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What is positive reinforcement training

Jul 9, 2015   //   by ContentedCanines   //   Dog Training Info  //  Comments Off on What is positive reinforcement training

What is positive Reinforcement training

4 types (2)Most families when they get a new dog have some idea how they would like their new canine companion to behave. It would be nice if they would not chew on their furniture, bark excessively, jump on or mouth their house guests, come to them when called and walk nicely on a loose leash.  A dog that is well behaved has a lot more opportunities to share activities with the family. If the dog is not well behaved, he may spend his days in tied in the back yard, isolated from the family he loves. At the least he won’t have the enriched life that he and the family should be able to expect.

Unfortunately behaviors that seem normal to us are not necessarily natural to a dog. We have to teach our dogs what is appropriate to chew on. We have to train them not to pull on the leash when we go for a walk and that while a little barking may be ok, they need to know when to stop. Most people don’t have the necessary skills or time to effectively train their dogs so they will likely turn to a professional for help. This help may be in the form of private training or maybe they will choose to attend a group class.

When looking for a trainer, the number of choices can be confusing. You will hear about “traditional trainers”, “positive trainers” “cross-over trainers”,  “balanced trainers” or maybe clicker training. I will try to clarify as briefly as I can what each of these terms mean.

Traditional Trainer

After World War ll and for much of the next fifty years, dog training was pretty much dominated by the philosophy of one man William Koehler, Koehler had been a dog trainer for the army and later made a name for himself training dogs for the movie industry. He thought that a dog should be able to make its own choices and that the dog would be severely punished for the wrong choice while the right choices would be pretty much ignored. If you wanted to teach a dog to walk on a loose leash, for example, you would use a chain or pinch collar and a 15 foot leash. The dog would be allowed to use the entire length of the leash but if he reached the end of the leash the trainer would turn and run the opposite direction giving a very hard correction. He would train other behaviors much the same way and by today’s standard, his methods are considered very severe. His book “The Koehler Method of Dog Training” is still published and there are still many trainers that still adhere to his methods.

Positive Reinforcement Trainer (Sometime incorrectly referred to as Positive Training)

Positive reinforcement trainers reward the desired behaviors and mostly ignore the undesired behaviors. They do not use chain or pinch or electronic collars. Usually they use food based reinforcements but the reward may be anything that the dog will work for that tends to increase the likelihood of the desired behavior being repeated such as praise or play. As the response to the cue (command) becomes conditioned, the reward is faded away. Like the traditional trainer the dog is rewarded or punished for its own decisions but the positive trainer will maximize rewards and minimize punishment while the traditional trainer will maximize punishment and minimize rewards.

Balanced Trainer

A balanced trainer will use both reward and punishment as they see necessary. They will often use chain or pinch training collars but usually train in a more humane way than a traditional trainer. A balanced trainer will use treats or other reward to teach a behavior and will ten correct with a jerk on the collar when the dog does not get it right. The use of punishment versus reward is an individual choice but the main objection we have to punishment based training is that it is not any more effective than reward based training and people tend to use correction far longer than it is necessary.

Cross-over trainer

Most trainers that have been working with dogs over 15 or 20 years began as traditional trainers. That is just the way it was done at that time. About that time I had been asked to be a judge for The Dog Writers of America competition and was exposed to writers such as Karen Pryor, Patricia McConnell, Pat Miller and Jean Donaldson who had all written books on positive reinforcement training (+R). These writers had a big influence on me and I began applying the principles of +R in my classes as well as my private training. Although it took me a while to make a full transition, I made the successful “cross-over” to the use of +R. Just because a trainer says that he is a +R trainer, it doesn’t mean that he never uses punishment but usually the punishment takes the form of withholding a reward rather than hitting or jerking on a dog.

What about Contented Canine

Both the American Veterinarian Society of Animal Behaviorist and The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers have a similar position statement for the use of punishment in the training of dogs. The AVSAB’s position is “Punishment (e.g choke chains, pinch collars, and electronic collars) should not be used as a first-line or early-use treatment for behavior problems” (or in the case of Contented Canine, any training) “This is due to the potential adverse effects which include but are not limited to: inhibition of learning, increased fear-related and aggressive behaviors, and injury to animals and people interacting with animals.” The CCPDT has a similar position on the use of punishment in training but goes on to establish a hierarchy for the application of humane training where physical  punishment is only used after all other methods have failed. Contented Canine agrees with these principles as stated by the AVSAB and the CCPDT and will not use force based punishment either in group classes or private training except as a last resort where the safety of the handler or dog is at stake.






Dec 1, 2010   //   by ContentedCanines   //   Dog Training Info  //  Comments Off on Testimonials

Your puppy/dog is in great hands will Rick

Dr. Ian Dunbar
Founder, Association of Pet Dog Trainers


I have known Rick for almost five years as he has sat in with me on numerous clinical animal behavior cases during a period of about 2 years.  I am aware that Rick is a skilled dog trainer that has strong interests in constantly improving his dog training skills and knowledge of dog
behavior, which is not always the case for many dog trainers that have very limited training themselves and tend to stagnate in their continuing education.  Rick holds an important nationally-recognized dog training credential (CPDT-KA) and has attended workshops with
several of the best nationally and internationally recognized dog trainers and animal behaviorists. Mr Hawes also regularly attends the premier national conference for the dog training field (Annual National Conference of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers=APDT) as well as other national and regional canine training meetings.

I am aware that Rick teaches a number of training classes induding: puppy “pre-school” classes, basic obedience Canine Good Citizen,  Trick, Therapy Dog and Agility classes so has an extensive experience base to draw from.  He himself has taken dogs through several Dues in Obedience, Rally and Agility.  I have no hesitation recommending clients and friends to attend his classes.  As a board-certified Veterinary Behaviorist 1 have also been regularly suggesting that my clinical specialty behavior dients seek his coaching help for the dog obedience portion of the treatment plan I craft for their dog. My clients have greatly benefited from his help moving through the plan Ca bu like an “IEP” for a special needs child) as he has excellent skills working with both the dogs as well as their owners.  Rick has developed “people skills” for decades before he even started providing dog training and holds himself to the highest ethical standards.

Patrick Melese DVM, DACVB
Board Certified Veterinary Behaviorist
Veterinary Behavior Consultants
5610 Kearny Mesa Rd. Suite B
San Diego, CA  92111


Mohnacky Animal Hospitals has been recommending Mr. Hawes’ dog training services to our clients for over 3 years now. In those three years we have not received one negative comment regarding his services. I personally have used Mr. Hawes and have gotten great results…In addition to his numerous years of experience and great results, I appreciate how professional m interactions have always been with him. Based on all of my dealings with Mr. Hawes, I would highly recommend him.

Mary Mandrigues
Vice President of Client Services
Mohnacky Animal Hospitals


The Animal Keeper Clientele get referred to Rick for any future training and/or behavioral issues. Our clients are very pleased with the results and have positive feedback…. His classes are educational and he offers some really valuable information.  We are very fortunate to have Rick on board.

Maria L. Toro,
General Manager,
The Animal Keeper Oceanside


It is with great pleasure that I recommend Rick Hawes and Contented Canines. For the past 4 1/2 years we have highly recommended Contented Canines to our clients, both for basic puppy training, obedience training and for other behavioral issues.  Rick Hawes uses a positive approach for training canines and our clients have been very happy with his services. I am very pleased to give Contented Canines my highest recommendation.

Varlerie Caskey,
Owner – Pacific Animal  Hospital


We have referred clients to Rick for help with basic training for dogs of all age and specific correction for dogs with behavioral problems. Rick has a very positive approach to training and is knowledgeable in methods and techniques approproate for each indivial dog and handler. Rick is dependable, patient and good in communicating with people, therefore making training fun and enjoyable for the owner and the dog. We have seen great improvement with the dogs under Ricks training instruction.  We would highly recommend Rick as a skilled and professional dog trainer.

Gary f. Smalley D.V.M
Katrinka Rogers, RVT
San Marcos Veterinary Clinic


Ken was injured in 2004 from a gunshot to his head in Iraq while serving in the Marine Corps. He suffered a brain injury with multiple mental and physical injuries. He is legally blind yet holds enough vision to train a Seeing Eye dog. We have researched many companion dog programs to find them too difficult to participate in. We realized he needed one-on-one specialized training within our home and neighborhood.

I acquired Ricks information and after meeting with him, after hearing and seeing his compassion I was convinced he was the one to hire. Rick was interested in helping our 6 month old lab “ladybug” integrating her into our family and newly purchased home. Rick gave more than just the ABC”s of dog training to my family. He helped educated properly as new pet owners how to communicate to our lab but also established proper guidance to our pet through us. His ability to connect owner to animal assist my husbands healing and pride through a connection of feeling needed. It gave a sense of control and  an ability to socialized and provide others with a bridge  of approachability too and through my husband and our community.

Rick has truly done some amazing work.

Tonia Sargent
Congressional Veteran and Military Advocate
49th Congressional District of California


My daughter and I are cleints of Rick Hawes. He has been helping us train our dog to become a psychiatric service dog for the past few months. When he began working with our dog, Gracie, she didn’t walk well on a leash; she didn’t stay quiet when we took her to appointments; and, when she saw other dogs she would bark and growl at them. … Since then Rick has given us the necessary tools to work with Gracie. Gracie has earned her “service dog in training” vest… I am grateful we found such a consistent, hard working and passionate trainer to help on this long and important road.

Dr. Andrea Cole
Center for Age Management and Wellness
Encinitas, CA


My dog Kai has not only taken obedience classes from Rick, but I have helped assist him at times with his classes. His gentle training methods are both effective and productive. Rick’s patience and tranquil disposition creates a class that makes for a comfortable atmosphere.  In turn, this helps to create a serene setting for dogs taking his classes.

Linda Hosaka
Oceanside, CA


I have known Richard in the dog training profession for 10 years.  I was initially a student but for the most part, a colleague.  From my experience and observation, Richard has qualities that have made him successful in  a private dog training business and  in building quality relationships wth other professionals in the dog world.

As a colleague I have worked with Richard on numerous occasions. I have found him to be very knowledgeable about dog behavior, optimum training techniques, and the importance of building relationships with dog owners. He continually receives verbal  commendations from students and fellow trainers alike – which have further enhanced his business and reputation.

Richard bas shown himself to be reliable and honest. He is a colleague you can depend upon. His people skills display patience, fairness and understanding. He is open to new ideas whether they involve training techniques or ways to enhance his business, and he is willing to share his knowledge and ideas. In addition, Richard’s willingness to mentor others has helped him to build a support team within his business.

{trust we will be trusted colleagues for many years to come.

Diane MyLymuk,
President Elect Hidden Valley Obedience Club

Dog Tainer, AKC CGC Evaluator


After searching for months for the ideal trainer, Frank, Francesca and 1 are  so delighted that we found you. Jasmine is such a different girl and we owe  it all to you and your excellent training instruction – for humans as well as  dogs.

You are a terrific trainer of dog people and their canine companions.  Your kindness training techniques are easy on both, and the results are  amazing. Our standard poodle, Jasmine, is a rescue and arrived at her new  forever home with us severely lacking in confidence and was fearful of so  many things.

When we learned that Frank needed a Service Dog it became imperative that  we address these issues as well as find a Irainer who could take us all the  way through the CGC and PASO tests in order for her to be properly  certified.

We are very proud to say that you carried us through both programs and did  such a terrific job of preparing us that Jasmine and I were able to pass both tests the first time.

Thanks to you, Jasmine is a tremendously confident young lady who proudly meets the world with her head held high, ears perked and a big smile on her face. On top of that she has performed her medical alert duties for Frank  many times, completely changing his prospects for a healthier and safer future.

Thank you again!

Frank and Susan Oddo, and, of course, Jasmine


Dog Trainer of Oceanside

Nov 14, 2010   //   by ContentedCanines   //   Dog Training Info  //  Comments Off on Dog Trainer of Oceanside

Whether your dog simply needs to learn good manners or has more difficult issues to address, Contented Canine can help. We provide private training for you and your dog, right where the problems occur…. in your home and your neighborhood. We can custom design your sessions to be one-on-one or have the whole family involved. Contented Canine will teach you to teach your dog.