|Cherie Maitland's Philosophy - Owner, Behavior Specialist, Training Director
Since 1977, I have experienced a wide variety of training approaches including the "do-nothing" approach, the more traditional dominance-based
training with choke-chains, the purist positive-only approach and everything in-between. I help my students make sense of it all. I guide people to
understand things more from the dog's perspective, so that they can more consciously and effectively influence their dog's behavior. I teach about the
Dominance Theory - it's helpfulness as well as it's shortcomings and about the Resource Theory and it's usefulness in teaching day-to-day good
While I believe that we need to be in charge and be our dog's guide and leader, this leadership approach should not include misguided bullying that
people sometimes fall into when following their understanding of dominance theory. Any being - dog or human - who respects another, still has to be
taught how to do a certain task and to deal with their own emotions and challenges. A first grader may respect their teacher, though they still need more
education before they understand calculus. A tennis pro who is at the top of their game, still needs help of a different sort if they are afraid in front of an
Take a dog who respects their owner and knows come when called. In certain circumstances this dog will need extra guidance. If they are highly
sensitive to sound and motion and they chase cars past their property, they will need specific desensitization and counterconditioning exercises to
redirect them away from that bad habit. And the dog who is leash-reactive around other dogs or is afraid of strangers is not expressing a lack of
respect, but rather their own internal emotional and mental state that needs to be addressed from the inside out. All of these behaviors may be
aggravated by punishment and "proving dominance." These and other behavioral problems, need a broader understanding of behavior modification
techniques including classical and operant conditioning. I teach my students how to alter their dog's mindset step-by-step, and therefore change the
resulting problematic behaviors. I do find that as a good foundation to this behavioral work, the owner needs to strengthen their handling and leadership
skills too. How is one to do this?
Cherie Maitland's Methods
DOGS DO WHAT WORKS FOR THEM!! I began hearing this from one of my mentors over 10 years ago and I continue teaching dog-human teams
about it's wonderful application in the training process. If a dog is doing something that the owner is trying to stop, in some way without meaning to, that
person may be rewarding and reinforcing the undesirable behavior. For example, perhaps when the dog jumps up for attention, the owner pushes them
off or scolds them. With touch, words and eye contact, the dog has received what they demanded - attention. For many dogs, what the owner thinks of
as scolding, to the dog it's, "Oh goodie, mom just looked at and talked to me!" Most dogs would prefer this to being ignored.
In my small group obedience classes and private lessons, I teach people how to:
called a "learn to earn" (which if done correctly is different from bribery) and sit to say "please" program of deference in their dog's day-to-day life
People are then teaching their dog to be a well-behaved member of the family without force or aggression. People can
be loving and affectionate all while setting limits and following through on consequences.
2) Teach new commands in ways that make sense to their dog. Once
the command is learned and strengthened in various circumstances,
(i.e. proofed) a command is given only once.
3) Learn how to know when not enough is being asked of their dog and
to know when something is too far beyond their dog's skill set and will
end up in frustration and failure. Training step-by-step.
4) Understand and effectively use reinforcement, punishment and
prevention in humane ways.
5) Use attention work effectively, even with distractions.
6) Learn how to improve their timing of feedback to their dog. Use proactive training,
instead of reactive training, which happens after the fact. With proactive work, owners
anticipate their dog's next move and begin to affect their dog's thought before the dog
fully carries out the thought into action.
Contact Cherie Maitland to discuss your
questions, needs and concerns. Thank you!
For small group classes information.
philosophies. Many dog owners in a search to do right by their families and dogs, search the web,
books, magazines and ask their friends for help and guidance. They often receive conflicting
information. After talking with and watching a trainer in action, people often get a much better sense
of what trainers and methods appeal to them and what makes the most sense for their dog and
current situation. I encourage people to carefully interview potential teachers and to never do
anything to their dog that someone else recommends that seems inappropriate. There are cases
where people have followed the advice of an ill-informed "expert" with disastrous results. Trust your
instincts when choosing a trainer and behavior specialist.