training - Classes - learning
Private Lessons offered at home or Out on the town. Group Classes held at Tails-a-Wagging.
Private lessons are available in Mount Vernon, Burlington, and Anacortes, Washington state.
To get started, please submit a New Client Form. I will reply with two business days.
Group Classes are taught in Bellingham at Tails-a-Wagging. There are options for all dogs and their people - from Puppy Preschool, through adult family dog classes like Ruff Around the Edges, and next-level classes teaching focused skills such as Walk This Way (for learning great leash manners) to The Dog Abides (helping your dog focus and settle). Private in-home or on-site lessons in Bellingham can be scheduled through Tails-a-Wagging too.
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Why “First Friends”?
Dogs have been walking by our side for some 15,000 to 30,000 years. They were our “first friends” from the animal kingdoms. Rudyard Kipling wrote a children’s story about the beginning of this partnership in “The Cat That Walked By Himself” from The Jungle Books. The business name “First Friends” refers to this, as well as to our family pets being our children’s first friends.
Guiding families with dogs through life's changes
First Friends is more than a dog training business. The services provided guide families with dogs through many life changes - learning to live better together!
First Friends can help proactively with planning for additions and transitions in your family such as: new babies or dogs, a household move or settling into a new home, or integrating new pets into your family. If issues have already arisen related to your pet’s behavior, First Friends can help with that too! Many problems with pets are based on misunderstandings and can be resolved with simple changes.
Together we can address: housetraining, basic manners, door-darting, leash skills, mouthing, and inappropriate greetings like jumping up. Other issues are more complex and require more time and patience. Some of these are: fearful behavior, resource guarding, and other pet-to-pet or pet-to-person conflicts. Because all situations are unique, there can be no complete guarantees but First Friends has been successful in helping with all of these issues.
Customized sessions are often the quickest route to identify and resolve issues, as well as jump-start training!
Together we can explore what works best for your family (dogs and kids included along with the adults) in the comfort of your own home. We can also meet before you welcoming a new family member (baby or dog) and create a plan for success.
These small (two to six training teams) classes create a safe and specially tailored learning environment.
The classes focus on real-life skills, teaching good manners, and problem-solving, always using positive reinforcement training and humane management techniques that are fun for the learners (dog and people alike).
Seminars and Events
A variety of larger single-session group events are offered throughout the year. Primary topics include: planning for your new baby, talent scouting for your new dog, toddlers and dogs, elders and pet care, and understanding your dog and being understood in return.
Join First Friends at an event to learn more about a variety of dog-related topics or contact us about arranging one for your neighborhood, community group, school, business, hospital, medical facility, or other organization.
People Are Saying
"Jen has spent much of her adult life working with dogs and some cats loving them and teaching children and adults how to safely interact with our four legged friends. She is exceptional with challenging canines and has the utmost patience with them. Having witnessed Jen's connection with the animals in her world I would recommend First Friends to help you and your family adjust to adding a dog into your lives."
"I have known Jen since before she found her forever home in the interface between pets and people, in shelters, in schoolrooms, and in vetting trainers. Her knowledge of people and pets helped us replace a long term favored pet successfully. Based on what she has done with her own dogs, including a "difficult" project I would have no reservations about inviting her in to any situation where people or dogs need help with each other."
"The only creature that understands dogs more than Jen are other dogs... maybe not even all of them. To ensure all the beings in your home live in harmony, you can't do better than consulting First Friends."
"Jen is a very skilled dog trainer and behavior counselor. She is among the best in our community! I have had the pleasure of working side-by-side with Jen and she has impressed me every step of the way. I highly recommend her for your training needs."
Mardi Richmond - Good Dog Santa Cruz
"I consulted with Jen on how to handle my young, high energy, high prey drive, territorial and protective male German Shepherd Heathcliff. Her advice helped ease us all through some rough patches, and helped me be as good a friend to my dog as he became to me. If you love a dog and find you aren't sure exactly how to live well together, Jen is the person you want to know."