corrections, We Must Take 3 Things Into Consideration

  1. We must be humane.
    We cannot use excessive force or put the dog through high levels of stress causing a “Fight, or Flight” response. Some stress is necessary, but we walk a fine line between correcting and punishment. Sometimes, we just need a little jump-start to get moving in the right direction!
  2. We must be fair.
    The way we can be fair with dogs is by being consistent. Be consistent with the way you reward what you want and be consistent with the way you correct unwanted behaviors. The more consistent you are, the more consistent your dog’s behavior becomes, and it will happen faster.

    If we are inconsistent, we get inconsistent behavior in return. It’s that simple. When a dog knows what to expect from us and what we expect from them, they relax and calm down. Communication becomes clear; rules, boundaries, and limitations are set, and your dog becomes trustworthy and gets more freedom, which in turn makes everyone happy!
  3. We must have intent.
    Our intent as Dog Trainers is to teach and show our dogs a better way to get what they want.

We must allow them to win! But first, we must learn to communicate effectively with our dogs, on their terms. By using a balanced approach to training, it becomes clear to the dog what is right and what is wrong.

Whenever we correct a dog, we must provide a pathway to winning by redirecting the unwanted behavior to a new behavior and then, in turn, reward the new behavior.

This gives the dog a choice and teaches the dog that there is an easy way for it to get what it wants. This clearly sets boundaries and shows the dog what is good (desired behavior) and what is bad (undesired behavior). In other words…

red dog sitting and looking up

Balanced Training Provides a Clear Way to Communicate with Your Dog

Balanced Training is a clear way to communicate with your dog. It’s a way that limits choices to provide an easy way for the dog to get what it wants, in a way that makes everyone happy.

It is not heavy handed, confrontational, or demeaning. It’s the way things happen naturally in a dog pack and you are a part of that pack once you decide to bring a dog into your life.

Read about our Puppy Training.
Read about our Adult Dog Training Programs.

cane corso relaxing and looking at owner