Champaign, Ill. (WCIA)

Natalie Piper, Certified FDM (Family Dog Mediator), Animal Behavior College Certified Mentor Trainer, CATCH Canine Trainer Academy Official Mentor Trainer, CPDT-KA (Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed), joins us with tips on dog behavior and family dog training.

People are often interested in why dogs behave the way they do, how to interpret dog behavior, and what can be done to change unwanted dog behavior.

I also teach the Champaign County Humane Society group dog training classes at Prairieland Feeds in Savoy.

I help people understand why their dogs behave the way they do, what can be done to humanely and effectively teach dogs desirable behaviors as habits, and what can be done to address unwanted dog behaviors.

Most frequently people format their requests as “help me STOP my dog from __“. People should know that is is important to understand what motivates the dog to engage in the unwanted behavior, and it is also incredibly helpful to reframe their goal in the format of what they DO want their dog TO DO, rather than what they want them to stop doing. This way you have a behavior in mind to reinforce. Reinforcement is more effective and less risky than punishment.

I help people determine realistic goals for their individual situation with their dog(s), and I help them design a unique plan to help them work towards those goals. I help cheer them on during the process and help them troubleshoot any problems that may arise.

Dog food puzzles (both store bought and homemade) are important as they can enrich dogs’ lives in this way. Research shows dogs strongly prefer to work for their food rather than receive it out of a bowl. If you provide your dog with a mealtime activity it can go a long way in preventing unwanted behaviors.

Dog training and behavior is a completely unregulated industry, and the public doesn’t always know that anyone can say they’re qualified to help them with dog behavior and training.

I strongly value ongoing formal education. I make time each week for continuing education so that I stay up to date on the latest information in the field of dog behavior.

I take a holistic approach. When I meet with a person and their dog for the first time, I interview them to get a thorough history so we can get to the root of whatever they’re trying to address.

I have been fortunate enough to handle a wide variety of dogs both in peoples’ homes and in shelter environments for over eight years full time, and over ten years part time. I love working with people just as much as I love working with dogs.

Natalie Piper Dog Training & Behavior