Certified Pet Dog Trainer  
Beaverton, Hillsboro, Portland Kirsten Nielsen, Ph.D.
Current Class Schedule
Puppy Classes
Basic Obedience
Beyond the Basics
For Humans Only
Private Training
In-Kennel Training
About Me
Frequently Asked Questions

  Frequently Asked Questions

Is my dog too old to train?

No. Despite the expression “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” your dog can learn as long as you can. It gets harder to change bad habits with time, but learning new behaviors can actually get easier with age. Dogs of all ages are welcome in classes.

Is it too soon to train my puppy?

No. Your puppy is already learning, so you may as well teach him good behavior from the start. As long as you use puppy-friendly training techniques and respect your puppy’s mental and physical capacity, you can start training at home right away. I generally suggesting waiting to start a class until your puppy is about 12 weeks old.


Can my family come to class?

Yes. Anyone who will be working with the dog is encouraged to attend class. Young children will not be effective trainers, but are welcome to come and watch if they can sit quietly. Most kids are able to do some training by about age 10. See Childproofing Your Dog, available from this website.

Which vaccinations are required for class?

All dogs should be current on their immunizations according to your vet’s recommendations. Typically that schedule is: DHPP at 8, 12, and 16 weeks; Rabies at 6 months, and boosters for DHPP and Rabies at 1 year and every 3 years thereafter. Kennel cough (bordetella) should be given annually. You will be given a form to fill out at the first class.

Is it ok to bring my puppy to class before s/he’s had all the shots?

Since puppies’ immune systems are not fully developed until they are about 4 months old, the vaccines may not be completely effective until then. During this time you should be careful not to take your puppy anywhere that unvaccinated dogs may have been (parks, pet stores, neighborhood walks). Unfortunately, if you don’t introduce your puppy to new people, places and other dogs during this critical time, your puppy is likely to develop irreversible fear problems. My puppy classes are designed to provide a safe, non-threatening way to socialize puppies. Only healthy, vaccinated dogs are allowed in the classroom and the room is sanitized prior to each puppy class.

What is the payment policy?

Payment in full is due at first class by cash or check. You may request a refund within five days of the first class.

What if I miss a class?

You can get the handouts for any class that you miss by email, or at the next meeting. You may make up the missed day by attending that class at later session if space is available. Sorry, no refunds for missed classes.

Training Tips

How can I get my puppy to stop biting me?

For a young puppy, focus on teaching what s/he should be chewing on. Puppies need to chew, so give them lots of toys and praise them for chewing on their toys. As they get older and more mischievous, you may have to make your correction more stern (but not physical). Here are some ideas:

  1. Squeal “OW” and praise if s/he stops.
  2. Say “No” and exchange for a toy and praise.
  3. If he is nipping in play stand up and turn your back on him (i.e. play nice or not at all).
  4. Pair inappropriate mouthing with a squirt of water.

How can I teach my dog not to chew on….. ?

The best way to avoid losing your shoes, couch, etc., is to SUPERVISE! Even if you are in the same room but distracted, it is better to put your puppy in the crate for a few minutes than to let him figure out that chair legs taste good! Dogs will go through ups and downs in their behavior for about the first two years, so don’t give them too much freedom too soon. For example, I wouldn’t leave a dog loose in the house while I’m gone until they are at least two years old. Also, frustration (e.g. missing a meal) may trigger destructive behavior in a dog that is normally trustworthy.

How can I help my dog get over his fear of fireworks and thunder?

You may like to teach your dog to associate those noises with something positive, like really good treats. One day the neighbor’s kids were playing with cap guns outside and my dog started to get nervous. So I got out some cheese and every time there was a pop I offered her a small bite. After a few minutes, her tail was wagging every time she heard a pop! However, even with really tasty treats, your dog may be too upset to eat. In that case you may find it helpful to get a recording of the noise (see below) so that you can start with a very low volume and gradually desensitize your dog. Be careful not to try to soothe your dog (which he may interpret as encouragement to be frightened). If you act like nothing is wrong (or that it’s fun), your dog will take his cue from you. Above all, keep your dog safely confined when he might be frightened. A crate inside a bathroom with the fan on and some music playing should help mask most of the noise.

Sound Socialization CD


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