Private Training FAQ

Private dog training for fear, reactivity, aggression, manners, obedience and puppies.

When is private training the best option?

Private training is the best option for dealing with issues of  reactivity, fear and aggression. It is also the best option for manners/obedience for owners wanting to pursue focused training on a single topic, prefer one-on-one training and for those owners with schedules that cannot accommodate the group class program.

How much does private training cost?

All pricing is listed on the Private Training webpage.

Where are you located? What is your service area?

Private training is offered in your home or at the facility. The school is located at 37 Chapel Lane in downtown Guelph. There is a map of the school and service area for in home sessions on the Contact page. Contact the office to find out if travel to your location can be accommodated, and to determine any applicable travel fees.

What are your hours?

Private training may be booked during days, evenings or weekends. Specific availability varies by week.

What is your booking/cancellation policy?

The digital invoice must be paid within two days to hold your appointment time. Notice of cancellation must be made 48 hours in advance or there is a full charge for the missed session. Please read full policy here.

How many sessions/how long does it take to solve my problem?

The length of time or number of sessions that it will take to solve the issue is very much dependent on the issue, the owner and the dog. For example, an owner looking to teach a non-aggressive dog to settle at the sound of a door bell may take only one or two sessions, however working through multiple issues involving fear or aggression will take multiple sessions. There is a discount available on multi-session packages, as outlined on the Private Training webage. Owners acquire skills at different rates of speed and this in turn affects the dog.

Do you offer a guarantee?

In order to remain in compliance with the CCPDT Code of Ethics, I do not offer a guarantee.  A trainer teaches an owner how to train their dog; thus, asking a trainer for a guarantee isn’t asking for a guarantee on training methods, it’s asking for a guarantee on one’s own behaviour inasmuch as it affects the dog. I will guarantee that you will receive up-to-date information and instruction on force-free training methodology, support, guidance and consideration of the wants and needs of you and your dog.

What is the owner’s role in training?

Your role is invaluable! Your job will be to assure that you understand the information given to you and adhere to the training protocols laid out for you and your dog. My “dream client” is engaged, actively listens and assimilates information, asks lots of questions and requests clarification when necessary, frequently gives and requests feedback, and is overall an active partner in training. I want to work with you to help you and your dog, and I can’t do it without you!

What do I need to prepare for my session?

  • Completed Behaviour Questionnaire
    • This will be sent to you via email. Complete in detail it on your computer and return it via email in advance of your session. Do not print, complete by hand or save it as a PDF. If you experience technical difficulties please contact the office.
  • Treats
    • Prepare extraordinary treats, the smellier/grosser the better. For example: sandwich meats, dehydrated organ meats, cooked and chopped lean meat from the butcher, or tripe treats
    • NO veggies, fruit, kibble, hard biscuits, etc.
    • Chop treats no larger than the size of a pea (or smaller for tiny dogs)
    • Minimum 300 pieces
    • Choose treats that will not upset your dog’s stomach
  • Pouch
    • Purchase a fanny pack, a treat pouch from the pet store, or a rock climbing chalk pouch, or notify your trainer and one will be available for purchase.
    • NO pockets and over-the-shoulder type bags
  • Equipment
    • Have ready your regular walking equipment (leash, harness, etc) as well as any favourite toys.
  • Feeding/Exercise
    • If the session falls near a meal time, please feed only a very small portion of the meal earlier than usual. Cut back on all meals to accommodate the extra calories of training treats.
    • Exercise your dog appropriately prior to your session, however be sure not to exhaust your dog.
  • For dogs who are not friendly with people
    • For in-home sessions please secure your dog in a room out of sight from the front entrance. (i.e. in a room with a door closed, not in a crate in the front entry way). Ensure that your dog is not able to open the door or otherwise escape or injure her/himself.
    • For in-school sessions please discuss this with your trainer prior to your session.

What methods do you use for behaviour modification training?

Respect for the dog’s physical, mental and emotional well-being is a foremost priority in any training at Scratch and Sniff Canine Services. Behaviour modification training focus on creating good associations with a trigger and teaching the dog how to make good choices, particularly when under stress. This training is not about controlling the dog, it is about returning agency to the dog. A dog who feels in control of herself feels safe and secure, thus removing the root cause of most behaviour issues (fear, anxiety, stress, over-arousal, etc). Our goal is to demonstrate to your dog that she is able to make choices and more importantly to teach her how to make good ones. It is important to note that the dog is never pushed to react and then punished; modern behaviour modification training must be conducted sub-threshold in order for a dog’s behavioural and emotional reactions to change. (Learn more about what “threshold” is.)

Specific protocols include:

Positive Reinforcement

Positive Reinforcement refers to a type of consequence: offering the dog something they want in order to increase the frequency of a behaviour. This is not a bribe because the dog is not shown up-front the “thing” they want (“here’s what you get if you perform”). Consequences occur after the behaviour has happened, as opposed to a lure (or “bribe”) which is used first in order to prompt a behaviour. Lures have their place, however must be used properly and do not play a significant role in behaviour modification training. Positive reinforcement is an over-arching theme of training and provides a foundation to change a dog’s behavioural and emotional reaction to a trigger.

Classical Counter Conditioning

Classical counter conditioning is an element of classical conditioning, also known as Pavlovian conditioning. This focuses not on behaviour but on emotional response. The dog is exposed to the trigger sub-threshold (dog notices but does not react) and this exposure is paired or associated with “good stuff” and pleasant experiences. This acts to change a dog’s emotional response by changing the meaning of the trigger.

Desensitization

Desensitization involves incremental, sub-threshold exposure to a trigger. Desensitization is used in conjunction with other methods and is an element of any training that exposes a dog to a trigger sub-threshold. Note that desensitization is not flooding! Flooding is a very detrimental method that involves exposing a dog to the trigger at great intensity, usually for a prolonged period. Imagine having a deathly fear of scorpions and being locked in a small box filled with them! Flooding often provokes a “freeze” response (“learned helplessness”), similar to a mouse that has been caught by a cat. This is not indicative of relaxation, and the dog is not calm. For more information on this, please read this article.

Control Unleashed

Control Unleashed is a program developed by Leslie McDevitt to teach dogs how to regulate their own levels of arousal, increase focus and decrease reactivity. The exercises are based in teaching incompatible behaviours with positive reinforcement and counter conditioning a dog’s emotional response to triggers. Scratch and Sniff Canine Services offers group classes to coach students through the CU program.

Behaviour Adjustment Training

Behaviour Adjustment Training is a protocol designed by Grisha Stewart for fear, reactivity and aggression. It works by exposing the dog sub-threshold to the trigger and using a functional reward, most often distance from the trigger, to reinforce socially appropriate behaviours. The foundation of BAT training lies in the owner learning to read their dog’s body language and teaching the dog how to deal with stressful or uncomfortable situations using non-confrontational means.