Howl & Heel was founded by Sara Clement with the belief that getting the best results requires training protocols to be evidence based, effective, and fun. Training programs should focus on your goals and allowing you to integrate your dog into your lifestyle so you can build the life you envision. Using current best practices in dog training focused on force free methods she can teach you how to raise your dog to be a happy and obedient member of your family.
Sara’s passion for working with dogs is supported by her education. Holding dual degrees with a BSc in Biology and a BA(Hons) in Psychology she heavily focused her studies on animal behaviour, learning theories and cognition. Using this foundation she is able to apply current best practices in evidence based training to develop effective protocols for lasting results.
Force free training methods are proven effective and have the added benefit of building up a confident dog that can thrive in any environment.
Force free methods focus on reinforcement, setting your dog up to succeed and building their confidence while they develop a positive working relationship with their humans.
Force free training is backed by current scientific knowledge showing that is effective and without the risks of more traditional punishment or compulsion based training methods.
Force free dog training uses effective, fun and evidence based protocols to help you train your dog. You may have heard force free training referred to as reinforcement based, rewards based, or R+ training. All these labels mean essentially the same thing: the training protocols are focused on rewards and not punishments. We want to set the dog up to succeed, teaching them what we want, rather than setting them up to fail so we can correct them. This means that we do not allow the use of any aversive tools including prong/pinch collars, slip leads, choke collars, starmark collars or shock collars (often rebranded as e-collars).
Our focus is on building a positive relationship with your dog so that they can be confident, happy and obedient in every environment. Force free methods also create dogs that are more willing to work with you to learn new things, and have better engagement with their human.
As the scientific literature has evolved force free dog training has become the best practice. This shift away from punishment and towards reinforcement based methods is supported by virtually every major organization studying animal behaviour including:
- The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association
- The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behaviour.
- European Society of Veterinary Clinical Ethology
Alberta has also barred the use of aversive methods for all organizations qualified to train certified service dogs within the province, confirming that force free methods are effective even for dogs who require extremely consistent behaviour in every environment.
Traditional punishment based training methodologies, previously labelled compulsion or dominance based methods, relied on fear, intimidation or pain to force the dog to comply. Many modern trainers still advocate for this type of training, labelling it “balanced training”. However these methods are not evidence based and can actually cause additional behavioural issues, a concept known as fallout. Fallout behaviours can include new or increased reactivity and/or aggression. You may also see dogs trained with so called balanced methods become hand shy, lack confidence or be unwilling to try new things for fear of punishment. Force free training eliminates the risk of your dog developing fallout behaviours while working to build up your dog’s confidence so that they are confident, happy and engaged on every adventure you take.
In addition to fall out risks punishment based methods also run the risk of shutdown and learned helplessness as the handler forces the dog to suppress a reaction in order to avoid a correction. This is often mislabelled as calmness by trainers who are not familiar with canine body language. Watching closely you may notice these dogs panting heavily, licking their lips or looking wide eyed; all signs of stress in a dog that is forced to suppress their fear and stay still. This type of training may lead to a long term increase in the dog’s reactivity and does nothing to address the dog’s fear. In contract force free methods can be used to address and eliminate the dog’s fear, building up their confidence and creating a happier and more resilient dog.
Some of the studies supporting the use of force free methods include:
- Survey of the use and outcome of confrontational and non-confrontational training methods in client-owned dogs showing undesired behaviors
- The use of electronic collars for training domestic dogs: estimated prevalence, reasons and risk factors for use, and owner perceived success as compared to other training methods
- Training Methods Affect the Service Dog-Veteran Relationship
- Training dogs with help of the shock collar: short and long term behavioural effects
- Electronic training devices: discussion on the pros and cons of their use in dogs
Unlike group classes in home training allows more time to work on your dog’s specific needs. Dogs learn at different rates and struggle with a variety of behaviours, and this diversity can be hard to address in a standard six week group class. Our in home programs can be tailored to your dog’s individual needs and your own goals for them. Dogs also learn new skills best in an environment that is very low in distractions, and your own home is the best place to begin teaching new behaviours.
If you are interested in any of our training programs, or individualized training please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or use the contact us link at the bottom of the page. When contacting us please include your availability and some information about your dog.