Frequently Asked Questions
Many of our most frequently asked questions are answered below. This is the place to find our policies regarding classes, payments, dog behavior, rules for class, etc... For details about classes, including pricing, see the Services Page.
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What Class Should I Take With My Dog?
It's simpler than it seems...If your dog hasn't had a class with us before there are two possibilities depending on the age of your dog. We promise these guidelines are the way to choose what class to start in. We put a lot of effort into our class lineup and we are good at this! Even our instructors start this same program with their own new dogs.
If your pup will be 8 weeks to 4 months old at the start of the class, enroll in Puppy Socialization and Manners ASAP!
We do not recommend delaying your start, or skipping to Basic Manners! If your pup is under 4 months, you are very lucky indeed to have the opportunity to take advantage of this early, developmental period they are in- don't waste this opportunity! If someone has recommended that you wait to start Puppy Class, it is of course your choice to make, but please review the veterinarian recommendations in this handout before making your final decision. Our Puppy Class has specific exercises for socialization and development that will prevent many behavior problems from showing up later in life as your dog matures. We won't say "I told you so" later on because we are nice, but trust us, none of the GDR Staff would skip puppy class if we adopt a dog in that age group. Those of us that adopted rescues as adults, wish we could go back in time and give our dogs this wonderful gift. There are few things we feel this strong about. You'll also really enjoy it too, because who doesn't love a room full of puppies!
If your dog will be over 4 months old at the start of class, start with Basic Manners.
Even if your dog knows some of the basics, this is the place to start. We work very hard on our curriculum and we promise you'll find it challenging and worthwhile, even if it isn't your first rodeo. We've brought back the best ideas from all kinds of conferences and seminars, and we're always updating and improving our lesson plans. If you and /or your dog have some experience already, that's great- we can adjust the difficulty level to suit your dog. In this class we work a lot on impulse control and being able to focus / listen, even around distractions. If you're worried about whether or not your dog can deal with the group class environment, skip to this part of the page.
When Do I Start? How Does "Rolling Enrollment" Work?
Puppy and Basic Manners classes have rolling enrollment:
This means that you choose your start date when registering(from a drop down box of all dates available start dates). You can view the available start dates for each class before completing registration by clicking "sign up" next to each class.
"Wait, so when I'm on my first week, someone else might be on their third week? That seems crazy!"
What we think is crazy is assuming that if dogs all start the same week, they're going to be at the exact same training level throughout the class! Dogs and handlers walk in the door with different experience, and they learn differently throughout class. We realized this and have tailored our class format and low student to instructor ratio to fit the reality that dog / handler teams need to be treated like the individuals they are. Week one is usually harder than other weeks because you're just getting started with your dog....but having a class full of dogs in this situation all at once makes it more difficult, not less. We have done years of classes both ways, and we would never go back for Puppy and Basic classes.
You come to class 7 consecutive class weeks, one hour each week.
Any scheduled days off are listed on the View Schedule & Register page. Rolling enrollment works great for these classes, and allows you to get started on the date you decide. This doesn't mean there is never a wait for class to start, but it definitely minimizes wait time- and there are often immediate start dates available.
All Other Classes have a published start date, and run one hour each week for seven weeks. You can see any days off on the View Schedule & Register page.
What If I Can't Make Every Class?
We are flexible whenever feasible, and in rolling enrollment classes, we can often offer a make-up week if we know what date you'll miss at the time of registration (see below for details).
If your dog is ill, please plan to join us for class without your dog, so that you can continue to practice at home between classes. Do not bring your dog to class if they are showing signs of a possibly contagious illness.
We like to be flexible, but we cannot accommodate attending class on a "drop-in" basis, where you come to whatever weeks you like on a random schedule. To make things work, we need a new space to be open for a new student after your dog completes his class. It is also important to your dog's success that you be able to attend class regularly, particularly in beginning classes.
In intermediate and advanced classes, there is often not a way to offer a make-up class, but we will help you catch up when you return to class the next week. Missing a class occasionally at the intermediate or advanced level is no big deal.
Below are some ways we CAN be flexible about schedules:
For Basic and Puppy Classes:
If you know ahead of time that you will need to miss one class (or maybe two) because of something you can't reschedule, we can often add a make-up week to the end of your class. Make-ups are possible only on a space-available basis and you must notify us of your absence and make-up request via email to info@GoodDogRising.com at least one week in advance of the date you will miss. This notice allows us to "pay it forward" and allow someone else to do a make-up class the week you are out. Make-ups may not be available for the class day / time of your class, and if classes are completely full, it is possible that a make-up may not be available in any of the other classes, though we really do our best. The earlier we know about a missed week, the more we can do! Please do your best to commit to attending class, and avoid rescheduling for convenience- and we will in turn do our best to accommodate unavoidable schedule conflicts that we know happen.
For Upper Level Classes
If the class is not otherwise full, we can often prorate the fees if you will not make it to all of the classes. This is particularly useful for those of you who are in our continuing classes year round, but will miss 3 or more weeks of a particular session. For this option, let us know during registration what classes you will attend (email to info@GoodDogRising.com is the best) and we will adjust your total to an amount equal to $25 per week. (Note: we still need a sufficient number of full-time students in the class in order to hold the class- so this should generally be an exception for a session where you are particularly busy.)
If you have a really crazy schedule, let us know what you need, and we'll try to get creative. The more advance notice we have the more we can do for you.
How Much Does Class Cost?
Core Curriculum classes (Puppy, Basic Manners, and Advanced Manners) are $210 for 7 weeks of class. These cost more than the graduate level classes because each class has two instructors, extras- like handbooks, and other great stuff to help you get started on a great path. You can save $70-$130 by purchasing a package of multiple core classes at once!
Follow-on classes (Graduate level classes, ongoing sports classes etc...) are $130 for 7 weeks.
Classes are an hour each week, at the same day and time each week.
About Payments and Missed Classes
Is Prepayment Required?
Yes, prepayment is required for new clients, or if you've a missed payment or cancelled class before. We must receive payment at the time of booking to hold your place in a class or private session. Our wonderful repeat clients who have already demonstrated nice behaviors like showing up for classes and appointments, and paying for services, are welcome to pay in person the first week of class.
Our "Reschedules, not Refunds" Policy
We try to balance flexibility with ensuring we can pay our own bills...
We love our clients, we go out of our way to be flexible to everyone's needs, and we are good at finding win / win solutions! However, we are also serious about enforcing this policy, because we don't feel it's fair to penalize ongoing students with higher prices to accommodate refunds for those who change their minds at the last minute.
Similar to enrolling in any other type of class, if you enroll, fees are due- even if you decide later to skip one or more weeks of that class.
Your payment reserves your place in class. Our staff works hard outside of class time to make sure we're ready for you to feel welcome and get the most out of class- even before your class starts. If, based on the specific extenuating circumstances, we do issue a refund, there will always be a $50 non-refundable fee retained to cover our expenses and processing.
What WE CAN do:
- With sufficient notice (at least 10 days), we can reschedule your class or leave credit on your account for future use. If you signed up and paid for a class or event far in advance and find you need to reschedule, we can credit your account towards a different class with sufficient advance notice before class starts.
- If something truly unexpected and unavoidable happens, we may be able to offer partial credit toward a future class. Let us know your situation, and we'll see what we can do!
- We offer several ways to get to know us before committing: read the About Us page and other info on our website. Email us at info@GoodDogRising.com to set up an appointment to observe class. Schedule a one on one private consultation ($25 for a short private session to discuss goals).
We try to make class enjoyable for everyone, and based on our referrals and busy classes, we're meeting that goal pretty darn well. That being said, if you feel you've had a bad experience in class that makes you want to discontinue, please let us know, so that we can resolve this on a case by case basis. We try our very best to resolve things to your satisfaction, and tailor solutions to match your needs. We care very much about your experience with us, so please give us the opportunity to use your feedback to improve your experience.
Hey, mistakes happen. If it happens to you, we simply charge a $25 returned check fee, and we may require prepayment for future classes, depending how long of a payment history you have with us.
About Behavior of Dogs, Kids, and Adults in Class (some Rules):
Dogs that are noisy, disruptive, inattentive, etc...
BRING IT ON! We're happy to help with exactly these issues in our beginner classes. If you have concerns about how your dog will do in a room with other people and dogs, let us know. We can help make sure you're matched up with services that are a great fit for you and your dog, and we can help you be successful on your first day.
We can help you make the call, but in general: if your dog is just being a distracted, noisy, barker that doesn't pay any attention to you when you are out--come to class! If there's more to it than that, or you don't think you can physically hold on to your dog, see below for more detailed guidance. If your dog is not trustworthy with people, or has a history of growling or aggression toward strangers, group class is not a good fit- contact us for help with this that will be be more suited to resolving your issue.
Dogs don't need to be perfect by any means! However, we ask that you be willing and able to physically control your dog to keep him or her with you in your area-this is a requirement of attending class. If you are concerned about your ability to do this, let us know and we can help with that too. A dog breaking away, or pulling away, and reaching other dogs and people in class without the handler being willing / able to prevent this is grounds for dismissal from class without a refund (particularly if this is combined with the dog demonstrating aggressive displays such as reactive barking, lunging, snapping, or growling toward dogs or people, or has a history of any of these). Again, we can help with this, so please let us know your concerns ahead of time and / or be willing to follow our guidance and suggestions if we note concerns.
In our intermediate and advanced classes, we do expect that you'll be able to keep your dog calm enough so that others can hear the instructor and enjoy class. Basic Manners is the place to work on this, and you are welcome and encouraged to attend multiple sessions at the basic level if this is what you are working on most. Classes where dogs will be off leash may not be appropriate or feasible for dogs with reactivity, fear, or aggression issues. We don't expect perfection though, so if you have any questions about this, just let us know.
If your dog has bitten people and / or dogs, see below for more info on that topic.
Children Attending Class
Kids participating in class can be truly wonderful! We welcome the whole family to attend, and this can be a great family activity when everyone is involved. We've found that kids can be super trainers and pick up on things quickly, as well as learning lessons of empathy, being gentle, and teaching with patience.
However, we also want to help by providing guidelines toward a good learning environment for the dogs and people attending class (including parents!), and that class is safe for the children attending. We leave it to your judgement (but we are happy to answer any questions).
We offer these guidelines to help things go smoothly:
- The safety and actions / behaviors of any child is the responsibility of the adult bringing the child to class or an event. Not all dogs attending class will be comfortable with kids.
- Children should not approach or pet any dog without the owner's clear permission. (This actually applies to humans of any age, as well as dogs.)
- There is no running allowed on premises unless specifically directed by the instructor as a planned distraction or handling activity.
- Kids should stay in the family's designated training area at all times, in close proximity to an adult who is supervising them.
- If kids will not be participating in class activities, either because of age or interest level, please bring something for them to occupy their time with a quiet activity.
- Please consider whether an additional adult should attend class in order to be able to adequately supervise children while also being able to focus on training the dog and learning.
- We recommend that for safety (and your sanity) children under 7 years of age not attend class without an additional adult who can completely focus on supervising the child(ren).
- Infants should not at any time be at floor level, even if in a carrier.
All of the above can be very achievable, and we have had lots of great kids join us for classes and events! We just want to make sure it's the best choice for you and your children.
Being Nice to Other Humans:
In a nutshell, we expect that all attendees of classes and events treat both dogs and humans with kindness. Without setting out detailed rules for interaction, let's just say "be nice". Be respectful, nonjudgmental, polite, and encouraging to your fellow students. We do not discriminate, and we expect the same from all staff and clients. Try to be patient with others' behavior, and have a sense of humor, but please do let us know if someone in class did something to make you uncomfortable.
Being Nice to Dogs (Our Training Methods and Expectations):
Our training methods are explained in detail in the About Us section of our website. While we try not to be all holier-than-thou about it, we do not use physical corrections, force, or harsh verbal corrections on dogs at Good Dog Rising. We do not recommend prong, choke, or shock collars, as we find them to have poor long-term results; if you are using any of these now, we will help you choose something that works much better to resolve, rather than mask, your issue. No one at GDR will ask you to hit, kick, shock, choke, tackle, or yell at your dog, and we don't allow these in class. There are much more effective ways.
We pretty much expect that if you are coming to a class or event with us, you are interested in learning from our expertise, not coming to try to convince us another way is better- though we're happy to discuss why we make the choices we do, so feel free to ask.
If you are currently using other methods, we DO welcome you to join us, if you are interested in what we do. One of our favorite things is to show off the kind of great obedience and performance success you can have with training that is kind and fun for both dog and handler, and we think we do so in a pretty non-judgy way. However, please don't plan to continue to use methods at Good Dog Rising that don't mesh with what it is described on the About Us section- let us know what it is you need an alternative solution for, and we'll help.
Dogs with Bite History:
While any bite history to a human being or dog should be noted and disclosed during registration, for the purposes of this policy, we define "bite history" specifically as having a bite history including one or more bites to a person or dog which resulted in the person or dog needing medical / veterinary attention greater than first aid. We can accommodate dogs with this kind of history, provided we know in advance, the owner takes responsibility for the safety of others and is willing to follow rules for safety.
- Owners must indicate accurate bite history in registration information, and update us immediately if this is a change to original registration information. Failure to do so will result in the dog being dismissed from all classes or events without a refund. We need to know!
- If a dog is enrolled in a class that is not a good fit, we will help find a class that is a better fit and / or recommend private training.
- Dogs with bite history as described above must remain on leash at all times when in beginner and intermediate classes, and not be permitted access to other dogs / people (as applicable based on the dog's bite history).
- In advanced classes and ongoing sports classes, in special circumstances and with the proper amount of previous training, these dogs may train off leash with instructor permission (instructor) must be informed directly about the dog's bite history), based on the handler's ability to prevent the dog from accessing other dogs / people (as applicable based on the bite history) due to a more advanced level of training and handling, based on the severity and frequency of the bite history, and after a general risk assessment done by GDR staff.
Bite Incidents or Other Injury /Damage During Class:
We take many measures to provide a safe class environment for you and your dog, and incidents are quite rare. However, we cannot completely control canine and human behavior.
Attending classes or other events with us is an "at your own risk" activity, with the same risks and responsibilities as any other time you leave your property with your dog.
You are responsible for the behavior of any dog (or child) accompanying you. Following instructions outlined during registration, or policies, and the instructions of your class instructor, will assist you in ensuring class goes smoothly. If you have any concerns about your ability to control your dog, please let us know, and we can help.
About Private Training:
If private training would be the best fit for you, we can either arrange that with a Good Dog Rising staff member, or refer you to one of our trusted local partners that fits your needs well.
Cancellation Policy for Private Training:
It is rare that openings made by late cancellations can be filled by other clients. Provided that the instructor receives greater than 48 hours notice, clients may cancel one session with no fees due. In the event of multiple cancellations, or any cancellation without 48 hours notice, fees will still be due for the session(s) missed, and future sessions will require payment in advance.
Cancellations by the instructor (not that we've ever had one of these) will be either refunded or rescheduled, at the convenience of the client.
Arrival at Private Training
If there is someone else already in the facility, please do not enter until they depart. All dogs and people should remain far from the door to facilitate dogs who may have issues with people and / or dogs departing the facility calmly.
We do our best to stay on schedule, but occasionally appointments run a few minutes over. Thank you for your patience if this happens. We will ensure your appointment runs for the full time allocated once we begin.
You must keep your dog under your physical control at all times (leashed, and prevented from approaching any other dog or person, including the instructor) unless specifically directed to do otherwise by your instructor. Please see above for additional details about handling your dog, attendance of children, etc...as these apply to private training as well as group classes.