Reply From Mike Cruz - The K9 Mentor
Thank you Pancake for asking about me (Mike Cruz aka The K9 Mentor) on this site. I do Google my company from time to time to try to get a feeling for how satisfied (or not) my clients are which is how I found this post. I love Yelp and really appreciate all of the reviews that people have left for me there. But Yelp isn’t the only game in town so I like to look around and see what else I find.
I wanted to take a moment to answer the questions that were raised here and to share a little more info. I am not expecting everyone to agree with what I have to say and respect the fact that there are a lot of different methods to training dogs. And yes, one method can be great with one dog while it fails miserably with another. (That’s part of why I have a guarantee. If it doesn’t work for your dog, which is fortunately quite rare, then there is no charge.) So if anyone would like to agree or disagree with me here, I appreciate it. But I’m not looking to debate training methods, whether or not we agree with each other, and respectfully will be avoiding that.
Yelp Reviews – They’re all genuine. I never ask my clients to post 5 star reviews and am always amazed and appreciative of the feedback that I have gotten. While I’d love for the 5 star streak to last forever, I’m also a realist and know that won’t be the case. I do hope that it continues for some time though!
Why Not Treats? – I do believe that you should give your dog treats. That’s part of the fun of having a dog. My dogs get treats regularly. I do recommend that they only get high quality ones that are US made. But I strongly believe that a dog should not get treats for doing his job (sitting, coming, not jumping on people or furniture unless invited up by the person). My dog who is a therapy dog at a local Children’s Hospital gets LOTS of treats from the kids she visits with. It is a great way to reward a dog for being a good dog. I just feel it isn’t a good idea to reward them for doing what is expected of them. Also, if you don’t have a treat with you, many dogs won’t do what you want if they’ve been trained to expect a treat. This is another reason that I don’t think treats are advantageous in training.
A Trainer Should Figure Out What Is Best For Each Dog – I totally agree. That is why I have all of my clients fill out a complete, 3 page questionnaire prior to training. And a dog should be corrected in a way that he/she understands, otherwise it isn’t fair to the dog. My methods of correction are fair but firm when necessary. I NEVER hit the dog, NEVER punish the dog to a crate, NEVER throw cans of pennies at the dog, NEVER squirt the dog with water and NEVER make the dog flinch out of fear or pain. NEVER. The methods I use are the same 3 methods that dogs use to communicate to each other in a pack. These ways are what they expect from another dog or would do to another dog they wanted to correct. Anything that is foreign to a dog only confuses the dog and stresses him/her out.
“With training that only uses praise as a reward, I find there is usually a lot more corrections involved.” -- Capone 22. I can’t say what Capone feels is “a lot more corrections”. But I do believe in heavily praising a dog after EVERY thing he/she does right. If you tell a dog to sit, and he does, I praise. It’s not a quick pat with a “good dog” thrown in. It’s praise that the dog craves. And I do praise much more than correct because I don’t correct unless the dog misbehaves and doesn’t do as told. Most dogs learn quickly with my method and therefore get a lot more praise than corrections. Also, the corrections start off light and only increase to the point that the dog responds. I do not believe in firmly correcting the dog unless he knows what is expected and is being stubborn/alpha.
I do feel that many trainers out there are too extreme. I don’t agree with it. I think every dog needs to know he is loved and should be praised when he is behaving as we would want him to. That’s what makes a happy, confident, well adjusted dog. But I also believe that a dog needs to know his place (he’s not the alpha), that there are rules that need to be followed and that just as he will be praised for positive behavior, he will humanely be corrected for improper behavior. Dogs that are aggressive, I have found, are usually confused as to what their role is and try to “protect” themselves from the “threat” they perceive – Even if the “threat” is a Girl Scout selling cookies at the front door.
I praise aggressive dogs too whenever they behave correctly and usually get them to turn their behavior from aggressive to nice in no time at all. My experience is that this is not common in the dog training community as many trainers hold a grudge towards a dog who attacks him. It’s not uncommon for me to have an aggressive dog try to attack me when I arrive only to snuggle up to me and lick my hand after we are done. Again, it’s all about praising the dog so that he knows he is a good dog but also correcting when he is misbehaving.
I’m proud to say that many of my clients have learned about Therapy Dog programs from my website, or from our training sessions, and have gone on to get their dogs certified by Pet Partners (formerly Delta Society) or Therapy Dogs International (TDI). I think these are both great organizations and am proud to be both certified with one of my dogs with Pet Partners and to give free prep lessons to clients who have a dog who I believe would make a good therapy dog.
I’m sure that this post will stir up a small debate and again, that wasn’t my reason for posting. I do appreciate that people on this site do love their dogs and do want to do what is best for their dog. My method may be best for one and not for another. I understand and respect that.
Thanks for reading my long post!