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Dog Training and Behavior Consulting

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About Dogs Rock! Vermont

Dogs Rock! Vermont was founded with one basic idea in mind:

Dogs are awesome…and so are you!

Dogs are our best friends and companions. Dogs bond with us, they wiggle their way into our hearts, jump into our laps, give us plenty of laughs and are there for us during our darkest times. But dogs are only half the equation! You are important too, and helping you build a relationship with your dog that is healthy, wholesome and long lasting, is incredibly important to the training process.

Dogs Rock! Vermont strives to bring up-to-date, knowledgeable and dependable dog behavior services to the Burlington, VT area. When you work with us, you know you not only that you are getting the best training, but you also reliability on your side. You deserve to have a good relationship with your dog, and we’re here to get you there!

Thank you for trusting us with your four-legged family members! We look forward to meeting you!

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We can’t always understand what dogs are telling us, however science, research and applied behavior analysis has helped professionals world-wide become more aware of why behaviors are happening and how to address them for optimum results. Over the last few decades, the approach to training animals has become more compassionate than ever and we are now positioned as professionals (and dog owners) to achieve long-lasting training results through methods not thought possible previously and without the use force or “dominance.”

Currently, I am a Burlington-based canine behavior consultant, and a member of the ASPCA’s Anti-Cruelty and Behavior Team. I am certified through both the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers and through the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants.

My background combines years of professional experience in shelter work, dog daycare, facility management and LIMA based training methods (see below). Because of my unique experience-base and skill set of working with thousands of different dogs in various environments, I am able to individualize my training with each one of my clients so they can build long-lasting happy relationships with their dogs. Through education, comprehensive training sessions and dedicated management, anyone can train their pup to be the perfect loving family member they’ve always wanted.

Noted Experience and Achievements:

  • Associate Certified Behavior Consultant through the IAABC
  • Certified Professional Dog Trainer through the CCPDT
  • Certified Dog Trainer and Behavior Team Member for the ASPCA

Previous Experience:

  • Operations Manager at Wags Doggie Daycamp and Boarding in Danbury, CT
  • Operations & Behavior Consultant at Canine Kindergarten Dog Daycare and Boarding in MT Kisco, NY
  • Canine Program Coordinator at the Humane Society of Chittenden County
  • Canine Adoption Coordinator at Pet Animal Welfare Society in Norwalk, CT

 

 

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As a Vermont native and former veterinary technician, Mary understands what’s most important to dog owners in the Burlington area – a well behaved canine companion who can come along for every adventure!

After years of having a blast mountain biking with her dogs, Mary launched Unleashed K9 Adventures, an off leash dog camp. Mary’s camps continue to give many local families a fun, trusted and safe exercise and socialization outlet for their dogs.

Interested in learning more about the behavior of the dogs in her daily pack walks, Mary sought further education by attending a behavior seminar by Laurie Lawless of Dogs Rock, LLC and Emily Lewis of A Click Away Training. From there, she knew dog training was right up her alley, and started a year long apprenticeship with Laurie, in addition to pursuing further education through the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and other online courses.

Through the years, Mary has become a trusted and knowledgeable team member of Dogs Rock! Vermont who specializes in puppy socialization, obedience training and basic problem solving in the Burlington, VT area. She currently lives in Hinesburg with her two dogs, Midas and Amelia, and her husband Seth. In addition to doing in-home training with Dogs Rock! Vermont, Mary also teaches group classes at the Vermont Dog Club in Essex Junction, VT!

Dogs Rock! Vermont supports a Least Intrusive, Minimally Aversive (LIMA) approach to behavior modification and training. The below information is taken from the website of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants and is their Position Statement.

What Is LIMA?

LIMA requires that trainers and behavior consultants use the “least intrusive, minimally aversive technique likely to succeed in achieving a training [or behavior change] objective with minimal risk of producing adverse side effects.” It is also a competence criterion, requiring that trainers and behavior consultants be adequately trained and skilled in order to ensure that the least intrusive and aversive procedure is in fact used. 1

LIMA Is Competence-Based

LIMA requires that trainers/behavior consultants work to increase the use of positive reinforcement and lessen the use of punishment in work with companion animals and the humans who care for them. LIMA protocols are designed to be maximally humane to learners of all species. In order to ensure best practices, consultants/trainers should pursue and maintain competence in animal behavior consulting through education, training, or supervised experience, and should not advise on problems outside the recognized boundaries of their competencies and experience.2

Positive Reinforcement and Understanding the Learner

Positive reinforcement should be the first line of teaching, training and behavior change program considered, and should be applied consistently. Positive reinforcement is associated with the lowest incidence of aggression, attention-seeking, and avoidance/fear in learners3.

Only the learner determines what is reinforcing. It is crucial that the consultant/trainer understands and has the ability to appropriately apply this principle. This may mean that handling, petting, various tools and environments are assessed by the handler each time the learner experiences them, and that trainer bias not determine the learner’s experience. The measure of each stimulus is whether the learner’s target behavior is strengthening or weakening, and not the consultant/trainer’s intent or preference.

Clarity and Consistency in Problem Solving

It is the handler’s responsibility to make training and modification of behavior clear, consistent and possible for the learner. We recognize that a variation of learning and behavior change strategies may come into play during a learning/teaching relationship, and can be humane and a least intrusive, effective choice in application. 4 However, ethical use of this variation is always dependent on the consultant/trainer’s ability to adequately problem solve, to understand his or her actions on the learner, and requires sensitivity toward the learner’s experience.

Preventing Abuse

We seek to prevent the abuses and potential repercussions of unnecessary, inappropriate, poorly applied or inhumane uses of punishment. The potential effects of punishment can include aggression or counter-aggression; suppressed behavior (preventing the consultant/trainer from adequately reading the animal); increased anxiety and fear; physical harm; a negative association with the owner or handlers; and increased unwanted behavior, or new unwanted behaviors. 5

Choice and Control for the Learner

LIMA guidelines require that consultants always offer the learner as much control and choice as possible during the learning process, and treat each individual of any species with respect and awareness of the learner’s individual nature and needs.6

What Do You Want the Animal TO do?

We focus on reinforcing desired behaviors, and always ask the question, “What do you want the animal TO do?” when working through a training or behavior problem. Relying on punishment in training does not answer this question, and therefore offers no acceptable behavior for the animal to learn in place of the unwanted behavior.

Punishment should never be the first line of treatment in an intervention, nor should it make up the majority of a behavior modification program. Further, it should be discontinued as quickly as possible once the desired behavior change has taken place. In cases where the application of punishment is considered, best practices of application and next steps can best be determined by understanding and following the Humane Hierarchy of Behavior Change – Procedures for Humane and Effective Practices, outlined in the diagram attached.7

For these reasons, we strongly support the understanding and application of LIMA protocols, and applaud those working with animals and humans in a humane and thoughtful manner.

Suggested Hierarchy of Behavior Change Procedure from Least to Most Intrusive *

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Questions? Contact us!

(802) 448-2017

Info@DogsRockVermont.com