The How to Tell When Someone Claims to, but Doesn’t Actually Understand Dog Training Starter Kit:

✔️Won’t use “corrective” tools in dog training, but yells at their dog constantly for not listening.

✔️Allows their dog to pull on a “gentle” leader with the strap almost in the dogs eyeballs, but touts that prong collars are inhumane.

✔️Gives unsolicited advice on the internet and says things like: “Try humane ‘science based’ dog training instead,” implying that only positive reinforcement is science-based.

This is the age we live in. We live in a sea of experts simply because people have a keyboard and Google. Believers in positive reinforcement (+R) only training, from my experience are some of the most critical, confrontational folks out there. I’m not writing this to draw a line in the sand. I actually think that the more people talk about +R versus balanced, the more of a divide it creates in all of us. But because I see so much of this nonsense, I need to speak up. Aren’t we all in this for the same reason, to help dogs and live a happier life with them? But here’s the thing. It’s all bullshit. It’s a fear mongering façade that certain personality types like to force onto others. I’m here to give some much needed clarification on this topic.

All of science works: positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, positive punishment, negative punishment. It’s ALL science and it ALL works to increase or decrease the likelihood of a behavior happening again. The next time you hear someone refer to +R as the only part of the four quadrants that is “science-based” laugh, and then ignore everything else they have to say.

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Oh and here’s the kicker. There’s no such thing as positive-only training. In order to achieve that your dog would have to live completely off leash, free range. The second you have a leash on a dog you’re using negative reinforcement. If you tell your dog “no”, or use your leg to quickly block them from bolting out of a doorway, you’re using positive punishment. Dogs are ALWAYS being trained by the cause and effect patterns that take place within our homes day to day, whether we realize it or not. Let’s stop the madness and not have such harsh opinions or choose sides on topics we don’t thoroughly understand. 

Aren’t we all in this for the love of dogs anyway? And if we respect dogs for who they are in their most pure form, WE WON’T BE AGAINST THEIR INNATE WAYS OF LEARNING; as Mother Nature isn’t exactly keen on positive reinforcement only.

Zahra gained so much freedom through her e-collar training, and I gained a sense of safety and control over my dog...

Zahra and I were referred to Kerry from another trainer in town who told us she was THE expert in e-collar training. At the time, while I was head over heels in love with my adorable new border collie puppy, I was also losing my mind trying to manage her incessant energy on my own. While I consider myself a pretty active person, Zahra came in to the world like a lightning bolt of nonstop energy and engagement. She was whip-smart and ready to learn/play/work ALL DAY LONG - and then some. I knew that I needed to find a way to combine Zahra's exercise with mine if I was going to continue managing my busy work schedule and her needs, so I wanted to take us both on long hikes every week. Fortunately we live in gorgeous Colorado, so the mountains are literally our playground!

Last year I enrolled Zahra in Kerry's 3-week e-collar board and train program while I was traveling over the holidays, and I honestly am not sure I've ever spent better money. Zahra gained SO much freedom through her e-collar training, and I gained a sense of safety and control over my dog. Today, when she sees me pull our her e-collar, she starts leaping with excitement because she knows it means that we're going outside on some kind of adventure, and usually one that involves her getting to run at top speed to her little heart's content. Watching Zahra run and leap in the mountains is one of the most beautiful things I've seen. She's like a blur of white fur - practically flying and barely touching the ground! 

I Iive in a VERY busy part of Denver, but with her e-collar on I can also let her off-leash in the middle of a nearby city park, and have full confidence that she is safe to play Frisbee with me without EVER running towards cars or other dogs. She just gets it. It's amazing. I can’t even feel her recall level on the e-collar! We do this a few times a week when things are busy and we can't make it to the mountains. 

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Kerry also installed a much-needed 'off' switch in Zahra - and my favorite of all commands, "Place!" I can't even say enough about how much this changed our lives. Having the ability to tell Z to calmly stay in place while I have guests over, or need to work, is amazing. She also helped Z learn to LOVE going into her kennel, where she can also rest and turn off. Z screamed in her kennel for the first 2 months of her life so again, I can't express how much relief it brought us both for this to stop being such a challenge.

Finally, Kerry helped me learn a ton about feeding Z a raw diet - and we're now forever fans. Several vets were unable to fix Zahra's sensitive tummy issues and 2 AM diarrhea episodes - once we had her on a the raw diet recommended by Kerry, her fur got shinier, she started liking eating, and she hasn't has ANY tummy troubles since!

Kerry will forever be family to me and Zahra and I'm so grateful to call her a friend as well as an incredible resource.

Jen K.

Denver, Colorado

Flash Dog Training's Shadow Program

Shadowing a reputable professional through their day-to-day routine as they practice their craft is a great way to learn a trade. When that craft is training dogs in a home-based environment, it's great insight to what this “lifestyle” is like. It’s not just about the repetition of teaching the dog obedience, you are watching the ins and outs of what it’s like living with dogs that have behavioral issues and what the process looks like to resolving them. 

We have had shadows work with us for a weekend, week, month and even 3 month period. The length of stay is fully customizable and we will meet you where you are at experience wise and hit on topics you would like to learn. The other part of the program is showing you our system and the core of our philosophies and techniques. Stories will be shared and swapped over meals after the dogs are done for the day. We have housing options available and we encourage you to bring a dog. We have even had people shadow along while their dog was in our board and train program.

Amanda is our current shadow student at our Denver location. Amanda has worked at a training and boarding facility, as a vet assistant, and she currently works as a staff manager at a pet resort. She began shadowing with Flash in early November. Here is what Amanda says about why she’s shadowing to grow her skill set:

Amanda makes a connection with board and train dog, George.

Amanda makes a connection with board and train dog, George.

 “In my experience in animal care so far, I found dog training to be the most rewarding job. The reason I feel so strongly about balanced training is because I've witnessed the results. I believe it is the most effective way to communicate with our dogs and e collars are the most life-changing tools. Since moving to Colorado in June, I struggled to find dog trainers with similar goals, techniques and values as me. It was also important to me to find a trainer who genuinely wanted to help me grow as a dog trainer. I knew of Kerry from a past job in New York, but didn’t have the courage to reach out to a stranger until I needed approval to join a local dog trainers Facebook group and she happened to be an admin. I researched Flash, watched practically every video on Instagram, and read every Facebook post. Everything I read or saw resonated with me. I’m most interested in behavior modification and seeing Kerry’s phenomenal results working with any behavioral issue showed that she had a lot of experience and knowledge to offer. I also wanted more experience with the e collar because I’d like to educate more dog owners on the benefits of e collar training. I love how Flash prioritizes the intricate conditioning process of the e collar and how all of their dogs are happy and upbeat working on the tool.”

We are so pleased to see the benefit of the value our students received in our program and how they apply their knowledge afterwords. If you're looking to get into dog training as a career, shadowing is a great way to see if the industry is right for you. It is fantastic for owners who really want an intensive amount of coaching for themselves, rather than just taking lessons. We also have other dog training professionals shadow us who are looking to add more training tools to their tool belt. Wherever you're at in your career or if you are thinking about making dog training your career, we can customize a shadow program for you.

We are looking forward to having students join us at our new location in Bend, Oregon this coming year. We will still be taking shadows at our Denver location with our trainer Breanna. If you are interested in shadowing please contact Kerry@flashdogtrianing.com for program details and rates.

 

I can now take Atlas on trails off leash and feel a sense of relief instead of stress...

I reached out to Flash Dog Training after countless failed adventures where Atlas ignored all commands and got himself into trouble by going face to face with unknown leashed dogs while I was giving him the freedom to be off leash. Atlas used to practice selective hearing, somedays he listened and other days it felt as if he didn't even know his own name. We had been working on recall primarily and had been approaching it all wrong. Nothing I tried worked. I would give him freedom he hadn't earned which almost always resulted in me leaving each adventure in tears or feeling frustration toward Atlas. He also had issues of over excitement when greeting new dogs and would relentlessly push himself into their space. 

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With Kerry and Bre's help through the introduction of balanced training and use of both a prong collar and e-collar, Atlas is able to properly greet new dogs, understand personal space and come when called away from ANY distraction. I can now take Atlas on trails off leash and feel a sense of relief instead of stress. The communication we have established feels more freeing than anything in the world. Sending Atlas to the three week board and train program was the best decision I have ever made for the wellbeing of Atlas and I's relationship. If you are seeking professional training or at a loss of where to turn to next, call Flash Dog Training. They are guaranteed to have a solution that works for you and your dog! 



Tiler Grossman 

Denver, CO 

Taking the Bite Out of Bark Collars

The bark collar is a tool that doesn’t get enough credibility or exposure when dog trainers talk about all the tools in their training belt. Years ago before I knew anything about bark collars, intuitively I thought that if you put a bark collar on a barking dog and they got corrected, it would make them more anxious and frantic. What bark collars do is actually the stark opposite of that.

When dogs bark continuously they adrenalize themselves, essentially working up into a frenzy. That frenzy can lead to very dangerous behaviors, like breaking out of kennels, lighting up at other dogs or even attacking other dogs. Also, the barking leads to pacing, whining, stress panting, dilated pupils, hyperactivity and a general “cracked out” state of mind of full blown stress. If the dog cannot bark, the stress is exponentially reduced. They stay in a healthier state of mind where they are more likely to take food in crate training exercises and actually rest in the kennel. This keeps the environment much safer, as well as calm and peaceful.

Before putting a bark collar on a dog there are a few things you should know. Proper fit and placement are essential. Read the directions. Don’t just slap it on the dog. In a perfect world we like to condition dogs to the E collar first. What this means is we like to familiarize the dog to working with the stimulation in a hands-on training context. However, sometimes dogs come in so out of control that we have to put a bark collar on them day one. This is how we do that: we set the collar to the automatic setting, not a number on the dial. We only use collars that have an automatic setting. What happens is when the dog barks, they will receive the lowest level stimulation correction. If they bark again it will go up one level higher, increasing the level with each bark. This way the dogs can learn the cause and effect of the tool without being flooded by a high level correction off the bat. 

Bark collars are not only essential for maintaining a calm environment so dogs around the barking dog are not stressed, but for safety. I have to emphasize that again. I have had dogs come in, going hysterical barking in a kennel, biting at the door, throwing themselves from side to side, trying to bend the door with their head and/or trying to chew their way out. As soon as they cannot bark, the next time I check on them they’re laying there peacefully, looking like an angel. I’m serious. Worst case scenario the dog will be panting, but more often than not, the majority of dogs will be laying calmly without any signs of stress. This is how relevant bark collars are to stopping that toxic surge of adrenaline in unstable dogs. Typically, after only a few days, we don’t even need the bark collar anymore. Because of all the structure the dog is receiving in training, they quickly morph into a more balanced state.

Like anything else the tool has to be introduced properly and it cannot be abused. It should not be left on for extended periods of time and dogs with different fur and skin issues will have different needs for contact points.

Bark collars are beneficial in many other contexts outside of using them in a board and train program. Do you own a dog that incessantly barks when you leave the house whether it is crated or not? Can you not have your dog outside in the yard for more than 30 seconds without him barking like crazy and disturbing the neighbors? A dog is much more likely to make good choices when they can not spiral down an adrenaline rabbit hole by barking.

Bark collars are not a replacement for training. They are a tool just like all the other tools that we use when working with dogs. But if an owner  doesn’t have time to exercise their dog that day, using a bark collar to keep their dog quiet at times is far more humane in my opinion, than letting a dog bark his head off constantly with pupils the size of quarters.

Again, a bark collar isn’t a permanent solution to your dog’s barking. This tool helps a dog become more stable because of EVERYTHING ELSE we are putting into the dog training-wise. They help keep the dog far away from unhealthy, aroused states of mind. Dogs learn to settle faster and even dogs that are not crate trained will learn to not only accept, but enjoy the peace and comfort of being in a kennel with the help of a bark collar.

Like any other tool in the world, it can be used correctly or incorrectly, humanely or inhumanely. When used properly the bark collar is an incredible tool that can facilitate relaxation even in the most stressed and excitable dogs.

Consult a balanced trainer in your area to help teach you appropriate contexts for using a bark collar to help your dog.

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The Solution For Difficult Dog Nail Trims: The Grooming Sling

This is a step by step tutorial of how to use what is, in my opinion, the most effective tool for helping dogs who are fearful of nail trims. I have tried every technique out there with my dog Mudd, who developed a phobia of foot handling due to a chronic, brown nail. The nail ultimately had to be completely removed. In addition to that he has had to be put under numerous times for ripped nails. His nails grow like weeds. My attempts to trim them over the years led to a build in Mudd's distrust of me when it came to doing anything to his body. This was heartbreaking and I knew that there had to be a solution that he would be comfortable with.

The result you will see in this video took months upon months to create. Mudd was not one of those dogs that you see in some videos where they put the dog in the sling and magically they just hang there and allow the clipping. First of all, he would not even wear the sling. He would only let us put it on him as a jacket. You can see the other video of me conditioning him to wear the sling on our YouTube channel. Even after getting him to be comfortable wearing the sling, once we actually had him hanging, he would still thrash and try to bite. Long story short, this took essentially months of consistency to accomplish this result. Hopefully most of you out there don't have a dog as difficult as Mudd and that using this sling will really be a game changer off the bat, but you also must prepare that it may not be that simple.  

I consider Mudd's case to be the worst of the worst. Therefore, I am so happy to share these little tips and tricks of the trade that have taken us from worst case scenario, to an easy-breezy five minute procedure.