Are you certified dog trainers?

Yes! Unfortunately, the dog training industry isn't regulated - meaning anyone could call themselves a dog trainer. However, there are nationally and internationally recognized bodies and organizations that provide certifications. These certifications mean the trainer has completed a set of requirements (usually testing and experience hours) in order to acquire that certification. Jenn received her original dog training certification through Animal Behavior College (ABC) and earned a second certification/credential through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT)! She also went on to acquire a third certification to become a certified behavior consultant! Leann is also a certified behavior consultant through the CCPDT and, though they have a number of certifications between them, both believe learning never ends! They're always reading up on all things dog, attending seminars, workshops and conventions, and consulting with dog training peers!

Where do you visit clients?

Jenn and Leann visit clients throughout the Southeastern Wisconsin area. However, Jenn's in-person service area generally covers about a 15 mile radius around Wauwatosa in Milwaukee County and Leann's in-person service area generally covers about a 15 mile radius around Sullivan in Jefferson County. Both are willing to travel to clients' homes outside of their service areas, though a Travel Fee will likely be applied.

How much does private dog training cost?

That's a great question - and one that's a little difficult to answer. The total cost of private dog training varies quite a bit and depends on the dog, the family, and the dog training goals a family has. All Private Training, though, begins with an Initial Session - a 60 minute session for $150.00. From there, Follow-Up Sessions, a group class, or Training Programs may be recommended to help you meet your goals!

What breeds will you work with?

Jenn and Leann love all dogs and will work with any breed of dog - big or small, short or tall, long-haired or short-haired. The variety of clients they've had through SideKick Dog Training and the dogs they've met while teaching group classes or in previous positions have given them the opportunity to work with a bunch of different breeds, personalities, and quirks!

Do you work with only puppies? Or only adult dogs?

Jenn and Leann work with dogs of all ages! They've had clients as young as 8 weeks and as old as 14 years old! Puppies and young dogs are fun because they're like sponges for learning; but a dog is never too old to learn new tricks and Jenn and Leann have fun coming up with creative ways to make learning fun and interesting for the older pups, too!

What training equipment do you use or recommend to clients?

For Jenn and Leann, pieces of training equipment are tools that can help you and your dog meet your dog training goals; to help reach your goals, Jenn and Leann utilize rewards (which can include treats / food, toys, praise, etc.), a clicker and/or a marker word, flat leashes of varying lengths, and they usually recommend a body harness of some variety. Additionally, Jenn and Leann put a lot of emphasis on management (prevention)! Tools of management can be your dog's regular leash, a baby gate, a play pen, a stuffed Kong, and many more! They work to find the best fit for your family and the goals you're looking to accomplish.

Is there any training equipment that you don't use or recommend?

Jenn and Leann do not use or recommend the use of punishment-based training tools or tools that are designed to cause a dog pain or discomfort or restrict essential bodily functions. This includes prong/pinch collars, choke chains, spray collars, or electric/shock collars. While these tools can be effective and can provide what appears to be immediate results, the tools come with too great of potential for fallout, unintended consequences, and other - possibly even more concerning - behavior issues. Additionally, current science indicates these methods are not only not as effective as reward-based training, but also do not have as long lasting of results.

Your website mentions positive reinforcement a lot; what exactly is that?

You're in luck! Jenn wrote a post for the SKDT Blog that goes into pretty good detail about what positive reinforcement is. In a nutshell, though, positive reinforcement can be described as giving your SideKick something they really like to see more of what you really like. It's a win-win for everyone, since your SideKick will continue to offer the behaviors you like more and more!

So, you use positive reinforcement training; what else do you use?

That's a great question! And, before answering, it's best to describe the difference between "reinforcement" and "punishment" in dog training (or learning theory). Usually, the word "punishment" conjures an image in the head of being forced to sit in the corner or getting yelled at for sneaking cookies before dinner or staying out past curfew. That's not the version of punishment used with SideKick Dog Training clients. The science-y, learning theory term "punishment" refers simply to a behavior happening less because of the consequence for the behavior.

  • Positive punishment means that a behavior decreased because the consequence was something added to the scenario (usually something unpleasant or uncomfortable or even painful); for example, a prong collar or choke collar tightens painfully as a consequence for pulling while on leash.
  • ​Negative punishment, on the other hand, means a behavior decreased because the consequence meant something was taken away, such as something pleasant or desirable (or just the opportunity for the pleasant or desirable consequence); for example, forward motion during a walk stops or access to a recently peed on fire hydrant is cut off as a consequence of pulling on leash toward the fire hydrant.
Jenn and Leann do not utilize or advocate for the use of positive punishment in dog training, but they do, occassionally, use negative punishment for a limited number of behaviors. Negative punishment, by itself, can be effective and certainly decreases the liklihood of a behavior; however, Jenn and Leann prefer to always follow up with positive reinforcement for a behavior you'd like to see instead. For example, you may ignore your dog while they are jumping on you (negative punishment - removing attention for an undesirable behavior), but offer attention, praise, petting, or treats for your dog putting all four feet on the floor or offering a sit (positive reinforcement - reward for a desirable, alternative behavior).

When can or should I start training my puppy?

As soon as you can! Regardless of your new SideKick's age, feel free to start some form of training as soon as you bring them home - heck, start teaching them their name in the car on the way home! In the beginning, though, focus on the really important skills that also help your puppy get settled into your home and routine:

  • House training
  • Socialization
  • Enrichment and exercise
  • Kennel / crate training
  • Play and appropriate interaction with humans, children, and other animals in the home
  • Etc.
Whether you know it or not (or like it or not), your new SideKick is always learning - from figuring stuff out on their own to interactions with you to formal training sessions or classes. Your best bet in teaching your SideKick how to operate in this difficult-to-navigate human world is to teach them yourself what you'd like them to learn! When you and your puppy are getting into a good groove, you can expand to focusing on teaching the basic behaviors we all like to teach our dogs - Sit, Down, Leave It, etc. They have their whole lives to learn these, though, so Jenn and Leann like to put a lot of emphasis on helping your puppy get settled before putting pressure on yourself to teach basic manners behaviors!

I'm researching trainers in the area, but I'm lost; what should I be looking for?

Unfortunately, the dog training industry isn't regulated; certifications and licenses aren't required for any Average Joe or Jane, who's simply had family dogs all their life, to open a dog training business and start charging folks for their advice. Below are some suggestions for finding a trainer:

  1. Screen your dog training options: ask questions and be critical of the answers you receive. You'll find that most dog trainers are eager to talk about their training techniques and why they use those techniques; and, if they're not willing or hesitant to discuss either of those, move on to a different trainer or training business.
  2. Consider cost and availability: does the trainer or the training business offer the type of training you need, when you need it, and at a price point your wallet is comfortable with?
  3. Most of all, choose a dog trainer you're comfortable working with you and your SideKick!
All of that in mind, here are a couple resources that give you a few ideas of questions to ask and pointers of what to look for when contacting a dog trainer or dog training business:

Do you offer group classes?

Yes! SideKick Dog Training offers group classes at Central Bark Wauwatosa (off of State Street)! Check out the Group Classes page for details about when classes are held, what kind of classes are offered, and when they're starting!

I want to socialize by puppy; are group classes better for this compared to private training?

A lot of the time, socialization is advertised as plopping your puppy into the middle of a group of dogs and letting them get used to it. However, our SideKicks are just like people: they don't like everyone else they meet and they may not be excited to meet everyone else. On top of that, a really important piece of socialization (that is often overlooked) involves learning that we don't say Hi to every person and dog we see; learning to ignore things in the environment (and choose to pay attention to their human) is an important, but difficult skill for a lot of puppies! Sometimes, group classes make this too difficult of a skill for a puppy to learn.

Another consideration...For some puppies - confident, relaxed, and not too easily distracted puppies, group classes can be a breeze and you and your SideKick may get a lot out of it. However, for other puppies - puppies who maybe aren't super confident or outgoing, who need to take things a little slower in learning and socializing, the group class setting may be too overwhelming or too stressful. Private, in-home dog training takes place in the quiet, familiar surroundings of your boring living room - both you and your SideKick have very few distractions and get A LOT out of the training sessions. Plus, you and your trainer are able to work together and with your SideKick to make a plan for socialization that everyone is comfortable with and confident in.

Can you train my dog to be a service dog or therapy dog?

SideKick Dog Training does not offer any special training or certifications for service or therapy dog work. However, Jenn and Leann can help you and your SideKick learn basic skills and dog manners that might start you on that journey toward becoming a service or therapy dog!

Do you guarantee results if I hire you?

The short answer is No; there are no guarantees. The long answer is that Jenn and Leann are generally with you and your SideKick for just a few short hours (in most cases) - while you're with them all the rest of the time and for the rest of their life. Because of that, there can't be a guarantee that there will be results. There are simply too many factors that go into successful training - and many of them aren't under Jenn or Leann's control.

Instead, Jenn and Leann can guarantee that they'll do their best to give you multiple tools to achieve your training goals with your SideKick and they can guarantee that they'll be available for you and your SideKick throughout your dog training journey. How you utilize the tools you're given will determine the success you see!

Do you offer training where you come to my house during the day or I drop my dog off with you?

These two options are often referred to as "day training" and "board and train." At this time, SideKick Dog Training does not offer a day training option. However, a Board & Train program is offered! The program has a two-week minimum during which the dog is staying at the trainer's home / property, almost literally eating, sleeping, and breathing training for those two (or more) weeks. Photos, videos, and text updates are provided daily and regularly throughout the day, so the family is practically there with their dog, enjoying all the same exercises and adventures! Feel free to visit the Board & Train page for more details and to submit an inquiry if you're curious about getting your dog signed up!

SideKick Dog Training | Private Dog Training Milwaukee WI
SideKick Dog Training | Private Dog Training Milwaukee WI
SideKick Dog Training | Private Dog Training Milwaukee WI