Los Angeles area experts discuss dog training

What services do you offer?

Penny Whisler: "We offer cat and dog boarding, weekend group training, on-leash and off-leash training, day care, grooming, birthday parties for the animals and pet souvenir pictures."

Julie Sterling: "I create well-mannered household pets. I offer beginning and advanced in-home private training, group classes and a boot camp program. I do mostly in-home private training."

Caryl Wolff: "Dog training, dog behavior modification and boarding. I'm currently training an assistant dog for an autistic child."

Why should people hire an animal trainer?

Penny Whisler: "People don't want unruly dogs in their home, chewing up furniture and ruling the house."

Julie Sterling: "They can learn how to manage their dog so when it grows up, the dog is a well-behaved, pleasant family member."

Caryl Wolff: "Most dogs don't know how to be dogs in a human world. People have difficulty bridging the gap to communicate with their dog."

What methods of training do you use?

Penny Whisler: "Rewarding the dog with love and praise. We don't do treat training."

Julie Sterling: "Clicker training. It's a method that relies primarily on positive reinforcement and not physical dominance."

Caryl Wolff: "I use positive reinforcement with treats, praise, petting - whatever works."

Do you train both the pet and owner?

Penny Whisler: "Yes, we train the pet first and then the owner so they can keep it up at home."

Julie Sterling: "Yes, you have to. I can put a lot of training into the dog, but I then have to instruct the owners."

Caryl Wolff: "I train mostly the owner - the dog's the easy part. Owners have baggage while dogs get stuff right away."

How do you charge, and what is the cost?

Penny Whisler "Group classes are $300 for eight Saturday sessions. It's $2,200 for 22 days of individual training."

Julie Sterling: "I do a package of six private lessons for $800. Group classes are $200 per dog and we meet six times over six weeks, while the boot camp classes are $1,500 per month."

Caryl Wolff: "I offer five lessons starting at $595. I have a combination of one private session and four puppy classes for $295 or one private session and five obedience classes for $325."

Can you teach an old pet new tricks?

Penny Whisler: "Yes."

Julie Sterling: "Yes, you can motivate behavior at any age."

Caryl Wolff: "If you can learn something new every day, so can your dog."


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