WHY SHOULD I CHOOSE YOU?
At Allies of Dogs, basic obedience such as ‘Sit’, ‘Stand’, ‘Down’ is secondary to us — we place greater importance on building a strong partnership between owner and dog as well as nurturing long-term confidence in your dog. You can rest assured that your dog will be in good hands with accredited trainers who will only use kind and humane tactics that are backed by science and no less effective. All recommendations given will be practical and customised to address your concerns, with the additional benefit of enhancing your relationship with your dog.
WHAT ARE YOUR TRAINING METHODS?
We use reinforcement-based training by rewarding the dog when they do a desired behaviour, as well as a marker system for clear communication between owner and dog. All our training methods are based on learning science.
HOW DO YOU DEFINE “KIND AND HUMANE”?
In accordance with the guidelines of LIMA (Least Intrusive, Minimally Aversive) and The Humane Hierarchy, we do not use aversive tools or punishment in our training process (e.g. prong collars, shock collars, leash correction, vocal intimidation, physical punishment).
HOW DO I ENSURE MY TRAINER IS REALLY USING KIND AND HUMANE METHODS?
Many trainers will say they are using kind and humane methods - nobody will say they are out to inflict fear and pain. Be the discerning owner. You have the right to ask questions before engaging any trainer. Do your research and look for credible sources and scientific evidence. Ask your intuition - would you be comfortable if these methods or tools were used on you or your child? Be the advocate for your dog.
ALLY MY DOG? DON’T I NEED TO ESTABLISH MY STATUS AS THE ALPHA OR PACK LEADER?
The myth of the alpha wolf and dominance theory has long been debunked more than two decades ago. Unfortunately, this myth still has a lasting effect on dog training methods today — the dominance theory wrongly assumes that most problematic behaviours are due to the dog wanting to be the “alpha dog” and the way to solve such problems is to establish dominance as pack leader over the dog. This results in misinformed trainers/owners using aversive training methods to establish oneself as the “alpha” or “pack leader”, such as by pinning the dog down into submission, eating first before the dog does, occupying a higher position to maintain one’s elevated status, not allowing the dog to walk in front of you, etc. In reality, these methods are not scientifically proven and will only compromise your relationship with your dog.
IS REWARD-BASED TRAINING LESS EFFECTIVE THAN COMPULSION TRAINING (PUNISHMENT-BASED) OR BALANCED TRAINING (USE OF BOTH REWARD AND PUNISHMENT)?
Based on research, reward-based training has been found to be more effective than punishment or balanced training and associated with less problems. The use of punishment has been proven to be detrimental to the dog-owner relationship. Its many problems include:
Only suppresses behaviour and does not teach the dog what to do
Generalised fear to the environment and increased stress and anxiety in the dog
Negative associations with the owner, breaking relationship bonds
Increased aggression towards owners
WILL I SPOIL MY DOG IF I ONLY USE REWARDS AND NO PUNISHMENT? HOW DO I KEEP MY DOG UNDER CONTROL?
Under the reward-based method, we train the dog by managing its access to resources, e.g. food, water, freedom. By the virtue of the fact that dogs are essentially animals under captivity, we are already in a dominant and advantageous position. Hell, we even control when they can go pee and poop. Why the need to further try to "dominate" them using pain and intimidation? Think about how you may tell your child that they can only have that ice-cream after they finish their homework, or you will only buy them that Nintendo Switch if they score an A in their exam. If you were to give them all that all the time with no conditions? Now, that's spoiling.
AM I BRIBING MY DOG WITH TREATS? WILL MY DOG STILL LISTEN TO ME WHEN I DON’T HAVE TREATS?
If you have experienced that your dog only listens to you when you have a treat, this is due to a training error. In our training, we will guide you on the correct sequence of presenting a treat, how to fade out a food lure, and how to use a variable reinforcement schedule to strengthen a desired behaviour.
WHAT IF MY DOG IS NOT FOOD MOTIVATED? CAN YOU STILL TRAIN HIM?
Yes, we can. Food is commonly used as a reinforcer (reward) as it is very effective and all dogs need to eat to survive. However, it is a common misconception that reward-based training only uses food treats—we can use whatever your dog finds reinforcing, e.g. play, chase, sniff, praise, pets. We will work with you to understand his motivators as well as build his food motivation.
HOW IS THE TRAINING NORMALLY CONDUCTED?
All trainings will be conducted as 1-on-1 private sessions, in your home environment and/or nearby vicinity, so that we can see your dog in its usual environment. Each session is typically 1-1.5 hours.
In the initial assessment, we will assess your home environment, understand the background and history of the dog, understand problem behaviours and triggers, establish our training objectives, discuss immediate recommendations as well as subsequent training plans.
In subsequent trainings, we will demonstrate and impart the necessary skills to you. You will have hands-on practice during the session and receive immediate feedback so that you can gain the confidence to continue practising the same skill until the next session.
In between sessions, we may share additional reading materials or reference videos for you to better understand your dog's behaviour and/or the training techniques introduced. You may also send over any training videos for us to review and provide our feedback for further progress.
CAN YOU TRAIN MY DOG FOR ME INSTEAD? MUST I BE PRESENT?
You may have heard the saying that dog training is 30% for the dog and 70% for the human - this is true. How a dog behaves is influenced by many factors, a crucial one being the handler. While we can train your dog to listen to us, it does not mean they will automatically listen to you when you give the same cue. This is why it is important for us to impart the skills to you, so that you can be his trusted ally and the one he listens to. You being present also means 100% transparency as you can witness how we train your dog.
HOW MANY TRAINING SESSIONS DO I NEED?
There is no hard and fast rule -- it depends on what you and your dog need. We will be able to advise upon understanding more of your requirements.
DO YOU GUARANTEE RESULTS?
A true dog professional will never guarantee results. Because in reality we can't. There are two main reasons. Firstly, dogs are sentient beings and not objects that can simply be "fixed". Secondly, it also depends on your ability to put in consistent effort. What we can guarantee, is that we will try our very best to guide and support you, but you will also need to do your part as your dog's ally.