K9 Insights
Positive Training, Rewarding Results

Michelle M. Grimes  CPDT-KA, CAP-1, CGCE
Professional Certified Pet dog Trainer & 
 Behavior Modification Consultant

Training Philosophy

Michelle is devoted to using positive, reward-based training methods for all dog training, using the proven science of leading psychologists Ivan Pavlov and BF Skinner.

The research, and science, has unquestionably demonstrated that methods of years past, which include prong collars, choke chains, shock collars and ear pinching, you have an aversive affect on the relationship you have with your dog.  (Well written article on this topic by the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior can be found here. )

Based on the psychology of B.F. Skinner, reward-based training methods or Operant Conditioning, as it’s called, relies on consequences of the dogs’ behavior.  
Dog sits, he gets rewarded.  Dog doesn’t sit, no reward is given.  It’s that simple.  Dogs do what works for them and because of that they generally learn fairly quickly.

A reward is something your dog views as a great thing.  Food rewards usually work wonders when teaching however there are many opportunities to reward your dog using other things.  Petting, walking, playing, eating dinner, going for a ride or walk can all be used as a reward. The important thing to remember is the reward must be from your dogs perspective, not yours.  Just because you think something is a great reward doesn’t mean your dog agrees.  Maybe you love to hug your dog and do so after he’s done something right.  Well, not all dogs like to be hugged so even though you think you’re offering praise, your dog may uncomfortable. 

Michelle will coach you to focus on teaching your dog what you want it to do instead of focusing on things he shouldn't do.

Consider this:  You yell at your dog for doing something you deem inappropriate.  Are you really teaching him anything?  No.  Why not use this opportunity to teach him what is appropriate.  Teach him the appropriate way to behave to being with so he doesn't do the bad stuff!

Although clients are free to make the decision not to, Michelle prefers to use Clicker Training as her method to train dogs.  A clicker is a small, rectangular shaped plastic box with a metal strip inside.  When pressed and released, the metal strip makes a very distinct, sharp sound. tool used to "mark" a specific behavior.  The value of this tool is within the unique sound it makes.  The "mark" (the sound), is a very different sound compared to anything we sound like   doesn't get lost in the everyday babble of words we are always using with our dogs.  Much faster and more precise timing than saying "Good Boy!" the clicker allows us to mark with amazing accuracy, the specific behavior we want to reinforce.  
When you pair the clicker with a high value reward it becomes an extremely powerful tool for shaping behavior.

In laymen terms, have you ever seen dolphins or killer whales perform at an aquarium show?  Maybe you've never noticed but when the mammal does one of their tricks, the trainer blows a whistle and the dolphin will head over to the trainer and get a fish thrown in its mouth.  Clicker Training uses the same principle utilizing the clicker instead of a whistle. 

As my amazing mentor always says "If we can do dental work on a killer whale, we should be able to clip our dogs toenails!"
(Positive Reinforcement training done with mammals paves the way for Veterinarians to be able to provide necessary dental work without restraint.  Clicker Training dogs can be used for so much more than just basic obedience.  It can successfully be used to help fearful dogs, shy dogs and in some cases aggressive dogs.)

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