Posted by: Linda Trunell | June 29, 2014

My First Goal in Training

The first lesson in my Puppy or Beginner Class lays the foundation for the course.  It is important to explain why I teach only force-free, positive reinforcement methods to get the behaviors we want from our dogs.  Some people come to class with preconceived ideas about dogs and how they learn based on what they have seen on TV or the internet, or past personal experience, or maybe advice they have received from friends and family, or “traditional” trainers.

Choke, prong and shock collars are forbidden. Flexible (retractable) leashes are not allowed.  We do not jerk leashes, push, poke, squirt with water or compressed air, shout “No!” or use the dreaded “tsst” sound.

I am more interested in hearing about what people would like their dogs to do than a litany of complaints about barking, jumping, chewing, digging, inappropriate peeing and pooping and all of the other behaviors that people want to stop.  That’s because we will focus on rewarding what we want instead of on correcting all the things we don’t want.  That is how we will change those unwanted behaviors.

When someone says, “How do I stop my dog from (fill in the blanks)?”, I ask “What would you like your dog to do instead?”

At any given moment there may be 10 things your dog could do that you don’t like. Do you want to correct him 10 times or would you like to teach him the one thing he should be doing instead?  It is not fair to make him figure out what the one thing is – and he may give up trying after so many “No’s!” or leash jerks.  A dog who is trying to avoid unpleasant corrections is not going to be enthusiastic and interested in learning.  He may feel it is safer to do nothing (learned helplessness).  How can you teach a dog who is not interested in working with you?

My first goal is to make your dog feel safe.  A dog who feels safe will be willing and able to interact and learn what we would like him to do.  We make it as stress-free as possible. We make it rewarding and fun.  We set them up for success.  We are patient and consistent.


Jackson (Intermediate Class Graduate) would only keep the cap on if he was eating treats. Sometimes taking graduation pics is the most difficult part of the class!

My goal is that you and your dog will build a relationship based on trust and have a bond that I believe can only come from force-free and positive reinforcement methods.

Here’s to being our dog’s best friend,



  1. My bipeds used to ask me to “sit” a lot when I was younger and keen to get into mischief!


    • I bet you were a very good little pup, Clowie! 🙂


      • Ha ha! That isn’t what my bipeds say! They say they were pleased to survive my puppyhood!


  2. […] first goal in training is to make the dog feel safe.  Fear can prevent learning so if a dog is fearful DS/CC […]



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