Thursday, February 2, 2023

February Special 28

 The February Theme of the Month is Focus on Behaviors!

Every dog owner has certain behaviors that they love to see their dog do and other behaviors they hate to see their dog doing. In 2022, the Focus was understanding what drives behaviors, what reinforcement means, what enrichment means and other elements that we can use to encourage our dogs to do more of the behaviors we love. A few months later, in September, we looked at some of the common behaviors that we often find challenging or difficult to change. This month I'm going to bring all those previous posts together to help us how to move away from those behaviors we hate while increasing the recurrence of the behaviors we love.

This is a topic that begins to move away from the typical dog training world, moving more towards the behavioral modification planning that is done by skilled Behavior Consultants. (My certificate to show this credential from ILLIS ABC is available on the About Me tab.) While I won't be solving the world's dog behaviors, I will be giving you some tools to develop simple modification plans yourself as a dog owner while helping you understand why your dog is doing what they are doing.

Creating a plan to bring about change in behavior is not easy! Which is one of the reasons I've developed the February Special 28! This package includes:
  • One ZOOM session that will be roughly 28 mins long, geared toward discussing that one challenging behavior you want to work on with this plan.
  • One Behaviors Worksheet that we fill out together to help us develop the plan.
  • Access to shaping plans that can be modified to meet the needs of you and your dog.
  • 28 Days of text support following the Zoom session to help with any questions or struggles you are having in your plan process.
This Special 28 will cost the very low fee of $28 for all these great services!

During the Zoom session we will discuss the "bad" behavior. I will walk you through a workshop where we discuss these topics:
  • Describe what the behavior looks like?
  • What canine need is the behavior fulfilling?
  • What is the dog achieving by doing the behavior?
  • And what behavior would your rather them do in that situation?
These can be challenging for an owner to figure out on their own because they are often too close to the struggle to see the whole dog picture. By discussing these and other questions with a 3rd party, you can often create a simple plan to help transition the behavior you don't want repeated to the behavior you love and want your dog to do more of. This is done by creating a history of positive associations to the new behavior using teamwork. By looking at the whole dog and not just the troubling behavior, we can address the underlying cause of that behavior instead of stopping the behavior out right which typically leads to an even worse behavior starting. The training plan will be designed to teach the dog what you want them to do, which is a concept dogs learn much more quickly than a "stop that" concept!

A bonus to this Special 28 package is that it gives you the chance to try out Virtual Consults with a dog trainer without breaking the bank and finding out that this format doesn't really work for you. 

Let me tell you about one client of mine, who will remain nameless. They thought virtual training would not work for them with a strong feeling of needing hands on help in order to help their dog. I searched my trainer network and referred them to a few people that shared my training ethics. They tried going to those trainers and multiple others they found on their own including some "not" force free trainers. What the client found was a trainer that said the dog was dangerous because the dog barked at the trainer the first time trainer showed up at the house. Client found another trainer that was way out of their price range. Client found another trainer that swore the dog needed e-collar training and client paid for a very expensive board & train only to realize that the e-collar made dog more reactive and fearful. Needless to say, client came back to me with virtual sessions and together we made more progress in just a few short sessions than with all the other trainers combined. Client now knows how to do the "Whole Dog" approach to looking at a problem and still reports progress to me almost weekly as they continue to grow their teamwork skills and move closer to their goal of becoming a Service Dog team. And this is not a rare client that switched to virtual training vs in person training. 

When covid hit, most dog trainers did not know how they were going to survive as a business because very few had ever done virtual training. Yet the world wide shut downs forced canine professionals to try new things. And now many canine professions say they will never go back to face-to-face training sessions and holding in-person classes because they can reach a much bigger audience and help people more rapidly using virtual training.  And here is why:
  • Virtual training offers stress free training. No longer is your dog being triggered by the trainer, the environment the session is taking place, the distractions that interrupt a session, etc. No longer is the dog owner trying to manage the dog and listen to the trainer at the same time. Trainer and owner have a quiet conversation discussing the "Whole Dog" and then the trainer gives the client some things to do before they meet again.
  • Virtual training offers a more flexible schedule. Many dog owners work therefore needing classes in the evenings or on weekends. By skipping the drive time to the appointment, trainers can spread out sessions more easily seeing one client at time that works for them and another several hours later without the need to book them one after the other to save drive time. This is especially true for people like me where the average client lives 10-20 miles away from my house and spread out in a rural community in all directions. This also means that often the trainer is not rushed to get to the next client so if you need an extra 5-10 minutes in your session that can be accommodated. Some sessions are shorter, some are longer giving both client and trainer the time they need to discuss the topic without pressure to fill the whole slot.
  • Digital resources including links to more information and worksheets that can be filled in digitally or printed off for notebooks can be sent during or immediately following the session. I have a free blog on my website that has tons of great resources for dog owners. But this format can be overwhelming for many. I can send a link directly to the blogpost on the topic we are discussing either in the session or between sessions to remind you what we discussed. I also don't like to waste paper, but often worksheets are not able to be filled in virtually. All my worksheets and plans are in Google Drive using a spreadsheet or word processing format that makes it easy for both trainer and client to fill in and expand as the training progresses. This saves us all time and saves trees as well!
  • Ongoing support is not something that all trainers offer, but I do! Most of my clients buy a package instead of a single session. Packages are laid out based on the difficulty level of what is being trained. I offer packages that have a 3 month plan & 6 month plan most often, with the occasional monthly special like this one that has 28 days of extended support. This support begins immediately following the first zoom session in that package and typically involves text based support through messenger, directly to your cell phone or through the group that relates best to your training package. For example the Medical Alert classes I teach are a 3 month class and work within a Google Classroom which offers private & group messaging within the classroom, plus we a Service Dog task group where questions can be posted, plus I'm available to private messages during that time. No that doesn't mean you get an immediate response the moment you send a message. But since I have a great team of support staff, you generally get a response within a few hours and for sure within 24 hrs. This includes weekends with a rare few holidays that are announced as unavailable dates.
  • Virtual training allows for individualized needs of both the handler and the dog. This is probably one the biggest perks to virtual training. Years ago, the common force free way to handle stopping a dog from jumping was to have them sit when a visitor came and wait for permission to greet. While this is good in theory, many dogs struggle to be calm enough to actually sit and owners need help finding a behavior that meets the dog's need to move and release some excitement yet still saves the visitor from an over enthusiastic greeting from the dog. Once an alternate behavior has been found that meets everyone's needs, training is some much easier. Dog training is not a one size fits all situation as each dog owner, each dog, and each trainer has unique life experiences that all add to the relationship sometimes referred to as the Training Triangle; owner, dog, trainer with each individual impacting both of the others. Individualized training helps training to happen more naturally which in turn makes everyone happier with the end results.
Have I convinced you yet to give virtual training a try? 
Perhaps you've tried it and finished up your package but have a few lingering questions. 
Perhaps you've been training for years and now something has changed and your simply struggling with this one problem and not seeming to make any progress on your own. 

If any of these sound familiar to you, then this is what the Special 28 package is designed to do! 

If you're ready to take the leap and schedule your Special 28 Zoom session, you can do so using my virtual scheduling system here:

If you have additional questions about the Special 28 package or other packages I offer, please feel free to reach out to me via email at or send me text at 906-399-0548. You can also send me a friend request if you prefer the FB messenger format.

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