Frequently Asked Questions
?How long should I wait before enrolling my puppy in socialization?
Research shows that with socialization, the earlier the better. We allow puppies to start socializing after they've been home for 10 days and are free from illness. Waiting beyond 12 weeks to start is not advised, though we do allow puppies up to 16 weeks in our social groups. You heard that right! 16 weeks is the age cap. If you wait until they've had all immunizations, you've waited too long.
?How long should I wait before enrolling my puppy in training?
If you have to prioritize one over the other, socialization is always the top priority as brain development drives that timeline. Training can happen at any age, but 9-10 weeks is a great time to start if you're able to do both in tandem. The beauty of starting early is that your puppy doesn't have much time to form unwanted habits. We're getting them headed in the right direction quickly so that we see more of the behaviors we want to see.
If you're not able to do both, but need help NOW with basic puppy stuff like crate & potty training or bite inhibition, I recommend booking a single private session while primarily focusing on socialization. Training can always come later.
?Do you offer Make Up Sessions on Group Classes
Because we have a class capacity, we aren't able to move students from one class to another or the space gets overcrowded. Instead, we've created videos of the demos we do in class and can provide these to those who miss so that they can practice at home. 85% of our exercises are documented. Alternately, you can purchase a private session if you'd like to work with the trainer directly.
?What would you recommend I do for my dog who is seemingly aggressive or reactive to strangers or other dogs?
It's really important to complete a thorough evaluation with a professional before partaking in any type of behavior modification. Using the wrong method can spell disaster for you and your dog and can actually make things much worse. All Private Behavior Modification programs at Rocky Mountain Dog Training begin with an initial consult prior to beginning behavior modification. This allows us to get a behavior history, identify environmental contingencies for the behavior, learn about the dog's and handler's current skill set so we know what we need to work on and what already exists, and then following this information-gathering session, we create a plan of action that bridges your starting point with the end goals for the dog.
?Do you treat Separation Anxiety?
This is a debilitating behavior for dogs (think a day-long panic attack, each and every time you're at work), and treatment programs for this are different than what most people would think of for private dog training. These programs are much more robust because these dogs are really suffering and need help fast. Nowadays, trainers integrate in technology, remote reward systems and remote monitoring of the dog. These trainers are known as CSATs. Need a referral? Reach out and we'll get you hooked up with a certified CSAT stat.
?My dog is aggressive but I can only afford group classes, what should I do?
This is such a tough predicament, and it's great you're seeking help! But unfortunately, groups are centered around building skills whereas aggressive behavior works to change emotions. Skills are so valuable but for a dog who is scared and stressed, they're useless because the dog has bigger worries on their mind than producing a down stay for you when they feel unsafe. We've gotta treat emotion first. Treat the emotions, the skills will come along beautifully after.
While cost is certainly a factor, let's look at value. It's a value to you to get your dog treatment in the long run. Dogs who are aggressive are a huge liability. If a bite occurs and you get sued, it makes treatment look like pennies. Not only that, but help for your dog is of huge value. Dogs who are aggressive are stressed. Imagine living life that way. Treatment can give them a much higher quality of life, and isn't that really what we all are after?
Trying to navigate behavior problems without a deep understanding of dogs and behavior often lands folks in the "I tried it and it didn't work club". Get a trainer on board, you won't regret the investment. Pay as you go is always and option.
?Do you recommend Group Training, Private Training or Puppy Day School Classes?
Group classes with Rocky Mountain Dog Training are great for puppies who are up to date on vaccinations, and older dogs who are just in need of basic obedience work or fun activities. The handler should have time available between sessions to work with the dog 15-30 minutes a minimum of 5 days a week at home. Candidates for our groups should be friendly and outgoing with other dogs and friendly strangers. The exception here is our Reactive Rover course which focuses on leash reactivity. This is where dogs are friendly and outgoing with dogs off leash, and people across the board, but struggle with appropriate behaviors when the leash is on around other dogs.
We do not allow aggressive dogs into our group training classes.
Private classes are recommended for very young puppies who have no vaccination history or if their immune system is compromised, and for dogs who need work in areas that impact emotion. The dog is upset in some way. They are also appropriate for owners whose schedules are not static, or who are more comfortable learning in a familiar or quiet place. Private classes are conducted at home in most cases.
Puppy Day School is for those looking for someone else to take the wheel. This program is for puppies up to 16 weeks at the start date, though it's ideal to begin around 10-12 weeks of age. You won't be saddled with much practice at home, but their behaviors do need to be supported to be maintained.
Whichever direction you choose, be objective about what is realistic about what your capabilities are and what is best for your dog, and if you need help sorting through the options, our team is happy to help, just shoot us an email.
?We're not quite ready to join a group class, do you have any advice for us before we tackle training?
Yep! There are two urgent deadlines you will need to focus on and meet when raising a puppy.
- Top priority #1 is teaching bite inhibition, and this needs to be done before the dog is 4.5 months.
- Top priority #2 is socialization, and this should be well underway before the dog turns 12 weeks, though this can and should continue well past that. Socialization is the process of teaching your dog what's normal in the world. People, other dogs, sounds, surfaces, wheeled objects, handling all fall under this category. This is not just exposure. It's about building positive associations with their surroundings. Here's the kicker – home environment and household dogs don't really count. If they never leave the confines of the house in their socialization window, the world is going to be a scary place for them in adulthood. Please be sure to factor the dog's responses into this. They should feel happy and comfortable during socialization. If we expose them to fear, we're really just teaching them what they should be fearful of. Fear is easy to install, but man is it difficult and expensive to modify! Keep it out of the mix as must as possible.
?Do you guarantee results?
Rocky Mountain Dog Training guarantees that you and your dog will be trained ethically and humanely. We guarantee that our training methods are scientifically-backed and well-vetted and that we will follow training plans that are achievable and safe while working towards long-term behavioral improvement.
Ethically, we cannot guarantee anything further. As with any living organism, we cannot always predict HOW they will behave. Guarantees in behavior modification are dishonest and unethical as behavior is not static. Medical issues, household compliance, environmental conditions and repeated exposure to triggers can cause behavior change.