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Positive Reinforcement Training with Rocco’s Pack

The Equipaws Pet Services pack had its first two training sessions with Lebby Gonzalez, owner of Rocco’s Pack Pet Services and positive reinforcement trainer in Miami, this week. We believe all dog owners and dogs can use a little leash walking refresher once in a while. And, dogs love the attention and interaction with their parents during training sessions!

Positive Reinforcement Training

We chose Lebby because she specializes in positive reinforcement training techniques. Positive reinforcement training produces wanted behaviors in your dogs with treats and life desires, and distracts from unwanted behavior in a non-punitive way. Rewarding good behavior will increase the likelihood that the behavior will be repeated. Lebby proved to us that this technique works in a matter of minutes, and has enriched the way we think about dog behavior. Read more about the science behind the positive reinforcement training philosophy  here.

The Challenge:

Boots, our Shih Tzu, is very vocal. He begins his daily demands at the top of his voice around 7:30 every morning, and will bark for attention whenever he’s thirsty, hungry, hears a whisper, or plain just feels like it. We like that he knows what he wants, but we know that we provide him with everything he needs and therefore doesn’t need to tell us constantly! Lebby helped us show Boots that quiet time in his crate was a happy thing. She got him to where he produced the behavior himself, beyond bribing him every time with a motion and a treat. He was walking in the crate willingly at a command in 10 minutes, and then just hanging out for peaceful 20 minute stretches. The most fascinating part of the training was that we could see Boots trying to figure out what he needed to do to get his treat. We love that he was creatively engaged, thinking, interested, and obviously very happy. As pet parents, that’s one of the best feelings.

Why positive reinforcement training?

Positive reinforcement training shows dogs how to be and feel a different way about the things we ask of them- a happier, more willing state of mind. Treats, playtime, and love are the motivators—and they work wonders. We’d rather have a loving, kind relationship with our dogs where they follow our commands because they want to instead of out of fear.

Positive reinforcement training requires investments in time and focus, and definitely requires patience. Loose leash walking, for example, is best done without a cell phone in hand- so hard, right? Ha! This investment is worth it, especially in emergency situations when you really need your dog to pay attention to you. As Lebby says, you don’t want your dog doubting whether coming to you is a good idea or not.

Lebby emphasized consistent guidance, full involvement, and constant communication during the training sessions. This includes body language and eye contact. Body language, movement, and eye contact are more important than verbal cues, especially on a walk with many distractions. This sounds like hard work, but it’s not. And you get to be completely involved in your dog’s life- which is kind of what having a dog is about!

We all can’t wait for our next training session, where we learn how to teach our stubborn mastiff the “come” command the right way. We’ll keep you posted!

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