Heather Gutshall, ACDBC, CPDT-KA
My training and behavior modification philosophies include positive, reward-based training techniques that are fun for both you and your dog. We adhere to the practice of using the Least Invasive, Minimally Aversive (LIMA) methods.
You will find as many training styles as you will trainers so before you hire someone to work with you and your dog, please do your research. See The Association for Pet Dog Trainers for more information on choosing a dog trainer who uses proven, science-based methods. For more info on choosing a trainer see this handout from the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists.
Below is a sampling of my private training and behavior consultation packages. Each package is specifically tailored to your individual dog and may be purchased in blocks of three 50-minute sessions at a total cost of $375. If you are not sure what your dog needs, if you are looking for a behavioral assessment, or if you prefer to start with a one-time meeting, behavioral consultations or may booked at a rate of $195 and will take up to 90 minutes to get a history, hear issues, discuss goals, diagnosis, prognosis, and next steps.
All sessions are held at my office in Cranston. Private sessions are done during the daytime hours on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays, with Sunday appointments booking out furthest. When contacting to schedule, please advise if you can do a Wednesday or Thursday daytime appointment, or if you will need a Sunday appointment. Once we schedule an appointment, I will send an intake form and instructions for our meeting. Please note that your dog needs to be up to date on their Rabies, Distemper/Parvo DHPP, and Bordetella vaccine which you will bring proof of to your first appointment. The Bordetella kennel cough vaccine is not always routinely administered so please pay special attention to be sure you dog has that on board before we meet.
Welcome Home Package
for your puppy or newly adopted dog
A package of three 50-minute training sessions tailored to set your new friend up for success. Topics include: housebreaking, crate training, socialization, manners, puppy-proofing, basic cued commands, recall, etc.
Through our rescue work, we have had the pleasure of helping shy and fearful dogs build confidence. I personally gravitate toward fearful dogs when considering dogs for foster placement in our home. Through trust and relationship-based training, we are able to build confidence and improve quality of life.
Fearful dogs need to go at their own pace. With this package of four, one-hour sessions we work on counter-conditioning and desensitization to your dog's specific fearful stimuli. Be it fear of people, other dogs (fear re-activity or fear-based aggression), or fear of unknown origin, we will work together to help your dog learn how to safely and calmly exist in his world.
It is important to note that we never flood your dog, and neither should you. Decades of research have proven that flooding, or exposing your dog to larger amounts of stimuli your dog finds aversive will do more harm than good. Example: A dog who is fearful with strangers should not simply be walked into a crowd and expected to "get over it".
Fear is a complex issue and dogs progress at varying rates so it is would be impossible for me to say I could resolve your dog's fear-based issues in four sessions, in some cases, that may be true, in others, a longer time is needed, and in others, we may achieve improved reactions to fearful stimuli, but lifetime management may be needed.
You have hit a snag, run into an issue with your dog. Problems may include leash reactivity, aggression, destruction, separation anxiety, newly adopted “problem child”.
We have a close network of well-educated and well-respected pet dog trainers and certified animal behaviorists with whom we collaborate on difficult issues. Rest assured that no problem is too big for us to help you, or direct you to someone who can.
One area in which we do not work is dog-cat issues. We are happy to listen to your issues and refer you to the appropriate trainer or behaviorist. We all have our areas of strength, one of our greatest strengths is knowing when to ask for help! We do not claim to know it all in the area of dog behavior and training, but we do keep up to date on scientifically proven methods, frequently attend seminars, trainings, and webinars.
Basic, Intermediate and Advanced Packages
Want your dog to do something? You are at the right place. Working your dog is one of the best ways to strengthen the human/canine bond while having a well-behaved dog. You tell us what you want from your dog, and we will get you there.
We can start with the basics, including, hand targeting, loose-leash walking, and all those cued behaviors or "commands" that every good dog should know. We can help your dog learn what those words mean through lure-reward training and capturing. Then, we can help you proof the commands with increasing levels of duration and distraction.
The sky is the limit in this area, your dog will work as hard as you will, that's the beauty of your relationship! Let us help you craft the relationship into whatever you envision for you and your dog.