FAQs


The following list provides answers to our most Frequently Asked Questions. Simply click on the question to see your answer.

FAQs Directory

-How We Train -Class Specific
-New Puppy or Dog -Myths
-Getting Puppy/Dog from Shelter or Breeder -Miscellaneous
   

 

How we train

Q. What kind of training methods do you use?

Q. What is meant by positive, reward-based, dog-friendly, or force-free training?

Click picture for
recommended reading and other references

Q. What is clicker training?

Q. My dog isn't interested in treats. Does this mean I can't clicker train him?

Q. Isn't this type of training simply bribing my dog with food?

Q.This type of training sounds complicated. Does it take a long time to learn?

Q. Why use reward-based training methods when the old-fashioned methods work?

Q. How often should we train each day and for how long?

Q. How do I choose a dog trainer?

Q. Can I train my dog just like they do on TV?

Back to Top

New Puppy or Dog

Q. What should I do to prepare for my new puppy/dog?

Q. Why should I crate train my puppy/dog? Isn't that cruel?

Q. Can you help me with housetraining?

Q. What is socialization and why do I need to do this with my new puppy?

Q. How do I choose a dog trainer?

Q. At what age are my children old enough for us to have a dog?

Q. What dog foods do you recommend?

Q. We know we want a puppy. At what age should we get one?

Q. Can you recommend books or videos to help us with our new dog or puppy?

Q. I've heard not to get my puppy from a puppy mill. What is a puppy mill?

Q. If they are so bad, why would anyone buy a puppy from these places?

Q. Then, how do I know if I'm getting a puppy from a puppy mill?

Back to Top

Getting Your New Dog from a Shelter or Breeder

Q. Why should I get my dog from a shelter? Aren't they usually abandoned because of bad behavior?

Q. "Reputable" breeders seem to charge way more for their puppies than stores and newspapers charge for their puppies. Why would I pay that much more?

Q. What is a "reputable" breeder?

Back to Top

Class Specific

Q. My dog has diarrhea. Can he still come to class?

Q. Can my dog come to class if she is in heat?

Q. What is a typical class size?

Q. May I bring my children to class?

Q. I can't make it to class on a particular night. Is there a way to make up that class?

Q. Where are you located?

Q. I don't want to drive that far for group classes, can you recommend other trainers in my area?

Q. What are the answers for the Common Dog Ownership Myths?

Back to Top

 

Answers

Q. What kind of training methods do you use?

A. Using the principles of operant and classical conditioning, training is conducted with predominantly positive reinforcement. Clicker training is used for teaching most behaviors. Back to Top

Q. What is meant by positive, reward-based, dog-friendly, or force-free training?

No Choke Challenge of Boulder ad

A. Positive training is a phrase that has been used to mean different things depending on the trainer. Ask questions! Positive training at Puppy Adept, Inc. means that humane, gentle methods are used with the principles of operant and classical conditioning in mind. Operant conditioning is a term used to describe, in very simple terms, the type of learning that occurs when a dog realizes that her choices have certain consequences and that she can influence the consequences with her behavior. Classical conditioning refers to building associations between things like a clicker and treats. Additionally, it is important that you develop a good relationship with your dog so that she will want to work with you. We teach you how to use these methods to accomplish the training goals you set. Back to Top

Q. What is clicker training?

A. A simple, hand-held device known as a clicker is used in this type of training. The device, when pressed, makes a clicking noise which we use to tell our dogs when they've done something that we want them to do. The significance of the clicker is established before training begins by matching the sound of the clicker with rewards such as food treats. In the beginning stages of teaching a behavior, the clicker and treats are used to reward the dog for the appropriate behaviors. As the dog begins to understand the cues and perform the behaviors reliably, the clicker and rewards are used less and less (faded) until they are no longer required. For lots more information on clicker training, go to www.clickertraining.com. Back to Top

Q. My dog isn't interested in treats. Does this mean I can't clicker train him?

A. First, take a look at the treats you're using. While you can likely motivate your dog with his own kibble or crunchy dog biscuits in your home, in a more distracting environment, like a park or your training class, you'll have to find something more interesting than the many new smells and sights your dog is bombarded with. You'll be given a list of treat suggestions in class. In the meantime, just remember--the smellier and slimier it is,the more likely your dog will work for it! Occasionally, we come across a dog who cannot be motivated by even steak or fish. Often, these dogs can be motivated by other things. Does he have a favorite toy (a ball or frisbee, for instance)? Does he like to play tug? The reward does not have to be food. It's just that food usually works for most dogs, and it's fast and easy to reward him with a tiny treat and move on to the next thing. It is important to remember that the reward you are using must be rewarding to your dog. Just as managers in the corporate world struggle to find things to motivate their employees, you may have to work a little harder at finding the right rewards for your dog.

Back to Top

Q. Isn't this type of training simply bribing my dog with food?

A. Well, define bribing. Does your employer bribe you with a paycheck? We use the food as a reward for a behavior done well. Let's face it--you may really like your boss, but you would not likely work for free just because you want to please her. The food and clicker are used only to teach new behaviors. Both are faded once the dog has learned to match the appropriate behavior with the cue you've given. Back to Top

Q.This type of training sounds complicated. Does it take a long time to learn?

A. Just as you would after getting a new job or learning a new sport, you will have a learning curve to get around. You will be using your clicker to train your dog in your first lesson; most people find this method to be easier than they originally anticipated. It is also exciting and very motivating to you when your dog "gets it!" If you practice daily with your dog, you will become proficient in no time! Back to Top

Some of our panel of experts

Q. Why use reward-based training methods when the old-fashioned methods work?

A. Many of us who used the old ways to train, never quite felt comfortable with those methods, but didn't know of another way. Then along came Bob and Marian Bailey to show us that animals could be trained to do phenomenal things when provided with consistent positive reinforcement for doing what was "asked" of them. Do the more painful training methods work? Yes, they do. They do nothing, however, to enrich the relationships we have with our dogs or to build their trust in us. The forcefully trained dogs will respond to their owners' commands out of fear--not a desire to work with their owners. We no longer have to hurt our dogs to train them! So, if, in order to have a well-behaved dog, you have a choice between the inhumane, old-fashioned ways to train and the more modern, humane, empowering, fun, and reward-based training methods, which would you choose? Back to Top

Q. How often should we train each day and for how long?

A. Your training sessions should be short and intense. Training for 5-15 minutes each session will be enough. Your training shouldn't only be an organized format. Work it into your life, practicing when opportunities present themselves; you can work on a behavior for a minute during the commercial part of a program you are watching or just request that your dog sit or down before giving him something he wants. Back to Top

Q. How do I choose a dog trainer?

A. There are many excellent answers to this question. Click here for Steve Dale's short article on choosing a dog trainer, and here, for suggestions from the Association of Pet Dog Trainers.

Q. Can I train my dog just like they do on TV?

A. You'll find an excellent answer to this question in this handout from the APDT: "Can I Train My Dog Like They Do on TV?" Back to Top

Q. What should I do to prepare for my new puppy/dog?

A. Entire books have been written on this subject! Our recommended reading section lists some wonderful book titles and videos that can help you in great detail. One of the more important training tools to buy before bringing your puppy home is his crate. You'll want to purchase one for the size you expect him to grow into, and which includes a divider to reduce the space to your puppy's size. You will need to interview vets and trainers in your area so that you will already have one picked out when your puppy or new dog arrives. You will also want to develop a socializing plan for your new puppy so you can implement it immediately. If you're getting a puppy, it's a good idea to arrange for friends, with and without dogs, to visit so that your pup learns to make positive associations with people and other dogs (and other pets). Any dog you introduce to your new puppy should be well-socialized and good with other dogs. You want to ensure that his first impressions are good ones! Back to Top

Q. Why should I crate train my puppy/dog? Isn't that cruel?

A. On the contrary! If introduced and used properly, crates can be your dog's favorite place. Dogs have denning instincts that usually cause them to feel more secure when in a closed-in area. Many dogs choose to sleep in their crates even when allowed to roam your house. Crates are valuable training tools, especially for housetraining. They take advantage of a dog's natural instinct not to soil her sleeping area. A dog or puppy should never be left in her crate for extended periods of time, however. Use manufacturer guidelines to ensure that your dog's crate is the proper size. Many brands now include divider panels so that you can buy a size that will fit a growing puppy as well as her full adult stature. Back to Top

Q. I need help with housetraining! Now!

A. Please go to Housetraining Tips for a printable handout.

Q. What is socialization and why do I need to do this with my new puppy?

A. Socializing your puppy between the ages of 8 and 14 weeks of age, is one of the most critical responsibilities you have as a dog owner. Please go to Socializing Basics for a printable handout.

Q. At what age are my children old enough for us to have a dog?

A. We don't believe that this question has a standard age for an answer. Instead consider the following:

At what age can your child understand not to run, scream and wave his hands around your puppy? At what age can he understand that to teach a puppy not to nip, one must calmly disengage from playing with her or offer her a toy to play with? At what age can your child understand that, under no circumstances must he follow the puppy into the crate? At what age can your child remember to keep the door closed when he goes in and out to keep the untrained puppy from running away? At what age can he understand not to hug, or lie on the new dog or to pull the puppy's ears or tail?

Just keep these things in mind when you are deciding if it's the right time to add a puppy to your household and you will likely make the right decision. While adding an older dog (2 years plus) to the family is easier than a puppy, your child must still be able to follow most of the rules above.

Q. We know we want a puppy. At what age should we get one?

A. No reputable breeder will allow you to have a puppy before the age of 8 weeks. Puppies are still socializing towards their own species until then. If you get a puppy at the age of 6 or 7 weeks, you will likely raise an adult dog who doesn't know how to interact with and will probably be fearful of other dogs. Avoid getting a puppy before the age of 8 weeks and you'll avoid problems that plague many dog owners today.

Back to Top

Q. Can you recommend books or videos to help us with our new dog or puppy?

A. There are many wonderful and helpful books, DVDs and videos available on the market today. Unfortunately, few of them are available in the local bookstores, and must be bought on-line. For a list of recommended media and where you can buy them, please go to our References page.

Q. What dog foods do you recommend?

A. The bottom line is that you should choose a food you feel good about feeding your dog. I strongly recommend you carefully read the label of any food or treats you're thinking of buying your dog or puppy. Beware of chemical preservatives such as BHA, BHT, or ethyoxiquin. Many popular brands such as Iams, Eukanuba, Purina and Science Diet have so many fillers and questionable ingredients and preservatives that I do not recommend them. Most experts in the holostic field recommend that a meat, poultry or fish be listed as the first ingredient and that other ingredients listed be whole foods versus by-products. Be an informed consumer and a responsible pet owner! Here are a few websites which discuss the pros and cons of many pet foods: truthaboutpetfood.com, sagekeep.com, shirleyswellnesscafe.com, healthydogfood.org, netpets.com, peteducation.com, whole-dog-journal.com

Recommended Reading:

Back to Top

Q. I've heard not to get my puppy from a puppy mill. What is a puppy mill?

A. A puppy mill is typically a facility, often run from someone's home or a warehouse, where puppies are raised exclusively for financial gain of the owners. There will be an unusually large number of breeding females who are often kept in small cages with their litters until the puppies are sent away. They usually receive minimal care and the puppies often suffer from both physical ailments and behavioral issues in their adulthood. One woman who was arrested for running a puppy mill actually had the cages holding the dogs and puppies suspended from the ceiling and the ground beneath them was covered in excrement. The puppies born in puppy mills are viewed as products, and their parents as the resources or machinery which produce them. These puppies have received little or no human contact, let alone any form of socialization. Please visit www.stoppuppymills.com.

Q. Why would anyone buy a puppy from these places?

A. Often people do not know they are buying from a puppy mill. For instance, you can almost be certain that pet stores who sell puppies are supporting this inhumane industry. You may be told that the pups come from reputable breeders, but rest assured that no reputable breeder who cares about her puppies and the success of her breed would sell her puppies through a pet store. Other methods used to sell puppy-mill puppies include: flea markets, the classified ads in your newspaper, slick websites and signs in front of homes. Reputable breeders will most likely put you on a waiting list for their litters. Thoroughly research your breed before buying a puppy from anyone. Back to Top

Q. Then, how do I know if I'm getting a puppy from a puppy mill?

A. If you are not allowed to see where the puppies are kept, you're not allowed to see the dam (mother), the breeder offers many different breeds for sale, or the breeder cannot produce a legitimate pedigree for the puppies, you should look elsewhere. Also, the litter should be raised in the breeder's home, not outside in a kennel. A breeder who has puppies available all year long is also suspect; don't risk it. Watch out for breeders who allow you to pick your own puppy, also. It's rare that a responsible breeder will allow this. Small dogs seem to be a favorite of puppy mills, probably because their small size requires less space and food. You can almost guarantee that puppies sold at flea markets and the like come from puppy mills.

Don't forget about the number of puppies and adult dogs available through local shelters and rescue groups. Dogs with wonderful temperament and health are put to sleep every day. If you have small children, it's best to choose an adult dog for your family anyway, as you can usually see the dog's temperament and size before deciding to bring her home. If you're set on a purebred dog, there are lots of breeds available through purebred rescue groups, as well. Go to Petfinder.com or Humane Society of Northeast Georgia to see many wonderful canines available for adoption. The best way to put puppy mills permanently out of business is to stop buying from them. Back to Top

Q. Why should I get my dog from a shelter? Aren't they usually abandoned because of bad behavior?

A. You would be amazed at the reasons people abandon their pups at shelters. The dog jumped on people, dug, chewed or barked too much ; she got too big, she's too dirty or too energetic; someone in the family became allergic to her, the kids stopped taking care of her, the family had to move, or the new spouse said either she goes or I do. Sadly, owners do sometimes die and leave wonderful orphan pups behind who now need homes. Some dogs you'll find at the shelter have been found tied to a tree or caged in the backyard of a house from which the family has apparently moved. Very heartbreaking. Especially since many of the unwanted behaviors are easily controlled through training, and a little foresight or research would have eliminated most of the other problems. Back to Top

Q. "Reputable" breeders seem to charge way more for their puppies than stores and newspapers charge for their puppies. Why would I pay that much more?

A. Reputable breeders socialize their puppies. Good socialization starts soon after the puppies are born, and continues until they go home with you (where you continue your pup's socialization). These breeders make certain that the puppies are raised in clean, healthy and safe environments. The sire and dam were likely expensive too if they came from reputable breeders. Good breeders will have done much research before deciding who will be bred and for what reason. They will offer a warranty of some sort, typically for the first 2 years of the puppy's life. They will require that you return your puppy to them if you ever decide to give her away. They will also require that "pet-quality" pups be spayed or neutered. These pups are "pet-quality" because they do not have all of the traits desired in the breed, and should, therefore, not be allowed to breed themselves. Often it may be as simple as the size, ears, or coat color--things that should make no difference to the average dog owner. Puppy mill puppies usually have not been handled by humans until they are ready to go to homes. Puppies sold in the newspapers may still be coming from a puppy mill. If not, the owners likely won't have spent the time and expense required to significantly increase the probability that the litter will be a healthy and temperamentally sound one. These puppies usually come from people who just won't spay their dogs (the Humane Society of Hall County offers low-cost spay/neuter clinics regularly), families who want their children to see the "miracle of birth" (consequently, with no regard to the "miracle" of responsibility for the lives they've just created), or people who've heard the old wives tale that females should have a litter before being spayed. The bottom line? Purebred puppies from pet stores and newspapers can cost less because less is spent on their health and well-being. Back to Top

Q. What is a "reputable" breeder?

A. Reputable breeders have a great deal of experience with and knowledge about their breeds. They are generally not in the breeding business to get wealthy. These people breed to improve or maintain the health, temperament and look of their breed. Reputable breeders will be the first to tell you that their breeds are not problem-free. Expect them to tell you the potential problems associated with their breeds--both health- and behavior-related. There will be some! These breeders understand the importance of proper socialization and spend a great deal of time administering it. They want to make certain you want one of their pups for the right reasons and are able to care for them, so they will ask you many personal questions. You should prepare a detailed list of questions to ask them, as well. Take the time to find a reputable breeder, once you've decided to buy a purebred puppy. The benefits seriously outweigh the time, patience and money you've invested. Back to Top

Q. My dog has diarrhea. Can he still come to class?

A. Because diarrhea is a symptom of so many different ailments, it's best that you take your dog to his vet and, then, leave him at home to recuperate. If you are ever in doubt as to whether your pup should attend class based on a change in behavior, health or appearance, please keep him home and contact your vet for a diagnosis. If you must leave your pup at home due to illness, you, yourself, may and should still attend class. You will be able to practice what you learned on your pup when you return home. Back to Top

Q. Can my dog come to class if she is in heat?

A. Please leave your dog at home if she is menstruating. She would be too much of a distraction for other dogs in class. You can come without her, however, and learn how to teach her the things we cover in class that day. Or, if you prefer, you can pay for a make-up class. Back to Top

Q. What is a typical class size?

A. A typical class size consists of 4 dogs and handlers. The minimum size is 2 and the maximum size is 6. Back to Top

Q. May I bring my children to class?

A. The entire family is welcome and encouraged to come to class. Children under the age of 7 must be accompanied by an adult other than the dog handler, however, and must remain seated through the training session. Back to Top

Q. I can't make it to class on a particular night. Is there a way to make up that class?

A. Yes. For $15.00 you can schedule a half-hour make-up lesson with us. If you are in the Mind Your Pees and Cues puppy class, you can also simply wait for that lesson to come around in 5 weeks as the lessons are continuously rotating. Back to Top

Q. Where are you located?

A. We are 2 miles north of Hwy 53 on Hwy 211 (Tanners Mill Rd.) on the Braselton side of Gainesville. Please click here for directions. Back to Top

Q. I don't want to drive that far for group classes, can you recommend other trainers in my area?

A. Yes, please go to the Recommended Trainers section of our Links page by clicking here.

Back to Top

Common Dog Ownership Myths

  • Lassie was a typical dog
    • Nope-Lassie (all of the Lassies, that is) was intensively trained by a professional trainer;
    • the show props and fictional script made her seem to be uncharacteristically smart and virtually telepathic;
    • you can have a relationship with your dog like Lassie and Timmy had if you spend a lot of time with your dog and earn each others unshakeable trust and respect. Punishment-based methods would not have helped to create a relationship like theirs.
  • A dog poops in the house because he is mad at his owner
    • Most humans tend to credit dogs with human-like behaviors. We have no proof that dogs seek revenge, strategize or feel guilt, to name a few human capabilities; furthermore, evidence seems to support that dogs do not share these abilities with us.
    • A dog likely poops in the house only because he felt that he couldn't wait or didn't know to go outside
    • If a previously housetrained dog starts to eliminate in the house, check with your veterinarian for medical problems; if the problem isn't medical, contact a qualified trainer to discuss potential behavioral problems.
  • Dogs are misbehaving when they bark, dig or jump on people
    • Technically, these behaviors are perfectly acceptable to a dog
    • You actually have to teach your dog that these behaviors are not acceptable to humans
  • You must wait until your puppy is 6 months old to start training
    • By the time she is 6 months old, your puppy is already trained! It just may not have been purposeful training on your part.
    • When you get your puppy around the usual 9-weeks of age, she is entering a critical developmental period of her life; you will have around 5 - 7 weeks to prepare her for a stable, well-balanced adulthood. See above for socialization information
  • It’s okay to allow your dog to watch your children while you’re gone
  • Because dogs are animals, they should live outside
    • Dogs are social creatures and require a place in a pack (your family) to be happy and healthy; a lonely dog is a miserable dog
    • Many dog breeds have been bred in such a way that they are uncomfortable (sometimes dangerously so) in certain climates (e.g. the Boxer in extreme cold temperatures; the Bernese Mountain Dog in extremely hot and muggy climates; any short-muzzled breed in hot climates.)
    • Never leave your dog tied to something outside when you aren't going to be out with him. He is vulnerable to other dogs or predators, may tip over his water bowl and become dehydrated, or, in some cases, may be dangerous to others. Many dog bites have occurred while a tied-out dog was approached by a child.
  • Your dog just wants to please you
    • Your dog just wants to please herself, most likely; most dog breeds were bred to enjoy the presence of humans, however, and therefore will want to be able to stay with you
  • Your dog is bad, dumb or stubborn
    • Again, these are subjective or human attributes and there is no scientific evidence to support dogs behaving this way intentionally
    • If your dog has not yet learned from you what "good" behavior (according to your standards) is, he likely cannot make what you consider to be the correct choices
    • You may have taught your dog something, but that does not mean that he has learned it completely yet; he may need more practice
    • Occasionally, a dog will not perform a behavior you thought he knew well because of distractions (cat walking by the window), fear, discomfort (floor too cold or hard) or illness. Try to determine if something else is going on before dubbing your dog stubborn.

Back to Top


Have more questions? Send them to

 

 

Send us an e-mail by clicking here.



home classes FAQs getting a dog? about us contact us gallery links

 

Back to Top


last update 01/29/2013

Copyright © 2007 Puppy Adept, Inc.