About My Methods:

Ruff Translation uses only positive, force-free methods when working with animals. In scientific terms, this means that I will use primarily positive reinforcement (rewarding the dog with something pleasant or fun when you like his behavior) and negative punishment (removing something the dog wants for undesirable behavior, such as a time out for mouthing or excitement barking).

Many problems between dogs and humans arise through cultural misunderstandings and unclear rules. This is why I named my business "Ruff Translation": in order to live happily with dogs, we need to clearly communicate what we want from them, and we need to understand what our dogs are telling us. I primarily use clicker training (with or without an actual clicker), because I find it to be the best way to communicate effectively with our dogs.

Positive methods are the best way to guide our dogs to long-term success. Positive does not mean permissive, or letting the dog "get away with" bad behavior. Rather than allowing the dog to practice unwanted behavior, I create a clear structure that prevents it and teaches him a better way to behave. Positive reinforcement training is also the best way to counter problems caused by fear and anxiety (which is the root of most aggression problems). See the Resources section to learn more about positive training methods, clicker training, the dominance/alpha myth, and more.

When it comes to changing problem behaviors in dogs, I always approach the issue from a holistic standpoint. It would be a mistake to focus only on behavior. Could there be an underlying medical issue, such as pain, hormonal imbalances, or seizures? Is the dog's diet healthy, and absent of things like artificial preservatives and dyes and corn? Is he receiving adequate and appropriate exercise? How are the tools that we are using on the dog (ie, collars, leashes, harnesses) affecting him physically and emotionally, and what effect are they having on his learning? What is the history of his training and socialization? One must consider the whole dog to reach full success.