Behaviour Consultation and Private Training

Scratch and Sniff Canine Services offers behaviour consultations for fear, reactivity and aggression, as well as private instruction for obedience/manners in Guelph, ON. Abiding by the widely accepted Humane Hierarchy, we employ the least invasive, minimally aversive positive reinforcement-based methods to resolve your dog’s behaviour problems. All students are encouraged to attend the Orientation session at no charge!

Behaviour consults take place with Emily Fisher, a Certified Dog Behaviour Consultant, certified through the International Association of Animal Behaviour Consultants (IAABC).

Please read private session policy prior to payment. This page includes general information, policy, and waiver. The Private Training FAQ addresses frequently asked questions.

Behaviour Consultations

Behaviour consultations are tailored to the needs of the individual dog, owner and circumstance with a focus on behaviour assessment and skill-acquisition for both dog and owner. Owners will learn theory and method through discussion, demonstration and hands-on work with their dog. Personalized notes, handouts and resources are provided, and email follow-up is provided following training sessions.

For dogs who:

    • Have bitten or are at risk of biting a person, dog or other animal
    • Show aggressive or reactive displays in response to people, dogs or other animals
    • Panic when left alone/separation anxiety (bark, howl, house soil, drool, destructive chewing when alone)
    • Are fearful, scared or anxious in response to people, dogs or other animals
    • Are fearful, scared or anxious in response to sounds, objects, or storms
    • Are protective/possessive of/aggressive around food, toys, bed, or other objects (resource guarding)
    • Do not like to be touched, handled or groomed
    • Have other similar issues rooted in emotional discomfort

Private Training for Manners, Obedience and Puppies

In training sessions for obedience and manners, owners will learn the basics of how dogs learn and thus how best to teach them, and will gain a thorough understanding of the mechanics of positive reinforcement training. Not only will we address the specific issue for which the owner seeks help, we will also provide an over-arching emphasis on assimilation of knowledge. All sessions will come complete with notes, handouts, videos, and email follow-up.

Those considering private training for manners are encouraged to view group classes, such as the Puppy Socialization and Life Skills programs.

For dogs who:

    • Ignore their owner and will not comply with requests
    • Will not come or stay when asked
    • Jump up to greet people
    • Pull on leash when out for a walk
    • Run out the front door without permission (door dashing)
    • Want to chase inappropriate targets
    • Puppy concerns, including nipping, teething, chewing, house training, crate training, alone training, socialization guidance, problem prevention, etc.

Training Services and Pricing

• Initial Session 2hr session


After completion of this session, clients may choose to continue with Single Sessions or the Package of Five. This session must be used within 90 days of purchase.

• Single session 60min


After completing the Initial Session all clients are welcome to purchase Single SessionsThis session must be used within 90 days of purchase.

• Package of Five – 5hr total

$450+HST (Save $50!)

After completing the Initial Session all clients are welcome to purchase a Package of Five at discount.  All five sessions must be completed within six months of payment.

• Puppy Class Add-On 60min

$80+HST (Save $20!)

This session is available exclusively to current students of our Puppy Socialization Class and must be purchased and used before the official end date of your puppy program.

Behaviour Consultation and Private Training Purchase

Contact the office prior to purchase, then click here to purchase your package. Scheduling appointments directly with the office.

*Click on the thumbnail for the service area. TravelService Area for dog training in guelph fees apply to a limited distance outside of this area, contact the office to see if your home is within travel distance (if not, you are welcome to come to the facility).

Please read private session policy prior to payment. This page includes general information, policy, and waiver. The Private Training FAQ addresses frequently asked questions.

Ready to get started? Contact the office 226.486.1244 or by email

Orientation/Info Session

The Orientation session is a 2-hour-long, people-only session. It is a mandatory first class for all group class students, as well as a free information session for private students or those who are still deciding whether Scratch and Sniff Canine Services for them.

The Orientation session covers important information such as body language, how dogs learn, how to train most effectively, participation in activities, and class information. Upcoming dates and times can be found on the side bar of this website, as well as on the schedule. Please pre-register if you would like to attend this free session.

Interested to know more general info about training method prior to attending? Take a look at the Group Class FAQ or the Private Training FAQ, and browse through the website for resources, videos, and other information. We are very transparent about our training method, and hope that attendees will enjoy the in-depth information provided in this free session.

Please review the following guidelines:

      • This is a people-only class, so please leave your pups at home for this session.
      • Bring indoor shoes during wet seasons.
      • Park in the Baker Street parking lot or on surrounding streets. Please do not park directly outside of the building.
      • If you require more than two spots in the session please alert the office in advance and you will be accommodated if possible.
      • Check the location on the map above in advance of your Orientation. Chapel Lane is a small street in downtown Guelph and many GPS units locate it incorrectly. The phone will not be answered immediately prior to Orientation.
      • For Adult Dogs:
        • For dogs over six (6) months, please provide proof of rabies vaccination (certificate or a letter from their veterinarian, not tags) at or prior to the first class with your dog.
      • For Puppies:
        • All puppy students are required to have a letter signed by their vet and returned to the office prior to their first class. Click here to save/print the letter.
          • This letter indicates that the puppy has been to the vet, has received at least one set of vaccinations and is free of parasites and illness. Note that this letter must be returned to the office in order to attend class, for the safety of all puppies there are no exceptions.


Ready to get started? 

1. Review Policy

All students are asked to review policy applicable to their service of choice: Group Class policy or Private Training policy. Registration and payment indicate acceptance of these policies. 

2. Book Your Orientation Session Online!

The ‘people-only’ Orientation Session is the mandatory first class for all group class students, and a valuable supplement to private training. This session is open to the public at no cost and with no obligation, and requires pre-registration.

Get Started Button

*Have you adopted a dog with a “mandatory training” condition from the Guelph Humane Society or other rescue? Please contact the office prior to your Orientation date to arrange an express registration/proof of purchase so the shelter will release your new companion.

If you cannot attend the group Orientation session, please contact the office. A discounted private session may be arranged.

If you require any assistance, please contact us by email or phone 226.486.1244

How to Read Your Dog’s Mind

This article appeared in the Nov 2016 Speaking of Dogs Newsletter.

How to Read Your Dog’s Mind

Last night, I read a dog’s mind. His owner was working on recall, training his dog to come when called. I suggested, “Billy is going to notice the person sitting over there on his way past and is going to want to go say hi. I want you to recall from a closer distance and angle away from that person so he’s further away.”

Guess what? The owner made a mistake and didn’t angle away from the person… and Billy recalled half way and then ran up to the person sitting across the room to say hi.

Billy’s owner said to me, “Did you read his mind? How did you know he was going to do that?”

In a sense, I did read his mind… and you can too!

Look Where the Dog Looks, Notice What He Notices

The most critical element of “mind reading” is to look where your dog looks and notice what he’s noticing. Dog’s don’t rest their gaze on things for no reason, and you can learn a lot about what a dog is thinking simply by noticing what they look at, how long they look at it, how they look at it, and how frequently they look at it.

This is what I saw Billy do. As he passed by the person, he looked over, pulled his ears back, and gave a little wiggle. It took him about one second between noticing the person and disengaging, but it was a very telling second!

This is such a simple idea, but it can be hard to do in daily life. It takes a lot of practice to notice these subtle changes in your dog’s behaviour, especially brief glances and slight changes in body language.

What Has the Dog Done in the Past?

How your dog has behaved previously will give you a lot of insights. This is especially important for owners of reactive or fearful dogs, because there could be a lot riding on your ability to see patterns in your dog’s behaviour so that you can take appropriate action before a situation escalates.

Billy often looks at me in the same way he looked at the person he went to say hi to. I know that when he looks at me like that, he will greet me enthusiastically if given the opportunity. Given that pattern of behaviour, when I saw him noticing the person in the training area, I speculated that he would likely do the same thing he’s done in the past.

Body Language

Gaining an understanding of body language is a critical aspect to learning to mind read. Body language needs to be read in the context of the situation, your dog’s past history of behaviour, and each body part relative to the whole picture. For example, a fast wagging tail doesn’t necessarily indicate that a dog is friendly; it just indicates that a dog is aroused. It might be that the dog is excited to see you, but it might also be that the dog is angry or agitated. You can only know by looking at the whole picture.

When Billy looked at the person he wanted to greet, he dropped his head down and forward, crinkled his ears back, licked his lips, squinted his eyes, and had a soft, low wagging tail. I was not worried that Billy was going to run at this person angrily because his body language was typical of a polite and soft greeting. However, this body language also indicated that he was likely to veer off course from his recall.

An Emotional Assessment

Another mind reading strategy is to understand how your dog feels in any given situation. Strong emotion will always override your training, so training that is falling apart can be a good assessment of your dog’s emotional state. Your dog could be fearful or angry, happy, or over-stimulated. A few good tests of emotional state include:

• Will your dog eat treats? If they won’t eat, that is very telling of stress.

• Is your dog snatching the treats out of your hand or taking them gently? If your usually gentle dog is eating your fingers along with the treats, they’re telling you they’re feeling agitated.

• Is your dog taking the treat and scanning the environment, or taking the treat and asking for more? If they’re eating the treat but scanning around or walking away, they’re telling you that they’re feeling uncomfortable.

• Will your dog respond to well-known cues or hand signals? If they’re not responding to well-known and quietly spoken cues, they’re telling you that they need help to settle or need to work in a different environment.

If your dog is not feeling safe or calm, you can bet that you’ll see problem behaviours like barking and lunging or not responding to you. It’s critical that you take this as a set of “symptoms” of your dog’s mental state rather than see it as your dog being unmannerly or disobedient. Reading your dog’s emotional state is a critical part of mind reading.

Developing Foresight

What’s the use of mind reading if you don’t use that information to your advantage? Based on body language and knowing Billy is a young and social dog, I suspected that he would take the opportunity to greet the person in the training space. I therefore offered a modified plan for the recall. The owner was able to follow the direction on the next recall, and the dog performed beautifully.

Distance is very important to dogs. If they are bothered or excited by something in the environment, a primary way to diffuse this is to increase the physical distance between the dog and the distraction. And don’t be stingy! In a training session you can also look at what you’re asking of your dog. In Billy’s case, we shortened the distance of the recall and increased the distance from the distraction. You can also positively reinforce with food or toys. The more frequently you reinforce your dog, the more likely they are to work through a distraction. If you’re dealing with behaviour problems, like reactivity, fear, or aggression, I encourage you to seek guidance from a positive reinforcement trainer qualified to work through behaviour problems.

If you notice what your dog notices, read their body language accurately, and see this in the context of your dog’s past behaviour, you’ll be able to modify your training to help your dog succeed. Your dog’s success is your success, and your dog’s failure is your failure. Learning to “mind read” will benefit you both!

Smart Socialization Puppy Seminar

“Socialization: That just means having friends over and going to the dog park, right…?”

Think again!

You’ve probably heard about socialization, but do you really know what that means? Often, “common knowledge” approaches to socialization can do more damage than they do good.  Proper socialization is like a ‘behavioural vaccine’ that can protect your puppy from developing a multitude of behaviour problems as an adult.

  • Did you know that this “window of socialization” closes at a very young age?
  • Do you know what are you doing now that might be putting your puppy at risk as an adult?
  • Are you missing critical pieces of the socialization puzzle?

Come learn about Socialization, what it is, what you need to do, and what you need to avoid. All profits to benefit Speaking of Dogs Rescue.

Upcoming Dates:

No planned dates at this time

This is a “people-only” seminar


Book your spot online HERE.

Are you interested in joining Puppy Socialization Class with your puppy? Click here for more info!

Training as Teaching

Article as it appears in the March 2016 Speaking of Dogs Newsletter, “Ask the Trainer Column”

“Education is not the filling of a bucket but the lighting of a fire.”

Scenario A, Learner’s Perspective

You’re sitting in a high school math class, Introduction to Calculus. The teacher is facing the blackboard, a plethora of letters spouting from her lips as squiggles, stripes, and puzzle shapes sprawl across the board. She concludes triumphantly, “So you can obviously see the tangent line at (x, f(x)) – the derivative f(x) of a curve at a point is, of course, the slope of the line tangent to that curve at that point.”

You raise your hand and stumble through a question. The teacher snaps, “Have you not been listening to a word I’ve said? Differential calculus, the derivative is a linear operator!” She whacks the chalk into the blackboard hard enough to crumble the end to dust.

You nod, still not understanding. Is it too late to drop this class? Maybe you won’t follow your passion for science if this is what it’s going to be like. Continue reading Training as Teaching

Advanced Manners

Building on what you’ve learned in our Life Skills Program, the Advanced Manners Program will build your training skills beyond the basics. Learn how to proof behaviours using distractions including food, toys, people and other dogs. There will be a special focus on stay and recall in the face of distractions.

This course is ideal for those who:

  • Have a dog who is distracted by other dogs and people, but is friendly and is not reactive (barking/lunging, or stiff greetings – see below)
  • Have completed the Life Skills Program
  • Would like to create better reliability and compliance in their dog in the face of distractions, particularly social distractions
  • Want to continue to build practical daily training skills

Requirements and Prerequisites:

  • Dogs absolutely must be overtly friendly with other dogs and humans. There will be close contact interactions between dogs during this class. This class is not for dogs with social difficulties including: barking, lunging, growling, stiff approaches, snarking/snapping upon greeting a dog, hard stares at dogs, etc. If this describes your dog, please see below.
  • Completion of the Life Skills Program
  • Dogs must be at least 6mo and have had received all puppy vaccinations
  • Prerequisites include a basic understanding of the following skills as taught with clicker training:
    • Sit/Down
    • Stay
    • Recall
    • Loose leash walking
    • Hand target

Does your dog have “Big Feelings”? Is she reactive, worried, or intense in her reactions? Check out the Control Unleashed Program as well as Private Training. If you’re unsure, contact the office to set up a free assessment.

Pricing and Schedule


8 hours over 8 consecutive weeks

Starting Wednesday May 31st, 8:30-9:30

(Complete dates: May 31, June 7, 14, 21, *SKIP A WEEK*, July 5, 12, 19, 26)


Contact the office with questions and to register. An assessment may be required, free of charge, to ensure this class is suitable.

Let’s Get Started!

Ready to get started in training at Scratch and Sniff Canine Services? Follow these two easy steps!

1. Review Policy

All students are asked to review policy applicable to their service of choice: Group Class policy or Private Training policy. Registration and payment indicate acceptance of these policies. 

Don’t be afraid – The policy is not lengthy and is written in plain English. It is important for you to know!

2. Book Your Orientation Session!

The ‘people-only’ Orientation Session is the mandatory first class for all group class students, and a valuable supplement to private training. This session is open to the public at no cost and with no obligation, and requires pre-registration. Please be sure to review the important information on the Orientation webpage.

If you cannot attend the group Orientation session, please contact the office.

Click the link below to be taken to the online registration system, and navigate to the session you’re like to attend, click Sign In and create an account.  Easy as that! Class payments can be made at the Orientation session via credit/cash/cheque. *

Get Started Button

*Have you adopted a dog with a “mandatory training” condition from the Guelph Humane Society or other rescue? Please contact the office prior to your Orientation date to arrange an express registration/proof of purchase so the shelter will release your new companion.

Rally Obedience FUNdamentals

Rowan Heeling 5Rally Obedience is a dog sport that focuses on fun and connection. A rally course is made up of numbered stations at which the dog and handler must perform the described exercise. In order to achieve a flowing performance, the dog and handler must master foundation skills such as heel, pivots, position changes, fluid cuing, and finishes.

Continue reading Rally Obedience FUNdamentals