Puppy, Manners and Obedience Training

Unlock your dog’s full potential by focusing on building strong behaviours and a strong relationship through rewards-based training.

We’ll meet one-on-one in your home or neighbourhood in Guelph, in another predetermined location in Guelph, or through virtual video conferencing, to put in place the strategies and education you and your dog need to meet your manners and obedience goals.

Manners and Obedience Training

Manners are important, whether we’re talking about polite leash walking or not stealing your dinner off the counter! Mannerly pooches are invited into public places, and it takes more than wishful thinking to make this happen.

In our customized training packages, we can address a multitude of manners and training goals, such as:

  • Come when called
  • Polite leash walking
  • Settle and stay
  • Door dashing
  • Counter surfing
  • Jumping to greet
  • And more!

Puppy Socialization

Puppy Training extends beyond sit, come and stay! It’s critical to get puppies off to the right start through facilitating safe and proactive socialization (hint: this doesn’t mean meeting every single person and dog…), cultivating your own understanding of developmental and age-appropriate behaviour and expectations, and how to manage a puppy in the home day-to-day.

Do You Need EXTRA Support?

Check out Day Training for premium training programs if you need support beyond routine training sessions and resources. In Day Training, I will come to your home to train your dog or puppy while you’re at work or going about your day-to-day life, and transfer these skills to you in our regular coaching sessions.

Do You Have BIGGER Problems?

If you’re seeing behaviour such as:

  • Aggression
  • Fear
  • Reactivity – barking/lunging
  • Resource guarding/Food or toy aggression
  • Separation anxiety
  • Over-simulation, overwhelm, or frantic behaviour
  • Redirected aggression
  • Aggression or fear of handling/vet/groomer
  • Other BIG FEELINGS!

Take a moment to navigate over to the Behaviour Consulting webpage for information specific to your needs.

Private Dog Training in the City of Guelph, Ontario


Let’s Train Your Dog!

  1. Click here for details and package pricing
  2. Review Policy and FAQ
  3. Complete the inquiry form by clicking the button below

Train Like a Trainer!

Have you ever wondered how a trainer does it? Trainers aren’t hiding their magic wands from you! The steps below outline a few of the things great trainers do to help their dogs flourish and become the best dog they can be.  

Don’t be stingy!

Training is not minimum wage work! Don’t expect your dog to work for less than you do at your job. Being stingy with reinforcements is a sure-fire way to minimize learning and demotivate your dog. 

Reinforcement is feedback for your dog, letting her know she is on the right track. If you don’t provide reinforcements often enough, your dog will not be clear on the task. This is equivalent to emailing your boss for clarification on a project and not getting a reply for a week. If you don’t provide a sufficiently valuable reinforcement, your dog will not be motivated to stick with the training session. Would you clean my eavestroughs in exchange for a bag of used tissues? 

Your dog needs the information and motivation that generous reinforcement provides. Expecting your dog to work for free or for minimum wage will damage your training goal. 

Think ahead

Proactively planning your training sessions is key to success. Before even looking at your dog, chop your treats to the size of a pea, have your clicker on a wrist coil, and arrange a pouch at your side so you can quickly access treats – like a cowboy drawing his gun from his holster in an old western flick. Prepare any props you may need during the session, and place them off to the side of your training space until you are ready to use them. 

Fumbling around by breaking up too-large treats, dropping your clicker, and spending an extra three seconds digging around in a poorly designed pouch are all ways to disrupt the flow of a training session – and ultimately lose your dog’s focus. Keeping a flow of clear feedback depends on your smart preparation ahead of the training session.

Clarity and structure

One of the best ways to set your dog up for success is to have a single focus during a training session and keeping it short (five minutes), especially if you are introducing a new behaviour or concept. If you are introducing “lie down,” for example, focus only on lying down. Do not also teach sit from the down during the same session. Lure or hand signal for down, reinforce, and then toss a treat a foot or two away. Your dog will stand up to get that treat – and be ready for another trial of lying down. If you allow your dog to focus on one single exercise at a time, your dog will acquire that skill faster.

Your dog isn’t GIVING you a hard time, she’s HAVING a hard time

Sometimes the best laid plans can go awry because your dog is worried, overstimulated, or otherwise stressed. A critical skill for trainers is being able to recognize when their dog’s emotional response is blocking her ability to acquire a skill and then adjusting the training session accordingly. This might mean ditching your original plan in order to help your dog cope with a specific trigger or new environment, training in a different location, or perhaps even delaying the session to another time, when your dog is feeling better. 

Setting priorities and realistic goals

Particularly in cases of behaviour modification for stress-based problems, many dogs will have very real limitations. Becoming a therapy dog in a children’s hospital is not a realistic goal for a dog with a history of biting children, but this doesn’t mean that the dog and owner can’t have a full and meaningful life together! 

Sometimes the popular notion of a “good dog” is way off base. Decide what really matters to you and train for that! 

A dog who happily jumps to greet people isn’t a bad dog, and an owner may actually choose not to train “four-on-the-floor” for greetings. This owner is well within her rights to own a dog who jumps up to greet as long as she’s mindful to manage her dog around people who do not want to be jumped on (for example, asking if the person is okay being jumped on and using leashes or gates to prevent access if they do not consent). 

The owner may make this decision because she enjoys the enthusiastic greeting, or she may just be working on other issues that take priority over jumping up. As long as everyone involved, including the dog, is happy with the outcome, this is perfectly okay. (This would, of course, not apply to situations where a dog is stressed or a risk to others, or where the dog’s behaviour infringes on another person’s rights.)

Don’t blame the dog 

Blaming the dog for poor training results is equivalent to expecting your dog to train herself. If your dog is not doing what you ask, your dog either doesn’t understand or isn’t motivated (or both!). Luckily, you can acquire the skills necessary to change both of these situations! 

If your dog isn’t behaving as you’d like, take a step back before you get frustrated and inclined to point blame, and assess your training. Hiring a skilled professional dog trainer is a valuable step in rectifying why you’re not getting the results you want. 

Get the most out of the coaching by fully incorporating the trainer’s feedback and asking targeted questions. Just as raising a child doesn’t make you a child psychologist, having raised a dog in past doesn’t necessarily prepare you for the training challenges you face with your current dog.

Do the legwork

Think – Plan – Do is critical to a constructive approach to dog training. It is easy to get stuck on one of those steps and forget that doing the work is as critical as planning for it. “Practise makes perfect” isn’t as accurate as “perfect practise makes perfect” – if you don’t do the work, you don’t get the results!

Agility for Fun!

Agility is a fantastic activity to build your dog’s confidence, teach her to look to you for direction, and simply have fun. And this program does just that!

This Agility program is geared towards owners having fun with their dogs, not for competition. There’s no need for you or your dog to be a top athlete to join class!

Schedule

Level One!
Thursday June 6th, 7pm
SIX weeks in length, ending July 18th
**No class on June 27

$289+HST OR $280+HST when paid by e-transfer

Location

This program will be running out of the training hall at Dreamland Pets in Elora

Dreamland Pet
6484 Wellington Road 7
Elora, ON, N0B 1S0

Details

  • Dogs must be happy to train for treats in a group class environment, and be able to pass other dogs on-leash in a controlled manner when taking turns on course – obstacles are completed off leash.
  • Giant breeds will find some obstacles physically difficult – if you have a giant breed, please contact the office to ensure this class is a good choice for your dog
  • View the free Orientation Webinar prior to starting class and for info on training method
  • Submitting registration/payment indicates acceptance of the group class policy

Book your spot now!

Contact the office with questions before registration

  1. Click the button below to save your spot
  2. To confirm your spot: payment must be made within 24hrs of receiving the invoice

Orientation Webinar

The Orientation Webinar is a free, no-obligation webinar that is open to everyone.

View as the prerequisite for training – or simply to see what we’re all about!

More Than Obedience

A young woman came to me with her German Shepherd, Wheels. At less than a year old, Wheels had already bitten a half dozen times, with increasing severity. Wheels’s owners called up her breeder to seek help and express concern at his behaviour. Her breeder told her, “Wheels just needs to learn to stay and heel, if you teach him better obedience he won’t bite.”

This ill-conceived advice is ineffective, at best. At worst, it’s downright dangerous.

Obedience training is like woodworking: taught properly, it’s enjoyable, enriching, and has some useful results (a pretty table leg, a dog who walks politely).

Behaviour modification is like therapy. The objective is to manage and resolve deep-seated issues like anxiety and depression. Carving a nice table leg is of minimal benefit!

Just as you wouldn’t sit down with your woodworking instructor to talk about past traumas and current struggles, dogs in need of behaviour modification work can’t fully benefit from obedience training. Wheels needed a very different approach.

Understanding the difference between behaviour modification and obedience lies in understanding the mechanisms through which animals learn. Consequences are critical to learning, but we often place too heavy an emphasis on them and don’t fully understand how they function. Consequences are defined by their results – in other words, if you attempt to punish a dog and the dog continues to do the behaviour you intend to stop, you’re not actually punishing the behaviour! Whatever you’re doing as “punishment” – shouting, collar corrections, pinning the dog – is likely scary or painful, yet the dog isn’t making the necessary correlation for it to be an actual punishment.

Obedience training is based heavily in consequences. Obedience training that is enriching and valuable for a dog is based in positive reinforcement, such as dispensing food or toys or providing access to something your dogs wants as a reward. There is no punishment. However obedience training’s value is limited by its specific focus on the dog’s behaviour – whether  to reinforce “good” behaviour or punish ”bad.”

Understanding how behaviour fulfills an emotional need is critical to assessing problem behaviours and assembling an appropriate training plan. All this rests primarily on how associations are formed and, most importantly, understanding this as a largely unconscious and uncontrollable process. Behaviour that is born of emotional turmoil is not behaviour the dog can easily control, and thus is not subject to “obedience training.”

This explains why Wheels can have excellent leash manners when walking down the street with no other dogs around, but when he sees a dog he barks, lunges, and drags his owner down the street and continues to do so even after the other dog is long gone.

Wheels is triggered to an uncomfortable emotional high by the sight of the other dog, and even after the dog is gone his sympathetic nervous system remains engaged in a “fight or flight” response. This leash pulling may look like an obedience issue, but really it’s a much deeper issue.

A woodworking instructor can help you detail your table leg just so, but she can’t help you overcome OCD or an addiction. Woodworking can also be an enjoyable hobby to help you de-stress, but it is not the root of a therapeutic approach. Obedience training can help an owner give their dog valuable structure, but it does not, in and of itself, resolve behaviour problems.

A behaviour consultant, just like a therapist, understands how behaviour is a reflection of an emotional state as well as the intricacies of how that emotional state is reflected in an animal’s behaviour. Just like a therapist recommending woodworking as a hobby, a behaviour consultant may use obedience trained with positive reinforcement as a secondary strategy to get to the emotional root of the problem, but that will not be the sum total of the training.

Rather than focusing on stay and heel with Wheels’s owner, we focused on developing his ability to emotionally self-regulate in the presence of dogs and implemented strategies to help him recover after the turmoil of encountering a dog, creating a relaxed, calm, and positive association, and cultivated a sense of safety. We didn’t punish any “bad” behaviour; instead we got to the root of the problem behaviour through changing Wheels’s emotional state and associations with other dogs.

 

Do you need help with your dog? Let us know!

Seeing Success

How you define success determines its existence; it doesn’t exist until you learn to see it. Success is critical to dog training, but like the mechanics of training, seeing success is a skill that requires development – both in definition and process. Whether or not a person can acknowledge success and what they expect it to look like has profound implications for the outcome of and commitment to training.

In which scenario is this little person most likely to succeed?

 

Criteria and Success Continue reading “Seeing Success”

Sniffer Dogs Program

Scent detection is an up-and-coming sport that’s seen a recent surge in popularity in Canada. The goal is to teach your dog to search for a particular scent, and then alert you to its location. The scent can be hidden anywhere from in one of multiple containers, to an interior room, a vehicle, or the outside of a building. This is a great way to mentally exhaust your dog, and truly learn to appreciate the unique abilities of our dogs.

The training taught in class is similar to what is used to teach working detection dogs, including bed bug dogs, border patrol dogs, conservation dogs, and drug dogs. There are also some similarities to other scent sports, such as tracking and search and rescue.

This is a fantastic way to tire out your pooch, and your dog will love it!

Schedule

Level TWO
Thursday June 6th, 6pm
SIX weeks in length, ending July 18th
**No class on June 27

$289+HST OR $280+HST when paid by e-transfer

Location

This program will be running out of the training hall at Dreamland Pets in Elora

Dreamland Pet
6484 Wellington Road 7
Elora, ON, N0B 1S0

Details

  • Submitting registration/payment indicates acceptance of the group class policy
  • Dogs must be happy to train for treats in a group class environment
  • Prerequisite behaviours, taught with positive/clicker training
    • Level One Sniffer Dogs Class
    • Hand Target (click for tutorial)
    • Zen/basic leave it with food in hand
  • A Scent Kit is included with the Level One program
  • View the free Orientation Webinar prior to starting class and for info on training method

Book your spot now!

Contact the office with questions before registration

  1. Click the button below to save your spot
  2. To confirm your spot: payment must be made within 24hrs of receiving the invoice

Why are Puppy Classes Important?

Training and socialization classes have become a very important part of rearing a new puppy. Young pups learn to interact appropriately with their peers, owners learn to teach basic obedience to their dogs, future behaviour problems are prevented and existing problems can be promptly addressed before they get out of hand. A well-run puppy class is the best way to get a puppy off to the right start.

Continue reading “Why are Puppy Classes Important?”