Frequently Asked Questions - PHX Animal Behavior Center

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Reward-based training permissive? Do you reward what you like and ignore the rest?

Reward-based training is not a free for all for your pet! Every behavior your pet does is motivated by something – emotions or basic needs. We teach you management techniques to prevent inappropriate behaviors and use reward-based training with your pet to teach them more appropriate behaviors. Ignoring behaviors can be equally detrimental to the process because it means we are ignoring those emotions or basic needs. Instead, we revisit our management techniques to change what wasn’t working so your pet is set up for success in the future.

Do I have to use food to train my pet?

Trainers love to use food as a reinforcer in training because food is a powerful motivator for most animals. Whether or not an animal takes food during a training session also tells us a lot about their emotional state and whether we’ve designed the session to be conducive to learning. However, we have worked with dogs and cats in a variety of situations where food was not the strongest motivator for that situation. We focus on teaching you and your pet, and the rewards used are based on your pet’s specific needs.

Will I always have to use food to reward my pet?

Our goal with training is to introduce other real-life rewards (praise, petting, play, opportunity) to pets as soon as possible in the learning process. Our main goal is to improve the human-animal bond between you and your pet. This bond tends to “blow open” your pet’s capacity to learn from you, and the bond itself can ultimately become the reward. Using food in early training builds the foundation for using real-life rewards later once behaviors are well-established!

What if my pet isn’t food motivated?

There are a lot of different reasons why an animal doesn’t take food in a specific situation. The food may not be interesting enough or the situation too stressful. The animal may have recently eaten or thinks tennis balls are so much more exciting than hot dogs! It is our job to help you figure out why food isn’t a motivator and adjust accordingly.

What type of treats do you recommend?

Again, this depends on your pet’s preferences! We’ve used hot dogs, turkey, cream cheese, string cheese, easy cheese, wet food, chewy treats, crunchy treats, tuna, chicken, peanut butter and even kibble to work with animals. Every animal is different. It is important to try a variety of treats to determine their value in your pet’s eyes. You may think veggies are a treat, but if your dog just finds them to be so-so then you need to find something more exciting!

That sounds like a lot of extra food! Won’t my pet get fat?

When using treats during training, it is important to keep the treats very small so your pet doesn’t fill up right away and looks forward to more training later. Training practice should be done in short spurts throughout the day, and you can modify your pet’s regular food to accommodate the treats they receive during training.

Do you offer guarantees? How long will it take to train my pet?

Behavior is fluid and based on your pet’s motivations. There is, unfortunately, no cookie-cutter recipe for training and behavior modification. Each case is unique and heavily dependent on owner commitment to training and management. We can, however, guarantee to provide you with scientifically based knowledge and techniques for training, as well as a commitment to ensuring client satisfaction.

What do I need to know before I sign up for class?

Dogs must be current on their rabies and DHPP (or equivalent) vaccines and be in good general health to attend class. Some classes have prerequisites or items that must be completed prior to enrollment. Please read the description of each class to ensure you and your dog are ready to attend. If you enroll in a class and it is determined that your dog does not meet the prerequisites for participation, we will do our best to move you to a more appropriate class. If space is not available in a more appropriate class, your class registration will be credited toward private training.
Most of our classes are geared toward dogs that are comfortable and friendly around other dogs and people. If your dog has shown aggression toward people and/or dogs, or has a bite history, please contact us first to determine your training needs.

What do I need to bring to class?

Every class series is focused on different behavior and training goals – please read class descriptions for more specific information. In general, plan on bringing your dog on a harness and flat 6 foot leash (no flexi-leads). If you bring your dog to class wearing other equipment, please be prepared to discuss your options with one of our trainers if the equipment is not appropriate for class.

Are classes ever cancelled or rescheduled? Do you hold classes on holidays?

Most classes run weekly for six weeks – view specific class descriptions for more information. Classes can be cancelled and/or postponed with no notice. We will do our best to alert you if classes are cancelled or rescheduled, so you may adjust your schedule accordingly. You will receive the full number of sessions, but the class end date may be later than anticipated.
We do take a holiday break from classes over Christmas and New Year’s and the class schedule will always reflect that. Individual classes can be cancelled and anytime without notice and the end date adjusted accordingly. This is usually due to weather. Refunds are not given if you are unable to attend any scheduled classes.

Why are all of your private training options grouped into packages?

We know people are sometimes surprised that we don’t offer individual sessions for purchase, and we like to be transparent about why. Pet training is a lot like fitness training – it takes time and effort to get the results you want. Private training packages are geared toward success!

What about refunds?

We are happy to provide refunds to clients who cancel their prepaid lessons at least 72 hours in advance of the appointment or first class. Since training and behavior modification success is dependent on owner commitment to training and management, we are unable to provide refunds for any services already provided or any class series after it has commenced.  All retail sales are final. If you are participating in the puppy harness trade-in program, trade-in items must be in good condition without any damage. If your harness is damaged during the trade-in program, your payment will be credited toward the purchase of a new harness.

Why do you take photos and videos of my pet during training?

Photos and videos can be incredibly helpful for tracking progress as we work on training. We also post photos of client success to our social media accounts, and we encourage you to follow us on Facebook and Instagram!