The Puppy School
Coaching for you and your canine companion
Achieving well-rounded, well-behaved, happy dogs (and happy people)!
Specializing in helping puppies & recently rescued adult dogs.
Serving Fort Collins, Loveland, Windsor & Larimer County.
Charlie & Wags, canine mentors at The Puppy School in Fort Collins, demonstrate how to stay no matter what the distraction.
"Roo" Randal, Founder and Head Teacher at The Puppy School in Fort Collins, has more than twenty-five years of experience working with dogs and helping people to better understand and communicate with them. Building a solid positive foundation from the start makes for a great relationship between people and dogs. Roo specializes in helping people and young dogs build that foundation. That’s why she started “The Puppy School”, which focuses primarily on puppies! But Roo also has a special interest in helping adult rescued dogs who may not have had the opportunity as puppies to establish that solid, positive foundation. That is why The Puppy School also works with recently-rescued adult dogs adopted through shelters.
Roo brings her excellent communication and teaching skills developed as a former public school teacher and Director of a children’s camp to ensure your canine companion not only learns, but that non-furry family members do too! In addition to her dog training experience, she has worked with therapy dogs, taking them on visits to public schools, homes for seniors, and orphanages abroad to bring companionship and moments of happiness to others. She started a “shelter school” in Cuernavaca, Mexico to offer basic training to shelter dogs to improve their chances of being adopted. She founded the “Lakota Animal Care Project” on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, a non-profit organization that provided basic animal health care and a rescue/adoption program for thousands of dogs on the Reservation over the span of a decade.
Roo has fostered hundreds of dogs of all ages, temperaments and breeds, providing them not only with a safe and loving home until a permanent home was found, but also providing critical teachings to lay the foundation for that happy co-existence between people and dogs. Roo is also the Founder of Camp Laugh A Lot (www.camplaughalot.org), a summer camp for Lakota children that includes activities to enhance awareness and compassion for animals and an in-school “Reading with Animals” program.
Roo teaching children how to give treats
Charlie & Wags showing soft mouths used at all times
Starting classes with your recently-adopted dog (no matter what their age) helps to ensure a good understanding of what is expected in the new home. Helping people understand what their dogs need and how to provide that through effective direction and communication, the right exercise regime, and the right energy helps ensure a happy and healthy relationship between people and the furry members of our families who share our daily lives.
We look forward to welcoming you and your canine friend at The Puppy School in Fort Collins!
The Puppy School Perspective & Philosophy
Each of our clients makes a carefully considered choice when deciding on what dog trainer or puppy socialization and learning center they will entrust to teach and coach them and their canine companion. To help you determine if we are the right one for you, here we share a bit about our perspective and philosophy on dogs and about our relationship with them.
A healthy relationship between people and dogs is built on mutual respect. This has to be learned and earned by both parties.
The average person thinks their dog is super smart if they understand sit, stay, come, but the dog understands so much more – the heart, the soul.
We don’t “own” animals. Equally, animals should not be allowed to “own” us by “running” our lives.
Most people expect far too little from their dogs and give far too little of themselves even if they may provide plenty of good food, nice dog beds, excellent veterinary care and a comfortable home.
Walking with your dog is the most important thing you can do for your dog (it’s good for you too and essential for your relationship with your dog).
The average dog doesn’t judge their person, but might wonder about their leadership skills/choices. "Why did s/he just pass all that wonderful wildlife habitat so we could walk in this desolate, wildlife-free place?" "S/he takes the special finds out of my mouth and just tosses them away!" "I discover and roll in wonderful smells and s/he washes them off first chance s/he gets!" Despite our "poor" choices, they choose to follow us and respect our choices. 😊
Our use of words (or “commands” as they are sometimes known) to communicate our intent reflects our perspective. I prefer to ask “walk with me” rather than “heel”.
Treats have a purpose, but most people who use them misuse them either to bribe or to distract a dog rather than to teach. If you use treats to bribe, it’s like giving children candy to get them to do what you want. One can only get you so far with treats. Respect allows you to go much farther.
A “nice big back yard” is nothing to a dog alone in that yard if s/he doesn’t get out (i.e., off the property) every day. In this case, s/he may as well be in a “not so nice, tiny back yard” as a big yard only helps the person to more easily forgive their own lack of responsibility. A dog needs to get out every day, exploring new areas often and routinely meeting new dogs and people.
If your dog pulls on the leash, before you contact a dog trainer to fix "the problem", consider what the real problem may be. Pulling on the leash is almost always a sign that your dog is not getting enough daily exercise and mental stimulation. Once you solve that problem by ensuring your dog gets enough daily exercise and mental stimulation, you may not even need the help of a dog trainer -- maybe just a fitness trainer to ensure you are fit enough to provide the right exercise for your dog. Let's be fair to our dogs and recognize which of us has the problem.
A dog must have some time off leash on a regular basis to explore on her/his own, to take time to smell where s/he wants to, to make decisions on her/his own. If you make all decisions for your dog, neither your dog or your relationship with your dog will grow beyond a certain point. You will never really know your dog fully.
People sometimes inadvertently create addiction in their dogs. A ball/frisbee can be fun but should not be used to replace walks.
Dogs tend to make quite a lot more effort to understand us compared to the effort we make to understand them. How many different types of barks does the average person understand? The average dog has learned or tries to learn all the English words we care to teach them. Some dogs who have gained fame because their people spent time teaching them English words have demonstrated that they can recognize and fully comprehend more than 100 English words. They also pay attention to our body language and learn what our smiles or frowns or shrugged shoulders mean. How many people know what it means when a dog licks her lips or when she lifts one paw slightly? We tend not to bother to learn either a dog’s verbal language or their body language. We seem to think so little of their capabilities. How patient and understanding they are, and, despite our shortcomings they still want to follow us.
Crates/kennels are cages unless the door is open.
The primary purpose of a leash is to prevent you from getting a ticket. If the main way you communicate with your dog is through the leash, your relationship is lacking.
Cities should have certification programs that allow well-behaved dogs to be off leash in public places. Cities contribute to unsocialized dogs when they do not offer off leash opportunities for dogs other than “dog parks”.
Puppy pupils learning how to wait patiently at "treat circle" . Great job everyone!
"Very attentive! Excellent one-on-one instruction specifically tailored to what you and your fur child need."
Amy B. & Puppy Pupil, Olive
More on our Philosophy and Perspective on Dogs
We all have different philosophies and perspectives on animals, including dogs. I have outlined some points regarding my philosophy and perspectives on dogs (and how humans see and treat them). Overall, I consider a dog (or any animal that lives with me) as a family member. My commitment to them is no less and no greater than it is to any other family member. One of the (many) great things about having a dog as a family member is that family member is also always a great friend. In my own case, although I have had and continue to have many great friends, none has ever been greater than the dogs who have shared my life. I am so very thankful for the friendship, companionship, love, loyalty, protection, and patience gifted to me by my own dogs and others over the years.
Unlike some animal behaviorist who persist in asking questions such as “do animals have emotions” or “are animals intelligent”, most people who have lived with a dog (or any animal) don’t have to ask such questions as the answers are abundantly obvious. In my own way of thinking, animals experience the range of emotions that we do as people (and who knows, maybe even other emotions we haven’t even felt), and may often feel these emotions even more deeply than we sometimes do as they have fewer inhibitions and fewer distractions. And, when referring to intelligence, I tend to consider the most subtle and simplest to be the most sophisticated. In this way, animals, including, but not limited to dogs, are so clearly extremely intelligent.
The vast majority of dogs are happiest living with at least one other animal in the house, preferably a dog. If they are of similar age, even better, as their interests and energy level will tend to be similar. Would you be happy living in a household of only pets and no other human? Some people are, but for the most part, we also regularly seek other human companionship. Dogs are no different. So, even though it is more expensive (in food and vet bills), I strongly encourage everyone to consider adopting two dogs instead of one. Naturally there are circumstances where one dog is best for a variety of reasons, but a lone dog shouldn’t be the automatic default. And, if you do only have one, then it is important to let your dog get together with other dog friends everyday (not just once a week).
Walking with our dogs is one of the most important things we can do for our dog’s overall health and happiness (and for the health of our relationship with our dogs). No matter how big your yard is, it can never replace a walk. And, a walk on a leash can never replace a walk off leash. My hope is that cities all over the country will open at least some areas (other than fenced in dog parks) to welcome dogs off leash. Many cities have successful programs that allow a dog to get a permit to be off leash once they pass a test showing that they are friendly with people and other dogs, well-behaved, and under voice control.