Dog training is an unregulated industry. Anyone can say that they are a dog trainer. To become a better dog trainer, Lucy became a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) because their motto is “Building Better Trainers Through Education.” Years of extensive reading and practical experience paid off when, in 2003, Lucy passed the exam to become a Certified Professional Dog Trainer-Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA). The exam is independently administered by the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT). “The CPDT-KA designation indicates that a dog trainer has demonstrated the excellence necessary to earn the certification, including an experiential requirement of 300 hours; provision of references from a client, veterinarian, and colleague; and passing a written examination covering the science of dog training.”

In 2008, Lucy passed the written and practical exams to become a Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner (KPA-CTP). “Candidates for Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner participate in an extensive educational program culminating in a detailed assessment of their technical knowledge and hands-on skill teaching pet owners and training pet dogs. Successful candidates must complete the program, earn the equivalent of an A on each component of the assessment process, and pledge to uphold Karen Pryor Academy standards and practices.”

In 2009, Lucy became certified by TAGteach International at the primary level. She uses TAGteach methods to help coach people as they train their dogs. “TAGteach is a revolutionary science-based system that enables educators and coaches to teach more effectively and helps students to learn more quickly and more confidently.”

Meet us in person on Ask the Trainer Thursdays at Kingsbury Animal Hospital or Meet the Trainer Thursdays at Central West End Veterinary Clinic. There you can get a feel for our training style.

We use “clicker training” which involves using a metallic click or similar sound to “mark” the moment when a puppy or dog gives us the behavior we want – then we reward and build on that behavior. This method does not involve force, punishment, or the use of choke chains on dogs. When working to change unwanted behavior, we explore what opportunity the dog has to perform the behavior and what might be reinforcing it. We identify a new behavior to teach the dog to take the place of the unwanted one.
We trust the science behind the methods we use and we are quite skilled in the art of applying them. The basic skills are easy to learn. Success always requires consistency from the owner and often a new way of relating to the dog. We cannot guarantee that everyone will have enough time or interest to follow through, no matter how much they care about their dog.
All dog breeds, all mixes, all ages, all sizes. We evaluate each dog as an individual. We will refuse to work with individual dogs of any breed or mix if they appear to have dangerous tendencies, body language, or behavior.
Training classes work very well for many people, but not for every dog or every owner. Some puppies are too young to attend puppy class. Some dogs’ behavior – barking, lunging, pulling on lead, excessive shyness, aggressive displays – is too disruptive for a class setting. Extreme behavior issues need to be addressed privately before those dogs are ready to attend a training class. Many training classes do not address behavior issues. We can work on a wide variety of them in your home, where they occur. It can help us assess a problem to see where the problem behavior occurs. Sometimes a management solution is all that is needed. Some individuals find it difficult to come to a class, whether they have mobility issues, young children they would like to include in the training process, another pet who needs to be factored into training, a work schedule that does not allow them to attend class, or any number of other reasons. And some people just prefer to train their dogs at home.
Absolutely! Adult dogs are open to training and can change their behavior. The trick is to make the behaviors you find desirable rewarding to the dog as well. That said, some dogs have emotional issues that must be addressed before they will be open to learning. Their world view may be based on early experiences which are the foundation for their belief system. Teaching an old dog without issues new tricks is similar to teaching a tennis player how to play golf. Changing the world view of a dog with issues can be more like getting a person to change to a different political party or religion. It may not be as easy!

Yes, we offer three types of classes:

  • Puppy classes for puppies 8 to 12 weeks old
  • Single session introductory programs to learn about clicker training
  • Levels classes for people who want to develop their training skills

Puppy Classes

Based on the book, Social, Civil and Savvy: Training and Socializing Puppies to Become the Best Possible Dogs by Laura VanArendonk Baugh. These classes provide an opportunity to expose you puppy to new things in a safe environment, learn how to train effectively and ask questions of an experienced breeder whose has raised many well-mannered puppies.

Introductory Programs

Bring your dog and learn how to get started with positive reinforcement clicker training. This program alternates between lecture and hands-on training with plenty of time for individual questions and discussion.

Training Skills

The classes are small (two to five dog-handler teams) and offered in both afternoon and evening time slots. The curriculum is based on five-week sessions. Participants may start at any point in the curriculum allowing for open enrollment. There are five levels: Levels 1 and 2 are offered simultaneously. Some people finish these in five weeks, some people repeat these levels before going on, and some people get what they need from these levels.

Levels 1&2: 5 weeks
Level 3: 5 weeks
Level 4: 5 weeks
Level 5: 5 weeks

Written materials in the form of a workbook are provided. The written materials complement the activities done in class and understanding the content is critical to success in the subsequent levels. To go on to Level 3, the workbook for Levels 1&2 must be completed.

The skills practiced in these classes can be used in any type of training. Pet owners enjoy learning how to communicate more effectively with their dogs. People who participate in dog sports have an opportunity to fine-tune their training skills for even greater success.

In general, we separate the handler skills from the dog skills. Handlers train their dogs to perform behaviors that are not important to them so that the handler skills are well developed before teaching the dog behaviors that are important. Although many behaviors are required or suggested by the curriculum, handlers may also work on behaviors of their choice.

Handlers are required to use positive reinforcement although they may use a marker other than a clicker. Prong collars, slip collars and retractable leashes are prohibited.