Welcome to
Paws For Applause
Dog Agility School!

  Class Information & Links

Schedule of Fees and Membership

Inclement Weather Policy

What Do I Need to Get Started in Agility at Paws for Applause?

Required Equipment For My Beginner Classes

Beginner's IV Advancement Test Requirements

Beginner Graduate Test Requirements

PFA Equipment and Merchandise


Bi-Monthly Session Format

Important Links


Agility Events.net
(see the future of Agility!)

Schedule of Fees and Membership

1.     Session Fees and Membership for Beginner classes will be $85 per month for weekly consecutive group classes including Membership privileges; and $75 per month consecutive group classes including Membership privileges for all Intermediate and Advanced classes. Only students paying the first week of every month will get a $10 early payment discount that they may deduct from their monthly payment.

Group Beginner Classes
Dog's Name:

Group Intermediate/Advanced Classes
Dog's Name:

2.     December will always be a discounted month due to the Holiday Break.

3.     Monthly class fee's will include PFA Membership. PFA Membership gives free usage of the training fields, Monday-Sunday, 7:30 a.m.- 9: 00 p.m.; enrollment in the PFA Training and Handling Discussion list; discounts on PFA Training and Handling Seminars; Doggie Dough coupons for canceled classes and reduced rates for additional enrolled dogs. Only dogs that are enrolled in monthly classes can be PFA Members.

4.     There are no "make up" classes. If you miss a held class, no matter what your excuse, you will loose that class.

5.     Private Lessons are $1.30 per minute, semi-private (two or more students) is $.85 cents per minute.

6.     Class curriculum will be on a bi monthly format (8 to 9 week) so that we can continue to focus on specific aspects of agility without inadvertently neglecting any particular area of training or handling. The Session format will include 8 and sometimes 9 classes (2 months long). (See web site link.)

7.     Once you are enrolled in school you are on a payment cycle. Should you miss the first class of the next month you will loose the class you missed but your spot in your class will be held until the next class. Beyond the 2nd week of the month without your monthly payment, your spot will be available to other students. It is recommended that if you can not make the first class of the month, that you mail in your monthly payment to maintain your PFA Membership.

8.     Once you return to class and make your monthly payment, you will gain all PFA member privileges for the remainder of that month and attend your remaining classes. Should you choose to come into a class mid-month without paying your monthly fee, you will have to pay a $25 per class “Drop in” fee, provided there is available space in your class. If you are not up to date on your monthly payment and not enrolled as a PFA member student, you may loose your class spot and could have to be placed in a class on another day/time, if one is available.

9.     If the student returns after missing two classes or more into their next month, it's actually cheaper to pay a "drop in" fee of $25 per class for the remaining classes in that month until the month they are in is over. Hopefully, this will encourage students to maintain consistency in their training and will insure that classes have an almost equal number of students attending each group class Students paying a “Drop-in” fee are not PFA Members and can’t use the training fields or be eligible for Doggie Dough until their monthly fee is paid.

10.   Beginner students are on a Bi-Monthly Session cycle. Once they start, every two months they are eligible to receive a Beginner Certificate. The Beginner Certificate allows them to move to the next level of difficulty in the Beginner program.

11.   Beginner students who miss more than TWO held classes in their Bi-Monthly Session will not be eligible to earn their Beginner Certificate for that Session, no matter the reason for missing.

12.   Beginner Students who have had an Orientation/Evaluation, may attend classes on a "Drop in" basis for $25 per class. These students will NOT be eligible for Beginner Certificates or PFA Membership.

13.   All brand new PFA students enrolling for the first time to the school that do not want to wait to enroll until the beginning of the next month can have the month prorated so that they may attend classes right away. These students will not be eligible for PFA Membership, Beginner Certificates or Doggie Dough, until they have paid their full monthly dues at the beginning of the next month. This is ONLY for new students to the school, not returning students or current students.

14.   You may only change your regular Lesson day/time at the end of a month, before the start of a new month. The change must be approved by Bonnie.

15.   If classes are canceled due to weather (too hot, too cold, too muddy, rain, snow, ice), or Instructor cancellation, “Doggie Dough” coupons valued at $12 will be given out in the next held class for those students that are current for their monthly dues. For possible class cancellations check the elist pawsforapplause@yahoogroups.com or call the recorder (972-475-9253) one hour before class starts. (Please don't call after 9 p.m. or before 7 a.m.!)

16.   If classes are canceled, "Doggie Dough" coupons will be available at the next held class. The Doggie Dough coupons will not be mailed or emailed or left anywhere, you must pick them up at your next held class. They can be redeemable for your next class payment, PFA Seminars or for privates lessons. To redeem your Doggie Dough, they MUST be attached to your next monthly payment checks or enclosed in envelope or plastic baggie with monthly payment. They are only redeemable for 6 months from issue date. Under no circumstances will discounts for canceled classes be given unless the Doggie Dough coupons are attached to your monthly payment. You may not write a check in anticipation of Doggie Dough coupons. Doggie Dough will be given out in the next held class the week AFTER monthly class dues are paid, even if class is canceled. Doggie Dough coupons will not be written and distributed during class time.

17.   To train on the property, all dogs must be currently enrolled PFA members. Guests of PFA members, are allowed on the property provided they are accompanied by a current Member. The guests may sit and observe training but are not allowed to participate in the training and are not allowed to bring dogs. Only dogs enrolled in the school may be on the property. If you move any equipment while training outside of class, please return it to the position you found it.

18.   If more than one member of a household is training with PFA, discounts for a second dog will be given only if all dogs enrolled are paid for at the same time with the same check or cash. Discounts will be $5 per month for the second dog. If students have three or more dogs enrolled in the same month, each additional dog will get a $5 discount. We love multi-dog house holds at PFA! We support your healthy addiction! :~)

19.   If you refer an eligible student outside of PFA's and they purchase a paid PFA Membership, you get a $10 discount on your next month of classes provided you make a note on your next payment. We appreciate your referrals!.

20.   Dogs enrolled in group classes who show aggression towards other dogs more than once, as deemed aggressive by the Instructor, will be asked to leave the classes and no refund for any remaining classes will be given. If the dog aggression is severe enough the first time, the instructor may decide the dog is ineligible for group classes then, and the dog will be asked to leave. No refunds for remaining classes will be given.

21.   Dogs enrolled in group classes who show aggression towards other people EVER, as deemed aggressive by the Instructor, will be asked to leave the classes and no refund for any remaining classes will be given.

22.   The class Instructor will recommend a Intermediate student consider moving to Advanced class based on their assessment of the dog and handler team. This recommendation will be based on handler skills, level of training, independent obstacle performance and/or competition results. It is always the Instructors’ intention to challenge PFA students in skill appropriate classes.

23.   There is no smoking allowed anywhere on the property; which includes all three training fields, the parking lot and the horse pastures.

24.   In order to participate in classes you must make payment at your first class of each month. Anyone who shows up for their first class without paying will be charged a $10 late fee. No one will be admitted to their next class without paying the late fee, including their monthly class fee, after the 2nd class of the month. Please do not take advantage and ask for an exception because you forgot your cash or check. Bring your check or cash to class your first class of every month.

25.   PFA Membership privileges, including but not limited to, group classes, use of the training fields and equipment, Seminar and Clinic discounts, PFA Training and Discussion E-list, Doggie Dough Coupons, and multi-dog discounts will only be extended to current PFA Members. A current member is defined as anyone having paid their dues for the current month. People not paid for the month or "drop in" students are NOT PFA members. People returning to their first class of the month must pay their dues BEFORE the start of class in order to participate or receive benefits of PFA Membership. Students that miss their first class of the month, even if canceled, should mail their monthly payment or drop it off to maintain their Membership privileges. Students that have not paid for their current month, even if their first class of the month was canceled, can not use the training fields and will not be given Doggie Dough coupons until they have paid their current dues. Once they have paid their current monthly dues, all PFA Membership privileges are reinstated.


Inclement Weather: School Policy Regarding Cancellation

The school policy regarding cancellation of class is as follows:

  • Rain: Classes may be canceled due to slippery and muddy conditions. If it has rained in the last two days, or if it is raining where you are, check the elist first pawsforapplause@yahoogroups.com, if there's nothing regarding class cancellations, call and check the recorder (972-475-9253) anytime before you leave for class in case the class has been cancelled early. If there is no message regarding weather on the recorder, or if it hasn't been posted on the elist, call the recorder (972-475-9253) after 5 p.m. for evening classes, and one hour before the start of your class for Friday morning classes. If in doubt about your class, call again right before you leave your house in case the recorder has been changed, due to a change in weather. .
  • Cold Weather: Classes may be canceled if driving conditions are icy. This will be determined the day of class and will be posted on the elist or recorder at the above times. If the temperature with or without wind chill is under 32 degrees, call the recorder and/or check the elist to see if class is canceled. .
  • Hot Weather: Classes will only be canceled if the temperature is over 95 degrees with or without humidity factored in. This will be determined the day of the class. If in doubt, check the elist first or call the recorder to see if class is canceled.

If class is canceled, Doggie Dough coupons will be distributed at the next held class to be used to discount students monthly payment. If class is NOT canceled, even if you assume the temperature is too hot or too cold, your class will be lost. Be sure to call the recorder if in doubt, the temperature here may be different where you are. If class is canceled 1/2 hour or more into the class because the weather has turned bad, that class will be considered a held class and Doggie Dough will not be given.


What Do I Need To Do To Get Started In Agility At Paws For Applause?

Your dog must be 10 weeks of age or older and have a first series of shots. No dogs with human or animal aggression are allowed in group classes. Children are welcome provided they are over 8 and weigh more than their dog. No prior Obedience training is required to start in the Beginner I Agility class. Obedience for Agility is part of the Beginner class curriculum.

First, you'll need to call 972-475-9253 or email Bonnie (click here) to set up an appointment for an Orientation/Evaluation. You and your dog will attend a private Evaluation and Orientation that will last between 25-50 minutes depending on the dogs level of socialization and the handlers level of dog training experience. Most dogs with no formal training experience are going to take around 50 minutes. The cost is $1 per minute for a private and .75 cents per mimnute for semi-private. You'll need to have a check with you or cash before the Eval/Orient starts. You'll need to visit the web site for driving directions and Required Equipment For My Beginner Classes. Be sure to have all equipment listed exactly as on the web site and get here early enough to put your equipment on and be ready to start. Once I meet you, your time starts even if you aren't ready with your proper equipment in place and ready to go.

The Orientation will introduce you to Operant Conditioning (clicker training) and your dog to some of the equipment. The Evaluation will be to insure that your dog is eligible to attend group classes by not displaying any aggression towards other dogs or the instructor. If your dog displays aggression during the Evaluation and your dog is deemed ineligible for the group classes, you can be considered for private lessons.

Once you have completed the Orientation/Evaluation you will be integrated right into the Beginner Class of your choice (unless full). Once you have paid for your classes you must start the week of your O/E or no later than the following week. There are NO REFUNDS once you've paid for your Session of Classes.

The Beginner Classes to choose from are:

  • Tues from 8-9pm
  • Thurs from 7-8pm
  • Fri morning (this class time varies from summer to winter)

The group class must begin within a week of your Orientation/Evaluation. Beginner group classes are $70 per month.

Required Equipment For My Beginner Classes

Beginner - Required:

  • 6 foot leather or nylon leash, between 1/2 and 3/4 inch in width, no more narrow, no more wide
  • A flat nylon collar with a plastic quick release mechanism like they have on hip packs and backpacks (buckle collars can get caught on equipment).
  • Hip pack like runners use to hold their sun glasses, wallets, etc., to hold food rewards (put your Biljack balls in this) - strong>no plastic bagin hip pack. Make sure the bag has a zipper or closes with velcro and straps around your waist, no clip-ons (the food falls/flys out all over.) $5
  • Dog treats like thawed out, frozen BilJack dog food (you can find this in the HUMAN freezer section of most grocers like Tom Thumb/Albertson's), hand molded into 5-6 golf ball sized balls and placed inside your Hip pack. $4
  • A clicker (do not buy the bone shaped clicker, it's too hard to hear). Buy the round or box shaped clicker. $2
  • A 12' to 15' Long line, which can be made from rope that's about 1/4 inch in diameter (Home Depot or Lowe's), with a clip attached to one end to attach to the collar (Home Depot or Lowe's) $3
  • Poopy bags to pick up after your dog $3
  • A copy of your dogs rabies shots

Optional but highly recommended:

  • For dogs that pull choke/gag on a flat collar and leash; or are very distracted by or reactive towards other dogs; or that love to sniff the ground while walking; or that pull when you don't want them to) A "Gentle Leader" brand head halter. Be sure to get the GL brand and put it on exactly as described in the instructions. Here is a very good video on how they work and how to use them. You will LOVE your GL once your dog learns to associate good things with them (based on your training.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8m5aFNoRL4&feature=plcp
  • Best shoes for running on grass: Indoor soccer, softball or football shoes without metal cleats (plastic cleats with flat bottom best.)
  • Gym bag or fabric grocery bag to put all your stuff in to bring to class
  • For any Beginner students at Beginner Three level or higher: Linda Mechlenburg's DEVELOPING JUMPING SKILLS that can be purchased at Cleanrun.com or maybe Amazon.com
  • Cheese Wiz from grocery store or cheese wiz like stuff that is sold at Pet Smart or Pet Co (used to squirt into Kong brand ball called "Kong Stuff'N") to smear on to on your Spoon or Spatula. $3
  • A chest harness to encourage pulling (yes, we want the dogs to want to go to the obstacles so badly that they pull you to them.)
  • Notebook or Binder to hold weekly class handouts, informational emails, for study and homework $3

Intermediate and Advanced Class:

  • All of the above and
  • A 4"-6" pull tab
  • Stop Watch
  • Linda Mechlenburg's DEVELOPING JUMPING SKILLS, that can be purchased at Cleanrun.com
  • Optional but highly recommended: Linda Mechlenburg's DEVELOPING HANDLING SKILLS that can be purchased at Cleanrun.com


PFA Equipment and Merchandise

Equipment For Sale

  • Teeter Base: $70
  • Dog Walk Base: $90 each
  • Metal Training Channel Weave poles (set of twelve): $100 (does NOT include PVC poles)
  • Ranch Stakes: $2.50

Embroidered W/PFA Logo
  • Pullover Wind Breaker Jacket: $28.50 (black,royal)
  • Long Sleeve Sweatshirt: $22.50 (black, royal)
  • Long Sleeve Shirt: $18.50 (black, royal)
  • Short Sleeve Shirt: $16.50 (black,royal)
  • Vee Neck Sleeveless Shirt: $16.50 (Royal,red)
  • Tie Dye tank top (mens) sleeveless Crop Top (ladies) or short sleeve tee shirt: $18.50
  • Fanny Packs: $12.50 (royal)
  • Equipment Bags, Baseball Caps, heavy crew jackets, jumpsuits, visors, can be ordered.

Beginners Advancement Test Requirements

We have found over the years that it actually saves students money to take a test outside of normal class time in order to move up to "off leash" classes. Tests done outside of class are also done with fewer distractions and more one on one help. If students are NOT tested, many move up to off leash class with weak recalls and impulse control. This has lead in the past to lots of chasing and running around and disruption of class and wasted class time. It also saves the student money because students that work hard to pass the test are competition ready sooner than those that don't. Most important of all, moving to "off leash" classes without the skills to pass a test, add unrealistic expectations, and therefore, stress on the dog, which is not fair to the dog.

When students are tested, it points out particular areas of weakness and provides the student with training strategies for fixing these specific problems, rather than not being tested and moving to competition level only to be disappointed with below satisfactory performance by their dog and handling problems that are never specifically addressed. The longer problems go without help, the more likely they turn into a bad habit and the longer they take to resolve.

In order to be considered for advancement to the off leash classes you must have a Beginner IV Certificate and pass the B4 test. In order to receive your Certificates you must miss no more than 2 classes in each Beginner Two month Session. If you are absent for more than two held classes in a two month Session for any reason, you must take an additional Session of classes until you have 4 Certificates; or you can schedule a half hour private lesson to cover the missed class material. For many of the required skills on the test below, you must train your dog outside of scheduled class times: either at home, at the school or both, in order to gain the proficiency and understanding needed to pass the test. Before taking the test, you may need to make an appointment with Bonnie for a private lesson to help with issues that you are having with specific skills you find particularly difficult.

Required additional equipment to take the Beginner IV test is a "Pull Tab." The Pull Tab can be purchased on line (search the web) or you can easily make one by cutting off an old leash with the clip still attached so it's about 12" long. Then cut the length of the tab by making sure the end is no longer than the tip of the dogs shoulder when the dogs head is straight out from his body and not lifted. Knot the end with one or two knots. For nylon leashes, you can burn the knotted end to make sure it doesn't come untied.

A Pull Tab is used when your dog is off leash in class to gain control in a variety of situations and is VERY handy. You will be required to have the Pull Tab with you in order to take the test.

While taking the test you may talk with your dog, feed your dog between exercises and physically "set your dog up" to test each skill, but you may not physically guide your dog or touch your dog during the exercise. It is expected that your dog will be able to do all Stationary Behaviors and Recalls exactly as listed in the test in order to pass. The dogs should be proficient in all other behaviors listed.

The test will take anywhere from 25-55 minutes and is $1 per minute. This will encourage people to train hard outside of class and to be really ready to pass the test. During the test, you will be getting tips and suggestions to help you move forward in areas that are of particular difficulty for you and your dog. The test must be arranged ahead of time with Bonnie. If you don't pass the test, you will be eligible to take the test again at the end of your next session, provided you don't miss more than two classes in that two month Session. Once you pass the B4 test, you move to the "dropped leash" Beginner Graduate level.

If a student feels particularly confident, once they have received their B4 certificate, they may opt to take their B4 and BG test combined. If a specific skill is on both tests, the skill will only be tested once, but will be the skill from the harder BG test. If they fail the test, they must take another Session of classes before they can test again. Only the portions of the test not passed will be tested again. This option might be good for a dog and handler with lots of prior Obedience and/or Agility training. This option is NOT recommended for young dogs or dogs with any fear, speed, confidence or stress issues.


Required Skills For Beginner IV Advancement

  • 15 second Sit Stay on Long Line at 10 feet
  • 30 second Down Stay on Long Line at 10 feet
  • Restrained by "Friendly Stranger" without undue struggle or fearfulness (of Instructor). Then the handler runs away to midfield and recalls dog to midfield. Once dog is near handler, the handler will Pivot and run back to where they started, recalling the dog. The dog must change direction without sniffing, wandering off or delay (2 chances). No reinforcers allowed at midfield, only praise.
  • Moving Sit (dog executes the Sit while walking at your side)
  • Moving Down (dog executes the Down while walking at your side)
  • Handler understanding of and demonstrating Rear Cross on the flat
  • Handler understanding of and demonstrating Front Cross on the flat
  • "Two On, Two Off" position with Stay on the Contacts, including easy proofing for 10 seconds. Handler will demonstrate steps of, handler position and understanding of verbal release for all Stationary Behaviors.
  • Will release from HP by a verbal cue only (no movement from handler): "Break" or "O.K."
  • Hoop at a run (2 chances)
  • 6 Weave poles channel at 4" apart, straight entry (2 chances), target O.K., but no food; or two sets of 2X2's (four poles) with no luring while standing 2' from poles.
  • Closed Chute (2 chances)
  • Jump on the Table without hesitation, Down and Sit
  • Will move to the end of the full size Teeter when placed on the fulcrum while it drops onto the ground without the handler holding or touching the dog once placed on the fulcrum.
  • Will focus on face for 20 seconds
  • Will jump two winged jumps and go through an open shoot, without reward between obstacles or hesitation.
  • Will follow hand for pivot to the right and pivot to the left.
  • Jump the Broad Jump (Long Jump) correctly without stepping on planks of jump (2 chances).
  • From HP the dog will do a Forward Send to a jump 10' from handler.
  • From HP the dog will do a Lateral Send to a jump 10' from handler.
  • Demonstrate the dogs' understanding of direct eye contact and their name as Turning and Recall cues. While the handler jogs and walks fast, the dog will remain in heel position for 200 feet (straight down the entire training field) off leash. Verbal encouragement for the dog is O.K. Food can only be given once for the entire length of field. A food distraction or other distraction will be presented to the dog by instructor and the handler must use the dog's name when the dog shows interest in the distraction. The dog must then immediately respond to their name by making eye contact with the handler and successfully recall into heel position turning away from the distraction.
  • Demonstrate the dogs' understanding of "Round the Clock" weave entries. From HP dog will enter the correct side of the weave poles with two poles only from the 11:00 position (two chances). No food but Target is O.K.
  • Will demonstrate heel work by moving thru a series of cones placed in a Figure Eight pattern. This will be off leash. Handler can give dog food twice, only in the middle of the Eight, as handler executes a front cross to change sides in the middle. Dog must remain in HP for the entire figure eight pattern.
  • Will execute the entire Contact trainer off leash with proper 2o2o criteria at the bottom. Although the dog does not have to fulfill the 2o2o criteria perfectly, the handler must show compete understanding of the handler criteria for 2o2o and how to fix missed contacts by their dog.
  • Will execute the entire baby Dogwalk off leash with proper 2o2o criteria at the bottom. Although the dog does not have to fulfill the 2o2o criteria perfectly, the handler must show compete understanding of the handler criteria for 2o2o and how to fix missed contacts by their dog.
  • Beginner 4 Test: Definitions

  • Compulsion Training - the traditional style of dog training where the dog is modeled or otherwise forcibly compelled to perform the behavior and physically corrected for non-compliance.

    Operant Conditioning - The process of changing an animal’s response to a certain stimulus by manipulating the consequences (giving a reinforcer) to the response. Clicker training is a subset of Operant Conditioning, using only positive reinforcement.

    Marker (or Conditioned Reinforcer) - using a signal (click or “yes”) to mark a desired behavior and attaching a Reinforcer to it.

    Cue - Behaviors from handler to illicit specific behaviors from dog. There are Trained Cues and Natural Cues. Natural cues are Motion, Shoulders, Location and Eyes. Trained cues are Verbal and Arm/Hand signals.

    Reinforcer - something that increases behavior.

    Aversive - something that decreases behavior.

    Contact Obstacles - the See-Saw, Aframe, Dogwalk, Table.

    A Behavior Chain - a chain of specific behaviors linked together to perform a specific task with one Cue, one Marker and one Reinforcer. Examples in agility of behavior chains is Weaves, all Contacts and Heeling.

    Back Chain - starting at the very end of a Behavior Chain and working forward to the beginning of the chain, in order to simplify the training of a chain of behaviors.

    Stationary Behavior - any behavior where the dog is asked to cease motion (Contacts/Sits/Downs/Table).

    Proprioception - a dogs spatial and physical awareness of all body parts.

    Crosses - where dog changes from one side of handler to the other side, signaled by lateral motion relative to the dog and/or Side Cues.

    Release Word - a verbal command that ends a Stationary Behavior.

    Two On Two Off - 2 front paws in grass or ground and 2 rear paws on contacts.

    Heel Position - dogs front leg on right or left of handlers leg, dogs shoulders parallel to handlers shoulders and facing the same direction as handler.

    Independent Behavior - is trained to be independent of handlers motion (Weaves, all Stationary Behaviors). Means handler can run past, run wide, stop short or sit in a chair while dog performs these behaviors.

    Oppositional Reflex - a dogs instinct to react by pulling away from anything that's pulling on them and to push against anything that's pushing against them. We can use this reflex to our advantage as trainers to build drive and to build stronger SB's.

    Recall - dog responds to cues (i.e. dog’s name, slowed motion, stopped motion or motion away from dog) given by handler to return to the handler in Heel Position. Recall To Heel position should be trained as a default behavior in the absence of any other forward cues.

    Sends - A Send is where my dog proceeds forward and commits to an obstacle in the face of no motion, lateral motion or decelerated motion which in all cases cue a turn (except for non-turning obstacles.) A Send is a trained response.

    Restrained Recall - using Oppositional Reflex to build enthusiasm for recalls to handler.

    Verbal Discrimination - where dog can discriminate between two different obstacles with a verbal only Obstacle cue from handler (i.e.“Shoot!” from “Weave!”).

    On The Flat - exercises that are performed in between obstacles.

    Target - a visual stimulus to use to direct dog to a particular place.

    Bridge - a Bridge is a verbal marker that indicates to the dog that the behavior they are engaged in is the correct behavior and will be reinforced. It is "a promise to pay" and the "pay" is the delivery of the reinforcer upon completion of the behavior.

    Shaping - training or teaching by working towards a desired or target behavior by systematically reinforcing successive approximations toward the target behavior. (The target behavior is the behavior you want to train.)

    Guidelines for Shaping Behaviors:

    - Select from normally occurring (random) behaviors
    - Reinforce very small increments
    - Reinforce continuously
    - Associate behaviors and consequences precisely
    - Stretch the patterns (that receive reinforcement)
    - Recognize mutual reinforcement (mutual shaping).

    Proofing - Teaching your dog to perform a behavior in the presence of distractions.

    Premack Principle - A theory stating that a stronger response or a preferred response will reinforce a weaker response also referred to as "Grandma's law" (i.e. if you eat your spinach you can get ice cream later.)

    Default Recall - where dog returns to handler and heel position in the absence of other cues.

    Negative Punishment - In an attempt to decrease the likelihood of a behavior occurring in the future, reinforcers are withheld for non compliance; often coupled with a No Reward Marker. Can sometimes result in Avoidance Behavior.

    No Reward Marker - Informs the dog that he/she has made an incorrect choice. Could be a mechanically generated sound or a verbal word like "no" or "un-uh" or "whoops."

    Avoidance Behavior - where dogs attempt to escape from unpleasant feelings like anxiety or fear by running away, looking away or "shutting down." Can be reversed by locating the dog far enough away from the aversive situation to stay under threshold; or by decreasing the complexity of the task; or by increasing the value of the Reinforcer and the rate of reinforcement; or by increasing the Motivation; or all three.

    Motivation - Internal and external factors that stimulate desire and energy to engage in a particular activity. Motivation can be increased by: increasing the dogs hunger for a food motivator by reducing their day to day food intake and increasing their appetite; or by increasing the value of the Reinforcer (i.e. steak, beef heart, boiled live, tug toys instead of using plain dog kibble); or by varying the Reinforcers by introducing new Reinforcers over time; or by being more reinforcing yourself by increasing your energy level and engagement with your dog; or by increasing the Rate Of Reinforcement.

    D-A-S-H: Desire, Accuracy, Speed, Habitat; in that order - A method of training a Behavior Chain whereby each step of the chain meets the DASH criteria. First your dog must have Desire or be motivated by the task or behaviors you want them to do. You can't force them or lure them to to it. You have to Shape it. Then you must get Accuracy. Don't make it more difficult by adding new chains of behavior if your dog can't do the prior behavior with DASH. Then you need to add >strong>Speed through arousal. Lastly, you add proofs so that your dog can do the behavior in any Habitat with any distraction.

    Fading - doing something smaller and smaller and less frequently until a tiny version of the original prompt will work, or until the dog no longer needs outside help to do the behavior. The term "fading" applies to prompts and cues; not to the marker signal or click.

Beginner Graduate Test Requirements

B-4's who have passed the B-4 Test, will return to Beginner class at the Beginner Graduate level for a minimum of one Session. At the Beginner Graduate level, they will be asked to do advanced Beginner exercises to prepare them for the off leash, Intermediate level. Some of these behaviors they must train for outside of class, as all students wishing to advance must train outside of class time either at home or here at the facility. The Beginner Graduate level will be done primarily with a dropped long line or dropped leash..

Beginner Graduates can stay at the Graduate level for as long as they wish. After a minimum of one Session at Beginner Graduate, and when they feel they are ready, they can schedule a test for Beginner Graduate . The Beginner Graduate test will take no more than 30 minutes and cost $1/minute. The Beginner Graduate test can usually be done before or after each students normal class time.

If the student is having problems and can't seem to finish the test in 30 minutes, they have an option of continuing working on the test as a private lesson at $1/minute. They will then be required to enroll in another Session of Graduate Beginner until they feel they are prepared to test again. When tested again, they will only be tested for those parts of the test they didn't pass at $1/minute.

Once all portions of the Graduate Beginner test are passed, the student will move to Intermediate level, which is all off leash.


Required Skills For Beginner Graduate Test

  • The entire test must be off leash with pull tab.
  • Sit/Stay for 30 seconds at 15'
  • Down/Stay for 2 minutes at 15'
  • Over jump and a straight line with dog maintaining HP to jump 20’ away. FC at jump and return and jump 1st jump with no disconnection from dog and without the dog sniffing or running off from handler.
  • Over jump and in HP run to shoot 20’ away. RC before shoot and recall to HP, returning and jumping the 1st jump. No disconnection from dog and without the dog sniffing or running off from handler.
  • Full size DW into 2o2o.
  • Full size AF into 2o2o.
  • Full size Climb into 2o2o.
  • 12 channel weaves 3” apart or 6 two by two weaves in a straight line.
  • 6 obstacle Jumpers course responding to a verbal recall cue (dog's name) if dog sniffs or disengages from handler. Must complete course in 40 seconds or less. No treats.
  • Serpentine around cones the length of the entire field while dog maintains HP, no treats.

PFA Contact Training Policy:

All students in Beginner Group classes will be taught “two on, two off” (2o2o) for all contacts, except the Climb (seesaw) for dogs under 20 lbs., for whom a “four on” is recommended. For those Beginner students that request other methods of contact training, we can accommodate them provided a clear criteria is defined.

Seminars are offered once or twice each year for students at all levels who wish to develop a reliable, handler independent running A-frame using the Sanders Box Method. No prior contact training experience is required. For most dogs and handler teams, the running AF takes about 4 times the amount of time to train and maintain, than the 2o2o.

Intermediate and Advanced students who wish to explore other contact training methods are encouraged to discuss these with Bonnie. Students who may like to train a running dogwalk that is reliable and handler independent should understand that for most dog and handler teams, it will take about 8 times the amount of time to train and maintain, than the 2o2o. Private lessons will be available to assist students in succeeding with the method of their choice.



Bi-Monthly Session Format


Week One > Stationary Behaviors

  • Contacts
  • Start Line
  • Sit
  • Down
  • Proofing


Week Two > Jumping

  • Foundation Jumping
  • Winged Jumps
  • Spread Jumps


Week Three > Weaves

  • Entries
  • Two By Two
  • Channel
  • Round The Clock


Week Four > Crosses

  • Front Cross
  • Rear Cross (Cross Behind)
  • Blind Cross (Int. and Adv. ONLY)


Week Five > Sends

  • Forward Send
  • Lateral Send

Week Six > Recall to Heel

  • Six Recall to Heel Positions


Week Seven > Cues

  • Motion-Primary Cue
  • Shoulders
  • Location
  • Arm/hand Signal
  • Verbal Cues
  • Eye Contact


Week Eight > Balancing Cues

  • Forward Cues
  • Turning Cues
  • Collection Cues
  • Side Cues
  • Direction Cues


(only on some Months)
Week Nine > Optional

  • Course Runs
  • Course Strategy
  • Course Analysis
  • Tricks
  • Requests