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In this issue: 
Choosing a Dog Trainer
Members in the News
Recommended Reads
FFTW Event Calendar
Choosing a Dog Trainer
By: Daniel Antolec, CPDT-KA

When my wife and I adopted Jake he was a crazy young Labrador and we knew training was required but did not know where to go. We learned finding the right trainer can be a confusing journey.

Our first choice was a pet food store offering a group class. We joined several other dogs in the warehouse, surrounded by pallets of tempting food, treats and toys. Shoppers passed by with their dogs a few feet away.

In addition to environmental distractions the instructors had little skill and followed a strict script. If our problem was not on the script we were out of luck and finished the course with the same issues as when we began.

We next tried a national dog training chain that employed aversive methods. Punishment based methods were supposed to stop the behavior, but only did so for a moment. Then Jake resumed his original behavior.

We spent hundreds of dollars learning how to startle and yell at our dog, and accomplished nothing in the bargain. Jake must have thought we were the crazy ones! I think he was right. 

Four years later we adopted Buddha. By then I was working at a dog daycare where a certified trainer offered small group classes so we signed up.

Heidi Walters introduced us to force-free methods that were fun, easy to use at home, and actually worked. Those things we learned with Buddha, we then used with Jake.

My experience with force-free methods sparked an interest that led me to become a certified professional trainer. Now that I know better, I can do better and share that knowledge with others.

To choose the right trainer for you and your dog, first consider whether to start in a group or do individual training. There are pros and cons to each option.

A high-energy dog that is easily distracted or a dog owner that feels anxious and self-conscious may find a group class difficult. Such classes may include up to a dozen dogs and their owners.

If you pay $100 for a six hour course and there are ten dogs, you may expect six minutes of the trainer’s attention per class. By the end you will have got 36 minutes of individual help for $100.

A calmer dog and owner may enjoy the social aspect of a group, and make friends who then form a support group of owners. Dogs may also develop a play group and become better socialized.

Paying for six hours of individual training will net you 360 minutes of personal attention, in your home. The training agenda need not be fixed, as in a group class.

That means you can work on specific behaviors that only occur in the home, such as when your dog chases your cat. Other behaviors occur in the neighborhood, like when your dog barks and lunges upon meeting other folks walking their dogs.

Cost may prohibit most folks from choosing individual training. Most trainers must charge an hourly fee and a travel fee or they will not be able to pay their own bills.  It pays to shop around and compare.

Another important choice is the methodology of the trainer. Dog training is an unregulated industry, so one may not assume that all trainers use the same methods or get the same results.

Some trainers have a belief system based on the notion of dominating dogs, and thus the dog-handler relationship is adversarial. Primarily, punishment is used to stop unwanted behavior.

Dogs trained by punishment will do just enough to avoid punishment, and often develop unintended behaviors. These include learned helplessness and in some cases aggression.

Other trainers use only force-free methods, based on rewarding dogs for desirable behavior. This is the same concept that you enjoy in your workplace, when the boss hands out paychecks.

Food is commonly used as a reward, though access to valued resources can be used. Some dogs go bonkers when given a Frisbee, a tennis ball, a tug toy or a belly rub as a reward for training. Jake loved them all.

Various research studies affirm punishment affords no advantage over rewards, but does put dogs at risk. Force-free training works better and produces no ill effects. 

A competent trainer can help your dog behave better and help you develop a closer, lasting bond with your family pet. Have fun with it!
For objective resources about choosing a dog trainer, check these out:
  1.  American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior
    Go to: Resources/Position Statements/How to Choose a Trainer Handout
  2.  Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers
    Go to: About Us/Public Positions/Position Statements
  3. Association of Animal Behavior Professionals
    Go to: Position Statements
  4. The Pet Professional Guild
    Go to: Directory
  5. Force Free Trainers of Wisconsin
    Go to: Members
Daniel H. Antolec, CPDT-KA is the owner of Happy Buddha Dog Training. He has membership in Pet Professional Guild, Force Free Trainers of Wisconsin, Association of Professional Dog Trainers, Association of Professional Humane Educators and American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
FFTW Members in the News!
A few of our members made the news since our last newsletter, helping share the message of what we all stand for: humane, compassionate care for our companion animals. Check out the articles below to read more!
GazetteXtra (Janesville)
Pet lovers should seek professional advice before getting a dog: Certified trainer

Featuring FFTW Members Bridget Davies, CPDT-KA and Daniel Antolect, CPDT-KA
Dog trainer finds it's people who need aid

Featuring FFTW Member Laura Holder, CPDT-KA, ANWI™
FFTW Members presenting at ClickerExpo 2016!!
We are delighted to announce that two of our members, Jen Digate and Natalie Zielinski, are presenting at the brand new equine track for Clicker Expo 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio!!

To learn more about Clicker Expo, and register online, please visit the following link:
Recommended Reads
By FFTW Member, Jen Digate

A Very Tired False Dichotomy
By Jean Donaldson

Dog Behavior Continuum
Published by Living with Kids & Dogs

Positive Reinforcement - The Most Powerful Leadership Tool
Published by Aubrey Daniels International

FFTW Classes & Events Calendar
Force Free Trainers of Wisconsin Event & Group Class Calendar
Looking for upcoming classes or events in your area? Be sure to check out our FFTW group classes and events calendar on our website!
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Copyright © 2013-2015 Force Free Wisconsin, LLC
All rights reserved.

Information and advice provided in this newsletter is general in nature and should not be relied upon to solve any particular situation. For all issues with your companion animals, please seek the services of a competent and qualified professional.  The authors and publishers shall have neither liability nor responsibility for any loss or damage caused or alleged to be caused by the information in this newsletter.

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