What kind of trainer am I?

What is “effective” training?

Trainers I admire consider the needs of the dog, the people, and the community. Everyone matters, and everyone’s safety, perceived safety, and quality of life is important. 

I worry that the extremely positive trainers value the dog’s need for safety above all else, even above their need to be able to function in the world.  Some stress is good! Some stress builds resiliency.  Bubble wrapping dogs and keeping them away from all stress isn’t always helping them. Staying too far away from stress can severely limit progress.


Trainers who use punishment, or “balanced trainers” as they call themselves, consider stopping the behaviour at any emotional cost a success. They call themselves effective trainers. Oh how I hate that the word ‘balanced’ has been taken by the community of people who use punishment.  These trainers will often train a dog who is completely unsuited, to fit into a box that is desired by the owners. Not every dog is going to love strangers, other dogs, and busy public spaces. Not every dog is cut out to be a competition dog. And that’s all OK- I am an introvert myself, so I get it!I 


Keeping reactive dogs 100% “under threshold” all the time isn’t’ realistic and might not help the dog progress at a rate that gives everyone the quality of life we need.   In addition to the training plan, we need management plans that help us manage a dog if the situation is above their training level. These plans might include telling our dog no, but it never needs to include using tools that hurt or scare dogs. No dog needs to be in a slip lead, prong, or e-collar. These devices tell our dogs “no, or else”.  Just like with a child that wants to run into traffic after a ball, you can say “no” and physically stop the child from running into the street without hurting or scaring them.  Dogs aren’t kids by any means, but this is the same. We can say no without using outdated practices like ear pinches, or warning beeps or vibrations that tell our dog to stop “or else”.  

Setting fair and humane expectations is a large part of dog training. I will refuse to help people who insist on trying to train an anxious working breed into being ok with going to birthday parties and doggy daycares, but I am more than happy to help people understand their dog and make fair and realistic training and management goals.

Good trainers won’t sacrifice the dog’s needs to please a person who wishes they had gotten a different dog, a more easy going or confident dog. Yes, we could use punishment to make dogs fit into these boxes, but I won’t and ethical trainers won’t. It isn’t fair or humane. 


 Much of the stress myself and others with a trained eye see is missed by the average pet owner when their dog can now go into public spaces without reacting. I see the scared posture, the way they hold their tail, the set of their ears, and I know that the dog might outwardly appear to be coping, but inside they are suffering. And that isn’t ok. 


Effective, humane training takes everyone into consideration. We consider what is fair for the dog? What is fair to the people involved? What is fair to the community?  


Your patience and kindness really shine through your training approach. We all had a great time and I am so pleased with how Lili is doing. We were out doing ‘house calls’ this afternoon and Lili did the best ever with her latest new dog-loving senior friend with very little barking, and few worries about the environment, other people, and noises …. I am so appreciative of the strong foundation she received in our virtual lessons with you. 

We are so happy with Buddy’s progress!  He was amazing today when our friends came over.  Thank you for helping us. We are so glad that we signed up for online lessons. 

I can’t believe how well we are doing! Rosie seems very happy lately. It’s really, really great!! Thank you for the help!