Tarahill Cairn Terriers &
Wags to Wishes K9 Training 

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Trainer Qualifications:
  • Karen Pryor Certified Training Partner
  • Certified Trick Dog Instructor
  • Animal Behaviour College Mentor Trainer
  • CGN Evaluator (CKC)
  • Stunt dog judge (Do More with Your Dog)
  • Barn Hunt Judge #231

What do students say about Wags to Wishes?
  • Relationship building, patient and positive. Classes are reasonably priced. ...Jocelyn B.
  • Engaging and effective. I very much enjoyed the class and found it provided me with good tools which work well (especially when I can find the time to practice!). ...Elizabeth U.
  • Knowledgeable, experienced, patient, very competent instructor and leader... Ed Waters, DVM
  • Thoughtful and flexible, problem solving and tailored to the client. Definitely not cookie cutter.  You never say any problem is too small or too big to work on...Tanya A.
  • I like your training style. It's easy to understand, easy to apply and it works great on the majority of dogs...Jackie E.

If you would like to speak to a Wags to Wishes student about their experience, please contact me.

Puppy socialization class:

For puppies 7 to 20 weeks of age

  • Open enrollment (start anytime after an introductory session)
  • Drop in style class
  • Socialization classes are held only when there are sufficient numbers of appropriately aged puppies for a class.
  • When appropriate, classes will include interactive play sessions with compatible puppies. 

Obedience and Manners class:

For all dogs able to work around other dogs

  • Introductory class required (1 hour)
  • Open enrollment (start anytime after introductory session)
  • Drop in

Private classes:

Private classes are available for

  • Behavioural issues / Reactive dogs
  • Special training needs or interests
  • Introduction to performance sports
  • Problem solving
  • Families with three or more people wanting to learn together
  • Anyone who prefers a private class

Transforming your reactive dog 

Offered occasionally: approximately 12 hours of didactic and interactive training. 

Minimum enrollment = 3 dogs

Maximum enrollment = 5 dogs

How my classes work:

I want to make my classes accessible to people who have challenging schedules and find it difficult to attend 6 or 8 consecutive weekly sessions.  To accomplish this some  classes are held on a DROP IN basis.  I also know that when you have made the decision to start training classes with your dog, or you have just acquired a new puppy, you don't want to sit around waiting for 6 or 8 weeks for a new class to begin.  This is why I use an OPEN ENROLLMENT system.

Open enrollment means you can start any time - you will be joining a class in progress. The introductory class is how I help you develop the foundation skills you need to join the class with some basic skills already in place, and how we give your dog an opportunity to suss out the place and not feel so overwhelmed when he walks into the first group class as the 'new kid on the block". 

Drop in means that you are able to miss classes without losing out on what you have paid for. I do request that you sign up for a set of classes (4, 6 and 8 week sets are available) to begin with (commitment is essential to making progress) but within each set there is allowance for missed classes. Once you have completed the first set, you can continue to attend on a pure drop in basis, or purchase another set.  For your first set, it is a good idea to start with at least 6 classes to ensure you have an adequate opportunity to acquire the skills you need. Drop in classes must be used within three months unless you have made special arrangements to extend the duration of eligibility.

Please note that drop in classes are necessarily less structured than traditional classes since handlers and dogs may be at a variety of different skill levels and experience.  The content of each class will be adjusted to the needs and interests of those attending.

Traditional style classes

Some material (particularly performance sports and reactive dog classes) is best presented in a more traditional consecutive class approach because of the need to develop skills in an orderly, structured manner.  These classes will be a fixed number of scheduled sessions.  Due to my out of town work schedule classes are not necessarily scheduled on a weekly basis.

Facebook support

For most of my classes, I set up a facebook group for students.  In the group I will post information on the weeks exercises as well as additional resources. I also am available to answer questions between classes if you are finding some training challenges.  

Wags to Wishes training classes

Free On-line tricks class now available!

Free On line trick training is now available through Wags to Wishes K9 Training.  (A facebook account is necessary.)

Go to the tricks training page for more information.

Classes are now underway at my new location between Okotoks and Black Diamond, also convenient for people coming from south Calgary, Turner Valley and High River.

Available classes

Tricks Class

Why a tricks class?  Teaching tricks brings many benefits to you and your dog.
  • it helps you become a better trainer
  • it is a great way to keep your dog's mind busy (and minimize annoying behaviours arising from boredom),
  • it helps keep your dog physically active 
  • it is a great way to have fun with your dog while he learns a whole set of new skills.  Framing behaviours as tricks, takes much of the pressure off and lets you enjoy the learning process more.  In the process, you benefit from a strengthened relationship with your dog.

Tricks classes are appropriate for both adult and older child handlers.

What do we mean by tricks?  We use a broad definition of 'tricks'; a wide range of behaviours are taught in tricks classes.  Some of them, you may think of as more manners and obedience in nature.  Some are 'games' you play with your dog rather than a conventional 'trick'.  Some are tricks that help your dog develop better core muscle strength, or better balance and others are simply fun things you can do to show off how great your dog is!

In the tricks class, we start by looking at what your dog already can do and then what you as the handler would like to learn.  Most dogs come knowing some tricks to various levels of proficiency.  

The class is intended to help you achieve the Novice Trick Dog Title (NTD) through "Do More with Your Dog".  Students with more advanced dogs may actually be able to achieve several titles throughout the class.  If you want to work towards the title, you will learn how to teach your dog the tricks needed for the title and I will sign off as witness as you and your dog develop proficiency.  There is a wide range of possible tricks you can choose from to earn the title.

Puppy Life Skills : Socialization

What is socialization? Socialization is the process of helping puppies learn the social skills necessary to confidently navigate daily life and to accept new experiences with enthusiasm.  Socialization encompasses many different things - interacting politely with other dogs, displaying appropriate canine communication skills, interacting appropriately with people of all ages and types, reacting appropriately to other species and accepting new experiences without fear and anxiety. Having a well socialized dog will make your life as a dog guardian much easier - you will be able to travel with your dog, leave him at a boarding kennel, participate in dog classes and performance sports, invite people into your home and take your dog to dog friendly events and places without worrying that your dog will cause problems.  Lack of appropriate socializations often results in dogs leading restricted lives with limited opportunities to engage in a variety of healthy activities.

Why should I go to a socialization class?  The critical early socialization period encompasses a very short time in your puppy's life - from the 3rd to about the 16th week of life. Socialization activities should begin long before you get your dog, while he is still with the breeder.  By the time you get your dog, you will have only a few weeks to build on the work done by your breeder.  It is important that you make the most of that time.  A socialization class can help you do that by providing a new place and environment in which to work and providing structured activities. Socialization classes should include healthy interactions with a variety of other dogs (with coaching for you on how to support safe meetings and greetings), interactions with a variety of objects, sounds and people and short periods of carefully supervised play if appropriate. While a class is never going to meet all your socialization needs, it is a good start.  Socialization classes can help you with ideas and guidance on how to set up socialization activities on your own. While puppy socialization classes  should include short periods of carefully supervised free play, this is only one small part of a well planned socialization class.

Entry requirements for this class: your puppy must:

  • be at least 9 weeks of age
  • be no more than 16 weeks of age at the first class
  • have received at least his first vaccinations one week prior to the first class (I strongly recommend that this include bordetella / kennel cough vaccine)
  • have had the first deworming medication prior to the first class
  • be in good health

Please note that this class can only be offered if there are sufficient age appropriate puppies enrolled.  When there are insufficient numbers for this class, I will consider entering puppies into the basic manners class provided the mix of dogs is appropriate.

Canine Life Skills : Obedience and Manners class

Entry requirements for this class: 

  • at least 16 weeks of age, no upper age limit
  • up to date immunizations and deworming
  • in good health
  • non reactive towards dogs and people

This class covers basic training skills: 

  • focus and attention
  • walking politely on a loose leash
  • coming when called
  • relax calmly on a mat
  • polite meetings and greetings with dogs and people
  • sit and down
  • stay
This class will also cover a variety of other topics based on the interests of students 
  • common behaviour problems - puppy nipping, jumping etc.
  • foundation skills for performance sports 
  • targetting 
  • impulse control - leave it, drop it, wait etc.

Private classes

Private classes are ideal if you have a challenging schedule that won't accommodate a typical class schedule, have specific training needs and interests or have a dog that is not ready to work in a group setting or cannot get into a regular class when you are ready.  While more costly, private classes are good value for money because they are focused completely on your personal goals for your dog, they allow you to move at your pace and the instructor's full attention is directed at you and your dog. The first session (one hour) will explore your training goals, assess where you and your dog are at with respect to training, provide foundation exercises to start your training program and plan for future sessions. Subsequent sessions are at your pace and can be either one hour or half hour sessions. Some on line support can be provided between classes.

Super Sniffer Scent Work Classes and Drop ins
Canine scentwork is a new sport arising from working scent detection dogs - dogs that detect bombs, drugs, cancers, bedbugs etc.  In sport scentwork we use safe and pleasant scents like birch, or wintergreen - no need to deal with nasty things like bedbugs!
The sport of scentwork uses your dogs incredible sense of smell to locate hidden scent deposits.  Scentwork is a great sport for dogs that lack confidence as one dog works at a time and they are doing what comes naturally, making use of their most potent physical sense.
This is a great sport for people who do not have a lot of space to work in at home as you can practice in a small yard, or in your living room, or in dog friendly public spaces.

Transforming your reactive dog

Does your dog lunge and bark whenever another dog approaches his 'bubble'?  Does your dog have a meltdown when a stranger approaches? This class is for dogs that have difficulty coping in a relaxed and friendly way with other dogs or people.  Please note that it is not for seriously aggressive dogs.

The class will help you:

  • identify the sources for your dogs reactivity
  • reduce your dog's stress level so you can start constructively addressing his fears 
  • understand the role of diet and other factors that may contribute to reactive behaviour
  • learn how to change your dog's attitude to things he fears
  • learn how to use your reactions to support your dog's success
  • replace reactivity with relaxed and calm behaviours

This class is a structured class - attendance is required at ALL sessions but session scheduling is done collaboratively and on a flexible basis. The duration and number of sessions is based on the needs of the dogs attending but averages 12 hours.  Offered only when demand permits.

Other classes

Other classes are held periodically based on interest. Please contact me if you would like more information.

  • Junior handlers - basic obedience and manners, performance sports foundations, tricks
  • Pre-agility foundations 
  • Beginner obedience
  • Beginner rally obedience
  • Conformation / Show handling practice
  • Barn Hunt - private training, practices or clinics
  • and others....