Training FAQs.

Q: What training methods do you use?

A: We are reward-based all the way! At Tails, we use the principles of operant conditioning, and specifically positive reinforcement, in our training classes. This means that we focus on teaching your dog by rewarding appropriate behavior, instead of simply correcting your dog for mistakes. Food/toy/Petting/Praise rewards paired with understanding your dog’s appropriate body language and canine communication are used during the acquisition phase of learning. Although we enjoy rewarding dogs always, we will also teach you to phase to intermittent reward as the behavior becomes more reliable; thereafter, we maintain the behavior with praise, life rewards, and occasional food rewards. Training should be fun for both 2 and 4 legged participants!

Q: When should my dog start training classes?

A: Your new puppy is learning from you all the time. They can begin to grasp basic commands with consistency as early as 4 weeks of age. Getting your puppy into a socialization class is essential for establishing reliable, confident behaviors. Typically many young puppies start a training class at 9 weeks of age. Dogs can learn at any age, therefore obedience classes can continue throughout your dog’s life.

Q: What type of things can we learn in a training class?

A: Different classes teach different things but typically in a puppy or basic training class your dog will learn, sit, settle, wait, come when called, walking politely on a leash, house manners, off-leash socialization, proper play, and bite inhibition. Continued training can teach more advanced techniques like hand signals and tricks too. For a complete description of all of our classes go to the top of the page.

Q: What methods will you use to train my dog?

A: Tails-A-Wagging only uses methods that dogs enjoy, trust and have a great time doing them. We will use positive reinforcement to encourage your dog to do the behavior you are looking for. This means, rather than simply telling your dog what not to do- we will focus on teaching them what to do, as its reinforcement that drives behavior! Training based upon harsh physical punishment, intimidation or fear is NEVER an option at Tails-A-Wagging.

Q: How do I choose the right trainer?

A: This is a very important question. You want to be sure you connect with the training center, it’s important that they have the same views on pet care as you do. We always suggest asking your veterinarian, local humane societies, friends and neighbors, to get a recommendation. Then contact those recommendations and talk with them. A quality training center should invite you to view one of their classes, at no charge.

1. Observe the trainer, are they guiding the class to succeed or reprimanding them for making a mistake? They should be excited about dog training and want to provide a positive experience for you and your dog.

2. Is it a positive place to be? Are all two and four-legged participants in class having a good time? Are the dogs being praised for doing what is right or only being corrected for doing something wrong?

3. Look at the class size, too many dogs in a class and no one gets any one on one time. A good ratio is one trainer per 6-7 dogs. Are all 2 and four-legged participants engaging in class? Or do some dogs have to wait in the car for their turn? A good rule is “ your dog has to learn all of these things with distractions, so they might as well start now ”

4. Is the training center knowledgeable on current training methods? Positive Reward Based Training has been proven time and again to be the most successful for dogs and people alike. Are they still using old-school methods like choke chains and pinch collars? You want your trainer to be open-minded to modern training and science-based techniques that encourage your dog to be successful and continue to make him a part of the family, not ones that cause harm to him or teach out of fear.

Q: Do you use food or treats in your training?

A: Dogs are just like humans and every other living creature – they “work” (or do behaviors) in order to get something they need or like (i.e., food, praise, petting, play). Most people do not work for free and neither do our dogs. We use treats and lots of other rewards as part of our dog-friendly training methods because treats are the easiest and most convenient type of reward to give in a training environment. Some other rewards we may use are petting, praise, tug or playing with a toy. Soft treats cut or broken up into pea-sized pieces work best for training because they are tasty and can be eaten quickly. We recommend Ziwi Peak, Vital Fresh Pet, Natural Balance, and Zukes treats. You can also use hotdogs, cheese, soft dog treats, or anything your dog really likes. Avoid feeding your dog before class so your dog will be highly motivated to earn that treat!

Q: Will food training ruin my relationship with my dog?

A: We use food as part of the learning process, first to elicit new behaviors and second to reward for performing the behaviors on cue. Once a new behavior is learned, we will teach you how to pair the food reward with praise and then “fade” the food reward, so you are relying less on treats and more on praise. We will still use treats occasionally to reward well-established behaviors in order to maintain those behaviors. Unlike punishment-based methods, reward-based training with food will not damage your relationship with your dog; on the contrary, your dog will learn quickly to earn good things by complying with your requests.
Reward-based trainers are careful to teach you not to bribe the dog with the treat…we will help you with this!

Q: What if my dog is not motivated by food?

A: Experience has taught us that most dogs will work for especially tasty food rewards, although dogs who are not hungry, are often very stressed, or have a medical problem may be less receptive to food. Keep in mind that any reward you choose must be interesting enough to your dog to compete with distractions in the environment. This means that your dog may need tastier treats to focus at class, than the treats you use for training in the living room. If your dog truly is not food-motivated or has dietary restrictions, we will use other rewards including toys, praise, petting, and life rewards to motivate your pup.

Q: How much do classes cost?

A: Cost of a class depends on the type and duration of the class. Please visit our class descriptions at the top of this page, but in general basic training classes are $175 for a 6-week course. Advanced classes or classes for severe behavioral issues may be more. Any required equipment (like a clicker or book) is provided to you are no additional charge. You will need to supply your own nylon leash (usually 4 or 6 ft in length) and flat collar but these are items you can get from any pet store. FYI: Be wary of trainers who require you to purchase special training items only from them!

Q: Do you use choke chains, pinch collars, or prong collars in your classes?

A: We do not use choke chains, prong,e-collars or pinch collars in our training classes and discourage their use because these devices are designed to punish your dog by inflicting pain and fear. Choke chains can easily be misused and can injure your dog. We want to set your dog up to succeed, not simply punish them when they fail.

Q: Do you offer board-and-train type training?

A: Tails-A-Wagging does not offer board-and-train style training because we strongly believe it is important for you to participate in the training process and to know precisely what methods are being used to train your dog. Ultimately, you are the dog trainer; we are here to help enhance your ability to communicate effectively with your dog. Daily training is included, however, in our daycare services at no charge, to encourage good manners.  We also have day puppy programs that include 3-5 days a week of extensive training in addition to our regular program.  Contact us for more information.

Q: Can my entire family come to classes?

A: We understand it is the job of the entire family to help with all aspects of training your dog. All adults and children over the age of 6 years are automatically welcome in our adult basic, intermediate, and trick classes (all “leashed” classes ). Younger children, however, might not be permitted in those classes for liability reasons. Just check in with your trainer, before your first class, if you hope to bring a young child to class.

All children, toddlers, and babies are, however, allowed (and encouraged) in our Puppy Classes, to aid in the socialization of the young pups. Our puppy classes are primarily off-leash. All children must be accompanied by a parent (one parent for pup … another parent for child is ideal )

Q: I have two dogs, can I bring both of them to a class together?

A: We will allow family dogs to attend the same class together, but each dog requires a separate handler. However, we may suggest different classes for each dog if either dog needs to work on independence and confidence issues.

Q: What is your Training Room like?

A: Our training room is large. Over 2500 sq feet. Our floor is rubber, offering not only good grip for your dogs’ feet and anti-leg fatigue for you but to aid in cleaning for us. Our facility is heated and has air conditioning so you and your dog will always be comfortable. We provide clean-up supplies (bio bags, clean-up towels, appropriate cleaner) should your pet have an accident. The training room is located on the 2nd floor, so you and your dog will need to walk up a flight of stairs.

Q: Can we come and observe a class?

A: YES! You are always welcome to come and sit in on any class for free to make sure this is the training center for you. Please call ahead to find out what classes are going on and what time they are currently being offered.

Q: Do you offer in-home training or private lessons?

A: Private, one-on-one lessons for you and your dog are available in your home or at our training facilities. One of our trainers will work with you to discuss training goals and expectations and formulate a training plan specifically for your dog. Private lessons provide individual instruction to enhance skills learned in class, to accelerate learning, or to provide instruction for those students who are unable to attend group classes. They are perfect for the new dog owner, the busy family, and anyone else who enjoys a fast-paced, self-directed learning environment. Our trainers are sometimes booked weeks in advance, so appropriate notice is required for changes in appointments.

Missed private lessons, or changes in lessons with less than 48 hr notice, will be charged full fees. Please schedule carefully.

SEE THE FULL CANCELLATION POLICY BELOW

Q: How do I sign up for a class with Tails-A-Wagging?

A: Signing up for a class is easy:

1. Choose the class type or lesson you are looking for. Class and lesson options

2. Create a profile on our app,Paw Partner

3. Create a reservation on Paw Partner and pay on the app

Q: Can we make up a missed group class?

A: We understand life happens and therefore we allow ONE MAKE UP during your class sessions with your current trainer.

Please send a message to your trainer via the Paw Partner app, email them, or chat after class. Your trainer will directly set up your one makeup session.

If you are going to miss more than one session, perhaps choose another date/time that works better in your schedule before signing up

Q: What is your cancellation/refund policy for group and private classes/lessons?

A: Because we are dedicated to maintaining small classes with plenty of one-on-one interaction, we cannot allow for last-minute cancellations. Our cancellation policy includes our COVID policy, should the mask mandate change.

FOR GROUP CLASSES: Cancellations with less than two weeks’ notice will not be refunded, so please plan carefully. Classes canceled in writing via email or via our Paw Partner App with more than 14 days’ notice are subject to your choice of a full refund, credit on your account for 6 months from the purchase date or transfer to another class.  We appreciate your cooperation to help keep our classes small and effective for you.

FOR PRIVATE LESSONS: Cancellations with more than 48 hours of written notice via email or our Paw Partner App are subject to your choice of a full refund, credit on your account for 6 months from the purchase date or rescheduling. For a lesson canceled less than 48 hrs. notice, or for any no-show/no-call appointments, you will be charged a fee of 55% of your lesson rate.

FOR MANDATORY LESSONS (lessons you have been required to sign up for due to a contractual obligation with a rescue group, humane society, or animal control)

Cancellations of the original lesson and rescheduling a new lesson with more than 48 hours of written notice: We will transfer your full payment to the new scheduled lesson.

Cancellations of the original lesson with less than 48 hours notice, or for any no-show/no call appointments. You will be charged a fee of  55% of your lesson rate and will need to re-schedule a lesson again, paying for the remaining balance fee for the lesson.  We will also be required to contact the organization and inform them of your missed lesson.

Q: What is your COVID-19 Policy? updated 6/2022

A:
1) With the re-opening of our state, full families are allowed in class, all are welcome.
2) Please wash your hands in the building before and after the class. You will find 6 washing sinks available to you (3 bathrooms, kitchen, laundry room, and training room)
3) Please take your temperature using our hands-free wall-mounted scanner upon entering the lobby. People with a temperature over 100.4 will not be allowed in class.

4) Please wear a face mask, no matter your vaccination status (all adults and children over the age of 4 are required to wear a mask) We ask that you wear your mask into the building, during class, and not remove it until you get to your car.  We have staff with compromised immune systems and allow children (who may be too young to be vaccinated) into class.  MASKS ARE REQUIRED.

5) If you have had exposure to COVID, are in quarantine or self-isolating, or test positive, please contact the front desk we can assist you in canceling any training or daycare that you have scheduled. Dogs who live with exposed tested positive, or quarantining people are not allowed in class or daycare.

For IN-HOME lessons, we require a face mask to be worn by all people in the home, no matter of vaccination status.  We can appreciate this is YOUR home and you are inviting us into your home, but we are legally obligated to follow Washington State guidelines for in-home service care.  If your decision is to not wear a mask in your home, please contact us and we will issue you a full refund, in accordance with our refund policy.

https://coronavirus.wa.gov/information-for/you-and-your-family/face-masks-or-cloth-face-covering

Acclimating your dog to seeing facemasks on people:

Mask Force: Training Dogs to be Comfortable Around People in Face Masks

5) If your intention is to NOT wear a mask to class or for your in-home training lesson, please contact the front desk and we can issue you a refund for the class before it starts, and in accordance with our refund policy.