Private Lessons & Behavior Consultations

Sometimes a pet and their person (or people) may need a little extra help for class exercises or for issues that may surface or develop. This does not mean that a trainer has failed, nor the pet is not 'good'. It simply happens, as we all know, life is a constant state of change. If a training problem has developed, a private lesson is usually recommended. A simple training problem may usually be handled with a short visit and follow up training practice sessions. If issues of a more serious nature are happening, a behavior consultation offers a more indepth approach. A drive profile is done to help ensure progress along with a longer term handling program depending on each situation. Follow up visits may or may not be recommended depending on the issue(s) and if a pet is currently in a class.

In past years, the behavior part of my busines became overwhelming and rather than go through another burn out, I must recognize my limits. Thus, unless I am approached with an extreme case, private lessons are only available for clients with pets that are or have been in my program. Those that have experienced training with me through the Puppy and Obedience & Manners - Level One and Two classes are the people that truly give their pet a great foundation for life in the real world. Monitoring a pet as it develops to ensure proper handling and manners happen takes time and dedication. Trainers learn much about their pets and how to read and respond to situations that the future may present.

Trainers choosing to only do the Puppy class or those that do not continue past Obedience & Manners - Level One simply do not give their pets a good foundation. I recognize that some may have missed the opportunity to do the Puppy class for various reasons (the pet was too old when acquired or a trainer was unaware that Puppy class was available). Starting the pet in the O&M classes without the Puppy class may still give much if completed and the trainer follows instruction. Giving a pet too much responsibility without a good foundation is not recommended as a pet can be presented with situations it simply does not know how to handle!

Believing in the basics that Obedience and Manners Levels One and Two (without a break) give to both the trainer and the pet, I strongly urge trainers to complete this part of the program before considering their dog trained and ready to accept challenges that it may encounter. O&M Two helps pets to deal with distractions and choices that the real world may present to them. In addition to the pet facing challenges, the trainer learns how to recognize signals that their pet may be displaying when stressed and teaches the trainer how to approach situations that may be encountered to help the pet learn to accept and be comfortable in various settings. As everything melds, this learning certainly helps with encounters outside of class. If I did not believe in the program, I would not have devoted decades to teaching it!

Trainers that have acquired an older pet either by choice or by chance are sometimes given more of a challenge if the pet had experiences that have developed into problems. Much patience is required, as learning the pet's responses may take time. Learning how to interact with a newer pet may also present some challenges, again - patience is required. All pets (like people!) may have their own quirks as well - we all do the best we can. Enhancing our understanding and applying same can help an issue from getting worse and certainly is worth the effort!

As trainers that have worked with me know, the handling in my program is rather unique. For that reason, I do not endorse pet sitters that utilize different methods. Nor do I like the environments that day care and dog parks present. Everything melds - including manners with other pets, animals and people. Pets may not have defined lines when it comes to interacting with other animals and little people and for this reason I feel strongly that interactions should be monitored and always with manners. Keeping drives and a pets confidence and self esteem monitored may help to ensure a comfortable pet that does not develop issues and become insecure, territorial or jealous.

Attention here is to find the cause of the problem(s) and to offer insight. Many issues - if recognized early and with proper attention - can improve. Using drugs and 'mood modifiers' are a last resort - which I do not recommend. You would be advised to seek medical attention for your pet if I am not able to help you.

Some issues that cannot be covered in a group class that should receive attention when first signs occur and before a dog bites are:

Concerns when eating such as wolfing down food, freezing and growling when at the food dish,
Guarding or snatching of treats or toys - with serious threats,
Challenging behaviors,
Defensive actions which cause people to be fearful,
Fears and anxious behaviors,
Growling when handled,
Seriously pushing others (pets or people) away from a person to get attention, especially if growling or stiffening actions are heard or observed or
Fearful of, hiding or shaking when visitors or people approach.

I do not refer trainers out to 'behaviorists' that follow what I consider dysfunctional training and/or handling approaches. At this time, I do not know of anyone personally that I trust. (This page will be updated when I can delete this past sentence). For this reason if after reading this page, if you choose not to work with me, or if I feel I cannot help you, please contact your veterinarian or someone you trust for a referral. Note - If I feel I cannot help you and your pet - I will be honest and tell you as soon as it is obvious to me.

What I believe in is approaching situations with common sense and the knowledge that some behaviors can be helped with planned training and constant supervision. Remember that I endorse an "everything melds" approach and what you allow your pet to experience is what they are learning. Handling and experiences that they have when you are not with them do contribute to the whole picture.

In my very early years, I would refer to the 'professionals' in the field when I felt that I could not help a person and their pet. Finding that many in the field have different approaches to pets, I have had my heart broken many times when being told of some experiences trainers had: euthansia recommendations when I did not agree, pets being 'tested' for their obedience training responses with food to evaluate behaviors (?!), others waiting alone without their owner (one for hours) crated in a strange place until the 'behaviorist' was available to do an evaluation. Some experts in the field are afraid of pets and more than one person has told me of a certain someone that literally sits on his desk, with his legs folded out of reach of the pet and charges hundreds of dollars for the visit - each with an euthansia recommendation at the end of the session. All of these situations have happened to people hoping to help their pet. Sad!

Note, many in the health realm of the pet world do choose to work with mood modifiers that may or may not work. In addition, health risks may occur with these products, so please read all of the fine print and in addition, do research on possible side effects.

I have several trainers that have almost 'miracle' stories (see the testimonials and unsolicited thank you's at the bottom of the News/Referrals page). There are many pets that may have had a short life without a common sense approach. Links follow if you want to check me out in more detail:

Instructor Background Link

News, Referrals & Testimonials Link

Aggression or Behavior Problems?

If you are still with me, and desire more information, scroll past the information below and look for the above title to read more at the bottom of this page.

Read Before Scheduling:

Please note that in all consultations and/or lessons, I, Mary T. Ratelle Hepp, owner of Results Dog Training LLC (RDT LLC) will evaluate the situation(s) or reasons for behavior based on information given and state how I may approach the problem. The trainer is the ultimate authority and accepts full responsibility for any consequences of his or her actions, per the waiver that all clients are required to sign.

NO Guarantees are given or implied. I simply give my best and may suggest if I were in a situation with the pet, how I may respond. I cannot control what happens, how training and handling are implemented, nor what you or your pet may be thinking or how you or it may respond. Thus, I do not give a guarantee.

Behavior Consulation Fee at Your Home

If you reside in the Brighton-Hartland-Howell area and your pet is:

Currently enrolled in a group class, the fee is $180 two hours.

Not currently enrolled, the fee is $200 for two hours.

Included is a written followup with with a drive profile*. Written followups are delivered at the class or sent via USPS mail within one week of lesson. Note USPS deliveries will be sent with delivery confirmation.

Travel Fee: Out of the Brighton - Hartland - Howell area: Travel may be charged at $1.00 per mile past my range. (Note this fee is to your residence with my return calculated in the $1.00).

Two hours is my limit for each visit. If more time is needed, a return visit will be scheduled.

Private Lesson Fee at Your Home

If you reside in the Brighton-Hartland-Howell area a private lesson with your pet is:

Currently enrolled in a group class, the fee is $80 an hour. Overtime will be charged if an additional 1/2 hour or fraction thereof is needed, is an additional charge of $30. This private lesson fee does not include a drive profile*.

Past participant, not currently enrolled, the fee is $100 for an hour. Overtime will be charged if an additional 1/2 hour or fraction thereof is needed, is an additional charge of $30. This private lesson fee does not include a drive profile*.

Travel Fee: Out of the Brighton - Hartland - Howell area: Travel may be charged at $1.00 per mile past my range. (Note this fee is to your residence with my return calculated in the $1.00).

* Drive profile: If a behavior profile is needed for issues discovered in a private lesson, a drive profile may be suggested, at an additional $25.00 to the fee. This may be suggested depending on the situration. A drive profile gives more detailed information and a conclusion

Time limit: Two hours is my limit for each lesson. If more time is needed, a return visit may be scheduled.

Full payment is due at beginning of all lessons. Cash only. Sorry - no checks or credit cards. A receipt will be given.

If you wish to pay for equipment purchase (if any) with a local check, make check payable to: Mary T. Hepp.

Note: checks that do not clear for any reason, there is a $30 charge per rejection. More than two checks not clearing from the same client - cash or money order will only be accepted for future offerings.

Sorry - no taping is allowed in any format.

Cancellations or No Shows

Clients that cancel less than 24 hours of lesson will be charged $25 which must be paid prior to other offerings being accepted. When time is reserved for you, another trainer cannot be accepted. If you are late, your lesson will still end at the designated time if I have another appointment and cannot stay over.

Clients that do not cancel or show without calling prior to lesson time, will be charged their missed lesson fee in addition to current fees if they choose to return. If I experience two misses without cancellation, advance cash payment will be required for future lessons.

To schedule a lesson or consult inquire at class or call the office. Note - behavior advice is not given over the phone.

Training Director

Aggression or Behavior Problems?

With regret, RDT LLC does not accept truly aggressive dogs that will attack unprovoked for lessons. If your pet will not let you even approach it - I cannot help you.

Sometimes aggression is misread - be aware and call for an experienced professional opinion if you think you may have aggression starting. The longer you allow your pet to experience same, the longer it will take to correct it, if it can be helped. Do not take behavior disorders lightly as puppies and dogs rarely out grow behavior problems. Puppy 'sass' happens and may worsen. For general sass issues, our Puppy or Beginner Obedience & Manners class can probably help you and your pet. If the behavior is more serious, consider an Introductory Meeting. If your pet is displaying nasty behavior - read on!

Some early signs of potential problems are freezing or stiffening when touched, grumbling, growling, curling lips, snarling, or snapping. Also some dogs will try to dominate by grabbing on to a person with their legs (not to be misread with a paw placed over a limb in a gentle fashion to induce petting, show affection or natural mounting behaviors that puppies or dogs may do as an instinct. Regarding mounting behaviors - if telling the puppy or dog (not yelling) "No" and gently and firmly removing it causes more stress or if the dog continues to repeat the mounting or ugly behavior - get help.

If when at the food dish or when eating treats, your pet eats extremely fast with stiffening, hovering and/or stopping and/or freezing behaviors - especially if it is growling or grumbling at the same time - get help! If it displays ugly behavior with toys or chews - or will not release a possession such as a toy or a no-no item (shoes, socks, etc.), hides under or behind an object such as a couch or bed and growls, refuses to come out of a hiding place or 'den' or it's crate, etc. - get help. If you choose to do nothing or react with aggression, your pet may worsen and this may lead to a bite. All bites are serious - whether skin is broken or not. A pet that bites and does not get the handling it needs will probably bite again.

Get help early if you see any of the early stress signs being exhibited. Puppies and young dogs usually get worse - rarely will they grow out of problems behaviors. In our experience, most serious dog bites occur several years after early signs are displayed. And in most cases - training with dysfunctional methods had been done (which is why RDT LLC is soooo against same) and/or early signals were ignored. We believe encouraging pets to take food from hands in reactive, excitable ways may lead to an accidental - or not an accidental bite if you have a pushy pet! Many serious issues can be avoided if they are recognized and proper attention is paid to them early!

RDT LLC has worked with dozens of clients for serious issues. Many veterinarians and breeders not only refer their clients and personal friends to us - many have come in when they were in need of help. This is being shared because people of all backgrounds occasionally need help with their pets.

Many clients learn how to 'live with the problem dog' by avoiding it or keeping it penned. What an awful life for their 'pet'. Small problems may 'age' with time through the years and become worse. Many people just do not realize how to help their pet and thus the issues slowly worsen if they are not dealt with early - or in the proper way. The majority of people that I work with have owned their pet since it was a puppy. Most have done a puppy or obedience class (elsewhere, not at RDT LLC) using dysfunctional methods to 'train'. Behavior issues start and slowly worsen. Usually the more serious bites do not happen until pets are between the ages of four and six - and that is usually when I get 'the call'.

When sharing history, some clients were given advice by people in the 'dog world' that their pet should be euthanized, some were told not to worry about problem areas, as their puppy or dog would probably 'out grow' of it. Others were told to respond with alpha pins or holds and scruff shakes - even by veterinarians. Sad. When people respond in these ways, they usually make problems worse by reinforcing or teaching aggression and or fear.

When these dysfunctional ways of dealing with a problem do not work, it is common for people to rehome or turn their so called 'pet' into a rescue agency. Sometimes they will be honest when history is shared, but many pets are turned in with the 'allergy' or 'move' excuse. Some rescue organizations will cover up problems just to get a pet placed. One client came in for help with a puppy she rescued did have special needs and aggressive behavior. Bless her heart for caring and the rescue group for being honest about the pup's history. This puppy was in his fourth home and was only eight (8) months old! Much progress was made, he is not perfect, but he is still in his fourth home and he is now eight (8) years old! (July 07).

Often, the frustration that pets and people suffer could be avoided with common sense handling and attention. With proper handling and time, many 'problem' dogs are able to develop into well adjusted pets. RDT LLC has dozens of awesome success stories besides the above one...

One client's dog not only did well in basic training, but went through the advanced obedience and beginning agility classes and learned how to have fun when in the company of other people and dogs. The owner of this dog was also thrilled to be able to take her camping in a public park! Very sad to think that this client had been told by her past veterinarian and the office staff that she should have had this dog euthanized. Thank goodness she did not listen...

Another client with an abused rescue dog that had several issues was not only able to help her relax and have a wonderful life, but she was able certify her for therapy work to help others that had been in abusive and stressful situations. This client is a gem - she would never boast about what she accomplished.

Of course, all dogs can have quirks - very few are perfect. However, we believe it is a sin to let a good puppy or dog go bad or go from bad to worse to ugly! Even with training and attention, some dogs may need special handling at times, however, the proper approach can turn poor behavior around in most cases if it is caught early. Allowing a dog to be able to live a normal, or almost normal life is a gift. If you confuse your dog by improper handling or training, the misunderstood behavior may become worse, so do not waste time, if you have a pet that needs help, call asap. Your pet is learning every day and learning is never erased!

Please note that in all consultations and/or lessons, Results Dog Training LLC (RDT LLC) will evaluate the situation(s) or reasons for behavior based on information given and state how RDT LLC would approach the problem. The trainer is the ultimate authority and accepts full responsibility for any consequences of his or her actions, per the waiver that all clients are required to sign.

Need more help with your pet? Call the Bark Line: (517) 548-4536.

Top   Home

© copyright 2000-2016 Results Dog Training, LLC All photos, logos, and text are property of RDT LLC and/or it's contributors. Any copying is strictly forbidden without written permission.