Frequently Asked Questions

Where are the puppy classes held, how long do they last, and who participates?

Most Perfect Puppy Academy classes are held evenings and weekends at comfortable indoor facilities. A session of Academy classes consists of five weekly, one-hour classes. Each has four to twelve dogs and their owners. All members of your family are encouraged to participate. Children must be at least five years old and able to stay focused on the class.

Our classes are held in Santa Barbara and Goleta. You can register your dog online or over the telephone. For more information, please call us.

What is “positive reinforcement” training and why should I use it?

Positive reinforcement training involves rewarding a dog for behaving correctly and redirecting unwanted behaviors to something that is more rewarding. This training builds a bond of trust and cooperation with your dog. This is the type of training used in zoos, wild animal parks, marine parks, and circuses throughout the world.

Training using punishment can confuse the dog as to exactly which behavior he is being punished for. Also, punishment can cause dogs to cower or become aggressive.

What happens in a Perfect Puppy class?

With our help, you will show your puppy how to settle down, pay attention to you, and perform basic exercises. We use primarily lure-reward training, i.e. we use a tasty treat to lure your puppy into sitting, lying down, etc. Then we teach your puppy to respond to hand signals and voice requests without the food lures. This type of training is easy for children to take part in.

We teach your puppy to relax while being handled. Your puppy will socialize with the other puppy owners in the class. Your puppy also will play off-leash with other puppies. Everyone has fun.

What are the credentials of your trainers?

Our trainers have formal education in behavior theory and positive reinforcement training techniques. 

Anne Swan earned her CPDT-KA certification in 2008. This is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, Knowledge Assessed certificate that requires 300 hours of teaching just to apply to take the exam, providing professional references, and passing a 180-question test on topics including instruction skills, canine behavior, learning theory, various forms of equipment, and animal husbandry. Maintenance of this certification requires continuing education in the form of approved conferences and workshops on canine/animal behavior and training. 

What if my puppy is too small, big, timid or rambunctious for a puppy class?

Under-socialized dogs typically bark and/or cower when they encounter certain people and other dogs. Our goal is to develop puppies into adult dogs that will be confident around all types of people and dogs.

We engineer the play sessions to best match each puppy’s needs, including puppies that are very shy and those that are overly exuberant. Small and timid puppies learn confidence around other puppies and how to communicate they are not a threat. Larger and more aggressive puppies learn how to respond to these signals and back off.

What about training for older dogs?

We offer separate classes for Adolescent and Adult dogs. In these classes the dogs are on leash throughout the class. The training matches what we do in our Puppy 1 classes, plus a few exercises from our Puppy 2 level classes.