Q: What training methods do you use?
A: At Tails, we use the principles of operant conditioning, particularly positive reinforcement, in our training classes. This means that we focus on teaching your dog by rewarding appropriate behavior, instead of constantly correcting your dog for mistakes. Food/toy rewards paired with praise are used during the acquisition phase of learning and the food reward is slowly phased out as the behavior becomes more reliable; thereafter, we maintain the behavior with praise, life rewards and occasional food rewards.
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 dogs 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, down, stay, 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 uses the principles of operant conditioning, particularly positive reinforcement, in our training classes. This means that we focus on teaching your dog by rewarding appropriate behavior, instead of constantly correcting your dog for mistakes. Food rewards paired with praise are used during the acquisition phase of learning and the food reward is slowly phased out as the behavior becomes more reliable; thereafter, we maintain the behavior with praise, life rewards and occasional food rewards. Training based upon harsh physical punishment 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 wanting 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 8 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 new training 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, Pet Gourmet Chunky Chewies 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 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 of class. Please visit our class descriptions at the top of this page, but in general basic training classes vary from $115.00 to $130 for a 6 week course. Advanced classes or classes for severe behavioral issues wil 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 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 or pinch collars in our training classes and discourage their use because these devises 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 day care services at no charge, to encourage good manners.
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 8 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 Pre School, 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.
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 obedience 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 24 hr notice, will be charged to your account. Please schedule carefully.
Q: How do I sign up for a class with Tails-A-Wagging?
A: Signing up for a class is easy:
1. Choose a class.
See all of our current classes here, or we can help you choose with the Class Finder.
2. Select the start date.
3. Fill out the sign up form.
4. Pay Online.
A: Or you can come on in we would love to meet you and your dog! Our front office is open Monday thru Friday from 7am to 6pm. When you come in you will complete information about you and some about your dog. Pre-payment in full is required at that time, we accept cash, check or Visa/MasterCard. Please bring in your dogs’ vaccination history with you at the time of sign up. All classes are filled on a first come first serve basis… our classes fill up fast!
Q: Can we make up a missed class?
A: YES! for all classes, simply call or email the front desk during normal office hours (M-F 7am to 6pm) and the front desk attendant will set up a make up time for you. If you are making up a Puppy Kindergarten Class your pup will join you in the make up session, however, for all other classes only people will attend the make up session. Group classes are small and intimate, with a dynamic all their own, based on the dogs in the established class. That dynamic can shift with the addition of a “make up” dogs. To be fair to the dogs registered in the class, make ups are for people only.
Q: What is your cancellation policy for group classes?
A: Because we are dedicated to maintaining small classes with plenty of one-on-one interaction, we cannot allow for last minute cancellations. Cancellations with less than two weeks’ notice will not be refunded, so please plan carefully. We appreciate your cooperation to help keep our classes small and effective for you.