First and foremost, my approach is always a reward-based approach. I will never use scare tactics or punishment as a method of training. I would always rather suggest an alternative behaviour to replace an unwanted action, rather than just saying ‘no’ without explaining what we want the dog to do instead.
I am an Associate Member of PDTE. The PDTE ethos (see below) is about working on natural and simple ways to interact with your dog by gaining a better understanding of dogs and their communication, always with the aim of reducing stress for the dog. A calm, happy dog is empowered to make good decisions.
There is no quick fix in working with dogs – changing behaviours takes a lot of patience and effort. We will look at the reasons, rather than just dealing with unwanted actions. More often than not, it is a human change in mindset that is required to better communicate with our dogs. We will work together to understand how the issue arose and how to make the necessary changes to re-wire the thought process going forward. It may sound obvious, but I am only giving you pointers on how to manage the issue yourself. It’s not me training your dog. It is me training with you to train your dog!
Suggested book to read: Turid Rugaas’s booking “Calming Signs: On Talking Terms with Dogs” will help you spot dog communication methods you may be missing.
Before we start working together
Harness: I will insist that all dogs have a good, well-fitting harness. Try brands such as Calming Signs, Haquihana or Perfect Fit which will suit most shapes and sizes of dogs and I am happy to help fit your dog in the harness if helpful.
Lead: I would like you to have a 2-3 metre lead ideally. Retractable leads are not a good idea and I am happy to explain why when we meet!
Treats: This is part of the reward based approach. I will have treats with me, but if your dog has a sensitive tummy or is especially fond of a particular treat, please do come prepared with these for our session.
For those of you based in SW London, Woofs to Kittys in Taybridge Road, SW11 sells an excellent variety of harnesses, leads, chews and treats and the owner, Anita, is very knowledgeable and will help you buy the right size and give you great advice on all things dog.
PDTE’s motto is
VALUING COMPANIONSHIP OVER COMPLIANCE SINCE 1998
Think about that for a moment. Wouldn’t it be more companionable to give your dog the chance and tools to enable him to make a good decision than having a robot dog who can only respond to commands on autopilot?
Members of the Pet Dog Trainers of Europe (PDTE):
- must uphold and promote the PDTE Code of Ethics at all times
- must commit to ongoing learning and continued professional development (eg. seminars, webinars, research) and help to educate others
- must actively promote responsible and ethical training and overall welfare of dogs
- should not practice in a professional capacity when they are not in a fit mental or physical state
- must have insurance for professional indemnity and public liability when working with dogs and clients
Submissions for revisions to the Code of Ethics shall be accepted at any time and the Code of Ethics will be reviewed and voted on annually by the general membership.
Members of the PDTE should:
- use humane and relevant training techniques, ensuring that each dog has appropriate choices and opportunities to act out normal dog behaviour
- never use or encourage physical or psychological punishment on dogs
- be open-minded about new training ideas, research and equipment and make decisions based on ethical research
- teach responsible training, care and welfare and encourage choices for dogs. Emotional and physical welfare must be paramount, and the needs of each dog must be taken into account at all times.
- promote appropriate equipment, including well-fitting harnesses that allow unrestricted movement and are comfortable, as well as long flat leads (ideally 2-3 metres) that allow freedom of movement
- discourage the use of collars (with lead attached), half-check collars, choke chains, slip leads, headcollars, prong collars, spray collars, e-collars, flexi leads, short leads (less than 1.5 metres), cages, crates and any equipment that restricts normal movement, choice, causes pain, shock, fear or restricts breathing
- discourage repetitive and arduous games, activities, competitions and exercise (for example retrieve, fetch, being asked to sit repeatedly, traditional obedience, agility) that may cause physical and/or emotional stress, hyperactivity and obsessive behaviour. Always take into account the age, health and individual preferences of the dog to decide on the appropriateness of activities.
- refrain from giving medical advice, diagnosing or claiming to treat medical conditions. Where possible work with veterinary professionals, and refer to them if you suspect any health issues.
- treat clients and dogs with respect and behave in a professional manner regardless of individual abilities or breed of dog.
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