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Why positive reinforcement?
  • Similar to humans, dogs like to be positively reinforced for the things they do right. Nobody likes to be jerked by the neck or aggressively scolded for mistakes. By reinforcing the desired behavior and focusing on what you actually want from your dog, you can simultaneously improve your dog’s habits and your relationship to your pet.

    When we think of our dogs being our best friends, then we need to ask ourselves how we’d like to be treated by such a friend. In your own life, what works best for you? Do you perform better and feel a greater sense of attachment to somebody who tries to teach you through intimidation, domination, or other aggressive tactics? Or do you learn better and feel a greater attachment to somebody who teaches you through rewarding and reinforcement?

    At School of Dogs we believe the reinforcement system creates a stronger bond between owner and dog. It also creates wonderfully trained animals.

Why do we use food?

  • Food is very motivating for almost all dogs. With the use of small food treats, we can coax a behavior multiple times. Once the dog grasps which behavior creates the reward, we can then begin to phase out the use of food. Eventually, your dog will know what is expected, and you will only have to offer sporadic reinforcement.

    For most dogs food is the best way to teach new behaviors. But don’t worry, you will not have to offer a food treat for every single “sit” forever.

How many sessions do I need?
  • This depends upon the scope of the behavioral issues. Good manners training for one or two specific behaviors can usually be dealt with in three sessions. A more challenging behavior modification protocol for more serious issues may require six or more sessions.

Which kind of collar should I use?
  • Flat buckle collars or martingale collars are best. Front clip harnesses work well too.

What kind of leash do you recommend?
  • For regular walks, a six foot lease made of leather, cotton or nylon is recommended. For recall exercises, or to let your dog have a little more room to explore, you can as long as 30 feet.

What do you think of a retractable leash?
  • We do not recommend retracting leashes, as they do not provide the level of control that is optimal. Furthermore, they bear several risks to both the dog and owners. For the dog, the retracting mechanism puts constant pressure on the dog’s neck and can cause health issues.

    Because the leash length is variable, it is more likely to get trapped around a walker’s leg either causing rope burn or causing the walker to get tangled and fall. Lastly, these leashes do not teach a dog how to walk politely on a leash.

Do I have to use a clicker?
  • You are not obligated to use a clicker. It is not magic; it’s just another option for communicating with your dog. Maybe you’d like to give it a try and see how you feel about it. School of Dogs provides them to our clients at no charge. If you decide the clicker is not for you, do not worry — through the use of positive reinforcement you can achieve a wonderfully trained dog, with or without a clicker.

Do you have group classes?
  • We offer group classes and summer camps for children at Your Dog's Friend in Rockville, MD.

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School of Dogs
Hedda Garland
P. O. Box 5935
Washington D.C.  20016
Phone: 202.363.2310