When my husband and I first got our German Shepherd puppy, our vet took one look at her delightful combination of energy and intense focus and said, “You need to get a trainer.”
The last time I’d raised a German Shepherd, negative reinforcement was part of the process. But later research refocused on positive reinforcement, and we knew we had much to learn this time around. We were thrilled to discover that Wet Nose Academy is focused on “benevolent” training through the use of marker/clicker training and positive reinforcement. We were also thrilled to have one-on-one, in-home training sessions so that they could work with our dog on her particular needs (and not struggle for attention in a group class with other dogs who had varying levels of focus and needs).
The first day Gil came to our home, the training began before he even introduced himself. He spent five minutes working on opening the door and getting Kaiya to calm down — a skill we continue to reinforce when guests arrive. Armed with treats, clickers for the whole family, and an agenda to get us going that night — and for the next six weeks — we began our journey.
Gil’s philosophy, it seemed to us, was that his role was to train US so we could train our dog. He provided us with detailed information about how dogs learn at different ages/stages, and he encouraged us to get comfortable with reading our dog’s body language and signals so we could tell when she was tired, frustrated or stressed. To help us learn how to train, he emailed command instructions before each session for us to preview (and later review after the session). During sessions, he explained and then modeled the training, and then he had both of us practice what we’d learned. Each week, we had homework that Gil would “check” during the subsequent session.
But above all, Gil genuinely cared about Kaiya’s development. He emailed us frequently between sessions to check on us and on her progress. Sometimes, these messages were sent to us late at night or over the weekends when one might imagine he’d want to be resting and enjoying time with his own dog and family. Instead, he was thinking of us. He never made us feel our questions were silly, and we never waited long for a reply.
Training with Gil at Wet Nose Academy made dog training a joy for our family. We have a thinking, problem-solving puppy who can learn from us now that Gil has taught us how to teach.