If you are new to Family Dog, this is a good place to get an overview of our training center. This page should answer most of your questions about Family Dog’s services, pricing and philosophy.
We Have a Lot to Offer
We offer a wide variety of classes for all sizes, ages and breeds of dogs (regardless of pedigree!), as well as private lessons in our 5,000 square-foot Kent facility. We are conveniently located off Highway 167 with easy access. Folks drive from all over Western Washington to take weekly classes from us.
Our group classes are limited in size to ensure plenty of individual attention for all participants. Family members, including well-behaved children, are encouraged to attend class and participate with the dog. Instructors are available by phone and email to answer their student’s questions and help with problems between weekly classes. We also offer private training for families who prefer individual instruction (more info below).
Puppy Manners, Home Obedience, Canine Good Citizen & Therapy Dog Training Classes
Pups under 5 months of age when class begins and/or toy breeds under 6 months of age start with Puppy Manners, while older puppies and dogs can join Beginning Home Obedience, Advanced Home Obedience and CGC Preparation classes provide advanced training and control in all types of distracting situations. Several times a year we offer Canine Good Citizen workshops and tests for those students who would like to take the CGC test and earn the CGC title/certificate. Therapy Dog training classes have become increasingly popular as more and more individuals appreciate the unique qualities that dogs provide in all types of therapy settings.
We Help Solve Behavior Problems
In addition to teaching the basic obedience exercises, we also address common behavior problems all dog owners encounter. These include chewing, barking, digging, mouthing, housebreaking, and stealing, as well as jumping up on people and counters. This is done as part of the class curriculum at no additional charge. Our extensive experience with all breeds of dogs allows us to provide no-nonsense solutions to the annoying bad habits that some dogs develop. In our classes you will also learn how to clip your dog’s toenails and clean his teeth and ears. You’ll hear about the latest developments in canine nutrition, flea control, spaying and neutering.
Performance & Dog Sport Classes
Competition Obedience classes are for owners who are interested in training for the precision that can lead to obedience titles. Our Competition program consistently produces some of the nation’s top obedience teams, and our specialty is working with individuals who are new to the sport, as well as unusual breeds of dogs.
Owners of purebred “show” dogs who want to earn their breed championship will learn all the techniques for baiting, gaiting and stacking in our Breed Ring handling classes. Everyone loves to have fun with their dogs, and our Agility classes provide a safe, controlled environment for students to learn to negotiate the various obstacles. We occasionally have other have classes within our Dog Sports program including Rally, Tracking, Flyball and Tricks & Games and Nosework.
Our Philosophy, Training Methods and Equipment Recommendations
Every dog is different. Some are hyperactive and others are laid back. A few dogs are shy and need more self-confidence, while others have too much confidence! And some dogs are serious while others are silly. We know all dogs are different, and that’s why we have developed a training program that works with a wide range of dogs. We treat each dog and his family as individuals, and we modify our techniques to suit your needs.
Our training methods are based on an understanding of animal behavior — how dogs learn and communicate with one another. When we teach the dog something “new” we begin in a quiet, calm environment and we gently help the dog understand what we expect. The atmosphere in our classes is conducive to learning. We are always calm and under control. We do not “hype” the dogs up; we soothe and relax them. One more important thing we don’t do, and don’t believe in, is repeating commands. Our dogs learn to obey on the first command, This is especially important when “come” and “stay” might make the difference between life and death in an emergency situation. We’ll teach you to train your dog without nagging!
After the dog has been introduced to commands and concepts, we slowly transfer responsibility to the dog. Dogs learn very quickly, and love to be held to high standards. Students who have never trained with us ask about our use of “corrections” or negative reinforcement. Because we know that every dog is different (some are sensitive with a high desire to please while other dogs are more stubborn and challenging), we also know that some dogs do require corrections to learn important concepts, such as not biting. Before we recommend corrections we have to understand the dog’s intentions, where he’s at in the training process and what’s fair to the dog. Some dogs respond to a spray of water while other dogs need different techniques. Every dog is different.
One question that often comes up relates to “clicker training.” We are not fans of the clicker, although we do utilize behavior modification techniques in our training process. Dogs cannot differentiate between “clicks” in a class environment (which click is for which dog?) and the clicker does not help dogs understand when to continue a behavior vs. when the behavior is finished. We find that our approach using marker words (such as “good” and “yes”) allows us to give degrees of reinforcement while truly communicating with our dog. Our approach teaches dogs to responsibility for their actions and pay attention to their owners because of the improved relationship between dog and human.
Folks also want to know about equipment and our recommendations for training. There are so many options available today (buckle collars, martingales, head halters, body harnesses, 6-foot leashes, retractable leashes, long lines and more) that it’s difficult to make hard and fast recommendations in a few sentences or paragraphs. There are pro’s and con’s to every type of collar and leash. What works for one dog may not work for another dog. Some handlers with physical challenges need different equipment for safety and control. Because we discuss training equipment in our orientations, we recommend you wait to buy anything you might need. In fact, what you already have is probably just fine to get you started. We do sell common styles of collars, leashes and long lines at our facility and will share those with you at he the first class.
An Extensive Schedule of Classes and Make-up Opportunities
We offer an extensive schedule of classes, including day, evening and weekend programs. Most classes are one hour long and each session is six weeks long. We also occasionally offer 3 to 4 week classes that meet for 90 minutes each week and crash courses that meet for 3 to 5 weeks, 75 to 90 minutes each week. Each class meets at the same time, same day and same area of the training center each week. Because our schedule of classes is so extensive, it’s easy for most families to find one that works for them. And, in the event of vacation, illness, or other schedule conflicts, our students are able to schedule make-ups, usually during the same week. If you miss a class, please use the tab at the top of our home page to see classes that are available for make-ups and then contact the office or 253-854-9663 to confirm the day and time of the make-up class you will be attending.
Private Lessons for Behavior Issues and Personalized Training
Most dog training challenges and behavior problems can be solved in the class environment; however, there are some dogs who need individual attention due to aggression, fear and other serious issues. Some owners prefer individual instruction so they can deal with a number of training challenges in a short period of time. Our instructors are available for Private Lessons on an as-needed basis. Private Lessons can be conducted in your home or our main training facility, depending upon the specific requirements. Be sure to visit our Fee Schedule page for specific pricing and options. Our Private Lesson Questionnaire is available to download. You can contact our office to discuss whether or not private lessons are appropriate for your dog.
Are You Shopping Around for Classes?
Chances are very good that you know someone who has taken classes with us. Many of our students are referred by friends, relatives, neighbors, veterinarians, groomers, breeders, and pet store personnel. If you are looking at a number of dog schools, pet shops or private trainers, we recommend that you call several instructors and speak with them about their methods, the size of their classes, the types of dogs they have personal experience with, their success rate and their graduating percentages.
Ask about their background in animal behavior, class organization, verbal communications, and group instruction/motivation. When possible, go observe classes in progress. Get a feeling for the class environment, the instructor’s technical expertise and communications skills.
Beware of “free” or very inexpensive dog training — because you get what you pay for — which is often poor quality instruction and bad advice in large, out-of-control classes. Beware of so-called trainers who do a great “sales job” but, in reality, have very little actual dog training experience. Beware of people who have taken correspondence or online courses to become dog trainers. Our instructors received many hours, weeks and months of training before they are qualified to teach classes for us.
We are frequently asked about “board and train” programs. We find that the class approach where you spend a few minutes a day working with your own dog is very successful. What most families really want is for the dog to obey them, in the household environment. And that’s where we excel — teaching families how to train their dogs so they become wonderful canine companions!
Observe Our Classes
We encourage prospective students to come in and observe a class to get a feel for our training and instruction methods. We ask that only humans attend (please leave your dog at home) when coming to observe a class. Contact the office to determine the best day and time for you to observe. Just let us know what type of class you’re looking for.
We Make Class Enrollment Easy and Convenient
There are several ways to register for classes with us, and we encourage you to do so as early as possible. Classes are filled in the order in which registration forms and accompanying payments are received.
Register Online! If you are paying by credit card, you can register online. Using the navigation bar on the left side of this site, select your class. Once you have successfully completed the online registration you will receive a confirmation email.
Register via Mail, Fax, or Email! After you have determined your choice for class, download and print a copy of our Registration Form Master. Fill out the two-page form and be sure to sign in the appropriate places. If you are paying by credit card you may fax your completed form to us at (253) 850-DOGS, send it via mail, or send the form via email. If you are paying by check, you may send your form and payment via mail or drop them off in person. If you are paying in cash, please visit our office. Returning students, please use our Returning Student Form.
We will confirm receipt of your registration, and your class selection, by email shortly after its receipt. We will also contact you by email 24 – 48 hours prior to your first class meeting, to remind you to attend class!
We have an Information and Brochure box on the wall to the left of our main door. You can always pick up a current Schedule or a Registration Form, as well as a complete list of our Training Services and Programs even if we’re not available.
Your tuition includes unlimited telephone and email support from your instructor. We allow you to make up any classes that you miss — at no additional charge. We also offer a Student Incentive Program, which pays dividends to students who help with our community educational booths and support our business in other ways.