The DogSmith® Behavior Consulting Case Management Philosophy

Here at the DogSmith are Training and Behavior protocols, methods and philosophies are founded in the science of Applied Behavior Analysis. They are also governed by our ethics and managed through our  “Guiding Principles”. 

Learn about our Founder & President

Applied behavior analysis is the science of controlling and predicting behavior.

  • As behavior analysts we reject the use of hypothetical constructs and focus on the observable relationship of the dog’s behavior to its environment.
    In scientific theory, particularly Psychology, a hypothetical construct is an explanatory variable which is not directly observable. For example, the concepts of intelligence and motivation are used to explain phenomena in psychology, but neither is directly observable. A hypothetical construct differs from an intervening variable in that it has properties and implications which have not been demonstrated in empirical research
  • By functionally assessing the relationship between a problematic behavior and the dog’s environment we can effectively and efficiently change unwanted dog behaviors while improving the relationship the owner has with their dog and their joint quality of life.

How Your DogSmith Will Work With You

The DogSmith works with each client to develop a behavior change program that meets the clients goals. The behavior change programs are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and have set time-lines.

  1. When training dogs we need to ensure that they are actively involved in the learning process.
  2.  When the dog is actively participating, rather than passively observing, greater learning takes place. This applies to both the dog and its owner.
  3. Newly acquired skills need to be repeated frequently in a variety of contexts to ensure they are fully learned. This means the skills you and your dog learn will be effective in and around your home and out and about town.
  4. When practicing new behaviors frequent repetition in various scenarios ensures the skill is truly owned’ so the dog can not only generalize its behaviors in new situations but can also discriminate when appropriate.
  5. Most importantly when training your dog remember to positively reinforce correct behaviors. Rewards for accomplishing skills successfully are an effective method to ensure learning takes place. Rewards used when you begin training, such as food and toys, can be quickly replaced by life rewards, such as attention and petting.

How to Choose a Dog Trainer by AVSAB

AVSAB DominanceClick the graphic to read the AVSAB position on dominance



AVSAB Punishment

 AVSAB position on punishment - Click on the graphic to read the



Recommended Reading. The Pet Professional Guild Position Statements.

  • Why Changes Are Needed? Read the full position statement, Click here
  • The Use of Shock in Animal Training Read the full position statement, click here
  • The Use of Dominance Theory in Animal Training Read the full position statement, click here
  • Position Statement on Puppy Socialization Read the full position statement, click here
  • Position Statement on The Use of Choke and Prong Collars Read the full position statement, click here
  • Position Statement on Reality Dog Training Read the full position statement, click here

Articles we recommend you read to help you understand and disregard some of the more common myths about dog behavior and their social communication.

  1. Use of Dominance Theory in Behavior Modification of Animals”
    American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior -The AVSAB recommends that veterinarians not refer clients to trainers or behavior consultants who coach and advocate dominance hierarchy theory and the subsequent confrontational training that follow from it. Read position statements
  2. “The Use of Punishment for Behavior Modification in Animals”
    American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior – AVSAB’s position is that punishment1 (e.g. choke chains, pinch collars, and electronic collars) should not be used as a first-line or early-use treatment for behavior problems. 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. Read position statements
  3. “Whatever happened to the Term ALPHA Wolf?”
    article by L. David Mech, senior research scientist for the U.S. Geological Survey and founder and vice chair of the International Wolf Center. Rather than viewing a wolf pack as a group of animals organized with a top dog that fought its way to the top, or a male-female pair of such aggressive wolves, science has come to understand that most wolf packs are merely family groups formed exactly the same way as human families are formed. Click here
  4. “Survey of the use and outcome of confrontational and non-confrontational training methods in client-owned dogs”
    Applied Animal Behavior Science, 2009; 117 (1-2): 47 This study highlights the risk of dominance-based training, which has been made popular by TV, books and punishment-based training advocates, Herron said. These techniques are fear-eliciting and may lead to owner-directed aggression. Read article
  5. “Using Dominance’ to Explain Dog Behavior is Old Hat”
    Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, May/June 2009, Pages 135-144 Dr Rachel Casey, Senior Lecturer in Companion Animal Behaviour and Welfare at Bristol University, said: “The blanket assumption that every dog is motivated by some innate desire to control people and other dogs is frankly ridiculous. It hugely underestimates the complex communicative and learning abilities of dogs. It also leads to the use of coercive training techniques, which compromise welfare, and actually cause problem behaviors Read article
  6. “Fairy tales: The top 10 dog behavior myths
    Jean Donaldson, Behaviour Magazine, January 2008 Issue There are a lot of myths about dog behaviour so I whittled it down to ones that were pervasive and that made myth criteria, which are: a) there is no (zero) scientific evidence supporting the contention; b) there is scientific evidence against the contention and/or scientific evidence supporting alternatives. Read article
  7. “Dominance in dogs useful construct or bad habit?”
    Journal of Veterinary Behavior, Vol 4, Issue 3, Pages 135-144 (May 2009) The term dominance is widely used in the academic and popular literature on the behavior of domestic dogs, especially in the context of aggression. Although dominance is correctly a property of relationships, it has been erroneously used to describe a supposed trait of individual dogs, even though there is little evidence that such a trait exists Read article
  8. “Alpha Status, Dominance, and Division of Labor in Wolf Packs”
    David Mech Canadian Journal of Zoology 77:1196:1203. Attempting to apply information about the behavior of assemblages of unrelated captive wolves to the familial structure of natural packs has resulted in considerable confusion. Such an approach is analogous to trying to draw inferences about human family dynamics by studying humans in refugee camps. The concept of the alpha wolf as a “top dog” ruling a group of similar-aged compatriots (Schenkel 1947; Rabb et al. 1967; Fox 1971a; Zimen 1975, 1982; Lockwood 1979; van Hooff et al. 1987) is particularly misleading. Read article
  9. The American College of Veterinary Behaviorists Position statement on the veterinarian’s responsibility when referring behavior problems to non-veterinarians. It is vitally important that veterinarians be knowledgeable about the qualifications and behavior modifications methodologies used by non-veterinarians to whom they refer clients. Non-veterinarians often play an integral role in the animal health care team. However, if outdated and inhumane methods are used by such individuals, they can cause irreversible harm to the patient and result in client injury. In some circumstances, relegating patient care to a non-veterinarian does not meet the accepted standard of care and can constitute a violation of a state’s veterinary practice act. Please click here for How to select a trainer – A guide for owners