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  • What does a typical one-to-one session look like?
    During the initial lesson, our trainer will take time to get to know your dog's personality and the goals that you and your family have for your furry friend. We understand that every dog is unique, and every family has different expectations of their pet. Therefore, we will create a customized training or behavior management plan tailored to your specific needs. Our trainer will work with your dog and teach you the necessary skills to help your pet reach its full potential. At the end of each session, you will receive homework to practice in between lessons.
  • Do I have to use food in training? I don’t want my dog to only do things for food!
    Reinforcement is actually a somewhat complicated subject. Using food in training is easily misunderstood and only a small percentage of what “reinforcement” means. When training a dog, it is important to determine if the desired behavior will be reinforced by food in a given situation. Using food as a reward during training is effective, but it should be gradually phased out as the dog learns to respond to cues. This is very different than waving a piece of hotdog in front of his face hoping he will do what you ask. Other forms of reinforcement Two Dads and a Dog uses are play, petting, or engaging in activities the dog enjoys.
  • Is it possible for a 1-2-1 appointment to be held somewhere other than my home?
    Absolutely! One-to-one sessions are not limited to your home. You can choose to have them anywhere you need assistance with your dog, such as in a park, a pet store, or even in your neighborhood. However, it is recommended that the first lesson take place at your home, as it provides a good starting point for discussing things. For fearful dogs, it's best to have this session virtually to ensure the best learning experience for them.
  • Why does Two Dads and a Dog oppose to intimidation, pain, and other punitive methods in dog training?
    The collective attraction to "quick fixes" in dog training stems from a desire for immediate results and convenience. Quick fixes often rely on punishment-based techniques that can be detrimental to a dog's well-being and can hinder their ability to learn and trust. Punishment-based training methods, instead of addressing the underlying motivation of a dog's behavior, often exacerbate their insecurity and hinder their learning ability. Punishment can cause fear, anxiety, and mistrust in dogs, leading to further behavioral issues and a deterioration of the human-dog bond. Positive reinforcement training, on the other hand, fosters a safe and trusting environment that encourages dogs to learn and make positive behavioral choices by rewarding desired behaviors instead of punishing unwanted ones.
  • What is rewards-based training and how does it work at Two Dads and a Dog?
    Rewards-based training is a method of dog training that focuses on positive reinforcement, rather than punishment or dominance. At Two Dads and a Dog, rewards-based training involves using treats, toys, and praise to encourage desired behaviors and to motivate dogs to learn. Our trainers use a reward marker, such as a clicker or a verbal cue, to signal to the dog that they did something correctly, and then provide a reward. This type of training is effective because it creates a positive association between the behavior and the reward, making the dog more likely to repeat the behavior in the future. It also fosters a stronger bond between the dog and their owner, as the dog learns to trust and rely on their owner for positive experiences. At Two Dads and a Dog, our mission is to provide humane and effective training that improves the lives of both dogs and their owners.
  • What is management in dog training and why is it so important?
    Management refers to the strategies and techniques that are used to prevent a dog from engaging in unwanted behaviors. It involves creating an environment or setting up conditions that minimize the opportunities for the dog to practice or reinforce undesirable behaviors. Examples of management include measures such as closing blinds, crating, or leashing the dog to control their access or limit their interactions in certain situations. In other words, management is what must be done when you are not actively training your dog or working toward modifying specific unwanted behaviors in your dogs. Management and dog training go hand in hand.
  • Where do Two Dads and a Dog have their group classes?
    Our group classes meet on Mondays and Tuesdays at the Rose Barn in North Park. The Rose Barn is a yellow building on Pearce Mill Rd (Allison Park), located less than a mile from the park's administration building. Generally, each class runs for about 55 minutes between 6PM and 8:45PM.
  • How long should a dog training sessions be?
    Breaking up training sessions into smaller 5-minute frequent sessions throughout the day. It allows for more effective learning as it is easier for the puppy or adult dog to process information in smaller increments. Additionally, it is more convenient for busy schedules as it can be done in short bursts of time rather than needing a longer uninterrupted block. Some of the advantages of "Less-than-5-minute" sessions are: Avoids over-arousal (less nipping and more attention) No over-feeding (if using food in training) Avoids training fatigue Less frustration More fun for you and your dog
  • What does it mean to be a certified professional dog trainer?
    Let’s start with the bad news. Anyone can call themselves a certified dog trainer. We are 100% unregulated. That’s the ugly truth of dog training. Independent certifications are more rigorous and objective. They are awarded by testing bodies rather than teaching institutions. The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) issues the Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT) certifications. Earning their certification requires: 300 hours of experience Recommendation from a veterinarian, behaviorist, or Certified Dog Trainer Passing a 200 question multiple choice test covering – instruction skills, animal husbandry, ethology, learning theory, and training equipment. The trainers at Two Dads and a Dog have attained National Certification. You would never go to a chiropractor or a therapist who was not certified and not credentialed. Why would you choose a non-certified hobbyist for your dog?
  • What is Two Dads and a Dog's position on dominance?
    Two Dads and a Dog firmly aligns itself with the position statement used by the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior on the Use of Dominance Theory in Behavior Modification of Animals. This statement states that the use of dominance theory in human-animal interactions: Can pose problems and unnecessarily cause harm to the animal's physical and mental health. Most undesirable behaviors in our pets are not related to priority access to resources; rather, they are due to the accidental rewarding of the undesirable behavior. Our goal is to teach dogs new behaviors and build their confidence without causing any physical or emotional harm.
  • What is dominance in dogs?
    The belief that dominance is the solution to most dog behavior problems has been misleading to the dog-owning public. In reality, social hierarchies in animals, including dogs, are typically peaceful and serve to prevent conflict. Dogs thrive in environments that prioritize positive reinforcement, clear communication, and understanding their individual needs rather than focusing on dominance-based approaches. By promoting a cooperative and compassionate relationship with our dogs, we can address behavior issues in a more effective and humane manner.
  • What is aversive or punitive dog training?
    Aversive or punitive dog training methods that rely on intimidation, fear, and physical punishment have been found to have negative consequences. These methods can lead to increased anxiety, stress, and a higher likelihood of dogs shutting down or displaying more aggressive behavior. While punishment may temporarily stop aggressive behavior, it fails to address the underlying cause and can result in unnanounced defensive aggression in the future. Additionally, stress and fear hinder the learning process for all animals. Ultimately, punishment-based training is detrimental to both dogs and their families. Positive reinforcement-based training, the default approach at Two Dadsna d a Dog, focuses on rewarding desired behaviors, a more effective and humane approach to training dogs.
  • Myth: Punishment-based training works faster.
    Fact: While aversive and punishment-based training methods may appear to quickly suppress a behavior, they often fail to address the underlying cause and do not teach the dog an alternative behavior. This can lead to a recurrence of the unwanted behavior, sometimes even with increased intensity. In contrast, positive training methods focus on teaching the dog appropriate behaviors, providing them with clear guidance and reinforcing positive actions. This approach not only fosters a better understanding of what is expected but also promotes long-term behavior change.
  • Myth: Positive training doesn't work if you stop giving treats.
    Fact: Positive trainers utilize various rewards such as food, play, toys, or other things that dogs enjoy in order to motivate them to learn, and repeat, desired behaviors. However, it's important to note that rewards are not the sole reason why dogs enjoy learning. Pleasant experiences, which can include verbal praise or gentle physical touch, contribute to the overall positive relationship between dogs and their owners. These experiences not only encourage the dog to learn behaviors but also strengthen the bond and motivation for further learning.
  • Myth: Dogs who behave aggressively are trying to be dominant.
    Fact: Dogs often exhibit behaviors that are perceived as "dominant" because they are attempting to fulfill their needs. They may be seeking attention, food, or trying to alleviate fear or anxiety. By understanding their needs and creating a comfortable environment for them, dogs can learn to behave appropriately and find alternative ways to meet their needs.
  • Myth: Positive trainers do not believe in discipline or setting limits.
    Fact: Positive dog trainers do not promote permissiveness. Instead, they establish boundaries and teach limits to prevent dogs from engaging in unwanted behaviors, while simultaneously guiding them towards appropriate behaviors.
  • Myth: Dog breeds learn differently
    Fact: All animals learn the same way, and by extension, all dogs learn the same way. Each dog, regardless of breed, is an individual; and all dogs learn by following the same principles applied to human learning. These principles are: by association and by the immediate consequences of their behavior. The same principles are used in your child’s classroom, a farm, the zoo, aquariums, and our training plans. A couple of things to keep in mind: Breed matters sometimes - your dog’s breed certainly is an important part of their personality. Certain breeds are prone to certain behaviors (good and bad). However, the breed of your dog isn’t the only factor that defines your relationship with him. Motivation matters all the time - the most important part of working with your dog is knowing his motivation. The personality traits will give the best guide on how to build a relationship of trust. All our training programs are suited for all breeds of dogs, and all owners. We also take into consideration your family’s home and lifestyle when working with your dog. Our trainers try to make sure that we are equipping your dog for success in your home and everywhere you take her.
  • Can most behavior issues in dogs be cured or fixed?
    Many common behavior issues such as jumping, mouthing, and excessive barking can be eliminated with training and consistency. However, more serious issues such as aggression, separation anxiety, resource guarding, fear, and compulsive behaviors may require professional help and improvement can be expected, but complete elimination is not always possible.
  • Did I do something to cause my dog's behavior?
    You probably didn't. It is common for dog owners to blame themselves for their dog's problem behaviors, but the truth is that very few people are responsible for the issues their dogs face. The reasons behind a dog's behavior can be complex and difficult to pinpoint. It could be the result of genetic factors, the way they were treated as a newborn, abandonment, a traumatic experience, or a health or environmental issue. However, it's important to understand that it's not always possible to determine the exact cause of a dog's behavior.
  • Do Luis & Michael work with all dog breeds?
    Dog behavior problems are more an issue of the individual dog in its environment than it is the breed; so, the answer is Yes! All our training programs are suited for all breeds of dogs, and all owners. We also take into consideration your family’s home and lifestyle when working with your dog. Our trainers try to make sure that we are equipping your dog for success in your home and everywhere you take her.
  • Is it important for Two Dads and a Dog to know if my dog has bitten another dog or human?
    Absolutely, yes! Once a dog has bitten severely, biting becomes a part of his behavior repertoire, even if he chooses not to bite again. This information is crucial in assessing the future risk of bites, as well as understanding the circumstances and prognosis.
  • What is the average number of sessions required to correct a dog's behavioral issues?
    To address behavioral issues in dogs, our consultants generally conduct two to four one-hour sessions after the initial assessment session, which last about 90 minutes. During the first session, your dog's behavior is assessed and a treatment plan is created and initiated on-site. The subsequent sessions are used to make any necessary adjustments so that the owner can continue treatment independently.
  • Can my dog’s behavior challenges be fixed and how long will it take?
    Changing one's behavior can be a complex and challenging task as it involves breaking old habits while simultaneously developing new ones. This process can be time-consuming and may take longer than one might anticipate. Even something as simple as drinking an extra cup of water per day may require up to two months to become a consistent and habitual behavior. When it comes to fixing a dog's behavioral issues such as aggression, separation anxiety, phobias, compulsions, resource guarding, and fear, there are many variables to consider. Commitment from the owner, severity of the behavior problem, dog's age, and time the behavior has been practiced are all key variables. While it's possible to expect an improvement in the dog's behavior through behavior modification, in many cases it's unlikely that the issues will be eliminated entirely. Maintaining the new behaviors will depend on managing the dog's environment throughout its lifespan. As a benchmark, notable improvement in behavior should be seen two months after starting behavior modification. The biggest variable in fixing a dog's behavior is whether or not the owner will do the homework assigned for behavior modification. Owners must follow the prescribed behavior modification plan for their pet.
  • Am I being trained or the dog?
    The main focus of dog training is to teach the dog's owner how to modify their pet's behavior. It's similar to hiring a fitness instructor to help you reach your fitness goals. The instructor will assess your current fitness level and create a custom workout plan for you. They will then demonstrate the exercises and guide you through them until you can do them on your own. Dog behaviorists work similarly, but instead of fitness, they help you modify your dog's behavior.
  • Do Luis & Michael use shock (e-collars), prong or choke collars?
    Short answer: No. Experienced and knowledgeable dog professionals are aware that using collars that cause pain to dogs is not only ineffective but also harmful. These collars can cause behavioral damage to dogs over time, leading to further complications. Instead, positive rewards are more effective and provide long-lasting results without affecting the relationship between dog and owner. Two Dads and a Dog has worked with many cases where dogs have suffered because of the use of such collars, whether prescribed or not by other dog trainers.
  • I can not crate my puppy because he barks in the crate.
    To address your puppy's barking, start by identifying the reason behind it. Is your puppy barking to be let out? Is she seeking attention or does she need to go outside to relieve herself? In most cases, a new puppy will get used to its crate quickly, especially if he associates the crate with his favorite toys and delicious treats. It's essential to train your puppy to view the crate as a comfortable and enjoyable space.
  • Why does my puppy pee as soon as he comes indoors after being in the backyard?
    To successfully train your puppy to do his business outside, you need to keep a close eye on him all the time. This means that you should accompany him outside and monitor him to see if he has finished his business or not. Until your puppy is fully trained, you should limit his access to certain parts of the house. We strongly recommend crate training as it is an effective way to manage your puppy's behavior and teach him what is appropriate and acceptable. Consider our Training Programs to learn more about crate training and its benefits.
  • My puppy is destroying rugs and furniture legs! Help!
    Puppies explore the world using their mouth, and as their teeth start developing, they develop a strong desire to gnaw on things. It is important for you to manage your puppy's environment by providing appropriate chew toys and limiting access to inappropriate objects.
  • My puppy goes wild biting me and grabbing onto my pant legs. What should I do?
    This behavior in puppies is often a result of too much unsupervised time and overstimulated. It's important to give your puppy guidance and structure. Encourage them to grab and chew on something appropriate or teach them to sit, as a sitting puppy is less likely to jump. It's crucial to establish good habits right from the start.
  • Should I get a second dog to help with my dog's separation anxiety?
    Dealing with separation anxiety in dogs can be challenging for pet owners. Considerations must be made before deciding to get a second dog to help with the issue. While it may seem like another pet could provide companionship and alleviate loneliness, this isn't guaranteed and depends on the individual personalities and compatibility of the dogs. It's important to remember that separation anxiety is specifically about being separated from the owner, rather than just being alone. Furthermore, the new dog could potentially develop separation anxiety as well. It's advisable to seek professional advice to effectively address separation anxiety.
  • What does separation anxiety in dogs look like?
    It's important to keep in mind two factors while dealing with separation anxiety in dogs: The behavior only occurs when you are absent. The behavior persists until you return. Some signs that your dog may be suffering from separation anxiety include Constant vocalization (whining, barking, howling) Panting, drooling Escape attempts (especially around windows, doors, or other points of exit) Self-harm Pacing or inability to settle Urination and/or defecation Separation anxiety is a panic disorder, and therefore we need to address not only the dog's needs but also their emotions. The destructive behavior such as chewing, barking, and destruction won't go away until the anxiety is tackled.
  • Why is your separation anxiety program virtual?
    Remote Separation Anxiety training is most effective and convenient when done remotely using your own devices, such as laptops, smartphones, tablets, or standalone Wifi cameras. It is crucial to leave your dog alone without any human presence to accurately identify the early signs of anxiety during an absence. If a trainer is present to watch your dog, it would not be a true test of their ability to handle being alone as they are aware that they are not alone. Hence, video monitoring allows us to observe your dog's behavior in a real-life absence without disrupting their solitude.
  • Should I let my anxious dog cry it out?
    It is not advisable to let your dog "cry it out" when dealing with separation anxiety. This approach can worsen their symptoms instead of improving them. When dogs are left alone and distressed, their anxiety levels can escalate over time, rather than decrease. This is because dogs don't have a clear understanding of time and can't reassure themselves that you will return soon. If left unaddressed, separation anxiety can lead to destructive behavior and have long-term effects on a dog's mental and physical health. To help your pet feel safe and secure when alone, it's important to use gentle, consistent, and positive training methods such as gradual desensitization to being alone. In severe cases, medication and professional help may be necessary.
  • What is canine separation anxiety?
    It is common for some dogs and puppies to feel uneasy when left alone at home. This behavior can be due to various reasons, including frustration. However, if a dog experiences a phobia of being alone, it is known as canine separation anxiety or separation-related problems. Separation anxiety is a panic disorder that is similar to a panic attack in humans. It does not resolve on its own. Ensuring that your dog feels safe, calm, and comfortable in the house can significantly alleviate any anxiety related to separation for both the dog and the owner.
  • Do dogs grow out of separation-related anxiety?
    Dogs may exhibit certain behaviors that they eventually outgrow. However, some behaviors require attention and intervention as they are unlikely to go away on their own. Although professional training can help with certain behavioral issues, it is important to address some issues, like separation anxiety, on time. Ignoring such issues can cause more harm than good. Therefore, active steps need to be taken to help dogs overcome separation anxiety.

Frequently Asked Questions

Happy Clients

picture showing five star reviews

There are some things that podcasts and books cannot teach you and I have nothing but praise and gratitude for Luis and Michael. They are patient, kind, generous, and knowledgable dog trainers.

J Fisher

Two Dads and a Dog gave us back my sanity. They broke every training down to the simplest of steps and in no time, our pup was picking up the cues. Luis and Michael gave us steps on how to teach our dog and what was/wasn’t working.  I now feel more confident with my dog and can’t wait to take their puppy 2 class!

L Sarver

Michael and Luis are so wonderful to work with! My boyfriend and I felt in over our heads with the new puppy and their classes gave our puppy and us calm and confidence. We appreciate and recommend them so much! I don’t know what we would’ve done without them!

K Haberman

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