I work off a positive hierarchy of Learning and Behavior Principles. This means simply that I teach you how to train new behaviors and change unwanted behaviors using reward based methodology and prevention. This is my focus. Scientifically speaking we know that learning takes place stronger in a positive environment. I eliminate or minimize the need for punitive/dominance methodology through manipulation of the environment and circumstances surrounding the behavior in question. This method is called Applied Behavior Analysis. It can be used with any species, unlike the "dominance theory" that utilizes punishment based change along with force and coercion creating stress in the animal.

A Humane Hierarchy is a list of intervention principles of learning and behavior science putting punishment at the bottom. Many years ago punishment and the use of force, coercion and pain were used as a first intervention. We know that all species learn better and without unwanted fallout and side effects from positive based interventions like positive reinforcement, intermittent reinforcement, differential reinforcement of incompatible behaviors, shaping,  and many more. There is so much available for us to change behavior in a humane way. Unfortunately many people calling themselves professionals and calling themselves trainers and behavior consultants do not even know these much less utilize these behavior change procedures.  Check out the education  and ask questions of anyone you are thinking of hiring in this field to see what their knowledge is and what their methodology is. If you hire someone and see what they are doing is punishment based first and foremost; intervene right then and there for the sake of your pet.  This is why visiting one of the organizations on the home page of this site and checking out these professional trainers will help to keep you on the right track for choosing a knowledgeable, certified trainer or behavior consultant.

Training is the building of a relationship betwee n owner(s) and pet. This relationship is rooted in proper leadership and communication techniques between all family members and the dog. This needs to take place in the home environment and day to day living so the dog learns his/her place in the family.  Training the dog in a distractive environment will be less productive if control/leadership is not already in place in the home. This is where training and proper communication needs to be learned first and then spread out to more intense/distractive environments.  I do believe there is a proper time for the correct group class, not to be confused with socialization which should begin at 3 wks and continue throughout the dog’s life. A well structured puppy class (9 to18wks.) is invaluable for added socialization. A puppy class should include off-lead puppy playtime so all the pups can interact freely and learn proper dog/dog communication skills.

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SHEILA HEIL FERGUSON, CBCC-KA, DipABT, CPDT-KA

DOG TRAINING, OBEDIENCE INSTRUCTION, AND BEHAVIOR CONSULTING

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