Frequently Asked Questions

What type of training do you provide?
I teach and practice positive reinforcement training methods using a clicker device (i.e. a bridge marker) and food rewards (i.e. a primary reinforcer) in addition to reward removal for undesirable behavior (i.e. negative punishment). I am committed to humane, science-based training methods.

What makes you qualified to work with my dog?
I am a graduate and certified training partner (KPA CTP) of the Karen Pryor Academy for Animal Training and Behavior, where I completed over six months of rigorous education and testing in animal behavior modification at the Medical District Veterinary Clinic at Illinois, part of the University of Illinois in Chicago. In conjunction with the strict legal and ethical behavioral protocol and continuing education requirements of my certification board, I am committed to staying up-to-on new developments and research in animal behavior.

My background and extensive experience encompasses dairy farming, private and animal shelter-based dog training, as well as beef and dairy cow behavior modification. Additionally, I am a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) and certified in Canine Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation.

 If you aren’t sure if my expertise fits your needs, please contact me. I would be happy to discuss it with you.

Isn’t dog behavior related to “pack leadership” or dominance?                                                                                                                                   Traditional dog trainers and self-proclaimed “dog experts” are abundant among us, justifying their punishing practices with pseudoscientific explanations about pack leadership and dominance, a theory based solely on studies performed on a pack of wolves in the 1940s. Fact is, domesticated dogs and wolves are separated by thousands of years of evolution, and that study has since been renounced by the very scientists who conducted it.

Like us, dogs are resilient creatures. They may face very painful feelings of anxiety, frustration or anger, often times a result of communication barriers and being subjected to punishment-based training methods. I feel privileged and determined to help dogs and their people move beyond such communication barriers using humane training methods based on up-to-date research.  

Isn’t dog training for difficult, aggressive or fragile dogs or those that have come from horrible backgrounds?
Dogs of all ages, backgrounds and personalities can benefit greatly from positive reinforcement training. In addition to modifying dog behavior, my science-based communication techniques can help you deepen your relationship with your dog.

I've had dogs all my life. Why should I seek out professional training?                                                                                                                    Professional dog training is fairly new, and for some the idea of enlisting help for behavioral concerns may carry a certain stigma. Perhaps you pride yourself on being able to train your dog on your own. However, living with even the most minor behavioral problems or pretending they do not exist just prolongs the freedom that comes with conquering them. Whether you are experienced or new to owning a dog, my goal is to give you the communication tools and solutions needed to achieve your training goals. 

What’s the advantage of small group classes? 
Often times traditional group dog training classes can be overly distracting, overcrowded and stressful for you and your dog. My small class size of just 3 or 4 dog teams per class, ensures more one-on-one focus on dogs and their owners, tailored to reach their individual training goals.

How long do in-home dog training sessions last and how many will I need to have?
Each session is typically 60 minutes in length. The number of sessions is determined by the goals you decide on and the progress you and your dog make toward those goals. Some canine behavioral issues require more in-depth work and therefore, tend to require more sessions, while others can be achieved in just a few sessions or a group class. My goal is to provide you with the communication tools needed to surpass your training goals outside of sessions.

Do you prescribe medications or provide health care advice?
No. However, if I believe your dog may benefit from medication or additional healthcare, I will recommend an evaluation by a veterinarian or refer you to a veterinary behavior professional.

Do you work with aggressive dogs?
Dogs that display signs of aggression, fear, anxiety, or those with a bite history will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. My training methods can be highly effective in calming aggression and giving a fearful dog confidence. When needed, I collaborate with and refer to veterinary and veterinary behavior professionals to help dogs overcome specific behavioral challenges.

Why do you refuse to work with bark, prong, shock or choke collars?
These types of collars are marketed to unsuspecting dog owners as a “quick fix” for behavioral issues and a fast way to "train" and control your dog. Fact is, these punishing methods only suppress behavior, they do not eliminate it, and they can have very serious side effects (e.g. injury, depression, fear, anxiety).

How should I prepare my home and dog for in-home training?
Prior to each training session you will be given specific instruction on feeding and any preparations or supplies needed. A quiet, distraction-free environment is best to begin training.

Who should attend training sessions?                                                                                                                                                                                      Together with your dog, I can work with family members individually and together. However, if possible, I welcome the entire family, adults and children, be a part of training sessions. Relationship growth and training goals with your family pet are best met when everyone in the household are working collectively to improve it.

Do you have evening and weekend appointments?
Yes, I offer flexible morning, afternoon, and evening appointments for in-home training, 7 days a week, and evening group classes