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15 good reasons to enrol in an ACP dog trainers course

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15 good reasons to enrol in an ACP dog trainers course

What do you expect from a professional dog trainer course?
Do your homework, not all dog trainer courses are the same!

15 important points of difference that set Alpha Canine Professional dog trainer courses apart from any other trainer course options offered in our industry!

Dog Trainer Education: It's time for a change!

It's time for a change in the way dog trainers are taught the theories and methods that they need to genuinely help owners and their dogs. They need to see demonstrations of methods being taught and gain valuable hands-on experience applying these methods whilst working with real dogs!

It's time for a change in what dog trainers are taught and how the theories and methods are validated throughout their course. Dog trainers don't need textbook theories that sound positive, but can't be demonstrated to be effective, or even relevant to owners and their dogs in the real world – they need to learn methods that actually work!

The following points (in no particular order) are standard inclusions in ACP dog trainer courses and combine, in a unique way, to produce learning opportunities and experiences for students that are relevant when working with real owners and their real dogs… in the real world!

  1. See the training in action before you enrol

    Alpha Canine Professional, more than any other course provider in our industry, goes to great lengths to 'show' prospective students the results of the methods being taught in our professional dog trainer courses.

    This is achieved in two ways:

    1. Through detailed videos that can be found at:

    There is a detailed twelve minute video on the ACP home page and many videos on the Facebook timeline that show actual students attending dog trainer courses working with their own dogs and different project dogs provided throughout their courses. The videos on Alpha's other websites also show the results of our methods within the various training options that we offer to our clients. These videos in particular show actual 'before & after' footage of canine behaviour that is often considered to be beyond help by many other experts in our industry.

    2. Prospective students are also welcome to visit Alpha Canine Professional's full-time training complex to see our facilities and meet our trainers (and their dogs), or they can attend a free session and tour at Alpha Dog Training to see (first-hand) the methods in action – real trainers and trainees actively working with their well trained and behaved dogs, and real customers training and rehabilitating their dogs at all levels, from beginner to off-lead… all under real distraction.

  2. Consistent and relevant canine learning and behavioural principles

    Relevant canine learning and behavioural theories that go beyond the modern and often-restrictive, academic interpretations of scientific studies that are just not that relevant to the real-life requirements of canine behavioural management and rehabilitation. Alpha Canine Professional's theories have been developed by working with thousands of real owners and their real dogs to achieve short, mid and long-term solutions to both common, serious behavioural problems of varying intensity.

    Students will learn consistent and relevant principles and theories developed by Alpha Canine Professional that can be proven, hands-on, when working with real dogs. These fundamentals are engaged virtually every time you work with a dog and include: The Pattern Learning Training Method, Reinforcement Contrast Effect, Canine Cognitive Tonal Conditioning (CCTC), Reset Learning, and Reinforcement Generalisation & Strengthening (Crossover Consistency).

    Important note: Unless you see the relevance of theories first-hand, demonstrated by the experts charged with educating you, and are able to ask relevant questions during demonstrations, seeing the answers reflected in the results achieved with different dogs, both in the moment, and as their training and behaviour progresses throughout the course, there is little chance that you will truly understand the theories and methods being taught! How could you possibly know if the theories and methods are relevant, positive or effective if you don't see them in action?

    Read the Alpha Canine R&DActive document for a more detailed history of our research and development and a list of Alpha developed principles and methods

    The Alpha Canine R&DActive document above is long and detailed, but it is important information for prospective students wanting to know more about Alpha's methods and ideals.

  3. A training method that achieves positive outcomes even with serious behavioural problems

    Methods that achieve consistent and positive outcomes when working with dogs experiencing serious canine behavioural issues such as: aggression (all types), fear, anxiety and uncontrollable over-excitability.

    These problems are common and many of the owners who will need your help will have dogs displaying varying intensity of these behaviours. Alpha Canine Professional teaches dog trainers how to work through these issues with methods that have proven to produce the all-important positive outcomes of dogs that are either safe and manageable, or fully rehabilitated, even with dogs that have been rejected or failed by other methods!

    Jarrod's behaviour before and after rehabilitation

    Above: Before and after – the first pic shows the dog actively trying to get to the sheep. The second pic shows him during the rehabilitation process. This dog was due to be euthanized for mauling sheep, but at the eleventh hour Alpha was given permission by the courts to attempt rehabilitation. The result was a dog that could now run free with sheep… unattended. See the video footage at:

    Sonny and Zoe before and after Alpha's training methods

    Above: Before and after – the first pic shows two Lakeland terriers (muzzled) fighting each other when the owners arrive home from work. The second pic shows the positive results of Alpha's training methods that go way beyond the unsuccessful food reward methods and drug therapy that were prescribed by a behavioural expert. See the video footage at:

    Rehabilitate aggressive dogs

    Above: Food aggression, also known as resource guarding, is a common problem that is often identified in puppies. There are many dubious theories on how to rehabilitate (or avoid) this problem, but very few experts actually demonstrate the results of their methods. This pic has been taken from a video showing the rehabilitation process in action.

    Above: As a dog trainer, if you were confronted with this situation, would you know what to do? Would you even know where to start? This dog was referred to Alpha by a university expert on canine behavior who had been unable to rehabilitate the intense and indiscriminate aggression towards people and dogs. Using proven methods, Alpha had this dog running free with people and dogs at day 15 of a 20 day boarding school course. During ACP dog trainer courses we teach trainers the common sense processes that lead to consistent and positive outcomes with aggressive behavior.

  4. A method that works on all breeds, ages and behavioural problems

    The Canine Leadership System (CLS) is a single, consistent approach to training all dogs based on three core disciplines developed by Alpha:

    The Canine Leadership System
    • Leadership Obedience Training
    • Canine Good Behaviour Shaping
    • Collaborative Canine Behavioural Rehabilitation.

    This three-pronged approach developed by ACP has redefined the concept of consistency in dog training and behavioural rehabilitation through a clear and consistent language that reinforces or interrupts virtually all obedience responses and behavioural reactions. This is actively demonstrated in every hands-on workshop when working with real dogs on our trainer courses!

    The CLS doesn't require many different experts to teach many different theories and methods that may or may not be consistent with each other. When you learn different methods or different approaches for different dogs on a trainer course you simply don't have the time to validate the theories and techniques for each method.

    On courses with multiple, visiting experts, everything taught can often end up being compartmentalised and not necessarily consistent because the teachers come from varying backgrounds and have varying experience, and they are only responsible for their part of the course. These experts don't all work together or necessarily use the same methods, or believe in the same theories.

    The next point takes this concept further…

  5. The teachers are professional dog trainers who, on a daily basis, use the same training methods that you will learn

    Teachers who are actively involved in the industry (as professional dog trainers) and apply the methods and strategies taught on your course. This point cannot be over-stated and is directly relevant to the many discussions throughout the course about how to apply the methods after the course when working with owners and their dogs. All of ACP's teachers use The Canine Leadership System on a daily basis – it is real and it works!

    Sonny and Zoe before and after Alpha's training methods

    Above: Throughout all ACP dog trainer and AAT courses, teachers are always hands-on with their own dogs and students' dogs. ACP's Training Director, Greg Fontana demonstrates with a student's dog during an ACP course whilst two of his own dogs roam free for extra distraction. We call this important standard… Leading By Example!

    Your teachers will not only demonstrate with their own well-trained and behaved dogs that are on constant display throughout the course when they are being used for teaching demonstrations, or for extra distraction during handling workshops, but they will also demonstrate with untrained dogs to show how the methods and theories remain relevant and consistent at all stages of the learning process.

    ACP teachers are always helping students in hands-on workshops and will work with any dog (including difficult dogs) to demonstrate the consistency of the methods and theories, and how to achieve more positive outcomes during obedience, behaviour shaping or behavioural rehabilitation scenarios.

    This is in stark contrast to courses that are conducted by 'dogless' experts who offer little demonstration of the methods and theories being taught and don't have their own well trained and behaved dogs on show as representation of their chosen methods and theories.

  6. Prevention and rehabilitation of serious behavioural problems

    Methods that actively promote both the prevention and rehabilitation of serious canine behavioural problems. Preventative dog training is an important aspect of The Canine Leadership System that is the result of hands-on research and development conducted with over 10,000 owners and their dogs since 1996.

    ACP has found that there is a direct link between the tolerance of pushy and demanding canine behavior and the role it plays in the deterioration of leadership within the owner and dog relationship. It is at this point in the relationship that experimentation with more serious canine behaviour is likely to occur, particularly during the adolescent phase of canine social and behavioural development.

    It can be argued, if not demonstrated, that many positive dog training methods have an overall negative impact on the owner and dog relationship due to the promotion and tolerance of pushy and demanding canine behavior that should be modified into manners. Students will learn to recognise pushy and demanding behaviours and how to modify them by applying Canine Good Behaviour Shaping techniques that are practical and effective.

  7. No food rewards – our training method is much more effective!

    Positive and practical reward-based obedience training, behavior shaping and rehabilitaion methods that do not require the use of ineffective food rewards! On ACP courses students learn methods that build a genuine bond between the owner and dog based on trust and leadership, where the dogs pay attention when distracted and respond reliably to a conditioned Release command (reward). This is so easily demonstrated and the results are far superior in both consistency and reliability under distraction that could generally be achieved with methods reliant on food rewards.

    Far too many dog training methods have become over-reliant on food rewards, to a point where experts are now excluding dogs that aren't food motivated and are labeling puppies and dogs as 'abnormal' if they are anxious or aggressive and don't respond to simplistic food training techniques.

    Dogs learn reliable obedience and manners

    Above: These dogs have learned reliable obedience and manners (not running through an open gate even though they know they are going for a run and swim) without the need for food bribes. The dogs are more attentive without the need of a separate "focus" command. Food rewards, although popular and seemingly positive, cause more training and behavioural issues than they ever solve!

    The simple fact is, many, many dogs are not food motivated and even those that are happy to perform for treats still ignore the food (and owner… and even the expert) when they are distracted. This leads to excuses and limitations that affect the practicality and relevance of the methods being taught on dog trainer courses.

    Beware of courses promoting positive, food reward methods that don't demonstrate the short, mid and long-term effectiveness of their methods. Use the points put forward in this and other documents on Alpha's websites to ask course providers what sort of demonstrations you will see and what experience will you receive working different dogs with food reward methods.

    The following points take this concept further…

  8. Practice the techniques on your own dog and many others throughout the course, under helpful supervision

    Hands-on application and validation of theories and practice of methods whilst training your own dog (international students train a project dog) and many different dogs of varying age, breed and attitude. ACP believes that this hands-on experience is crucial to the understanding of how to apply methods out in the real world when working with real owners and their dogs! As students learn the new handling techniques, ACP teachers highlight the common experiences encountered when teaching dog owners and demonstrate how predictable dogs can be when applying balanced training methods.

    Handle and train dogs

    Above: Students on a short-intensive dog trainer course learning to handle and train dogs of varying breed, age and disposition.

    There is also the development of a crucial empathy that comes with learning the methods you will be teaching others. Understanding the challenges of handling different dogs will translate into better teaching of dog owners who will all have different learning challenges.

  9. The phases of canine learning – training a dog start to finish and what to expect when the owner takes over

    Real examples of many different dogs at varying stages of the learning process. This demonstrates the short, mid and long-term effectiveness and relevance of the methods being taught. This is a very important point about validation of theories and methods.

    • Many methods taught on dog trainer courses are promoted as being positive and effective, but can they show actual examples of positive outcomes?
    • Can your teachers show you dogs that have been fully trained or rehabilitated using the methods they teach you during the course?
    • Can they show you dogs at varying stages of training and rehabilitation, where you can actually recognise the theories and methods being taught on your course reflected in the dog's current level of obedience, manners and rehabilitation?

    Regardless of how many credentialed and experienced experts there are on a course presenting theories on training and behaviour, what evidence do they make available to students to actually prove their theories and methods are relevant and can produce positive outcomes?

    Alpha Canine Professional has, since 1996, been developing courses that demonstrate balanced and positive dog training methods that are consistent and recognisable at every stage of the learning and rehabilitation process. This helps new trainers to understand how the methods will track for owners and their dogs out in the real world after their course. It also adds valuable and realistic perspective to the common training and rehabilitation challenges that affect all owner and dog relationships.

    No other course provider in our industry offers these demonstrations and genuine insights into how the theories and methods taught will actually be useful after your course!

  10. Learn to read canine body language from working with real dogs – not from a book!

    Learning how to read and recognise canine body language first hand whilst working with real dogs in obedience training, good behaviour shaping (manners) and behavioural rehabilitation scenarios. This is the best way to learn how to read and interpret canine behaviour, as it occurs. More importantly, it teaches students how to carry themselves around dogs in a calm, reassuring and confident manner. How can you learn to recognise the finer points of canine body language if you don't work with many different dogs of varying age, breed and disposition?

    Learn to read and recognise canine body language

    Above: What am I thinking? This picture tells us nothing, we need to see how this dog reacts in different situations and how it responds to interactions and guidance (hands-on) from a skilled handler/trainer. How can you learn from photos or videos without actually applying the knowledge and skills on real dogs? During ACP courses you learn about canine body language from a hands-on perspective!

    By working with different dogs and experiencing first hand the action/reaction process that is constantly fluctuating between the handler and dog, students learn quickly that understanding canine body language goes way beyond clichéd pictures of dogs showing postural and facial signals. Reading a dog in the moment, from moment to moment, tracks the subtle fluctuations in intensity relating to mood and attitude as it changes. You can't experience this from photos or even film, it must be experienced hands-on with real dogs!

  11. A purpose-built training facility

    A purpose built training facility for educating dog owners and dog trainers that includes a boarding kennel, multimedia classroom, indoor behaviour shaping and training complex, undercover training arena & agility course, and a variety of specialised training areas that have been created to simulate different real-life environments and stimulate different reactions from the dogs. This allows ACP teachers to teach in a dynamic environment that helps students to understand how a dog's seemingly random responses or reactions to various situations and stimuli can be predicted and easily managed and shaped into positive outcomes with consistent and practical methods.

    Train dogs in different environments

    Above: Training dogs in different environments during the course helps students to understand how to apply the methods in a manner that is relevant to the challenges that will affect positive outcomes in the real world.

    Applying the methods in different environments is great preparation for working with owners and their dogs in real-life settings. Students will learn how consistency in all aspects of the training or rehabilitation process is vital to the positive outcome, regardless of the situation or environment they are working in. This is hands-on experience at its best and it genuinely validates the methods in a manner that they will be applied in the real world after the course!

  12. Use high level distraction to train dogs to listen in the real world

    Multiple distractions available for training and rehabilitation scenarios, including different people, chickens, sheep, ponies and a horse, cats and many different dogs of varying shape, size and attitude. We also have different motorised vehicles, motorised gardening equipment, power and air tools, and many other distractions ranging from dog toys to pushbikes.

    Multiple distractions

    Above: Training dogs under distraction – this student has her dog holding a Sit Step-away (stay) whilst a trainer and 4 well trained and behaved, off-lead dogs walk around them for added distraction. This pic was taken in the early days of a short-intensive dog trainer course.

    Distraction is a fact of life and it affects the way dogs learn and behave out in the real world. The methods taught by ACP have been developed in the real world, working with real owners and their dogs, and address the real issues that affect the learning process in a manner that takes advantage of the surrounding distractions to achieve positive outcomes in obedience, behaviour shaping and behavioural rehabilitation. No other course offers this reality in their teaching, or validates the methods to this level of effectiveness!

    Beware of courses that can't or won't provide hands-on experience applying their methods under distraction. Learning to work with different dogs under distraction prepares dog trainers for working with real owners and their real dogs in the real world!

  13. Off-lead dog training skills with your own dog and project dogs

    Training your own dog and project dogs to a standard where they listen and behave… off-lead. Dogs spend most of their lives off-lead, so it is important to learn methods that will help owners to have control in these situations if and when required. This is again where consistency of methods meets reality and it is the 'hands-on' experience gained from working with real dogs in off-lead scenarios, and in different environments, that helps students understand the importance of relevance and practicality when it comes to obedience training, behaviour shaping and rehabilitating canine behaviour.

    Drop Step-away in the distance

    Above: These students on a short-intensive dog trainer course are practicing a Drop Step-away in the back paddock – their dogs are way off in the distance. This is such an important exercise, for dog owners and trainers alike. On ACP courses we teach why this is the case and demonstrate how to achieve reliability under distraction with many different dogs.

    No other course in our industry offers these opportunities for students to validate the effectiveness and relevance of the methods being taught, and how to use them in real-life scenarios. As a result, Alpha Canine Professional students walk away with a tangible experience base that will translate into skills and knowledge that can be used when offering genuine help to dog owners.

  14. See multiple dog related businesses in action

    Learning in the surrounds of a working boarding establishment and dog training environment where a culture of genuine customer service and Alpha's professional standards of 'Leading By Example' are constantly on display. You will meet many professional dog trainers (and their well trained and behaved dogs) who will gladly discuss anything to do with the training methods, customer service and their hands-on experiences applying the very methods being taught on your course.

    The Alpha Canine Group

    Students will be exposed to Alpha's boarding business, various training businesses and canine companion dog program. It is this insight into the application of ACP's methods that adds a unique depth and reality to working with real owners and their dogs in the real world. No other course offers opportunities to see active and successful businesses in motion on a day-to-day basis and the discussions that arise from this experience are insightful and incredibly useful to new dog trainers.

  15. Ongoing support and advice – we’re here to help you!

    Ongoing support and advice (post course) is only a phone call away, and there is also the option of video uploads to a dedicated website where ACP trainers can assess a particular dog's behaviour from another viewpoint. Our professional staff are all experienced in applying the methods you learn on your course and they have exceptional skills in customer service and relations. Dog trainers never stop learning and there will be some occasions, particularly when you start out, where questions will arise on how best to proceed – we are here to help.

    Alpha Canine Professional also offers an advanced trainer course for graduates that have been out in the real world for at least 12 months. The advanced course builds on the real-world experiences of having worked with clients after the initial trainer course and also introduces more in-depth applications of the methods. There is also extra hands-on training of puppies in both obedience and good behaviour shaping.

    In 2014 ACP will be offering supervised handling sessions with different dogs for graduates of the professional dog trainer courses. In these sessions an ACP professional trainer will work with you and discuss training and behavioural strategies and answer any questions you may have about the dogs you are handling or dogs you have been working with in your business.

    Graduates from Alpha Canine Professional

    Above: Graduates from the Alpha Canine Professional July 2013 Short Intensive Dog Trainer Course.

There is a common theme running though the points listed above about Alpha Canine Professional's dog trainer courses…

Hands-on experience and validation
of the theories and methods being taught!

Alpha Canine Professional can confidently offer this experience because the methods we teach are actively used by dog trainers in the real world to achieve consistent and positive outcomes for their clients.

Use the points listed above to ask questions of other course providers. If they don't offer hands-on experience on their courses, assess the answers given as to why providing hands-on experience and validation of methods during their course, with your own dog and many different dogs, is not important to your ongoing experience as a dog trainer.

Measure the value of a dog trainer course by what it can show you, by how much hands-on experience it can give you, by the genuine opportunities provided to validate the theories and methods being taught.

Assess all positive dog training methods by demonstrations of the positive outcome, not the positive theories that can't be demonstrated to be relevant to real dogs with the real (common) problems that you will encounter after your course when working with real owners and their very real dogs!

Alpha Canine Professional takes dog trainer education to new levels of practicality and relevance by teaching positive and balanced methods that actually work!

Testimonials from former ACP students can be found at: