We elicit voluntary behaviors from our dogs without force or punishment. They love doing what we ask because it’s fun and is rewarded with treats, attention, praise, excitement, and even more play. We do not use squirt bottles, loud noises, or punish unwanted behaviors, but guide our dogs to make good choices and reward them when they do.
It is much easier to teach a dog what to do than what not to do! To that end we carefully supervise play, and interrupt any undesirable behaviors. We then redirect the dog towards a behavior we would like to see such as sitting, coming to us, or making eye contact and then provide a reward. Clear direction and consistency are used as the keys for cooperation from our dogs. We strive for happy and active dogs that are also under control.
Each dog is an individual. Getting to know what motivates and concerns each dog individually is at the heart of what we do at DGH. By learning what motivates each dog specifically, we are able to work with their natural drives and instincts instead of against them.
What is completely normal for one dog could be an indication of stress for another. Our staff has been trained to not only recognize the ways dogs communicate with one another in general but to also get to know what is normal and abnormal for each dog.
We create a stable and predictable environment. Our trained staff is very vigilant and actively manages our dogs to reduce problematic social behaviors. By carefully observing our dog’s actions and interactions, we can predict and prevent undesirable behaviors before they occur.
We aim for regular attendance at daycare on a weekly schedule. This stability in the play groups makes for safer and more predicable interactions among the dogs and reduces unknown variables. It also means your dog gets to see his or her friends regularly and knows what to expect from their playmates.
We also strive to be consistent and predictable ourselves. Although some of our younger staff have moved onto other opportunities, our two principles Megan Joy (MJ) Henricks and Meredith Haynes have known our dogs for years and train new staff members personally. By giving our dog’s clear and consistent feedback about their behaviors, they can learn what to expect from us as well. Often our dogs will come to us and sit after barking without even being asked because they have learned that it could result in a reward.
We set our dogs up for success. We take careful steps to ensure each newly enrolled dog has a stress free introduction to the group and starts building positive associations with Dog Gone Happy right away. This is done by asking a dog to do simple things we know he or she can do and rewarding them with affection, kibble, and access through doors and to other things they enjoy. This increases the dog’s confidence and willingness to do what is asked. This also allows us to set a fun tone to training before gradually increasing difficulty and distractions.