Copyright ©  Stephen McKay

Common questions and answers.

Please contact us with any specific questions.


Q: Why should I train my dog?
A: Good manners don't come naturally. Teaching your dog appropriate behavior and manners are part of responsible dog ownership. Training your dog is fun and promotes your bond.


Q: What style of training do you use?

A: We used reward based training methods founded in the science of learning theory.


Q: Why are you opposed to punishment based training?
A: We train with a philosophy consistent with teaching your dog desirable behaviors, including behaviors that are incompatible with undesirable behaviors. We focus on “What you want your dog to do, not what you don't want your dog to do.” For instance, you can teach your dog to sit politely to be greeted instead of jumping up on you when you approach or arrive home. If necessary, there are ways to use punishment that do not involve physical punishment. Physical punishment may cause damage to your dog and your relationship. We recommend that you review the
American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior Position Statement on the Use of Punishment in Behavioral Modification.


Q: Food rewards are bribes and if I use food to train my dog, won’t I risk being locked into always using food to get my dog to listen to me?
A: Food is naturally reinforcing to most dogs. You can start training desirable behaviors with food and fade out the use of food as the behavior strengthens. There are also many other types of rewards that you can use to build desirable behaviors such as toys, play, access to activities such as going for a walk and even scent. You can build value for behaviors using rewards that your dog responds to and fade out the rewards as the behavior strengthens.


Q: My dog will not listen to me or pay attention. Can he be trained?
A: Attention is a trainable skill like any other. Utilizing rewards that your dog naturally considers valuable and starting your training in a non-distracting environment can help build focus in your dog.

Q: At what age should I start training my puppy?
A: Today! There are training protocols that are appropriate for all age levels and you should be taking full advantage of your puppy’s developmental periods to train desirable behaviors and build relationship with you.


Q: I’ve heard I should socialize my puppy but my veterinarian says not to take him anywhere until after he’s fully vaccinated. What should I do?
A: Safety is a valid concern but it is equally important that you do all you can to take advantage of a puppy’s developmental period. Review the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior Position Statement on Puppy Socialization 

Q: Can adult dogs be trained?
A: Contrary to the old wives tale, old dogs can learn new tricks! Adult dogs benefit from mental as well as physical activity and training will enhance the bond between you and your pet.


Q: How many training sessions will I need?
A: Individual goals and progress may vary and influence the number of training sessions you will need.


Q: Will you work with me in a private or public setting?
A: Depending on your specific needs we can work privately with you in your home or take it on the road.


Q: Do you use clickers?
A: Our own dogs are all trained using clickers. While we may introduce you to the principles of clicker training, we will not mandate that you use one. Clicker training is actually “Mark and Reward” training which does not actually require the use of a clicker. There are advantages to learning how to use a clicker if you can.


Q: If I train with a clicker, won’t I have to always carry a clicker to get my dog to behave?
A: Clickers are a teaching tool. Once a behavior is taught and your dog responds to a cue, you no longer need the clicker for that specific skill.


Q: Can you tell me how to housebreak my dog?
A: Yes. House “Training” a dog is usually straightforward unless special challenges apply. Consistency and maintaining schedules are key factors. If sudden changes manifest in your dog’s potty habits, you should first rule out physical problems with your veterinarian.


Q: Can deaf dogs be trained?
A: Yes, of course. There are many techniques to help with training deaf dogs. See http://www.deafdogs.org/
for more information.


Q: What do you charge?
A: Our rates vary depending upon the degree of behavioral problem and where you are located. Please email us for more specific information.


Q: Can I send my dog to you for training?
A: McKay9 Dog Training does not offer Board and Train services. Interactive training is vital to developing a healthy relationship with your pet. We believe that it is best that the family that has to live with the dog perform the training and use training as bonding opportunities.

Q: Do you offer dog walking services?
A: We will work with you if you are experiencing behavioral problems on walks, but we do not offer dog-walking services.