Consent. Agency. Choice.
By Carlos F Morales - CPDT-KA
What is Canine High School’s Mission?
Canine High School believes in offering all of our students, including puppies, adolescents, and adult dogs, the respect, free will, and dignity they deserve. consent, agency & choice are essential for creating a safe and positive learning environment for dogs. They help dogs to feel respected and empowered, which leads to better training outcomes. It is not sufficient to just restrict and modify behavior, but when changes or restrictions must be made, we focus on teaching alternative behaviors to offer the dog relief in the form of enrichment and balance.
At the same time we strive to provide accurate and up-to-date information about dog training and to educate our community on the humane treatment of animals while using force-free dog training techniques and scientific evidence-based methods. In today’s world we are bombarded with advice and contradictory information about how to train our dogs online, on TV, everywhere. It can be overwhelming, so our mission is to make the jargon and science of dog training easily accessible and easy to understand, and to teach you the most effective, educated, and ethical options available. We want everyone in our community to be able to practice and maintain what we teach easily.
Our team specializes in practical real-world solutions for all levels of training, from puppy training and enrichment, to socialization and aggression. Our programs are designed to be fun and engaging for both dogs and their owners. We designed them in a step-by-step format that takes a puppy from Elementary School all the way to High School, and includes options for all types of dogs like Athletics and Vocational education. Each school program is paired with AKC Certification and Title exam preparation within each school curriculum, including the popular AKC CGC Certification.
We want you to walk away with a tangible and attainable achievement that will open doors for you and your dog in the future. Everything that you will learn in our programs with your puppy, will bond you further and will set your puppy up for success as an adult. We know your mission is to have that well-adjusted, polite, confident dog that you can bring to dinner on 2nd Street, shopping at the mall, for a beach day or a walk through Downtown. Our mission is to help you achieve your goals for your dog!
Carlos F Morales - CPDT-KA
Carlos is head trainer at Canine High School in Long Beach CA, a force-free Puppy School and Dog School. He is responsible for creating the School's Dog Training System, Curriculum and Philosophy. In addition to educating his canine students and their human parents, he runs a teaching school that offers apprenticeship and internship programs for aspiring professional dog trainers. He is a Certified Mentor Trainer for several dog training schools and holds certifications with the AKC and the CCPDT. He lives in a little house by the beach with his human, his three dogs GoGo, Kiba, Choji and a sassy cat, Habibti.
"Offering pups the ability to consent, use agency and make choices while they learn"
What is Conscious Dog Parenting?
Conscious parenting understands that both dog parents and dogs are living beings with feelings and emotions.
As dog parents we have baggage, we bring with us our own childhood and how we were raised to think about and treat dogs. We bring to our dogs the beliefs we’ve been taught and the beliefs we wish to practice. We have good days, we have bad days. We are flawed. Our dogs are flawed too. They have good days and bad days. They pick up on energy in a room and they know when someone is upset with them. They react to things, sometimes badly and as dog parents we can help them learn and navigate a better response.
The conscious dog parent concept embraces the opportunity for relationship and life tool building for dogs. Conscious dog parents focus on building relationships with their dogs, and they teach their dogs how to give consent, have agency over their own lives, and make choices for themselves. Conscious dog parents allow natural social processing for dogs except when it affects their dog’s health or well-being, then they step in by holding force-free limits to establish the dog’s own healthy boundaries.
Before any action, conscious dog parents pause to see if they are reacting from fear, or making a choice based on being present. And will prioritize the use of force-free training methods that are based on positive reinforcement and mutual respect.
Consent is mutual respect
Whether we look at this concept from a moral or ethological perspective, consenting to be touched, picked up, or most importantly, to having social interactions is key for a dog’s ability to process that experience and interaction. When we recognize a boundary for our dog and yield, we offer them the opportunity to make choices and feel safe. Dogs communicate their consent through their body language. It is important to learn how to read a dog's body language so that you can respect their boundaries
What happens when consent is not given?
When a dog does not consent to an interaction, behaviorally speaking, they are not able to regulate their emotions and form a positive association to that experience or interaction. This is when phobias, aversions, fears and reactions are developed. Repeated exposure to high-stress situations can reinforce phobias, aversions, fears, and reactions, and the dog may learn to expect these emotions
Agency is free will for dogs to make their own decisions
Agency allows a dog to do the necessary social processing to make decisions on the experience or interaction. When a dog thinks: ‘This dog is scary, do I find a safe place or bark to ward them off’? - and before the dog can make a decision, we interrupt their process with commands or soothing words and take away their ability to emotionally regulate themselves from the situation or experience.
Dogs may need more time than we do to process their emotions. Creating a safe space for them to self-regulate emotionally helps them to become more confident and adaptable. Allowing dogs to make their own decisions is important for their emotional well-being. It helps them to feel confident and in control of their own lives
Choice is essential for Dignity and Learning
Choice is essential for learning obedience and strengthening the bond between human and dog. Training can be about giving a dog the opportunity to choose to do what is asked, rather than forcing or intimidating them. When a dog makes a choice on their own that has a positive outcome, they are more likely to repeat that choice in the future. When a dog repeatedly chooses to do what is asked, they remember this choice and feel good about themselves. This facilitates learning.