Ep #13 (transcript): How to Find a Good Trainer, Program or Puppy Class for Your Doodle

This episode is great for doodle puppy parents and parents of adult and teenage doodles alike. The advice on selecting a quality, science-based program or trainer is helpful to all doodle parents at every stage!

Have you heard you should join a puppy class or that they need socialization, but don't know what that means, when you should start, or how to tell if it's a good one? This interview with top training facility Denver Paw School‘s Kathy Thorpe and Colleen Tekamp helps you learn what happens in puppy class, is puppy training class necessary, how long it takes, and the best time to start puppy socialization.

“You have to balance the safety of your puppy with the development of their personality and their ability to take on what they will be exposed to throughout their entire life.”

– Kathy Thorpe, Owner of Denver Paw School

Questions answered include:
– What is puppy kindergarten?
– What do good puppy classes cover?
– When should puppy training start?
– Where to train puppies?
– How to approach puppy training at 8 weeks old?
– The best age to start puppy kindergarten?
– Is puppy training worth it?
– Is starting training at 4 or 6 months too late?

“We absolutely do not follow the same old school child rearing because we've grown so much as a culture. And the same holds true for dog training.”

– Kathy Thorpe, Owner of Denver Paw School

Don't take your chances with any trainer or facility in the neighborhood and risk damage that might take years or a lifetime to undo. Feel confident about your choice and your commitment to your puppy's development. 

“Even 20, 30 years ago, they were really just in the backyard or, in the neighborhood or maybe got to ride in the car to take the kids to school. But now your dog is almost a fixture everywhere you're going and traveling… So we have to add that extra time to really give them a solid foundation of being calm and okay and happy in that variety and that socialization window is just your best opportunity to do it.”

– Colleen Tekamp, Training Manager for Denver Paw School

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Read Transcript:


Corinne Gearhart- The Doodle Pro™: This is one of the first topics I wanted to cover on the Doodle Pro Podcast because in my work every day with doodles, I am seeing the difference between dogs who have had purposeful, positive, systemic experiences to different people, different dogs, different settings, different textures, different sounds. one of the best ways to do Positive, purposeful socialization. in the beginning is a class. It is really hard to identify appropriate other dogs for your puppy to play with and to be able to read yourself Does your dog feel safe? Are other dogs bullying? Is your dog being the bully? What behaviors are being practiced and when they're in this sponge space, what is happening? What are they taking away that will last? Sometimes a lifetime, or you could be spending their lifetime trying to unravel and recondition them.

A lot of us have gotten our doodles and have heard from a neighbor, a breeder, or even a vet Don't let them get exposed to other dogs or places until they've had all of their shots. Whoa. That's really scary. This is our new puppy and our new family member. We have literally invested so much financially and of our heart into this dog, and to hear that by socializing them and bringing them around and letting them around other dogs might put their health at risk is really scary. But, new guidance from the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior has been released, and they believe firmly that it should be the standard of care for puppies to receive early, frequent and positive socialization. Your dog is more at risk of euthanasia from behavior problems than contracting a deadly disease before they're vaccinated.

I am sorry to be a downer. It's really, really, really important. If we're not going to the worst-case scenario of how it could be deadly for your dog, let's back up and think about if you'd have confident, happy, flexible dog versus a dog that is scared, timid, hiding behind your leg, and possibly biting out of fear, Which would you pick? When you bring home your new puppy it is such a rich opportunity for them to get positive first interactions. 

This interview with our two guests from Denver's Paw School Training program had so much rich guidance to share with us for doodle parents all over the world that I couldn't just put it in one episode. Their interview is going to be divided into two.

The first episode today is going to discuss how do you identify a quality program facility trainer for you to work with your doodle, and what are the red flags that should tell you step away find another.

We're going to discuss why they take certain approaches with puppy socialization and what are the key ways that they keep your puppy safe so that you could feel at ease with your doodles, health and wellbeing while they're still getting vaccinated. Why playing for 50 minutes straight can actually be unhealthy for your puppy.

We'll discuss these and much more in today's episode. Then in part two, we're going to address dogs of all ages, what sort of training do they continue needing? Why adolescents can be so difficult, and why do people say after they've really nailed some behaviors with their dog, “It seems like they just suddenly forgot everything,” and what you should do about it.

We're going to address dogs of all ages in episode two. So here in episode one, you're going to hear what you need to look for in a facility for your puppy, adolescent or adult doodle when you're trying to do training and discuss more detailed puppy socialization classes and training classes.

And then in part two, we're going to dive deeper into those adolescent and adult dog needs. This is going to be a great episode that can help parents of doodles of all ages. Let's get started. I am thrilled to welcome today Kathy, the owner of Denver's Paw School training facility and their training manager, Colleen. We are going to be discussing how you find the right training facility, program or trainer for your doodle. There are a lot of people that just refer to who their neighbors said they went to, or they see a happy adult dog and ask, What did you do?

But there are better ways to find if this is a good fit for your puppy or your adult dog.

I love Denver Paw School. It's where I send my clients and family members to take their dogs and where I've taken my own puppy, Nestle, even though I'm a trainer, it's really important that my dog got to know dogs of all sizes, shapes, styles, and not just doodles that I get to work with every day.

If he sees a boxer on a walk, he's gotta feel good about it.

And I used Denver Paw School to do it and saw the firsthand quality program, so I wanted to bring them to you. So no matter where in the world you are, we could discuss how you two can identify a quality program and what the red flags are to run. I'm so excited for people outside of Denver to be able to find a facility like them as well .

Kathy Thorpe- Owner of Denver Paw School: Kathy, can you tell us a little bit about Denver Paw School? We opened in 2012 . Our business focuses entirely on dog training and our facility is very open and welcoming.

It's more of a retail setting than a warehouse type setting. But our specialties, I like to think of them as three silos of specialties. We have puppy-focused classes, we have obedience-focused classes. Obviously there's some overlap, and then we also do agility. And the agility that we offer is what I would term as recreational.

So it's really for your average dog, it is not competitive. But really what we're offering is the training that an average dog owner would need for every stage of your life with your dog. 

Corinne Gearhart- The Doodle Pro™: Colleen, can you tell us a little bit about your background? 

Colleen Tekamp, CPDT-KA- Denver Paw School's Training Manager: Yeah, absolutely. I joined Denver Paw School I believe in 2015. Prior to that I had done some educational materials, video materials, particularly with, horses instead of dogs.

But I've always been around dogs as well. Actually my current dog who I rescued from Pagosa Springs needed just a little bit more than I would say your typical, family dog. So I got into training and thankfully got into some great online education with Karen Pryor Academy, came to the school myself as a student and then saw a job, opportunity, started working, got into a training role, and just have kind of continued to go and really love working with people and their dogs and trying to help, wherever I can. Wonderful. 

Corinne Gearhart- The Doodle Pro™: For people all over the world, we have listeners in Australia and Belgium, and Canada that are not able to access your facility here in Denver. If someone, say, has a new puppy and they know that they should be doing a puppy school but don't know really what that means, they might have seen a flyer in their, version of PetSmart or Petco or something.

What advice would you give to those new pet parents on how do I identify a good program? 

Colleen Tekamp, CPDT-KA- Denver Paw School's Training Manager: I think.. Working with somebody that's very open and welcoming is really important. Those first initial interactions are going to set the tone for your training relationship with them. And you may be with them for several, years depending on what your goals are.

I also try to always look for individuals that are very transparent with what's going to happen in the class and what they're going to do in terms of if your puppy's doing something right, what's gonna be the consequence? How are we gonna tell them that they're doing a good job? And then almost equally as important, or sometimes even more important, what are we gonna do if the puppy's not understanding what we're wanting?

Are we going to rearrange the environment, break it down a little bit more for them? How are we gonna make it so they can be successful? And so I really like to be clear and have clients be looking for somebody who's clear and open with those answers and giving you a response that you can actually understand as well.

If it seems a little bit like I don't exactly know what's gonna happen, then I would keep on asking questions until you get a straightforward answer, cuz it shouldn't be smoke and mirrors or confusing. It should be pretty transparent what's gonna happen in the class. 

Kathy Thorpe- Owner of Denver Paw School: So if I can piggyback on that if you think of somebody considering training for their dog.

They're going first and foremost probably search the internet, like you said, talk to their neighbor. Or friends that have dogs that have gone through classes. Certainly we're all gonna look at reviews online. That's all important, to do. Look at a facility's website and glean what their technique is.

But to Colleen's point, and just to add on that, it is important to have a conversation because you want to get a little bit into the weeds to understand what their true technique is. Not only how do we train behaviors, but what do we do with the naughty things, right? Yeah. How are we going to fix things that we don't like right now. And if you ask those types of questions, you should, to Colleen's point, get a direct answer. if it's a little wishy washy, ask more questions. Just to make sure that you are comfortable with the technique that's being used. 

Corinne Gearhart- The Doodle Pro™: I agree completely, Kathy. And, when we're talking about finding a skilled science-based trainer or program, one of the reasons we're doing so is because that's where modern science lies.

So if you were to look at the latest guidance from the veterinarian associations, they have said very clearly that positive reinforcement and science based practices are their recommendations for all kinds of dogs. That there's not a breed that quote needs a heavier hand. So Kathy and Colleen, you brought up a great point.

That is how I try to find a red flag with a program, is by asking, what do you do when the dog doesn't do as we ask? And if you're not getting a straight answer, That really gives what the method is of we're going to change the criteria, we're going to see what are they struggling with, et cetera, maybe split it and break it down… versus ” it depends. I don't start with a prong, but if I need to go to a prong…” so if a trainer says I start positive and then we move into using other tools as needed, ask, what are those tools? And then you need to do a check with yourself as to does that match the sort of pet parenting philosophy that I think is best with my doodle.

Kathy Thorpe- Owner of Denver Paw School: And I think just to, again, add on to all of that if we're talking about positive reinforcement and that type of methodology where we are teaching and rewarding the behaviors we want to be repeated you do have to ask the questions because there are buzzwords in dog training the same way there are buzz words in any other industry.

Yeah. So if you've done the research and you've decided, I really want this to be a positive experience for my dog and for me as we go through this training process Just hearing the word positive reinforcement is not enough. Because you will find trainers that are using what I categorize as old-school techniques.

But they still use the word positive and they will deliver a treat. Yeah. To dig a little deeper just as an anecdote, I had an old friend reach out to me. They got a new puppy. They were sending it off to a board and train, which we don't do, but she wanted my advice and she was like, I feel comfortable.

She seemed so sweet. It looks like she uses positive reinforcement. And I looked at her website and within about two minutes I realized she used shock collar training. I don't wanna. Bring anybody else down because anybody in dog training, I promise, regardless of technique, loves dogs and cares about what they're doing.

Yes. So I don't wanna poo somebody. I just feel like we might wanna make better choices in how we're going to hand off our puppy for a couple of weeks. We wanna know exactly what's gonna happen. 

Corinne Gearhart- The Doodle Pro™: And we're completely on the same page. We have listeners who come from all backgrounds, who have used all different sorts of methods and one thing I loved about your program was there was never judging or shaming when somebody came in. It was, let me show you this other way. It's nice to be able to go to a program where You don't have to fix what damage could have been done. If you feel like you are going to a training class and your gut says, Ooh, this doesn't feel right.

Or like they're saying that my emotion is why my dog is doing this or that I'm not being a strong enough leader or something, and this just doesn't feel right. My dog seems scared to go in. I know you made an investment, but you don't have to walk in that door ever again. There are other options.

Colleen Tekamp, CPDT-KA- Denver Paw School's Training Manager: Very true. Yep. And that, that feeling that you are referencing, I think is really valid. I would say with most people that I've met with, whether it's just like an introductory consultation or in a class or a private session. They often will talk about different methods. They said that I could do this, but it just never sat well with me.

But I thought it was okay. So, trusting that person who is in that position of authority and really knowing what their background is and where their ethics and what they're gonna bring to the table and where their knowledge base is, super important. But that, feeling has come up time and again, and I would definitely say trust that gut response.

Corinne Gearhart- The Doodle Pro™: Totally. And some people worry, I'm not being a good dog owner, good dog parent if I don't do the hard things. And I can say from my experience as a trainer and working with doodles that using positive reinforcement and science-based methods isn't being permissive. You're not allowing, or just turning the other way when there's behaviors that you don't find acceptable in your home or with your dog. 

It's just showing them what you want them to do instead of punishing only what you want them to stop. Yes. 

Kathy Thorpe- Owner of Denver Paw School: It takes a little bit more work. Yes, we are thoughtful of what the cause is or what the trigger is for behaviors and we have to check through that. And it does take some planning, preparation and repetition, right?

Yes. Often, depending on who I'm speaking with, I will say we do not raise children the same way we did 50 years ago. We absolutely do not follow the same old school child rearing because we've grown so much as a culture. And the same holds true for dog training. Another key word is you are an advocate for your family member here.

Yes. So yes. Going way back to that gut feeling, that's a really important part of the puzzle. 

Corinne Gearhart- The Doodle Pro™: Yes, you are who knows your puppy and dog the most and who has the strongest connection with them. So I do trust your gut and your connection with them. 

 I want to talk with you about puppies in particular. So a lot of doodles are brought home as puppies. Some are rescue, but not as much. So people are starting with their eight-ish week old puppy. They are also spending two to $4,000 on this puppy. It is a true investment both financially and of their heart with this new member of their family.

And a lot of times, breeders are telling them, Do not expose them to other dogs or bring them elsewhere outside of your home or your own backyard until they're 16 weeks old. I know the vet organizations have said that behavior problems are more dangerous to a dog than the risk of parvo or whatever issues that someone's thinking of.

But when you have someone come to you and say, I know I need to socialize my dog, and this early window is the most crucial time to start, and I'm scared that they don't have their full set of vaccinations at 16 weeks, how do I negotiate this conflict?

Kathy Thorpe- Owner of Denver Paw School: Yes, you have to balance the safety of your puppy with the development of their personality and their ability to take on what they will be exposed to throughout their entire life. And as you mentioned, the Veterinarian Behavioral Society has said it is more important to get your dog some of that baseline exposure even while they're still going through their vaccine protocol.

Now, that doesn't mean it's a free-for all right? Nobody worth their weight is going to recommend taking your little, itty bitty puppy to a, dog park, right? Or even just a, big well-traveled park, right? You wanna be where they put their pause. Now, when you're thinking about a socialization class you have to think about what that facility looks like.

What kinds of safety protocols they have in place. Yes. Before you take your dog there, right? If you've decided it's worth exposing your puppy to other dogs and other people and, the world you have to find a facility that takes those safety precautions and that means cleaning and making sure that they use the proper types of cleaning agents, similar to a veterinarian. Yes. Where you're walking in, where a lot of other dogs are going. So you just ask those questions. 

Corinne Gearhart- The Doodle Pro™: When we're talking about the standards. The things I looked for and was impressed with, you guys are the rigorous requirements of submitting the vaccination records. And if I forgot to send in my next one, I couldn't come to the next class until I had sent in that shot record, which made me feel at ease knowing that the other dogs were doing the same.

And then we were all on schedule and all of the puppy socialization classes were the first in the day. So I knew that the sterilization and the sanitation had been done and we weren't following another pack of older dogs that had other things going on. So those were things that I identified.

Kathy, is there another way if somebody doesn't know what the formula of the cleaning is, there another way that if somebody's evaluating. A program or facility that they could identify?

Kathy Thorpe- Owner of Denver Paw School: So you wanna look at the facility itself. Does it look like a clean place?

Does it look like it's regularly clean in general, puppy or not? And then you wanna ask the question before the puppies come in for their specific class. Is it cleaned again? So you had mentioned the classes you attended were first thing in the morning, and we do schedule it that way on purpose. Yeah.

But we also have midday puppy classes. And what that means is we stop teaching for an hour ahead of time and we clean again. Yeah. And then the third thing is what are the vaccination requirements for older dogs? And all of our dogs coming in regardless of age once they're past that puppy period, they have to be vaccinated now.

We do the extra step of cleaning because you don't know what's getting tracked in. But at the same time, you know that the dogs that are coming to the facility, regardless of age, have been vaccinated.

Corinne Gearhart- The Doodle Pro™: Yes. And that's different than going to Home Depot or Petco or the neighborhood park. That really is the next level of care.

 Colleen, can we talk about the training benefits of starting really early with your new puppy. Yeah. 

Colleen Tekamp, CPDT-KA- Denver Paw School's Training Manager: It's mainly where they're mentally at. They are definitely in sponge period. So they're very I guess open to new experiences and we're obviously trying to capitalize on positive experiences and they're really developing reference points in terms of social context.

Like what do people outside my family mean? Is that a safe situation or an unsafe situation? They're also developing reference points for other animals, whether that be a dog or a cat, or if you have chickens on your property, depending on where you're at in Colorado and how do they, And in that socialization window, you're trying to create the expectation that those things are safe situations or situations that they should be neutral to or enjoy being around.

And then outside of that, you have to look at how much of the human world is pretty novel and. Not necessarily like dog friendly. Yeah, we have dog friendly stores and stuff like that, but in terms of what a dog is, all the sounds and the smells and the sensory overload can be quite a bit, so using that sponge period when they're primed to take all that information in and figure out how it relates to them is really important because this is an animal that you're gonna be spending 10, 15, maybe even more years with, and you wanna set them up for being really successful in any human environment that you would take them to, which I think that also puts a heavier weight on socialization because now we're taking our dogs more and more places. Yes. And so even 20, 30 years ago, they were really just in the backyard or, in the neighborhood or maybe got to ride in the car to take the kids to school. But now your dog is almost a fixture every, everywhere you're going and traveling.

And so that kind of notches up the expectation of them being able to handle just all the variety again, and so many environments that they just don't have any reference points, like from their own dogness. So we have to add that extra time to really give them a solid foundation of being calm and okay and happy in that variety and that socialization window is just your, best opportunity to do it.

 If you put in work in that window, then you're gonna get huge payoffs. Whereas if you don't do anything in that, then you're gonna be taking more time to create that behavioral soundness if you're trying to accomplish that as an adult.

And sometimes I also think of it as a spectrum. They come to you with a certain, breadth of sociability and reactivity or neutrality and your socialization windows. Just trying to, and hopefully your socialization efforts are just trying to get that to the ultimate potential.

Yes. And that's always gonna be the easiest time space to do it. 

Corinne Gearhart- The Doodle Pro™: And genetics do matter. You're talking about how they're coming to you. There are breeds and breed mixes that go into doodles that are more suspicious and more discerning. They might have been bred to be more protective, which means that they're warier and can run even a little bit more anxious.

If, their nature is already that they're suspicious. Yeah. You want to make as much safe as possible to them, would you say? 

Colleen Tekamp, CPDT-KA- Denver Paw School's Training Manager: Absolutely. And I wanna make a note that if, we potentially have those tendencies from what you know about the breed it's, not that you always need to do more it's, that you need to say, Okay, this is a potential, like starting point.

And if I need him to be here, then I have to put in that amount of work, but the quality exposures are definitely going to be more important than just getting the volume of exposures. Yes. So knowing enough about body language-wise, when your puppy is comfortable or when they're feeling anxious or when they're feeling overwhelmed, is super important as you're taking them into those situations.

Because you can meet a hundred people, but your dog may be hiding behind your legs the entire time, and that's probably not going to socialize them to the thing that you actually want. That may actually set a precedent that people are scary and don't respect any type of boundaries, and I need to now step up and speak up because my human didn't handle the situation.

So knowing your puppy and knowing what they're coming to you with is, key and also knowing that it's not just about turning on the fire hose and more is not better in this scenario. 

Corinne Gearhart- The Doodle Pro™: I think that's brilliant. Something that you can identify in a good program that I remember seeing you guys do, is by creating the space and adding partitions and not just, as you said, throwing on the fire hose or just throwing 'em in the deep end and saying, Go play.

They'll figure it out. So when you hear of somebody being told, let them figure it out. What are your thoughts on that?

Colleen Tekamp, CPDT-KA- Denver Paw School's Training Manager: Especially if you're trying to take that small window where they're so susceptible to good and bad it's not Oh, I'm only absorbing the positive experiences and all the negative ones are gonna go away. know, I just get a little bit like EEE! I I hope that goes, well for you, but we do have a shorter window, so being super mindful about what's happening is, paramount. And not that any single bad experience is going to completely set them up to have a horrible life with you. You're just trying to be as cognizant as you possibly can and not and, always stack the deck in your favor. So just letting them work it out is not stacking the deck in your favor and could, yield a role of the dice in terms of what you get socialization-wise.

Kathy Thorpe- Owner of Denver Paw School: Yeah. And, that phrase let them figure it out. I would throw that in the category of a little bit of old school. And remember how I was saying the methodologies that we use nowadays do take more work and you have to think about what you ultimately wanna accomplish.

So if you're seeing a situation where the response is let them work it out, chances are it's probably not a good situation. So the idea is, Let's take a break. let's assess what's happening here and let's come up with a different plan of attack to tackle or overcome this burden. Leaving a little munchkin with an older dog that's so irritated yes, they're not gonna teach the little munchkin like the rules of the road. Let's, do right by both of them and come at this from a different angle. 

Corinne Gearhart- The Doodle Pro™: Yeah. And Kathy, that's an excellent point that you raise of doing right by both of them.

So when people introduce a new puppy into their family and they have an older dog, or they've got a good friend that has an adult dog and they're like, Oh, great, that'll check my box on socialization. Let's go over and have them play together, the play styles and the tolerance between a puppy and an older dog.

Would one of you mind kind of sharing more to our listeners about that? 

Colleen Tekamp, CPDT-KA- Denver Paw School's Training Manager: With your adult dog. It definitely depends on where they're at. So I would say probably like a two to five-year-old is most likely still gonna be fairly playful and happy to hang out with your puppy within reason.

for, actually both dogs you don't want them playing just all the time because then you can set almost like too much of a hyperarousal standard where they can't even calm down or be just hanging out next to each other. You always wanna give that older dog space to leave, cuz those puppy teeth are extremely sharp as anybody who has a puppy and tries to play with their own puppy knows.

Yes. But the, older dogs like who I would label more senior. I think 

those are, 

I would tend to really manage the interactions between a teenage puppy, like so five months, six months, seven months, eight months. And a senior dog because the teenager really struggles with social boundaries.

And the older senior dog may have arthritis or physical, like pain issues where a jump on the back of the teenage dog is really gonna elicit potentially an overcorrection from the senior dog just because they're more ouchie. But those senior dogs can be great in terms of giving any age puppy a, dog model and a dog relationship that isn't always playtime.

Which is, I think another missed part of socialization is you're trying to get them used to What the expectations would be in real life. And even as a child, Yeah, you have your playgrounds and your recess time and your sports and your physical exercise, but there's a lot of time where you're sitting with the adults at the adult table and you're not playing on your phone or your game boy or whatever, electronic as popular.

Right Now, I don't have children, 

Corinne Gearhart- The Doodle Pro™: but you see us at restaurants, I can tell 

Colleen Tekamp, CPDT-KA- Denver Paw School's Training Manager: Yes, I see you at restaurants. And, so that learning piece can be really helpful between a younger dog and a senior dog who, again, is supported by the people in the scenario and managed appropriately. So there's not like too much physical stuff.

Now if your senior dog's feeling great, then you know, wants to ramp around for a little bit, awesome. But they're, probably gonna fizzle out a lot sooner than your puppy would, and we need to help meet the needs of both of them in that scenario. 

Corinne Gearhart- The Doodle Pro™: And I strongly agree that you're advocating for not only the puppy's needs but the adult dogs'.

And so for a while that could mean that they're not playing together at all. If that is not what is welcomed by your adult dog. They didn't ask for this puppy, and it is not their responsibility to constantly be correcting them and putting them in their place. Kathy, did you wanna add to that?

Kathy Thorpe- Owner of Denver Paw School: Yeah, I wanted to bring the whole topic back around to classes or training for socialization and that whole idea of let the dogs work it out, even puppy to puppy. When you're looking for a good socialization program you want to make sure that those playgroup are monitored heavily.

So that doesn't mean a swarm of trainers coming in to handle all the puppies. It just means that we're talking about play styles. What's good, what's bad? When we're gonna take a break, when we're gonna go back at it. And then talking about some of those puppies that are a little bit more timid.

We got this VIP section where again, instead of taking your puppy and plopping them in the deep end, right? They can have this safe place where they can be exposed and learn that they're safe and watch what's going on, see the world. And what we see is over the weeks, those puppies will start to venture off into the group.

Yes. Before they have a free space a, safe space in the back. Now, just saying let the puppies work it out, is just a little bit that would probably be a good question. Yeah. When previewing a socialization class, and if you hear a phrase like that, probably not the right group for you. 

Corinne Gearhart- The Doodle Pro™: If there's a big brown dog that has pinned your puppy and that's their first experience with big brown dogs.

That can be a lifetime generalization from there on if it's been a big experience. So just like Colleen says, they're not just a sponge soaking up those positive, wonderful, happy moments and letting the harder times roll off their back. I loved watching your skilled trainers really watch carefully the body language and they had like X pen set up and there would be different zones for the higher energy, more rambunctious

kind of really matching the play as opposed to putting like the JV kids on the varsity team and, one of 'em being really overwhelmed and never wanting to play that sport again. Yeah. And then giving those VIP sections of, on the other side of the X pen, where the puppy that is more tentative is rewarded for just looking at it, is rewarded for showing interest, but also it's just fine if they wanna retreat and get their space and just watch and feel safe.

And I loved that you guys also kept arousal at a good level. So if it's an hour class and the dogs are playing an hour straight? 

Colleen Tekamp, CPDT-KA- Denver Paw School's Training Manager: Yeah that's, sometimes a request, but just not, gonna pan out very well. Just cuz they're gonna, usually that body language that we see the, social skills start to get like corr and courser.

The longer they go without any breaks, and again, depending on where they're at. The older play group, the Kinder Pup two, which is four months to seven months, they don't know how to regulate themselves yet. They don't know that this is becoming too much. They're just having fun on all those adrenaline and feel-good chemicals coursing through their body.

So yeah, segmenting quite often. And that also teaches that when you interrupt them in the middle of something fun, they're gonna get something good and then they're gonna go right back to play. So you showing up is not the end of all type of fun, which can be super helpful and actually maintaining like a safety recall and stuff like that.

Yes. But and then once you finally do need to take the break, Let them simmer down. We often try to pull out shuffle mats or do food scatters or things that actually like, help them regulate and soothe themselves and calm 'em down. So that can be another like functional thing that you can use at home.

But 50 minutes of just straight-out play is going to turn into more of the mosh pit potential style. Yes. And, not like the social repertoire that you would want to be brought into the next social situation and the next social situation. So we're doing that as a way to also maintain like better social skills and not just be like a hundred miles an hour the whole time.


Kathy Thorpe- Owner of Denver Paw School: And if I may, a little bit of a segway there. Yes. Your listeners are all over and when you are interviewing or researching different socialization programs, it is more than just play. So we've talked about this, right? Exposing our puppies to the world in general. But the way our program works, it'll never be just 50 minutes of play.

Not only to manage that arousal but because there's so much more to talk about. And we have been in business for 11 years and I would say that Colleen has taken our program and blown it up into this super awesome.

I agree. So maybe Colleen, sorry. 

Colleen Tekamp, CPDT-KA- Denver Paw School's Training Manager: And that's just because of everybody. I The amount of people that have good information out there now I wouldn't the I, ABC and Pet Professional Guild and KPA and ADPT and all the acronyms that I can blender through, have such good information and so many trainers sharing things. 

Kathy Thorpe- Owner of Denver Paw School: I would say maybe for your listeners, it would be good for Colleen to talk about some of those other types of socializing that we expose our clients to in that socializing class, right?

Yes. So it's not just play, but there are different pieces of content that we want to teach our dog owners about so that they can go off and continue the process with their dogs in a knowledgeable way. 

Colleen Tekamp, CPDT-KA- Denver Paw School's Training Manager: Yeah we have segments that focus on trying to build confidence around sounds all year round.

Whether they're a couple months away from the 4th of July or thunderstorms or not, we know that's gonna be a,situation or a event that they need to be used to. And sound sensitivity Can be very challenging to live with. So whenever you can stack the deck in your favor again and, buffer against any of those sensitivities, that's super important.

We also focus on things like textures, things like body coordination. Being able to go up to an obstacle or a little disc or a little wobble board that you know is gonna move is gonna be a little scary but generally something that they can be like, Oh, I can handle this. And so even just that mentality of, I don't know what this is, but my humans here supporting me, giving me encouraging praise and oh, I get a yummy cookie after I check it out.

Yes, you're not forcing me to do anything that can really foster the mindset that you want and potentially the optimism or outlook Yes. Of a dog that can handle all of that novelty. We, of course, do a section on people where they get to meet every single person. We are spending quite a bit of time on handling since vet and grooming , especially with our doodles.

Yes. . I've actually had to spend a good bit of time learning all the needs and grooming frequency that doodles need. And I'm trying to prep whenever I see a doodle parent like this is probably gonna be what they need. Yes. Cause it's, a lot. And that's Doodle grooming requirements aside, veterinary care is every single dog all the time for their entire life, So there's no need for those routine visits to be a challenge for them, or fear inducing event for them. So how can we help them feel comfortable with restraint and the weird equipment and the little pokes and the little body areas that we press? So try to give it, like Kathy said, more than just playing with other dogs.

That's always gonna be a piece, but giving them that set up for what their life is gonna look like is what we're trying to accomplish. 

Corinne Gearhart- The Doodle Pro™: Yeah. You don't want their first exposure to some of that handling to be when they're sick or in pain out of it. Or in the chaotic environment of a grooming salon where there are dryers and other dogs and I love how you guys are really intentional about that.

 I know that you guys divide your socialization and your puppy classes by particular ages. Can you share with our listeners what your strategy is in doing so? 

Kathy Thorpe- Owner of Denver Paw School: The way we have organized our program is by what we call levels. And for socialization in particular, we have two different levels and they are split based on age ranges.

And that is because an 8 to 16 week puppy is very different than a puppy from four to seven months. And those are our age ranges for our classes. So with our itty bitty guys, we were just talking about dogs that maybe are a little more on the timid side of the scale. We don't want a steam roller five month old lab coming in and who's absolutely overpowering this little itty bitty guy.

And yeah, we want to manage those experiences again so that we have as much positive and supporting experiences as possible. So we split them based on age because they are developing differently now. Kinder Pup, which is what we call our socialization class for that four to seven month period when we're get we're getting into that adolescent range and we still want to give them opportunities to learn how to interact in a positive way.

It's not, The sponge period closes and 

Corinne Gearhart- The Doodle Pro™: whoop, that's it. 

Kathy Thorpe- Owner of Denver Paw School: That's not it. We wanna continue that process either through that eight to 16 weeks and beyond, or if we're just meeting a client and they have a five month old puppy, by all means, once we've met that puppy and we understand what their temperament is, we can get them into that socialization opportunity and give them some exposure.

Again the, window isn't closed, right? Yes. But we want to continue in the same format that we've already discussed here

Insert teaser into second episode here

Corinne Gearhart- The Doodle Pro™: If you're in the Denver metro area, I cannot recommend Paw School highly enough. If they were to want to find you, Kathy, where could people in the Denver metro area reach out or follow you?

Kathy Thorpe- Owner of Denver Paw School: Our website is denver paw school.com and our location that we've been in since 2012 is fairly central Denver. It's off of I 25 and Broadway. But we are going to also be opening a second location on the south metro side of town near you in Greenwood Village. That will be opening probably first, second week of November, 2022.

Corinne Gearhart- The Doodle Pro™: Thank you so much 

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have a pawsome day!


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corinne the doodle pro

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I’m Corinne, The Doodle Pro™


That’s why I, The Doodle Pro™, do things differently.

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