Welcome to the Wonderful World of ....
When did you attain Stonehill Kennels?
I’ve been here in Goshen since 2002.
What did you do before dog training?
I was in law enforcement. I was a policeman and the I switched into training dogs. I had contracts to train law enforcement dogs since 1991. When 9/11 happened, I had more bomb dogs than other areas and went to NYC and lived there for almost a year. I had a contract to protect the Empire State Building. I packed a backpack and took the only Metro North Train down to the city, which was filled with children going down to look for their parents. Grand Central Station was full of smoke when the train pulled in. I moved here to Goshen in 2002 and moved my business here.
Whats the difference between positive and negative reinforcement?
So, it’s really about understanding the importance of positive and negative reinforcement.
Both are absolutely critical for learning.
Without one or the other, you don’t really learn from your experience. So, everything has to be done in a balance. The best way to learn is from positive reinforcement and being rewarded for good behavior. At some point we become excited or distracted, and some environmental thing happens and we decide to completely ignore everything that we just learned. And focus on the shiny thing.
In dog training, it’s critical that dogs learn, because they don’t pick up with safety things as well as human beings like danger or logic. So your dog spots a squirrel across the street, there is a truck coming across the road and they start to dart across the road and you’re there trying to recall the dog and use whatever you can to try to save your dog. If they have not experienced some form of negative reinforcement in their life, the shiny thing across the street is going to be more important. They will ignore you.
So, we turn everything into a positive reward based training but once the dog truly understands the exercise, we intentionally set the dog up for failure. They have to understand that stepping out of the boundaries of good behavior has a consequence.
If you think about your own life, anything a person does that is wrong, illegal, foolish, or immoral has either physical or natural, or societal consequences. And these consequences are what keep us from doing stupid tihngs, foolish things or harmful things.
Dogs require consequences. What they are isn’t determined but the trainer. It’s determined by the dog. The dog has to look at that consequence and go”wow I don’t want that happening again!” So it has to be strong enough so the dog doesn’t want it to happen again. But not so strong that you damage the trusting relationship that you just spent four or five weeks developing.
So if the dog sees a squirrel across the street, even steak or hot dogs or the dog’s favorite food won’t keep the dog from his instincts?
Thats right. Correction has to be sudden and has to have a startling effect and a lasting effect or the dog won’t come out of its brain. You don’t want to hurt the dog or cause them anxiety, you want to startle them and get their attention so that they understand clearly, that whatever behavior you want them to avoid, they really want to avoid. If you don’t do that, you are guaranteed that at the very most important moment when you need their attention, your dog is going to ignore you.
If there is a rabid creature or a skunk in your yard, if you don’t have control over your dog, you put your dog in harms way.
What is your background?
I started becoming interested as a kid about 8-10 years old, I was fascinated with animals and in a lot of ways I was self taught. I found every book and video tape that I could get my hands on. Training and behavior and I was in Law enforcement where I studied interesting psychology and the human mind and when trying to understand dog behavior, I realized there were many similarities between human and dog behavior. Kinesiology and body movement. Dogs are the greatest experts of body movement and body language. I studied hypnosis and neurolinguistic programming NLP. It’s about using the way that you speak to motivate people the way you want to and you can use it for dogs.
Is this being used for good with dogs in dog training?
I studied hypnosis and am a certified hypnotherapist and my teacher had worked with hypnosis with animals. It’s really fascinating stuff. The mind is conscious and sub conscious. When we train a dog we want to teach the dog. Dogs learn by repetition. Repetition is the mother of skill so when you do something multiple times, you start to form that as a new habit so if I was explaining the program to a consumer, when you get up in the morning and put on a pair of pants, which leg do you put on first? People put one leg first and most people most people have no clue even though you do it exactly the same way every day. We work on positive reinforcement to form habitual good behaviors.
They use their eyes to catch motion and the motion stimulates dopamine in their minds.
Dogs are interested in survival, food and fun. If I can catch that, I can sustain myself and live for another day. That is a huge excitement to a dog. One of the things we do it dog training, is we trick the dog into becoming addicted to its own dopamine. We get them to associate things with pleasure which sparks off the dopamine and at a certain point they can’t say no. For example, if you are clicker training a dog, the dog associates certain behaviors with the click from the clicker. If I have a box and I want the dog to put its paw on the top of the box. Thats the end goal. When the dog starts to go near the box, I click and feed the dog. And then Ill stop and observe. The dog starts thinking about how to get the treat and it realizes it got closer to box. So next time, he moves closer to the box, I don’t click because the dog has to even go closer to the box for the treat. When he goes even closer, then I click and treat. Then he’ll even go closer the next time, and wait till he touches the box with his paw, then I click and treat. Then he goes to touch it again but doesn’t get anything. He realizes he is trying different things and eventually he will get what he wants. So the end goal is for him to put his paw in the top of the box. So now he won’t get what he wants until he does that.
Is it the treat the spikes the dopamine?
Yes, it sparks super pleasure. Motion stimulates dopamine. Eating is survival and survival is their end goal. The repetition is the key to developing the behavior you want from the dog.
It is really fascinating. Dog training has evolved in leaps and bounds over the 32 years I have been in the field. It’s incredible.
It’s important to understand why you get the results you do and understanding the process so you can achieve consistent results. In oder to get rock slid realist, you cannot bypass the principals of conditioning. One of those principals of conditioning is 21 days of repetition. You have to be consistent and most people don’t have the time or the inclination to do that. Thats why what we do here is so incredibly goal oriented and gets results. That’s why we guarantee the training for life.
What do the owners do after they get their dogs back from the six week training program?
So they come and train with us so they understand how the dog was trained and how to respond to the dog as they work the dog. They have to know what to do, if the dog makes a mistake.
What is the time line?
It’s six weeks. The first three weeks is foundations training. Once the foundation training is established, the dog and the trainer have a rock solid connection and then we want the owner to start coming in once a week. I have had dog owners who are fro 47 states and 10 other countries so a lot of my clients erelong distance so they ship the dog here and then they come at the end for three days. We have somebody here right now from South Carolina.
So, is it that you train the people and the dogs?
Yes, training the people is critical. Some people want to ship their dogs to us and have us ship the dog back but I won’t do it. Unless they are willing to commit to work with us, I’m not willing to train the dog. They have to take the time and make the effort because it’s not magic. Everyone has to put in the time and effort to get the dog behavior that you want.
What if, for example I bring my dog and he has great success and I take him home and two months later he starts slipping.
At any point in the dog’s life, our clients can come back here here and work with us. There is no charge. It’s a lifetime guarantee. However, when dogs slips. First of all, I’ve never had a dog come back for lack of dog training. I had a couple with a lab, drop the dog off, and we talk weekly to our clients. They’re not picking up the phone or calling us back so three weeks in I’m starting to get concerned. I sent a letter and I get no response. Now we are in about five weeks time and someone needs to be at the end to take the dog. I finally reached them and they were getting divorced. I told them we need to figure out who is coming here to follow up with the lessons. So, then they agreed the husband would take the dog.
When they come to work with their dog, there is a minimum of three lessons that they have to have with their dog before they can take the dog home. He took the dog and the two years later, he calls me and talks bout the dog not knowing anything. I told them to come here, and I asked him to sit in the car and watch. I put a leash on the dog and I bring the dog outside and give him two corrections. I took the leash off and I had the dog do everything, all the exercises the dog learned when he was here, off leash.
Did the dog remember?
The dog remembered everything perfectly. But he had no idea how to make the dog work. So he got out of it what he put into it. Nothing. But he came back and worked with the dog again and left with some skills.
We stand behind what we do. As much as we are a business, we are passionate about what we do. Everyone that works for me goes above and beyond for our clients to make sure the when they go home, they get the best out of life. Really what we are doing is helping develop a wonderful relationship with the owner and dog and make them not happy. If you are not consistent, you’re not going to get the real results. The trust of the matter is this, very few people really train their dogs. If you don’t put the time and effort in, you’re not going to have the relationship with the dog to get the results you want. Dogs need positive outlets for their energy.
I have a famous author. A PHD in Psychology who could not apply the principles of conditioning the he writes about, to his own dog. And once we did it, he was mesmerized by the results. I told him, we are not doing anything else than you teach other people.
Dogs are the greatest readers of body language.
Dogs are pack animals and they always look for the one in charge. If you’re the one in charge and you’re cool, calm and relaxed the dog also.
Do you do boarding?
Yes we have boarding and the six-week obedience program. W can also do a four week program for dogs with less problems. What we are teaching dogs is they are learning the learning process. Repetition is the mother of skill so the first alf of the program, up to about four weeks for some dogs, they are gathering an understanding about how everything works. First they have to get accustomed to their new environment, being int he kennel then they have to get accustomed to developing a relationship to the trainer on a daily basis and then they understand the process of positive mitigation and the different exercises. When they know what to expect, there is no more anxiety and they are ready to go.
Do they get homesick?
Some dogs do. Very few. Sometimes they skip a meal here and there at the beginning and once they start to build the relationship and trust, they are back to normal. The greatest weeks of a dogs life are often spend here because we really open up the lines of communication between the dog and he owner and that makes everything in their lives better.
Do you sell dogs?
I purchase top quality dogs from high quality breeders, here and there if someone is looking for a dog. We crate, house and obedience train them and sell them. German Shepherds and Lagotto Romagno (Italian Water Dog) and I’ve sold a few of them. Another dog is the French Bull Dog.
What are your future plans?
My son is involved in the business and learning all the aspects.
You know, you never stop learning in dog training. There is always something to learn. People are creating and developing new ideas everyday.
If someone is interested in contacting you what should they do?
Our website--canineone.com has lots of information there. I am personally involved and connected to everything we do so I like to talk directly to everybody. I want to understand the peoples and expectations and explain to people clearly, before they send their dog and spend their hard earned money, what exactly are realistic expectations for their particular dog so than there is no mis-communication about what will happen.