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Not Ready for Prime Time

For Dogs Who Can't Handle a Group Setting ... The "Not Ready For Prime Time" class will be scheduled on an "as needed" basis on Thursday nights starting at 7:45 after Diane & Judy's folks have left the building.

  • This is a small. specialized class to give extra help for seriously reactive dogs who are a safety risk in a class setting.

  • It is not a class for frustrated greeters and merely barky dogs who will be fine with a barrier and a blanket, but for high arousal dogs who pose a safety risk who are not suitable for a group class. Dogs who make other students nervous and prevent the rest of the class from getting what they paid for.

  • It is also not a class for the hide-under-the-chair fearful dogs who may bark/lunge out of fear, as those dogs need to be in a class of nice, normal dogs, not scary dogs.

There are half-sheet handouts in the plastic drawers behind the instructor podium.

If you identify a dog that you feel would benefit from additional help and should be transferred out, gently discuss their dog's struggles in class and that the group class is great for basic skills, but it may not be the best solution to help them and that we have other options to help them. Give them the flyer.

Not every dog will be appropriate for the NRFPT class, either. Give them the flyer and suggest that they contact Cathy to set up an evaluation to see what will be best for their dog, noting that there are several options to choose from: private or semi-private lessons, a behavior consult to map out a specific bheaivor modification plan, and/or a smaller, specialized group class (NRFPT).

Please contact Cathy to discuss your concerns after you give the student the flyer so she will have a clear picture of all of your concerns: what you saw, how you handled it, so she will have it from the "horse's mouth' and not just the student's evaluation of what is going on. Please cc: Carol as well so they are up to speed on possible transfers and can weigh in on the plan for the particular situation. It takes a village.

Options for your excitable, fearful or reactive dog Is the group class too much for your dog? Do you and your dog need one-on-one help or a smaller, more specialized class? We can help.

Please contact Cathy Fox, 993-3622 or email her at for an evaluation to assess what would be the best plan for your dog.

Cathy may recommend that your dog would benefit most from: • private or semi-private lessons

• behavior consult to map out a specific behavior modification plan

• a smaller, specialized group class

Our “Not Ready for Prime Time” special class for reactive dogs is scheduled on Thursday nights on an as needed basis. When we have 3 or 4 dogs who need a NRFPT class, we will add one to the schedule. If we have more than 3 or 4, there may be a delay before we can get you in. If you need immediate help until the next class starts, you can schedule private sessions with Cathy until there are openings in the class. Please contact Cathy for cost and scheduling.

If you are transferring from a regular class to a private or specialty class mid-session, we will transfer the balance of your class tuition.

Some examples of how a client might be guided toward these options:

  • Ideally, their pre-class Student Profile will identify them before they set foot in the class room. You may never see them!

  • You may hear red flags in their first week introduction that prompts you to ask more questions after class to help identify whether their dog is appropriate for class. Is this an 80 lb elderly person with a giant dog with a history of aggression? Are they imagining their dog in this space and expressing concern? You may suggest that BEFORE week two, they contact Cathy for an evaluation to make sure the class will be the best choice for their dog, assuring them that if the recommendation is to transfer, that the balance of their tuition will be applied to any change in training plan. (Cost of the handbook/administration fees will be deducted.) PLEASE REMEMBER that the student's interpretation of what they are seeing, more often than not, are misread and not truly problem dogs. Ask open-ended questions that encourage them to describe what they saw, not their interpretation of what they saw. Compare what they are saying to the profile scores. If the dog will mostly C's & D's "attacks" other dogs who rush up to it on the street, it's probably not the problem they think it is. Were there injuries? In most cases, you will want to wait and see how the dog really presents itself week two.

  • Week two. First week with dogs. Many dogs struggle week two, but are better by the end of class and come back week three much improved. These are not candidates for NRFPT nor do they usually need privates. The student may come to you, expressing frustration and asking if the dog is being disruptive. You may opt to give them the flyer then, or you may suggest that they wait and see how it goes next week, assuring them that for most dogs it's likely to be better next week and not to worry - if it isn't, we have other options for them.

  • Week three. They don't come back better week three and have escalated or deteriorated behaviorally. If they don't settle down in the first 20 minutes, you may opt to excuse them if you truly believe they are a safety risk and other students are made uncomfortable. (The assistant should quietly take them aside to discuss options, not address it in front of the class unless they publicly ask for options.) If they finish week three, there is only one more class to go. Best to let them finish the session. If they ask about Prep, this is where you would suggest the alternate options instead.

Be sensitive to the fact that they love their dog, no matter how awful it may be acting. They are probably embarrassed and disappointed to have "that dog" in class. And they may actually NOT have "that dog" but just need reassurance that with work and time and exposure, it will get better, and that they are welcome in class - they don't have the only barking maniac in the room! Any questions? Suggestions? Please comment in the comments section to the right of this post.

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