Have a question that you don't see here? Please contact us to ask! We'd be more than happy to answer it for you!
I know I need help, but what do I book?
First of all, we need to determine if you require Skill Building assistance or if your dog is going to benefit most from Behavioural Modification.
If you are working on training that mostly has to do with Commands (Sit, Down, Come, Stay, etc.), then you're going to want to book a Skill Building Private Lesson. Likewise if your dog is experiencing mild Reactivity, or if you have a new puppy that you want to get started off right, the Skill Building lessons are going to be for you!
The length of the lesson that you book is going to be determined by how many things you want to address, and how many dogs you want to address them with.
Our general suggestion is that you book a 90 Minute Lesson if you've never worked with us before and have at least two things that you need to work on, or more than one dog in the house. If you have a single thing that you want to focus on, or only one dog in the home, then we will likely suggest a 60 Minute Session. And if you're driving a loooong way to get here, and you have multiple items to work on and/or multiple dogs you'd like to include in the lesson, it's probably best to book a 120 Minute session instead!
However, if you're dealing with things like moderate to severe Reactivity, Aggression, Resource Guarding, Separation or Confinement Stress, Anxiety, etc., then you're going to want to get started with Behavioural Modification. Dogs who have Bite or Attempted Bite Histories also typically require a Behaviour Modification session first, unless that issue has already been successfully resolved, and you are coming to us for something unrelated.
In these instances, we'd suggest the following:
Mild to Moderate or Low Risk issues can potentially be dealt with in the space of a single session (you're always welcome to book additional Follow Up Sessions if you need them!).
Moderate to Severe or High Risk issues are best dealt with by booking the Introductory Session & Follow Up.
Your Trainer will make suggestions as to whether or not they believe that additional Lessons or Sessions will benefit you and your dog after they've had an opportunity to work with you!
Why is there such a significant difference between the prices for Skill Building Lessons and Behaviour Modification?
First of all, we want to make it clear that BOTH aspects of training are very important to the success that you and your dog get to experience together! There's no doubt about it. However, when it comes to the pricing associated with one or the other, there are a few main things that are going to go into how those prices are determined:
The sheer number of hours (I.e. hands-on experience) that are required to become a genuinely skilled Behaviour Consultant is staggering. Align's Consultant/Trainer/Instructor Christina has spent the last ~16 years acquiring her skills and knowledge. She has worked with over 7000 dogs, and has accrued tens of thousands of hours of experience during that time.
The amount of education that goes into being fluent in dog body language and behaviour is also significantly higher. And as anyone who has gone to college or University, participated in seminars, or done other forms of learning knows... it isn't cheap.
The risk involved in Behaviour Modification is often significantly higher than anything a Trainer will experience during a Skill Building lesson. Behaviour Consultants know that they are putting their livelihoods at risk each time they work with a client that is a bite risk, since career-ending bites can happen in the blink of an eye. Consultants use their acquired experience and knowledge to avoid being harmed, but accidents can happen to even the most skilled and educated individual. As such, the compensation they receive reflects the increased level of risk inherent in their jobs.
You Said You Use Many Different Methods, but What Does That Mean?
When we say that we like to keep a lot of tools in our toolboxes, or that we use a variety of methods, what we mean is that we are open to the possibility of utilizing any training method that produces a desirable training outcome, is safe and appropriate for your dog, and that you feel comfortable and confident using. A very large portion of our training methods are based on positively reinforcing desirable behaviours and choices, however, it's important to note that we do also communicate to dogs when they're doing something we don't like or don't want them to do. We believe that this is integral in providing dogs with the clearest picture possible.
We use a variety of tools that might include; food, toys, leash communication, different styles of collars, different styles of harnesses, spray bottles, chew deterrent, noise makers of various types, etc., etc.
If there is something that you aren't particularly comfortable with, we encourage you to tell us so that we can either give you some more information on it if you would like, or avoid its use in our training plans.
Since we are committed to the inclusion of multiple training methods, if you are looking for a strictly Purely Positive, Positive Only, or Force Free trainer, we are more than happy to make recommendations for other individuals in the area who specialize in those approaches!
Why All the Hype About Trust & Respect?
Trust and Respect are the foundational principles of our relationship building model.
Basically, that's a really wordy way of saying that we believe that the best relationships between dogs and people having strong components of trust and respect present. But when we say trust and respect, we don't actually mean them the way that most people do.
In the Dog World, Trust means that your dog knows that you are going to keep him or her safe, no matter the situation. It means that they are willing to participate in things that might make them a bit nervous or uncomfortable because they believe in your ability to keep bad things from happening, and they 100% trust that you won't ask them to do something that would end poorly for them. It's important to keep in mind that, for a dog, death and maiming are kind of the gold standards for "something bad". Obviously that varies somewhat from dog to dog, but taking your dog to the vet for its vaccinations isn't going to count as a violation of his or her Trust just because they got poked or were uncomfortable or anxious.
Respect, on the other hand, refers to your dog's belief that you will absolutely follow through on whatever it is that you say that you're going to do or want them to do. They understand that you get to be the decision maker in the relationship, and they're good with that because you've shown them that a) you make good decisions, b) good things happen for them when they choose to do what you want them to do, and c) you're gonna make them do it anyway, so they may as well toe the line. Again, remember that dogs don't think about these things the way that we do. Our dogs aren't bothered by the idea that they're supposed to do what they're told - in fact, the vast majority of dogs prefer not to have to make decisions and are more than happy to hand over the management responsibilities to someone else... as long as that someone is someone they trust and respect.
We think that it's very important to note that our preference for the relationships we build with our dogs is not the only way of doing things (you might have noticed that that's a theme with us). There are lots of trainers and handlers out there who prefer to base their relationships on other factors and aspects of dog behaviour, and that's totally fine by us! What's important is that you find a trainer and a method that works for you and your dog, so that you can enjoy your time together to its utmost potential.
Are You Breed Inclusive? Are There Breeds You Won't Work With?
We are absolutely breed inclusive, and there are no dogs that we will refuse to work with based on their breed, appearance, or possible breed makeup.