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thefamiliarcanine@gmail.com   (207)251-8168  South Berwick, Maine

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are some important things to consider when choosing a dog trainer? 

Please read The Pet Professional Guild's "Ten Questions to Ask Your Dog Training Professional Before You Hire Them" 

What does CPDT-KA mean and why is it important? 

CPDT-KA stands for Certified Professional Dog Trainer - Knowledge Assessed.  If you see these letters after a dog trainer's name it means the trainer has demonstrated a broad range of knowledge and skill in ethology, learning theory, dog training technique, and instruction by completing 300 hours in dog training and passing a 250 question multiple choice exam through The Certification Counsel for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT).

What does Positive Reinforcement mean? 

 Technically, positive reinforcement is a tool of operant conditioning used to modify behavior. The term means that, as trainers, we add something (food, toys, attention) after our dog performs a behavior to increase the likelihood that our dogs will perform that behavior in the future. Think of it this way:  Positive (+) means addition just like in math and Reinforcement refers to increasing the likelihood of a behavior. 

When a dog trainer refers to themselves as a positive reinforcement trainer, generally it means that they are teaching you how to motivate your dog to do the things you want them to do by rewarding them with things they love (food, toys, attention). They will also help you identify aspects of training that may be preventing your dog from "getting it right" and help you adjust your training plan to successfully meet your training goals. The focus is on what you want your dog to do, not what you don't want your dog to do. 

How long will it take to train my dog? 

 The short answer: It depends. All dogs are individuals with different learning histories, life experiences, and genetics that will influence how quickly they learn. Our behavior as trainers will also have a large impact on the time it takes to meet our training goals. And it is not just the canine end of the leash that we need to consider, how much time is invested in training, skill level of the trainer, and how often behavior is being reinforced are just a few of the variables related to the human end of the leash.  

What supplies will I need for class/private training?

We recommend a harness that does not restrict shoulder movement, but a front attachment harness or a flat collar is acceptable. All students should have a 6ft. leash, treat pouch, a mat, and a variety of treats. Some optional items are a 10-15ft long line, a puzzle toy, and a clicker.

We do not allow slip leads, choke chains, prong collars, or electronic collars. 

Which vaccinations are required for training?

Proof of Rabies and Distemper are required, and a Kennel Cough is recommended. 

What is the best age to start training my dog?

A dog can learn at any age, young or old. Speak to your veterinarian for recommendations on the best age to start your new puppy in group classes.