Positive Reinforcement Dog Training

Hiring a professional dog trainer or behavior specialist requires trust. That is the most important part of any relationship as everything else is built off this attribute. If there is no honesty and trust, there is nothing. That is the most important aspect of any relationship, whether it is professional or personal.  If you don’t feel comfortable with your dog trainer, move on and find one you do feel comfortable with.  Choosing a dog trainer is no different than choosing a doctor, psychologist or teacher for you and/or your family. There needs to be a good fit. If the trainer uses or recommends dangerous dog training equipment (choke chains, pronged collars, electric collars, buzz collars, E collars, Tingle collars, stimulation collars, tickle collars or whatever the marketing/advertising euphemism is currently), fire them and find yourself a competent certified fear-free dog training professional.

Difference Between a Cue and a Command when Dog Training?

Just like humans, dogs can have off/bad days. Dogs are unique individuals and should not be expected to obey your every command like an inanimate robot without feelings. Up to date professionals use the dog training terminology “cue” rather than “command” for several reasons.

Why use a dog training cue?

A cue is a dialogue a Q & A session,  a request where the dog has choice and autonomy and agency over itself and it’s environment. A cue acknowledges the sentient being before you, its value and worth as a fellow earthling in a heterospecific relationship. A cue also allows for a give and take, a conversation to be observed and communicated. Your dog and cat (and all animals) send you cues and vice versa. Cues are two-way communications, less demanding, controlling, forceful and treat the dog with the respect and humanity they deserve. Animals are not slaves or robots put on this earth to do our bidding and to obey our every command. They are sentient, living, breathing, thinking, feeling, and loving beings just like all animals. If you want a robot, to obey your every command you should not have gotten a dog.

A command, on the other hand, is a cold, monologue, giving orders, not acknowledging choice or that the dog has preferences and a voice.

Dogs can become overwhelmed, stressed, confused, tired, bored, frustrated, hungry, satiated, or simply moody and not feeling well, just like us. It is important to understand and to notice these emotions, communications and understanding dog body language helps us discern what it is in our best friend’s interest and what they are communicating to us.  Dogs are not trying to be dominant or to dominate you, rather they are frustrated, stressed, afraid, or do not understand what you want from them. It is your job to teach them utilizing fear-free positive reinforcement dog training. Fear-free learning experiences are fun, rather than stressful, painful, and intimidating. No one likes a bully, including dogs.

Many people have a tendency to want something yesterday. Patience is critical when dog training, and shaping behaviors. Successive approximations are often used to shape behaviors and building on those approximations turn behaviors into beautiful and fun tricks and complex service dog tasks. If you are able to build on small successes the end result will be beautiful.  But first, it is the certified dog behaviorist and professional dog trainer’s duty to explain how dogs learn and how behavior changes, through operant and classical conditioning. A good dog trainer will never use force and will help your dog. A great dog trainer will use positive reinforcement dog training to get quick and humane results and teach you efficaciously at the same time. You will learn how to utilize operant conditioning, classical conditioning, habituation, counterconditioning, and desensitization to help your dog’s behavior improve. They won’t use punitive equipment, practice dominance theory, use leash pops or corrections.

If you and your dog are not enjoying learning, you have hired the wrong dog trainer.

Questions To Ask A Dog Trainer

  • Is the trainer well versed and adequate in the science of learning theory and the application of dog training? If not, find a new dog trainer.
  • Are you comfortable with the dog training methods they are telling asking you to use and explaining to you? If not, find a new dog trainer.
  • Is your dog happy and having fun? If not, find a new dog trainer.
  • Do they use force, bullying or intimidation? If so, find a new dog trainer.
  • Do they use alpha roles, or tell you that you need to dominate your dog or that you are the Alpha? If so, find a new dog trainer.
  • Does your dog trainer tell you to be the leader of the pack and that dogs are pack animals? If so, find a new dog trainer.
  • Are they unwilling or unable to explain their dog training methods or claim they communicate or whisper to dogs? If so, find a new dog trainer.
  • Do they display their certifications, university and continuing education studies prominently on their web site as any educated professional would? If not, find a new dog trainer.


Your dog cannot speak for himself and he has is you.  Do not let them down. Your research here will pay off for a lifetime of wonderful relationships; communication and understanding strengthening the bond and love between you.


“Try to remain truthful. The power of truth never declines. Force and violence may be effective in the short term, but in the long run, it’s truth that prevails. Being honest and truthful engenders trust and trust leads to friendship and a good reputation. Because we all need friends, honesty and transparency are a basic aspect of human nature.” Dalai Lama