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All Ages Life Skills – Program Options

Our popular Life Skills program is now offered in multiple formats! This program is perfect for puppies, new dogs, adolescents, and new adoptions. We cover all “the basics” of manners training and easier living with your dog! You can find full content details on each program webpage.

Virtual Life Skills

Virtual Life Skills is perfect for pandemic safety, for those living outside of Guelph, and owners with hectic or unpredictable schedules! Get started on-demand and receive personal feedback on your training for the duration of the 8-week program.

In-Person Life Skills

In-Person Life Skills is great for those living in or near Guelph who enjoy the accountability that comes with a in-person, weekly interaction, and whose schedule allows for consecutive classes for this six-week program.

Puppy Party: Socialization & Play Group Drop-off

THIS is what you get to bring home from a Puppy Party!

A Puppy Party: Socialization & Play Drop-off is the ideal way to socialize your puppy while social distancing!

Drop your pup off at our door, and we’ll take your puppy for 75min of play, fun, socialization, confidence building and more. At the end of the Puppy Party, come back to our door for a no-contact pick up of your zonked out puppy.

Wondering about letting your 8wk old pup out to play? Check out this position statement from the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behaviour.

Want more Puppy Party videos? Check out this YouTube Playlist!

The Details:

  • For puppies to start between 8-18wks, until they age out of the program (dependant on size, development, and play skills)
  • Puppies must:
    • be up-to-date on age-appropriate vaccinations
    • be dewormed
    • have appropriate health documentation, as outlined below
    • have been in the home at least 7 days prior to the Puppy Party
    • Wear a body harness (for safety reasons)

Important Health Requirement:

Before your puppy can attend her first Puppy Party, health documentation is STRICTLY required. The following must be in place:

  • Vaccination of at least ONE set of age appropriate vaccines, including Parvo-Distemper
  • Deworming

We can accept the following forms of documentation:

  • A clear photo or scan of your puppy’s vet papers, showing vaccination and deworming
  • An email from your local vet clinic stating that your puppy has received the above

If your puppy exhibits any sign of illness in advance of a party (for example, lethargy, gastrointestinal or respiratory symptoms), please do not attend and contact the office immediately.

Take note that if this documentation isn’t received prior to your first Puppy Party, your puppy will not be able to attend and credit cannot be transferred/refunded.

Pricing

Standard Pricing: $30+HST (=$33.90 total)

SPECIAL DISCOUNT for puppies in our training classes: $20+HST (=$22.60 total)
Join the All-Ages Life Skills Program, or Private Training to access this discount! Discounts cannot be applied retroactively.

Register Here!

Follow the below steps to register for Puppy Parties!

  1. Book your Play Group below!
    – For SHY or SMALL puppies: Book the EARLY group
    – For BOLD or LARGE puppies: Book the LATER group
    Your puppy may need to be moved between groups depending on the other puppies present in each
  2. Email the required Health Documentation (vaccination AND deworming) to the office ASAP
  3. Check your email for instructions.

Book Your Puppy Party!

If a party is full, check back later or contact the office to be put on the waitlist! New parties will be added as enrolment requires.

VIRTUAL All-Ages Life Skills

Dog training in the age of Social Distancing…
it CAN be done!

The COVID-19 pandemic has created lots of barriers in our lives, but luckily we can achieve the same great training results with the wonders of modern technology!

Virtual Life Skills is an all-ages manners and obedience program, appropriate for puppies and adult dogs alike – with the BONUS All Things Puppy Classroom for puppies under 6mo!

Who says learning can’t happen on the couch?

We will cover topics including:

  • Come when called
  • Settle and stay on a mat
  • Polite leash walking
  • Dealing with distractions
  • Polite greetings with people
  • Prevent running out the front door
  • Impulse control around food
  • Preventing “Counter surfing”
  • And more!

See what students say about our various virtual training programs!

How Does Virtual Life Skills Training Work?

Using a virtual classroom called Google Classrooms, you will be guided through training exercises with video demonstrations, verbal descriptions and written instructions. You will also receive entirely personalized feedback on your training from your instructor! This is NOT just a video tutorial.

Each exercise is broken down into easy-to-follow steps, and you will receive personalized support and guidance as you train your dog.

  • Train at your own pace and on your own schedule
  • Join class any time
  • Eight weeks access to dynamic content and personal guidance and training support
  • Access to the handy reference manual after your program is completed which includes written and video instructions for all training exercises

Technology requirements are:

  • A basic understanding of computer/internet use, including recording a video
  • Internet capacity that allows for watching and uploading videos
  • A computer, phone or tablet that:
    • Has a functional microphone
    • Has a functional camera
    • Can connect to the internet

Read the FAQ for more important details

The All Things Puppy Classroom!

Puppy students get a special discount on Puppy Parties: Socialization and Play Group Drop-off! Click the link for more info!

Puppy students receive FREE access to the All Things Puppy Classroom for information on socialization and problem prevention that is specific to puppies – including guidance on nipping, house training, crate training and more!

Want to try out Google Classroom?

You are encouraged to access the test classroom and familiarize yourself with how the platform works before registering. Simply:

Watch this demo of Virtual Life Skills!
(Note: the platform and content is the same, however now you can progress through at your own pace. This video will be updated to reflect this shortly!)

Register for Virtual Life Skills!

This program is not interchangeable with the in-person Life Skills Program. You cannot transfer between programs after registration.

$269+HST

Start on demand!

IN-PERSON All-Ages Life Skills

Life Skills is an all-ages manners and obedience program, appropriate for puppies, adolescents and adult dogs alike.

We will cover topics such as:

  • Come when called
  • Settle and stay on a mat
  • Polite leash walking
  • Dealing with distractions
  • Polite greetings with people
  • Prevent running out the front door
  • Impulse control around food
  • Prevent “Counter surfing”
  • And more!

What you get…

  • Orientation Webinar to watch before getting started
  • Six weekly group classes with a flexible start date
  • Life Skills Online Resource Classroom including videos of training exercises and bonus material
  • If there is a COVID related closure, illness or quarantine, you will be transferred directly to Virtual Life Skills to seamlessly complete the program!

Puppies! You get all of the above PLUS:

  • Access to the All Things Puppy Classroom for quick answers on common puppy issues, such as house training, nipping, crate training and more
  • Puppy Play & Socialization A 30% discount on the Puppy Party: Socialization and Play Drop-off

Flexible Start Date

You can start class any time space is available!

  1. Submit the registration form below and specify your preferred class day. We’ll confirm the next available start date.
  2. Once your start date is selected, submit payment within 24hrs to confirm your spot
  3. Attend SIX consecutive weeks of in-person training classes with your dog

COVID-19 Precautions

  • Masks that cover the nose/mouth and without vents are strictly mandatory when indoors and sanitizer is provided, as directed by WDG Public Health. No vented masks or gaitors/scarves.
  • Small group class size and limited attendance
  • Frequent cleaning and disinfection of the premises
  • Social/Physical Distancing in effect
  • Puppy Party Drop-offs prevent contact between owners while maintaining socialization benefits for your puppy. Drop off your pup, play and socialization will be managed by your trainer, and you bring home a tired puppy!
  • In the event of a COVID-related closure, illness, quarantine, or other issue that prevents either the running or attendance of in-person classes, students will immediately transition seamlessly into the Virtual Life Skills Program to complete their program in an online format including personal feedback and guidance.

What you need to know:

For more information, read the Group Class FAQs:

  • Masks are mandatory, and must cover the nose and mouth, no vents or neck gaiters. Virtual or distanced outdoor private training is the best option for those who are uncomfortable in or unable to wear a mask.
  • One person per dog is permitted in the facility in order to allow for distancing. Family members may switch off each class.
  • In case of ANY COVID-related closure or absence, including illness, quarantine or isolation, your program will transfer directly to the Virtual Life Skills Program. No refund, credit or other service will be provided in this circumstance.
  • Your program will run for six consecutive weeks from the confirmed start date (save for clearly stated holidays/cancellations). Make up classes are not available, however you will have access to class instructions in order to keep up.
  • Your new dog/puppy must be living with you for at least 7 days prior to your first class.
  • Documentation of vaccination (Parvo/Distemper, Rabies if applicable) is required for ALL dogs.
  • Because COVID symptoms mimic regular cold and flu, should your instructor become ill class will be put on hold and run an extra week in length. Please leave an extra week of availability after your program to accommodate possibility of this safety procedure.

Read the FAQ here.

Register for Life Skills!

Schedule:
Tuesdays evenings
Wednesday evenings
Each class runs 50-60min in length

Start any time space is available and attend six consecutive weeks of class. Your start date will be confirmed upon registration, or contact the office for availability.

Pricing: $269+HST
Payment must be received within 24hrs in order to confirm the time slot offered to you, and vaccination documents must be received prior to your first class

Read the FAQ here.

Winter Weather Advisory:
Classes will NOT be cancelled unless the weather is truly extreme – be prepared for our Canadian winters!

If you feel unsafe driving in winter weather, or are coming from a distance, please consider joining Virtual Life Skills instead.
Check the Online Resource Classroom for content if you have to miss a class. If a class is cancelled you will be contacted directly.

Agility (And Then Some!)

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!

Agility (And Then Some!) is geared towards owners having fun with their dogs. The equipment is modified to meet each dog’s skill level, confidence and physical ability, including younger and older dogs. There’s no need for you or your dog to be a top athlete to join class!

In addition to the usual agility obstacles, this program also includes additional exercises and creative obstacles added to each level to make this class so much more than a typical agility class!

Requirements and Prerequisites:

  • Dogs must be up-to-date on all vaccines as recommended by your veterinarian
  • Completion of a foundation program at Scratch and Sniff Canine Services OR an equivalent from another school if owners/dogs have a solid understanding of clicker training and prerequisite behaviours. (note: see important prerequisite behaviours, below)
  • Owners who have not trained at Scratch and Sniff Canine Services previously will be required to view the Orientation Webinar session prior to class, and possibly attend a free assessment
  • Prerequisite training skills (taught with positive reinforcement/clicker):
    • Hand target (touch)
    • Basic skills in recall, sit, leash walking, leave it/’doggy zen’
    • Must be able to work off leash behind barriers and pass other dogs on leash in a controlled manner – all obstacles are completed off leash.
  • Refunds and credit are not available for Specialty Classes.

Safety Precautions

  • Masks that cover the nose/mouth and without vents are strictly mandatory when indoors and sanitizer is provided, as directed by WDG Public Health
  • Small group class size and limited attendance – one person per dog
  • Frequent cleaning and disinfection of the premises
  • Social/Physical Distancing in effect at all times

Winter Weather & COVID Advisory:
Classes will NOT be cancelled unless the weather is truly extreme – be prepared for our Canadian winters!

Review your Program Manual for content if you have to miss a class. If a class is cancelled you will be contacted directly.


Should a COVID-related closure occur in the duration of these programs, they will be put on hold until deemed safe to reopen. No alternative will be provided in this circumstance.

Register for Level ONE

$275+HST

Click HERE to book your spot!

Register for Level TWO

Check back later for an updated schedule!

Orientation Webinar

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

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

Register below to receive an email immediately with details and links to view, and you can get started in class immediately!

Get Started!

Register below by clicking on the bold date and receive full instructions via auto-email.  Contact the office if you don’t immediately see an email.

Note: The date noted is for admin purposes only. Select the bolded date and register to receive an email with full instructions on how to get started in class.

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!

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.

Upcoming Dates:

No planned dates at this time

This is a “people-only” seminar

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

Brain Training Series

All too often, “training the dog” is about dealing with the habits we don’t like. Isn’t it time to train for fun, for enrichment, and for relationship?

The Brain Training Series focuses on increasing your dog’s receptivity to you and capacity to learn in order to work through various stages of difficulty and complexity of FUN tricks and behaviours.

How it Works

The Series has five programs you can choose from, outlined below. In each program, we will introduce a Base Behaviour that we will then turn into a wide variety of tricks. Each program will also include an optional assortment of other tricks to add variety to the central theme.

These programs can be taken in any order, and you can also attend one program multiple times to learn additional new tricks! Check the bottom of this page to see which program is on the schedule next!

You will need to acquire your own props for some of these tricks, some props will be available to borrow for use during in-person classes. Prop requirement will be reviewed in class.

“Boot-Scootin’ Back-up Challenge”
Base Behaviour: Back up to step on an object
Example of tricks: long distance reverse, karate kick, backward circle around you, weave through your legs backward, half-hand stand, and more…

“Snoot-Boop Challenge”
Base Behaviour: Nose touch to object
Example of tricks: close a cupboard, target stick, ring a bell, bowling, unroll a carpet, volley ball, put on your harness, and more…

“Snoot-Push Challenge”
Base Behaviour: Nose push (freeze in position)
Example of tricks: blowing bubbles in water, kiss like a seal, puppy dog eyes, finger-moustache, show your front teeth, “The Snoot Challenge”, and more…

“Hold My Beer Challenge”
Base Behaviour: Hold an object
Example of tricks: hold a sign, hold a flag, put your toys away, dunk a basket ball, throw out the garbage, get me a tissue, open the door/close the crate, and more…

“Stompin’ Paws Challenge”
Base Behaviour: Stand on object with front feet
Example of tricks: Feet up on a stool/chair, balance on a ball, press a button/door bell, file your own nails, skateboard, step up on your feet and walk with you, and more…

Additional Tricks
Each class will include an assortment of tricks in addition to the theme of the Base Behaviour. This includes ticks such as: stop punching yourself (dog paws at her face), stand under you, crawl, sit pretty, circle around you, yoga stretch, leg weave (stationary and walking), spin, twist, play dead, and more…

Pre-Requisites

  • Dogs must be up-to-date on all vaccines as recommended by your veterinarian (in-person only)
  • Completion of a foundation program at Scratch and Sniff Canine Services OR an equivalent from another school (note: see important prerequisites, below)
  • Owners who have not trained at Scratch and Sniff Canine Services previously will be required to view the Orientation Webinar session prior to class, and possibly attend a free assessment
  • Prerequisite training skills (taught with positive reinforcement/clicker):
    • Hand target (touch)
    • Basic skills in recall, sit, leash walking, leave it/’doggy zen’
  • Refunds and credit are not available for Specialty Classes.

Schedule

The Boot-Scootin’ Back-up Challenge!

$275+HST (Total $310.75)
Starting Monday Mar 22, 7:30pm
* no class on Easter Monday

This program takes place in-person, but in event of a lockdown the program will transfer to a live virtual ZOOM format.

Book your Spot Now!

Contact the office with questions before registration

  1. Complete the registration form below and review the auto-email
  2. To confirm your spot: payment must be made within 24hrs via Email Money Transfer to info@scratchandsniff.ca