Charlotte Wagner Harvey is a certified animal trainer and behaviorist with over 15 years of experience helping dogs and owners. Like most animal lovers, her passion for dogs has been apparent since early childhood.
She began her career as a trainer in Rockville, Maryland over 15 years ago. During this time she achieved a career diploma as a dog obedience instructor from Penn Foster. From 2008-2012 Charlotte lived in London, England, where she was training dogs and competing her undergraduate degree. Charlotte earned her Bachelors of Science in Animal Management with honors from the University of Essex. Her specialties included companion animals, livestock, and behavior.
In 2012 Charlotte returned to the DMV and moved to Flint Hill, Rappahannock county, where she resides today. When she first retuned to the states, she spent a year working as a veterinary assistant at a local clinic while also establishing herself as a trainer in our area. She has since then been a full time professional trainer and behaviorist.
Charlotte's others passions include wine, reading, photography, cooking, horseback riding, and gardening. She shares her little mountaintop farm with her husband and animals. In the competition world Charlotte has titled dogs in agility, rally obedience, conformation, dock diving, and more. Charlotte also enjoys speaking engagements and has worked with a variety of local organizations including: Lord Fairfax Community College, the Rotary Club, Pet Valu, the Delaplane Strawberry Festival, Fauquier High School, Liberty High School, and more!
At K9ology we understand that one size does not fit all. Luckily, an understanding of various methods and teaching approaches allows us to help you based on your dog’s needs.
From Charlotte - What training methods I use...
My first choice of training is definitely positive reinforcement, or reward-based training. Using praise, play, food, treats, social contact, and access to the world, allows training to be fun, motivational, and empowering for both dog and human. This is a great tool when teaching new behaviors, practicing rusty manners, and working on social skills. To make communication even stronger while learning, I also use a “yes” marker to further assist the dog in the learning process (just like clicker training without the actual clicker). It’s important to remember that anything can be a reward, which means sometimes even unwanted behaviors get accidentally reinforced! What most owners don't realize is that true positive reinforcement is not bribery! It's about having the dog earn and learn for rewards!
My next favorite method is negative punishment. Those words, especially when together, seem so ... well... negative. In scientific terms, however, negative punishment means you simply remove your dog (or something they want or like) in order to stop a behavior you don’t want. I love to use negative punishment as a way to extinguish newly developed unwanted behaviors. It works great for things like attention barking (remove social contact so the barking stops), or mugging for meals (remove bowl if dog jumps in excitement.... thus the dog learns food things go away for being rude). Negative punishment is necessary when working on impulse control and when training in new environments. It is a minimally invasive training strategy that introduces the dog to consequences while learning.
Negative reinforcement simply means something unpleasant, uncomfortable, or stressful is removed once the dog behaves in a desired way. This method is popular in horseback riding - the pressure of the bit is removed as soon as the horse complies. This method can be extremely effective, but more experienced handling is required. Negative reinforcement is used when working on loose lead walking with a training aid. When the dog pulls, pressure is exerted; as soon as the dog complies with a loose leash, pressure is removed. Tools commonly used with negative reinforcement include gentle leaders, prong collars, front clip harnesses, and e-collars. Negative reinforcement is great if your dog has a solid foundation using positive reinforcement. This method is highly effective when working through distractions or on duration of a command (like stay, wait, and recall). A critical part of negative reinforcement is giving the dog the option and choice to avoid the negative consequence. This is what I use (with positive reinforcement) in advanced and off-leash training. By using positive and negative reinforcement you are giving the dog more information as tasks get harder, while still rewarding good behavior and responses.
Positive punishment is least likely to be used during training as the intention is to cause pain, harm, avoidance, and fear. Positive simply means you add something the dog finds unpleasant to stop (punish) unwanted behavior. Positive punishment could easily result in a dog who exhibits extreme avoidance in only a few repetitions. It may be a necessary tool for dogs which chase livestock, inspect a poisonous snake, or put themselves otherwise in harms way. Unfortunately, there are many potential side effects, such as: the dog associating the wrong thing with the punishment, the dog generalizing and now avoiding the area of punishment, mistrust in the owner and insecure behavior, fear or lack of confidence, and frustration. Timing is absolutely critical whenever this method is used.
In addition to the 4 main methods of training, I use classical conditioning (think Pavlov and the bell), desensitization, and other science-based methods to achieve results, especially with dogs who are shy, fearful, or lacking confidence.
I firmly believe that training begins with the human and ends with the environment. Owners often seek quick fix solutions and are sometimes unwilling to put in the time, effort, discipline, and energy to get the results they want or need. My job is to get you started in whatever your training endeavor you have and manage expectations based on both short- and long-term goals.