FREQUENTLY ASKED

Private Lesson Questions

Q: Are private lessons better than group classes?

 

A: Both services have their benefits. Private lessons offer flexible, 1:1 instruction, and lesson plans which are customized to meet your specific needs and lifestyle.

Group classes are cheaper and more standardized, allowing you to train around regular distractions while also providing your dog with controlled opportunities for socialization.

 

Due to a critical developmental period that closes early in a dog’s life, we strongly recommend that puppies under 18 weeks of age be enrolled in group classes. Dogs who are older than 18 weeks and are 1) generally fearful 2) incessant barkers 3) reactive toward humans or 4) reactive toward other dogs are not suitable for group classes and should enroll in private lessons.

 

Q: Where do you hold private lessons?

 

A: If you live in our Oakland, Berkeley or Emeryville service area, we begin private lessons in the comfort of your home and, when appropriate, eventually progress to field trip lessons. If you live outside of our service area, you have the option of meeting us in one of these locations or signing up for video lessons.

 

Q: I don’t live in your in-home service area. Can you still help?

 

A: Yes! If you live outside of our Oakland, Berkeley and Emeryville service area, you have the option of meeting us in one of these locations or signing up for video lessons.

 

Group Class Questions

Q: Are group classes better than private lessons?

 

A: Both services have their benefits. Private lessons offer customized plans and individualized instruction. If you live in our Oakland, Berkeley or Emeryville service area, we begin private lessons in the comfort of your home and eventually progress to field trip lessons when appropriate. If you live outside of our service area, you have the option of meeting us in one of these locations or signing up for video lessons.

Group classes are cheaper and allow you to train around regular distractions while also providing your dog with controlled socialization opportunities. We strongly recommend that puppies under 18 weeks of age enroll in group classes. Dogs who are older than 18 weeks and are 1) generally fearful 2) incessant barkers 3) reactive toward humans or 4) reactive toward other dogs should enroll in private lessons instead of group classes.

 

Q: What if I need to miss a group class?

 

A: Due to space limitations that restrict our class sizes, we are unable to offer make-up classes. You will still receive the weekly homework handouts via email, so you can practice exercises on your own at home.

 

Q: Can I bring my children to class?

 

A: Yes, we encourage you to bring your children to class, so they can learn how to safely interact with your dog. For safety reasons, we do require that every child (under 13) be accompanied by one adult (over 18).

 

Q: I have multiple dogs. Can I bring them both to class?

 

A: Yes, but each dog must be individually registered and have a separate adult handler during class.

 

Q: My dog is coughing and sneezing. Can I still bring him/her to class?

 

A: For the safety of everyone, please do not bring a sick dog to class. We do, however, encourage you to attend class without your dog, so you can work with him/her when he/she is feeling better. Please contact your veterinarian to discuss symptoms and a treatment plan.

 

Training Questions

Q: What training methods do you use?

 

A: Our goal is that you and your dog learn how to become a more confident team through a relationship built on mutual trust and understanding. We believe in using evidence-based, positive reinforcement training methods, empowering you and your dog to navigate real-world situations without the need for physical force, fear or aversive training tools; learning shouldn't hurt. We focus on teaching the "why" behind the "how" of dog training concepts, enabling you to become a better advocate for a valued member of your family.

 

Q: What is a clicker?

 

A: A clicker is a button that creates a sound which marks the exact moment your dog does something right. When you follow a click with a reward, you create a learning bridge that helps your dog associate his/her good behavior with rewards, which encourages him/her to continue offering the behavior in the future. This association is called classical conditioning.

 

Q: Do I have to use food to train my dog?

 

A: Food is a great reward for good behavior, but it is not the only one you can offer. Praise, toys, petting and the opportunity to play are also effective reinforcers for many dogs. Rewards have different values to different dogs; the key is using what your dog likes.

Q: What is the best age to start training?


A: According to the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, puppies can and should begin training as early as 7-8 weeks of age, as long as they have received their first deworming and round of vaccinations at least seven days prior to beginning class. Puppies go through several developmental stages when it is crucial that certain kinds of learning take place. The most important time for puppy socialization is during the first three months of life. Learn more.

Q: How long does training take?

 

A: It depends. Dogs require consistency in order to learn. This means your dog needs frequent practice, as well as consistent information from everyone who interacts with him/her. The more this happens, the faster you will reach your behavioral goals.

 

We encourage you to think of training as a lifelong process. This does not mean it takes a lifetime to teach a behavior, but it does mean you will need to practice and reward old cues to help your dog retain them. Think of training like learning a new language. It takes practice to learn something new, and it is easy to forget your vocabulary over time.

 

Q: How much time do I have to spend training my dog every day?

 

A: Research has shown that shorter, more frequent training sessions are better for your dog than longer, singular ones. We encourage you to aim for 15-20 minutes of total training time every day, and we suggest breaking that into 3-4 sessions. Do you watch a 60-minute TV program in the evenings? Use your commercial breaks, and you will hit your daily quota right there. Keeping your sessions short leaves your dog wanting to come back for more. It also prevents you from getting overly frustrated if you are struggling to figure something out.

 

Q: My dog lives with multiple people. Who should be involved in training?

 

A: Training is for everyone. As dogs require consistency in order to learn, it is helpful that everyone who interacts with your dog be on the same page. If your dog is receiving different information from different people, you will struggle to reach your goals. Even worse, if your dog cannot figure out why he/she is getting rewarded with you and not your spouse, you can actually create frustration-related behavior problems that you want to avoid.

 

Q: Can you train my dog to be an emotional support animal (ESA)?

 

A: An emotional support dog is simply a companion animal that a medical professional has determined will provide an individual person with a medical benefit. ESAs are not required to receive any kind of formal training, which differs from therapy and service animals. Learn more about the differences between emotional support, service and therapy animals here.

 

At Pawgress, we do not train service animals. We do offer training for dogs and their handlers to become volunteer therapy dog teams. We are also happy to work with ESAs, but no formal training is required.

 

Medical Questions

Q: Does my puppy need all of his/her vaccinations before we begin training? I was told not to go outside until he gets all of his/her shots.


A: According to the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB), puppies can and should begin training as early as 7-8 weeks of age, as long as they have received their first deworming and round of vaccinations at least seven days prior to beginning class. Puppies go through several developmental stages when it is crucial that certain kinds of learning take place. The most important time for puppy socialization is during the first three months of life, and therefore, the AVSAB “believes that it should be the standard of care for puppies to receive such socialization before they are fully vaccinated.” Learn more.

We require proof of vaccinations for distemper, hepatitis (adenovirus-2), parvovirus and parainfluenza, otherwise known as the DHPP or DA2PP vaccination series. Puppies must have received the first round of vaccines and a first deworming at least 7 days prior to the first class. Puppies without proof of these vaccinations will not be allowed in class for the safety of others. We also strongly encourage vaccinations for leptospirosis, bordatella and canine influenza. Please consult with your veterinarian.

 

If your puppy has not received all of his/her vaccinations prior to the start of class, we recommend carrying him/her to and from the car.

Q: What vaccinations does my adult dog need to attend class?

 

A: We require proof of vaccinations for distemper, hepatitis (adenovirus-2), parvovirus and parainfluenza, otherwise known as the DHPP or DA2PP vaccination series. We require proof of rabies vaccination for dogs 20 weeks and older. We also strongly encourage vaccinations for leptospirosis, bordatella and canine influenza. Please consult with your veterinarian.

 

Q: What brand of food should I feed my dog?

 

A: All medical and nutrition questions should be directed to your veterinarian.

 

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Located in Oakland, CA | Waiver of Liability