|Cherie Maitland's Philosophy - Owner, Behavior Specialist, Training Director
Since 1977, I have experienced a wide variety of training approaches including the "do-nothing" approach, the dominance-based training
with choke-chains, the purist positive-only approach and everything in-between. I help my students make sense of it all. I guide people to
understand things more from the dog's perspective, so that they can more consciously and effectively influence their dog's behavior.
While I believe that we need to be in charge and be our dog's guide and leader, this leadership approach should not include misguided
bullying that people sometimes fall into when following their understanding of dominance theory. Any being - dog or human - who respects
another, still has to be taught how to do a certain task and to deal with their own emotions and challenges. A first grader may respect their
teacher, though they still need more education before they understand calculus. A tennis pro who is at the top of their game, still needs help
of a different sort if they are afraid in front of an audience.
Take a dog who respects their owner and knows come when called. In certain circumstances this dog will need extra guidance. If they are
highly sensitive to sound and motion and they chase cars past their property, they will need specific desensitization and counterconditioning
exercises to redirect them away from that bad habit. And the dog who is leash-reactive around other dogs or is afraid of strangers is not
expressing a lack of respect, but rather their own internal emotional and mental state that needs to be addressed from the inside out. All of
these behaviors may be aggravated by punishment and "proving dominance." These and other behavioral problems, need a broader
understanding of behavior modification techniques including classical and operant conditioning. I teach my students how to alter their dog's
mindset step-by-step, and therefore change the resulting problematic behaviors. I do find that as a good foundation to this behavioral work,
the owner needs to strengthen their handling and leadership skills too. How is one to do this?
Cherie Maitland's Methods
DOGS DO WHAT WORKS FOR THEM!! I began hearing this from one of my mentors over 23 years ago and I continue teaching dog-
human teams about it's wonderful application in the training process. If a dog is doing something that the owner is trying to stop, in some
way without meaning to, that person may be rewarding and reinforcing the undesirable behavior. For example, perhaps when the dog jumps
up for attention, the owner pushes them off or scolds them. With touch, words and eye contact, the dog has received what they demanded -
attention. For many dogs, what the owner thinks of as scolding, to the dog it's, "Oh goodie, mom just looked at and talked to me!" Most
dogs would prefer this to being ignored.
In my small group obedience classes and private lessons, I teach people how to:
This can be called a "learn to earn" (which if done correctly is different from bribery) and sit to say "please" program of deference in
their dog's day-to-day life People are then teaching their dog to be a well-behaved member of the family without force or aggression.
People can be loving and affectionate all while setting limits and following through on consequences.
2) Teach new commands in ways that make sense to their dog. Once
the command is learned and strengthened in various circumstances,
(i.e. proofed) a command is given only once.
3) Learn how to know when not enough is being asked of their dog and
to know when something is too far beyond their dog's skill set and will
end up in frustration and failure. Training step-by-step.
4) Understand and effectively use reinforcement, punishment and
prevention in humane ways.
5) Use attention work effectively, even with distractions.
6) Learn how to improve their timing of feedback to their dog. Use proactive training,
instead of reactive training, which happens after the fact. With proactive work, owners
anticipate their dog's next move and begin to affect their dog's thought before the dog
fully carries out the thought into action.
Contact Cherie Maitland to discuss your
questions, needs and concerns. Thank you!
For small group classes information.
neighborhood: Click on In-Home Program