Frequently Asked Questions & Answers!
Do I need to wait until my puppy has all of his shots before starting puppy class?
Nope. We agree with the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior’s (AVSAB) Position Statement on this topic: “In general, puppies can start puppy socialization classes as early as 7-8 weeks of age. Puppies should receive a minimum of one set of distemper/parvo vaccines at least 7 days prior to the first class and a first de-worming. They should be kept up to date throughout the class.”
We’ll ask you to bring copies of your vaccination records to your first class or social.
What if I have to miss a class due to my schedule?
Because of the limits to our classroom sizes, as well as the different training calendars that our classes are on, make-up sessions are not always possible. If you miss a lesson and we have room in another quickly upcoming class we will do our best to accommodate you. However, if there isn’t space available, then making up a class will not be an option. (You will receive the homework regardless, in order to practice at home.)
For this reason, please think seriously about your schedule before enrolling in our classes.
Another option is to have a dog-loving friend or family member bring your dog to class for you. This keeps your dog current with the lessons and doubles up as bonus training by having your dog work with a different handler.
What shots does my adult dog need to attend a group class?
Adult Dogs are defined as those who are 5 months and older. Your dog will need a Rabies vaccine and a DHPP (distemper-parvo) vaccine before participating in class.
We require that you bring the vaccination records to the first class to that we can check them before you begin training with us. Please check with your veterinarian to be sure your doggie is current on all shots.
My puppy is very shy. Shouldn’t I wait to go to puppy class?
On the contrary, your pup needs to begin puppy class right away in order to receive careful, gentle socialization with safe people, other pups, and a variety of objects and environments. Your pup is still young and impressionable, which means there is a lot we can do to develop his confidence and prepare him for the Big World.
While it’s totally natural to want to safeguard your shy pup, did you know that shyness can later develop into behavior problems? Problems like fear-based aggression, attachment disorders, submissive urination, and the inability to cope in stressful situations. Pups with reserved or cautious natures can seem like they are “calm”, “submissive”, or “obedient” when they’re actually experiencing fear and stress. If not addressed, their responses and behavior tend to get worse as they mature.
You can avoid these issues by making the most of your pup’s critical development period which lasts from 8 weeks to 16 weeks of age. After this time, pups can still learn to be less afraid of things, but progress tends to be much slower than when they are younger.
I’m interested in puppy socials before my class begins, but I was told not to take the puppy outside until s/he receives more vaccines. What should I do?
As long as your pup has had at least one DHPP (distemper – parvo) vaccine and 7 days have passed since the shot was given, you are welcome to start Bravo’s puppy socials.
BravoPup socials are held indoors in safe locations that are sanitized before, during and after each class. We recommend that you carry your pup from your car into the classroom.
We feel that our socials are the safest, cleanest, healthiest, and best managed socialization events in town. Every social is supervised by two or more professional trainers who are skilled at directing dog play and making sure that all pups are having a positive social experience.
We are relentless advocates for early socialization because it’s clear to us, as well as to the top behavior experts in our field, that a lack of proper socialization is the chief reason that adult dogs develop serious behavior issues including fear and aggression. We often refer to socialization as “anti-aggression training”.
We agree with the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior’s (AVSAB) Position Statement on this topic: “In general, puppies can start puppy socialization classes as early as 7-8 weeks of age. Puppies should receive a minimum of one set of vaccines at least 7 days prior to the first class and a first de-worming. They should be kept up to date throughout the class.”
My puppy/dog is coughing, or sneezing, or not feeling well. Should I bring him to class anyway?
No. If your puppy is not well, we recommend that you call your veterinarian immediately so that you can discuss his/her symptoms and address your concerns. Follow your veterinarian’s advice.
Please do not bring a sick dog to class or puppy social. We encourage you to come to class without your pup-dog and observe the lessons. This way, you will be able to work with your dog during the week once he is feeling better.
We care deeply about the health and well-being of your dog. Please keep us informed of his or her health status.
My puppy is very small. Should I be concerned about the bigger puppies?
We are small dog owners too, so we understand your reservations concerning big dogs. Carefully exposing your tiny pup to much larger pups is a fundamental part of our training process. For safety reasons, your little guy needs to learn how to act around the bigger guys. Let’s face it, it’s a big dog world out there, and a big dog encounter is eventually going to happen. So we want to prepare your little dog to handle it with confidence. We will guide you throughout this delicate and important process so that you feel safe handling your small dog in a variety of situations. We’ve done it zillions of times with tremendous success.
What is your training method?
We are proud and enthusiastic practitioners of what’s commonly called “positive reinforcement training”. It’s also referred to as reward-based training, force-free training.
Positive reinforcement is the presentation of something rewarding to the dog that immediately follows a behavior that we approve of and like. The reward makes that behavior more likely to occur again in the future, and it is one of the most powerful tools for shaping or changing your pup’s behavior.
We do not recommend, endorse, or use any training techniques that are aversive to your dog, or that rely on pain, force, startle, or coercion to change your dog’s behaviors. As science-based trainers, we know there’s a far more powerful and humane way to help your dog learn and support the incredible relationship that the two of you can have together.
That’s why we Keep It Positive.
Do I have to use food treats in class?
First, it helps to remember that food isn’t the only reward available. Anything your dog values can be used as a reward, whether it’s food, play, attention, or access to a desired place or object. These are all important and useful training tools. Our aim is to deliver the appropriate reward to your pup whenever he does something right.
Sometimes treats may be most important to your dog (especially if he’s hungry), sometimes play may be (especially if he hasn’t seen his buddies all day), sometimes it will be attention (eye contact, petting, praise), and sometimes the opportunity to get somewhere (like jumping into a puddle). Any of these can be at the top of your dog’s list on any given day.
But here’s why we use Food treats so often while training in class: for many dogs, the fastest way to their brains is through their stomachs. So food treats are a quick and and highly effective way to reward behaviors as they are being taught. Tiny food treats can be delivered repeatedly while we train in class. Plus, they are often they are often the single best tool we have to help your dog train successfully around the normal distraction levels in class.
Ideally, food should not be the only reward used to train your dog. Once your dog has learned to perform a behavior really well in a variety of conditions, food can often be swapped out for other rewards to help keep a behavior strongly reinforced. It takes loads of time and considerable skill to get to this point, and many owners try to take away the rewards too soon. Our advice is this: plan on training with food in every class for the first 2 years of your dog’s life. After that, he’ll know the drill and many behaviors will start to look automatic.
How much time each day should I spend training my pup?
Ideally, you can aim for two 10 minute training ‘session-ettes’ each day. This may sound like a lot, but it’s not—it’s 20 minutes total. That said, it’s usually more realistic to sprinkle your pup’s lessons throughout the day and evening: two minutes here, two minutes there.
Most puppies have very short attention spans, which is why training sessions have to be short and frequent. Can you imagine sitting a pre-schooler at a desk and giving him/her an hour long exam? It would never work. So don’t overload your pup. Go for quality, not quantity. You’ll both have more fun.
Can I bring my kids to class?
Certainly. We love training with kids and we encourage all family members who will be participating in training your dog to attend class. Children can become very fine trainers, but they do require special consideration in an hour-long class situation. There are times when your child will have to sit quietly in class while the instructor is talking. Please consider if this will be easy or difficult for your child, and how it may affect your ability to concentrate as well.
We’ve observed that the attention span of young children can often be even shorter than that of puppies. We want you and everyone in your family to be able to focus on learning with your pup and have a great time. If you foresee challenges to this, please consider getting a sitter instead.
I have two dogs. Can I bring both of them to class?
For safety reasons we do not allow a single handler to bring more than one dog to a class. If you have registered multiple dogs for a class, please ensure that you have a separate handler for each dog, plus loads of treats.
What is your refund policy?
Refunds: the following criteria must be met for us to consider a refund:
• We are unable to provide a refund if you cancel your enrollment within five business days (Mon-Fri: 9am-5pm) of class start date.
• Even if you cancel enrollment within 5 business days, a refund (minus a non-refundable $35 transaction fee) is issued IF AND ONLY IF we can fill your spot. We put forth our best effort but cannot guarantee a refund.
• We regret that we are unable to refund class fees once class has commenced.
Please be considerate and understanding of our policies. We limit enrollment in order to provide quality instruction and to maintain safety in our classrooms. We appreciate your understanding that once you have reserved a spot we agree to hold this spot for you in which case it is made unavailable to other students.
For these reasons, PLEASE THINK SERIOUSLY ABOUT YOUR SCHEDULE and commitment to training and your dog’s suitability for group classes before enrolling.