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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 20 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 important "command" we can teach our dogs and sometimes it's the most difficult one for your dog to do.   We need to make this one worth your dog's effort!  

Do you use clickers?

In our Beginner classes (Puppy and Basic Obedience) we do not use clickers to teach.  I am not opposed to clickers at all, I just feel that many novice dog owners don't want the hassle of one more thing to think about.  If you are clicker savvy and want to use your clicker, I have no problem with that. 

If you ever want to learn the "correct" way to use a clicker, we can do a private lesson.  Many trainers who claim to use clicker training really are not using it the way it was designed to work as a shaping tool.  Just understand, you do not need a clicker to effectively train a dog.   We've been teaching here for 20 years without using clickers with our beginner students.

We are all very famililar with clicker training and love it, we are just trying to encourage people to train the way they want to as long as it is positive reinforcement training.   

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 clients' 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 20 years and we believe 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 the dog's behavior could be questionable for a group class. 

So, I always feel comfortable with the group for my students.

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 and in control of  what we do here that we have had no incidents that have required more than an excusal from class.

This is not by accident.  I work at it.

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.   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, we can also do that.   Should you feel you and/or your dog need help like this, both of these options need to be scheduled over the phone. Please call us at 413-527-7364 and we can discuss the cost or even if it's necessary.  We appreciate your honesty.

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!  In each class, our trainers will work with 1 or 2 people per family only though.  We have to make sure we are giving even time to each individual or family that signs up for a group class.

We are always available for private lessons either here or at your home as well.

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 6 not come to class as it’s very difficult for them to stay focused for an hour.  If you would like to discuss this with me, please call me at 413-527-7364.

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 for the rest of the weeks of class. 

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. 

One more thing to keep in mind, this is a GROUP class so there are other people there without kids and they deserve the same amount of attention as you do.  Thank you for your understanding.   

How many people will be in the class?

We limit the class size to 10  dogs for our basic class and 10 dogs for our puppy classes. We also have 3 instructors so, even if there are 12 dogs in the class you will get plenty of help and support!

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?

GREAT QUESTION!    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!  String cheese is one of my dog's favorites and it's so easy to work with (and inexpensive).

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 puppy class, you should be sure your puppy has had at least one set of  booster shots. 

Here is our policy on puppy shots.  Before you start your puppy class or the night of your first week of puppy class,  you will need to provide us with a copy of your Veterinarian's proof of initial set of shots.  Many puppies that start puppy classes have had at least 2 sets and that's fine too.  But we need to have the proof on paper before your puppy can come to class.  You can either send it to us with our class registration form  to:  60 Main Road, Westhampton, MA  01027.  , or you can drop it off before class starts or your can bring it with you week #1. 

Please,  no faxes or emails.  Thank you for your understanding.

If you are signing up for a basic obedience class with a dog over the age of 6 months,  we require your dog to have his rabies vaccination, this is Massachusetts law.   Please get a copy of this from your vet and send it in with your class registration form or bring it with you to class with your registration form or mail it to:  60 Main Road Westhampton, MA  01027.  

No faxes or emails please.