FAQs

 

What is a good age to start training?

Every time we interact with our dogs, we are training in some way. Rewarded behaviors occur more frequently – both good behaviors and not so good ones. So its best to structure our interactions from day one, to set the puppy up for success and so they don’t practice behaviors we don’t like. To help clients, we have Puppy Kindergarten class which was created as a problem behavior prevention class. We also see many clients one on one for a private session just to get things started off on the right foot! The earlier you start setting your puppy up for success (in every interaction), the happier you will both be during adolescence and adulthood.

 

We have……and want to do…..which program would you recommend?

There are really only a few things to consider when you are deciding which program is right for you – how much time and ability do you have to be consistent? How quickly do you want/need results?

Our group classes are the most economical, and the obedience skill sets are the foundation behaviors for happy management. However, there is little time for personal issues and progress is slower than other options. Private sessions cover a great deal of material and allow us to really work with you on continuing your success when you leave the appointment. However, it is still only an hour at a time….and the other 6 days and 23 hours you are on your own. Our In-Board options provide complete consistency in every interaction for quick, stress free results, and are coupled with free follow up to ensure success for you – but of course, it is our most costly option.

In the end, regardless of which you choose, our team will help you address the needs of your individual dog and household. Maybe a combination of all of the programs is your best bet? When in doubt, start with a private session! I have never known anyone to be disappointed getting individual, valuable information on successfully living with their dog.

 

Do you guarantee your training?

Since private sessions and group classes rely on you for success, we can not guarantee there. However, our in-board program is contractually guaranteed to produce reliable obedience skill sets, or (as they say) you’re money back! 100%. We have never had to do this – and I hope that we never do, but your success is our priority. Our growth is due to happy clients and dogs who tell their friends.

 

Are your trainers certified?

Unfortunately, earning a “Certified Trainer” title can be as easy as sending a little money into a website and sitting in front of the computer with no practical leash time or handling experience. The Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) is one of the few organizations with respected industry standards required before certification, including both passing a standardized exam and documented experience.

Christie has passed the Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA) and the Certified Behavior Consultant Canine (CBCC-KA) exams and is one of only a few in the state of TN to hold both certifications. Our senior trainers have completed their required experience and have been approved to sit the CPDT exam this fall. Once our other trainers complete their first year with us, they too will begin preparing to sit the exam.

At Thunderhawk, we won’t slap the word “certified” on our trainers for marketing. We believe in high standardized requirements, and are honored to have our staff earning them.

 

Can you certify my dog as a Service Dog?

No – there is no certification or registration for service dogs that are recognized by the ADA as proof that a dog is indeed, a medical necessity. Any business requesting registration or certification for entry is in violation of the law. Anyone flaunting registration or certification is ignorant of the law and typically does not have a medically necessary trained service dog.

We have been fortunate to work with many handler and service dog teams, and are humbled by the positive effects a good service dog can have on their handler’s life. We are happy to help, provided the following criteria are met:

  1. Handler has a diagnosed disability and there is a minimum of 2 specific and definable tasks the dog can be trained to perform to assist. Presence is not a task.
  2. The dog has the appropriate temperament to be a solid service dog – remember that even service dog organizations with specific breeding programs have a high washout rate. The probability of finding a suitable candidate is low when picking from a rescue, trying to use a current dog, or obtaining a puppy.

 

What are your methods?

Dog training, these days, seems to be very similar to American Politics – with two very passionate and loud sides. On one side, you are never allowed to tell your dog no. You must have high value treats on you always, and any form of correction is considered abuse. On the other, using rewards to teach behaviors is bribery and the best your dog has to look forward to is breathing again when a choke chain loosens. And just like in politics – somewhere between the two sides is the rational approach.

We believe in teaching skill sets in whatever way the dog is happiest to learn. Typically with high value rewards and we love the clicker for communication. We introduce distance, distraction and duration slowly with attention to maintaining thresholds for the dog’s success. But ultimately….we also understand that the world is full of distractions and competing motivations. And when off leash, I could have a steak to offer, but many dogs would still choose chasing a squirrel. In this case, the choice is to keep the dog on leash, or make chasing a squirrel less desirable than steak. When it comes to proofing dogs once they have a solid foundation of understanding, we introduce corrections when needed.

In all situations, it is our goal to help our clients work within their value system to bring their dog to their highest potential.

 

Do you offer payment plans?

For group classes, payment in full is required to hold your place in class. With private sessions, payment is due upon completion of the session. With our in-board program, clients either pay in full up front, or 50% at drop off and 50% upon completing of the boarding portion of the program.

 

What forms of payment do you accept?

We accept cash, check, money order, Visa, Mastercard, Discover and PayPal.

 

Will my dog listen to me like they listen to you?

Honestly – yes and no. The best trained dogs in the world, are often trained by someone other than the handler. Dogs with very important jobs like Leader Dogs or many Police K9. The dogs learn fast and with less stress when they are being taught by someone who already knows the development of behaviors. Then requesting behaviors and reinforcing them is the easy part.

However, I won’t lie. Our timing is probably a little better, and our body language a little more clear to your dog. So although they WILL listen to you, they may not be 100% as precise with you as they are with us. With a little coaching of you, they absolutely will be. In the end though, when the dogs go home they have a clear understanding of the skill sets and are just as eager to work with children as authoritative adults.

 

If I use food, will I always have to have treats on me to have my dog listen? Will my dog always have to wear a correction collar to listen?

Food and collars, and everything else, are just tools to either help teach behaviors, or to obtain control while we teach behaviors. If a requested behavior is consistently reinforced, then the dog quickly learns that it is the only option and great things happen when they do what we ask – and doing the alternative is never a viable option. At that point, the tools can go away. Each dog is different, and some will “try” longer than others. But generally, if owners maintain an objective consistency with their requests, the dogs do not need tools long term. They do – however – deserve a paycheck now and then to keep them motivated, just like us.

 

I have multiple dogs in my household. If I just have one trained, will the others make it be bad?

Life is full of distractions, and other dogs in the household are just that. A great big distraction. As long as owners aren’t ambiguous about what is expected from the trained dog, then other dogs (or children, or visitors….etc) are no problem at all.

 

Do I bring my own
food?

We feed a brand of food called Victor (www.victorpetfood.com). It is a 4-5 star ranked premium kibble containing no wheat, corn or soy. We have formulas appropriate for growth, maintenance, and a grain free option. If owners are comfortable having their dog fed this quality food, then we just ask that you bring a few days of your dogs normal diet to transition. We then send them home with the same of the Victor. If clients prefer that their dog be maintained on a particular food, then they are welcome to bring enough for the duration.

 

Will my dog remember me?

So far – we have never had a dog not be ecstatic to see their owner! They remember well!

 

Can I visit if they stay for a month

We do allow owners to visit their pets during business hours by appointment. We just ask that you limit it to no more than 30 minutes weekly to not disrupt their schedule too much.

 

How do I get updated?

We send updates and pictures out twice weekly – typically on Tuesdays and Fridays. We can send those via Facebook messenger or email. Of course owners are welcome to check in more often!

 

 

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