Frequently Asked Questions
Scheduling Cyber Dog Lessons
- What happens if I can't come to every class?
You have several opportunities to schedule class each week. If you schedule a class and then have a change of plans, simply cancel your reservation for that class and sign-up for another day/time.
- I'll be on a week's vacation during the course time. Can I have extra time to finish?
Cyber Dog is actually a six-week course. We give you eight weeks of opportunities to come to class specifically to account for vacations or business travel or other major interruptions.
- I live on the east coast of the US. Are there class times that work for the Eastern Time Zone?
On your registration form, we ask you to check of ranges of times/days that, in general, will work for you for class times. We also ask for your time zone. We will use that information when scheduling class sessions to assure that there will be ample availability for you to sign-up for classes.
- I live in Australia. Are there class times that work for my time zone?
On your registration form, we ask you to check of ranges of times/days that, in general, will work for you for class times. We also ask for your time zone. We will use that information when scheduling class sessions to assure that there will be ample availability for you to sign-up for classes. For Australia, it becomes a bit of a challenge but we have a teacher who is a very early riser and one who is a night owl. We'll get it covered!
- Am I expected to finish all of the 10 behaviors in 8 weeks?
You will train at your own pace. It's best to train several times a day for a few minutes at a time. You may not get all 10 behaviors finished all the way through Level 4 of each behavior but you'll have the printed Skill Builder Sheets to use to keep on training on your own. You'll also have gained a great set of training skills that will allow you to train anything you need, even if it's not specifically covered in the Cyber Dog Course.
- I don't have a lot of time for training my dog. How much time does this course take each day?
We have found that training your dog is much more successful in short burst training sessions. If you can fit in several five-minute sessions per day, you'll make great progress. This is pretty easy to do if you plan ahead - one session in the morning before you feed your dog, another right before you leave for work, a third session when you get home, a fourth session while watching TV and a fifth session before his evening meal.
- My dog is reactive when he sees other dogs. Will I have to have him around other dogs to do this course?
Your situation is one of the reasons we designed the Cyber Dog Course - you will be able to train your dog without having any other dogs setting him off. The behaviors you train in Cyber Dog are the exact same foundation behaviors that many positive-reinforcement training systems for helping reactive dogs use to set the dog and handler team up for the future "other dog" activities. By doing the Cyber Dog course, you'll be well-prepared for starting a behavior modification program for your reactive dog.
- My dog is deaf. How can I do clicker training with him if he can't hear the clicker?
Clicker trainers with deaf dogs use a visual marker for the dog, such as a laser pen light. In the LINKS section of this site is a website with great information about training deaf dogs.
- My dog is a Very Special Breed (VBS) and owners of this breed know that VSBs can't be trained. How can I teach my dog anything in that case?
We have learned from experience that many owners of specific breeds believe their breed can't learn much due to independence, lack of focus, breed personality, breeding for certain type of tasks and so on. The reality is that any breed, in fact, any organism with a brain-stem, can be trained using positive reinforcement. It can be challenging at times to discover something that individual dogs are crazy about that one can use as a reinforcer. Once you have discovered what your dog loves and really wants to have, you can teach him anything he's physically, mentally and emotionally capable of doing. It's often hard to shed those breed "everyone knows" tales but once you have seen a Keeshond learn to relax and settle on a mat, a Siberian Husky run agility, a Mastiff play tug, you realize that anything's possible if the dog is well-paid for his work.
- I have a brand-new puppy. Should I wait until he's older to take this class?
Taking this course now with a new puppy would be a wonderful way to get your new puppy off to a great start. Young puppies can learn sit, down, target, give attention, walk on a polite leash very quickly. With clear communication and rapid repetitions, you'll be amazed what can be learned!
- The dog I want to train lives with my mother who is two blocks away. Can I teach this dog anything when I don't live with him?
You sure can! You'll have to organize your time and plan ahead. Meeting with your mother's dog 2 or 3 times per day can go a long way towards having the well-mannered dog your mother wants.
- I don't want to use the clicker. Do I have to use one?
You can use a verbal marker in place of the sharp, concise sound of the clicker. A verbal marker needs to be short, sharp, unique (not heard in conversation). Even with those characteristics, a verbal marker is not quite as effective as a sharp sound. You can train behaviors with a verbal marker but we have found progess is made more quickly with a clicker or whistle-tweet. The non-verbal sound is perceived by the nervous system. The conditioning with food produces a reflexive response, again a function of the nervous system. What we say verbally is often perceived by dogs as background noise; there isn't the same "oh! what was that?" response that we like to see in response to a clicker or other short, sharp sound. Start with a verbal marker. You may find you want to change after you get started. If you have tried clicker training in the past and felt all fumbly-fingered about the clicker and the timing, we have great exercises that prepare you for the mechanical skills of clicking and treating. You might be surprised once you do those exercises at how smoothly clicker training goes when you have great "pre-flight" training!
- I don't want to use food treats to train. My dog should do what I ask just because I ask him to.
We have found that dogs, just like us, work much better when they receive a pay check. And why not? All animals are biologically programmed to put out effort in order to gain rewards. The effort that gains the most reward is the one that's repeated. In clicker training, we capitalize on biology by reinforcing (making stronger) any behaviors we like and want repeated by providing things the dog wants and will work for. We start the foundation training with food treats because we can get many repetitions in a short period of time. That creates a focused dog who loves to work and play with humans. Later, we reduce the rate of food treats and begin substituting games, toys, permission to do things and other life rewards as "pay checks" for all the great responses our dogs give us. If your dog has allergies or is on a raw food diet or medical needs diet, we'll help you figure out how to use the calories he takes in as meals for training. We never deprive dogs of food but we often use meals as training reinforcements. Studies have shown that not only zoo animals, but also our domestic animals, are much happier when they work for their food. Working for food can be things like finding hidden food, working food-toy puzzles, doing scent games, or learning new behaviors. Making everything in our dogs' lives both play and work creates healthy, well-rounded dogs who are fun to be around. And guess what? You become more fun to be around too when you learn how to notice what your dog does right and pay him well for his efforts.
- I have a dial-up modem and I really want to take this course. Will I be able to take this course with dial-up?
This course is presented via streaming video clips. Since these will not be accessible over a dial-up connection, you will need to have access to a computer that is connected to the internet via a broadband connection. Perhaps you live near enough to a friend or relative who has a broadband connection to the internet or can use a computer in your public library or internet cafe? The best we can say is to look for ways you can view our videos several times per week. You will also need to make and upload videos to the internet for your Cyber Dog Teacher's review and coaching.
- Can I take this class if I do not have access to a computer?
Cyber Dog is an on-line course that is delivered over the internet via computer. You will need frequent access to a computer with a broadband connection to the internet.
- Can I take the class if I don't have a video camera.
You will need the ability to make video clips of your training so that your Cyber Dog Teacher can review your training and give you coaching that will help you achieve your training goals. You can make video clips with cell phones, smart phones, Flip cameras, some digital still cameras - you do not necessarily need a camcorder.