Frequently asked questions
1) At what age do you recommend starting formal training?
Training your dog is learning how to live with them, learning how to communicate, and learning how to enjoy each other. Given this statement, it is never too early or too late to start training. We recommend training with your dog in a few different life stages:
Puppy training should take place between 2 months - 5 months of age
Early adolescent training: 6 months - 12 months
Late adolescent training: 15 months - 24 months
Problem solving any new issues can take place at any time.
2) My puppy won't receive all their vaccinations until 4 months of age, but puppy kindergarten can start as early as 2 months. Is it okay to bring my puppy to class before fully vaccinated?
Ultimately, this is a decision where you want to weigh your pros vs. cons, and of course it is your choice!
A puppy's critical developmental window of socialization ends at about 16 weeks of age, and the most important time for socializing is before 12-14 weeks of age. Take a look at the following recommendations from board certified veterinary behaviorists about early socialization:
The more risky places for catching illnesses are moist soil areas like the woods, lakes, rivers, beaches, etc. In addition, places with many unknown dogs or feces not routinely picked up like dog parks or reststops.
Most puppy classes would be a much safer place to socialize, as well as:
Concrete areas like courtyards, campuses, restaurants, cafes, people watching outside publix, etc
Of course you may also do things like socialize by watching stimuli out of the car, while holding the pup in your arms, using a stroller or wagon, etc. These would be good options if you do not want your puppy to explore the grasses and dirt around them. **Make sure to bring some tasty treats and a toy to feed and play with your pup when loud noises happen, or a stranger walks by, etc.
3) All of your classes are full! Or, I can't find a class that fits with my schedule--what should I do?
Thank you very much for supporting small, local businesses and for checking here with P.U.P.S. I'm sorry if my current class or private lesson schedule cannot accommodate you and your dogs right now. Please check in with some of these other local trainers for training:
Class Act for Dogs w/ Judy Thigpin: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dog's Play w/ Julie Hughes: email@example.com
K9 Foundations LLC: firstname.lastname@example.org
Pawsitively Fun Training w/ Rachel Flatley: email@example.com
Pawsitive k9 w/ Marj Spence: firstname.lastname@example.org
Gainesville k9 Academy
Wolfhaus K9 LLC
Ocala Dog Ranch
4) How long does it take for a dog to be trained?
This question is popular, but almost impossible to answer! There are too many variables at play including the dog's age, severity of issues, owner's willingness & ability to train in the home setting, the dog's physical and emotional well-being, and much more!
5) Can you guarantee results?
As much as we would like to, "guarantee" is not a word that should be used with live animals. To be frank, this is not like buying an appliance and, therefore, "fixing" and "guaranteeing" should not be the thought process behind helping dogs. Managing behavior and modifying behavior, teaching new skills, and strengthening concepts (confidence, optimism, impulse control, focus, etc) are what we are all about. And, of course, it is also a matter of how well the human parents can implement the management and training! Consistency is important.
6) Do you work with aggression cases or anxiety cases?
Yes, and depending on the individual case, other professionals may be brought in as well. Sometimes you need your network! Shoot us an email and we will evaluate what the best plan of action is.
7) What treats do you use to train?
When training in the familiar setting of home, I suggest using a portion of your dog's daily breakfast or dinner kibble/meal. We don't need the inanimate object of your dog's food bowl to hold so much value when you can use that daily meal to put value in things like coming when called, rewarding calm & good choices in the house/yard, etc.
When at class or other distracting settings outside of the home, use higher value goods like freeze-dried treats, plain boiled chicken, small bits of string cheese, homemade egg or tuna treats, etc. And then just portion control thier breakfast/dinner so you are not over-feeding in a day.
8) Should my dog walk on a harness or a collar?
The way that we address this topic is with the understanding that dogs need CLARITY. We also understand that if we are being 100% realistic, most of our human clients are not going to be very clear & consistent with their dogs every single time the dog is on leash. For example, if the leash is at all tight and you continue to move forward with your dog, you are letting the dog pull you. And let's say your dog ends up pulling you into daycare, out of the Vet, and they pull you over to thier favorite fire hydrant. Then, later that day you do not want the dog to pull you up to the neighbor or down your driveway. You may have preconceived notions in your head WHY you are letting the dog drag you out of the vet's office but not up to the neighbor; HOWEVER it is all very random and confusing to your dog. So, we say walk your dog on the back end of a harness if you are not going to teach loose leash rules in a given context to give you guys a little bit of a loophole, and then use the collar (or front-end harness) when you will be consistent with your loose-leash rules. We can teach the loose leash in class or at a private lesson.
9) My dog knows some basics already, so should I take the Basic Obedience 1 or the Obedience II/CGC class?
The pre-requirements for going to Obedience II are:
Have taken obedience 1 with us, or
The dog has a solid understanding of sit, down, and a basic Sit-Stay (you can walk at least 4 feet away from your dog while they stay seated)
The dog has a definition of "Come" or "Here", especially in easier settings with minimal distraction
The dog has a beginner level understanding of nice leash walking/basic heel position or is just naturally more mellow on leash
The dog does not display aggressive tendencies toward other people and other dogs. This needs to be evaluated in 1 private lesson.
**If you are not quite confident in some of these items AND your dog is less than 9 months, I would suggest Obedience I. IF your dog shows some reactivity on leash, I would suggest a private lesson first to evaluate best plan of action.
10) I have to miss a group class- can I get a makeup?
With the volume of students, I can't guarantee a makeup session for you. If for any reason I, the instructor, have to cancel I will definitely make sure the whole class gets a makeup. Also note that my classes come with some pretty detailed homework and reminders, with written instruction and often video to also help.
Here are some options if you need to miss a group class:
--If another one of my group sessions has a working dog spot available you may join that class. This does happen somewhat regularly
--You the human can audit any group class without your dog if there isn't a working dog spot available (space is the main issue on availability for adding more dogs)
--One missed group class payment can be applied toward a private lesson (if you need to miss 2 group classes, only one class payment is applied). Each group class is about $30 and the private lessons are $80 so your total for one private lesson would be $50.
--You can stay about 15-20 minutes after your next scheduled class to work on what you missed
11) Do I have to use PayPal in order to sign up for a class?
I understand not everyone is comfortable making online payments; I don't love their fees either! If you would like to pay in cash or check, we can set up a time to meet at the studio for payment, or I can give you an address to mail it. However, I have the online system set up in order to keep track of registrations as efficiently and fairly as possible. I only consider a class spot reserved when I have received full payment because it has happened too frequently where people will register, not pay, and then not commit to the spot they have taken.