There are lots of trainers... Why should I choose A Different Dog?
It's a bit of a minefield with regards to finding a suitable trainer or behaviourist and making the wrong decision isn't just a waste of money, it's also potentially damaging to your dog/ puppy and can cause you (and your dog) significant problems in the long-run. In fact, A Different Dog is often called in to support clients who have previously been given inappropriate advice from so-called 'behaviourists' which has sadly made the situation worse, both for the owner and the dog. A Different Dog is the only trainer/ behaviourist based in St Albans who is registered as an Accredited Animal Trainer and Behaviourist with the ABTC and also the only local dog trainer to be approved by the world-renowned trainer Victoria Stilwell as one of her hand-picked global network of positive trainers (VSPDT). So you can rest easy and put your trust in A Different Dog! But don't just take our word for it .... Why not take a look at our customer reviews which are available to view on our Home Page, About Us, How We Work and each of the service pages?
What's the difference between a trainer and a behaviourist?
That's a good question! A dog trainer teaches people how to teach their dogs and/ or teaches dogs. A behaviourist uses their expertise to work out the dog's motivation for a behaviour and then supports the owner in helping the dog to change their emotional response (and, therefore, their behaviour, and/or learn new behaviours. Behaviourists may also work with dogs to prevent problem behaviours occurring. Vets will generally refer clients to behaviourists, rather than trainers. Many behaviourists are also trainers (like at A Different Dog) as it's important for behaviourists to be able to use both skills. Good trainers need to have an understanding of behaviour and learning theory but not necessarily the in-depth knowledge and wider understanding that a behaviourist has. Sadly, not all trainers do have a good understanding of how dogs think and learn (even those with lots of experience) and use out-dated methods which can do more harm than good. Remember, that anyone can currently call themselves a dog trainer or behaviourist but good dog trainers should only use positive, reward-based methods and behaviourists should be educated in Canine Behaviour to at least degree level (ADipCBM/ GDipABM/ BSc/ MSc for example) and use science-based, compassionate and force-free methods.
What do you mean by positive or reward-based training methods?
Will positive methods work? what about being pack leader?
Positive methods can be used successfully with any dog. In contrast, other methods have been proven to lead to unpredictability, stress and aggression in dogs. Please don't take that risk. You can find out all about this here.
ARE YOU INSURED?
Yes. A Different Dog is fully insured with a specialist insurer for animal-related businesses. We are insured for all aspects of our training and behaviour work.
I live outside the St Albans area.... Can you still help?
Yes... We'd be happy to help you! The first option is to choose from our online programmes which can support you through pretty much every aspect of pet dog ownership and training. These programmes can guide you through everything from the early days with your new puppy to more advanced training with your older dog. The second option is to use our Helpline Service for guidance over the phone/ Skype/ Face Time. [Please note: this service is not suitable for behaviour concerns, other than to offer emergency advice before coming out for a scheduled behaviour consultation].
Alternatively, if you would prefer for us to work with you and your dog in person, we can come to you. From our base in St Albans, we can cover a lot of Hertfordshire, North London, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire. You can see our travel zones here and we are happy to discuss travel to other areas for which we agree prices by negotiation. If you have any questions about this, just get in touch.
What IS YOUR TRAVEL CHARGE FOR HOME VISITS?
We try to make our travel charges reasonable, fair and transparent. In fact, our travel charges only actually cover a small proportion of our costs involved in travelling to see clients. As well as fuel costs and 'wear and tear', for every minute spent travelling to an appointment, that is time in which we could have been seeing a client and charging our normal hourly rate. To keep things simple, we have travel 'zones' for which we charge an all-inclusive rate for our travel, per visit. You can see our travel zones here. If you have any questions about this, just get in touch.
Training Classes - Puppy or Dog
Where and when do you hold the training classes?
A Different Dog runs classes from various venues in the area. The venues we currently use are:
When is your next class starting?
You shouldn't have to wait too long before the next available course of training. To find out when your dog or puppy can begin their training and what venue options are available, please contact us and we'll come straight back to you.
How does the online content of the bronze (puppy) course work?
Because there are such a lot of great things to share with you, to help set you and your puppy up for success, we decided to offer you that little bit extra. We have created a unique online Puppy Programme (worth £50 as a stand-alone course) to which you are given FREE access when you sign up for the Bronze Puppy Class. So, not only do you a fantastic 5 week course of in-person (hour-long) training sessions, you can also access this additional content at a time and place convenient to you at no extra cost! There is more than 2.5 hours of video content available to you, along with accompanying downloadable Skill-Builder sheets for you to print out and keep. If you don't have access to the internet, don't worry - we can send you the Skill-Builder sheets in the post so that you don't miss out on all the fabulous extra stuff! You will be emailed an personal log in to the site and will be able to access all of the exclusive content before the classes begin (to get you off the a flying start!) and for a week after your final class.
Do I have to book a place on a course far in advance?
Classes do get booked up quickly so it is advisable to book your place early. Many people sign their puppy up to classes before they have even picked their puppy up! It is advisable to begin puppy training early on so that you start things off right by getting the basics established at an early age. Remember that there is a maximum of 20 week age limit at the start of the course; most puppies start classes between the ages of 10 and 16 weeks. As well as this, puppy classes provide essential socialisation opportunities, without which puppies can develop significant behavioural problems. Advanced (Silver/ Gold/ Platinum) classes can only be booked once your dog has attended puppy classes or after discussion with/ assessment by us. Again, it is advisable to book early to avoid disappointment as many of our Bronze Class graduates choose to return for the follow-on classes and so they are often booked up some months ahead.
Does my puppy have to be fully vaccinated before attending?
Due to the importance of early socialisation (and because our puppy venues are not used by other dogs except those at our training classes) we are happy to accept puppies at our Puppy Classes after their first vaccination. However, owners are advised to seek the advice of their Veterinary Surgeon with regard to this. There is lots more information on this subject here.
How do I book
You can complete the booking form by clicking on the 'Book Now' button on any of our service pages or contact us here to find out more and to book your place. We will be able to tell you when and where the next classes appropriate for you will be starting and give you all the information that you need.
How and when do I pay?
When you book, you will be given our bank details so that you can transfer the money directly into our account. This is the way most people find easiest to pay. Alternatively, you can pay by cash. Please note that your place will only be reserved for 48 hours before payment needs to be made. This is because our classes often get fully booked and therefore a space reserved for someone who then doesn't pay or changes their mind is potentially another dog or puppy turned away. If this is going to be difficult for you or you want to discuss this with us, please get in touch. As soon as payment (and your completed registration form) is received, your place at the class is then confirmed. Please note that payment implies agreement with our Terms and Conditions which are available to view at the booking/ registration stage. If you wish to see a copy of the T+Cs before then, just ask and we will happily email them to you.
Do I need to bring anything?
Yes. When you come to dog or puppy training classes you should bring your dog's mat or blanket so that they feel more at home and have somewhere to settle. To help them settle, you should bring along a stuffed kong or other long-lasting food toy which will keep them occupied when they are not actively involved in the class (eg. you are watching a demonstration). You will also need to bring some tasty treats - something special like chicken, hot-dog sausages, ham or cheese usually works best to get your dog's attention with all of the distractions around them. If possible, bring a variety of treats so that you can swap them, to keep your dog interested. Any treats should be able to be broken up into small pea-sized pieces. It's best if your dog is peckish (not ravenous but not just eaten) when you come to training sessions so that the food rewards are highly motivating but your dog is not so hungry that it can't concentrate. You should also bring your dog's favourite toy (or, even better, keep one especially to use at training classes). Of course, you should bring your puppy wearing their collar (or, even better, a harness) and ensure that you have a lead with you. Please bring a normal lead, rather than a extending flexi-lead. It's a good idea to bring water and a bowl too if you can, as training can be thirsty work!
Can I bring children/ the whole family?
Of course! We love to have children involved and recommend that the whole family comes to classes if possible so that you can be sure that you're all using the strategies consistently with your dog. All we ask is that children are well-behaved and do not approach the other dogs unless the instructor has asked them to do so (with their parents' permission, of course!)
What should I wear?
We suggest that you wear something comfortable and recommend flat shoes/ trainers. It is helpful if you avoid wearing scarves or anything which could flap in the face of your dog (they are easily distracted!). Please do not wear shoes with a high and narrow heel which could damage a wooden floor or really hurt a dog if they get under your feet!
I'm worried my dog/ puppy will be naughty!
Don't worry.... we've seen it all before! If there are any issues, we will be able to help you manage them (that's that we're there for). Classes with A Different Dog are relaxed, supportive and fun so there's nothing to worry about. If you have concerns about your adult dog's behaviour (such as problems with aggression, reactivity or nervousness), call us to discuss it and we will advise you whether it would be better to have One to One training instead.
How will I remember everything?
We know it's hard to remember everything you are shown each week so you will either have access to our online programme (currently only available for Bronze level and Recall Masterclass) or we email you a summary of everything you learned after each class (all other group classes except Bronze and Recall) so that you can be reminded and practise at home.
What if I can't come one week?
Don't worry. You'll still have access to all of that week's input though the online programme (or emailed reminder for classes other than Bronze and Recall) so you can have a go at home and you can still come along to the other classes. Where possible, we will help you try to 'catch up' at the next class.
Can I come and watch a session before I sign up?
Yes, of course. All good trainers should be happy for a potential client to watch a class before handing over their money. If we're running classes at an appropriate time, we're happy to include you as an observer (without your dog/ puppy) if you're thinking of bringing your dog or puppy to join the next course of classes. Just let us know in advance as we will not be able to accommodate you if you just turn up unannounced.
Is there anything else I need to know?
When you book a training course or session with A Different Dog, you are agreeing to our Terms and Conditions which are available to view as part of the registration/ booking process. If you wish to see a copy before then or if you have any questions, just ask.
Puppy Package - Standard or Premium
Why should I choose this option?
The exclusive Puppy Package options from A Different Dog not only offer great value for money but it also provides you with that one to one support in your own home that you don't get from a Training Class. The issues you are having with your puppy (there will be some - you can be fairly sure of that!) might not be the same as another person and the Puppy Packages allow you to benefit from personalised, individual support which is tailored to your unique home and family situation (not to mention your unique puppy!). This can be really helpful in ensuring you're starting things off right to set your puppy (and you) up for success in the future. If you opt for the Premium Puppy Package of 5 home visits, we can even cover all of the skills taught at the Bronze Training class and you will have FREE access to our online Puppy Programme (worth £50)!
Is this just for people that have never had a dog before?
No - lots of people choose a Puppy Package option for the reasons above, even if they have had dogs before. Of course, if you have never had a puppy before or it's been a while since you last had one, it's even more important to make sure you're getting it right! Things have changed a lot with regard to understanding dog training and behaviour over the last few years and it will help you and your puppy if you are up to date with the most modern, scientifically proven (and kind) methods to help your puppy grow into the dog that you would like it to be.
Can we choose what we get help with?
Absolutely! The suggested programme sessions shown works well for most people but it can be amended to suit you, your family and your puppy. Some people like to have one session before bringing puppy home, others like to have that first session a day or two after their puppy arrives. Some people use a session to help with problems they are having and others may prefer to use one to support them with allowing the puppy off-lead for the first time. It's totally up to you. The only stipulation is that all of the visits should take place within a 3 month period but this is what works best for most owners (and their dogs!) anyway.
Do I need to book?
Do I need to be going to Puppy Classes too?
No. We recommend that everyone with a puppy attends Puppy Classes or has One to One Training but this is certainly not essential. You can choose one or both, depending on what you want to achieve. Puppy Pre-School provides careful, controlled socialisation for your young puppy and an opportunity to ask questions but they do not include any training guidance. If you want your puppy to learn basic obedience then you should book onto Puppy Classes too. Click here for more information about A Different Dog Puppy Classes in St Albans.
Does my puppy Need to be fully vaccinated before attending?
Due to the importance of early socialisation (and because our puppy venues are not used by other dogs except those at our training classes) we are happy to accept puppies at our Puppy Classes or Pre-School after their first vaccination. However, owners are advised to seek the advice of their Veterinary Surgeon with regard to this. Information about our requirements to prevent the risk of disease form part of our Terms and Conditions which are available to view as part of the registration/ booking process. If you wish to see a copy before then or if you have any questions, just ask.
How does Puppy Match work?
Puppy Match is a ‘mix and match’ service in which you may choose from our menu of options to support you in your journey to find the right puppy. We can use our expertise to guide you right through the process of choosing the best breed or type of dog for you, selecting a responsible breeder and finally picking your new bundle of joy from the litter.
What about rescue dogs and puppies?
Whilst Puppy Match is primarily intended to aid the appropriate selection of puppies from breeders, it can be tailored for those of you who are choosing a dog or puppy from a rescue centre; just get in touch to see how we can help.
Is Puppy Match right for me?
A Different Dog specialises in working with pet dogs and puppies (after all, the vast majority of dogs in the UK are primarily pets). We know what people want from their pet dogs and what these dogs need from their owners. Puppy Match is intended to support this unique bond between people and their pet dogs so if, like most people, you’re looking for a pet dog/ puppy (pedigree or not), then yes...... Puppy Match will be great for you! If you’re selecting a dog primarily for showing or working purposes then Puppy Match may not be right for you.
What is the difference between Training and Behaviour?
One to One Training sessions are designed for teaching your dog or puppy certain behaviours whereas a Behaviour Consultation is aimed at addressing and changing a problem behaviour. For example, learning to walk nicely on a lead or learning to come back when called are considered training issues and, therefore, a one to one training session is appropriate. However, aggression (for example guarding behaviour or fear-aggression towards other dogs) is a behaviour issue, so a Behaviour Consultation would be more appropriate.
Why should I choose A Different Dog for Behaviour Support?
To be able to fully understand and successfully change a dog's behaviour, it requires significantly more expertise than simple training. Unlike many others, we are degree-level qualified in canine behaviour and we're also the only local dog trainer/ behaviourist to be approved by the world-renowned trainer Victoria Stilwell, as one of her hand-picked global network of positive trainers (VSPDT).
Do I need to get a referral from my vet to see you?
We accept referrals from vets. However, you are also more than welcome to get in touch with us directly and arrange a behaviour consultation with us. At that point, we will ask for your vet's details so that we can contact them to ask for a medical history to be sent through to us; this should not cost you anything. In some cases, your vet may ask for you to visit them before our initial consultation in order to rule out potential medical causes (illness or injury, for example) which need to be addressed before behaviour support can begin. Occasionally, depending on the problem and its severity, it may be that behaviour modification and medical intervention (eg. drug therapy) are required to work alongside each other. This is very much determined on a case-by-case basis and we would liaise with your Veterinary Surgeon with regard to this, if this were the case. You or your vet can download the Veterinary Referral form on our 'Vets' page.
What will happen before the Behaviour Consultation?
When you book your Behaviour Consultation, you will be sent a confirmation email containing details of how to access our special online portal. The online portal will take you through the steps of answering a series of questions about your dog and their behaviour history in order for us to prepare for the consultation. This ensures that the precious time for which you are paying at the home visit is not wasted gathering basic information. Of course, at the consultation appointment, there will still be plenty of opportunities to discuss the issues or for you to elaborate on the information already provided. We will also get in touch with your vet to request your dog's medical history. We then spend a considerable amount of time analysing all of this information before coming to visit you - this means that we come better prepared, avoid wasting time at the consultation, can manage the consultation more effectively and know exactly what questions we still need to ask to fill in any 'missing pieces in the jigsaw', before deciding on the best course of action.
What will happen at the Behaviour Consultation?
The Behaviour Consultation will last for approximately 2 hours and will take place in your own home at a mutually convenient time. We will discuss key points in the information you provided prior to the meeting and your dog's behaviour will be observed and discussed. You will be given clear advice and any methods or training techniques will be explained/ demonstrated to you (this will also form part of the follow-up session). The aim of the consultation is to determine the best way to manage and change your dog's behaviour in your particular circumstances. Of course, you will have plenty of opportunities to ask questions.
What will happen after the consultation?
After the consultation, a short written report/ action plan will be produced; this will detail what was discussed and observed and will set out how to tackle the problem behaviour. A copy of the report (or a summary of it) will also be sent to your Veterinary Surgeon. The follow-up session will be an opportunity to review everything and start to put in place some practical steps with our expert guidance so that you know exactly how to implement the strategies suggested. Each package includes some additional support after the consultation session. The exact format of this depends on the package that you have chosen. If you are not sure, just ask.
Will you work with any dog and any problem?
We are generally happy to work with any breed or size of dog across a wide range of behavioural issues. However, there are occasionally some cases which we may choose not to take on for a variety of reasons. On the rare occasions that this is the case, we will endeavour to suggest an alternative suitably qualified and experienced professional who may be able to help you.
Can you guarantee that you can solve the problem?
Quite simply, no. Nobody can guarantee anything when it comes to a dog's behaviour because they are not machines that we can simply re-programme. For that reason, you should be very wary of anyone who guarantees anything of the sort! The successful outcome of the situation depends on a number of factors: our assessment of the situation and advice, your own involvement and active participation in the process and your dog's response. What we can guarantee you is that we will use our skill and expertise to determine the issues and develop a personalised plan based on sound, scientific understanding, using ethical and kind strategies to help you to achieve the outcome that you want. We also guarantee to provide follow-up support in line with the package that you have chosen. We are usually able to offer additional follow-up support as an optional extra.
WILL THE COST BE COVERED BY MY PET INSURANCE?
This is entirely dependent on your insurer and your policy. As a Certified Behaviourist with INTODogs and ICAN, Gretta is an approved behaviourist for insurers including Liverpool Victoria (LV), John Lewis, Argos, M&S, More Than and RSPCA. Sometimes other insurers will pay for our services on vet referral but you must check this with your insurer first if you plan to make a claim. We usually only accept payment in advance directly from a client but are happy to provide you with an invoice with which to claim the money back from your insurer).
In every event, you must ensure that your insurer will cover working with us before engaging our services if you are relying on them to reimburse you. If you want to arrange for your insurance company to pay us directly, we require written confirmation from your insurer (in the form of an insurance claim pre-authorisation on which we are named) before the consultation.
What if i have more than one dog?
If you only need to discuss issues with one of your dogs, there is no extra cost, regardless of how many dogs you have. However, if the problem you need help with specifically involves the relationships between your dogs please choose the 'household dog conflict' option. If your dogs have separate issues that you would like help with, please contact us and we will put together a bespoke package to minimise the cost for you, rather than you having to buy separate packages for each dog. Please just get in touch with us (with no obligation) to discuss your individual case and we can advise you of the costs and options for you.
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE I NEED TO KNOW?
When you book a Behaviour Consultation with A Different Dog, you are agreeing to our Terms and Conditions which are available to view at the booking/ registration stage. If you wish to have a copy sent to you, please get in touch and we will happily do this. If you have any questions, just ask.
Terms + Conditions
MA (Hons), Post Graduate - Clinical Animal Behaviour (Royal School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh), GDipABM (Distinction), ADipCBM (Distinction), Registered Accredited Animal Behaviourist and Animal Training Instructor (ABTC), Certified Member of the International Association of Animal Behaviour Consultants (IAABC), Certified Canine Behaviourist and Trainer (INTO Dogs, ICAN), Victoria Stilwell Positively Dog Trainer (VSPDT), Association of Pet Dog Trainers (MAPDT - 01318), Certified Dog Trainer (INTO Dogs), Member of the Pet Professional Guild (PPG)