Frequently Asked Questions
Is Reward-based training permissive? Do you reward what you like and ignore the rest?
Reward-based training is not a free for all for your pet! Every behavior your pet does is motivated by something – emotions or basic needs. I teach you management techniques to prevent inappropriate behaviors and use reward-based training with your pet to teach them more appropriate behaviors. Ignoring behaviors can be equally detrimental to the process because it means we are ignoring those emotions or basic needs. Instead, we revisit our management techniques to change what wasn’t working so your pet is set up for success in the future.
Do I have to use food to train my pet?
Trainers love to use food as a reinforcer in training because food is a powerful motivator for most animals. Whether or not an animal takes food during a training session also tells us a lot about their emotional state and whether we’ve designed the session to be conducive to learning. However, I have worked with dogs and cats in a variety of situations where food was not the strongest motivator for that situation. I focus on teaching you and your pet, and the rewards used are based on your pet’s specific needs.
Will I always have to use food to reward my pet?
My goal with training is to introduce other real-life rewards (praise, petting, play, opportunity) to pets as soon as possible in the learning process. My main goal is to improve the human-animal bond between you and your pet. This bond tends to “blow open” your pet’s capacity to learn from you, and the bond itself can ultimately become the reward. Using food in early training builds the foundation for using real-life rewards later once behaviors are well-established!
What if my pet isn’t food motivated?
There are a lot of different reasons why an animal doesn’t take food in a specific situation. The food may not be interesting enough or the situation too stressful. The animal may have recently eaten or thinks tennis balls are so much more exciting than hot dogs! It is my job to help you figure out why food isn’t a motivator and adjust accordingly.
What type of treats do you recommend?
Again, this depends on your pet’s preferences! I’ve used hot dogs, turkey, cream cheese, string cheese, easy cheese, wet food, chewy treats, crunchy treats, tuna, chicken, peanut butter and even kibble to work with animals. Every animal is different. It is important to try a variety of treats to determine their value in your pet’s eyes. You may think veggies are a treat, but if your dog just finds them to be so-so then you need to find something more exciting!
That sounds like a lot of extra food! Won’t my pet get fat?
When using treats during training, it is important to keep the treats very small so your pet doesn’t fill up right away and looks forward to more training later. Training practice should be done in short spurts throughout the day, and you can modify your pet’s regular food to accommodate the treats they receive during training.
Do you offer guarantees? How long will it take to train my pet?
Behavior is fluid and based on your pet’s motivations. There is, unfortunately, no cookie-cutter recipe for training and behavior modification. Each case is unique and heavily dependent on owner commitment to training and management. I can, however, guarantee to provide you with scientifically based knowledge and techniques for training, as well as a commitment to ensuring client satisfaction.
Why are all of your private training options grouped into packages?
I know people are sometimes surprised that I don’t offer individual sessions for purchase, and I like to be transparent about why. Dog training is a lot like fitness training – it takes time and effort to get the results you want. When I first started, I offered individual sessions and ended up working with most of my clients for at least four sessions anyway (at their request!). The clients that only wanted a single in-person session were looking for that “magic pill”, and that’s just not what I offer (or what any reputable trainer should offer).
What about refunds?
I am happy to provide refunds to clients who cancel their prepaid lessons at least 48 hours in advance of the appointment. Since training and behavior modification success is dependent on owner commitment to training and management, I am unable to provide refunds for any services already provided.
Why do you take photos and videos of my pet during training?
Photos and videos can be incredibly helpful for tracking progress as we work on training. I also post photos of client success to my social media accounts, and I encourage you to follow me on Facebook and Instagram!