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Dog Training Philosophy

Our training methods are based upon the scientifically based training methods of animal learning theory.  Animal learning theory focuses on the underlying motivator for your dogs behavior.

We focus only on two quadrants of this theory.  Neither of these quadrants use physical or mental violence and are all humane training methods approved by the AHA (American Humane Association).

The First Quadrant, Positive Reinforcement:

The first quadrant of animal learning theory we use is positive reinforcement. All positive reinforcement is giving the dog something they want in exchange for a behavior we want.  The example below illustrates the concept of positive reinforcement.

Positive Reinforcement Training Example:

Its dinner time in the Service Dog Academy and Liame our service dog in training wants to eat his dinner.  In order for us to set the bowl down for Liame, he must sit calmly for his dinner.  When Liame sits calmly we give him his dinner.  We positively reinforced the behavior by giving him what he wanted when he gave us the behavior we wanted.  With this training method Liame learns that sitting calmly gets him his dinner.

The Second Quadrant, Negative Punishment:

The second quadrant of animal learning theory we use is negative punishment. Now we know how scary the term negative punishment sounds but essentially all it is is just removing a reward from the dog in order to decrease the frequency of the behavior.  The example below illustrates how non-violent negative punishment really is.

Negative Punishment Training Example:

Its play time at the Service Dog Academy and Liame our service dog in training likes to jump on our staff to get their attention.  When Liame jumps up to get their attention, we turn around in the opposite direction so that he is facing our back.  We negatively punished the behavior because we took our attention away when he did something we didn’t like.  Consequently Liame learns that when he jumps on people, he does not get attention he seeks or the opportunity to play with the staff.


The benefits of using these two quadrants of animal learning theory is that you get a dog who loves training because it is fun for them and fun for you and builds a lifelong bond of trust, compassion, love and understanding.