Dog Training FAQ’s

How can I find the right group class for my dog?

Lets go iconSelect the ideal group class for your dog by setting goals for your dog’s training and then browsing our site. If you are interested in basic manners, control and obedience our Basic Manners class will be ideal. If you are looking for training for your puppy, sign up for our AKC Star Puppy Kindergarten group class.

If you are interested in Pet Therapy we offer a class for the AKC Canine Good Citizen that also includes Pet Therapy information.

If you just want to have some fun or increase your bond with your dog consider one of the many dog sports we offer:

Agility * Dock Jumping * Fun Scent Games * Lure Coursing

If you have a dog that is being reactive barking, lunging or being unruly around dogs or strangers, sign up for our My Dog Has Issues program or schedule a behavior consult!

If you are still not sure please contact us for a FREE E-Consult

What does DogSmith mean?

DogSmith means ‘one who expertly works at dogs.’ And cats for that matter. Each DogSmith license owner is a certified Dog Trainer and Dog Behavior Counselor. We are also certified Pet Care Technicians. All DogSmith are committed to fun and force-free training methods which means better and more lasting results.

Which shot records should I have for my dog or puppy?

For any of our puppy classes, puppies must be up-to-date for their age, with at least the first set of DHLPP shots, usually given between 6-8 weeks of age. Because socialization is so important and needs to begin as early as possible we do not usually recommend waiting for the full three sets of puppy shots. Veterinarians will suggest different guidelines for your puppy, so please take their advice into consideration. If your veterinarian tells you that your pup must have ALL vaccinations before attending a puppy class then he or she may not be current on the latest protocols for puppy socialization and vaccinations.

If your veterinarian wants more information, you can print out a flyer from AVSAB that discusses WHY the protocols have changed. The primary reason for this change, in our opinion, is that “behavioral issues, not infectious diseases, are the number one cause of death for dogs under three years of age.” The AVSAB Puppy Socialization Position Statement can be downloaded from the AVSAB website:

At Courteous Canine, Inc., we agree with the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior’s Position statement -“In general, puppies can start puppy socialization classes as early as 7-8 weeks of age. Puppies should receive a minimum of one set of vaccines at least 7 days prior to the first class and a first de-worming. They should be kept up to date throughout the class.”

For non-puppy classes all dogs must have:

  • the full sequence of DHLPP (usually an annual booster for adult dogs)
  • Rabies vaccine
  • Bordetella
  • Lepto
  • H3N2 canine flu vaccine

Your dog’s shot records may be anything from a vet receipt to a shot-vial sticker to a note from the breeder or a checked-off list with the shots on them. We have to work a bit on the honor system, but we do want to make sure the puppies are all safe

Call us today for your FREE initial visit!

Call us today for your FREE initial visit!

I can’t make it to a group class, what should I do?

If you cannot make it to class then please notify your Instructor. If the group class is enroll and go you come as it fits your schedule and so your attendance is flexible. If the group class is a scheduled class, in most cases the Instructor will work with you to make up the time you missed and ensure you receive the homework.



If I cannot make it for a private training appointment, what should I do?

Please cancel your private appointment as soon as possible; we prefer 24 hours notice so we can schedule other clients who may be waiting for an appointment. If a client no shows for an appointment or our trainer arrives to the appointment at your home and you have not notified them that you are unavailable then the appointment rate will be charged.

My dog is very noisy, how do I keep them quiet during class?

The first lesson in any group class is normally a little noisy. Our trainers are experienced in handling noisy dogs and provide visual barriers and food stuffed toys to minimize barking. Please do not be embarrassed, all our dogs have funny quirks!

Do you sell Gift Certificates?

Yes we do sell gift certificates. If you contact us, we can discuss how to purchase them and can then print a nice gift certificate that you can give to a friend or family member.

I have used traditional dog training methods in the past, why should I change my methods now?

Because you can! Some of the more traditional dog training methods use corrections as the main form of communication. These methods were popular before we knew as much about dog behavior and training as we know now. The dog training industry has progressed in many areas over the last 20 years. Our methods use a communication system that sets the dog up for success and then rewards them for getting it right. Think of your dog like a canine bank! Each time we make a deposit of respect, attention or affection it helps our relationship grow and bloom. Each time we make a withdrawal using punishment or hard-to-read corrections it chips away at the balance and erodes our relationship. When DogSmiths train dogs, and their owners, we want both the dogs and the owners to enjoy it. We also want training to strengthen the dog-human relationship and we want our dogs coming back to learn more with a happy demeanor and a wagging tail. Force based methods also have hidden consequences. With force, dogs learn to fear us and this can cause avoidance and escape behaviors and even lead to aggression. It is easier and more effective to use fun to modify behavior and train your dog.

What is a ‘clicker’ and do I have to use one if you work with my dog and me?

A clicker is a tool used to tell your dog ‘yes, you got it.’ It’s an excellent way of marking the precise behavior you want. A clicker is the equivalent to a whistle used in animal training. You can also use the word ‘yes’ instead of a clicker. Some people find clickers hard to coordinate with a treat bag and a leash and a dog. We also use the lure-reward method of training; it is fun, highly effective and great when involving children into the training process. While we encourage the use of a clicker we are force-free for both dogs and people!

Dogostics Pet CareCan we bring the whole family to a private training session or a group class?

Absolutely. Just be sure to bring an adult to help supervise the children in addition to the adult who is handling the dog. We encourage it if you have children in the home for them to attend classes as it enhances learning for all family members and also offers socialization for dogs. Dog training is fun and the more the merrier. We do encourage only one person to work with the dog at a time as it helps the dog learn more quickly. Dog training builds trust and this is important for a dog living in a family environment.


What do I need to bring to a group class?

  • For the first class you will need to provide your vaccination records
  • Yummy treats (soft and small, size of a fingernail – we recommend chopping up hotdogs, cheese hotdogs or soft liver treats for the first class)
  • A hungry dog. Please don’t feed your dog for at least 4 hours before class. If you have a highly food-motivated dog then your trainer may advise you to give them half their food rations before class.
  • Bringing a mat or your dog’s bed may also be very beneficial to give your dog a “station”.
  • A standard (non-flexi) leash and nylon collar or body harness. **Please no choke, prong or shock collars.**
  • If you are already using a Head collar then bring that too. If you are planning on using a head collar please do not put it on your dog for the first time just before class. Your dog will spend the first session feeling uncomfortable and trying to remove it.
  • A squeaky toy that can be used to get your dog’s attention. You can also bring a tug toy. We will use it to teach ‘take it’ and ‘leave it.’
  • A water bowl and water. Training makes a dog thirsty. A stressed dog can also get thirsty and don’t forget you will too.

When you arrive at class, please keep your dog busy until everyone arrives and class starts. Your instructor will advise you on the safety protocol in the first lesson. Please try to keep your dog relaxed while you wait for class to start. We want our dogs to learn to pay attention to us and not to become rambunctious around other strange dogs and people.

Do you offer private dog behavior consultations? Can a dog trainer or behavior consultant come to my house?

We do offer private dog training classes. Private dog training lessons are available in individual lessons or as packages. If you have a dog behavioral problem such as fear, anxiety, aggression, resource guarding or other problem behavior, your trainer will make an initial appointment to conduct a full behavioral consultation. After the initial consultation your trainer will be in a better position to advise you on the Behavior Change Program needed and how long it will take to reach your goals.

Where are your dog training classes located?

We have group training classes at our main campus in Lutz.

Do DogSmith of Tampa trainers say they are Positive dog trainers?

As it is used in dog training, the term “positive” can be very misleading and confusing to the pet owner. In the context of learning theory, the science behind how we all learn, the term positive means the addition of something. Positive reinforcement means you are giving the dog something it likes whereas Positive Punishment means you are giving the dog something it does not like. At Courteous Canine, we use the least aversive and minimally intrusive training methods possible. We work to minimize stress and maximize fun! Dogs do not seek to avoid or escape the methods we use, so yes, we are positive trainers. We NEVER inflict mental or physical harm on any dog. Courteous Canine’s methods are educational, instructional, effective and efficient and most importantly they are user friendly. Friendly for the dog and friendly for the owner.

Can I observe a dog training class?

Absolutely. You are welcome to visit us at any of our dog training classes with the exception of our My Dog Has Issues class. If you find a dog class listed on our site, then you are welcome to stop by. Please do not interrupt the class though, and let the instructor know you are there to observe. Also, please leave your puppy or dog at home.

What is your cancellation policy?

For Behavior and Training consultations we have a 24-hour notice cancellation policy. Drop in group classes do not require cancellation notices.

My puppy is deaf. Can we still attend a group class and do your methods work?

Yes! If a dog is only partially deaf then we can still use the clicker or the word ‘yes’. If your puppy or dog is completely deaf, then we use hand signals or a flash light to teach them the correct behaviors. We love working with all dogs including those that have unique challenges.

If I have a puppy in my home with other, older dogs do you still recommend Puppy Class?

Yes! Socialization is much more complicated than just exposing your dog to its own family of dogs. Ideal socialization means ever widening exposure to new and varied objects, places, people, dogs etc. Come join the puppy class fun!

Which training class is right for my dog?

This question will depend on your dog’s age, experience, previous training history, your goals, schedule, budget and family situation. We have a dog training program for you that offers the training you need, when you need it.

Call us today for a FREE Consultation & learn more about how we can help you make your dog family.