Training techniques are not “one size fits all” when it comes to teaching a dog to sit, stay, come and stop barking at everything that moves.
People tend to fall on one side of the coin or the other. Some like positive reinforcement with treats, praise or a favorite toy to condition a dog to mind. Others rely on aversion training using any number of different types of collars to bring a dog up short to show you are displeased with a behavior. “Dog Whisperer” Cesar Millan will “touch” (some would say hit or kick) a dog in training, while others might use an electronic training collar to teach it some much-needed manners.
Some use a combination of those methods to train dogs as do the trainers at Sit Means Sit in Copley Township.
“We use an e-collar to redirect their attention back to you,” said Paul Pollock, owner of the Sit Means Sit franchise that opened in 2007. “It is only one of the tools in our toolbox,” Pollock said, adding that some dogs respond better to commands when offered a special treat, a favorite toy or a leash. “We use whatever motivates them.”
Using an e-collar for training, sometimes referred to as a shock collar, has been a contentious issue among dog trainers for decades because a remote control in an untrained hand can administer a painful jolt to an animal.
Others feel the device is an effective training method when coupled with a positive reward for good behavior.
“Both radio-controlled and behavior-activated electronic devices have been recognized as effective and humane training equipment when used properly and in accordance with humane principles,” said Steven R. Lindsay in his Handbook of Applied Dog Behavior & Training, Volume Three, Procedures and Protocols.
Electronic fences, which have been considered acceptable for decades, free the owner from worrying about a dog running away when it is outside. Isn’t that a double standard?
If you still need convincing, take a good look at the “class photo” of the dogs currently enrolled in a Sit Means Sit group training class. Every one of these animals calmly posing for the photo is wearing an e-collar. Do any of them look particularly unhappy to you? Do they appear to be “zapped into submission” as some might say?
Actually, you are probably only asking: “How the heck did they get them to do that?”
In one word: Training.
Frequently, owners are in denial and don’t consider their pets’ constant outside barking or jumping on guests as nuisances.
“When I give a demonstration, people often tell me about the good things their dogs do,” said Pollock. “I just point out behaviors that can be fixed with training.”
Not one of the dogs in a recent Wednesday evening group class — from the 120-pound sweetheart of a Rottweiler named Thor, to a couple of 10-pound Jack Russell terriers named Gracie and Lily — appeared uncomfortable, resentful, afraid, or aggressive. On the contrary, the dogs entered the Copley Township class as excited as a group of preteens at their first Justin Bieber concert.
They knew they were about to romp in a great big room filled with friends, practice the agility tricks they love to perform and join in a free-for-all before they got down to the business at hand.
Two of the larger dogs came in with alpha attitudes, but soon settled down, eager to start the agility course.
Pollock opened the first Ohio Sit Means Sit franchise in Copley Township five years ago with only a part-time office manager. He now has 10 employees in Copley and another training facility in Mentor.
He and his trainers provide one-on-one sessions in owners’ homes, group classes at the facility, therapy dog training and American Kennel Club Good Canine Citizen certification training. He also provides boarding at the facility at 1062 Jacoby Road Suite A.
Pollock was named the company’s “Top Dog” in the nation in 2012 for the fastest-growing and most successful franchise using the Sit Means Sit method. He estimates his trainers see 45 new dogs each month.
The fact that the business grew 100 percent each of its first three years is testament that people approve of its teaching methods.
“I never thought it would grow to the level it has grown and it is not stopping here,” Pollock said.
Sit Means Sit was voted No. 1 by Beacon Journal readers for “Best Dog Training” in the newspaper’s Beacon’s Best listings in 2010, 2011 and 2012 and No. 1 in the same category in 2009, 2011 and 2012 on the Fox 8 (WJW, Channel 8) Hot List.
Other animals in the news:
Low Cost Spaying and Neutering — Cats Having Alterations Professionally Inc. (C.H.A.P.) will provide low-cost mobile spay and neuter surgeries for cats and kittens March 2 at 180 E. South St., Akron. Kittens need to be 12 weeks old, weigh at least 3 pounds and be in good health. Services are available for family pets, friendly strays and feral cats that do not have AIDS or feline leukemia. Cost is $40 per male cat and $60 per female. Low-cost vaccines, flea/tapeworm/ear mite treatments, nail trimming and ear-tipping for feral cats will be available. Registration is required at 330-724-6181.
Q104’s Dog Gone Easter Egg Hunt — 7:30-9:30 a.m. at Southpark Mall, 500 Southpark Center, Strongsville. Presented by the PUP program at the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District. Event will include an indoor dog walk, Easter Bunny photos with your dog and an egg biscuit hunt. Refreshments and treats will be provided for dogs and their owners. Free with a donation to the Cleveland Animal Protective League.
Kathy Antoniotti writes about pets for the Akron Beacon Journal. She is unable to help locate, place or provide medical attention for an individual animal. If you have an idea or question about pets, write her at the Beacon Journal, P.O. Box 640, Akron, OH 44309-0640; call 330-996-3565; or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.