Tarheel Canine Training, Inc. from the Inside-Out
By Jerry Bradshaw, Training Director
Why: Our mission at Tarheel Canine, from the beginning in 1994, has always been is to challenge the status quo in dog training, to question why things are done in a particular way, and ask if that which is generally accepted can be improved upon. We bring these improvements to our students and clients in the pet industry, dog sport community, and police K9 community. Many trainers don’t want to be challenged or asked to self-examine, yet we persist, though we have often been criticized and mocked. We have been criticized for being both too progressive, departing from “old ways,” as well as not jumping on every “new” bandwagon that purports to be the next greatest technique or product. Much of what passes for truth and wisdom in dog training is just unquestioned dogma, or untested current fashion. We reject methods imposed solely upon us by status, rank, emotion, vogue or tradition. When new training fads are embraced only for their uniqueness, we question their efficiency or general applicability, and whether the new is really an improvement. Change for change’s sake isn’t always good, but it is often appealing. However, when change produces better results, is simple, elegant, productive, efficient and proven we adopt it into our programs with excitement. We strive to continually learn new techniques, embrace new research, and investigate new ideas with open but skeptical minds. Our training has evolved, improved, and become more efficient year by year by being open yet skeptical. Our trainers all compete in high level competition with their personal dogs, and that is our laboratory, our crucible for innovation, our proving ground for what we do, so that we never become stale. Many dog training prophets make excuses about why they don’t compete because they fear that their methods will be truly tested and evaluated. We are not afraid.
How: Some trainers focus only on the technical aspects of training as if it is all a matter of science, and yet we need to recognize that dog training is more than clever applications of conditioning theory. Every dog is unique, and like a puzzle, needs to be solved. Dog training is an art, a communication between human and animal, and one must develop both the scientific understanding of animal cognition as well as gain a feel for its application to creatures that are emotional beings. That is the art of what we do. Training should be simple, elegant and efficient. Dog training isn’t just the application of a particular formula, technique, or tool. Dog training requires an understanding of the temperament of the dog you are training, and the ability to make adjustments to the myriad combination of temperament traits you will face in the real world. Some trainers need a certain kind of dog both in drive and temperament, just the right dog, in order to be successful, and that isn’t good enough for us. Methods should be generally applicable to the class of dogs you are training….whether it be sport dogs, police dogs, or pets. Methods should allow for common adjustments, unique adjustments, or complete changes in approach based on the particular dog with which you are working. Methods should be constructed so that results are easy to maintain. Experimentation without doing damage should be a staple of your training. Try, fail, learn, adapt, and reconfigure your approach and repeat until you earn your success. Rejecting dogs from your training program is easy, training them when they don’t fit your “system” or expectations is hard. We operate from the principle of embracing the struggle and taking it as far as we can, and recognizing that our failures only serve to point toward innovations, what we need to discover about ourselves as trainers, or what we need to recapture that we have perhaps temporarily forgotten.
What: Come to us for your canine education so you are prepared to grow further, learn techniques and approaches to training that are best-described as the cutting edge art of dog training, and the fundamental necessities of a solid training program. Come to us for your best-ever police dog, for your next companion dog and protector, or your next demo dog; come to us to repair your relationship with your pet; to excel in sport and surround yourself with talented, eager, hungry, passionate trainers who maintain high expectations and produce at a level far beyond the industry standard. Come to us because we aren’t scripted. Come to us because you believe in our Why.