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The Science of Training 

Scientific Evidence Based R+ Training for the Modern World

What does it take to raise our dogs into happy, confident, well-adjusted companions and teach them how to successfully navigate our crazy human world? Training seems like a relatively simple concept; "Reward good behavior". But training is more than a concept. The behavioral sciences are a full scientific discipline of their own. Training can quickly become overwhelming without a knowledgeable and experienced behavior professional to coach you through mistakes and common misconceptions. But HOW we teach them matters as much as what we teach them. My goal is to create a learning environment that is empowering and accessible for every dog and human. 

When we look beyond the conventional idea of “obedience” and instead focus on teaching our dogs life skills they need to live successfully alongside us, give them opportunities to engage in natural behaviors, and provide them with the ability to make choices, we help create happy and well-adjusted companions.


MODERN R+ training relies on a behavioral science based, force free approach to teaching dogs without the use of force or coercion. 

This means using humane behavior modification techniques to teach dogs what we want them to do, addressing the root cause of behavior rather than relying on temporary behavior suppression through aversive techniques and tools, and managing the environment so that problem behaviors aren’t practiced and desirable behaviors are easily achieved.

Teaching dogs by learning how to properly motivate them and reinforcing behaviors we want is effective, humane, and leads to better relationships between dogs and their people. This is true for all dogs, regardless of breed, age, size, or temperament. By giving our companions dignity in choice, we create an environment where they look up to you as a true LEADER of the pack and not just a "boss" they listen to because "you said so". Ironically, this non-controlling mindset results in far more consistent cooperative behavior than one based on force and coersion. Obedience is simply the by-product of respect, trust, and effective communication between dog and human. 

American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior


“The use of dominance theory to understand human-animal interactions leads to an antagonistic relationship between owners and their pets…AVSAB emphasizes that animal training, behavior prevention strategies, and behavior modification programs should follow the scientifically based guidelines of positive reinforcement, operant conditioning, classical conditioning, desensitization, and counter conditioning.”

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“Based on current scientific evidence, AVSAB recommends that only reward-based training methods are used for all dog training, including the treatment of behavior problems. Aversive training methods have a damaging effect on both animal welfare and the human-animal bond. There is no evidence that aversive methods are more effective than reward-based methods in any context. AVSAB therefore advises that aversive methods should not be used in animal training or for the treatment of behavior disorders.”

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“AVSAB endorses training methods which allow animals to work for things (e.g., food, play, affection) that motivate them rather than techniques that focus on using fear or pain to punish them for undesirable behaviors. Look for a trainer who uses primarily or only reward-based training with treats, toys, and play.”

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"AVSAB believes that it should be the standard of care for puppies to receive such socialization before they are properly vaccinated." 

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Innovative Training through Game Play! 

Why shouldn't learning be fun? We are so conditioned to think that training "obedience" looks as it sounds. Boring. Stern, Strict, Restrictive, Unimaginative. But what if I told you the opposite was true? What if I told you that you could gain obedience of the highest level by teaching in such a way that made it fun for your dog? That by giving your dog a choice to voluntarily offer obedience, you would have a much more consistently obedient dog regardless of age, breed, sex, or background? Would you be interested in learning this groundbreaking way to interact with and train your dog? 

Best Buddies
Cute Happy Dog
Dog Friends


"Scientists have recently determined that it takes approximately 400 repetitions to create a new synapse in the brain - unless it is done with play, in which case, it takes between 10 to 20 repetitions!"

 -Dr. Karyn Purvis  

Did you know that play enhances learning to an astonishing degree? Dogs (and humans) love an experience! This is where training through game play comes into...well, play! 

A young dog’s life revolves around game play. That’s how they learn how to get the things they want to get; whether that be your attention, the ball, the treat, or the squirrel! 


We typically see many dog owners struggle with competing for attention from their dog when in the presence of a novel stimulus. Dogs that won't come when called or respond to cues given while distracted. Can we really blame them? 


Most of us haven't learned how to make training FUN for the DOG. Sure, it can be a positive experience with some mouthwatering treats to bribe them. But "positive" doesn't necessarily equate FUN. When push comes to shove, without proper training and motivation, there will always be something out there that your dog finds more interesting than the status quo that you have been offering. 


What teaching through GAME PLAY accomplishes is that it effectively turns interacting with us into the MOST enriching stimulus in our doggo's periphery. More so than that cat or chicken in the background! And the results are life changing. I will teach you how to pair game play with the principles of operant conditioning in order to achieve engagement with your dog like you've always dreamed of.

Teaching through game play doesn't require any special tools, toys, treats, or tricks. And anyone with proper coaching can become great at it. The only requirement is a willingness to learn, get creative and play! 

So what are you waiting for?

Let's Play! 

Not your average dog trainer!

Crystina has a formal education in the behavioral sciences; graduating on the dean's list. Having over 12 years of professional animal behavior management experience working with and training over 130+ species of animals; she has worked with exotic animals, wild animals, and domesticated animals -- from large felids and canines, birds of prey, and reptiles, to primates, equines, sharks and cetaceans. She grew up around animals; learning how to ride horses at an early age and has been working at doggy day cares and animal shelters since 1998.


You would be surprised to learn how much the dog training industry has learned from the professional exotic animal training industry. We are the innovators of cooperative and interactive training vs the old school methodology of coercion. New school training ideology centers around the basis that 'consent is not just for humans'! The domesticated animal training industry has been following this lead, slowly changing as modern trainers taking over the field. 


Crystina is devoted to educating the general public on humane, force free interactions with all animals. Creating a better understanding of our natural world leads to greater stewardship of it. She spends what time she can spare working with rescues and lower income families. 


What separates our work from that of all the other science-based practitioners (e.g., biologists, zoologists, ethologists) is that we work at the individual level of analysis. We are the champions of the study of one, who custom fit the universal laws of behavior to each individual learner.

In sum, what's wrong is not the Humane Hierarchy-either version. It is, in fact, what's wrong with all hierarchies, including Maslow's famous "Hierarchy of Needs"-hierarchies are too often misconstrued as recipes when in fact they are guidelines. To use the hierarchy as intended requires judgment calls, a nuanced understanding of behavior change, and a giant step out of the cultural fog.

There can be no one-size-fits-all prescription, but there can be general considerations that inform, sensitize and improve our implementation and dissemination of best training practices, which are themselves evolving. 


                                                                                                                                     -Susan Friedman


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