Recent studies indicate the value of living with companion animals, such as lowering blood pressure and easing depression. In return, animals thrive on the love and attention they receive from us. Our goal is to enhance this bond by focusing on positive reinforcement rather than punishment. Both you and your pet benefit from this approach, as the human-animal bond is strengthened.
Animals respond well to positive reinforcement, allowing us to change undesirable behaviors into desirable behaviors. At AWC, we feel animals deserve our respect; therefore we suggest gentle treatment methods along with appropriate techniques. This way, much can be accomplished without breaking the animal's spirit, but instead improving trust and communication.
Schedule a consultation at AWC to talk about your animal's behavior issues, and then learn how to gently correct the behaviors that are threatening the special bond between you and your pet.
Patient History Form for Behavior Consult
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The Animal Wellness Center also offers classes to assist you in using positive reinforcement techniques to train your puppy, address any behavior concerns and tighten the bond of affection and unconditional love between you and your pet. All classes need to be paid in full at time of registration to hold spot and are non-refundable after two weeks prior to the start of class.
Puppy KindergartenThis is a consecutive five week course for puppies that are 16 weeks to 6 months old when the series starts. The class will meet for one hour each week and costs $120.00. Puppy Kindergarten will introduce positive reinforcement techniques that help create a puppy that wants to work with you. We will teach life skills like sit, lie down, introduction to the come cue, and loose-leash walking. These classes will help build and maintain foundation behaviors like learning their name and paying attention to the handler in distracting situations. Additionally, puppies will continue to work on their socialization skills with people and other animals. Class is limited to 6 puppies.
Level One TrainingThis is a consecutive 5-week course for dogs that are at least 6 months old when the series starts. The class will meet for one hour each week and costs $120.00. Using positive reinforcement techniques, this class will continue the learning process from Puppy Kindergarten and/or teach new skills to older dogs. We will teach sit, lie down, stay, come, leash manners, and other basic life skills. Dogs who attend this course will work on their socialization skills with people and other animals in addition to learning fun new games. Class is limited to 6 dogs.
Level Two Training with Introduction to AgilityThis is a consecutive 5-week course for dogs that are at least 12 months old when the series starts and have completed Level One Training. The class will meet for one hour each week and costs $120.00. Using positive reinforcement techniques, we will refresh what has already been learned in previous classes in addition to working on various new behaviors. These new behaviors will vary depending on what the class participants would like to learn. This class will also include an introduction to agility equipment. This is meant to be a fun outing and is not a competitive class. One of the main goals of this course is to increase your dog's off leash skills. Dogs who attend this course will also work on their socialization skills with people and other animals while learning fun new games. Class is limited to 6 dogs.
Reactive ClassIs your dog nervous or unpredictable on walks? Is your dog uncomfortable or overstimulated in new situations or environments? Reactive classes are for dogs that need to build better skills for management in life situations. Class size is limited to 4 dogs, and needs instructor approval. Some reactivity issue may need to be addressed before practicing in a classroom setting. This class will help you and your dog learn management techniques, read body language and identify triggers so you can be proactive instead of reactive. This is a 6 week course and costs $160.00. The first class will be WITHOUT your dog.
Private Consultation and Training SessionsAt home, private consultations can be arranged with Amy Sandmann. Amy has trained with Victoria Stilwell Positively Dog Training and star of Animal Planet’s television series “Its Me or the Dog.”
"All parents know their child needs a good education, and the same is true for their dogs. We need to teach our dogs to be good citizens and how to cooperate with us in a human world. Our training philosophy is simple, give owners and their dogs the tools to live together in better harmony, this is achieved through Positive Reinforcement methods. Reward based training is a powerful tool and will allow your dog to learn new behaviors quicker than you ever thought possible. Our classes are highly instructional and really fun. We have classes for dogs of every age. You and your dog will be happier because you will have a better understanding of each other. Best of all, your bond will be deeper and stronger than ever before. Training classes may be the greatest gift you ever give your best friend." Amy Sandmann
High-five. Fetch. Jump through a hoop. Spin, twirl, and take a bow. There is no doubt that tricks are fun to train, and even more fun to show off to friends and family. But they are so much more than just a good time! Here are five things tricks can do for you, your dog, and your training.
1. It is a great way for dogs to get mental stimulation (exercise) A tired or mentally stimulated dog is a happy dog!
2. Teaching tricks will help build the communication skills between owner and dog. It will teach your dog how to learn.
3. Teaching tricks will help the owner build a positive relationship with their dogs. The dogs will WANT to do things for their owners.
4. Training Tricks will make your dog SMARTER!
5. Training tricks is FUN!!!!
This is a consecutive 6-week course for dogs that are at least 6 months old when the series starts. The class will meet for one hour each week and costs $120.00. Using positive reinforcement techniques, this class will teach a variety of tricks and will be a great way to spend time, have fun and play with your dog!
Training Articles and Information
Use of Shock in Animal TrainingReprinted from The Pet Professional Guild
Evidence indicates that rather than speeding the learning process, electrical stimulation devices slow the training process, add stress to the animal, and can result in both short-term and long-term psychological damage to animals. Electrical stimulation devices include products often referred to as: e-collars, training collars, e-touch, stimulation, tingle, TENS unit collar, remote trainers. Top of Form
Some common problems resulting from the use of electrical stimulation devices include, but are not limited to:
• Infliction of Stress and Pain
Even at the lowest setting, electrical stimulation devices present an unknown stimulus to pets which, when not paired with a positive stimulus, at best is neutral and at worst is frightening/painful to the animal. Pets learning to exhibit a behavior in order to escape or avoid fear or pain are, by definition, subjected to an aversive stimulus. Studies indicated that dogs trained with shock displayed stress signals as they approached the training area and frequently work slowly and deliberately. In many instances, electrical stimulation causes physiological pain and psychological stress to the animal, often exhibited by vocalization, urination, defecation, fleeing and complete shut-down. In extreme cases, electrical stimulation devices may burn animal tissue.
For behaviors to become reliable in random environments, they must be practiced in random environments (called “generalization”). When using an electrical stimulation device to train, this means the animal must be repeatedly subjected to electrical stimulation for the behavior to become reliable. To maintain the behavior, the pet will need to be subjected to the electrical stimulation on a periodic but random basis. Often, the behaviors never become reliable when the electrical stimulation device is not present because, as part of the cue system, it is missing when the animal is not subjected to it. Therefore, in addition to being an aversive stimulus, electrical stimulation collars are ineffective if not worn frequently or even constantly.
If results are not immediately realized, many users of electrical stimulation devices will increase the level of stimulation, which often results in the animal attempting to escape or avoid the stimulus and even total shut down where it will refuse to perform. This creates a counter-productive paradigm in which little learning can occur. Additionally, some animals are”stoic” and may fail to show a pain response despite increased levels of electrical stimulation. Other animals may become habituated to the pain and endure it, causing trainers to increase the level and frequency of electrical stimulation. The pain and stress caused in such situations has a significant effect on an animal’s physiology, increasing cortisol levels and heart rate.
• Global Suppression, or “Shut-Down”
An animal repeatedly subjected to electrical stimulation for several different behaviors may go into a state of “shut down,” or a global suppression of behavior. This is frequently mistaken for a “trained” animal, as the animal remains subdued and offers few or no behaviors. In extreme cases, animals may refuse to perform any behavior, called “learned helplessness” and isolate themselves to avoid incurring electrical stimulation. This is counter-productive to training new behaviors.
• Suppressed Aggression
The use of aversive stimuli is counter-indicated in animals with aggression because they suppress aggression and it may resurface at any time, without warning, generally in a more severe display (Hiby et al., 2004). Using electrical stimulation to reduce behaviors such as barking, lunging and growling may suppress behaviors that warn of a more serious imminent behavior such as biting. Without ritualized aggression behaviors, people and other animals will have no warning before the animal subjected to punishment feels forced to bite. It is the PPG’s position that desensitization and counter-conditioning is the only ethical and effective paradigm in which to treat aggression in pet animals.
• Redirected Aggression
Animals subjected to repeated electrical stimulation may be respondently conditioned to associate the fear/pain of electrical stimulation with certain contextual cues in their environment. As an example, many dogs trained to honor the boundaries of an electrical boundary (also referred to an “underground” or “invisible” fence) will approach- a stranger on the other side of the boundary and encounter- the painful/frightening stimulus. Repeated instances of this will generalize to the dog fleeing or acting aggressively toward strangers on the other side of the fence in order to avoid the painful/frightening stimulus. Similarly, animals subjected to repeated electrical stimulation may act aggressively toward the nearest human or animal near them in attempt to escape/avoid pain/fear caused by electrical stimulation.
• Unintended Consequences
Electrical stimulation devices have not been studied in terms of health. There is currently insufficient data to determine whether prolonged use of electrical stimulation devices may pose a long-term health risk. However, there is clear data that electrical stimulation can cause burn injuries.
Pat Miller, Whole Dog Journal, February 2006 Shock or Awe
Pat Miller, Simply Shocking in Whole Dog Journal 2/03