‘Virtual+’ – Training Help From John Wade For Dogs With Behavior Problems

Anxiety, Fear, Aggression etc.

Behavior Problem 'Virtual+' - Training Table of Contents

The Advantages Of Working With John Wade

  • 30 Years Of Full-Time Experience
  • Science-Driven Approach
  • Reputation (Over 60 Five Star Google Reviews)

I have been rehabilitating dogs with behavior problems for nearly 30 years on a full-time basis. The knowledge and experience I’ve accrued provide a significant database to draw from in assessing, diagnosing, and recommending a rehabilitation program. It also allows for an additional contribution which is prognosis. Often dogs suffering from extremes in behavior can be a safety concern either to themselves or those they are exposed to, and an essential element that companion dog owners should be looking for in any trainer they select is honesty as to risks associated with doing nothing, during rehabilitation and afterward.

There’s a certain sad irony that the vast majority of minor and major obedience and behavior problems that companion dog owners struggle is caused by the very people they end up seeking ‘fixes’ from, that being well-meaning but ill-qualified amateur dog trainers, veterinarians, and vet techs. Review the section below (A Few Of The Factors That Contribute To and Therefore Should Be Considered) as it will provide you with a means to get a sense of whether the advice you’ve received or are seeking is coming from someone well enough versed in canine behavior to be providing advice.

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’).

Science Based Methodology

‘Fully Balanced Companion Dog Trainers’ like myself approach the assessment and recommendations related to canine behavior problems in a far more advanced manner than typically available through ‘All Positive/Purely Positive/Force-Free…’, ‘Might Is Right’ or partially balanced companion dog trainers. These approaches rarely consider a wide variety of factors (some are listed below) that should be reviewed and weighed so that the companion dog owner can be more accurately advised regarding diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis.

In other words, an experienced, Fully Balanced Companion Dog Trainer like myself will improve your chances of success by considering all the information and tailoring advice and approach accordingly. You will be providing your dog with a far greater opportunity for rehabilitation using a plan that is far less stressful to both companion dog owner and dog that is typically offered in the part-time amateur dog training world.

A Synopis Of The Fully Balanced Dog Training Approach To Treating Behavior Problems

This 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. 

  1. 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 that almost always used by amateur dog trainers when confronted with behavior problems.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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:

  1. Because you and your dog are already hard-wired to teach and learn in this manner.
  2. I am a really, really good teacher. 🙂 Read my Google Reviews and Facebook Reviews

A Few Of The Factors That Contribute To and Therefore Should Be Considered

Genetics

Some breeds are more prone to certain behavior problems such as anxiety and aggression. However, because breeding of dogs has in most cases become no more than an income stream and very little attention is spent on emerging confidence levels as the dogs develop we’ve left the door open to genetically influenced negative behavior in our dogs.

Critical Socialization Period Imprinting

The most severe versions of behavior problems related to anxiety and aggression are almost always in large part connected to the amount and the context of companionship a dog experiences or did not experience between 3 – twelve weeks of age (+/- one week). If imprinted on constant companionability during this period a dog will forever more have separation anxiety triggered when left alone. If the environment was insufficiently stimulating another form of anxiety and often fear aggression will likely have manifested.

Learned/Triggered (Associative)/Conditioned

While not easy, this is undoubtedly the easier to address form of anxiety and aggression. An example of ‘learned’ anxiety, in this case, crate-triggered separation anxiety can be tied to the way in which a crate is used in the early stages of life.

Crates are more often than not overwhelming mistakenly only used when a dog must be left alone such as in another room at night time and when the owners are at work. In spite of still having residuals of their cousin’s denning instincts where used more creatively a crate could have become a sanctuary many dogs develop anxiety triggered every time they are in a crate or otherwise confined.

The issue isn’t the crate so much as the manner in which the crate is used. Puppies that spend some time in their crates while still at the breeders with their mothers and littermate nearby and later with their owners nearby for their naps, meals, treats, to fetch a toy, etc., or at their owner’s bedside every night do not develop anxiety triggered by crates.

That doesn’t mean that they won’t suffer from separation anxiety as there are other ways to trigger this condition, but they too are avoidable. It’s just intended to illustrate the learned aspect of anxiety.

An example that is not uncommon in cases of prey but particularly territorial aggression is the impact of unsupervised environments. A dog is learning, whether being actively taught or not and there are a variety of lifestyle factors that can push, particularly a territorial or prey oriented breed in the direction of severe conditioned aggression. Looking out a window in an urban environment can so frequently trigger territorial or prey genetics that in time the behavior instead then be considered as an option to the dog becomes conditioned and unnaturally amplified.

Past Approach To Training

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.

I frequently use the metaphor that ‘Fully Balanced Companion Dog Training’ is similar to naturalism painting. If you want the picture to be an authentic representation you need to paint with all of the colors required to bring the image into clear focus. Leaving out some colors for some dogs can lead to the development of behavior problems. Attempting to resolve those problems without considering the role of those colors can lead to failure. For example, there’s considerable research outlining the impact that a lack of cardiovascular activity has on not only our own physical but our mental health.

What typically passes for exercise for dogs rarely ever is in keeping with what their bodies evolved for and that this might impact the brain chemistry of some dogs as has been determined with some humans is worth considering when assessing a dog with a behavior problem related to anxiety (or aggression).

Physical activity is but a single example of the potential role a dog’s evolutionary biology might play in the assessment of dogs with behavior problems.

Missing Or Insufficiently Emphasized Lifestyle Components

Handler Lifestyle

Some people purchase dogs that are by nature more Ferrari-like but either have mini-van handling skills or lifestyles.

Dog’s LifeStyle Vs Genetics

Many dog remember what their grandparents did for a living and don’t do well getting laid off the day they get hired. The way and the amount of physical and mental stimulation a dog receives as it develops and later as an adult should be factored into both cause and treatment.

Influence of Environment On Behavior

Something we sometimes forget whilst raising a dog is that they’re learning whether we’re teaching or not.

There’s not much point spending time and money attempting to influence territorial and prey aggression and allow an unsupervised dog to look out a window or hang out in a yard so that millions of years of evolution designed to encourage their territorial and prey instincts are repeatedly triggered without guidance. You will learn instead to use such triggers to your benefit.

Expectations: Learning To Exert Self-Control Vs 'Cures'

Any legitimate approach to canine behavior modification is going to look at all of the factors that influence the outcome. Some are mentioned above.

When a trainer is knowledgeable and experienced, they will, after meeting the dog and its owners, based on consideration of these factors, be able to provide an opinion with reasonable certainty as to what the dog’s owner can reasonably expect from their dog. There are two categories of factors that ultimately influence the outcome. There are those that the dog’s owner (or the trainer) can (technically/potentially – more on that qualifier in a moment) influence, and those that they cannot.

For example, training cannot extinguish (without harm) a guarding breed’s genetic drive to guard, a retrieving breed’s drive to retrieve, herding to herd, etc. Nor can it add a drive that is not there in a manner in keeping with the breeds for which that drive has been carefully selected. In other words, training doesn’t transform a Rottweiler into a Golden Retriever. What training can do is teach the dog to exert self-control.

Another area that we have no control over is the influence on any dog’s temperament that experiences missing from or were adverse exposures during the dog’s critical imprint period (3 – 12 weeks of age). If you’re interested in the science behind this (it’s quite solid) you can read my book Socialize Your Puppy for Everything (eBook) – John Wade

Another is the legitimacy of the dog’s breeder and subsequently breeding. As with dog training, there are no industry qualifying standards, and outside of the ability to tell the difference to determine the difference between a male and a female dog nothing else is required to be a breeder. You will rarely find much else. Membership with a kennel club provides little to no advantage. Multiple wins over multiple years in the show ring is almost always a red flag if not well balanced by arenas that proved the dog’s physical and mental stability (fashion vs function).

Without a breeding ethic that includes periodic check-ins throughout the lives of the dogs they breed, breeders can and do create instability in the dogs they produce from both a mental and physical perspective. For example, Golden Retrievers have in the last 20 years had their lifespans reduced by approximately 30% and the number dying from cancer around the 8-9 year period is enormous. Also, many within the same breed have also exhibited extreme food aggression (resource guarding) something virtually unheard of twenty years ago.

Another area for which we cannot meaningfully influence is that as alluded to above, some breeds of dogs, some dog personalities, might be categorized more in the Ferrari world whereas some dog owners from a handling ability or from the perspective of how much there is leftover of them at the end of the day are better suited to the mini-van world. If a mini-van owner has a Ferrari level dog and has issues with their handling ability and/or the time they have to invest in the dog to keep it on the road, how legitimate the training advice they’re given will make little difference.

Essentially, proper dog training and especially with regard to dogs with serious behavior problems is a lot like naturalism painting. You have to paint will all the colors, not just the ones we like, if the picture is going to be clear. Some dogs need more colors than others.

Long story short, (too late I know) at this point I can guarantee to you two things:

  1. Given the correct information, I’ll be able to provide an honest, knowledgeable, and experienced opinion as to what your chances are of achieving your goals with your dog and how to best go about achieving those goals.
  2. The absolute best support, accessibility, and post-training follow-up.

'Virtual+': How It Works

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 real key and benefit that ‘Virtual +’  brings is what happens afterward.

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.

Part I: Pre-Session Preparation

The first part involves sending video of the behavior problems AND ‘where you are’ with regard to areas such as ‘Stay,’ ‘Come’ and “Heel’. In addition, for all programs you will begin to create a ‘wish-list”. “I want my dog to …,”, “I want my dog to stop …”, “Good Lord, I don’t want my dog to ever even think of …”

Part II: Virtual Face-To-Face

The second is the ‘V-Training’ which can be done using Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet etc,. For this part, we don’t require your dog. It’s for my learning more about you and your dog and how to move forward in a manner best for you and your dog. It’s for laying the foundation for moving forward. You’ll be learning things like, how your dog sees the world and decides who’s the teacher and who’s the student. You’ll learn what exercises I recommend and how to break them into small steps so neither you or your dog become overwhelmed or discouraged. You’ll also learn how to gently transition into being a loving authority figure (without treats, or might is right), so you can more effectively, naturally and fairly shape your dog’s behavior. You can expect to invest in one sitting 2 hours (+/- 1/2 hour). There’s a lot of information in a relatively short period of time (so put on a pot of coffee).

Part III: Review, Notes, Recommended Exercise Video Examples

The third part begins with my forwarding you:

  • A thorough written review.
  • Video examples of the exercises I recommend.
  • Equipment recommendations. (if required.)
  • Charts for tracking your progress.

Part IV: Where The Real Work/Journey Begins

For this part of your ‘V-Training’ program you will need to be familiar with using your smart-phone to record and send video. This part of the program is completely voluntary, but this aspect of your program utilizes this phenomenal tool to track and tune your progress over the weeks to come. Without exception every ‘V-Training’ client that has utilized this aspect has found it incredibly useful.

I will use these videos to make you aware of what needs massaging so that your progress is as stress-free on both you and your dog as possible. I do so by returning the videos you send with a voice-over breaking down what can be improved upon which you can review at your leisure repeatedly.

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.

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