Dog Training Philosophy

First we tach the dog- than we train it!
That is the true difference that makes Zauberberg K9 so succesful, producing better- and happier results.
Our YouTube Channel shares mostly the dog training process– and some end results. The recordings give you the best impression of how we train and what our results are with different breeds and different ages of dogs. Over 600 videos of sharing knowledge and technique for free!


Where it all starts:
Creating a relationship with the dog.

Forming a great relationship between owner and dog is the most important thing to do before trying to establish any kind of communication. A good relationship means to know and like each other! Relationships will help the dog to recognize that the owner is an important source of information to him.
Another reason for having a great relationship for real training is that it makes for a high desire to solve bigger problems.
Here is a real example:
I had a great relationship with my wife of 18 years (nope not divorced after 18 years- she passed away)
We never fought or head a heavy argument, but she would tell me on an annual basis : “Andreas, you are the biggest asshole I ever met”
That created a problem for me. Who wants to listen to a statement like this?
I always tried to figure it out. Why/how can she say that to me? What can I do to not hear this ever again? – Because we had a great relationship!
Just imagine, she would have said that on our first date? – The next eighteen years would have never happend!
The same applies to your dog. The better the relationship-the more he will be motivated to figure out how to solve a challenge. He will not run away or give up trying!
Forming a relationship with your dog, means that he needs to experience that all good things are coming from you! – only from you!

Creating the Dog Training environment

Creating a dog training environment is the second step after a relationship is created.

Once the relationship has been established, it is very helpful to have a location that sets the training mode. Besides the trainer now being a source of good things and information, the  trainer should establish a place that is also connected with the hope that good things are happening here.

The trainer takes the dog to the location ( a specific room for example) and let’s the dog familiarize itself with the environment. He can sniff  or look around all he wants. Thus it helps to possibly have a room that is fairly plain, or that the dog is already very familiar with. So his curiosity about his surroundings is not overwhelming. He of course should not necessarily encounter scary objects.

Once he is familiarized with the surroundings, good things should happen. It is very helpful to provide his daily meal in that location. Or take him to the prospective training room and play with him. It will be used in actual training later on. The environment is created similar to a classroom for children at school. Others might argue that we want the dog to perform behaviors in all environments under any distraction, and therefore the thought of  training location is not serving the purpose of reaching the final goal. Comparing it with Andreas’ first day at school 50-some years ago, the process being successful for centuries
I remember my first day at school:
It was a great meet and greet with teachers, other kids and their parents. In Germany it is tradition that kids on the first day at school are given a cone shaped canister, that was filled with small toys and candy! What a first impression that was, going to school for the first time! I was introduced to the very classroom where everything was going to take place. We met the very teacher that gave our lessons for the first three years as well. Yes it was a specific room, with a specific teacher, even labeled at the door- 1B. That was the index for my group, my class. Everything happened on a schedule in that very room for the first three years. Then, as we advanced,  it all scattered all over the school, different rooms, different teachers and so on….

And remember how we are taught to write? First in the same book, same line, one letter at a time, over and over. Then the next one. Writing lower case, upper case. Until I had the hang of it and letters were combined into words, then sentences!

Apply those principles to your dog training, by creating the environment. Once the dog is able to function by those principles reliably within the training environment, you will be ready to take the show on the road very carefully, by changing the environment gradually, not overextending your demands and expectations!


Accustom your dog to equipment being used- and liking it

It is absolutely necessary to get the dog accustomed to the equipment we are planning on using during training. He should not be afraid or estranged by having the leash drag behind him, wearing a collar or different kind than the regular one (remote- prong- collar, harness, retractable leashes). He should be accustomed to walking close to a wall or obstacle and perhaps being on a training table.
Even the clicker has to be introduced carefully!
We have seen dogs startle at the sound of the loud click they never heard before.The first time of exposure, you could trigger the click while the clicker is in your pocket, dampening the sound.
It will tremendously hinder the training process, if not even negatively influence it, if the dog is not comfortable.
You should take it even one step beyond comfort, you should create excitement about equipment that is planned on being used.
The best way of introducing and creating good feelings about the equipment is to present it at a distance the dog just recognizes it when it comes to sight. Then take it behind your back and present the reward. Make sure you are NOT at a closeness with it to where he gets scared of it. Gradually decrease distance. Progress in small increments to where he will accept being touched by it, until you actually are able to put it on him.
After the process has been successfully completed, you make sure to always use different exciting moments you know of being preceded by putting the equipment on.
Feeding time. Prepare the food, put it on the counter, strap the collar on, feed his dinner.
He gets excited to go on the evening/ morning walk, put the collar on before you go out the door.
He gets excited at the dog park, in anticipation to have the play with the other dogs, put the collar on, take the leash off and let him go play.

In regards to obstacles (training table , place boards etc) or even any other object he could be possibly afraid of:
Any orientation toward the object is followed by tossing food toward him. Better yet, if he has already been conditioned to the clicker as the marker. Any orientation or movement toward the object should be marked (clicked) and rewarded.
See great example for introduction to the remote training collar:

POSITIVE reinforcement can be anything that will reinforce (-making stronger) a behavior, an action, that has been performed right before the reinforcer was provided.

Every learning happens first by using Positive Reinforcement
Don’t be narrow minded about this- always keep this rule in mind when training.

The strongest reinforcer in a particular situation will be of greatest results for learning. You have to find out, and have to keep in mind that the strengths of a reinforcer can shift from one situation to another.

My dog can be hungry, and giving him food of a certain kind, will reinforce his behavior most effectively.

He can be thirsty, more than being hungry, thus at this moment, water will be most reinforcing.

He can desire freedom, because he was contained in a kennel, crate, car, restrained by a leash……freedom will be most reinforcing.
Or let’s see a human reinforcer that can shift:
You have been working for two days straight and made 1 million dollars!
Finally you are home, resting on the couch. Someone wants you to take the trash out, offering money…….t it is probably a weak reinforcement at this time and will NOT have any value- compared to laying on the couch!

Science, when explaining the different kinds of reinforcements, sees it in a mathematical sense.
Positive reinforcement means adding something to the occasion that makes a behavior more likely to be repeated more often.
A behavior occurs- something he likes is made to be available. A payment so to speak. This will be most effective if the reward is of highest value as possible.
In other words:
If you are working really hard, and we have found that your highest value of a reinforcer in that situation is money. Now we give you bananas as a reward. We certainly gave you something, but it is NOT reinforcing. It will make you work less intensely or even quit……unless you are a monkey!


Negative reinforcement (often confused with positive punishment) means to remove discomfort from the occasion in order to reinforce a behavior.
Here is the difference at Zauberberg.
We do not punish a “Non Response”
A dog is not able to comprehend to feel discomfort as a consequence for for he did NOT do!
Example for how Negative Reinforcement should be used:
An aversive is applied (tension on the leash, a constant push, slight electrical stimulation etc) a behavior occurs and the aversive is removed.
Humans go through negative reinforcement quite often. Back pain occurs while standing up. The behavior of sitting down relieves the pain. The behavior of sitting down has been reinforced.
Positive punishment means to add an aversive to the occasion and make the behavior more likely NOT to be repeated.
Example for how Positive Punishment could be used:
The dog jumps on the counter and an aversive is applied at that moment. More likely the behavior will NOT be repeated.
Warning about the use of positive punishment.
The rules to be followed to successfully use positive punishment are:
1) It has to be as strong as possible (humanially we resist)
2) It has to be consistent (every time the behavior occurs)
3) It has to be immediately (making sure that the aversives are directly connected with the behavior)
We have to strongly consider  that the use of positive punishment will have undesirable side effects.
The dog is jumping at the car scratching it up. The behavior is positively punished by aversives being applied following the rules above.
Now you intend to take the dog for a ride and he doesn’t want to get near the car!
In addition he might get scared of YOU as YOU had been the one that obviously applied the aversives. Especially if you identified yourself by announcing that the punishment is coming by saying “NO”.

Positive punishment should only be used to eliminate behaviors. With the dog who can not communicate via language, it has to be understood that positive punishment can not be applied for non compliance. The dog NOT sitting can not be positively punished for NOT doing it.
It should be applied under consideration of possible side effects. It is most effective if the dog feels that the punishment was self inflicted.
A mother is holding the child back from touching the stove. As soon as she leaves the kitchen, the child will touch it. If she could manage to heat the stove to a degree where it would be very uncomfortable touching it, and let the child touch it- the behavior of touching the stove will be punished and more likely not be repeated.
Hopefully this child is not intended to be sent to culinary school to be a chef. Because he might be scared of the stove.