Rescue Dog Training
What you find below will be information overkill and perhaps overload, but you will likely find that it will answer any questions you might have and provide answers to questions you perhaps should be asking but wouldn’t otherwise think to ask, but should before you chose a training path for you and your dog. You can use the blue bar/button link to view my calendar and pricing at any time.
Almost all companion dog training offered still embraces a curriculum and an approach (method) to training that might make sense if the goal is to compete in an obedience competition where you stare at your dog, treats in hand surrounded by unfamiliar people and dogs in a gymnasium setting.
Working with a rescue usually means there are a few ‘knots in the leash’ to unravel. More often than not those knots are there in part due to neglect/ignorance as opposed to cruelty. However, quite often they exist because of the sort of well-meaning but nonsense training advice found on the Internet, from amateur dog trainers and occasionally veterinarians an vet techs venturing out of the lanes of their own fields and into an area they more often know little or just enough to be dangerous.
Most training classes still have dog owners coercing their dog to do geometric patterns around pylons, staying and coming for a treat while being stared at. This has very little to do with attempting to navigate the kitchen or stairs without tripping over a dog, randomly ringing doorbells and knocks, etc. the day to day reality of a companion dog and dog owner. Or, the random appearance of children, squirrels, other dogs, bicycles, etc. whilst out on walks.
This program is designed with the day to day reality of companion dogs and dog owners in mind and is founded on sound behavior and learning theory that companion dog owners and their dogs find far more enjoyable and successful than the traditional and flawed ‘All Positive/Purely Positive/Force-Free…’ treat, treat, treat and ‘Might Is Right’ approaches.
Rescue Dogs - Common Mistakes
The pace and what might be expected regarding a reasonable outcome may differ but with the right approach massaged with the dog’s history in mind the right approach can go a long way towards building confidence and life skills that vastly improve quality of life.
I’ve worked with 1,000’s of rescue dogs, many humane societies, animal shelters, and private rescues over my nearly 30-year career and the potential and progress of many rescue dogs are sometimes unintentionally impeded.
The Never Ending Rescue and Rescuer
If you have been introducing your dog as your ‘rescue’ dog or ever say things such as ‘I rescued… .’ you may be a never-ending rescuer and unconsciously impeding your dog’s development. Whatever your dog’s history, that is not what he or she is, it is something that happened to him or her. Acknowledge it certainly, tailor your rehabilitation approach with the historical reality in mind but don’t let it get in the way of helping your dog become the best he or she can be.
All too often the never-ending rescuer seriously unconsciously and inadvertently impedes their dog’s rehabilitation because they see their dog as a victim that needs protection. They set lower expectations and almost always are holding their dogs back in areas that would contribute to the building of confidence and life skills. One might argue this to be just another form of cruelty.
I am very interested in learning all we can about your dog’s history as the more I know, the better I can help. Even if the details are not available, because I have assessed thousands of dogs with a history of cruelty and neglect it is almost a certainty that I will after observing your dog in his or her home setting, be able to extrapolate that history and plot an appropriate path forward. However, even if your dog’s history makes me feel sad or sorry for your dog, neither you nor your dog will ever know it. I will not let that get in the way of my goal which is to help you, help your dog be the best he or she can be.
Once the rescuing stops and the rehabilitation begins not only will you find that your dog recovers more thoroughly, you will find that your dog blossoms far faster. We will be using proven behavior modification techniques that will break the journey down into smaller far more digestible chunks so that your dog leaves his or her world behind and can begin to enjoy the world you’ve provided.
Baggage Can (And Should Be) Left Behind
Almost always the baggage that lands a dog in a shelter is less a reflection of the dog’s potential than it is of how his or her’s prior owners lived with and trained or didn’t train the dog. I have found in many cases that if we start a legitimate approach to understanding how your dog sees the world and to training the behavior/baggage never shows up. Almost always these dogs came from places where the owners were told to train their dogs in either an ‘All Positive/Purely Positive/Force-Free…’, or to a lesser extent, a ‘Might Is Right,’ neither of which is how any higher order social species teaches life-skills. You can read a bit here about how this sets so many dogs and owners up for failure and how you can better guide your dog here:
Baggage Arrival Is Sometimes (Often) Delayed
Many times when a dog moves from one household to another, they will initially for a few weeks or even a few months mask their baggage only to catch their new owners off-guard with a display of aggression. As a result, there are specific protocols I recommend implementing during this settling period to prepare for the sudden arrival of baggage.
Drama/Habit vs Reason and Reality
Almost without exception, whether the dog’s baggage is unruliness, anxiety, aggression you can count that 80% of what you are seeing is drama and related to flaws in the way the people in the dog’s past responded or didn’t respond to the dog’s behavior as opposed to any inherent flaws in the dog. We may not be able to extinguish behaviors legitimately aggressive or anxious in nature but if we can extinguish the 80% that is drama we can generally guarantee a pretty good life for the dog and owner.
How We'll Be Working With Your Rescue Dog
The PROS Of 'Virtual+'- Training Your Dog With John Wade
- 30 Years Of Full Time Experience
- Science-Driven Approach
- Reputation (Over 60 Five Star Google Reviews)
How We Compensate To More Than Make Up For The Lack Of Face-To-Face
In a word – VIDEO. The obvious part is the use of Zoom, Skype, Google Meet etc for the face to face part of our working together but the the real key and benefit that this ‘Virtual +’ – Puppy Training brings is what happens afterwards.
Whether you meet face to face with a trainer in your own home or in their facility there’s only so much you can remember and waiting for an entire week for the next ‘lesson’ to ask questions, show how much you remembered or forgot can (and usually does) lead to a fair amount of frustration and discouragement. Amateur companion dog trainers are infamous for poor follow-up and overall accessibility.
As you’ll read below, the written notes, videos and overall accessibility this program provides is phenomenal. However, potentially the most powerful success tool the ‘Virtual +’ – Training Program provides is the opportunity to video your ongoing progress, send those videos and receive (at no additional charge) a personal video tutorial that is a break down of what you have forgotten (on average 50%), and tips to make moving forward even more smooth. In essence, it’s an examination of your ‘golf swing’.
You can send videos if you become frustrated with any area of your training, but you will receive a weekly reminder for the first month to review what is `Better/Worse/Same’ within the program that we tailored for achieving your goals and the invitation to send videos to show your progress, just to be sure you’re not missing something that my eye of thirty years experience might catch. Trust me, it’s more often the case than it’s not.
First: What You Shouldn't Be Doing And Why
One of the main reasons so few people fail to accomplish their dog training goals isn’t due to motivation or a lack of time. It’s because what now passes for companion puppy and dog training is based on what is used for training Orcas and Dolphins in an aquarium with full-time trainers who’s entire workday revolves around the Orca or Dolphin. Often referred to as ‘All Positive/Purely Positive/Force-Free’ and by some, as, ignore bad behavior, reward (treats) good behavior, etc. Not exactly the model used by any loving authority figure among any higher order social species.
This is not to say that the `Might Is Right` approach sometimes referred to as ‘Yank and Crank’, being Alpha, Pack Leader, Dominant, using Alpha rolls, etc. is any more valid. It produces a different set of problems, such a submissive puppy or later in life, an aggressive dog.
What the amateur puppy and dog trainers that use the alleged ‘All Positive/Purely Positive/Force-Free…’ treat, treat, treat approach (it is rarely all positive in reality) do not understand is that while it may give themselves or a layperson the illusion that they are training, they are really only teaching tricks.
They are also creating an unsustainable foundation that will crumble in real-world settings with real-world distractions. Imagine if we motivated our children with candy over and over and then one day asked them what would they do if a stranger invited them into a car to share some candy? A heroin dealer has the power to influence behavior over the addict. Incredible power but this is not the model I recommend. We can do much better. Instead we develop a relationship in which they learn to see us as a loving authority figure.
Teaching/motivating a puppy to work for a treat aims at their tummies and not the best part of the puppy, the only species I know of bred to love and work for a human being.
In the context of the aquarium, the agility or obedience ring or the television or movie set, it is a legitimate methodology if the goal is tricks. But in the context of companion puppy and dog training for teaching real-life skills for real-world setting, it is a naive ideology. An ideology that will always fail in the context of real-world settings. It works (sort of) until a better offer comes along (squirrel,, etc.)
Ironically, the companion puppy and dog trainers offering ‘All Positive/Purely Positive/Force-Free’ claim it is based on science. Yes, there’s science to support (somewhat) IF it’s used in controlled environments such as the Orca’s aquarium, the rat’s maze, a dog’s obedience or agility ring, but none whatsoever in real-world environments.
Whereas, all the scientific literature (behavior and learning theory, ethology, evolutionary biology, and psychology, etc.) supports what you will be learning which is ’Fully Balanced Companion Dog Training’).
Second: What We Will Be doing and Why - Fully Balanced Dog Training
What we will be doing is teaching you to teach your dog in a manner that reflects the way all higher order social species (dogs, wolves, apes, humans, etc.) teach skills that lead to the best quality of life. This is not through the expectation of treats or pain.
A dog’s perception as to who is the teacher and who is the student can make training very hard or relatively easy. Even more so than how you train when you are training. Think of your experiences with substitute teachers. No one more motivated to do well and help students succeed, but we sent half home in tears questioning their career choices.
Arguably even more important than an approach to training, one of the greatest influences on training outcome is how a puppy perceives its relationship with its owner. Love is almost always a given. Respect is not. That should not be purchased with a treat nor through threat. It is earned.
The little things we do and don’t do during our time around our dog has most of them thinking of us as roommates rather than teachers. As a result when it is time to encourage or discourage behavior we have to work far harder (treats and might) than we would if we learned to live with our dogs in a manner that led them to see us more as a loving parent or teacher rather than at best a substitute teacher.
Part of what will be covered in your program is how your dog sees the world, determines who is the teacher and who is the student and how to incorporate this into how you live with your dog. The impact is significant. Your dog will be far more highly motivated to learn from and work for you than any treat or ‘Might Is Right’ approach can remotely approach.
The Application Of Common Sense
Involving The Entire Household (All adults and Children)
I highly recommend involving everyone that usually interacts with your puppy on a day to day basis, attend. Even if they aren’t expected to fully participate in the day to day, you will find that if they are present, they are far less likely to unintentionally undermine the accomplishment of your goals and far more likely to take an active role.
I definitely encourage the involvement of everyone that normally interacts with your dog on a daily basis, but in the case of children and teenagers, sometimes more indirectly rather than directly.
I recommend using the following rule of thumb as a means for determining the level of involvement. If you feel that it would be unreasonable to expect the child or teen in question to responsibly care for a two-year-old without adult supervision themselves, for an extended period of time, than it would be better to embrace the approach of involving them more in the manner mentioned below rather than as hands-on as the adult members of the home.
When they’re very young, the problem isn’t so much with understanding what’s required, as I’ve found that the children that attend my sessions typically absorb far more of what is said, than we ever could, even when they’re permitted to come and go as even in other rooms they seem to keep an ear tuned. Later, they can be quite an asset to the adults as the child or children become walking, talking session referral notebooks.
The problem, and it’s not really a ‘problem’ so much as it is a practical acknowledgement is with the aspect of attention-span, consistency and follow-through. Having witnessed it personally with my own sons and the children of past clients, I’m a big believer in the positive impact a good dog can have on a child’s life experience and I prefer to emphasize that aspect of the relationship, rather than potentially setting either the child (or their dog) up to fail by burdening them with a potentially unrealistic level of responsibility with regard to training and behavior modification for dogs with behavior problems.
When they’re closer to or in their teens and depending on their personality, some are more likely to actively participate than others both from the perspective of ability and motivation. It’s case-by-case, and when in doubt as to their potential to be consistent and follow-through, better to err on the side of caution as to level of active participation. Instead, and it’s probably a good idea, particularly when there is or there’s potential for a serious behavior problem, they should be present for our appointment.
In the teen age range category the biggest advantage of having them there is so they know what you’re doing and why, and in the case of dogs with behavior problems what the stakes are if there isn’t consistent follow-through. That said, their involvement will be part of how to best move forward. Just in a slightly more creative way.
- At the 30 day mark, the puppy has a clearer idea of what’s expected life skill wise inside the home. (dinner/doorways/stairs etc.) The child will attach their own personal leash, alongside mom or dads and instruct the dog as they have seen mom and dad do for the past 30 days. With you as the backup, you will be able to gently transfer the authority you have collected in combination with a clearer understanding in your dog as to what’s expected, over to the child without burdening the child or confusing the dog with the actual training of the dog. Works great.
- For the first 30 days of training, if age appropriate, and the child wishes, I recommend allowing the child or children to monitor the progress goals we will be laying out.
Focusing On Practical Obedience VS 'Show' Obedience
(Focusing On Essentials Instead Of Window Dressing)
When it comes right down to it, there are only three ‘No Matter What’ obedience skills required to provide a companion dog and owner with a wonderful life together. They don’t have to look ‘obedience ring’ pretty and finished either. The dog just needs to do them – ‘No Matter What.’
- While on a leash (‘Heel’) – indoors or outdoors, stationary, walking or running, the leash is loose – No Matter What
- ‘Stay’ means ‘Stay’ – indoors or outdoors – No Matter What
- ‘Come’ means ‘Come’ – inside the home, in the yard or in a field – No Matter What
In spite of this companion, dog owners are almost always forced to over complicate training and subsequently quite often set up both themselves and their dog for almost certain frustration and failure with aspects of obedience realistically only ever required to compete in obedience competition.
That is not the purpose of this program. The purpose of this program is as a bare minimum to teach the three exercises mentioned above in a ‘No Matter What’ manner that isn’t dependent on treats or subject to collapse if a better ‘offer’ comes along.
In any event, once a companion dog owner learns how to teach these three things, adding elements of ‘Sit,’ ‘Stand,’ ‘Down’ while heeling, staying or coming are straightforward enough.
Far better though to be able to put your head on the pillow at night and feel you’ve taken one step forward than two steps backward. It’s also far better to teach these core skills in conjunction with the ebb and flow of living with a dog inside your own home and yard as opposed to in a foreign environment surrounded by distractions and complications better introduced once a foundation is in place. For example, you will learn to teach your puppy to:
- Remain on a mat while food and drink is being prepared, consumed and cleaned up, regardless of the room (‘Stay’ followed by ‘Come’)
- Calm behavior when someone is at the door or when leaving or when you are preparing to go for a walk with your puppy and when you return from that walk. (‘Stay’ followed by ‘Come’)
- Stairway safety and etiquette – indoors or outdoors. (‘Stay’ followed by ‘Come’)
- Coming when called, whether there’s a treat or not and no matter what, means that real exercise can become a reality.
- Staying off or waiting for an invitation to get on beds and other furniture. (‘Come’)
- Learning to safely wait to be told to get in or leave a vehicle. (‘Stay’ followed by ‘Come’)
- Learning what ‘Heel’ means in the home and yard before subjecting your puppy or yourself to the number and level of distractions that almost always result in reliance on then leverage of the treats and more likely training apparatus rather than the leverage of the puppy owner.
This approach makes an additional monumental contribution to your training success because of its peripheral manner it influences a dog’s perception of the relationship.
As mentioned, many dogs see their owners more as roommates as opposed to loving parents/teachers. Because the exercises listed above are triggered by lifestyle events as opposed to taking particular time out of the day and because they are both short but more importantly frequent the teacher/student relationship is constantly being reinforced in a manner that reflects how dog, wolves, apes and human beings shape the behavior of their offspring. A little here, a little there, throughout the day, day in day out.
Build Your Own Wish List
While ‘Stay,’ ‘Come’ and “Heel’ should be priorities you will no doubt have some priorities of your own that have accumulated and are based on your experience living with your dog. When you book your appointment, you will receive a link to download a ‘Wishlist’ Template. Pop it on the fridge or someplace handy and as they come to mind write down things such as:
- I wish my dog would learn to…
- I wish my dog would learn to stop doing this …
- Good Lord, I hope my dog never even thinks of doing this …
When we get together, we’ll review your wishlist and make sure all of your goals are addressed by building them into your personalized program.
Cost And Scheduling
The cost is an hourly rate which varies somewhat depending on a few variables which we’ll narrow down when you click the link below.
On average you can count on approximately 2 1/2 – 3 hours one on one time with me. In addition, as mentioned above there is an extensive followup program in the days, weeks, and months to come for which there is no additional charge.
The link below will offer various options and is set up to make it easier for you to schedule the appointment that best matches your schedule and the schedule of others you would like to be involved in the training of your dog.
You will find costs, my calendar and ‘How To Self-Schedule’ guidance HERE.
Fill in the bits and pieces (type of appointment, information about your dog, your goals, contact information) and you’ll receive by email a confirmation.