About The Dog Trainer

Dog & puppy training and dog sitting in Santa Cruz County designed to fit your needs!

In 2003, Vicki was introduced to Rat Terrier puppies for the first time. At the time, she had been dog walking and sitting for over 20 years, and she immediately loved these happy-go-lucky earth dogs. And that was what started her on the path to becoming a modern-method dog trainer.

Vicki with AugieAfter acquiring her first Ratter in 2005, Augustino (Augie), she decided to further pursue her passion for dog training by participating in and/or assisting, numerous Puppy Socials and Puppy classes with various trainers. Vicki is now an alumni and graduate of Marin Humane Society Canine Behavior Academy (CBA 1 & 2) and is a dogTEC Dog Walking Academy Certified Dog Walker (CDW). She is a Pet Care Services Association Certified Pet Care Technician and also holds Pet First Aid and CPR certification.

Additionally, Vicki has attended workshops and seminars by world-renown trainers the likes of Pat Miller, Trish King, Veronica Boutelle, Susan Hetts, Pat Miller, Victoria Stilwell, Nicole Wilde and Jean Donaldson. Vicki continues her education in the field of animal learning and canine behavior by regularly attending seminars, workshops and conferences.

cat laying bag

Vicki is a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT), an organization which provides networking opportunities and continuing education for professional animal trainers committed to using humane behavioral science based training.

Training Philosophy

Our Values
jumping puppyAt Augie and friends: Dog Training and Dog Walking, we subscribe to the Code of Ethics of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) and the ethical standards of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC). Specifically, we pledge to treat all of our clients and dogs with respect, to employ only positive motivational training methods, and to provide for the safety of all dogs and people with whom we work.

Training Methods

  • Dogs repeat what they are rewarded for!!
  • Dogs make associations!
  • Dogs communicate with their bodies!
  • Dogs’ behavior gets stronger with practice!

All training at Augie and Friends: Dog Training and Dog Walking is “dog-friendly.” Our methods are based on behavioral science. The APDT defines “dog-friendly” training as “training that utilizes primarily positive reinforcement; secondarily negative punishment (like time-outs), and only occasionally, rarely, and/or as a last resort includes positive punishment and/or negative reinforcement.” Translated into everyday language, this statement means that we train by relying on dogs natural tendency to seek rewards for their behavior.

The psychologist B. F. Skinner discovered that animals learn by repeating behaviors that are rewarded. He called this “operant conditioning.” We say, “Animals will repeat what they are rewarded for!” We train dogs to do the things we want by using positive rewards (tiny food treats/pets/praise/brief play sessions) to reinforce their actions. We don’t punish or ‘correct’ dogs using “positive punishment” and “negative reinforcement” devices such as choke, pinch or electronic collars. Rather, we strengthen the behavior we want and if the dog engages in an unwanted behavior we use “negative punishment:” withholding of a reward, or a gentle reminder to get the appropriate behavior.

Another scientist, Ivan Pavlov, found that dogs have emotional reactions to events in their worlds. These can be either positive or negative for the dog. Pavlov’s principle is called “classical conditioning” and is what underlies many of the fears that dogs experience. In our training, we say, “Dogs make associations.” So we help our dogs become well-adjusted family members by making pleasant connections with people, places, objects and events.

Dogs, unlike people, rely mostly on their bodies to communicate with one another. You have seen your dog “play bow,” by stretching forward on his front legs, saying “I’m friendly!” In teaching our dogs to perform behaviors such as “sit” or “down” we first use hand signals to communicate with the dogs in their native language, and later add human words as cues. We find that dogs learn more quickly when we talk to them in their own language.

Dogs need to learn first in low-distraction environments such as your home before they can perform in more challenging environments. So we provide you with concise instructions for “proofing” your dog’s performance so that you will be able to take her into the world with confidence.