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NorthWest K9 Training Director Moc Klinkam answers the questions commonly asked by dog owners considering team training at NorthWest K9, with helpful links that will provide additional detailed information relevant to the Q&A topic.

Frequently Asked Questions About Training at NorthWest K9
Copyright 2004 Moc Klinkam; all rights reserved.

Q: May I stop by and watch a NorthWest K9 training class?

A: NorthWest K9 provides custom private team training at the Training Center building in Enumclaw by appointment only for each owner and their dog. Dogs may not enter a NorthWest K9 training venue without proof of current vaccination/immunity/health status. So in all cases, a Training Request and Team Evaluation are required before a dog may be brought to a NorthWest K9 training venue. Unscheduled walk-in visits by the general public would be disruptive for student teams during their private lesson. After receipt of your Training Request, I may be able to arrange an opportunity for you to observe a private training class if a suitable session is available during your preferred visit date/time range and the student gives their permission to have an observer at their private lesson.

Q: How do I learn more about training my dog at NorthWest K9?

A: Relevant team training information is published on the web site and conveniently available to prospective and current training students. Training at NorthWest K9 utilizes online enrollment, and supplemental training materials are readily available to enrolled students online. I encourage you to review all of the training information available on this web site and to email me with your questions and concerns. I personally manage all training and administration at NorthWest K9, and I'm usually out training people and their dogs during regular business hours. This means that I'm not often in the office to take phone calls and callers will likely reach voicemail. I suspect that you dislike playing endless "voicemail tag" as much as I do, so I recommend that prospective students first submit a Training Request so that I may determine how I can assist with your team training needs and goals. Once I have your team status information in hand, I'll be better able to contact you by telephone if needed to discuss any training questions or concerns you may have that aren't readily addressed on the web site or easily answered via email. I prefer the ease, 24/7 convenience, and cost-efficiencies of providing relevant information and conducting enrollment and scheduling on-line, and my training students do, too.

Q: How can I learn more about NorthWest K9 before I commit to enrolling in one of your training programs?

A: An excellent way to learn more about NorthWest K9's training programs is to read my library of common sense training articles. You might also consider attending one of the introductory training seminars that are offered periodically throughout the year. Please submit your Training Request and indicate the informational program that interests you, and I'll welcome the opportunity to answer any questions you may have when we talk in person or online.

Q: Who will be training me and my dog at NorthWest K9?

A: As the owner and Training Director at NorthWest K9, I facilitate all team training. You and your dog benefit from the total attention and commitment of your very own private trainer and personal coach, with the added reliability and security of always knowing your dog is being consistently evaluated, handled, and trained by one person.

Q: What style of training do you apply?

A: My personal training philosophy is to first teach the dog and the dog's owner how to learn through positive, reward-based training strategies that set the dog up for success. The reward might be food, toy, praise, play, or a desired activity. After successfully training the dog in focus-based command behaviors, and incrementally proofing those behaviors in variable environments, if the dog willfully disobeys the command, then a correction may be in order. This depends entirely on each unique dog and each unique owner and the environment in which the misbehavior occurs. You'll find additional information about my approach to using corrections in training in my article Ain't Misbehavin': How and When to Make Corrections.

Q: Can you provide training client references, or put me in touch with NorthWest K9 training students so that I can ask them about their training experience at NorthWest K9?

A: Yes, you'll find some comments from NorthWest K9 private training clients on the Testimonials page. I also would be happy to refer you to NorthWest K9 training clients who can answer your email questions about their training at NorthWest K9. Please indicate on your Training Request that you would like a student reference.

Q: How do I schedule training?

A: The first step is submitting the convenient on-line Training Request form linked from each of the Client Training pages. Private team training lessons are scheduled during our regular business hours. As part of your enrollment process, you will have the opportunity to request your preferred lesson days and time ranges, and I will make every effort to schedule you and your dog for training at the first available time that best matches your schedule preferences.

Q: Do you offer beginning group obedience classes for dogs and their handlers?

A: No. Years of first-hand experience have convinced me that you and your dog will learn much more, more successfully, and far more enjoyably, by first working with a personal training coach in private training lessons highly customized to your unique team training needs and goals. This approach ensures that you will have the opportunity to first learn how to appropriately teach and manage your dog before introducing the distractions of other dogs and their owners. Please see my article, Group Class or Private Lesson? Making the Best Choice for You and Your Dog.

Q: Do you train breeds other than the German Shepherd Dog?

A: Absolutely! While my own personal dogs are German Shepherd Dogs, and I specialize in that breed, I offer team training for any breed of dog, whether purebred or mixed.

Q: Can my child train with his or her dog at NorthWest K9?

A: I encourage and welcome children to train at NorthWest K9! Training students under the age of 18 must be accompanied to all training sessions by a parent or legal guardian. Generally, minimum age of students is 10, however I may make exceptions on a case-by-case basis for children under the age of 10 who want to learn how to train their dog, and this determination will be made at the preliminary Team Evaluation.

Q: Can my family attend training sessions at NorthWest K9?

A: Yes, your family is most welcome to attend and observe during your Team Evaluation or private training sessions. Depending on your dog and the overall team training status, I may limit actual training to one designated student during your training session, and that student may instruct and assist other family members at home.

Q: Do you guarantee what my dog will learn in one of your training programs?

A: No. That would be highly unethical and unprofessional. (Be very wary of any trainer that suggests such a guarantee, promising standardized results in "X" number of days. This raises the bright red flag of a "production line" approach to training, which will not address your team's individual status, character, temperament, and learning style and which invites the situation where your dog is compulsively forced through an inappropriate training program.) Each dog is a highly unique creature, and each dog lives with a highly unique owner and/or family in a highly unique environment. A "standardized" behavioral modification and overall training progression plan and schedule can not be presumed for any one dog. I can guarantee that I will personally commit to teaching you and your dog how to successfully learn and develop the behavioral skills and abilities that are tailored to your unique team.

Q: My schedule/location doesn't permit me to come to NorthWest K9's training facility in Enumclaw, Washington for weekly lessons. Can you recommend alternative training?

A: The NorthWest K9 Distance Learning program is well-suited for students who aren't able to come to private team training lessons at our Enumclaw location, or you may elect to schedule multiple sessions in an intensive one- or two-day private team training seminar. If you are seeking private team training lessons closer to your location, I encourage you to contact your veterinarian, regional breed rescue, local breed clubs, or reputable breeders for referrals to qualified professional trainers in your area offering handler and dog team training customized to your behavioral and training requirements and goals.

Q: I live out of state. Can I ship my dog to NorthWest K9 for you to do all the training?

A: Sorry, no. NorthWest K9 emphasizes team training. Out-of-state clients may select from either the Distance Learning Program or the 3-day Accelerated Fast Track intensive team training seminar. For out-of-state clients traveling to NorthWest K9 for extended training, we can recommend a dog-friendly motel conveniently located a few miles from our training facility.

Q: I'm just not sure what kind of, or how much, training my dog needs. What should I do?

A: Consider enrolling in a 90-minute Introductory Team Evaluation. It's a great opportunity for us to meet, evaluate your dog's current behavioral and training status, and discuss the training approach and program that will best meet your team training requirements and goals.

Q: I think my dog has problems with aggression. Can you help?

A: Most dog owners would be surprised to learn that the great majority of dogs assumed to be "aggressive" are actually displaying confusion, learned reactiveness, or fearfulness. A formal program of focus-based behavioral modification and incremental obedience skills for these dogs and their owner can be of significant benefit in addressing and resolving these behaviors.

While far less common, genetic, "hard-wired" aggression toward people or other dogs can be a very complex matter and must be addressed in a very specialized way. If you are not sure if your dog is fearful, reactive, or truly aggressive, you might consider a Team Evaluation to gain experienced, objective input on your dog's behavioral status and training prognosis and perhaps a referral to a credentialed canine behavioral veterinarian. NorthWest K9 does not offer long-term training for dogs determined to be dangerously aggressive, as dogs demonstrating this degree of psychological imbalance and cognative dysfunction can never be assumed to be safely managed or controlled around people -- especially children -- or animals.

Q: Do you offer "protection" or "guard dog" training for civilian dogs?

A: No. You'll find information about our various course offering on the main Client Training page. A dog of a suitable breed, with sound temperament and character, appropriately socialized, and trained to advanced obedience with caring and attentive stewardship, will bond strongly with its people and be an effective deterrent for personal security and safekeeping of home and property. If you are set on "protection" training, first consult with your homeowner insurance agent regarding liability issues, and then consider joining a Schutzhund training club where you and your dog will receive a year or two of formal advanced obedience training that must be the foundation for any "protection" training.

Q: Is there any reason that NorthWest K9 may not be the best match with my training preferences and goals?

A: I've learned over the years that the people who choose personal team training and coaching are highly committed to their dog and to their training plan and goals. They want and enjoy a faster paced, more intensive custom team training experience and its immediate results. If you are interested in a slower paced, more recreational approach to generalized dog training, then NorthWest K9's emphasis on highly personalized, intensive one-on-one team training may not be the best fit for you and your dog. If you're not sure, you can enroll in an introductory Team Evaluation to see if we're a good match, before committing to an extended training lesson plan.

If you are not comfortable with using your computer, including email and Internet applications, you will not be able to take full advantage of our primarily web-based orientation to online enrollment, email updates, and computer based learning materials and training tools. I depend on email to communicate regularly with training students, and expect that training students will be at ease with email-based communications and associated links to online training materials that are an integral element of the overall training experience with NorthWest K9. If you're not comfortable using your computer to access online materials or communicate via email, then you might decide that NorthWest K9 is not the training resource best matched to your personal learning style and communications preferences.

You'll find additional training articles in the NorthWest K9 Reading Room. Information about private team training programs is found in our Client Training department.

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