Please have a read of some Frequently Asked Questions we receive. If your question is not listed below, please contact us or send us a message on Facebook or Instagram, and we will get back to you right away!
Q. My dog is past the age of puppy school (18 weeks) can they still be trained?
A. Most definitely your dog can still be trained! Education beyond puppy school includes leash walking skills, reliable recalls and focus in public and learning to not jump on people. Because we keep our classes small, if you have missed puppy school we will aim to fill in some of those early gaps for you.
Q. My dog has only had their first vaccination, can I come to puppy class?
A. This is a very common point of confusion. As long as your puppy’s vaccinations are up to date for his/her age you can come to puppy class. Puppy class is run in an environment safe from the Parvo virus. Puppies need to start puppy school before they turn 18 weeks of age. If we wait until their final vaccination, they will most likely be too old for puppy school.
Q. What type of issues do you deal with in home visits?
A. Home visits are designed to help with the widest range of dog issues imaginable: digging, jumping, escaping, pulling on the leash, jealousy around another dog or human in the family, separation issues, newly rescued dogs needing “reprogramming”, nipping and biting, distractibility outside the home, toilet training, barking,adjusting to a new baby, won’t come when called, stealing household items. The most common reasons people seek a home visit are:
• The class environment does not suit the dog or the human.
• The dog is reactive around other dogs. This could be anxiety, fear or lack of experience.
• The issues being faced with the dog are home-based.
• The humans have commitments preventing them from being able to attend a whole course.
Q. How do I know the home visit is going to work?
A. The primary goals of our home visits are to analyse your needs, teach you the principles and skills you need for your relationship with your dog and to map out a realistic schedule that is achievable on a daily basis. Your visit will be followed up with an email full of resources relevant to your individual needs.We will also call you after the visit to check how you are going. For those who follow through with our recommendations and stay in touch, the results are always there.
Q. I have a family that would all like to come to training? Can I bring all my children?
A. In most cases this is a resounding “Yes”. The dog is a member of the family and we’d like to teach you all how to interact with the dog in the most appropriate way. Limitations to all children coming may be the size of the facility as a couple of our vet clinics are quite small. If the children are particularly young and dependent on the attention of the caregiver, we would ask you to bring a second caregiver to be a backup with either the dog or the child. Children who are responsive to classroom rules and directions are very welcome. If in doubt, please call us to have this conversation.
Q. How old is too old for dog training?
A. The oldest dogs we have enrolled in class have been 10 years old, will a range of ages below that. Some people with older dogs do want to tidy up a few “issues” so that life with their dog improves in quality and stress relief for both the human and the dog. Other people like to participate with their older dogs for enrichment and revision purposes. We believe that you can teach an old dog new tricks; the alternative is to put up with annoying habits from your dog for the rest of his/her life!
Q. My dog is aggressive towards other dogs, can you still help me?
A. Dogs that are aggressive towards other dogs are just telling you that they are not ready or skilled enough to be around other dogs yet. Our approach is to teach you skills to practise in very calm environments and to gradually increase the distractions so that your dog can see another dog and be willingly redirected by you. This foundation training first undertaken in a private session, with the goal of having you later enroll in a class under very controlled conditions so that your dog (and you) learn to cope around other dogs.
Q. Will my dog be socialised at the training?
A. We need to emphasise that our definition of “socialisation” is “getting used to everything in the environment”. This includes not only other dogs and humans but noises, sights, new places, new ways of doing things. At puppy school the pups are allowed short bursts of “free play” to help them learn about body language of their age peers. Play periods are frequently interrupted with settling and training periods. Socialisation in our adolescent classes involves teaching the dogs to be settled and focused in the presence of other leashed dogs. We include greeting by other humans and practising safe introductions when two dogs meet on leash. This is an excellent video that clearly explains the wide scope of the term “socialisation”.
Q. What kind of interactions with other dogs can I expect at training?
A. Puppies have very short, controlled interactions with each other in class, with the humans learning about healthy interactions and when and how to intervene. Older dogs are kept on the leash and trained to walk, focus and settle around other dogs. Their humans will also learn about safe introductions on the lead.
Q. What qualifications do you have?
A. The founder of Barkers in Balance is Julie Tolliday. She is a qualified and experienced primary classroom teacher with 40 years experience. She has a university qualification in Behaviour. She entered the dog training and behaviour world in 2006. Since then she has aligned herself with professional organisations such as APDT (Association of Pet Dog Trainers), PPG (Pet Professional Guild) and the Pet Industry of Australia. Julie has written her own training manual and guidelines which each prospective trainer needs to undertake and be deemed competent before undertaking a teaching role with Barkers in Balance.
All trainers working for Barkers in Balance have participated in our training courses with their own dogs. Many have outside tertiary qualifications that enhance their roles as trainers with Barkers in Balance. They have all worked for a minimum of 6 months in the training program, under Julie’s supervision and evaluation standards.
I don’t have the time to do dog training at home, do you still think the classes are beneficial for me?
The hour a week in class will definitely provide enrichment for your dog’s week. There is also great potential for your in-class experience to enhance your relationship with your dog. We’re all about catering for the time-poor and work hard to give you a collection of ideas and activities that are achievable and will fit in with your busy lifestyle. We understand how discouraging and guilt-provoking it can be when you feel you’re not putting enough time into your dog. We can teach you how to make the best of a 5-10 minute window!
Q. What age can I bring my dog to puppy school?
A. You can look at enrolling your puppy in puppy school any time after he/she turns 8 weeks of age. While they are accepted up until the age of 18 weeks, it’s a really good idea to try to get them started a few weeks before they turn 18 weeks of age. The period between 8 and 18 weeks of age is a critical learning period. Some potential aspects of puppy learning cannot be as easily captured after this age.