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Worried About The Effectiveness Of 'Virtual+' - Dog Training?
(I Don't Blame You.)
Generally speaking, for most companion puppy or dog owners, their first impression regarding companion puppy or dog training is that anything ‘Virtual’ vs. in person will be less effective than in-home or group. However, the reality is that whatever the approach – a trainer in your home, a visit to a dog training facility, one on one, or group class – the actual contact with a trainer – is relatively limited vs. the time attempting to put into practice what you learn. In other words, the time you’ll be spending with your dog outside of a class.
The more relevant factors influencing whether you achieve your goals are really:
- The Quality Of The Trainer (Knowledge And Experience)
- The Support Available Outside Of That ‘Class’ Time
- Your Commitment
1. The Quality Of The Trainer (Knowledge And Experience)
There are very few companion dog trainers in North America that have trained companion puppies and dogs and their owners for over thirty years on a full-time basis. My background brings a very high level of knowledge, expertise, and experience. You can learn more about my experience training, teaching, writing, ‘pawdcasting’, seminars, and workshops by Clicking Here: ‘About John Wade.’
2. The Support Available Outside Of That ‘Class’ Time
As the over 70 five star Google reviews from past clients repeatedly indicate the level (and manner) of support included with your ‘Virtual+’ – Training with John Wade is superior to what you will find in a group, in-home, or any other virtual program you might find elsewhere.
Not only in the follow-up literature you will be provided, but your first critical month’s weekly check-ins. However, most valuable to you will be the videos you send after our Zoom session, showing your progress, areas of difficulty, and the detailed tutorials I send back based on what you and your dog are doing.
3. Your Commitment
Your commitment and or availability is the bit I have the least control over. There are two realities. One is that no puppy or dog is going to train him or herself, and your ‘Virtual+’ – Training session, or if you chose to go another route, will not include a magic wand. 😄
The second reality is one I understand all too well. There’s only so much of a person left over at the end of the day. The program I will be recommending based on your needs and wants, and our Zoom session is one you will need to incorporate into your ‘day-to-day’; and will be as ‘user-friendly’ as possible, combing interactions you’re alreg with your dog, but in a manner that contributes towards achiving your goals. It isn’t particularly time-consuming, However, I’m not going to lie. It requires a bit of effort on your part. While I can not make it ‘easy,’ you will find that my experience and knowledge go a long way to making it easier.
In the end, whether ‘Virtual+’ – Training, in-person, private, or group, it’s the time you spend or don’t spend without a trainer nearby that most influences your success.
Puppy Vs Adolescent Vs Adult Distinctions
The biggest distinction in programs is in the puppy ‘Virtual+’ – Training program. There isn’t a great deal of difference between the ‘Adolescent’ and ‘Adult’ dog ‘Virtual+’ – Training programs other than consideration for an adolescent dog’s mental and physical maturity.
For purposes of behavior, puppy hood should be considered as the period in a dog’s life up to approximately 12 weeks of age as between 3 – 12 weeks of age +/- 1 week) is where the pup’s mother, litter mates, breeder and companion dog owner influence the pup’s future temperament.
Once this period has passed, how the dog later reacts to urban and nature’s sounds, sights, smells and related experiences can no longer be associated with neutral and/or positive perceptions. The adolescent and adult dog can to various extents be taught to exert self-control if the lack of exposure instead triggers, as it often does fear, anxiety or aggression.
|Toy To Small Breeds||Up To 16 Weeks||17 Weeks To 18 Months||Older Than 18 Months|
|Medium Breeds||Up To 16 Weeks||17 Weeks To 18 Months||Older Than 18 Months|
|Large Breeds||Up To 16 Weeks||17 Weeks To 24 Months||Older Than 24 Months|
|Giant Breeds||Up To 16 Weeks||17 Weeks To 24 - 36 Months||Older Than 36 Months|
Adolescent Dog In-Home Training For Real-World Life Skills Program
Without Resorting To Treats Or ‘Might Is Right'
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.
However, most dog owners are companion dog owners and coercing their dog to do geometric patterns around pylons, staying and coming for a treat while being stared at has very little to do with the day to day reality of a companion dog and dog owner.
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.
We Use Science-Based 'Fully Balanced Companion Dog Training'
How Puppies And Dogs (and humans) Learn (and teach)
First - What We Won’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.
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 just produces a different set of problems, such a submissive dog and sometimes 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. 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. Teaching/motivating a dog to work for a treat aims at their tummies and not the best part of the dog, the only species I know of bred to love and work for a human being.
In the context of the aquarium it is a legitimate methodology, 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) 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 (’Fully Balanced Companion Dog Training’)
Examples Of What We Will Be Doing And Why
Learning About Relationship Driven 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.
Arguably even more important than an approach to training, one of the greatest influences on training outcome is how a dog perceives its relationship with its owner. Love is almost always a given. Respect is not. The little things we do and don’t do during our time around our dog has most of us 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.
Learning About The Influence of Unsupervised Times And Environments (When You Are Not Training Or Supervising)
Your dog is learning, whether you’re actively teaching or not and there are a variety of lifestyle factors that can make your training far easier or far harder. In the case of some genetics more than others; impossible to address if what you are trying to accomplish in your training is being undone when your dog isn’t directly under your supervision and influence.
It’s extremely rare companion puppy, and dog trainers incorporate this aspect into their programs, and many people find that despite their best efforts their training doesn’t produce the sort of results that truly integrate a dog into their lives. That won’t be the case here. You will learn what is, or can influence your training and how to address it so you can achieve your goals practically.
Using Our Time Together And Your Time Afterward Intelligently (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.’
In spite of this companion dog owners are almost always forced to overcomplicate 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.
I can help if your goal is to take on competitive obedience training as a hobby. However, that is not the purpose of this program. The purpose of this program is 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 dog to:
This approach makes an additional monumental contribution to your training success because of the 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.
We will combine the influencers of relationship, Environment When You Are Not Training Or Supervising, and Focusing On Essentials First with other aspects of what constitutes ‘Fully Balanced Companion Dog Training.’
What Is Fully Balanced Dog Training (Short Version)
Our approach to training is based on known rock-solid science that is based on how higher order social species teach, and their offspring learn real life-skills for the real world. It’s the approach shared by all higher order social species, dogs, wolves, apes, and human beings so it shouldn’t be a surprise to learn it doesn’t involve treats or brutality.
- Is the only companion dog life skill training for real-world contexts approach that has extensive supporting science. There is literally no science to similarly support ‘Might Is Right’ or ‘All Positive/Purely Positive/Force-Free…’ treat ideologies.
- It is almost always All Positive. Almost. It does not shy away from the reality that parents of all species occasionally draw upon the concept of “I’m not asking you, I’m telling you.”, in a manner that is in keeping with the youngster/student’s ability to comprehend that they are not bad, the teacher isn’t bad, but the behavior itself is what is bad.
- Because it is essentially part of nature’s template, both companion dog owners and their dogs relate and subsequently learn and adapt to it far more quickly than ‘Might Is Right’ or ‘All Positive/Purely Positive/Force-Free…’ ideologies. Both dogs and dog owners love it.
- The results are amazing. Dogs learn to exert self-control without being subjected to the submission techniques of ‘Might Is Right,’ or the addictive focus, (until something more interesting appears) on treats as opposed to the strength of their love and relationship they have with their owner.
You will find it’s straightforward to implement for two reasons:
Maximize Household (All adults and Children) Involvement
I highly recommend involving everyone that usually interacts with your dog 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 dog 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.
Learn To Enrich and Stimulate Your Dog’s Mind And Body
The manner in which you will be learning to train your dog (‘Fully Balanced Companion Dog Training’) will provide a fair amount of mental stimulation. However, it’s important to keep in mind that if left in a natural setting the amount and type of physical and mental stimulation a dog might get, day in, day out is often far more significant and varied than what happens when placed in a human home. It varies from dog to dog, but if the disparity between what they evolved and were bred for and the reality they end up in isn’t addressed, it can impact the behavior of some dogs from many perspectives. They can have a harder time focusing, learning and retaining information if their physical needs aren’t met.
You will learn of ways to stimulate their bodies and minds in a manner in keeping with their quickly changing physical development.
What To Expect
No More - One Hour A Week, Week After Week (after week) - You’re Taught To Teach Far More Efficiently (And Conveniently)
The ‘All Positive/Purely Positive/Force-Free…’ and ‘Might Is Right’ approaches to companion dog training embrace a model where companion dog owners must attend classes once a week for one hour at a time for on average. 6 weeks and at which time participants are encouraged to sign up for another ‘level’ and then another etc. As mentioned earlier this environment and approach provide little to no context, next to zero personal attention and progress is dictated by the lowest common dog or dog owner denominator. We’ll be using a far more effective approach, one that I’ve been using successfully for close to thirty years.
Part One - Our Session
First, we meet at your home. Unless we are working with a dog with extraordinary behavior issues, it is extremely rare that we will need to meet again. However, our session lasts for approximately 2 1/2 to 3 hours. During that session, we will be covering what you will find listed immediately below and charting a path forward tailored for you and your dog.
- I will assess your dog, review your wish list to determine how to best structure your custom program.
- You will learn how your dog sees the world and makes decisions as to who is the teacher and who is the student and how to use that to powerful advantage. (Hint, not force or treats.)
- You will also learn that a dog, like a child, is determining whether you are actively teaching or not and comparatively speaking that’s a lot of learning time that if left to chance makes life skill learning open to undermining and success in training less likely. As a result, you will be learning everything that influences your dog’s perceptions and how to address these potential influences proactively so that your training efforts are not undermined.
- We intersperse hands-on training with learning how dogs see the world by demonstrating practical ways to reinforce the relationship and learning of life-skills, having Q&A’s, etc. This allows your dog to take appropriate breaks.
- You will learn, first as I demonstrate, and then hands-on as I coach you, how to teach the three most useful skills (‘Stay,’ ‘Come’ and “Heel.’) using practical applications, in areas such as the doorway, the kitchen, the stairs, etc.
- You will also learn how to plant seeds for later harvesting regarding other skills that may be desirable once the foundation skills are learned. Often these skills are given too much weight too soon making it harder on both the dog and the owner. If obedience competitions are in your future the time investment a little later in training will be appropriate but for the short term teaching a dog to stay on a mat as opposed to, sit, then down, then stay on the mat is an unnecessary complication. One sets you and the dog up for success, the other more often than not leave both feeling like failures because in all likely hood failure was the result. Early stages, we will allow your dog the option to sit, down or stand on the mat. Far less room to fail and far greater room to succeed and learn what is expected. These add-ons, initially extraneous exercises are typically things such as:
- You will learn when and how to introduce distractions typical to life in and around a home.
- Doorbells and door knocking
- Kitchen etiquette
- Yard etiquette
- Guests arriving and departing
- Squirrels, other dogs, etc.
- And much more.
At about midpoint in our session, you will either believe I’ve slipped your dog a sedative, a smart pill or performed an exorcism as you will see a marked improvement in your dog’s overall behavior very quickly, both when I am handling your dog and when you are handling your dog. However, as impressive as this will be, my goal is not to impress you, but to impress upon you the aspects of handling and training that bring about these changes naturally without the need for treats or submission. Why? Because it is almost a certainty that two hours after I’ve departed that your dog will come out of his or her ‘trance’ to one extent or another and if I’ve done my job during our session you’ll know precisely why and know how to respond.
Part of our session is to make sure we tailor your step by step training goals for realistic progress. It varies from dog to dog but generally speaking the path from where you’re currently at, to where you want to reasonably, reliably be, is approximately 3 months with the following breakdown.
You Also Create Your Own "I Wish My Dog Would..." 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.
Part Two - Support To Success - ‘Trainer On Retainer’ Followup
Immediately After Our Session
You’ll receive by email:
- A general review.
- A step by step break down of each exercise and a means to select the best starting point for each and progress tracker.
- Links to videos of recommended exercises discussed so you can see demonstrated what was discussed.
The Day After Our Appointment
The morning following our session you will receive:
- A more detailed written review of specific topics pertinent to your specific situation.
- A review of the steps required to achieve ‘Heel’.
- Recommendations regarding dog training equipment.
Day Three After Our Appointment
Weekly for One Month
- A weekly for one month, What’s Better/Worse/Same? pdf for you to forward which areas need additional attention/massaging.
These are the field trip days referred to and planned for in Day Twenty One’s email. The goal will be that by the end (day ninety) we will have produced a dog trained to behave in, around and outside the home, ‘No Matter What.’
'Trainer On Retainer' - After Our Appointment
- In addition to all the followup mentioned above, you are asked to embrace what I refer to as ‘’Trainer On Retainer’ access to me. This means that at no extra charge for a full month you will be encouraged to contact me with any questions, large or small as frequently as you feel the need.
Video - After Our Appointment
I have learned with the advent of smartphones that whereas a picture is worth a thousand words a video is the fastest and most effective way to get answers to training hurdles. As a result, part of what we will be discussing during our session is when to send video and what each video should contain.