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Training Philosophy


Paws for Success offers dog obedience training on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia. Sheri Standen owns and operates this company. She has been teaching dog obedience courses in Calgary since 1995 and offering classes on Salt Spring Island since 1999. On Salt Spring, classes have been located at Central Hall, Mahon Hall, as well as from her home in Vesuvius.

Sheri's training methods are fun and positive. She believes in getting the dog motivated so that he/she wants to work for the owner. To do this, she teaches clicker training which most dogs take to immediately. Clicker training uses a small device called a clicker which makes a sound and communicates to the dog "That's the exact behavior I want", followed by a treat. Dogs get really motivated by this method and you can almost see them thinking "Now how do I get that person to run that darn clicker and give me a treat?" Although the clicker works great, the owner can substitute a sharp vocal command (like "YES!"). Clicker training is used for a wide variety of animals like horses, pigs, llamas and dolphins (which is a very good thing, as it is very tricky to get a leash around the head of a dolphin). Once the animal knows the exercise, he/she is weaned off the clicker and treats. Sheri even has a video tape demonstrating the training of a goldfish with a clicker (a-m-a-z-i-n-g!).

Sheri incorporates lots of games in the classes to make them fun for the owner and the dog. Sometimes dog training can get to be serious business to some owners and games can be a great learning tool (and they lighten things up for everyone).

Classes normally run 7 weeks with most classes being 1 hour duration. "This allows time for problem solving and discussion. "The first class is an orientation session for the owners only (no canine friends) and is a two-hour lecture. "Classes are informative and upbeat and stress the importance of having a good and positive relationship with your dog. "All classes are small in numbers to allow for individual problem-solving.

For those who prefer, private lessons are available. An assessment process is required to determine the areas of concern involving the dog's behavior. Private lessons are then custom designed for each owner.

Sheri is a member of CAPPDT (Canadian Association of Professional Pet Dog Trainers). She upgrades her skills on a regular basis by taking courses, attending conferences or meeting with other clicker trainers.

Clicker Training - A Positive Approach to Dog Training

Dog training has certainly evolved over the past ten years.  We've gone from choke chains and jerking and pulling the dog around to such positive methods as clicker training.  With clicker training the dogs WANT to perform.

What is clicker training?  This training is as positive as it gets.   Clicker trainers reward behaviour with a behaviour marker called a clicker (a small toy-like device that makes a clicking sound).  So if you want the dog to sit, you give the command or wait for the behaviour and as soon as that puppy's butt hits the ground you click and treat.  Using the clicker is like taking a picture of the correct behaviour, marking it accurately before delivering a treat.

Clicker training works immediately on dogs and they love it.

The advantages of the clicker are:

  • The sound is unique.  With praise, we are just using our voice and praise sounds the same as our normal language.  The clicker has a unique sound and cannot be mistaken for any other sound (unless you are clicker training your husband at the same time).
  • The clicker can mark a tiny moment in time. When we use praise, sometimes we are saying it as the puppy is getting up from the Sit and wriggling away.   With praise, we could be marking the wrong behaviour.
  • It's a neutral sound whereas our voice goes up and down with our emotions.
  • It promotes hands-off training.  The dog is controlling himself and putting himself into position.
  • Dogs and other animals quickly learn that the marker signal means, " Something good is coming.  Then they realize they can make you click by repeating their behavior. They become enthusiastic partners in their own training.

You don't have to continually have a clicker and treats on you.  Once the behaviour is learned, you then use praise and approval to maintain the behaviour (treats are not necessary).

Clicker training was derived from training with dolphins and whales.  It is rather difficult to put a choke chain around a whale!  When the dolphin performed the desired behaviour, a whistle (another neutral sound) was blown and a fish given as a reward.  The clicker has replaced the whistle.

Clicker training can be used on many different animals.  Some of the more common animals trained with a clicker are: cats (yes cats!), dogs, pigs, llamas, horses and chickens.  I've even seen a fish in a tropical fish tank trained this way.

This type of training is fun for the animals and fun for the people.  Owners will often see amazing results on the very first try.

Sheri Standen, CPDT (Certified Pet Dog Trainer)
Serving Salt Spring Island, B.C.
Prof. Member,  Canadian Assoc. of Professional Pet Dog Trainers


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