Training & Behavior Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Where is the Training Center?
    The Training Center location is 2323 55th Street between Pearl St. and Arapahoe Ave. in Boulder, Colorado. We are located on the second floor of the building to the left of the elevator and stairway.
  2. What is HSBV training philosophy?
    The Humane Society of Boulder Valley is committed to providing guardians and their canine companions with the most effective, dog-friendly techniques. To ensure happy, healthy relationships between pets and people, we rely on positive, reward-based training techniques to encourage appropriate behavior and foster a foundation of trust and enjoyment. At HSBV, we use many different types of rewards to encourage appropriate behavior, including soft yummy treats, playtime with toys, and access to the great outdoors for walks. We believe this is the most efficient method for teaching polite behavior and ensures a successful relationship between you and your canine companion. After all, training should be a fun and rewarding experience for both of you!
  3. Should I enroll in a group class or a private session?
    Classes introduce a broad range of behaviors to teach your dog. A class is a fun-filled way to train your dog amid the distractions that people and other dogs provide. If you prefer an individualized training plan or have specific questions related to a behavioral concern, a private session would best suit your individual needs.
  4. What is Orientation and why do I have to attend? Prerequisites?
    The orientation is a fun and informative way to provide information on how to read dog behavior, explain how dogs learn and introduce the most effective and humane dog training techniques. There will also be an opportunity for all class participants to ask any burning questions! This class is a prerequisite for Puppy Preschool and Beginner's Class. The orientation is free to all HSBV adopters!
  5. What should I bring to my first class?
    • Current Vaccination Records
    • Standard, Flat Collar (no choke or prong collars)
    • 4' or 6' Leash
    • Yummy Treats - You can use very small pieces of Natural Balance (sold in our retail store), cheese, hot dogs or any other highly palatable, small treat that your dog LOVES! Please do not bring any hard kibble to class. While kibble can be sufficiently motivating at home, it rarely maintains its high value in a class setting.
    • Kong, Bully Stick or Greenie - Stuff the Kong with peanut butter or cream cheese and freeze it overnight - it's like a dog popsicle! Your Kong, bully stick or greenie will serve as a "doggie pacifier" for the many times in class when you wish to encourage quiet behavior.
  6. What vaccinations should my dog have before coming to any class?
    We are very interested in the safety of all the dogs that attend classes; therefore, we ask you to have at least 1 combination shot completed before coming into Puppy Preschool. This shot should include Distemper and Parvo. Additionally, a Bordatella vaccination is recommended. Adult dogs require proof of a current rabies vaccination. Please bring vaccination papers to your first class. Thank you!
  7. Why do I need food to train my dog?
    We do not require you to use food to train your dog; however, rewarding great behavior with a yummy treat greatly speeds up the training process and immediately establishes a positive relationship between you and your canine companion. In addition to food, we use anything that your dog absolutely loves including toys, access to the great outdoors, and attention!
  8. Will I always need food to train my dog?
    When teaching brand new behaviors, we utilize a treat to lure the dog's body into the appropriate position. This method of luring is essential for quick, accurate training of any new behavior and is much more effective than physically placing your dog into position. Physical placement actually inhibits learning! Think of learning a new dance step or yoga position or the correct body placement for a push-up. We learn by trying the movements and practicing until the motion becomes second nature, right? It would take us much longer to learn the motion if someone else physically placed us in position and then pushed and pulled us into the movements! We must learn the muscle memory ourselves! Similarly, your dog will learn much faster if his own muscles learn the position. Therefore, luring builds quick, strong muscle memory in a very efficient manner!

    As soon as your dog demonstrates his ability to perform the behavior, you will quickly begin phasing out the use of food to lure your dog. At this time, treats will be used only as a reward for good behavior.

    Finally, our training classes will show you how to use training treats as rewards for only the very best behavior! While it will be important that you intermittently use some high-value reward such as a treat, tennis ball, or opportunities for off-leash time, it will no longer be necessary to reward with a treat for every instance of good behavior. And your relationship will be one of joyful, enthusiastic companionship!
  9. What is a clicker and do I need one for class?
    No, a clicker is not necessary for class. When training any animal, it is enormously helpful to the animal if we pinpoint the exact moment of correct behavior. Have you ever seen a dolphin trainer blow a whistle when the dolphin reaches the highest
    point of their dive? Since it is impossible to toss a fish to the dolphin at the exact moment when their dive is at its peak, trainers use the whistle to tell the dolphin exactly which part of their behavior won them the reward. When the dolphin returns to the dock, the trainer provides the fish reward.

    Dog trainers frequently sound a clicker (a small child's cricket device) at the precise moment that their dog sits, lies down, or performs a beautiful trick. The click tells the dog exactly which part of their behavior has won them a reward. For example, if we ask our dog to sit, we would click the moment the dog's hind end touches the ground! Alternatively, trainers may also use a short, precise word such as "Yes!" or "Good!" to tell the dog which part of the behavior was correct.

    Please choose a specific marker sound - either a clicker, the word "Yes!" or "Good!" for you and your dog. By pairing the sound with a yummy treat, you can begin teaching your dog that this marker sound means a yummy treat is on the way!
  10. What should I do if I miss a class?
    If you have advance notice, please inform your instructor so that you may receive any handouts and an explanation of the day's curriculum. If unexpected circumstances arise, you may email your instructor to be updated before the next class.

    Contact Info:
    Helena Kokes -
    Anita Hurley -
    Allison Hartlage -
  11. How does the waitlist work?
    We appreciate your dedication to your dog and our Training Center! When a space becomes available, those waitlisted will be emailed of the opening. Enrollment is on a first come, first served basis. We hope that we can accommodate you!