1-INTERESTED IN AHIMSA CLASSES
Ahimsa, also written Ahinsa (or mispronounced as Ahisma!), is a Buddhist and Hindu word of Sanskrit origin often used by Mohandas Gandhi that means “do no harm”, “non-violence toward all other beings”, or “compassion.” At Ahimsa Dog Training, we strive to use training methods that honor these concepts, and are also science-based. We use the principles of learning theory to help you motivate your dog to work with you using something the dog wants instead of forcing them to comply to avoid something unpleasant like a leash correction or scolding. For example, if you want your dog to stop jumping on you, you can find something else for her to do (like sit politely) and motivate her to do that automatically, instead of jumping!
Our methods are based on scientific research on how all animals learn (even humans!), so you can use many of the same general techniques to train other animals, and even your spouse or kids.
A clicker is a small box that you can press to make a clicking noise, and it’s a tool you can use to tell your dog “That’s it! Do that again!!” You start off by teaching the dog to associate the click with something good: Click the clicker, and every time you do, you give the dog a treat (in some circumstances, you can use a toy instead of a treat, but it’s very important that the click is always paired with something the dog really likes). Once your dog realizes that the click means that they’re about to get a treat, you can start clicking when they do something you like. For example, the moment your dog’s rump hits the floor, you can click, give them a treat, and they start to learn that sitting is a good thing. As they start to offer the sit more reliably, you can fade out the clicker and the treats and replace them with praise, toys, or scratches in your dog’s favorite spot.
The major benefit of the clicker is that it captures the exact moment that a good behavior is happening, giving you a little extra time to get your dog’s reinforcement to them without losing the incredibly important aspect of timing.
Why not just use praise to tell the dog they’ve done it right?
A lot of clients ask, “Why can’t I just say ‘good dog’ when my dog sits instead of using the clicker?” That is definitely an option, but some of the clarity of communication gets lost when we bring human speech into the equation. Our tone of voice can change, or the length of the syllables, which means that your dog might hear a high pitched “GOOD DOG!” when they start coming towards you when you call, or you may quietly say “Goooooooood doooooooog” when they’re laying down calmly. Not only do these sound different to your dog, but they may also have different meanings to you – one of them means “I’m going to treat the heck out of you!” whereas the other one really means something like, “thank goodness you aren’t bouncing off the walls right now, please don’t move.” The “magic” of the clicker is that it sounds the same every time, and has a very concrete meaning (a treat is coming).
That said, the clicker isn’t for every situation, and some dogs may even be afraid of the sound. In classes and in private sessions, we’ll help you decide when to use the clicker (or whether it’s a good tool for you and your dog at all!) We often use a verbal marker in place of the clicker, usually a single word that we can say in the same tone of voice throughout a training session and that will have the same meaning as the clicker (i.e., That was good, and here’s your treat!).
I trained my last dog using a choke chain/prong collar/leash corrections/traditional dog training methods. Why change?
The short answer to this question is “because you can!” Leash corrections and other tactics that are part of correction-based or traditional training methods “work” because they are at the very least uncomfortable for your dog. Progressive training and training based in positive reinforcement can get the same results with less stress for your dog, and avoids some of the potential hidden consequences of more old-school techniques. Some of those consequences can include increased or redirected aggression (e.g. a dog may growl or snap at another family member or person passing by), increased generalized anxiety, and behavioral “shut down” where the dog reduces all of its activity in response to stress. These side effects are virtually non-existent with the techniques we teach in classes and private training.
Positive reinforcement training is becoming increasingly popular. As it becomes more accessible, more top show dogs (agility, conformation, obedience, flyball, etc.) and working dogs (bomb sniffing dogs, assistance dogs, etc.) have been trained using positive methods. They really do work!! Using positive methods is also a lot more fun for both parties, and builds a stronger relationship with your dog.
What if I need more flexibility – I need different days each week or my schedule changes?
Once you sign up for an ongoing class, you can log in and change your reservations to any other ongoing classes within the 6 week window. Mix and match classes. So if you signed up for a class, but can’t make a particular session, just log in and swap it out for a different session that fits your schedule better. You can swap out of classes up to the day before your session, and you can swap into classes at any time before the class.
How do I log In?
There is Swap Your Classes button on our website. Click it once, then select the Ongoing Classes link. (Here’s a direct link). Your order ID is found in both of the emails we send when you register.
How do drop-ins work?
In addition to your guaranteed sessions, you can drop into any ongoing session during your pass. You just show up and check in with the class instructor, and it’s first-come, first-served until we run out of room. Look for the Daily Schedule icon in the upper right hand corner of every page, before you go to make sure the class is still happening and to see how full it is.
Confused? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us in Seattle at 206-364-4072 if you have any questions about what training would be best for you at Ahimsa Dog Training in Seattle.
Most of our classes are located at 925 NW 49th Street, Suite C in Seattle. Click here for directions.
Our BAT Clinic classes are located off-site at Discovery Park. When you register, we will send you an email with the exact location.
In the sense you probably mean it – “Will I be nice to my dog using your methods? Would Child Protective Services be okay if I used this on my kids?” the answer is yes. Positive dog training is the way to go! We are members of the Pet Professionals Guild, which is the international Association for Force Free Pet Professionals™ and also members of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers.
Now for the hair-splitting. The term “positive” has at least two meanings in dog training. One is positive, as in dog-friendly. In that sense, Ahimsa Dog Training is all about positive dog training. We train with clicker training and do not use force, shouting, or other “negative” forms of coercion to train dogs.
The other use of “positive” in dog training is as a technical Learning Theory term. In that sense, there is “positive reinforcement” and “positive punishment,” among other things. In those terms, “positive” just means you’re giving the dog something, in the mathematical sense of addition. You’re giving treats or giving pain/annoyance. So in that usage, “positive dog trainer” doesn’t make sense. But that’s a little geekier than most people care to be.
Of course! We encourage students to do their homework before picking a class or training center. If you want to get an idea of how we teach and what you might learn, feel free to stop by our Free Seminar, which is focused on giving you an introduction to Ahimsa and our training techniques. You may also observe one session of many of our classes. Please leave your dog or puppy at home and arrive on time or early. There is no need to let us know in advance; just tell the instructor you are there to observe.
Yes! With clicker training, the idea is to use some kind of event marker to tell the dog the instant that they’ve done something you like (like sit, lie down, spin, etc.) With hearing dogs, we use a noisemaking box called a clicker. Some hard-of-hearing dogs can still hear the clicker. For most deaf dogs and puppies, we use a hand signal, a flash light, or something else as the marker. Most of the rest of the training is the same, or can be easily modified to suit a deaf puppy or deaf dog.
Yes! Properly socializing a puppy is very important and requires more than exposure to or living with a few other dogs.
Our dog training classes and private behavior consultations take place at our main facility between Ballard and Fremont. Private training sessions can also be at your home or elsewhere in Seattle (click here to view our in-home service area). We have had clients from all over Western Washington, driving from as far as Moses Lake and ferrying from Whidbey Island. We have dog training clients from just about every neighborhood in Seattle.
Who knew Seattle had so many neighborhoods? And all of them have dogs. We do private in-home training in Ballard (Adams, Loyal Heights, Sunset Hill, West Woodland, Whittier Heights), Crown Hill, Lake City (Cedar Park, Matthews Beach, Meadowbrook, Olympic Hills), Northgate (Victory Heights, Haller Lake, Maple Leaf, North College Park, Pinehurst), University District, University Village, Magnolia (Briarcliff, Lawton Park), Queen Anne, Capital Hill, Madison Park, Montlake, Portage Bay, Eastlake, South Lake Union, Westlake, Wallingford, Central District (Cherry Hill, Leschi, Madrona), Belltown, First Hill, International District, Pioneer Square, and Yesler Terrace. We do not go as far as West Seattle. Let me know if your Seattle neighborhood isn’t on this list!
In group training classes and workshops, the dog is the student, so you should register each dog that you will be bringing. You must have at least one human handler per dog attending the class.
For private training sessions, you pay per session, not per dog (though you may choose to separate dogs during the session if it helps the training efficiency).
Yes! We offer private dog training and one-on-on-one behavior sessions for aggression, fear, and a variety of other behavior problems. Click here for more information on private lessons.
Look for the button on the top right corner of the home page. Click on it to log in so you can view and manage your training schedule.
You can drop into any ongoing session that is age and behavior appropriate during your pass on a first-come, first-served basis – until we run out of room. Just arrive 5 minutes before the class and check in with the instructor for that class. For example, if your chihuahua puppy is enrolled in a Puppy Kindergarten class on Saturdays but you have some free time during the week, you could come to a Puppy Kindergarten class on a Wednesday evening, as long as it’s not completely booked (or if it is booked but one or two of the other students don’t make it that night). However, you may want to make sure that you attend small breed puppy or the baby puppy classes, since your puppy is small and will probably have more playmates to choose from in a room of similar-sized puppies.
How do you know what classes are available for drop-ins? Check our schedule in the upper right corner on the home page. It has a list of classes for the day as well as how many drop-in openings are free, as well as which classes cannot be dropped into!
Drop-in privileges are unlimited during your pass dates and do not affect your reservations.
Please have the following items available your class.
- Proof of vaccinations. Puppies should be up-to-date for their age and have at least the first set of shots. Older dogs should have all shots. (Group classes and play sessions only)
- Hungry dog. Don’t starve her, but don’t give her a substantial meal or leave out food for a few hours prior to the session.
- Some way to take notes.
- Treats. Specifically, soft, pea-sized treats. I recommend chopping up Natural Balance or Red Barn semi-moist dog food. You’ll need a full baggy.
- Standard (non-flexi) leash and body harness and/or buckle collar.
- Head collar, if you are using one. (Optional)
- Toy to get the dog’s attention and/or chew toy to entertain the dog while you listen to the instructor. Bring at least one tuggable toy. (Classes only)
- A water bowl for group classes.
- Clicker, if you have one. You’ll receive one with your first class, so please remember to bring it along each week!
Each time that you come into the classroom, please find a spot to sit, then calmly massage your dog. Please do this instead of having your dog wrestle with other dogs (they may greet and walk on, if both humans are willing). The idea is to teach your dog to pay attention to you and relax in the presence of other dogs.
For Puppy Kindergarten classes and Puppy Play and Train, puppies must be up-to-date for their age, with at least the first set of DHLPP shots, usually given between 6-8 weeks of age. Because socialization is so time-sensitive, we do not usually recommend waiting to begin puppy class until the whole series of puppy shots are complete, but different veterinarians will suggest different guidelines for your puppy, so please take their advice into consideration.
For non-puppy classes (Basic Dog Manners, etc.), dogs must have the full sequence of DHLPP (usually an annual booster for adult dogs) and the Rabies vaccine. Bordetella is not required, but may be recommended by your veterinarian.
As proof of vaccination, we accept shot-vial stickers and/or dated vaccination lists from the breeder (for puppies) or veterinary receipts for vaccinations or titers. While we do have to rely somewhat on the honor system, it’s very important to us to make sure all of our canine students are safe.
Your options if you have to miss a class depend on the type of class it is, and how far in advance you know you’ll have to skip. For an ongoing class like Puppy Kindergarten or Intermediate Manners, you can unreserve or change your reservation right up to the day before the class you’ll have to miss!
For our series classes like Basic Manners, Puppy Elementary, or Growly Dog, and for private training sessions, please see our Terms & Conditions for our cancellation policy, etc.
Definitely! Ideally, the whole family will be involved in your dog’s training (though each person may have a different role). The more consistent the household can be, the faster your dog will learn, and the better relationship they’ll build with everyone. For a given training exercise, it is usually best to have one person train the dog for that session. For example, in a given class one person might work on sit, the other person does down, etc.
Is it okay to bring kids to group classes?
For most classes, it’s great for you to bring your kids and have them participate in training. In our puppy classes, it’s often a great opportunity for the other puppies in the room to have positive experiences with children as well! The one caveat to this is that we want to make sure that all of the dogs and the humans in the room are as safe and stress-free as we can make them, and that you have a chance to learn the techniques we’re teaching. If you find it hard to focus on training when the kids are along, you might choose to come on your own and pass on the teaching outside the group class environment. There may also be times when it’s not safe for the dogs or the kids to be together, in which case we may put a fence up between them.
For Growly Dog classes, please do not bring children under the age of 15 to class without consulting your instructor. Many dogs who are reactive towards other dogs may also be nervous about children, and for the safety and well-being of all involved, we generally do not recommend bringing younger kids along.