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Is your training kind?

Over the years, I've described my dog training philosophy approach numerous times to all sorts of different people. I've been asked this in a variety of ways- such as whether I use certain training aids, how I would generally approach a certain behaviour issue, or when and how I use punishment during training.

No matter how the question is phrased, students are essentially asking me the same question: "What is your approach to dog training?" And no matter how I answer the question, the underlying principle is the same- I lead with kindness.

To me kindness in dog training goes beyond positive reinforcement training and includes:

  • Communicating clear and consistent criteria, honouring your important role as the other member of the team

  • Creating realistic expectations so that you don't set your dog up to fail because you overfaced them

  • Rewarding good behaviour proactively instead of only chasing unwanted behaviour

  • Respecting that dogs are autonomous beings with unique needs and wants

  • Recognizing that dogs thrive when they can make some choices about their lives (within reason)

  • Recognising that people and society also have rights and considering that in the behaviours you let your dog rehearse

  • Understanding that dogs have emotions and instincts that drive their behaviour

  • Asking yourself, when your dog is repeatedly unsuccessful, how you can modify the environment or training criteria to help your dog be successful?

  • Believing in your dog's ability to reach their training potential, whether it's in sport or every day life

  • Accepting your dog for who they are, flaws and all, and choosing to focus on the good and those attributes you can influence over time

  • Using management to prevent problems where possible

  • Offering forgiveness to yourself for past training decisions or mistakes and choosing to look forward instead

In a world where you can be kind. Happy training,


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