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about sidekick dog training

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approach to training

My approach to training can be summed up in one phrase (motto, tagline, or mission - whatever you want to call it):

Better training through better relationships.

That's the short version, anyway. The long version? My approach to training keeps the following four principles in mind - whether I'm working with my own SideKick, I'm working with your SideKick, or I'm helping you work with your SideKick!

Humane, Force-Free & Reward-Based methods are the way to go.

I do not condone or use methods that inflict physical or psychological pain on the learner (whether that is the dog or the human learner); instead I use science-based, force-free, humane, and reward-based methods that are not only more effective than outdated alternatives, but also strengthen the bond we have with our dogs. I'm consistently on the hunt for books, webinars, seminars, and conferences that will teach me how to be a better teacher to my our furry SideKicks and my human clients with the latest, most effective, science-based techniques.

Give your dog choices.

This may sound like a crazy suggestion, but hear me out. I'm not suggesting we let our dogs run wild and do anything and everything they want; but, as it is, we control so much in our dogs’ lives: when they eat, how much they eat, when they go for walks or outside to play, etc. Having some control and choices can greatly enhance your dog’s quality of life. Force-free, reward-based training methods allow you to offer your dog a variety of safe choices that work for them (gets them what they want) and that work for you! These methods empower your dog to be part of the learning process and help to breed a relationship of mutual trust and respect.

Dogs are gonna dog.

This may seem obvious, but dogs chase things; they lick their butts; they eat random things they find (whether or not it's food). Dogs have a lot of natural behaviors that don't always jive with what is socially acceptable in the human world. Taking the time to understand your dog - dog behavior, what motivates them in a variety of situations, and how to work with their natural behaviors - will make it easier to communicate with your dog, help them navigate the rules of the human world, and build a solid relationship with your dog. Simply put, dogs do dog things and we can't expect them to know otherwise until we take the time to teach them alternatives that are better for them and for us. 

Have fun!

Learning is more effective when it's fun! Just like we play games with kids, making training and learning fun for your SideKick keeps them (and you!) more engaged; it's easier to pick up new things - and to remember them later on; and your SideKick will be more excited to come back for more!

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SideKick Dog Training Milwaukee
Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT)

Established in 2001, CCPDT "is the leading independent certifying organization for the dog training profession. The CCPDT is the leader in the development of rigorous exams to demonstrate mastery of humane, science-based dog training practices." The CCPDT is interested in playing a big role in the continued professionalization of the dog training field, which is currently unregulated.

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Fear Free

Fear Free's mission "is to prevent and alleviate fear, anxiety & stress in pets by inspiring and educating the people who care for them."

"By collaborating with and complementing the veterinary team’s efforts, the trainer can better provide preventive services and partner with the veterinary team to address training and behavior concerns, working from a whole health concept and with the oversight of the pet’s vet."

Force Free Trainers of Wisconsin (FFTW)

"The Force Free Trainers of Wisconsin (FFTW) is a membership group of professional, active trainers and veterinary professionals with an interest in behavior advocating for the physical, emotional and environmental well being of companion animals. The FFTW is dedicated to training methods and techniques that focus on teaching animals by rewarding desired behaviors and exclude the intentional use of physical or psychological intimidation."

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Pet Professional Guild

"The Pet Professional Guild is a membership organization representing pet industry professionals who are committed to results based, science based force-free training and pet care.  Pet Professional Guild Members Understand Force-Free to mean: No Shock, No Pain, No Choke, No Fear, No Physical Force, and No Compulsion Based Methods are ever employed to train or care for a pet."

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Fig & Tyler Pet Pro Program

"We created Fig & Tyler for pet parents who, like us, were overwhelmed by the vast number of treat choices. We were looking for something healthy and made from recognizable ingredients, which was not always easy to find. This is why we chose to offer pet treats made from 100% meat and fish. We only use fresh meat and fish from right here in the USA and all of our meat is USDA-inspected."

Use discount code JP0790 to get 10% off your first order of treats!

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Jenn was interviewed and mentioned in the Fall 2016 edition of FETCH Magazine!

See page 18 for the article ("TO THE RESCUE: Why Do Some Dogs Save Lives & Others Don't?") and my thoughts!

Jenn was chosen as a guest blogger for the Petmasters Blog in May of 2017!

The blog post, "Dog Parks: To Go or Not to Go?," was originally published on the SKDT Blog.

Teacher's Pet Training Academy, LLC wrote a blog post in January 2019 that included Winter safety tips and activities during the bitter cold. In this post, Jenn's blog post about Kong stuffing ideas was mentioned for ideas to spice up your Kong recipes!

The blog post, "Peanut Butter: The King of the Kong...or is it?," was originally published to the SKDT Blog in January of 2019.

Jenn and Leann are members of Force Free Trainers of Wisconsin (FFTW); a group of us from FFTW had the opportunity to talk dogs, training, and force free fun on Fox 6 News in August of 2019!

In one of the segments, included in the article "Force Free Trainers of Wisconsin embrace a paws-off approach to training your dog," Jenn had the opportunity to introduce a couple fun Recall Games! Check it out!

SideKick Dog Training was mentioned in the 2022 Holiday Gift Guide put together by Unleashed with Love! A number of other pet businesses from the Southeastern Wisconsin area were mentioned, as well, as gift ideas for someone special in your life!

SideKick Dog Training Milwaukee
SideKick Dog Training | Private Dog Training Milwaukee WI
SideKick Dog Training Milwaukee
SideKick Dog Training Milwaukee
SideKick Dog Training Milwaukee
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"I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better."
- Maya Angelou

At SideKick Dog Training, we know and believe there is always more to learn in life and in our crafts! Not only is it fun, but learning more and keeping up with the latest research allows us to offer the very best, science-backed training and information to you and your SideKick. Below is a list of the conferences, seminars, and webinars we've attended / completed:
  • How did you choose the name "SideKick Dog Training" chosen?"
    The short answer is that I wanted a business name that reflected a focus on the relationship between dogs and their guardians: Our dogs are there for us when we need a shoulder to cry on, a friendly face to greet us, a smooch to brighten our day, and, well, a SideKick to help us out.
  • Where did you get certified?
    Jennifer Prill received her dog training certification through Animal Behavior College (ABC). I believe learning never ends, though! I'm always reading up on all things dog, attending seminars, workshops and conventions, and consulting with dog training peers. Visit the Education page to see what I've been up to!
  • Where does the training take place?
    All training session - Private Training or the Intro to Training course - are conveniently in-home; I'll visit you and your SideKick in the comfort of your own home for all scheduled training!
  • How far are you willing to travel for clients?
    I visit clients throughout the Southeastern Wisconsin area: Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington, Walworth, and Racine counties. For clients more than 25 miles from SideKick Dog Training's home base (Whitefish Bay), there may be a transportation fee.
  • How much does training cost through SideKick Dog Training?
    The cost of training depends on what kind of training you're looking for: Private Training or the Intro to Training course.​ Private Training is ideal for dogs and dog guardians who need a little help working on some undesirable behaviors. At it's most basic, Private Training consists of an Initial Session (90 minute training session for $115.00) and Follow-Up Sessions (60 minute training session for $75.00). Check out the Private Training page to learn more! Private Training packages are also available upon request or if I feel that more than a 90 minute Private Training session is needed to accomplish your training goals. Contact SideKick Dog Training for a quote! Intro to Training is advertised as a puppy course (but can be modified for adult dogs); it's a course for learning the basics of training and (as the name suggests) getting a good introduction to training and building a relationship with your SideKick. Intro to Training consists of four 60 minute sessions (for $300.00). Check out the Intro to Training page for more details!
  • What breeds will you work with at SideKick Dog Training?
    I love all dogs at SideKick Dog Training and I'll work with any breed of dog - big or small, short or tall, long-haired or short-haired. Breed is not a factor for me!
  • What age does a dog need to be to work with you at SideKick Dog Training?
    I've worked with puppies and with SideKicks who have been around a little longer. All dogs, regardless of age, are capable of learning; but, like us when we get older, we sometimes need a little more time to grease the mental wheels - that's all!
  • What training equipment do you use or recommend I use with my dog?
    At SideKick Dog Training, I use and recommend front-clip body harnesses, flat leashes of varying lengths, and a clicker (as a marking tool). Not sure what those are? Ask! I'm happy to answer any questions!
  • Is there any training equipment that you don't use or recommend to clients?
    We do not use or recommend the use of punishment-based training tools or tools that are designed to cause a dog pain or discomfort or restrict essential bodily functions. This includes prong/pinch collars, choke chains, spray collars or electric/shock collars. I've signed the pledge to help eliminate electric shock in training, care, and management of pets by joining the Shock Free Coalition.
  • Your website mentions positive reinforcement a lot; what exactly is that?
    You're in luck! I wrote a post for the SKDT Blog that describes what positive reinforcement is! But, in a nutshell, positive reinforcement means we give our SideKick something they want when we see things we like - and get a lot more of it! For example, giving Fido a tasty, delicious treat every time his butt touches the floor for a Sit means he's probably going to offer us a Sit more often!
  • So, you use positive reinforcement training; do you use punishment at all?"
    Punishment, in the arena of science that concerns learning, refers to behavior decreasing because of the consequence for the behavior. Positive punishment means that a behavior decreased because the consequence was unpleasant; for example, a prong collar or choke collar tightens painfully (consequence) for pulling on the leash. ​Negative punishment, on the other hand, means a behavior decreased because a pleasant consequence (or the opportunity for the pleasant consequence) was removed; for example, forward motion during a walk halts (consequence) when a dog pulls toward a tree. To answer the question, yes, I use negative punishment for a limited number of behaviors.
  • What happens when a dog you're training with does what you want?
    In my dog training sessions, good things happen when a dog does what we ask them to do! The "good things" can be anything the dog likes: treats, praise, toys, attention, petting, anything! Giving a dog something they like for doing something specific increases the chances that they'll try doing it again; that's positive reinforcement at it's finest!
  • What happens when a dog you are training with does not respond the way you want them to?
    When a dog does something unexpected or does not do what I ask, I generally ignore the behavior; giving it attention could easily be rewarding the dog for the behavior. This doesn't mean that we let a dog run wild during our training session; instead, it means I redirect the behavior - like give a mouthy dog a toy to chew on instead of my hands or clothes. I also help clients teach an alternative behavior that we can ask for instead of the undesirable behavior. Teaching a dog that sitting is really rewarding makes it less likely that we'll see jumping, for instance!
  • How do you know if the rewards I'm using with my dog are the right ones?
    The "right" rewards or reinforcement for your SideKick are decided by several factors: what your dog likes, what will motivate your dog, and what behavior we're working on! I always like to say that your SideKick chooses the rewards; that's because, if they don't like what you're offering, they may not want to work with you, which means neither of you learn much from that training session (except that you need better rewards).
  • Do you guarantee results if I hire you and SideKick Dog Training for me and my dog?
    The short answer is no; I don't guarantee that your dog will respond to training. There are simply too many factors that go into successful training - and many of them I can't control. Instead, at SideKick Dog Training, we guarantee that I am here for you and your dog every step of the way in your training journey: I will provide you with the tools to work with your dog, provide detailed instructions to help you reach your goals, and be available for any and all questions you have before, during, and after training!
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