Frequently Asked Questions

"Are you a certified trainer?"

Yes! I am a certified training partner through Karen Pryor Academy! My training there was focused on Force-Free methods and following LIMA standards. It was an awesome six months of training and an epic 5-day immersive workshop with an incredible instructor.

Does this mean that my only training knowledge comes from KPA? No. I do a lot of studying on my own time. This includes reading books, attending lectures, watching videos, and (most valuably) discussing case studies with other trainers. 

"Can you evaluate AKC titles?"

Absolutely! Through the American Kennel Club, I can evaluate the following titles: Canine Good Citizen (CGC), Community Canine (CGCA), Urban Canine (CGCU), S.T.A.R. Puppy, Virtual Home Manners (VHM), and all Trick Dog titles. 

Titles are a great way to have a specific goal for you and your pup to work towards. Also, some insurance companies will offer discounts if your pet has their CGC title, as it is a great marker for a well-mannered pup. Most trick dog titles and the Virtual Home Manners title can also be evaluated virtually, so get your camera out and start recording!

"What does LIMA mean in this context?"

LIMA stands for Least Intrusive,  Minimally Aversive. This practice focuses on building a positive association with their person and with the outcome of doing what's asked rather than doing something because they fear the outcome if they don't. If more intrusive or aversive methods are possibly needed, all other options will need to be attempted or  exhausted first.

"What do you mean by aversive?"

Aversive training habits will cause a dog to not like doing the skill the aversive habits are paired with, to stop doing something they've previously known successfully, or even completely shut down emotionally.  A lot of people who use aversive methods are often doing what they saw family do growing up or simply don't realize that there are more humane ways to train dogs.

"Do I need to buy any special equipment to train my dog?"

Nope! Many dogs learn well using praise or kibble as motivators. While things like a clicker or higher value treats may help speed up the process, all you need is your dog, some time, and some patience. I am more than happy to work with whatever tools you have. I may make recommendations for other tools along the way but they are by no means a requirement for basic training.

"What are your feelings on [insert training tool here]?"

I am not against any training tool so long as it is used properly and safely. I believe that any tools, including your basic flat collar or leashes, can be abused or used to abuse dogs if used incorrectly. Some dogs and some owners need different tools to succeed and be safe. So long as everyone involved in the dog's training has proper training and understanding of how these tools work and how to use them, nearly any tool can be used in a humane way.

"Where are you located?"

I teach virtually all across the country, but my in-person and group classes are focused in the Raleigh-Durham area in North Carolina. I do sometimes travel to Oriental, NC and provide training to clients in that area, as well.

"Do you offer group classes?"

Yes! I am currently focusing on private lessons but many people love my pack walk class and my new Coffee & Canines group. I hope to offer several other types of group classes in the near future!

"Why do you offer virtual training sessions?"

Virtual training sessions are how my business truly began. Before I even attended KPA, I was offering advice to friends over text or through chat-based platforms. Then when I launched my business, it was during the height of the pandemic and unsafe to meet in-person. I have kept the virtual sessions in my class offerings, even though it has gotten safer to meet in-person, due to their popularity and effectiveness. Virtual sessions also provide an accessible option for those who are immunocompromised or may have mobility limitations that would make in-person classes more challenging or uncomfortable.

"Do virtual classes really work?"

Yes, absolutely! When you schedule my half-hour coaching session, we will meet in a virtual form that works best for you, be it over zoom, a phone call, or even through text. We talk about your goals for your dog, what problems you're seeing, and what you've tried previously. From there, we will formulate a plan of action and set up our next session.

My favorite thing with these sessions is that I am not actually training your dog, you are! You are the one bonding with your dog and earning that success. Not only that, but you're learning the skills needed to train your dog so that you can apply these skills to future training endeavors!

"Can you truly teach an old dog
new tricks?"

Yes, absolutely! No matter the age, abilities, or prior training, any dog is capable of learning a new skill. Different dogs may have different learning speeds or require different training methods, but with enough patience and effort, we absolutely can make it happen.

"Do you work with puppies?"

While I haven't worked with many puppies, I do intend to take courses specifically focused on the training needs of puppies so I can better serve clients with younger dogs. This doesn't mean I will not take on puppies and am not capable of teaching puppies now. This may mean, though, that I might suggest doing puppy group classes with another trainer before we start working on more detailed skills and training.

"Do you work with small/large dogs?"

I work with all sizes and breeds! I have experience working with dogs as small as chihuhuas and as large as great danes, but most of my clients are somewhere in the middle.

"Do you handle aggressive dogs?"

I will work with mild to moderate reactivity, but am not the most skilled with severe reactivity or aggressive cases. If I feel that I am not the best fit for you and your dog's needs, I am more than happy to work with you to find someone who can help you!

"What's the difference between service dogs, therapy dogs, and emotional support animals?"

Service dogs are considered medical equipment as they are task-trained to help mitigate someone's disability/disabilities.

Therapy dogs are pets who are highly trained in obedience and visit people to bring comfort in their time of need.

Emotional support animals are any species whose presence brings comfort or routine to their disabled owner.

"Do you train service dogs?"

Working with service animals is actually why I started my business and is my long-term focus. I found my love of dog training through training my own psychiatric service dog, Delilah, who you'll frequently see in my photos here and other media platforms.

While I enjoy working on obedience skills and public access training, my favorite thing to train are their tasks. 

When it comes to task training, I am skilled with training tasks for mobility and psychiatric service dogs and am currently studying how to do scent-based alerts like cardiac and allergen alerts.

"Do you train therapy dogs?"

I am happy to work on basic obedience skills with dogs who wish to serve their community as therapy dogs, but do not (yet) offer the accreditation testing required by many organizations.

"Do you train ESAs?"

While emotional support animals do not require training as their primary purpose is support in the home, I think all dogs should have basic obedience skills and I am happy to help with that.

"Do you train pet dogs?"

Of course! I am always happy to help you and your pet learn new skills! With pet dogs, we can work on many of the same skills I would do with service animals, as most of those are founded in having good manners and being on their best behavior. We can also work towards AKC trick titles if you love the idea of showing off to friends or earning rosettes!

"I have a discount code from you!"

Awesome! Just mention the code when you send me an email and we can get that worked out! Email me quick, though, as my codes are only valid within 30 days of the holiday or event they were distributed for.
For those who want to know how to get one of these codes, come find me at events or around town! Sometimes I hand out goodies that include treats for dogs and humans alike!

"Do you train other species?"

Actually, yes! I have trained a few cats and am actively taking courses to learn more about how to better work with cats, though many of the same training tools I've picked up with working with dogs also work with cats. Spoiler alert: They also often work with humans, too!

"Do you have insurance?"

Yes, I am insured through the Business Insurers of the Carolinas. They are a wonderful group who support small businesses and are great at catering to the needs of animal care businesses, as well. If you would like more information on my coverage, please ask!

"How quickly do you reply back?"

I will always do my best to respond as soon as I see the notification pop up, however (between school, my day job, and my girl scout troop), my days can be pretty packed. Ideally, I send my post-session recap emails within 24 hours of the session and other replies will be within 48 business hours.

"Can you train in other languages?"

While not fluent, I am conversational in American Sign Language and use it almost daily to help maintain my vocabulary.
I did take Spanish in high school, but have not retained any of it, if I'm completely honest. I hope to one day pick it back up!

"What's with the yellow ribbons?"

If you've seen photos or been to any of my group classes, you may notice some dogs sporting yellow bandanas or displaying a yellow ribbon on their collar or leash. I am a big fan of giving dogs the space they need so they can be comfortable. The Yellow Dog Project works hard to spread awareness that yellow ribbons signify a dog needing space from people, dogs, or both. If you bring your dog to class with a yellow ribbon, I will ask your dog's needs and ask other students to give you both some room. If your dog needs space and you don't have anything yellow, please ask! I always have a bunch of yellow ribbons with me and ready for anyone who needs them.