“Shaping Confident Dogs™” – Ethology-Driven Dog Training Education.
In Singapore, the biggest reason for dog relinquishment to dog shelters or abandonment are dog behaviour issues. Coupled with lack of training, the justification for such dog parent behaviour is also a direct result of pursuing mindless obedience using aversive techniques. Popularised on television as “dominance” or “alpha-dog” theories, the myth that your dog is dominating you by eliminating inappropriately, barking or growling, is fundamentally incorrect. While it makes for good marketing material and amusement, the truth is that in the process of domesticating dogs to become part of our family, we have forgotten that all living organisms undergo a process of sequential learning to cope and thrive in their environment.
Dogs are sentient living beings. They share many similarities to us, but they are physiologically and behaviourally quite different. They walk on four legs, we walk on two, they communicate through barking and growling, we communicate with language, they have paw pads, we have fingers. If so, why does it feel that we are so ‘familiar’? The answer to why we love dogs so much can be found approximately 15,000 years ago, when the homo sapiens found the ancient ancestor of the canid. Indisputably, we share a common relationship of co-evolution throughout history. This means that we have evolved by helping each other adapt to the environment in our individual and joint quests for survival over time.
Peering deeper into our dog-human bond, as a result of our close and direct interactions, we unsurprisingly developed similar needs for companionship and love, a shared desire for protection of our loved ones and even the same dietary preferences as omnivores! Do we learn the same way too?
Yes. Science has proven that punishment is not a good thing at all. Punishment causes fear and anxiety and has been proven to inhibit learning and creativity. In addition, it is the number one reason for dog aggression and ultimately, one of the leading causes of dog euthanasia today.
aIt is widely agreed in the scientific community that the best way to learn, for both humans and dogs is to use positive reinforcement exclusively. Positive reinforcement is defined as adding something that the animal will work for to strengthen (increase the frequency of) a behaviour. For example, giving the dog a treat for sitting increases the probability that the dog will sit again. Effective training relies heavily on consistency and predictability.
How about the middle ground? The worst thing you can do is to punish undesirable behaviour and reinforce desirable ones. So, if you decide to choke your dog until he sits on Monday, but reward your dog with a treat for a voluntary sit on Tuesday, what will happen? Your dog will be so confused and blocked. Mentally and physically. They will be inhibited by the amygdala, which controls fear and anxiety and inhibits the pleasure centre from releasing positive neurochemicals. And guess what? The same amygdala is responsible for the release in hormones that the animal feels when they perform good behaviour that you would like to see happen again. You are sabotaging yourself. In the end, you get a dog that knows sit but is afraid to do it because of the uncertainty of the consequences associated with it. You still cannot get the behaviour that you want willingly. The truth is this – your dog is not untrained, just shut down.
Pawrus® Dog Training Academy, a Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner (KPA CTP), was established for dogs and humans to communicate using science-based and positive reinforcement ethological pedagogies, forging a lifetime dog-human bond.
We are the first and only training academy in Singapore to be specialised in the development of positive emotions in dogs and people using science-based ethological methods. The training academy is privileged to be led by Singapore Senior Clinical Animal Behaviourist & Training Director Kevin Yeo, who not only has years of experience training military working dogs, but has also successfully trained and coached hundreds of pet dogs and their parents to achieve partnerships lasting many lifetimes in countries and continents such as Singapore, Taiwan and the United States of America.
The key to a successful relationship is figuring out what a dog-human bond is. A dog-human bond is built upon consistent communication and trust between dogs and humans, forged on a common understanding and many iterations of positive experiences (‘reinforcement history’). We begin the forging process by obtaining the dogs’ and humans’ individual dedications, then facilitating collaboration between them by getting them to work towards a common objective together. In our school, confidence is the common objective that we have set for our dogs and dog parents.
Confidence is a person and dog’s belief that a chosen course of action is the right choice and that they can properly perform that action. To have confidence, they must possess both knowledge and skill. For knowledge, we teach our dog and human students the latest training knowledge grounded in positive reinforcement. For skill, we teach, demonstrate, and assist our dog and human students to practice extensively in different scenarios which mimic real-world conditions. Eventually, when your dog has confidence, he or she can grow to become the best version of himself or herself with the following emotive traits – independent, happy, stable, adaptive, while you, likewise will become the best dog parent for your dog – loving, happy and fulfilled.
We completely understand that in a busy world today with a lack of time, it has become increasingly difficult to find time for everything that is important to us. In addition, it does not help that life seems to present different challenges at different junctures in time. Therefore, we have created an exclusive two-tiered system of training your dog in classes, before enrolling him or her in our Day School, where they will maintain their learning while continuing to broaden and deepen their knowledge and skillset to triumph over life’s challenges.
Our curriculums are designed to be progressive, challenging and fun. We begin with easy foundation classes which focuses on teaching good dog manners, then steadily strengthen our core knowledge and skills with intermediate programs, before quickly shifting gears upwards to tackle challenging enrichment exercises in our trademarked art and music classes. We set our dog and human students up for success, so the timeline in higher education for yourself and your dog is nicely aligned to the difficulty of the programs that we have designed.
We hope that through our programs, you and your dog will learn to collaborate and bond together in the deepest of ways. All our classes, curriculums and our trainers share a common intention of working together with you and your dog to provide the best dog training education towards the attainment of your goals and achieve and radiate true confidence for years to come.
Now, when should I start training my puppy? According to the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB), the best time to send a puppy for training is between 7 to 18 weeks. Thus, the earlier you and your puppy get started, the easier it will be for the both of you, and the further you and your puppy will go.
There is no reason to hesitate. We are the new standard in dog training education.
See you at the training academy soon.
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