Training Requirements

Dogs must have undergone their first round of shots to participate in any training. Adult dogs must also be up to date on Rabies, Distemper, Lepto, and Parvovirus vaccines. Dogs should work in appropriate equipment; usually a flat buckle collar and 6 foot leash. No retractable leashes. Additional equipment may be acceptable, Elena will work with you on how to use other equipment if it is appropriate and needed. Dogs that have a history of biting humans MUST be muzzled.

You should have a large number of treats available for your dog. Your dog may be trained with their own kibble but you should also have some other treats to use in case your dog will not perform for this or needs a higher value reward. Remember that a reward’s value should be equal to the importance or difficulty of the behavior. If we are working with a reactive dog a higher value reward needs to be used, things like sit could be trained with kibble.

For the first lesson be prepared to learn a lot and have an open mind about training! Elena presents training concepts in ways that is easily understood but there will be a lot to cover. Feel free to ask questions and ask for demonstration of how to train certain behaviors as well. Elena can provide a summary of behaviors to work on if needed via email after the lesson.

Dogs participating in fitness training should be cleared by a vet for increased exercise. If the dog has any previous injuries or lameness, please let Elena know BEFORE you begin any fitness work.


Why do I need a dog trainer?

This is a great question! There are many reasons for working with a dog trainer. Some of the most common are because of behavior problems like barking at other dogs on the leash or jumping on guests at the door. However, I can help you with lots of minor issues you may have never considered. Does your dog bolt through the door or car every time you open it? We can work on impulse control to prevent this. Does your dog steal your socks and play a game of keep away as you’re trying to get ready for work? There are some strategies we can use to avoid this issue. I can also help you find creative ways to burn some energy with that young dog or hyper lab. In addition, we can create a deeper bond with your dog so you can feel more confident taking them places like parks. Or we can find some new fun things to do with your senior dog to keep them active and mentally engaged. You don’t need to have a naughty dog to hire a dog trainer!

How do you usually start your training sessions?

I usually start by explaining my method of dog training and why I use it. When explaining why I use the methods I do I go into some canine psychology and how dogs learn. Then I will begin some training and either have the client or me work with the dog. As we start the training I will talk through what the dog is showing in their body language and different techniques we can use to help them understand what we want from them.

How are your sessions set up?

Sessions are at your home unless otherwise specified and are typically an hour. We begin by discussing any issues you may be having, how previously introduced training is going, and any questions you might have. Then we move onto the work for that session where the goal is discussed, a demonstration of how to do the behavior is often done, and then you practice the new behavior. Troubleshooting for both you and the dog happens at this point, so we can see exactly how to help both of you be successful. I can help demonstrate the behavior with your dog or my personal dogs if they are present. We often go over how to progress with this new behavior at this time as well.

What should I have ready for our sessions?

For our session I ask that clients have lots of high value treats (hot dogs or cheese are great options), a hungry dog, a 6-foot leash, and be ready to learn some new things. Once we determine how food motivated your dog is we can decide if we can use a lower value treat such as kibble or if they would do well with something other than food like a toy. Please do not feed your dog within a few hours of our sessions, it will make them much more likely to work for us if they’re hungry!

When can my puppy start training?

Right away! I highly encourage starting training at a young age. Training with puppies usually takes place in very short bursts but there are lots of things we can go over in puppy sessions. Some breeders start various basic training as young as 3-4 weeks of age. I try to keep sessions fun so puppies develop a very high drive to work for us early which really pays off later in life.

Do you help with issues like pulling on the leash or barking at other dogs on walks?

Yes! Teaching a dog the correct behavior when on a leash or helping to fix other behavior problems is one of the most rewarding parts of my job. When we are fixing an old behavior we need to consider how long the dog has been practicing the behavior when expecting results. Some dogs need a little bit more time to help them turn around and perform as we would like them to consistently. Fixing behavior problems can also require some creativity so we will most likely try a few different methods to help your dog.

Do you only train with food?

With most dogs I rely heavily on food to teach new behaviors. However, once new behaviors are established I encourage clients to think about switching their reinforcers to things other than food. Clients use things like moving forward on a walk, going up on the furniture, or just an ear scratch as reinforcers for their dog’s good behavior.

What equipment do you use on your dogs?

My goal for every client is for them to be able to work with a simple flat buckle collar. Some dogs use martingale collars for safety. Dogs with breathing issues may be encouraged to use a Y-front harness. Clients who need extra help controlling their dogs are typically steered towards the Balance Harness, the PerfectFit, or a head harness. I do not recommend choke chain or prong collars due to research on the amount of stress and physically injury these collars cause.

What is the most important thing to understand about dog training?

Everything a dog does is for some sort of reinforcement in their lives. Dog training is a process that can be helped or hindered by us humans. Consider exactly what you are rewarding when you let your dog out to pee or put their leash on to take them on a walk. A dog that is jumping probably wants any kind of attention so yelling “off” is probably actually rewarding your dog!

Do you have any guarantees on your training?

I do not believe any dog trainer can guarantee any training on a dog. Dog behavior is very complex and is extremely effected by their environment which is something I cannot control as a dog trainer. I will do my best to work with you and your dog to help you achieve your goals and I pride myself on being able to adjust to work with a variety of dogs. I encourage open conversations with my clients about how they think their dogs are doing and what they think they need to work on.