Thanks for choosing TipTopTails!

We would be delighted to train with you and your dog. Our approach is centered on providing personalized attention to help you reach your training goals.  We take the time to understand what is unique about you and your dog.

Here’s how we can help right now.  See below for specific help with:

– group classes

– new puppy resources

– behavior issues

– individual lessons

Our FAQs below have additional info on a variety of topics.  If these resources do not answer your question, feel free to reach out and we will be happy to help.

Group classes

Our next session starts in November 2022. View our schedule here. Sign up for our newsletter on our website and we will keep you posted on upcoming classes and workshops.

Not sure which class to choose? Read the class descriptions here or click here: Which class?

Learn more about puppy group classes

Learn more about Puppy Day School

Learn more about adult dog good manners classes

Get info on how to sign up for class, vaccination requirements, and fees and policies

New puppy resources

The clock is ticking on socialization!  Here are our socialization recommendations to help your pup build confidence, and here are our free handouts on essential puppy skills like crate training, housetraining, mouthing, attention, sit, and down.

Behavior issues

If you are struggling with your dog’s reactivity, aggression, or anxiety, visit our behavior page to learn more about how we can help and to contact our behavior consultant.

Individual lessons

We offer fully customized individual lessons (in-person and online) for good manners and dog sports. Learn more about individual lessons. Contact us if you would like to schedule an individual lesson.

What are your COVID safety rules for in-person training?<

Masks are strongly recommended.  Social distancing is observed at all classes and lessons.

You are welcome to bring other people in your household to your class or lesson.

At The Knoll, our training area, lobby, and bathrooms have been treated with MicrobeCare, which is an antimicrobial coating to reduce the spread of infection and cross communication of dangerous microorganisms, including the coronavirus.

Do you offer online training?

Yes! Online classes and lessons are available. Click here for more info.

What training methods do you use?

Our training uses positive reinforcement methods, meaning when your dog does something we like, we reward that behavior with praise, petting, treat, toy, play, or anything else your dog likes.  Behavior that is rewarded is more likely to be repeated.

We teach our clients to praise their dogs for all appropriate behaviors, while spacing out the tangible rewards over time, so the dog learns that not every behavior leads to a treat or toy.  We’ve worked with some very “foodie” dogs, and for those dogs we make sure that we are varying our rewards so the dog isn’t always expecting a treat.

We use management tools like leashes and crates to limit the opportunities for dogs to make mistakes; for example, a dog that is on leash is not able to dash out the door or to jump on people (if kept a little distance away).  That way we minimize the chance for the dog to practice behaviors we don’t like.

We do use verbal interruption (“no” or “ah ah”) to interrupt behaviors that are inappropriate, then we redirect to a more appropriate behavior and reward that behavior.  We use timeouts when interruption is not successful and the dog continues to repeat a mistake.  Note that sometimes with pups and young adult dogs the issue is simply that they are overtired and need a nap.

We do not use physical corrections like jerking the leash or hitting, or any techniques that would create fear or pain. There is never any reason to use fear or physical pain to train a dog; we shouldn’t have to scare an animal to teach it.  Marine mammal trainers work with huge animals that can swim away any time they like, and they exclusively use positive reinforcement.  We should be able to train our dogs the same way.

The best method is the one that helps your dog understand what you are asking them to do and rewards them for doing that behavior. If your dog feels good about training, they will be happy to keep on learning with you.

Do I need a class or an individual lesson?

Group classes are designed to teach and practice general good manners skills. Here are examples of the kinds of skills typically covered in our group classes. Note that each instructor has their own curriculum and may not cover all of these skills in every class. Refer to the specific class description for more info.

  • Sit
  • Down
  • Stay/Wait
  • Sit for petting/not jumping on people
  • Leash walking
  • Come when called
  • Leave it and drop it
  • Go to bed/place/park it
  • Crate training (puppy classes only)
  • House training (puppy classes only)
  • Mouthing (puppy classes only)

Topics not covered at group classes include:

  • Kids and dogs interactions
  • Getting along with another dog in your household
  • Barking, growling, lunging, or other reactivity towards people or dogs
  • Aggression towards people or dogs
  • Resource guarding/growling over food, toys, or other objects
  • Separation anxiety
  • General anxiety and fearfulness
  • Counter surfing
  • Digging
  • Crate training and house training for adult dogs

For assistance with these topics, an individual lesson is the best choice.  See our FAQs on lessons.

Which class should I choose?

Click here for help in finding the right class for your dog.

What is the difference between classes and workshops?

Classes meet once per week for multiple weeks. Workshops meet one time and focus on a specific topic.

How do I sign up for a class?

If you are a new client and do not have a client account, go to our website and click “Create Your Account” at the top of the home page, then follow the prompts. Note: you do not need to fill in your dog’s vaccination info in order to set up your account; you can add this info later.

Once you have a client account, you can sign up for classes when registration is open (posted on our website home page). Go to our website and click “Register” at the tip of the home page, then log in with your e-mail address and password. Note: you must log in with the primary e-mail account that you entered when you created your account.

If you have a client account, you automatically will receive our e-mail newsletter. You also can sign up for our newsletter from our website, by clicking “Join Our Newsletter” at the top of the home page, then entering your name and e-mail address.

Registration opens at a set date and time as posted on our website home page and in our newsletter. We are not able to accept pre-registrations.

Private registration is held for Reactive Rover classes (and sometimes for Puppy Day School) since enrollment is so limited. Please contact us if you are interested by e-mailing info@tiptoptails.com with the subject line “Reactive Rover” or “Puppy Day School.”

How long does each class meet?

Classes typically meet one hour per week.

How many dogs are in a class?

Our class and workshop sizes are kept small to ensure quality instruction and individual attention for each student. Most classes and workshops have a maximum of eight dogs.

There is a four student minimum enrollment for most classes.  In the unlikely event that a class is cancelled due to low enrollment, we will contact you, and provide a full refund or a credit towards a future class, whichever you prefer.

What vaccinations do you require?

For puppies under 4 months old:

  • distemper/parvo (DAPP/DHPP), at least the first round
  • bordetella (kennel cough)
  • negative fecal exam (or undergoing treatment)

For puppies and dogs over 4 months old:

  • distemper/parvo (DAPP/DHPP)
  • bordetella (kennel cough)
  • rabies (when your vet recommends it)

We accept titer testing for dogs that medically cannot be vaccinated. Please provide titer documentation by e-mail after you register.

My puppy has not had all their shots yet. Is it safe to come to class?

Yes!  We follow the recommendation of the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior:

“Puppies can start puppy socialization classes as early as 7-8 weeks of age.  Puppies should receive a minimum of one set of vaccines at least 7 days prior to the first class and a first de-worming.  They should be kept up-to-date on vaccines throughout the class. … Enrolling in puppy classes prior to three months of age can be an excellent means of improving training, strengthening the human-animal bond, and socializing puppies in an environment where risk of illness can be minimized.”

Per the AVSAB, we require that puppies have at least their first set of vaccinations for distemper and bordetella before starting class.

At The Knoll, our training area, lobby, and bathrooms have been treated with MicrobeCare, which is an antimicrobial coating to reduce the spread of infection and cross communication of dangerous microorganisms, including the coronavirus.

We do recommend that you avoid places frequented by dogs with unknown vaccination histories, like public dog parks. Socializing with dogs you know who like puppies and who are vaccinated is fine; small groups and short sessions are best so your pup does not get overwhelmed.

My puppy is driving me crazy. Can you help now?

Yes! Here are our socialization recommendations to help your pup build confidence during this challenging time, and here are our free handouts on essential puppy skills like housetraining, crate training, mouthing, attention, and the basics of sit and down.

Individual lessons for puppies are available in-person and online.  See our FAQs on lessons.

Check out our Puppy Day School day training option for pups under six months old.

How do individual lessons work?

We offer in-person and online individual lessons for good manners, behavior issues, and dog sports. Lessons provide one-on-one interaction with your instructor and are personalized to your training goals.

Good manners and behavior lessons include training time, plus time for questions, along with written notes and handouts. Lesson packages are available. Behavior cases involving a bite history may require a three lesson package minimum.  Please note that for behavior lessons and consults, your appointment may or may not include hands-on training, depending on what is appropriate for your dog and the specific circumstances of their behavior case.

Learn more about good manners and dog sports lessons.

Learn more about behavior services.

Learn more about lesson fees and packages.

How do I sign up for an individual lesson?

First, if you are a new client and do not have a client account, go to our website and click “Create Your Account” at the top of the home page, then follow the prompts. Note: you do not need to fill in your dog’s vaccination info in order to set up your account; you can add this info later.

Next, contact us at info@tiptoptails.com with the subject line “lesson scheduling” and let us know:

  • your dog’s name, age, breed/mix
  • training goals/issues to be addressed
  • preference for in-person or online lesson
  • preference for days of the week and times of day

Our team will contact you to discuss training goals and scheduling and to send you a link to our online waiver. If you have not heard back within 72 hours, something has gone awry and we encourage you to re-send your e-mail or call us.

My dog barks a lot. Can I still come to class?

It depends. If your dog normally barks when excited, but typically is able to calm down and stop barking after a few minutes, then a group class will work just fine.

If your dog typically barks for an extended period of time when excited or when meeting new people and dogs, your dog probably is not ready for a group class environment just yet. Instead, you should schedule an individual lesson so we can give you training strategies to help your dog manage their excitement and be calm in new environments. See our FAQs on individual lessons.

If your dog barks at people or dogs out of fear (for example, on walks or when people come into your home), your dog probably will feel stressed in a group class environment, and will not get much out of a group class right now. Instead, you should schedule an individual lesson so we can work with you and your dog to help them feel less worried around new people and dogs, and to give you training strategies to guide your dog’s behavior. See our FAQs on individual lessons.  We may also recommend our Reactive Rover program.

What if I have to miss a class or drop out? Do you offer makeup classes?

Please carefully consider your schedule and commitment to training before registering for class. Our class and workshop sizes are kept small to ensure quality instruction and individual attention for each student. By registering, you are reserving a space in a specific class day and time for the duration of the class. Due to limited instructor and facility availability, we are unable to offer refunds or makeups for missed classes. Since our small group classes typically have full enrollment, we are unable to transfer registrations to another class.

If you have to miss a class, please let your instructor know. Your instructor may be able to send you written or video resources on the material you missed, and will be happy to review the material at your next class.

If you or your dog are unable to attend the remainder of your class session due to an injury or illness, please contact us and we will extend a credit for the unused portion of your class fee, minus one night’s class fee to cover our costs.

If your instructor determines that a group class is not a productive learning environment for you and your dog, and recommends that you switch to individual lessons, we will apply your class payment to the lesson fee.

What happens if a class or lesson is cancelled?

While we make every effort to meet our scheduling commitments, on rare occasions we may be forced to cancel a class or lesson due to severe weather, unsafe conditions, or instructor illness. Class students will be contacted by e-mail and phone, and we will schedule a makeup class if possible. If a makeup class is not possible, we will give you a refund or credit for that class night’s fee, whichever you prefer. Lesson students will be contacted by e-mail and phone, and we will reschedule as soon as possible.

How much do classes and individual lessons cost?

Information on our fees is available here.

What payment methods do you accept?

We accept payment by credit card (online only), check, and cash. You can pay via credit card through PayPal when you register online (you do not need a PayPal account to pay by credit card). Checks can be mailed to TipTopTails, 1030 S. 8th St., Kalamazoo, MI 49009. There is a $25 fee for returned checks.

When do I have to pay?

When you register for a class or workshop, you are reserving one of a limited number of spaces, so we require a nonrefundable deposit at the time of registration. Payment is full is due 48 hours before class starts, or your space may be released to a student on the waiting list. We appreciate your cooperation to help keep our classes small and effective for you.

When you register for an individual lesson, you are reserving one of a limited number of appointments, so we require payment in full at least 48 hours before your lesson. Cancellation with less than 48 hours notice may result in forfeiture of your payment.

Do you offer a guarantee?

We believe it is unethical to make guarantees about training and behavior results. As professional members of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, we are required to “refrain from giving guarantees regarding the outcome of training, because there is no sure way to guarantee the cooperation and performance of all parties involved and because the knowledge of animal behavior is incomplete.”

What we can guarantee is that we will act in a professional, ethical and compassionate manner, and that we will do our best to assist you in reaching your training goals.