The Path To Behavioral Wellness

For over a decade, K9 Connection has been a leading innovator in the industry, attracting professional students from all over the globe to travel to Buffalo to study our techniques, and inspiring local businesses to attempt to imitate our success.

The key factor driving our success is a philosophy of continually stiving to understand the world from the dog’s perspective, and putting their needs ahead of our own preferences.

What this has lead to over the years is an approach to training that is rooted in the science of animal learning and cognition, while honoring the instinctual nature of the dog.

Instinctual Enrichment

Whenever an owner contacts us with a behavioral concern, the first thing we assess is the dog’s lifestyle. Dogs, like humans, need a certain amount of physical activity and mental stimulation in order to feel content. When these areas are lacking, the internal discontent and frustration can lead to a variety of behavior problems. Our staff is trained to assess your dogs instinctual needs based on both their breed/type and individual disposition, and help you to design a lifestyle that is conducive to emotional wellness.

From a more traditional perspective, we have been pioneers of a complete and well rounded approach to training and behavior modification that emphasizes positive reinforcement, while providing education and tools to help you understand when and how to appropriately correct or discipline your dog. Along with traditional tools such as treats and training collars, we strive to help people understand how to communicate with their dogs more naturally and instinctually using clear body language and appropriate energy.

The use of positive reinforcement is something that most dog owners are innately comfortable with. However, the use of corrections in dog training can often make people a bit uneasy. Some of this is natural, as many “old school” trainers relied on excessive use of force to accomplish their goals. Our philosophy is to always use corrections and discepline in a manner that is clear to the dog, and considerate of their wellbeing. Our approach to using any training tool is to instruct the dog systematically so that they understand exactly what we are asking of them, how the tool relates to that behavior, and what they need to do in the future. By taking a careful and systematic approach to the use of correction, we are able to maintain the benefits of reliability and the elimination of problem behavior, without the side-effects of causing undue stress or discomfort to the dog. To learn more about the evolution of Balanced Dog Training Click Here.

While our staff is trained and qualified to use virtually all forms of training collars on the market, we do have preferences that we have selected based on their ability to be used in a wide range of contexts, the safety of the equipment, and the ease of use for the owner. The two types of training collars that we most commonly recommend are Prong Collars, and Remote Training Collars.

Prong Collars

The prong collar is a widely misunderstood piece of training equipment. While they tend tool look barbaric, this collar was developed with the dog’s welfare and safety in mind. Unlike traditional buckle collars, the prong collar’s design distributes pressure evenly around the dog’s neck, alleviating excessive pressure to the vital areas of the trachea and larynx. Additionally, because there is no flat surface, the prong collar cannot cut off the air supply, and thus it prevents choking or gagging. From a chiropractic standpoint, the prong collar is also preferred, even over the body harness. In fact, in his book The Well Adjusted Dog, Dr. Daniel Kamen writes:

“Most literature suggests that this is the most effective and least dangerous of restraining collars. The prong collar distributes pressure evenly around the neck, and requires only a small amount of force…Incidence of canine upper cervical subluxations is far less with the prong collar.”

People often believe the purpose of the prong collar is to give a more severe correction. In fact the truth is nearly the opposite, we use the prong collar because it allows us to sufficiently motivate the dog with minimum physical force.

To help you gain a better understanding of our use of this tool, we have provided the following videos which demonstrate our gentle approach:

Remote Training Collars

The remote training collar, or electronic collar is perhaps even more misunderstood than the prong collar. The modern remote trainer is a gentle and precise tool that allows you to clearly communicate with your dog at distances of up to a half-mile.

Unlike the early iterations of the “shock collar” that were introduced nearly 50 years ago and only provided one, very strong level of correction, the modern remote trainer offers one hundred or more levels of static stimulation. The average human cannot feel the stimulation until levels in the mid-teens or twenties, while the average dog begins learning with levels less than ten. In other words, the average dog is trained with levels that their owner cannot even feel.

The mis-conception is that a tool like must be painful for it to be effective. However, not only is pain completely unnecessary for all but the most extreme situations, but it is absolutely undesirable and disruptive to a proper learning environment. The stimulation needs only to be mildly uncomfortable to be effective. Here’s an analogy:

Consider that you have the option of sitting in one of two chairs. The first chair has no cushion and is not very comfortable, and the second is soft, plush and extremely inviting. Clearly you would choose the second chair. It is not that the first was painful, scary, or intimidating, you were simply presented with two options, one option being far more comfortable than the other.

This is how training works. The remote collar allows you to interrupt behaviors and make unwanted behavior uncomfortable, thus motivating the dog to make different choices. The true value being that you can do this consistently regardless of distance. If you pair this with positive reinforcement for correct responses, what you are left with is a dog who happily performs behavior you like, and clearly understands to avoid undesirable behavior.

Due to the precise control of extremely mild stimulation, and the non-confrontational nature of the pressure, the remote collar has also become the tool of choice for very sensitive or even fearful dogs.

Again, to help you understand our approach to this tool, here are a few videos demonstrating it’s use:

We do not require that you use any specific training equipment with your dog, but we will make recommendations based on our years of experience and global recognition for helping dogs and owners. At the end of the day, it is always your choice as to what training equipment will be used with your dog. Our job is to provide our expert advice as to what we feel is the safest and most efficient way to help you and your dog achieve behavioral wellness. We believe in the value of educated consumers, and we hope that you have found this page to be informative.