An interview with Woof's Dog Trainer Kaitlin
We got together with one of Woof's dog trainers, Kaitlin to answer common questions that we get regarding training dogs. Kaitlin has been with Woof's since 2010 and just celebrated her 10 year anniversary in June. At Woof's we don't just take care of your dog, we want you to go home with a better behaved dog! We can work with your dog to make sure they are comfortable and happy during daycare, and getting the most out of their time at Woof's! We also aim to replace any bad behaviors you are experiencing at home, with good behaviors that can alleviate some of the stress of dog parenting!
How long have you been in the pet care industry?
I started working in animal care in June of 2010
What kind of dogs do you have?
I have a senior black lab mix named Hotshot
What is your favorite thing about training dogs?
The best part of dog training is getting to experience their milestones and accomplishments
Are there different dog training styles? Which do you use?
There are! I tend to attempt at getting a lot of focus from the dogs I work with, whether I am working with them one-on-one, or in a group setting. I will verbally use a lot of alarming noises, like a strong "AHT!' or "Uh-huh" to catch their attention when they are too distracted to listen otherwise. Some would say this is similar to saying "NO", which usually is not part of my reinforcement. I try to keep things positive at the same time, so I guess you would say I have my own style, with emphasis on focus redirection and reward.
How do you decide what each individual dog needs for training?
It is somewhat east to know how to help within one or two sessions; by getting information from the owner and evaluating the dog in different situations. Whether it's help with group play, leash walking, or exposure to new sights and sounds. We can then at least build a foundation for where to start. Baby steps, even when teaching them something as simple as looking at you when you say their name or give a command, can go a long ways!
How do you praise a dog for doing what you ask of them?
I usually verbally say "good" in the beginning of training I will prepare the verbal "good" with a treat or a scent of a treat so it's more rewarding. After they get used to working with me, or especially if they have a jumping or mouthing issue, I'll stick to using verbal praise. Physical praise can easily solicit hyperactivity in a lot of dogs, I just tried to solicit calm behavior out of them as much as possible. A calm dog is a happy dog!
What do you do when a dog does not respond appropriately?
Have patience. Sometimes I wait to give them time to figure it out while I repeat the given command. Other times they need redirected or just need to start over, and in those cases I would probably use treats or physical praise to let them know they finally got it, once they did.
Do you have anything that you use for training dogs that makes things easier?
I have a harness that tightens a little if the dog pulls hard and also a correction collar that does the same. They are great tools for teaching "heel" (walking your dog on your side at your pace) because if the dog has a pulling or positioning issue, I can help them without stressing or hurting them.
Do training methods vary by dog breed?
Not in my opinion. It's case by case and every dog is different. I could have five heelers that probably have herding instincts but it's likely they all have different personalities and some of them just might not exhibit those behaviors.
What is the most important thing you wish dogs parents understood about training?
Consistency is the key to getting desired behaviors you want with your dog. This does not stop with myself and the owners, it involves every single person who interacts with the dog, even if it's just for a few seconds.