A. I love your questions and I think it's great because you wouldn't believe the number of people who just blindly go with a trainer without asking these questions or doing their research on the methodology that trainer uses, etc., and it can be to the detriment of all involved.. dog, owner, trainer. So no worries! Never be afraid to ask me anything :)
I never really walk into an appointment with a set agenda... Even when I have a loose outline, that can all go completely out the window when I meet the dog, for many reasons: the owner's analysis of the dog's behavior is completely incorrect; the dog is motivated or not motivated in a certain way; there is another skill set I believe we should concentrate on before or instead of the one I initially had planned; it's the owner that needs more work "getting their head in the game" than the dog... you know what I mean?
I do have a general scheme of things I like to do, or a "style." Leadership is always very important for everyone's safety & happiness, and those are skills I want everyone to have. Leadership does not equal aggression or confrontation. It is important for a balanced life & to solve behavior problems. That generally has very much to do with people needing to practice this piece of advice I'm always giving out: When you are working with a dog, whether you are using a correction at that moment or a reward, you need to be aware of the dog's state of mind... not just a behavior. You also need to be aware of your OWN state of mind. For example, if I ask my dog to stop barking at you & sit, and he shuts up & sits, that is not necessarily the time to reward (or "good boy") just because he executed the behavior I was asking for. If he is still looking at you with bad intentions, that is not time for "good boy" yet. THAT is where a lot of people need the direction of a professional like myself.. Am I making sense there?
There is never really a guarantee of "how many" or "how long" when it comes to training... Like when someone asks (not that you did), "When will he be trained?" that all depends on what "trained" means to you.. know what I mean? I like to concentrate on repairing or improving the relationship & the lines of communication between the dog & the family, not just come in & teach you sit/down/stay/come/heel. What happens more often than not is something like this: a given person calls me saying, "My dog is GREAT, it's just this one thing... He is very reactive on leash on our walks when he sees another dog." OK, so the quick interpretation of that on my end is pretty clear... That ISN'T just one "problem." It is a SYMPTOM of a problem, and the problem is some leadership issues. You can't just address "this one thing." Extremely rarely would that ever work... There are minimal exceptions to that rule, and they are exceptions that are generally to the detriment of the dog.
As far as how I train or what tools I use... I use everything. I do not limit myself to one tool or training technique, and that is because I find that every dog & every handler is different. There are many ways in training to essentially accomplish the same thing, and how we get there depends on many factors: the temperament of the dog, the temperament of the handler, the urgency of the situation, the dog's distraction/excitability/stress thresholds, the dog's reaction to different rewards & the dog's reaction to different corrections. As I say, I want to set the dog up to succeed, and I want us to get there in the funnest, most peaceful, safest, happiest, most effective way possible, whether that means he learns how to wait at the door so he doesn't bolt, you both learn how to communicate basic manners to each other, or you learn how to manage a hardcore "aggressive" dog with a bite history.
So I do come in with a GENERAL list of things I think dogs should know: sit, down, wait, come, proper walk, place, name response and how to respect a correction from a distance. But as far as how long that takes or how many sessions.. There's really no telling. And that depends mostly on the owner, not me or the dog.
I really hope that somewhat answers your questions.. Again, I don't mind them at all... You are welcome to flip through my website and you'll probably get a better feel for me based on the material that's on there: www.hexdogs.com, and www.facebook.com/hexdogs and www.thumbtack.com/hex-dogs.. oh, and www.meetup.com/hexdogs.. I know.. lol.
Let me know if there is anything more specific I can answer for you and if you'd like to move forward setting something up :)
Cassie-Leigh Stock, ABCDT, CTDI