Do you guarantee that my dog's problem will be fixed?

Unfortunately, dogs are individuals just like humans, and since every dog is different, each will respond differently to training methods, and some may not respond at all. Some dogs may have medical issues that underlie their behavioral issues. All training requires consistency and commitment from owners, and a failure to follow through consistently will lead to unpredictable results. What I can promise is that I will do everything in my power to help you and your dog with the situation, and that if a situation is beyond my knowledge or abilities, I will refer you to someone better qualified to help.

What training methods do you use?

Joy for Dogs uses the most up-to-date training methods, based on sound scientific research as well as practical experience, including the magic of clicker training, to create a strong teamwork relationship and bring out the best in clients’ dogs. Joy seeks to train in a humane and respectful way, and never deliberately abuse or injure a dog. Joy for Dogs agrees with leading veterinary behavior specialists that punishing a dog can have many negative side effects. Therefore, we don’t punish or correct dogs using devices such as choke, pinch or electronic collars. Rather, we focus on teaching appropriate behavior, employing behavior analysis to understand the factors that may lead to problems, and providing alternative, acceptable methods to meet the dog’s needs.

Why do you not support training by punishment/corrections/electronic collars/prong or choke collars?

Because simply, if you achieve any training goals with these methods/tools, at best, you have a dog who complies out of fear of punishment, and at worst, you could have a dog who fears you or becomes aggressive to humans or other animals. Think about this situation — your dog jumps all over people at the front door. You swat the dog with a rolled-up newspaper and shout “no” when he jumps. What has the dog learned? Not to jump? Not likely. The dog may associate the swatting with jumping, but more likely will associate it with visitors arriving. So what does the dog learn? That when visitors arrive, bad things happen. The dog will then learn to fear you or visitors and may become aggressive to you or others. Even if the dog understands that he’s not supposed to jump, what is he supposed to do? Slink away? Hide under the dining room table? Teachers don’t give students paper and pencils and wait for them to ask twenty questions to figure out that they’re supposed to write an essay. Punishment does not teach the dog the behavior you want.

My puppy is only 8 weeks old and has only had one round of vaccinations. What age can we start attending puppy classes?

Immediately! Yesterday! Puppies have a window of sociability that starts to close around 12 weeks and is completely closed at 16 weeks. That means that they are wired to fear anything they have not experienced before then, and this fear can lead to behavior problems or aggression. The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior’s position statement on puppy socialization supports socialization as early as 7-8 weeks of age. The combination of immunity acquired from the puppies’ mothers and the first round of vaccinations makes the risk of catching disease relatively low. The consequences of fear due to missed socialization, however, include a very real chance of death – most dogs in shelters under the age of three are there because of behavior problems.

What areas do you serve?

Besides the puppy classes which take place in Ashland, MA, Joy for Dogs does in-home visits in the Metrowest Boston area, including the towns of Sudbury, Wayland, Framingham, Weston, Natick,  Ashland, Wellesley, Concord, Wayland, Lincoln, Acton, Southborough, Stow, Maynard, Hudson and Marlborough. A small travel charge will apply in towns other than these. Please call or write for details.

I've been to obedience class and my dog still won't come when I call her. How will you get my dog to come?

Coming when called, like any behavior, needs to be practiced in various situations until it becomes a habit. Dogs will “think about” what they want to do if a behavior isn’t a habit yet. (“Hm. They want me to come inside, but I want to sniff/eat this stick.”) I will guide you in practicing the behavior with various distractions until it becomes generalized and automatic – so that your dog comes to you, every time, without thinking about whatever else she might like to be doing.