We use positive reinforcement and choice-based training. Our goal is for you and your dog to communicate better and understand each other. We haven’t yet come across a behavioral issue that wasn’t fixable using gentle and kind approach. Through our training and by utilizing our methods, you gain lifelong tools that will be with you and your dog(s) for the rest of your lives.
We use choice-based training, which means that we want to help you teach your dog to make the right choice by themselves. By rewarding your dog for making the right choices, your dog is not only engaging their decision-making skills and gaining more patience, but is also going to be more willing and able to obey commands in higher stress situations.
Positive reinforcement refers to the introduction of a desirable or pleasant stimulus after a behavior. The desirable stimulus reinforces the behavior, making it more likely that the behavior will reoccur.
In positive reinforcement we focus on the good behaviors that are already being displayed as well as rewarding the natural tendencies towards good choices. Hand in hand, we also work on the unwanted habits and help your dog understand what is acceptable and what is not.
The most important aspect of training is to bridge the language gap and break it down to increments small enough that your dog can make those choices by themselves. We are happy to help you with that.
Punishment-based training damages the relationship between you and your dog.
Furthermore, dogs associate what they see with how they feel. When you apply punishment when they see other dogs or people, your dog associates the stimuli with the negative outcome. Additionally, dogs develop certain body language and habits that are related to this negative association.
Many times with punishment-based training, more problems are made than fixed and it harms the bond between you and your dog. This means that it can take longer to fix an unwanted behavior than if the correct approach was taken in the first place, because the harm caused by the punishment-based training has to be undone.
Also, it’s important to understand that dogs often exhibit behaviors that are a part of their canine communication. When they are punished for exhibiting those, you get a dog who jumps to actions faster and more unpredictably, because canine communication didn’t prove useful to them in the past.
The good news is that you are feeding your dog, anyway. Every day.
We will show you how to utilize your dog’s food and turn it into treats. Food is a great reinforcer for most dogs and we can use that to help your dog make their own choices by wanting to get the reward. Once those behaviors become your dog’s go-to and muscle memory, we can raise the criteria, fade the treats and ask for additional behaviors for the same treat.
Food isn’t the only reinforcer. Dogs enjoy play, toys, car rides, scratches, praise, etc. In our training, we will explore what your dog likes and help you troubleshoot to find out what works best.
We will leave it up to you to decide, but are happy to recommend if needed and point out the different advantages of each one of the options.
If you are unsure, you can always schedule an in-home consultation for a trainer to assess whether your dog is a better fit for in-home training or group classes. Our sessions are never just assessments. We always start training in our first session and will be able to give you plenty of valuable tools.
Here are the advantages of each one:
- This option is good for cases in which behavior modification is needed (behavior modification is not part of the curricula in most of our classes).
- Private training can be invaluable for new pet-parents, especially if you’re adopting a new puppy or rescue. Even in the case of enrolling in a group class, we suggest taking one or two private sessions, if possible, in order to set solid training foundations for you and your dog.
- The trainer is working with your dog only and not splitting their attention between your dog and other dogs in class.
- We can customize the training and tailor it to your needs and don’t have to follow a class curriculum.
- Better for people with irregular schedules or that can’t commit to a certain day of the week.
- Can be beneficial for families that have more than one dog. (While in a group setting, we charge per dog, in private training we charge per session, even if you have more than one dog.)
- Beneficial when the behaviors happen at the house (barking at the windows, barking at the fence or when people walk in) or if we need to work with additional family members such as children.
- One of the benefits of private training is that there are less distractions. While group classes are great training environments for dogs to practice with distractions, private trainings are better tailored for dogs who have a harder time focusing.(In order for your dog to benefit from a class and learn new routines, they need to be able to be under threshold.)
- Great option if you want to work with your dog around distractions as long as your dog is well behaved around other dogs. (In order for your dog to benefit from a class they need to be able to be under threshold in class).
- Group classes are a great way to get your dog used to being around other dogs and people. Particularly if your dog is shy, this kind of setting can allow them to open up while learning new skills. Groups also help shy dogs to build confidence since the other dogs in the class are focused on their handlers instead of on them.
- We truly have a large variety of group class topics at varying levels of skill.
- The joy of learning together and making new friends.
In these classes, you’re able to train with other pet parents! Dogs and people benefit from the support and encouragement from other people in class. In many cases, people make connections with other dog/handler teams and continue their education in advanced classes together and meet up for puppy play-dates and dog walks in the park.
Combination of private training and group classes:
Ultimately, private training and group classes compliment each other. Choosing the right training environment is crucial for success and a combination between private training and group classes can achieve that. In a combination, we start with a package of private training in order to build a strong foundation and prepare your dog for group classes. This is ultimately a higher level of obedience, because your dog can work better and focus on you even around distractions.
Virtual training is training over skype or video-chat.
- This option is great for clients who are unable to access group classes or in-home private training due to schedule conflicts or distance.
- This can also be a good option for existing clients who have follow-up questions or who desire to brush up on skills, but who do not feel that an in-home visit is necessary.
- With virtual training we can go over lots of training material and help you to train your dog without having to meet your dog. (We do ask that you send us a video ahead of time that demonstrates the behavior.)
Small Group Private Training
This is basically private training for more than one dog, that have similar training goals. For example: if you and your neighbor both have a new puppy, you can get together for a small group private training and split the cost of private training. We have also had clients that adopted littermates and conducted their training together, as well as family members that wanted to work on different dogs’ leash skills.
Please bring your class registration form and a copy of your dog’s vaccine record to the first day of class.
Some of our classes are designed in such a way that only people attend the first week (Reactive Dog Class, Basic Obedience, etc.) and some of our classes you bring your dog the first week (Puppy Play, Advanced Obedience, etc). Please bring the following items for all the weeks that your dog attends:
- Each dog needs a minimum of 1 handler, which means that if you enrolled two dogs in class, a second handler should accompany you.
We recommend at least two types of treats that your dog enjoys.
To make sure that the training flows, training treats should be soft and small enough for your dog to digest and keep working rather than rewarding your dog with a bigger treat that causes them to walk away to chew on it. Please remember that group class involves distractions (other dogs and people), so a treat that may work at home may not be high enough value to keep your dog’s attention with all of the activities going on. In addition to that, dogs perceive treats to be a higher value based on their scent, not necessarily on the taste. The stronger the smell, the higher the value.
It is not a bad idea to feed your dog a little bit less before class so that your dog is slightly hungry. That they will be more focused on you instead of distractions.
- Treat pouch or a fanny pack. This may seem like an unimportant accessory, but you will find its uses invaluable. A treat pouch will keep your hands free to handle the leash, free to use hand signals and will keep your treats invisible while your dog is performing a behavior. That way your dog will not learn to follow cues only when seeing the treats.
- Flat collar or harness. For dogs who pull a lot we recommend front clip harness. No prong collars, choke chains, or any harnesses that restrict movements, etc.
- 6’ or 8’ leash. We don’t recommend leashes shorter than that or retractable leashes for training. You can always shorten a 6 or 8 foot leash when you need your dog to stay closer to you in class, but you cannot make a 4’ leash longer.
- Water bowl and water for your dog. We do have water bowl available, but sometimes it might be difficult for you and your dog to move across the class for access. In some classes we will be working outside and it’s important for both you and your dog to remain hydrated.
- Dog bed, blanket or towel. Many times it’s nicer for your dog to lay on a softer surface when we practice down or stay, or when we are doing relaxation exercises, rather than laying directly on the floor.
Dogs and pups need to be current on their age appropriate vaccines. For more information on age appropriate vaccinations, please contact your veterinarian.
Our obedience classes are usually up to 8 dogs. After this limit, we will open a waiting list and if we receive enough interest we will do our best to accommodate making another class available during the same class cycle.
Reactive Dog Class is usually up to 5 dogs.
Dogs need to be able to focus to benefit from class.
The rule of thumb for group learning is that dogs need to be under threshold to be able to learn. If they are barking and lunging, then that won’t be a good environment for them and they will prevent other dogs from learning.
In that case, we are happy to help you in one of the following ways:
- We can work with you in a private setting to help get your dog to the point that they will benefit from class by working on your dog’s emotion response to other dogs/people, your dog’s patience and their ability to remain focused around distractions.
- We also offer a Reactive Dog Class that is designed for dogs that are having a rougher time around other dogs/people.
Many of our clients opt for a combination, starting with Private Training and then taking our Reactive Paws Class.
Yes, no matter where they learned the basics they can join our advanced class as long as they can perform the basic cues.
If you are unsure, please contact us with the cues that your dog already knows and your goals and we will help you pick out a class.
Yes, we are happy to have your significant other join you. We welcome the opportunity to learn and we love it when the entire family is engaged. We also know that sometimes it’s hard to be available 5 week in a row, so as long as everybody is up to date with previous lessons, you are welcome to take turns bringing your dog to class.
For kids, we would love for them to join, but we do ask that they are old enough to not interrupt class and to actually benefit from participating and we ask that a second adult will attend if you have younger kids joining you in class.
If that’s the case, please leave your dog at home. You are welcome to attend without a dog that week to observe what we teach and work with your dog when they feel better. Another option is to make up for the week you missed at the next class cycle.
Private Training FAQs
The amount of sessions needed to help you train your dog depends on the severity of the behavioral issue, our starting point, your training goals and your dog’s learning pace.
Another factor to consider is that some unwanted behaviors have been practiced over a period of time and will take time to change and longer to undo.
In addition, we cannot emphasize enough how important it will be for you to be consistent with your dog and to follow our instructions for training in between sessions and treating events as training opportunities.
Usually, we see our clients once a week, leaving 167 hours for you and your dog to practice and train. That amount of time might seem overwhelming to handle your dog on your own, however, with our choice-based training methods you are building long-lasting training that will remain throughout your dog’s life.
Our consultation training session is designed to immediately start training while assessing your dog. At the end of the session we will be able to let you know how many additional sessions your dog may need. We have a variety of training packages to choose from after our initial consultation. Even though we will give your our recommendation, the final decision on what training sessions to purchase is entirely up to you.
Usually we recommend training once a week as that pace allows you some time to practice with your dog but not so long as to create a gap in training. However, time between training sessions can vary from case to case. It is also dependent on how much training material you are given, as well as your availability to work on that homework during the week.
In private training we can accomodate waiting longer between sessions if you are out of town or meeting more than once a week if needed.
Private training is 1 hour long.
We are based in Aurora, but we cover the entire Denver-metro area, including Parker, Highlands Ranch, Littleton, Lakewood, Green valley Ranch, Commerce City, etc. 40 miles round trip is included in our prices.
However, we always try to accommodate clients that are beyond that distance and we have served clients in Elizabeth, Boulder, Golden, Morrison, Longmont, Bennet, etc. For clients that reside beyond our 40 miles round trip distance we have a minor trip charge to cover gas and travel time for our trainers.
To understand how we calculate a trip charge, please go here (LINK).
To be able to avoid the trip charge, please consider a group class (LINK) if it’s relevant to your case, or please consider a small group-private training (LINK).
- Please have handy treats that your dog loves.
- Please consider if it’s better for your dog to meet new people (in this case your trainer) outside or inside.
- If your dog is reactive to people at the door please have your dog leashed and maintain clearance between your dog and the trainer. Your trainer will guide you from there.
- Recommended equipment:
- Treat pouch
- Flat collar/front-clip harness (front-clip harness is better than a flat collar for dogs that pull a lot)
- Regular leash that is at least 6’ long
Yes. Private training packages expire 6 months after the date of purchase to ensure consistency and success in your training.
If you need to reschedule your private training session, we ask that you notify your trainer 24 hours in advance. When we schedule training with you, we are making a commitment for you and your dog. Notifying us in advance is courteous to us and to other clients that are awaiting our services. Notice of less than 24 hours will unfortunately result in the session being forfeited.
While we don’t get many refund requests and we believe that consistency is very important to the success of training, we understand that life happens and are happy to accommodate refund requests.
We offer training packages that provide upfront discounts vs the full cost of purchasing individual sessions. When issuing a refund, we will calculate the refund by adjusting the package discount to the training package that was actually completed.
For example, if you purchase a package of 6 sessions, you receive a discount of $20/session (Each session is $130 instead of $150). If you completed 5 sessions of the package, the session cost will be adjusted to $140/ea, which is the pricing for anywhere between 3 and 5 sessions). Your refund will be calculated accordingly.
While paying for your training package up-front gives you the maximum discount, we do have the ability to accommodate a payment plan. If this is the case, please contact us for a quote.
If you need to cancel your enrollment before the class starts, we offer a full refund minus a $15 processing fee.
Unfortunately, we can’t offer refunds after a class has already started. If you are going to miss one or two weeks of class, we are happy to have you make up for that class in the next class cycle! Please check the class schedule to see the next available dates for the missed class.
Yes, we do. You can purchase gift cards for classes or for private training or both and we will Email you a gift card you can print.
Gift certificates are good for 1 year from the date of purchase.