Frequently Asked Questions for Group Classes
Such a challenging world we live in!
At It's PAWSible!, we have been committed to providing the safest community for our clients to come and train their dogs. We are following all mandated requirements by the State of Massachusetts and local health departments. We are limiting our dog and handler teams to 1-2 people per dog. If you are attending a Private lesson or Behavior Consultation, 3 or 4 people is okay. Governor Baker has lifted the face mask requirements and we have followed suit. If you have been vaccinated and you feel comfortable not wearing a mask, you are welcome to act accordingly. The Town of Westhampton is not requiring masks at this time and currently, I am not wearing a mask while teaching. My assistants and I have been vaccinated and boostered as well.
Additionllay, my training center is 5000 square feet of open space so social distancing is not a problem. We still have hand sanitizing stations in multiple locations.
At It's PAWSible!, I require at least two sets of shots. Often by the time puppies start class, they usually have had two rounds of vaccinations. I also require that a puppy is home (either from a shelter or from the breeder) at least 2 weeks before starting the Ultimate Puppy Class.
New puppy owners should check out the Puppy Socializations Position Statement by the AVSAB (American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior) on the importantance of early socialization and how a puppy has more likelihood of developing a behavior problem from lack of socialization then he or she has the liklihood of contracting a disease.
For this reason, as a trainer and behavior consultant who is constantly studying training and behavior in dogs and puppies, I only require that first 2 sets of shots. Hopefully after reading the above position statement you will agree.
Ultimately the decision as to when YOU start classes is yours, not your Veterinarian and not me. I will only say that in 25 years of teaching puppy classes, I have NEVER had any puppy get ill. That's thousands of puppies!
We would love to tell you. Here are the three main reasons!
1) All three of our Pet Dog trainers that teach the Basic Manners and the Ultimate Puppy Classes are Nationally Certified through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT). We attain the CPDT-KA Credentials through a very extensive exam that is offered only twice a year. The test is no joke, it's very difficult as the council wants to be sure that we know what we are doing and also that we understand the science of animal learning. I am also certified through the same council as a Certified Canine Behavior Consultant (CBCC-KA). Again these credentials took a lot of study to attain. We all have to take continuing education courses if we want to keep these credentials, too.
2) The training center was built for dog training. Our 5000 square foot training center is clean, beautiful and when you walk in, you would never know it's 20 plus years old. You will not even smell a trace of dog smells here. That takes effort and we put it forth. Our center is heated in the winter and air conditioned in the summer.
3) Probably the most important: The training you will receive is the best. It's PAWSible! has been here long before others and we continue to be here when some dog training businesses quit.
We care deeply about your success and we are here for you for as much information as you want. You won't just learn sit, down, stay and the basics. You will learn how to handle true life issues and concerns. We understand that the best method of advertisement is to have a great reputation and we know we do. But we are aware we have to not only earn that, but keep that too!
As the owner of this business answering these questions, you can see I'm very proud of what we have accomplished here. I hope I've convinced you which is most important.
At It’s PAWSible! we use a method called Lure-reward. It is a method that I’ve been using for 25 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 one of our trainers demonstrates 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!
In our Beginner classes (Ultimate Puppy and Basic Manners) 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 how to effectively use a clicker, we can do a private lesson. Just understand, you do not need a clicker to effectively train a dog. We've been teaching here for 25 plus years with lots of successful students without using clickers.
Keep in mind the trainers here are all very famililar with clicker training and love it, we are just trying to encourage people to train the way they are most comfortable as long as it is positive reinforcement training.
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. Both the Ultimate Puppy Class and Basic Manners classes are six weeks long.
We have a 5000 square foot facility that we planned and had built for the purpose of training dogs. We have plenty of room. Before the pandemic, I would encourage large families to come but now I limit the human participation to 2. It's important to understand that your dog doesn't learn here, he learns at home with your family.
To help with this, we have two options for an extra helpful training tool. We have the It's PAWSible! Dog Training DVD that I wrote and produced that has over 3 hours of information on it. It makes a great tool to help families be consistent.
In 2020, I introduced my Online Basic Manners course. This version also has so much available to you by way of video instruction and PDF files that you can print. Either of these can be purchased on line or by a simple phone call!
But having a tool like this is great for family members to help keep everyone doing the same thing.
I am always available for private lessons.
Please see above for COVID19 requirements. Only 2 humans per dog allowed at this time.
If you do bring children to class, please be aware that we are expecting you to have full responsibility for them and that if there is a problem with being able to control children, we will ask you to make other arrangements for the rest of session.
One point I like to make when people call about bringing children is: You came here to learn and you get one hour a week in your live class. If a child attends with you, will you be able to fully concentrate to get as much out of this course as possible?
It's also important to realize that this is a GROUP class so there are other people there without children and they deserve the same amount of attention as you do. For that reason, I have to be sure that adults realize the responsbility that they have when they bring young children to class.
Thank you for your understanding.
Since COVID19, I am limiting my puppy and basic manners class sizes to 8-9 dogs until further notice For Beginner Agility classes, 6 to 8 dogs and my advanced agility classes on Fridays are limited to 5 to 6 dogs. Each class can have a maximum of 2 humans attending. Most classes have only one handler attending.
If you think your dog may not be ready, it’s a good sign that perhaps he or she is not. Oftentimes, dogs new to families (rescue or shelter dogs) or adolescent dogs who have seemingly suddenly become "out of control", need a consultation before they come to a group class. This is for safety reasons but also to help you and your dog be set up for success. This would be in the form of a behavioral consultation.
If you want schedule a behavioral consultation which is 90 minutes, we can do that. I would praise your intuitions and let you know right now, that you are making the right choice! By working one on one first, we can work directly on your issues and concerns about your dog. Your dog also gets to be in the training center without the pressure of other dogs or people.
We appreciate your honesty.
There are no make ups for missed classes. However, people miss classes all the time. Life is very busy and also unexplained colds and sickness can sometimes cause someone to miss a class. We will do everything in our power to make sure you are caught up.
However, don't let a vacation cause you to put off training. Your dog is learning all the time and you want to try and control what he learns. The goal is to have him learn only good things! Good dog training information will help you to attain that goal.
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). You can also buy cooked chicken strips or even beef 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!