To achieve the level of performance and functionality that CPI is known for requires a unique approach. It begins with our philosophy and understanding of dog behavior as well as our understanding of what our clients need when it comes to performance.
Before going into specifics about our training, first something to contrast with the work we do at CPI.
European dog sports are very popular, and not just in Europe. Most of the dogs our clients send to us for training are European imports. The majority of these dogs have been trained in one of Europe’s many dog sports, which include Schutzhund and Ring Sports. Likewise, the dogs we purchase in Europe to sell also have been trained in European dog sports.
For more on European dog sports, go to the “About Us” tab and see “Background.”
Most trainers in our field provide some form of European sport training as preparation for what they consider to be functional obedience and protection. Most of our staff appreciate European dog sports. We also understand the behaviors exhibited in dog sports, while interesting and impressive to watch, are limited to the sport arena. The training we do at CPI is not sport training.
We want the precision usually found in the sport of Schutzhund, but with functionality. We want the advanced control found in Ring Sports, but functional in everyday life. Of course we want viable protection like that found in the best of European K9 law enforcement. There too we want it with greater control and with the functionality of our Advanced Handler Protection™ exercises. And we want the dogs we work with to be as highly motivated as possible, but we don’t want that motivation to be dependent on toys and food as is common with many sport dogs.
As dogs are naturally very dependent on an owner’s or trainer’s tone of voice and even physical location for performance, we need our dogs to perform with commands said once in a normal tone regardless of the situation. Likewise, dogs are naturally very dependent on physiology. The dogs we work with must perform without their owners needing to mimic a Schutzhund or Ring Sport enthusiast, although it would provide entertainment for anyone watching you walk your dog down the street!
It all adds up to a lot of training. That’s on top of the enormous amount of training the dogs we sell have had while being trained in Europe for dog sports. For dogs sent to us without the benefit of prior sport training, there’s even more training needed! We therefore invest greatly in a talented staff of senior trainers, trainers and aspiring apprentice trainers, in order to provide the one-on-one attention needed to progress through our comprehensive programs.
Our philosophy is really best described with the Buddhist teaching of “compassion to all sentient beings.” Dogs, like people, experience life in a very real and personal way. Their awareness may be different than ours. Their experience of life may be simpler than ours. Nonetheless, it’s a genuine personal experience.
As trainers, we are inspired by this awareness to train resourcefully. Our training techniques not only need to be in line with correct behavioral principles and produce a high level of functional results. Our approach and techniques must add to a dog’s personal experience of today, which means their experience of us and the work we are doing right now in this moment and the next and the ones that follow.
We’ll admit, it does sound very Zen or Buddhist. To date none of us at CPI are Buddhist. What we are is aware of the potential for becoming desensitized, becoming more passionate about dog training than about the dog, and the risk of viewing dogs almost as objects: “Things” to train, to finish, to teach, to take out, to feed. Awareness of each dog’s personal experience not only is important to us out of compassion; the immediate and continual feedback between us and the dog we are working with provides far clearer communication, and in turn far greater results.
The second choice to make is the caliber of dog. The higher the caliber of dog, the greater the dog’s ability to manage a threatening situation. This can be likened to the difference in ability of the average member of the military versus someone selected for U. S. Special Forces or U. S. Navy S.E.A.L.S.
From an investment standpoint, the greater the dog’s natural ability the higher the price.
Our training program utilizes positive motivation for teaching in order to insure the dogs we work with are completely open and receptive to learning.
Once new behaviors are created, we use a unique approach of molding behavior rather than the more traditional use of corrections to create habits. Our approach enables us to create long-term performance in a fraction of the time needed when using more traditional “carrot and stick” training.
Then, performance is insured through the last phase of our training process, using contrast to ensure reliability. It is during this third phase, when the high level of performance for which CPI is known has already been achieved, that we introduce consequences.
In a choice of performing behaviors (commands and exercises) that are already habit, which bring great pleasure and satisfaction in performing them, or a correction for disobeying, the choice is an easy one. These innovations result in a free-spirited dog who reliably obeys and enjoys doing so.
For us, functional protection means many things. It starts as the ability to “turn on” (show aggression) in real life situations, and the willingness to follow through and bite if instructed.
It gets challenging right away. Does a dog “turn on” only to an aggressive threat, or will he or she “turn on” to a passive threat. There begins the CPI difference. It moves quickly from an issue of “turning on” to what happens if someone begins to fight your dog — something we know criminals commonly do when apprehended by K9 law enforcement.
Then, to what extent does your dog fight, and for what period of time? Without advanced fighting skills, even a strong dog easily can be defeated. Once a protection dog is defeated, the threat turns back toward the original target: you. For this reason we offer basic fighting skills within our Executive Protection dog program and advanced skills within our Elite Family and Estate Protection Dog program. (See additional information on our Training Methods and Techniques page.)
Then comes the issue of utilizing your dog in a crisis. For most people, the common example is a home invasion, scenarios in which can run the gamut from middle of the night to broad daylight; breaking in silently or kicking down the door.
Probably one of the most the most common, and challenging to defend against, is the crime of opportunity in search for a soft target. That usually means being attacked from behind, or from around a corner, when getting out of your car in your garage or driveway. The traditional way of turning a dog on is unlikely to work in this type of crisis. We have developed more resourceful ways to utilize a protection dog, and especially in a crisis such as this one. Our Advanced Handler Protection Exercises such as the “Secure” provide the highest level of protection should you need viable protection. (See additional information on our Training Methods page.)