ABOUT TOMMY LOVELESS
Check back soon for an interview of Dog Trainer Tommy telling his story and Core Dog Training Philosophy. In the meantime, scroll down and read a bit about our own and head trainer.
"Your dog will give their best to you, when you give your best to them."
Tommy is a graduate of Professionals (2016) and Masters (2017) Dog Training programs from a Nationally Recognized school. Since graduating he has attended several dog training seminars and classes to broaden his knowledge of dog training and health and wellness.
Tommy began his journey to his dog training career in 2012 when he adopted his Service Dog "Wilson." When Tommy got Wilson the expectation was that he was a sound, stable, and neutral Service Dog trained to assist Tommy with PTSD, Anxiety, and Sleep Apnea. Little did Tommy know - Wilson was dog aggressive to the point that he had killed at least one dog prior to Tommy adopting him (found out after the adoption and their bond had already become unbreakable).
Tommy decided that he wasn't simply going to give up on Wilson before attempting to "fix" the problem. Tommy and Wilson worked with a professional trainer to rectify his reactivity towards other dogs and recondition it to neutrality. With proper direction, tools, and clear expectations and communication Wilson became the best dog a man could ever ask for - those once in a lifetime pups you're "lucky to find."
In his later years Wilson was attacked by two boxers because of a turkey leg and human error (not Tommy's) the astounding thing was Wilson didn't engage in the fight. Tommy had to pull the other dogs off of him and pick him up so he wouldn't be mauled. Unfortunately Wilson crossed the rainbow bridge in the fall of 2019 after a stroke left him unable to enjoy life with Tommy any longer, but not before passing his torch to his brother a Belgian Malinois and Tommy's school dog "Raider".
Wilson shaped a lot of Tommy's core dog training philosophies, and Raider continues to help Tommy develop his understanding of Dogs and the "best" ways to train them.
Dogs need their training structured around their personality, there is no one size fits all cookie cutter training that will work for every dog. Some need toys as motivators, some treats, some need pressure (but very few).
Dogs are their own beings. This means they have autonomy. They can choose to include themselves in training, or tune it out. If we don't recognize that the dog can make their own decisions then all we are left with to use for training is compulsion (which typically makes aggressive cases worse, dampens the personality of a happy go lucky dog, and further shuts down or causes reactivity in the fearful cases) This leads us to our motivator tools.
Dog owners should be able to rely on the TRAINING for their dogs for responsiveness and NOT EQUIPMENT (that includes positive and negative motivators).
We do believe in a Balanced Training approach. To us this means that we simply use the positive motivator and negative motivator tools to influence a dog's decision making (autonomy). More positive than negative is key. And as little negative as possible in order to achieve the goal (followed by an even greater positive). The negative should be used to maintain, but for every negative we give we need to give at least one greater positive - if not two.
Last but CERTAINLY NOT least: Aggression and Reactivity is a rehabilitation process - not dog training. By this we recognize that dog training should be a consistent growth in a positive direction (even if that's one step back two steps forward sometimes) and should eliminate unwanted behaviors with time and consistency and proper communication. A rehabilitation process is reshaping the behavior response by using Behavior Modification Principles while knowing that the dog can regress to the original behavior and management is key.
For example: Kayla went through ACL replacement and meniscus repair surgeries on both of her knees, after which I went to physical therapy to "rehabilitate" her knee. The rehabilitation improved her leg after surgery, but it did not bring the leg strength and abilities back to the point they were prior to surgery. Rehabilitation will never "unbreak" her knee.
Most of all - Wilson helped Tommy to recognize that a lot of dogs who end up in Rescue due to behavior issues are there simply because they weren't taught in a way that worked for their personality and learning style how to be a dog existing in the human world with our human expectations. Furthermore those dogs that you're "lucky to find"? Wilson wasn't a dog Tommy was lucky to find. Wilson became the dog he did because Tommy gave him what he needed in order to become the best possible dog that he could.