Creating More confident dogs

Let your dog spend their day with us learning important life skills and meeting their needs while having fun! Small class sizes, a safe environment, a staff of canine behavior experts plus a thoughtful curriculum makes this program truly What Dogs Want!

Enrichment is a crucial component of mental and physical health for everyone, including our dogs, especially as the world evolves and makes less and less sense to them. Dogs that have been bred for specific jobs no longer have these jobs available, but that does not mean their genetic predisposition to work has gone away. Many pet dogs have little choice in their day or opportunity to think creatively, problem solve, feel purposeful or “work.” Some do not even enjoy quality time with their families.

Providing activities that challenge your dogs’ bodies and minds is the key to having a happy, healthy, confident dog. Providing occupational enrichment (like we focus on here at the Academy) also builds secure social bonds; reduces reactivity; and improves confidence, focus, and impulse control. Dogs have fun being part of a team, learning how to develop a ‘plan b’ when necessary, and thinking creatively.

Along with our unique curriculum of games and activities, what makes us unique and effective is the continual feedback each dog receives throughout their day. Our philosophy is to let dogs know when they are doing great things with positive verbal cues or a thumbs up. If a dog is participating in something that is less great they are redirected or relocated to an area with more appropriate activities.

We use language, predictability and routine to set the dogs up for success. We are firm believers in using more ‘YES’ than ‘NO.’ Yes is more fun and positive, whereas no just becomes white noise and does not give helpful information to the dog. We use very few cue words and do not like the word ‘command.’ We give dogs options, let them have as much choice as we can, and let their positive choices work for them. It is fun, effective learning that actually allows a dog to THINK about how he can control his environment. He doesn’t always need to be told what to do (does telling your dog ‘no jumping’ really get them to stop jumping?)

It is important for dogs to learn from and be around other dogs but not all dogs enjoy playing with other dogs. Dogs can be dog social, tolerant, selective, or aggressive and all of these behaviors and feelings are NORMAL.

When dogs play or interact with each other at the Academy, they are supervised 100% of the time and receive continual feedback about their behavior. If their play is mutual, fun and safe they are allowed to continue. If their play or interactions with others is one-sided, bossy or bully-ish they are told that too and are redirected or removed to settle. We allow and encourage communication between dogs (and do not correct growls) because that is part of their learning process.

All breeds and all ages can enjoy and benefit from the activities and experiences we have at the Academy. We tailor the program to meet each dogs’ needs, whether they are young and can benefit from exposure to novelty or senior dogs who enjoy gentle scent work in the yard. We have a lure course for dogs that love to chase, a sandbox for dogs who love to dig, and even herding balls for dogs that love to herd (and it’s not just for border collies!). We are always adding new activities and sensory opportunities and have weekly staff meetings to talk about how we can do right by each dog student. The only dogs who may not enjoy attending the Academy are dogs who are uncomfortable in a group setting, and we offer private tutoring for these dogs! See Private Tutoring for more info.