Kaye is one of Australia’s foremost behavioural dog trainers who specialises in training difficult dogs with the use of positive reinforcement. She is the author of many books about training and behaviour, as well as a huge number of articles which are made available on-line to people who register for courses.
Kaye established her business Wagging School in 1989, offering “practical training in your own home”, tailored to the pet owner’s individual needs – a departure from the standard large group, route marching, formal and correction-based Obedience Club training of the day. She was a pioneer in running puppy classes, long before vet clinics were offering them. After attending seminars, workshops, courses and conferences in the US in 1993, she brought many new ideas to Australia. She was the first dog trainer in Melbourne to work from her own indoor premises, doing individual consultations and small group classes, as well as continuing in-home consultations, especially for dealing with behaviour problems. She developed a unique style and format for her group classes, putting Dr Ian Dunbar’s saying (“if you can’t sit down and train a dog with a drink in your hand, you’re using the wrong training methods”) into practice.
Kaye was also one of the early adopters of reward-based training methods (positive reinforcement). She is a past President of the Positive Animal Trainers’ Society (PATS Vic). She has developed and presented many seminars for instructors, hobby trainers and advanced handlers and participated in the running of PATS seminars on positive reinforcement, clicker training, lure-reward training and tricks training.
She integrated this with her own development of “Leadership Exercises” – rejecting the “show the dog who’s boss” approach (which has been used as an excuse for harsh and and oppressive treatment) in favour of teaching dog owners to establish humane and sensible boundaries and practical good manners for their dogs, reducing stress for dogs and people alike.
Kaye has had many dogs – Delta, Rock, Stackpole, River, Valley, Elgar, Nicholas…
Currently, she has Chance, her fourth German Shepherd (the great-grand-daughter of Valley), high prey drive, 9 and a 1/2 years old and almost out of the puppy stage.
What people have said about Kaye:
“I had the pleasure of meeting iconic dog trainer Kaye Hargreaves.”
“Today Kaye came over to meet my dog Pepe. It was mainly for a chat but she spent a few minutes getting Pepe to do a sit at a distance. It was fabulous watching Kaye work as she only rewarded the behaviour she really wanted (a slow response or a half sit wasn’t good enough). But the most interesting thing was watching Kaye reward Pepe when she did get it right – the timing was impeccable. With the right timing Pepe learnt quickly what we wanted her to do. Pepe also loved it. I hope I have the opportunity to learn a few more tricks from Kaye.” (Dr Aish Ryan, Vets At Home)
“From what I’ve heard, you walk on water.” (Dr Robert Holmes, Animal Behaviour Clinics)
“Kaye is the best dog trainer in Australia.” (Anita Goulding, ex-Delta employee and ex AQIS dog handler).
A bit of history and philosophy…
Positive or reward-based training is not just a matter of using food to do the same old things that dog training schools have been doing for decades. Traditional obedience training was based on the methods introduced by Col. Konrad Most to the Prussian Army in the First World War to prepare dogs to work on the battlefield. The methods were designed for specialised working dogs of selected breeds with very “hard” temperaments. It was regimented, formal and harsh. These methods were introduced into the US after the Second World War. In its worst form, dogs and their handlers are route-marched around like soldiers on parade, with commands being shouted by instructors who sound more like regimental sergeant majors than teachers. Spit and polish was valued more than practical control. These features have been watered down to some extent, but even today, clubs seem unsure about what to keep and what to change.
If you look at police or military dog training, they might be “barking out” commands and they might seem to be very disciplined in their obedience training, but look at what else they do – they always include some agility or obstacles, for fun and confidence-building, some retrieving and they combine control training with activities that the dogs really like, such as protection training – getting the bad guys – so there’s a lot of fun and stimulation as well as just control.They don’t do much boring heeling, because they don’t care initially whether or not the dog pulls on lead. After the dog gets into the routine of training actively, he settles down enough not to want to pull on the lead anyway. Traditional “correction and praise” obedience clubs just try to teach control without the intrinsically rewarding activities of obstacles, searching, and protection.
This dog (above) doesn’t need to be on lead – he is fully engaged in activities. Protection training is not suitable for modern pets, but we need to make motivational activities part and parcel of our training programs. Control alone is not enough.
The increasing importance of family pets as companion animals is relatively recent. Dogs now have a different role, people keep them for companionship and as part of the family. All imaginable breeds are found, and temperaments vary widely, with the majority being softer and more sensitive than the guard dogs and working breeds of the past. We are aware now that dogs can suffer from stress and anxiety at home, when taken out for walks or to the park and in training. Behaviour that was considered normal for dogs in the past – such as barking, digging, being destructive, jumping up, biting, fighting, chasing the postman, killing cats, roaming the neighbourhood, chasing cars and bikes and seeing off intruders – is no longer acceptable.
This requires us to:
- develop a whole new way of managing our dogs,
- channel our dogs’ energies into socially acceptable recreational activities,
- use a new, gentler method of training, and
- introduce a new set of training goals which are relevant to the daily lives, lifestyles and needs of today’s people and their pets.
This means changing the approach of dog training schools and clubs, and updating the skills of instructors.
This is where I come in.