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Find an Animal Behaviorist near you

100+ near you

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Avatar for PackFit Lorton, VA Thumbtack
Avatar for PackFit Lorton, VA Thumbtack
5. PackFit
4.6
from 38 reviews
4.6
(38)
4.6 (38)
In High Demand
In High Demand
  • 105 hires on Thumbtack
"First, the online course provides extensive information about all aspects of the animal you are trying to share a home with. These lessons lay the foundation to better understand the root of your dog’s behavior and your dog’s need. The knowledge gained from the online course not only helped me understand my current dog, but gives me so much confidence in my ability to understand our future pups as well. I’ll carry those lessons with me for a lifetime. Kim’s book, “My Dog, My Buddha” hones in on the human aspect of the pack equation, or as she says, the human end of the leash. This book genuinely improved my life and my dog’s life in so many ways. The book is organized in short, easy to read lessons. The very structure of the book allows you to read one or a few lessons and then walk away, giving you the break to really stop and reflect. Often, I would read just one lesson and then spend days pondering my self-improvement. This book is positive, realistic, inspiring, and in some ways was a wake-up call for me. The book was not overwhelming, cheesy, or intimidating. I have already re-visited it and will likely continue to re-read lessons. Our private sessions with Kim were incredible. Kim shows up ready to teach, and is genuinely present in every interaction. She is a realistic person, and doesn’t judge or shame. The sessions were entirely customized to fit us and our dog. In each session, we gradually pulled apart layers of behavioral issues and worked them out as we went. After each session, Kim followed up with a detailed explanation of what we worked on and why, and then gave us “homework” to work on daily. While we practiced our “homework” we would send Kim videos of our progress and she would provide immediate feedback. In addition, we could contact Kim at any time to ask questions – which was amazing! Kim is always, always responsive and professional. She has been there with us and for us every single step of the way. She genuinely cares about us and our dog and wants us to succeed. Her actions speak to this, plain and simple. Working with what I believed at the time to be a reactive/aggressive dog made me nervous. I had convinced myself, prior to finding Packfit, that my dog was so reactive that I could never trust her to walk by other dogs, some people, and kids. I would cross the street to avoid other dogs and people, which was proving to be quite difficult in a city, and was frustrating me and the dog more. During our sessions with Kim, she created a safe space for me to challenge myself, regain trust in my dog and confidence in myself while working in the exact situations I had come to fear. Even after just 3 sessions our dog was an entirely different dog and our home was at peace. Among the wealth of knowledge gained, quite simply put - we learned how to meet our dog’s needs. It turns out that reactivity/aggression was actually our dog’s cry for help. We learned what it truly means to have a socialized dog, versus what we had been misled to believe “socialization” meant. We were speaking a language our dog didn’t understand, and/or telling our dog things we didn’t understand at the time. We gained awareness of how our actions and energy (body language, emotions, tone of voice), subtle or not, directly influence our dog’s behavior. We now understand that our dog looks to us for leadership, and we know how to step up and be a consistent pack leader. Packfit holds true to its very name. Packfit’s holistic approach recognizes the uniqueness in every dog and human, allows you to carefully pull apart and understand the reason behind your dog’s behavior, and guides the human end of the leash into leadership and balance, allowing your pack to truly fit together."
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Q & A

Answers to commonly asked questions from the experts on Thumbtack.

Which dog training method is best?

The best type of dog training for both you and your dog depends on the outcomes you hope to achieve. If you want your dog to learn agility training, go to someone who specializes in those techniques. Regardless of whether you want your dog to learn basic behavior or competitive-level tricks, the majority of dog training is actually about training the owner how to communicate with their dog. Most professional dog trainers agree that a model of training based on positive reinforcement breeds a happy, healthy, well-adjusted dog. The alternative to positive reinforcement training is using force or aggression techniques like physical punishment or shock-collar training to get the dog to do (or not do) a behavior. While the dog may learn how to behave as you direct, it is also learning to communicate with force and aggression, and will in turn use those behaviors on other dogs (or people) that are smaller or weaker than it is. Before signing up with a dog trainer, meet with the trainer and ask for references. Watch the trainer interact with your dog, and make sure they treat your dog with patience and firm kindness. Ask them questions about their training methods:

  • What type of training methods do you use?
  • What is your background and training, and how did you become a dog trainer?
  • How long do you expect that we will work together before we achieve the results I’m after?

How long does it take to train a puppy?

Dog training depends on the dog and how much homework the dog owner is willing to put in. Puppy training is similar to dog training in that the onus of the work depends on the owner learning new ways to interact with their dog. For a quick crash course, you can opt for a single, two hour smart-start puppy training consultation to teach you the ins and outs of being a new dog parent. You can learn how to manage potty training and what to do if the puppy experiences separation anxiety. As long as you’re willing to work on dog training a little bit each day, your puppy will quickly learn these new behaviors. If you’re not confident about training your puppy yourself, you can enroll in a 6- to 8-week puppy training course, with weekly lessons touching on everything from bite control to obedience. Puppies usually need to be at least three months old for group training classes. If you want more intensive one-on-one work, you can opt for private lessons. Some behavior problems can be resolved in one session if the dog owner learns and can implement new skills. In the case of more serious issues, 3 to 10 private sessions can typically correct challenges.

How old should a puppy be for training?

Dog training shouldn’t wait until you’re having behavior problems. If you get a new puppy, start from the beginning with professional training to give both you and your puppy the tools you need for a healthy relationship. Dog training is as much about teaching the owner how to interact with their new dog as it is about the dog learning to behave. Puppy training can start as early as eight weeks old. Trainers who offer puppy training programs may works specifically with dogs between the ages of 8 and 18 weeks old. Trainers can teach owners about potty training and how to deal with accidents, working with separation anxiety, and training your pooch out of destructive behaviors like chewing, biting and demand barking. Puppies will start to learn to walk on-leash and other basic skills.

In addition to behavior training, socializing your puppy is an important part of dog training. Socializing your dog means they become comfortable and confident in a variety of settings and have a great foundation for becoming a well-adjusted adult dog. After your puppy has had the proper vaccinations, you can start to introduce it to a variety of different dogs and people in safe settings.

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