Thursday, March 30, 2017

Yet Another Sad Dog Training Tool Ban, But You Can Help! Dog Training Milton


There is something really important happening in the dog training community. Hillsborough County Florida (as well as the state of FL) is proposing legislation that will make it ILLEGAL to use any TRAINING COLLAR (slip lead, prong collar, ecollar) and any method that is not considered positive-only. This is VERY real and on our door step in Ontario, and across Canada and the U.S.

Please continue reading to have your voice heard. It does not matter if you live in the county or even in the U.S. Or not, you can still write a letter! If it passes, it will soon be presented as a state-wide law. And it could extend nationwide. This is a war that knows no boundaries.

Your voice as a pet dog owner will weigh more than the voices of trainers! The lives of dogs depend on it! We need you and these letters e-mailed BEFORE FRIDAY, 03/31/2017.

If you are a family that I have helped, or from another trainer, and have experienced personal success with the use of a prong collar, slip lead, remote collar, and similar balanced training approaches, please email the following to oppose the proposed regulation. Failure to stop this regulation will result in a significant impact on your democratic rights and freedoms, not to mention harm to our dogs. Send an email opposing the ban and give your story. Send a picture of your dog and how you have personally been helped
Include the following statement in the subject line:

Opposition to the Proposed Ordinance Requiring Licensing for Dog Trainers


Dear Commissioner:

I am writing to express my opposition to the proposed ordinance requiring licensing for dog trainers. I am a dog lover and I am extremely passionate about the safety and welfare of dogs.
Let me tell you about my dog and how balanced training methods helped change my life and the life of my dog(s):


Conclusion: Industry regulation such as licensing should not be undertaken without careful thought as to the potential unintended consequences of the licensure requirements. As it is currently worded, this ordinance is wrought with ambiguities that can lead to extreme interpretations that would limit professionals’ abilities to properly do their jobs, and potentially lead to far greater harm for dogs in Hillsborough County. We would suggest at the very least that any attempt to regulate dog training tools, methods etc. be omitted, and all such decisions be left up to the agreement of the professional trainer and the client involved.

Physical address

Address all letters to the following email addresses:

Add as cc:

Thank you for your efforts!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Milton Dog Training Classes

Smart Dogs Puppy Class:
April/May - Saturdays 1-2pm - 4 Spots Available

Smart Dogs Basic Class:
Saturday March 11, 10-11am - FULL
Thursday March 30, 7-8pm - FULL
Saturday April 15, 11:30am-12:30pm - 3 SPOTS AVAILABLE

Smart Dogs Fun Agility INTRO:
Sundays April/May - 6 Spots Available

Smart Dogs Fun Agility Refresher
(prerequisite Intro):
Sundays April/May - 6 Spots Available

Smart Dogs Bootcamp (prerequisite Basic):
Tuesdays & Saturdays in April/May - 2 Classes

Smart Dogs Advanced Class:
Sundays 10-11am - ONGOING

Smart Dogs Focus Play (NEW):

To Sign up, please contact

or check the website for more details:

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Toronto Collar Ban - Dog Training Milton

I've been waiting a little before I addressed the particular issue of the Choke Chain, Slip Chain and Prong Collar ban in Toronto. I wanted to think it over a while before I put words down, I wanted to make sure that no emotion was involved with this post. And I wanted to figure out how to keep this short, sweet and to the point.

So here goes.

Banning Tools will do nothing to help dogs anywhere, nor will it do anything to help owners. These tools are said to be banned because they cause pain, discomfort or, as I will call it, they apply an aversive.

An aversive is something the dog considers "yucky" in that particular situation, so it doesn't always mean a physical correction or pain. Are aversives bad? No, they are not. Aversives help to teach. Let's make very clear here, I am not addressing or speaking of abusive behaviour by idiots who are missing a few screws. I'm speaking of an applied aversive to interrupt, re-direct, or end a particular behaviour. Everyone applies aversives, from pure positive trainers to heavy handed, correction trainers. They just look different from trainer to trainer.

The unfortunate part of this, is the above mentioned banned tools are just that, tools. They are tools along side martingale collars, no-pull harnesses, head halters, e-collars, flat collars, food, body language, clickers, voice etc. All tools have their uses, and all tools can be considered an aversive. It truly depends on the dog, and the particular situation. Petting your dog when they are over stimulated and want to get to something can be an aversive. Pressure on a flat collar when your dog wants to pull can be an aversive. Simply wearing a head halter can be considered an aversive. A pop on a prong collar or slip chain can be an aversive. Spacial pressure to entice your dog to move can be an aversive. Should we then ban all aversives? Of course not, that would be absolutely insane.

Can we, as trainers, use less aversives when training clients dogs? Of course we can, and in fact, it's much better by far to start as positive as possible when and where you can. The relationship building and motivation to learn/work is where you will get the best results. However, there will always come a time when some sort of aversive needs to be applied when dealing with real life situations where the dog is more interested in something else, rather then working for the owner.

This is where aversives can be extremely beneficial in training. Now some will argue that no dog should ever be corrected and all dogs should be managed and kept under threshold, rather then actually trained, and this is something that is simply ignorant. The problem that I see with this particular side of the arugement is that they do not take into consideration competing motivation. 

And what is competing motivation? It's something that the dog finds more appealing to do in certain situations, than engaging/working with the owner. This could be anything from sniffing a leaf on the ground to wanting to chase and kill the neighbourhood cat. These are two very different forms of competing motivation and should be handled differently. If you have a dog with a high prey drive, it will take a lot more then a handful of cookies and your voice to get their focus "unlocked". These types of dogs/sitiations require differing levels of applied aversives, truly depending on the dog and what that particular individual requires in that moment.

I work with a lot of families, couples, people who love their dogs, but don't have 24/7 to invest in them. They need a clear way to tell their dog YES, but they also need a clear way to tell their dog NO. These are people who simply can not manage their dog 24/7 or keep their dog "under threshold" at all times, and real world circumstances come up where we must instruct them, and give them the tools necessary to safely and  humanely control their dogs. Is this not what responsible owners should be doing in the first place? Sometimes it might mean putting a no-pull harness on a mildly distracted dog who is a bit into pulling. Other times is may require the use of a prong collar for a large or small dog, who is intent on pulling with all it's force, and where prey drive might kick into overtime.

By banning certain tools, we are taking away these owners options on how to handle their sometimes difficult dogs, and, in turn, we take away another tool with this ban, which is THE EXERCISE. Exercise is a key component of training, helping to relax over stimulated dogs, enabling the owners to better work with their dogs when they have more ability to focus. Some of these dogs, with this particular ban, will NOT get walked, as, for example, the prong collar or the slip collar, has greatly helped reduce pulling and reactivity, allowing these owners to bring their otherwise unmanageable dogs, out into the world for exercise. Guess what happens when an already over stimulated dog gets little to no exercise? Yes, the difficult behaviour gets worse and worse.

I do not want to compare tools, or claim that one tool is better then another over all, because that is simply not true. Each tool has its place, and each tool can be useful in different circumstances.

However, I can tell you, with multiple years of experience and multiple years of experimenting, the most aversive tool that I have come across is the halti/gentle leader/head halter. I have put every tool I can imagine on my own dogs over the years, because I like to have the experience to speak about them, not the hear-say to think I know what I'm talking about, and the one that caused the most discomfort/stress/reaction/pressure/damage was the head halters.

Does this mean that I want to see them banned? Of course not, they are just not a tool that I will recommend or use myself in most circumstances, because of the effects that they have on many dogs. Notice I said "most circumstances". This means there are always dogs/owners/circumstances that this tool could be appropriate and even better then the others, for what we are trying to develop and work with.

I do believe that trainers should not be one trick ponies either. If the only tool in your tool box is a prong collar, you more then likely need to take some courses, better your skills, and revisit different options, as not all dogs need these particular pieces of equipment. We should be able to work with dogs, regardless of the tool involved, however, the tools can have a HUGE impact on owners lives, stress levels and well being. They can also have a HUGE impact on the owners ability to communicate CLEARLY to their dogs, which can impact dog stress levels and well being. They can also have a HUGE impact on the progress that the dog makes, and without seeing progress, owners can and will give up, which does nothing to better serve our community or canine companions.

And who is affected by this ban?

CKC, UKC, or any other dog show venue where slip chains are used.
Vet offices

This ban is basically taking away rights. Taking away owners rights to choose what works best for their dogs. Taking away trainers rights to prescribe what they see would be best for the dog. Taking away owners options for walking/exercising certain dogs. Infringing on all of our rights to make decisions for ourselves.

I encourage you to look at this situation with an open mind, and contact your counselors with your concerns over this ban.

I also encourage those from Oakville/Milton to contact the SPCA as they are moving towards this same ban, which once again, infringes on the rights of the dog owning public.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and keep on training your dogs - you and them will be better for it.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Smart Dogs Basic Classes starting soon!

Saturday March 11th, 10-11am.

Smart Dog Basics Group Class will help teach you how to gain control of your canine companion under distraction with all of the basics of obedience - come, stay, sit, down, stand, heel, leave it, off. We work on engagement with your dog, focus and attention, and we offer the only video homework options in our area! We also save time for question and answer including topics like house training, crate training and other "typical doggy issues". We want our students to succeed.
This is A MUST for all dogs, the most important class that you need to take! If you want a dog who listens to you, responds under distraction, and is a joy to be around, this is the class you want. This is a one size fits all class, all ages, all breeds and all sizes welcome!

  • 18 weeks and up - puppies must have their vaccinations completed.
  •  Homework is required to be completed.
  • Equipment required: 6 foot leash, training collar and treats.
  • Prerequisite: None
  • $230.00 + HST -  7 x one hour sessions.
  • The test is optional but MUST be passed in order to receive a certificate and move on to Bootcamp Class.

$50 non-refundable deposit required to hold your spot.

Please contact us if you are interested in joining