The biggest difference between private training (which is what I offer) and group classes like those you might take at a training school, is the amount of one-on-one time you get with the trainer and how tailored the training is for your exact needs.
Group classes can be a great way to get started in training and to expose your dog to new environments in a safe way. But group classes cannot really be tailored for your specific needs. Most group classes are taught from a set curriculum (a certain collection of behaviors are taught each time the class meets) and trainers for group classes usually cannot spend significant amounts of time with each client. This means if you have specific needs or questions, they might not always be met in a group class setting. It also means you might spend time teaching behaviors you are not very interested in, or not as much time working on the behaviors you want to focus on most!
Private training is all about a custom experience. We will work together to identify exactly what you are most interested in your dog learning. We will craft a training plan that focuses on those desires. There are so many things you and your dog can learn, but we will focus on what you most want, and spend less time or not worry about teaching behaviors you are not interested in. Since you work directly with the trainer for entire sessions, it also provides more time to ask the questions you want answered, and for the trainer to craft their suggestions to your specific situation.
As you look through my packages, you’ll often see you have the choice between Day Training and Private Coaching. Both will get you to your goal, but in very different ways.
In a Day Training package, I train your dog for you! That’s right: I do the “heavy lifting” of teaching new behaviors! Because of this, Day Training packages are shorter (3 week vs. 5 weeks) but I also come more frequently. I will come to your house three times a week to teach your dog new behaviors and/or practice their behavior in new ways. You may be present and observe these sessions, or you may be away from the house. Then, I will come once more at the end of the week to work directly with you to show you what your dog has learned and how you can practice with them. While you will still need to work with your dog yourself to really make behaviors stick long-term, I am doing the work of teaching the behavior. Because of this, Day Training is an awesome choice for dog owners who are short on time during their week, or who would like to see results more quickly.
In a Private Coaching package, you do the direct work of training your dog with my help and guidance. This is more like the type of training you see in group classes, except much more individualized to your desires and needs. I come to work with you and your dog once a week for five weeks. During our sessions, I will teach you how to teach your dog certain behaviors, or how to make those behaviors stronger. Private Coaching is a wonderful choice if you want to be the one doing all the hands-on training work with your dog…with help from me, of course!
Both styles of training require work from you: you will have homework to practice in between my visits, and you will need to keep practicing with your dog after our sessions are over in order to keep new behaviors strong.
A Service Dog (or Assistance Dog) is a dog who has been taught specific behaviors (called tasks) that help an individual living with a disability in their day-to-day life. A service dog handler is an individual with a disability who has a dog to help them mitigate the affects of their disability. Service dog handlers are allowed to have their dogs with them in spaces where pet dogs are not allowed, and this right is protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This is called having Public Access. Other dogs, like Emotional Support Animals or Therapy Dogs, are NOT protected and NOT allowed Public Access. Service dogs can be many different breeds and sizes, depending on the needs of their handlers. However, they all have in common that they must have a specific temperament to thrive in their work. Successful service dogs are typically calm, able to cope well with many environmental stresses, responsive to their handlers and not easily distracted by other dogs and people. It typically takes several years and a lot of hard work to fully train a service dog.
An Emotional Support Dog (usually abbreviated as ESA for Emotional Support Animal) is a dog whose presence provides emotional comfort to their handler. Unlike a Service Dog, an ESA does not typically have specialized training. Also unlike a Service Dog, ESAs are NOT guaranteed access to spaces that pet dogs cannot access. This means an ESA cannot go into restaurants, grocery stores, schools, etc. With changes in 2021 to the Air Carrier Act, ESAs are also no longer allowed on flights outside of the typical allowances for pet dogs. Being an ESA does allow these dogs to live in some housing that otherwise would not allow pets. Typically, a handler has their dog identified as an ESA through a letter or recommendation by their medical or mental health care provider stating they would benefit from having a pet. It is important to know the differences between ESAs and Service Dogs, and most specifically to understand that if you have an ESA it does not allow you to take that dog into environments where a regular pet dog would not be allowed. Only Service Dogs are allowed that Public Access.
A Therapy Dog—now more correctly referred to as a Visiting Dog—is a pet dog who’s owner has taken extra time to train in preparation for completing a Visiting Dog evaluation with a local or national group such as Pet Partners. Visiting Dogs must be calm, confident in new environments, and enjoy meeting new people. Once a dog has passed evaluation as a Visiting Dog, they and their owner may be allowed to visit places where pet dogs are not normally seen in order to provide comfort to people. Places that Visiting Dogs typically go to include hospitals, schools (short visits), libraries, airports and nursing homes. These places work with visiting dog groups to request their visiting teams. Visiting Dog work is a volunteer activity and done solely because of the enjoyment it brings the handler, their dog, and the people they visit with. Just like any other pet dog, a Visiting Dog does not have guaranteed access to any place that would not allow pet dogs, except the specific places they visit as volunteers.
If you are hoping to have your dog actively work with you in a professional setting such as a counseling office, school, living facility or other supportive/care giving environment to provide comfort and support, you are actually looking to train a Facility Dog. In terms of training, Facility Dogs are a step up from Therapy/Visiting Dogs and are actually closer to Service Dogs due to the high demands of working in a professional environment. If you are seeking to bring a Facility Dog in to work alongside you, I can provide an initial consult to talk you through everything from evaluating a dog for this kind of work, to the kind of training they may require, to the work that will be required of you as the dog’s handler to ensure health and safety for both your dog and your clients. During this initial consult, we can decide on a longer-term training plan to help prepare you and your dog for this work.
Currently I do not provide evaluation for Visiting/Therapy Dogs. I can, however, point you in the direction of local groups who do, as well as help you prepare to go through the evaluation for those groups.