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I know a lot of “pack leader” type trainers use physical force and pain to accomplish their goals. What do you think of using force or pain to train my dog?

The trainer who uses these techniques is either lazy or misinformed. The harm the techniques cause far outweighs any benefit they could have. You may resolve one problem, but will create another bigger one that lasts a lifetime. It is always better to have a positive approach and train through successive approximations. Food, toys, tactile, walks etc are great reinforcers, no need to punish when you dog wants to understand.

What kind of collar is best to use on my dog (70lb Labrador who pulls hard)?

There are many great options. I would start with a “front-clip” body harness, like PetSafe’s Easy Walk harness. It is comfortable for your dog and will give you significantly increased power and control. If you feel your dog is beyond the control of an Easy Walk, a headcollar (Gentle Leader) is very effective even in the most tenacious tuggers. I like to pair it with a standard “figure 8” or “step in” harness, then fade the headcollar over time so we end up just on the body harness. Don’t forget to use food rewards on your walk for correct behavior.

My dog barks and jumps whenever someone comes in the door, I want to stop her from doing this, what can I do?

I would start with desensitizing the triggers surrounding the arrival of a person. Ring the doorbell 100x without any fun outcome..ring=nothing. The same goes for door chimes etc. Next, general desensitization to exciting situations is hugely beneficial. Take your dog to stimulating environments for short periods of time, exposing her to higher values than the door ( just make sure she does not get rewarded for unwanted behavior ex. She barks and someone pets her). Finally, create a “kiss pop” cue that indicates we want her to focus on us, kiss+”good”+food.  This will be your incompatible behavior, a faster and more functional control than a sit or a down to train, and still if she does focus on you, generally she will not emit the unwanted behavior. Toys, bones, exercise, socialization, training will all aid this behavior.

Should I train my dog in a group class or privately with a trainer?

This depends on your current situation and your goals. Something like aggression can only be worked on privately initially. Obedience can be done privately or in a group. It is best to consult one of our trainers and they will give you an honest appraisal of what the best route to success for your family is.

If my dog sees a cat or a squirrel it goes crazy, I am afraid if he got off a leash he would hurt another animal. Is this something that can be stopped?

Yes, I would like some more details of the problem, but resolving aggression is Completely Canine’s specialty. I would start by getting as far away as possible, allowing your dog to see the problem stimulus, and hopefully reinforce with food when he now does not emit the behavior at the new, farther range. There are tactics and gear which aide tremendously when working in this situation. Please contact one of our trainers today and we will get you on the path to positive success.

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