Below you will find the answers to many of the questions I’m asked. Just click on the paw print (or the question itself) to read the answer. If you have a question that isn’t addressed here, or want more information, I look forward to hearing from you!
Do you offer group classes?
You bet! My group classes are in cooperation with the Clarkstown Learning Center in Congers (I’m pleased and proud to have been asked to work with them offering group dog training classes to the community!) The classes are open to everyone, not just Clarkstown residents! They are offered year ’round and most classes are scheduled daytime, evening, and weekends for your convenience. Also, I purposely keep each class really small so you’re sure of getting individualized attention. No overcrowded classes here that you and your dog get lost in! You can find my upcoming groups here.
Are your group classes big/crowded?
Never! I purposely keep my group classes very small so that everyone gets individualized attention and no one is ever left out, passed over, or “gets lost” as can happen in large classes.
Do you offer private lessons?
Yes! I offer in-home private lessons, which means I come to your home and teach you and your family how best to work with your dog. Basically, I act as your coach. Then you practice with your dog and I return the following week until we’ve covered all that you’d like to with your dog. Many people like to start with a few private lessons and then take one of my group classes to be sure their dog will work around distractions too!
Can you train my dog for me?
Actually yes, I can! I offer something called Day Training in which I come to your home approximately 3-4 times a week and work with your dog. You do none of the training – that’s my job! 🙂 I make sure that you and your family can get the same responses from your dog that I’ve taught. Yes, he WILL listen to you as well as he does to me. (Think about guide dogs – they are trained by a trainer, not the blind handler, yet they do indeed work for the blind handler because the handler was taught how to get the same responses.) Please click here to read more about Day Training and how it works.
What’s the difference between you and pet store training?
Quite a bit, actually. I’m a professional trainer, which means a lot of things. A few examples are: 1) Dog training is my livelihood, it’s fully how I make a living. Pet store trainers are store employees and, with few exceptions, work in the store stocking shelves, as cashiers, etc, when they are not holding a class. 2) Professional trainers usually have many years of experience training dogs using a variety of methods (because every single dog does not respond to the same approach). Pet store trainers can be hired with no dog experience at all, take a few-weeks-long course, and start holding classes. They usually are only allowed to use one method to train, and oftentimes only know that one method. 3) Professional trainers have worked hard to prove their knowledge and value by having at least one – usually more – national (and/or international!) certifications. To earn these certifications, we’ve often have to prove our experience; have veterinarians, clients, and fellow dog trainers recommend us; be evaluated by other respected professional trainers; and in most cases, pass a national test. Pet store trainers’ accreditation is from the store they work for. A few do indeed have respected national certifications – very many do not.
I’ve heard people compare pet store trainers and professional trainers to getting your hair cut at a low-priced place like Super Cuts or going to a quality salon. The outcome – the quality of cut – is going to be vastly different in most cases. “You get what you pay for” generally applies here.
My dog is no longer a puppy. Can he still be trained?
You bet! There is no age dog that cannot be taught. The “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” thing is absolutely false! Puppies generally learn quickly and easily because they don’t have deeply ingrained habits yet, but ANY age dog can be taught to be well behaved. Depending on the age and the amount of negative habits that have been learned (and type of dog!), it can sometimes take a little bit longer, but it’s absolutely doable. For example, my favorite example is Willie – a dog in my Therapy Dog Preparation class who had never had formal training, and she graduated and earned her Therapy Dog Certification. She was 10 years old when she did it! It’s never too late!
I’m getting a new puppy. Should I wait until we get him to contact you?
Nope! In fact, you are best off having the very first puppy lesson just before you get the puppy if possible. Your new pup is not required at the first lesson because it is informational; there is no hands-on training with the pup. It’s great to have all the information about what to do during the pup’s first first days – housebreaking, chewing, whining/crying, etc – before any of it happens. It lessens the stress on all of you – pup included! I offer these first puppy lessons either privately (in your home) or in a group setting (currently called “Raising Your Pup!”).
At what age should I start training my puppy?
Ideally, training should start before you even bring him home! Getting yourself ready for what to expect and how to proceed when you bring your new puppy home eases the stress on all of you! If you already have your puppy, then the answer is “Now!” 🙂 Puppy training can and should begin right away. This doesn’t mean you’re going to be teaching heeling and long stays to an 8-week-old puppy! He’s too young for that. But you will want to be working with his mouthing/biting, housebreaking, how to walk on a leash, and working on the beginning of manners (in the home, with strangers, and with other dogs) so bad habits don’t develop. (It’s much harder to break bad habits and replace them with good ones than it is to teach good manners from the start.) There’s much that can be done with a pup early, while still letting him be a pup and with an eye toward not pushing him beyond his age! Positive methods using a ton of motivation are best for any dog – pups especially!
What do you require before you’ll see my dog? Vaccinations? Anything else?
He should have age-appropriate vaccinations or titers showing immunity. If your dog is old enough, he must have a current Rabies vaccination. I do require that he be free of fleas. If not, I will reschedule for when he (and your home) is. We all struggle to keep our dogs free of fleas, and it’s just not fair for me to pick up fleas at one person’s home and potentially bring them to another person’s home (or my own). So the dogs that I work with need to be flea-free and on one of the chemical flea-preventatives. He also needs to be free of any contagious internal parasites like giardia, coccidia, hookworms, roundwords, etc. Again, this is for the protection of all the dogs. Lastly, of course, he needs to be healthy. A dog feeling ill shouldn’t be expected to work, and he won’t be focused enough to get anything out of a training session anyhow. If you have a pup who you need to start housebreaking but is ill, we can schedule a housebreaking lesson via phone, then meet in person when he’s recovered.
With puppies who are still in the process of receiving all their immunizations, you must have had your puppy in your possession for at least 2 weeks before he is allowed to come to group class or be seen privately.
What is your philosophy of training? (Or, how do you feel dogs should be trained?)
I train dogs using positive and humane methods, with lots of motivation, using all we know about dog behavior. Dogs learn best when things are presented to them in a way they, as dogs not people, can easily understand. Most important of all is good communication; that is, helping people communicate effectively with their dog and teach him in a way that’s completely clear to him and in a way that’s natural for him to grasp. Anything else is a disservice to the dog. Most training problems are a result of a communication roadblock – the dog isn’t getting what you’re trying to say. I can fix that, or better, help you avoid it altogether. Dogs are never brutalized here; they are respected and treated with “firm gentleness,” patience, and kindness.
Will training my dog break his spirit and make him robotic?
No! The “old school” (some years ago, but there are still some old-school trainers out there) of dog training could be heavy-handed and would sometimes result in a dog who basically obeyed because he was afraid not to. Those dogs are so sad to me – working with their tails down or tucked under, always glancing up at their owners with a worried look. That is NOT how I train, and that is NOT how dogs I work with look. I train dogs in a positive, motivational, humane way with an eye toward what is more natural to them – meaning what they, as dogs, can understand best given all we know about dog behavior. They respond to training because it’s positive and fun. They work smiling and with their tails wagging. The way it should be. They very much have their spirit, playfulness, sense of fun, and individuality intact. But they know, in a way they can understand, how you expect them to behave. Dogs are much happier when they know the rules and have the skills to follow them. So nope. No mindless robots here. And no broken spirits – ever.
I work all day. Are you available evenings or weekends?
Yes, absolutely. Because so many people work Monday through Friday, 9-5, I often joke that, mostly, I work when everyone else is off! Obviously my schedule is more open during the day on weekdays, but I sometimes have evening or weekend appointments available, too.
Are you available for questions and concerns at times other than our lesson time?
Absolutely! I return calls 7 days a week up until about 10:30 or 11 PM (never beyond the latest you’ve told me I can call) and am always available through email and/or text. I pride myself on being there for my clients and never, ever, having you feel “left alone.”
What about questions and concerns after we graduate from training?
Here again, I’m always just an email, text, or phone call away. My relationship with you doesn’t come to an abrupt end the day your dog graduates. In fact, I still have contact with many of my previous clients – I LOVE getting photos of the dogs and hearing updates about how they are doing. But yes, I sure am there for you for questions and/or concerns after training is completed!
Are there any breeds you don’t or won’t work with?
Nope! no specific breeds or mixes are avoided here. Staying away from certain breeds or mixes is really, really unfair to the dogs, unnecessary, and is something I do not do. 🙂
Can you help me pick a pup/dog (or evaluate a dog)?
Yes, you bet! I can go with you to look at a litter of pups and help guide you toward the one or ones that would be the best fit temperamentally for your lifestyle and family. If you are looking at a rescue dog or shelter dog (pup or adult), I can go with you to meet him and evaluate his temperament. It’s often really helpful and wise to have an experienced pair of eyes with you – someone without the heavy emotional investment that you have (and should have!). Letting your heart rule your head when picking a pup/dog is not always the best thing!
What is the best breed of dog?
There is no best breed of dog, but there are a few breeds that are best for you and your living situation. That’s different for each person and can’t be answered here. I love when people come to me before choosing a dog because you cannot override innate breed tendencies. As an example, if you are a sedate, calm person who is a bit of a couch potato, choosing one of the high energy breeds that needs a slew of exercise is asking for trouble. You will wind up with a dog with all kinds of behavioral issues and both of you will be a lot unhappy. So, picking the right breed for you is super important. There is no best breed, but there is a best breed(s) for YOU.
Are mixes better than purebreds (or purebreds better than mixes)?
Neither mixed breeds nor purebreds are “better.” Purebreds have the advantage of growing into a size, type, and general personality that is predictable, but mixed breeds make just as wonderful pets and steal your heart every bit as quickly. (And for the record, my opinion is that mixes are no more healthy or not than purebreds. “Hybrid vigor” is a bit of a fallacy especially with the currently popular “doodles” and “poos.”) What it comes down to is that the dog who wiggles his way into your heart and soul is the “best” – it doesn’t matter at all what his lineage is.
Are you on Facebook? Pinterest? Twitter?
Yes, yes, and sort of! My Paws With Manners Facebook page is active and I try to keep items of interest to all dog owners there. Just click on the blue and white Facebook icon at the top right of any page on this site and you’ll land on the Paws with Manners Facebook page. (Or you can click here.) Once there, please “Like” the page so you always get my updates, news, and info in your Newsfeed! As for Pinterest, yes indeed there is an active Paws With Manners page! Just click the red and white script “P” at the top right of any page on this site and you’ll be brought to the PWM Pinterest page. (Or, just click here.) And finally, as to Twitter, welllll, I have an account but do not currently use it very much. I do, however, look forward to seeing you on Facebook and Pinterest!
What do all the letters after your name mean?
When you receive your dog’s graduation diploma (or see my business card), you may wonder what on earth all those letters stand for.
The “MS” stands for Master of Science and is my graduate degree.
The “CPDT-KA” stands for Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed and is the most widely accepted certification for dog trainers. It requires passing a long exam and, to be re-certified, completing Continuing Education credits (ongoing). It’s awarded by the CCPDT; you can read about them here if you’d like.
And finally, the “CTDI” stands for Certified Trick Dog Instructor. It’s awarded by Do More With Your Dog and you can read about the trainer’s process of becoming certified and what is required here.
If you have any questions or concerns that are not answered here, just fill out the Contact form below and I will get right back to you with an answer!
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