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A Story of Love and Positive Reinforcement Dog Training

This week I felt like being more personable with my training tip.  When I was a little girl I began training my dog with a choke chain.  I yelled at my dog and used methods that were motivated through pain to get my dog to do what I wanted.  I was in Elementary School and Middle School.  My 4-H advisor encouraged me to be firm and not use many treats.

I remember feeling frustrated and I noticed that my dog, Heather, a Shetland Sheepdog, didn’t even want to “come” to me.  She was scared of being yelled at for having a slow recall. In her mind she was getting yelled at for “coming” period.  I had much fun with her and in obedience she did great and won ribbons.  Emotional wise we were not as connected as we could have been.

When she past away I felt an emptiness and felt I could have trained her in a more happy and loving way.  I was only in middle school.  She got hit by a car and the sadness that filled through my body was intense.  Subconsciously I felt so guilty for the inhumane methods I used in training her.  When I got my next dog I promised to learn more about training with love.

Commitment comes first and then the how shows up. My how showed up when I was at a ” show and go” (you practice for shows in a ring and have a judge).  My judge was an awesome man and he trained dolphins for Sea World.  He changed my life.  I was jerking my border collie, Shadow, on the leash every time she pulled.  I remember my face lightening up and I felt immense excitement.

johanna and seiki

I committed to learn about this other method, positive reinforcement. At a young age in early high school I began to study clicker training and training with love.  I read and read and attended seminars with many famous dog trainers including Jean Donaldson, Terry Ryan, etc.  The first positive reinforcement book I read was Don’t Shoot the Dog By Karen Pryor.

I remember struggling with clicker training and nothing working.  My dog’s attention was everywhere but on me…lol.  I read more and learn how to motivate my dog and give her what she wanted for what I wanted her do.  Our bond increased and she learned at great speeds.  She changed from freezing every time she went into crowds and biting people that came into her territory to loving people.  She even got to go to State Fair for obedience showing.

My present dog, Seiki, a dog with a heart so huge that resemembles my love for dogs and their owners learns with leaps and bounds with positive reinforcement.

What is the moral of this story?  Love is the answer to everything.

Can you train with shock collars, choke collars, prong collars, Tabasco sauce, yelling, hitting, etc.?  The answer is “yes” you can.  My response to this is why would you want to? What bond are you creating with your dog when you use these methods?  What emotions are giving you off toward your dog?  What type of trust bond our creating with your dog by using these methods? Looking from your own perspective would you rather be motivated through fear or love?  What are you doing to your dog’s health?

Still confused? Think of a fight.  Two people are fighting.  It does NOT take two to fight.  One person shifts the fight and decides to come from a place a of love.  They might say “I hear you are saying….  “I imagine you feel…  This is my story…and this is what I feel…  I want…. I imagine you want… Let’s co-create.  I wonder how we can meet both of our wants?”  This person who is shifting the fight is going deep.  He/She is looking at the soul.  What does his/her opponent feel?  Now we have a connection.  An understanding.

The other side of the story.  Two people are fighting. One person yells and the others yells back.   The fight continues.

Positive reinforcement with dogs is the same thing. Take the time to understand where your dog is coming from….listen.  You are coming from a place of wonder.  Now you can reward your dog for what you want him to do instead.  As a result, you have formed a huge trust bond.  You are connecting to your dog on a soul level.  You are understanding that his emotions effect his health and immune system.  You understand that your actions give off good energy and balance.  Your dog wants to listen to you because he trusts you.   He is having fun and so are you!

Why would you ever want to train any other way?  The connections we formulate through trust and love are the strongest connections we make in our life whether it be with our spouse, our  friends,  or our family.  Include your dog in this picture as well.  Positive reinforcement is the way to go!

Happy Training!

Johanna Teresi, Professional Owner and Trainer of Four Legged Scholars LLC

Blog Archives

Karen Mara
Karen Mara
21:19 21 Jan 24
I recently met with Johanna for help with my rambunctious teenager, Roger. We worked on coming when called, leash walking, and staying calm around other dogs when on leash. After two sessions, Roger made huge improvements, and he continues to improve as we practice on our own. Johanna really understands dogs and is very good at communicating with people. She knows how to make dog training fun. I've worked with other trainers, and Johanna is by far the best.
Wendy Nighswonger
Wendy Nighswonger
18:47 08 Jul 23
I have known Johanna for 13 years. She has helped me with several dogs, but she recently helped me train my new black lab puppy, Raven. I have moved to another state so all of my training with Raven was done online via Zoom. I believe that the one-on-one training I received through Zoom was more personalized and thorough, especially with the way Johanna placed every ounce of training and recommendation on a board through an app that I can refer back when I need. Johanna is very intuitive and knew when stress was on overload for me, therefore tailoring my training for that day around making Raven feel good while simultaneously taking my stress load down. Johanna has years of experience and while her knowledge is a gold mine, it is her gentle patience and love for her clients that make this training so perfect. I would hire her again and again. She is a true canine whisperer. Thank you Four Legged Scholars and thank you Johanna!Wendy N. ~ Oregon
Christina Richards
Christina Richards
18:13 10 Feb 23
Johanna at Four Legged Scholars is great. She tailored my program to fit my needs and was easy to work with. My puppy responded very well to what she taught us together over Zoom. She's patient and understanding. We're still utilizing the things we learned and he's a well-behaved puppy. Thank you!
Karyl Bennion
Karyl Bennion
19:49 05 Feb 23
I adopted Frida as a companion that I could travel, walk and hike with. She loves to hike and walk but pulled on the leash and jumped at distractions. I learned how to be calm and talk in a non threatening way to her. She responds to this much better than yelling at her. The click and treat method that I learned works so well in getting her attention as well as the "target" training. Frida has improved greatly with these methods. I will continue the knowledge I have learned with her. I did the live on-line training and it was very successful. I am so happy we signed up.
Rachel Giddings
Rachel Giddings
02:57 12 Dec 22
My dog was abused in his previous home and has always been afraid of strangers. I wanted to train him and help him to be more confident, but I didn't know how to do that if he was afraid of his trainer.Doing online training with Joanna was perfect for both of us! Joanna helped me learn how to read my dog and understand his triggers. We then worked together on BAT training, which taught him self-soothing behaviors and showed him how to confidently and safely handle difficult situations. I never thought I would have fun doing homework with my dog, but he and I benefited from it tremendously. Working with Joanna via Zoom was perfect for my dog and me.
Shawn McMillen
Shawn McMillen
02:09 24 Oct 22
My 2 year old doodle was struggling with people walking by the house, barking incessantly, tugging on walks, improving recall when off leash and , for me, how to be a better more engaging human for my buddy. The personalized, online sessions exceeded all my expectations. The review of video homework sessions was awesome. We saw improvement in each of the priority areas and I developed real, tangible, lasting skills/tools to be a better pet person. Thanks Johanna!
Courtney Daniels
Courtney Daniels
19:59 12 Sep 22
12 years ago I got a puppy and quickly realized I was in over my head. I wanted to have a good, well trained dog, but I was overwhelmed by methods and my puppies behavior.I joined the four legged scholars puppy training with my little 4 month old puppy Bowie, and saw immediate understanding with the clicker work. It gave us this incredibly ability to communicate and she excelled.We went on to take several courses that established general obedience, helped me turn a STRONG leash puller into a loose leash master (I took that course twice because it was a huge issue for us and I NEEDED help and reassurance from Johanna that I could do it) as well as skill class, that helped solidify a beautiful relationship between us. Learning clicker shaping allowed me to confidently teach complex and unique commands on my own as well, like waving hello and closing kitchen cabinets.My Bowie has climbed to the top of mountains for me staying right by my side never pulling on her leash. I've targeted her off trails to protect her from startling a mama moose and her baby. She's loved on my kids without jumping on them and knocking them over. She's allowed the neighbor girl who has always had a fear of dogs to walk her without pulling at whatever pace she was comfortable with. She shows off with all her fun little tricks Johanna gave me the tools to train my dog into an amazing companion.I feel so lucky to have found your training program and to have the relationship I do with my Bowie girl. These courses have a profound and lasting impact on the lives of families and their pups, thank you for that gift.
Megan Pond-Maxwell
Megan Pond-Maxwell
16:02 18 May 22
I am so grateful to have found Johanna. She was with us every step of the way as we tackled separation anxiety training and reactivity training with Daisy, my Mini Australian Shepherd. As a first time dog owner, I felt at a loss about how to manage my very vocal, scared, stressed, yet loveable dog. She had all of the typical puppy behavior, such as jumping, nipping/biting, leash pulling, as well as barking. On top of that, she was also not able to be alone without feeling terrified, as well as vocally and behaviorally reactive to other dogs, adults, and kids. I felt completely overwhelmed and Johanna created programs that felt manageable and doable. Each training session, I felt understood and empowered working with Johanna. Over the course of our programs, I felt that we accomplished the steps of the training process, strengthened the dog-human relationship, and increased my own awareness of my dog's emotional cues so that I could better work with her. My dog can now be on her own feeling relaxed and playful, her problematic puppy behaviors have significantly improved, she can walk on her leash loosely, listen to commands, and she can better tolerate other adults, dogs, and children as compared to where we first started. Our online experience was very positive. I look forward to continually implementing the tools and skills we have learned along the way to move forward in a positive direction that strengthens our human-animal bond and reduces distressing behaviors and emotional stress and overwhelm. Thank you Four Legged Scholars! I highly, highly recommend working with Johanna.
Emily Harward
Emily Harward
03:36 24 Apr 22
Our rescue dog is sweet and playful with us, but her behavior around other dogs and people could be unpredictable. She would act aggressively around adults (lunging and barking), and would sometimes be aggressive toward other dogs. We chose to do online training with Johanna. I was skeptical that online training would work, but it ended up being very effective. Johanna taught me the skills I needed to train my dog, and provided resources that I could use throughout the week as I worked on the assigned tasks. I was also able to send her videos of me working with my dog, so she could provide feedback and help me improve. Johanna personalized the program and made changes as needed to ensure that I could meet my goals. Since working with Four Legged Scholars, neighbors have commented on how much better behaved my dog is, and I don't have to worry about her lunging and barking at people or other dogs when we are out for a walk anymore. We still have a lot of work to do with our dog, and I feel like doing the personalized online sessions with Johanna has given me the knowledge, and resources to continue training my dog.
Angel Lanoy
Angel Lanoy
15:22 16 Jun 21
We have a large family, including three big dogs. So when our biggest dog Obi, the Rottweiler, started showing aggression we panicked. The vet suggested we put him down after an experience in the office. He then said we could also try training and gave us Johanna's business card. Just a phone call with her made us feel like there was hope. We signed up to do the online sessions with FourLeggedScholars. The process from the first contact to the last was well oiled and very helpful. Obi gets to stay with our family now and we feel like meting with her has given us the guidance and knowledge we need to keep our family, friends and him safe. I was a tad worried about doing the training online, but it really worked out great and we were able to fit such a big task into our busy schedules. I feel like she set us up for success from the very beginning. Thank you.
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