- Which shot records must I have for my puppy/dog?
For puppy classes, puppies must be up-to-date for their age, with at least the first set of DHLPP shots, usually given between 6-8 weeks of age. Because socialization is so time-dependent we recommend starting classes as soon as possible, consulting with you veterinarian on vaccinations.
For non-puppy classes, dogs must have the full sequence of DHLPP (usually an annual booster for adult dogs) and the Rabies vaccine (rabies is a mandatory vaccine for Ontario dogs). A kennel cough vaccine is not required, but please be advised that Guelph has had recent kennel cough cases and you may wish to consult your vet about vaccination.
- Can more than one person come to a session?
Definitely! Training should be a hobby for the whole family - and when everyone in the family is consistent it helps your dog learn faster...and builds better relationships with everyone.
It's usually best to have only one person train a dog for a session or segment of a session. So when one person works on sit in that class, the other does down, etc.
If you have small children that will distract YOU and others from learning, you should either try to have a session when they are safely home with a responsible adult -- or, if you would like to bring them to class, children under 16 must be accompanied by a responsible adult to supervise them who is NOT the person who will be training the dog.
- What should I bring to class?
Please have the following items available for your first class.
- Proof of vaccinations. Puppies should be up-to-date for their age and have at least the first set of shots. Older dogs should have all shots.
- Hungry dog. Don't starve your dog or miss a meal, but don't give a substantial meal or leave out food for them to freely eat for a few hours prior to the session. For example, for an evening class when you would normally feed dinner, bring the dinner with you for treats. If your dog normally eats lunch and you're coming to an evening class, just feed lightly.
- Some way to take notes.
- Treats. Specifically, soft, pea-sized treats (half the size of your baby fingernail maximum). I recommend chopping up semi-moist dog food like rollover, or high value treets like cheese or chicken. You'll need a full sandwich-sized baggie or a minimum of three cups (more if your dog is a chow hound.)
- Standard 4 foot (non-flexi) nylon or leather leash and buckle collar or body harness.
- Head collar, if you are using one. (Optional)
- Bring at least one tuggable toy.
- Long training leash. Not a flexi leash, 20-30 feet long. You can make your own, it just needs to be long enough to practice coming when called. Silk ribbons work well for toy dogs. (Many of our classes use the long line)
- Water is available and we provide a common bowl.
- Clicker if you have one -- or we will provide one.
- Each time that you come into the classroom, please find a spot to sit, then calmly massage your dog. Please do this instead of having your dog wrestle with other dogs (they may greet and walk on, if both humans are willing). The idea is to teach your dog to pay attention to you and relax in the presence of other dogs.
- What is a clicker and do I have to use one if you work with my dog and me?
A clicker is a tool used to tell your dog "THAT'S IT, DO THAT AGAIN!" It is an excellent way of marking the behavior when you want to teach something new. A clicker is a small box that you can press to make a clicking noise. It "marks" when your dog has done the behaviour you want (though it is not the command or cue) and tells your dog there is a reward coming, usually a food treat, but a toy works, too, if your dog really likes it. Every time you click, you give the dog a treat. The dog hears "click" and gets food enough that the click becomes as rewarding as food (you still give the food after each click). After the dog understands what behavior you want, you teach the dog the name of the behavior (SIT, DOWN, SPIN, etc.), then you can gradually stop clicking to mark the behavior.
An alternative to the clicker that works about 1/3 as well (but is better than no marker at all) is to have a verbal marker that acts just like the click. I suggest using a word like "treat" so you know that you always have to follow that word with food, but I use "yes" with my dogs. The benefit of the clicker over a verbal marker is that the timing is better and that the click sound is processed by the amygdala, the part of the brain that deals with survival. That makes it easier for the dog to remember. I always switch to a verbal marker (like "Yes!") when I stop using the clicker for a given behavior. Verbal 'clicks' work less well than a clicker because they are not as precise/do not always occur at the moment and dogs process verbal commands with a different part of the brain (that takes an extra moment to interpret things) than sounds like the clicker.
- What's a positive dog trainer? Are you a positive dog trainer?
The term "positive" has at least two meanings in dog training. One is positive, as in dog-friendly. Dog Friendship is all about this kind of positive dog training. We train primarily with clicker training and do not use force or other "negative" (read physical) forms of coercion to train dogs. Now for the hair-splitting. The other use of "positive" in dog training is as a technical Learning Theory term. In that sense, there is "positive reinforcement" and "positive punishment," among other things. In those terms, "positive" just means you're giving the dog something, in the mathematical sense of addition. You're giving treats or giving pain/annoyance. So in that usage, "positive dog trainer" doesn't make sense. But that's a little geekier than most people care to be. In the sense you probably mean it - "Will I be nice to my dog using your methods? Would Children's Aid Services be okay if I used this on my kids?" the answer is yes. Positive dog training is the way to go!
- My dog seems sick or I can't make it to class, what should I do?
If your dog seems sick, please take them to the vet and don't bring them to class. In puppies especially, only one or two bouts of "toilet troubles" can be indicators of quite serious problems.
If your dog or any other dog in the family has a contagious illness (kennel cough, etc.) or your suspect one, please do not attend until it is out of your dog's system and your vet has cleared you to return. In the case of serious illness or injury, email us right away after you have talked to your vet and we will develop a solution together.
If your dog is unable to attend a session of your class, but you can, the best option would be to attend the class without your dog or follow along with the homework at home.
Your dog depends on you for consistency and commitment, as do we. Please be aware that our "product" is a reservation, the chance to learn in a class. If you are unable to attend a class or workshop at the last minute, we cannot give a refund or change your registration. It's sort of like changing your mind at a restaurant once the food is on the table, versus returning a shirt to a store, where it can be resold.
Standard classes & Private Sessions: Please contact us at least 7 calendar days prior to your private session or the beginning of your class to change your reservation or cancel for a full refund. A 50% refund is available 2 days prior to your session.
No refunds or changes are available after that time.
I have more questions. How can I contact a dog trainer? We would love to hear from you - info @ dogfriendship.com!
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