Frequently Asked Questions
Q. How long does training take?
A. Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer to this question. An in-home appointment typically lasts between 1 & 2 hours, and a private appointment at our location lasts 1 hour. As far as rehabilitating a dog, the process starts from the very first hour but depending on the issues, and more importantly the commitment of the owner, a full rehabilitation can take a year or more... It can also take ONE class, depending on many variables.
Q. What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A. Work with someone that you connect with. In the field of dog training, not in any one of the 50 states is there any regulation regarding licensing or requirements. Literally, anyone can put up a sign and call themselves a trainer. Look for someone with passion, enthusiasm, knowledge and a love of this work. I suggest you stay away from trainers who are too, what I call, "one-trick-pony," i.e. they use only one method and admonish all others. Whether positive or negative in their methodology, this is not a good trait. If you are not comfortable working with someone, it just isn't going to work. Take the time to ask questions and pass on any trainer who won't do the same.
Q. What questions should a consumer ask to hire the right service professional?
A. A customer should ask a potential trainer:
How long have you been working with dogs? In what capacity?
What certifications do you have?
Do you have any specialties?
What methods do you use?
How much do you charge and what am I getting?
Do you have a guarantee? (Believe it or not, the answer to this question should be "no." I'd run from any trainer who "guarantees" your dog will be perfect when you're done.)
What commands do you teach?
May I watch your class? (Answer should always be yes, unless there is a safety issue with reactive dogs, children, extenuating circumstances of that nature.)
What kind of dog(s) do you have?
What kind of work have you done with them?
Q. Why does your work stand out from others who do what you do?
A. I am much more balanced than most trainers. A lot of trainers out there today are too "one trick pony," and every dog and every handler is different. I am passionate about this, and am familiar with many different methods. I am not "for or against" one tool or technique over another. Everyone is different (dogs and handlers), and motivated by different things. To get the best results, you need to be open-minded, committed, and knowledgeable. That's what I am.
Q. What do you like most about your job?
A. The best part about my job is for sure the times that I've been able to help people go from "Cassie, I am ready to get rid of this dog!" to "he's so great and well-behaved now. I'm so glad we did this." The "ah-ha!" moments when a dog gets a new command right for the first time. The most rewarding part of my job is seeing the success stories.
Q. What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A. How can I get my dog to stop peeing in the house?
How can I get my dog not to be so hyper?
How can I get my dog to stop jumping all over everyone?
How can I make my dog come when called?
How can I get my dog to stop chewing everything?
As frustrating as it is, there is no one "quick-fix" answer to any of these questions. It takes time, exercise, socialization, training, and a better understanding of your dog to change these behaviors. I am more than happy to help you with this with your 100% commitment. I have high expectations and I want you to have the same.
Q. What is your standpoint on dog aggression? Can training eliminate it enough for that dog to eventually become part of a multiple dog home?
A. That all depends. There is a big difference between managing it enough to have that dog become part of a multi-dog home and eliminating it enough to have that dog become part of a multi-dog home. How much you can eliminate it & how much you'll forever have to manage it (with physical barriers & stellar obedience) depend on the individual dog... NOT just the breed. I am living proof that training (along with lifetime socialization & physical exercise) can make it possible to run a 4-male-pit-bull-household in which one of the dogs was on death row for liability reasons relating to his dog- and stranger-"aggression" issues.
There is also a real difference between true AGGRESSION and over-reactivity. Also a big difference between issues that stem from lack of early socialization/lack of exercise & issues that stem from genetics. Real, true aggression is really rather rare, and with truly aggressive dogs, my feeling is that you can usually get to a place where they are completely manageable, but you cannot completely eliminate every aggressive tendency.
Ya know, I also have to add that I've seen what people said was impossible come to fruition many times under certain circumstances, so if you find the right formula, almost any dog can be "made" to live in a multi-dog household. How people feel about "making" that dog do it is a different story.
Q. Could you give me an idea of what you would be doing to help? Do you have a set sort of lesson plan or do you focus on what the dog needs? How would the first few weeks go? How long do you usually have sessions last? Do you recommend once a week or more?
A. I love to get these questions because you wouldn't believe the number of people who just blindly go with a trainer without asking these questions or doing their research on the methodology that trainer uses, etc., and it can be to the detriment of all involved.. dog, owner, trainer. So no worries! Never be afraid to ask me anything :)
I never really walk into an appointment with a set agenda... Even when I have a loose outline, that can all go completely out the window when I meet the dog, for many reasons: the owner's analysis of the dog's behavior is completely incorrect; the dog is motivated or not motivated in a certain way; there is another skill set I believe we should concentrate on before or instead of the one I initially had planned... you know what I mean?
I do have a general scheme of things I like to do, or a "style." Leadership is always very important for everyone's safety & happiness, and those are skills I want everyone to have. Leadership does not equal aggression or confrontation. It is important for a balanced life & to solve behavior problems. That generally has very much to do with people needing to practice this piece of advice I'm always giving out: when you are working with a dog, whether you are using a correction at that moment or a reward, you need to be aware of the dog's state of mind... not just a behavior. For example, if I ask my dog to stop barking at you & sit, and he shuts up & sits, that is not necessarily the time to reward (or "good boy") just because he executed the behavior I was asking for. If he is still looking at you with bad intentions, that is not time for "good boy" yet. THAT is where a lot of people need the direction of a professional like myself.. Am I making sense there?
There is never really a guarantee of "how many" or "how long" when it comes to training... Like when someone asks (not that you did), "When will he be trained?" that all depends on what "trained" means to you.. I like to concentrate on repairing or improving the relationship & the lines of communication between the dog & the family, not just come in & teach you sit/down/stay/come/heel. What happens more often than not is something like this: a given person calls me saying, "My dog is GREAT, it's just this one thing... He is very reactive on leash on our walks when he sees another dog." OK, so the quick interpretation of that on my end is pretty clear... That ISN'T just one "problem." It is a SYMPTOM of a problem, and the problem is some leadership issues and who knows what else. You can't just address "this one thing." Extremely rarely would that ever work... There are minimal exceptions to that rule, and they are exceptions that are generally to the detriment of the dog.
As far as how I train or what tools I use... I use everything. I do not limit myself to one tool or technique, and that is because I find that every dog & every handler is different. There are many ways in training to essentially accomplish the same thing, and how we get there depends on many factors: the temperament of the dog, the temperament of the handler, the urgency of the situation, the dog's distraction/excitability/stress thresholds, the dog's reaction to different rewards & the dog's reaction to different corrections. As I say, I want to set the dog up to succeed, and I want us to get there in the funnest, most peaceful, safest, happiest, most effective way possible, whether that means he learns how to wait at the door so he doesn't bolt, you both learn how to communicate basic manners to each other, or you learn how to manage a hardcore aggressive dog with a bite history.
So I do come in with a GENERAL list of things I think dogs should know: sit, down, wait, come, proper walk, place, name response and how to respect a correction from a distance. But as far as how long that takes or how many sessions.. There's really no telling. And that depends mostly on the owner, not me or the dog.
I really hope that somewhat answers your questions.. Again, I don't mind them at all... You are welcome to flip through our website and you'll probably get a better feel for us based on the material that's on there: www.hexdogs.com, and www.facebook.com/hexdogs and www.meetup.com/hexpack.