A Better Way To Train

Picture of Margaret MansonMy name is Margaret Manson and I am a professional dog trainer and behavior counselor. I've had dogs almost all my life as well as numerous other pets - horses, cows, sheep, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, mice, birds and fish. Training animals has been a part of my life since my teenage years, at first with pet dogs, then working dogs and other species including horses, cats, rabbits, a seal and birds (falcons, cage birds and a chicken!).

My love of animals led to my interest in animal training growing into a professional commitment. I believe that the tragedy of abused and abandoned animals is often due to a lack of understanding between people and animals and want of proper training and education. A pet should be a commitment for as long as it lives.

We now know that kindness, observation and reward are the keys to training. Coercive methods provide a poor foundation for the relationship between human and pet. Can you build love by bullying?

Modern animal training methods are based on what science has discovered about the way in which animals learn and don't rely on punishment - it's more effective to reward desired behavior than to punish undesired behavior. These science based methods are highly successful, allow teaching complex behaviors and form a bond between human and pet which is founded on real communication and understanding.

Each pet must be treated as an individual with rights. Coaxing, luring, constraining or forcing animals into actions against their will are replaced by rewarding desirable behaviors. When working with pets with problem behaviors it's important to try and identify the reasons they got to this point and work to relieve any underlying stress and anxiety.

What understanding I have comes from many dogs, people and organizations. My dogs Teal, (my first rescue) Mho and Bugle were experts in teaching me that thinking and feeling are not the sole property of humans. Dr. Andrew Manson, Dr. Marian Breland Bailey, Dr. Ian Dunbar and Ms. Pat Millar played major parts in my development as a trainer. The Canadian Association of Professional Pet Dog Trainers, The Association of Pet Dog Trainers, Professional Animal Behavior Associates and the excellent Clicker Expo organization have provided wonderful educational opportunities over many years.

I've been profoundly influenced by Karen Pryor's books and by the staff at the Karen Pryor Academy, especially Steve Benjamin and Tia Guest. The support of my fellow students Abby Tamber and Laurie Luck helped me through this demanding course. Last but not least, the support, loyalty and persistence of my dog Jay allowed us to graduate with distinction. Most of my present training programs are based on the teachings of the Karen Pryor Academy.