Outdoor Education is an intensive and early education program aimed at establishing good behavior patterns and habits that are easy for you and your puppy to maintain over the long term. Program options range from 4 - 24 weeks and are 5 days per week. Most of our puppies and parents find the broadest benefit from our 8 week program which allows for significant skills growth both on and off the leash. Puppies must be under 6 months old when they begin participating in Outdoor Education SF.
Training begins just as you’d anticipate – the moment we arrive! When puppy offers quiet behavior, we’ll let them out of their crate or confinement area and begin with a potty break. From there, puppy enters a crate for the trip to the day's training location.
Early on, we aim to lower environmental distraction levels (outside with very little going on is distracting enough for a young pup). As puppy learns, we add greater distraction while maintaining great behavior. This includes busier environments or may involve other puppies in the program, as well as other dogs belonging to or in the care of our trainers.
A Typical Day
In Outdoor Education, every day offers something new and different! We make sure your puppy gets an average of an hour of individual training each day. We train for success, and have learned that early sessions, even with many 'mini brain breaks', can be slightly shorter in terms of puppy's working attention. Growing their attention span tends to happen quickly, and before long, puppy is capable of working for more extended periods of time. Travel time adds to the length of their excursion and in general, puppy may be out anywhere from 2-6 hours.
January 2017. Bentley comes when called with children present.
Puppies are Individuals
Of course puppies have many things in common and everyone's learning is based on the same science. Yet each puppy needs his own equation for excellence! Personality, breed specific behavior, and learning history will vary greatly from one individual to the next. To that, add your goals for your puppy and future adult dog, along with what you do with them on a daily basis. Before we begin, we'll want you to complete our sign up form which will ask you about your puppy's preferences (motivations), dislikes or fears, and your goals. This allows us to create an appropriate plan so your puppy can thrive in the program.
And, Just So You'll Have an Idea... For most puppies, early sessions focus on leash skills so we can build focus and attention and develop a working relationship before progressing. After the first few sessions, we'll start our "off leash" training, with puppy on a long line and in a low distraction open space. Once skills have developed a little there, we'll move on to generalize those skills to other places, and again increase level of distractions. Meanwhile, we'll be mixing in on leash sessions, or on and off leash combined sessions, to continue work in both arenas.
Puppy Tells us Everything We bring a lot of experience to the table, but your puppy's behavior is our best indicator of what work is most needed. We may have a plan to work extensively on coming when called on a particular day, for example. While we're engaged in that, a group of school children enter the field en mass, and puppy becomes concerned - barking and lunging and then backing away shaking. Immediately, we change tack and work on increasing comfort level with this particular group of children. Later, in conversation with you, we discuss a different primary focus for your puppy's training with us for the next while to build puppy's confidence around children. This is but one example of how your puppy's behavior guides ours to give them the learning they most need during adolescence.
We Stay Connected
A few days before training begins, you'll know approximately when we expect to arrive to get your puppy for their outdoor education sessions each day and when we expect they'll be home. We need fairly big windows for our eta's, but we try and be as specific as possible. After your puppy's first day or two, and periodically throughout your term, we'll touch base with you in person or through voicemail or text to provide you with progress updates including tips about how to continue to support their new skills.
You're also welcome - and highly encouraged - to join us, so please reach out and let us know if there's a time you can come to the session for observation and some hands on learning. These "shadow" sessions add tremendous value to your puppy's learning and is the best way to ensure consistency and continuity for your puppy, though it isn't a requirement. Please let us know in advance when you'd like to join and we'll try and spend a little extra time with you and match your schedule as best we can. We need to limit these shadow sessions to one per day, so please plan ahead.
Most folks see great progress regardless of whether they join us in person for a session or not, but it is a big bonus if you can join at some point during the term. Additional weekend or evening sessions can be arranged for an extra fee if you are unable to meet during our regular session times.
We are keenly aware and concerned for everyone's health and safety at all times and operate proactively to minimize risk. Given the changing nature of ordinances and best practices as we progress and learn more about COVID-19, we'll provide you with our most current protocols for safety just before you begin the program.
Our practices include but are not limited to using our own equipment with your pup (our harness and leash, etc.), sanitizing hands before and after pick up and drop off and before and after working your pup, limited contact pick up and drop off (if you are home we will not enter, and ask that you meet us outside if at all possible or at your door at a minimum). We wear masks, and ask that you do the same when you meet us.