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What is the training method at It’s PAWSible?

At It’s PAWSible! we use a method called Lure-reward. It is a method that I’ve been using for 17 years and it works really well. All of the instructors have been trained by me so we are all very consistent. The basic idea is to teach behaviors using a lure (treat). This then becomes a hand signal and the treat is “faded”. To see how lures quickly become hand signals, check out  this great video of our trainer Ashlee demonstrating the technique. The treat then becomes a reward and over time you reward randomly depending on what exercise you are doing. Some rewards can be faded quicker than others. I reward the recall “coming when called” for a long time, if not forever! This skill is the most needed and sometimes most difficult one for your dog to do so why not make it worth your dog’s while! 

Do you use clickers?

The answer to this question depends on the class. 

As far as our Puppy class and our Basic Obedience Classes go, any class taught by Michele and Kenzie will introduce clickers as markers for rewards (treats).  Any other Puppy and Basic classes taught by Beth, Pam and Kenzie do not introduce clickers.  Either way, we use all positive reforcement for our training and the end result is the same, a well trained dog.

We are all very famililar with clicker training and love it, we just like to have classes available that suit the desires of our students.  If you know how to use a clicker and want to use one in ANY class, you are more than welcome.  They will not be distracting to us.  

When do classes meet?

Here is a direct link to our training schedule page. We have many options. We also have some great training package specials that will save you a little money! The dates listed are START DATES. If you choose a particular start date then that is the time your class meets each week. Puppy classes are four weeks long and basic obedience classes are 6 weeks long. 

Do dogs come to the first class?

Yes, we do have our dogs come to the first class. We realize that some places do it differently but this is the way we’ve been running the classes for 17 years and we think people like bringing their dog right away. It’s been successful for us. Having said that, I personally, screen the dogs that come either over the phone or in person if I think it’s questionable. So I always feel comfortable with the group. 

Are the group classes safe?

YES! Because I am aware of all of the class sign ups, I feel every class is safe at It’s PAWSible! Of course, we are talking about animals and there are no guarantees ever, but we have been so on top of what we do here that we have had no incidents that have required more than an excusal from class.

What if I think my dog is not quite ready for a group class?

If you think your dog is not ready, it’s a good sign that perhaps he or she is not.   We do class evaluations or behavioral consultations. If you just want to do a quick 30 minute evaluation to see if your dog is ready, we can schedule that. The cost is $45.00. If you want schedule a behavioral consultation which is 90 minutes and will really work on your dog’s “issues” and possibly evaluate for class, the cost for that 90 minute time is $150.00. Should you prefer or feel you need help like this, both of these options need to be scheduled over the phone. Please call us at 413-527-7364.

Who in my family can come to class?

We have a 5000 square foot facility that we planned and had built for the purpose of training dogs. We have plenty of room. You can bring as many people as you want. I think the greatest amount of humans that have come with one dog once was six! But normally there will be 2 or 3 people attending a class with their dog. The more people who learn, the better the consistency so we are all about that!

Can my children come to class?

 Yes, but…Children cannot be disruptive in class. We are very committed to training you and to teach you how to train your dog, and there is a lot of material that we can share. We simply cannot be in charge of the children. I would prefer that children under the age of 5 not come to class as it’s very difficult for them to stay focused for an hour. If you do bring children to class, please be aware that we are expecting you to have full responsibility and that if there is a problem with control, we will ask you to make other arrangements. Also, children need to be told that they cannot go up and visit any of the other dogs in class.   We run a very safe dog training facility at It’s PAWSible! and we are very proud of that. 

How many people will be in the class?

We limit the class size to 12 dogs. We also have 3 instructors so, if there are 8 or more dogs, you will still get plenty of attention. 

What can we plan on learning in class?

The puppy class format and the basic obedience class format are well described on the class schedule page.

What are the best treats for class?

This is very important. Your dog could love dog biscuits at home. He could love dog treats at home or his kibble. But when you take your dog into a very distracting atmosphere, which is what a dog training class is, you need something that will get his attention. We sell many healthy soft training treats at It’s PAWSible! but what I recommend that you bring is cut up real meat (any leftovers are fine). They also sell cooked chicken strips at any grocery store. Get creative! Turkey meatballs, leftover meatloaf!

If your dog never gets anything but kibble and dog cookies and you want to try good healthy soft dog treats, we have plenty available for sale!

I have a young puppy—I see that they are welcome in either puppy or basic class at It’s PAWSible!. What is the difference and how do I decide which one fits us best?
We get asked this one a lot and it’s understandable. My best answer is this: If you have never had a puppy before or if you are having “puppy problems” nipping, biting, housetraining or if you want puppy social time (off-leash playtime), I would choose the puppy class. You will still have an opportunity to take the basic class and you'll even get a discount as a puppy class graduate (puppy grads pay $149 for Basic Obedience). You can look at our schedule of classes on this page.
If you have a new puppy, but have had one before and are not struggling with any “puppy” type problems, feel free to just jump ahead to the basic class. Just understand that the format is more training exercises and there is no puppy playtime. As stated on the website: both classes are puppy friendly. Your new puppy can learn the same exercises as any adult dog can.
What vaccines do you require?
If you are signing up for a basic obedience class, we require your dog to have his rabies vaccination (if over the age of 6 months). If you are signing up for a puppy class, you should be sure your puppy has had at least one set of shots. 
The vaccination protocol I use for my dogs is by Dr. Jean Dodds and Dr. Ronald Schultz who between the two of them have over 80 years of research experience. Here is a direct link to that protocol