Monday, August 8, 2011

WOOFS! Training Class Basics

By Laura Sharkey
WOOFS! number one priority in our basic class is something we call Voluntary Attention (VA). Simply put, voluntary attention is the ability of the dog to pay attention to it's handler in a distracting environment without the owner using the leash or constantly cueing to the dog to look at them. The idea is that we make it so reinforcing for the dog to pay attention to the owner that they do so voluntarily and with duration.

This underpins our training philosophy which is that the dog does not HAVE to do anything you ask. A well trained dog WANTS to do what you ask because there is a history of reinforcement behind the behavior. I don't ever want to force a dog to listen or make them feel like they don't have an option. Every dog I train has the option to do what I ask or not. It is my job as the trainer to get them to WANT to do it. We start with voluntary attention because if the dog doesn't even want to pay attention to it's handler how on earth are you ever going to get it to do anything else? You can't train a dog that won't work with you.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Truth About Being the Pack Leader, Part II

By Laura Sharkey

In my last post I promised to tell you how to be an effective leader without resorting to dominance and intimidation. Quite honestly, Iʼll probably offend some people here, but intimidating animals and using physical dominance is for Neanderthals. And thatʼs probably an insult to Neanderthals.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Truth About Being the Pack Leader

By Laura Sharkey

I learned something last week when I was visiting Wolf Park in Battleground, Indiana.

Wolf packs donʼt have pack leaders. Thatʼs right. NO pack leader.