General FAQs: Who We Are & How Things Work

Why all the treats?

We use a lot of treats in class. Food is a primary reinforcer! People often worry that too many treats at first will make the dog only work for treats in the future – when in fact it’s the other way around. Associating behaviors with high-value reinforcement is essential to properly train behaviors – and maintain them. As they get better and better at their behaviors, we decrease the frequency of the reinforcers. They’ll still work hard because they never know when they’re going to get a treat now!

Ever stop to wonder why slot machines can be so addicting?

We also use other reinforcers like environment, toys and play as you progress through the Puppy Series.

But are you REALLY a Positive Reinforcement Trainer?

Yes, we promise! We will never use aversive methods or tools on your dog, nor will we ask you to. We use science- and reward-based training only, and our team is dedicated to helping you train your dog in a humane way. In fact, we’ve signed a Code of Ethics!

For an illustration on what Positive Reinforcement Training is, click here.
For info on how to choose a Positive Reinforcement trainer, click here.

What do I bring to class?

A list of what to bring is sent out either in your confirmation email or in the video orientation, if you are enrolled in Puppy Primer or Puppy Life Skills. Keep in mind that you’ll leave your dog home the first week for some of our classes. Click here for specifics, and please check with us if you’re not sure. In general, you’ll want to bring:

  • your hungry dog on a flat collar or harness (absolutely no choke chains or pronged collars)
  • a six foot leash (no retractable or longer leashes please)
  • pants with pockets or a treat pouch
  • lots of high-value treats cut into M&M sized pieces. A variety is best!
  • a portable mat or towel for your dog to settle on
  • a bone, longterm chew and/or interactive food toy (like a Toppl)
  • a tug toy or other toy, if you want – especially for puppies and younger dogs. These can be distracting (especially if they have squeakers) so please be mindful when using
  • a collapsible water bowl – we have water at our facility but you can bring some too. Please bring your own for field trip classes.
  • poop bags (please clean up after your dog!)
  • any extra gear you need will be mentioned in your individual class’ confirmation email

Do you allow aversive methods like pinch or pronged collars?

Thanks for asking! No. We do not allow any aversive gear including pinch or pronged collars, and will strictly enforce this policy. Please do not bring these to our facility or to class.

If you have questions about what gear you can use instead to help handle your dog, we are happy to make recommendations and please check with your instructor.

What if I need extra help?

We’re here for you! Please take a look at our Private Training & Behavior Consulting page, and then contact us for other details, package recommendations and to schedule.

What if I miss a class?

In order to keep our classes small, which is really important to us, Happy Dog Institute is unable to offer refunds or makeup classes. Please plan carefully when scheduling. If you miss a week, your instructor can get you caught up the following week. We also have information on curriculum and past video recordings of classes in the Client Portal.

Depending on instructor availability, missed classes can be made up on a private basis for our regular private session fee, which is currently $140.

What if I have to cancel my class?

We require 14 days’ notice in order to move your registration. We are not able to transfer registration to another class or service after this point, or once class has started, so please plan carefully when signign up.

While we are not able to offer refunds, we are happy to transfer your balance to another class or service with at least 14 days’ notice (more is better!).

How many dogs are in a class?

We limit our group classes to six dogs.

Can I bring my child/family/partner/housemate to class with me?

Yes! We welcome families and house mates in our classes and like when folks are working together and on the same page. However, we want to keep everybody safe. We ask that children are at least five years old when coming to class and that all children under the age of 18 are directly supervised at all times.

Cleaning, Safety & Sanitization FAQs

Masking Policy

Our instructors will continue to wear a mask, and we appreciate when people also wear them while indoors.

Inclement Weather Policy

Winter: when the roads are snowy, icy, or otherwise unsafe, we will cancel classes. Our instructors come from all over the place and often from rural areas, and often cannot safely make it to class in these situations.

Summer: when it’s in the 90’s and higher, dogs are prone to heat exhaustion and the facility (as well as the pavement) is too hot to hold class. If the temperature is forecasted to be in the low 90s, we will relocate class to a local park. If it’s over 95 degrees, we will cancel and arrange a makeup date.

In either inclement weather scenario, if we cancel or relocate class, we will do so via email and arrange a makeup date. Please diligently check your email during inclement weather before coming to class.

Health, Cleaning & Safety Protocols

Cleaning protocols:

  • Air purifier runs during classes and private sessions
  • Daily vacuum of space
  • Spot cleaning as needed with a 1:16 solution of Rescue
  • Weekly mop with 1:64 solution of Rescue and bathroom cleaning and high touch surface wipe down.
  • Rescue is a one step hydrogen peroxide based disinfectant that not only cleans and deodorizes but is also a virucide, bactericide, and fungicide. It is safe for use with animals and humans. Click here for more information about this product.
  • Clients bring their own water bowls so as not to share one with all dogs.
  • We request that clients who are presenting symptoms of illness mask or refrain from coming to class
  • We request that dogs that have symptoms of illness such as coughing, sneezing, are lethargic or have a known illness that is transmissible to other dogs to NOT attend classes

We closely monitor situations of dog illnesses being reported in Washington State. We are not structured like a boarding or day care facility to have larger groups of dogs together for sustained periods of time. Our classes have 6 dogs or less, have short play times for puppies and adult dogs are encouraged to not interact with one another.

We continue to diligently sanitize our space and clean via the above protocol. We have an air purifier in the facility. We do not have communal water bowls at our facility, and are discouraging that dogs have nose to nose contact with each other.

Please don’t bring your dog to class if they have any symptoms or are immunocompromised. Make sure your dog is up to date on their veterinarian-recommended vaccinations and refrain from taking them to dog parks, etc.

Puppy Class FAQs for Dogs Under 23 Weeks

Do I bring my puppy to every class?

Puppy Primer & Puppy Life Skills: Yes, bring your puppy EVERY class – including your first session. The video orientation you’ll receive after registering for class has all the information you need to join on your selected start date – with your puppy in tow. Click here for information on what else to bring, besides your puppy.

**See below for details on other classes**

I’ve been told to wait to join puppy class until my puppy has had all their shots, around 16 weeks old. What should I do?

This is such a hard topic! While the risk of Parvo and other diseases is very real, the risk of under-socializing a dog while they are under 16 weeks old is ALSO very real.  Read this article on Puppy Socialization from the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior. It explains why puppy owners should be more concerned about behavior problems from a lack of socialization than a small risk of infection.

As a precaution, we ask you to carry your puppy into class until they have had one rounds of shots, administered AFTER 7-8 weeks old and at least 5 days before their first class.

What are the vaccination requirements for class?

For Puppy 1 and 2, we require the one round of DHLLP or DHPP, administered AFTER 7-8 weeks of age in order to join class and at least 5 days before your first class.

It is essential that your dog stay up to date on vaccinations throughout class so they remain protected. NO DOG PARKS while you are taking our puppy classes, formal or informal, please!

Is there a prerequisite for Puppy Class?

No, but your puppy must be between 8-9 weeks of age on their first day of class and have had one round of shots after turning 7-8 weeks old. See above for specifics.

How do I know what to bring to class, etc.?

When you register for class, you’ll get an emailed link to our video orientation which outlines class materials, rules and goes over concepts like house training and play biting. There is also additional information in the video orientation and in the homework portal.

Click here for a general list of what to bring, and contact us with questions.

What is open enrollment? When does class actually START?

We want you to be able to join class with your puppy as soon as possible. With “open-enrollment”, there’s no waiting for a class to start – you can join as soon as you get your puppy as long as there’s room and you’ve met the vaccination requirements. We try to keep the earliest available slots listed in the title of each open enrollment class on our registration page.

Only Puppy Primer & Puppy Life Skills are open-enrollment – everything else has a set start and finish date.

What if I miss a class?

Please be aware that we are saving a spot in class just for you and your dog. Once you have registered, paid and picked a start date, your spot is secured in class for four CONSECUTIVE weeks (excluding any planned skip dates due to holidays, etc). If you miss a class, it will still count towards one of your sessions. This is so that we can ensure small class sizes for all of our clients.

Depending on instructor availability, you are welcome to make up a session for our regular private training fee, which is currently $140.

Adolescent & Adult Dog Class FAQs for Dogs Over 23 Weeks

Is there a prerequisite for this class?

As long as your dog is up to date on vaccinations, you’re welcome to join (see below for vaccination requirements)! One exception is if they have a hard time on-leash around other dogs at fairly close proximity (4-6 feet at times). If that’s the case, another training solution would be a better it. Contact us for other options.

My dog gets nervous, reactive, barky or aggressive in public or around other dogs. Is this the right class for them?

We want your pup to be successful as possible! So if your dog has fear, reactivity, anxiety or barks on leash around other dogs, please contact us before signing up for classes to make sure they’re the best fit.

Often times, another service is a better fit, like Private Training, Chaotic Canine class or Zesty Teens class.

What are the vaccination requirements?

All vaccinations must be current. Check with your veterinarian if you’re unsure. You will have the opportunity to list vaccination records when you register for class.

How do I secure my spot in class?

Payment is required to secure your spot in class. You can register online via this link, or contact us if you would prefer to register over the phone or via email (we’ll either take a credit card number over the phone or email you an invoice, payable online).

What if I miss a class?

In order to keep our classes small, Happy Dog Institute is unable to offer refunds or makeup classes, so please plan carefully when scheduling. Depending on availability, missed classes can be made up on a private basis for our regular private session fee (currently $140).

Do I bring my dog to the first class? What else do I need to bring?

Please note: additional details are outlined in homework portal and/or confirmation email, if applicable. Click here for a general list of materials.

Puppy Primer & Puppy Life Skills: Yes, bring your dog and all the materials you brought to your previous classes.

Focus & Control for Teens and Foundation Skills for Adults: No, don’t bring your dog to the first class. Bring a notebook and something to write with.

Puppies About Town & Adults About Town Class: Yes, bring your dog and all the materials you brought to your previous classes.

Agility Fundamentals 1 and beyond: Yes, bring your dog and all the materials you brought to your previous classes.

Sports Sampler: Yes, bring your dog and all the materials you brought to your previous classes.

Scent Work Fundamentals: Yes, bring your dog and all the materials you brought to your previous classes.

Introduction to Truffle Hunting: No, don’t bring your dog to the first class. Bring a notebook and something to write with.

Advanced Truffle Hunting: Yes, bring your dog and all the materials you brought to your previous classes.

Chaotic Canine & Zesty Teens: No, don’t bring your dog to the first class. Bring a notebook and something to write with.

Private Training & Behavior Help FAQs

Where are consultations held?

At our facility, Happy Dog Headquarters, in Tumwater. The address is 7924 Sweet Iron Ct SE, Suite 109, Olympia WA. We are open by appointment only, and will email you directions once your consultation is scheduled, as the date approaches.

I read that I need to submit some paperwork before my consultation. What sort of paperwork and how do I get it to you?

Don’t fret! We have a couple pieces of of paperwork we’ll ask for, plus a page with some policies and contractual stuff on it.

We ask you to electronically sign and submit this at least three days before your scheduled consultation. It’s easy to fill out and submit online (hopefully you agree!), and the link to the paperwork is in the confirmation email once you book your first private session with us.

What should I bring with me to my consultation?

When you scheduled your consultation we emailed you a Consultation Letter with a list of what to bring. Let us know if you need it sent again before you arrive!

Why aren’t consultations held at my house?

Consultations are held in a neutral territory so that we can assess your dog without their territory being an issue. This will give us a better “baseline” and a more accurate read of your dog’s behavior and temperament.

Do you need to see the behavior?

You’d would think so, wouldn’t you? In short, no. We don’t need to see the behavior, for a number of reasons:

  • A consultation is the first step in helping your dog heal and de-stress. Recreating the behavior adds undue stress for you and your dog that just isn’t necessary, and sets us off on the wrong foot.
  • We’ve see it a gazillion times before!
  • If we need more information, and if you’d like to share what’s going on with visual aids, feel free to bring some video of the behavior with you to your consultation.
  • In rare cases we may need to see the behavior in order to assess it – but this is hardly ever the case. We can discuss this more at the consultation!

Virtual & Online Private Training FAQs

Do you need to physically demonstrate what I should be doing with my dog?

In some cases, yes! But this is typically the case with behavior issues that aren’t suited for virtual training. Click here to read about behavior issues that require in-person training.

What is virtual training anyway?

Good question! This training is conducted via video chat, email and video sharing. How we approach virtual training depends on the behavior issues we’re dealing with. We really like virtual training because we can support you frequently all week long, which drastically improves your training success.

Click here to learn more about virtual training, and click here to read about private training, behavior packages and consulting.

What kind of technology do I need to do virtual training? Do I need to be a techno-wiz?

No! For a virtual consultation, all you need is a an internet connection and a device with a webcam like a computer, tablet or smartphone. It’s great if you have two devices, but one will do. If you can turn on your phone, computer or tablet, you are in good shape. These days, most of our clients have the necessary equipment to do this type of training and do just fine!

We also offer a free tech support session with our virtual training packages to get you setup, if you need it.

What if I want you to see my dog’s behavior even if we are doing virtual training?

Oh, the joys of modern technology. These days, we can accomplish pretty much anything via email, video chat and file sharing. You are welcome to share video of your dog’s behavior – and we often request it! – when you are doing virtual training. Typically, people will share video with us via Google Drive.

Don’t you need to meet my dog and see the behavior?

We have three answers to this question:

  1. Sometimes we need to meet your dog, yes. If this is the case, we won’t recommend virtual training and we will schedule an in-person consultation.
  2. Other times, we don’t need to meet your dog initially to get the ball rolling, but we will as we progress. Often a virtual consultation is a great way to get you some help quickly (like when your dog just bit your family member, or they are peeing all over your house, or two of your dogs are fighting and it seems to be escalating quickly – you get the idea). We really like virtual training because we can help you throughout the week instead of once every so often. Plus, we can see what’s going on in realtime, in your environment.If necessary, we will transition to in-person training after an initial virtual consultation. Click here to learn about virtual training.
  3. Some behaviors – like dog-dog aggression in the household, house training and separation anxiety – should be conducted exclusively via virtual training for optimum success and maximum support. Click here to learn more.

I read that I need to submit some paperwork before my initial assessment. What sort of paperwork and how do I get it to you?

Don’t fret! We have a single page of paperwork, plus a page with some policies and contractual stuff on it that we have you electronically sign and send our way at least two days before your scheduled assessment. It’s easy to fill out and submit online, and we’ll email it to you with plenty of time to complete it after your consultation is scheduled.