30-Minute Evaluation Expectations

30-Minute Evaluation Description

Dog Adventures Northwest requires all prospective Adventure, Day Camp, and Boarding schedule a 30-Minute Evaluation with a trainer to be considered for Dog Adventures Northwest services.

While this consultation is free for clients, Contractors are paid a flat fee of $25 for each 30-Minute Evaluation.

30-Minute Evaluations allow prospective clients to:

  • Inquire more about services.
  • Meet their potential new trainer and watch the trainer's interactions with their dog.

30-Minute Evaluations allow Dog Adventures Northwest Contractors to:

  • Meet their potential new client.
  • Assess the dog's readiness for Dog Adventures Northwest services.

There is no obligation for either the client or the Contractor to engage in services after the 30-Minute Evaluation.

Please note that 30-Minute Evaluations are not training sessions. Contractors should not train the dog or offer their specific training expertise to the client. Clients are welcome to book Private Training sessions with Dog Adventures Northwest if they would like concrete guidance and training for their dog.

30-Minute Evaluation Expectations

Dog Adventures Northwest Contractors will receive notification of a new client via email. If the Contractor feels that their schedule and capacity aligns the needs of the client based on the information provided on the basic intake form, Contractors agree to do the following:

  • Follow all General Contractor Expectations.
  • Contact the client via the preferred method of communication listed on the basic intake form to schedule a time for a 30-Minute Evaluation. Note that a new client’s profile will not appear on Time to Pet until after they have been approved by a trainer after the 30-Minute Evaluation, so communication before that point will need to be done using the preferred form of communication the client has listed.
  • Schedule the 30-Minute Evaluation at the client's home for Adventures or at the trainer’s home for Day Camp and Boarding.
  • Notify Dog Adventures Northwest of the date, time, and location of the 30-Minute Evaluation by responding to the New Client Prospect email.
  • Let the client know what to expect from the 30-Minute Evaluation: the purpose of the evaluation, the length of the evaluation, and a reminder that it is not a training session.
  • Carry high-value treats for classical conditioning.
  • Take notes, either within the client's Time to Pet profile itself, or on paper (to be transferred to the client's Time to Pet profile later).
  • Discuss the client’s goals and expectations for Adventures, Day Camp, or Boarding.
  • Assess the dog’s temperament; assess the dog’s existing skills and/or triggers; and assess the dog’s learning style and reinforcers.
  • Test to see if the dog will get in your vehicle willingly. Dog Adventures Northwest cannot take dogs on adventures that do not willingly get into cars. If a dog refuses to get in your car, let the client know that training will need to be done before adventures can be considered.
  • Let prospective clients know about the Time to Pet system if it seems the dog is a good fit for services, and encourage them to download the app; inform clients that service cannot begin until they have signed into the system after receiving log-in information from Dog Adventures Northwest and signed the waiver. Their Time to Pet log-in information will be sent to them if they are approved for service by the Contractor and if they want to move forward with scheduling.
  • Inform prospective Adventure clients about our Garmin satellite trackers, ensure they know the collars do not have shock or stim capacity, and that there is a one-time $50 GPS equipment fee for dogs who go on regular and recurring Adventures with Dog Adventures Northwest.

Best Practices

Shared by Simone Riley: I always ask ahead of time if the dog has any dietary restrictions, so that I bring only appropriate treats. Here is my list of questions that I loosely follow during the eval, in no particular order:
How does your dog feel about other familiar dogs? Unfamiliar dogs? Do you go to dog parks? Daycare? Is there a difference if your dog is on leash vs off? In the car vs out?

  • If applicable, what is your dog's play style? Wrestling? Run and chase?
  •  How does your dog feel about unfamiliar people? What do his/her greetings look like?
  • Is there anything that your dog is particularly fearful of? Kids? Bikes/skateboards? Loud sounds? What does s/he do when scared?
  • How does your dog feel about toys and sticks? Have you ever had a situation where your dog didn't want to share these items, or was trying to steal them from another dog's possession? (Gauge frequency, severity if yes)
  • How does your dog feel about food? (Same resource guarding questions)
  • How does your dog feel about riding in the car? Where does s/he usually ride in your car? Does s/he lie down and not move, or lie down and sleep? Sit quietly? Pant or pace? At the end of the eval, I invite the dog to jump into my car and eat treats, to get a feel for whether they'll get in easily or not.
  • How does your dog feel about handling: putting on gear, toweling off, being examined, etc. What does s/he do? Has your dog ever experienced an unfamiliar person doing these things? Sometimes I bring out a GPS collar and do a little intro to it.
  • What, if any, off leash experience does your dog have? How easily can you recall your dog when there are distractions present?
  • Does your dog have any interest in wildlife? Birds, deer, etc.
  • Has your dog been in someone else's care before? Petsitter, etc.
  • Have you ever worked with a private trainer? Who with, and what on? Have you done group classes? Did your dog do a puppy class/ puppy socials?

I word these questions as neutrally as possible, so that I can get as much unfiltered information as possible from the client. Most folks won't be intentionally deceptive or withholding of information, but sometimes behaviors that a dog owner knows are taboo might be downplayed or explained with a narrative. It's also helpful to get the client talking, so you can get a feel for their view /understanding their dog's behavior, or dog behavior in general, and their expectation of what behavior management during adventures looks like. Depending on your personal preferences, these might be a factor in your decision whether to take on this client.

I decided after some trial and error what my dealbreakers are, and always tell the client, with as much tact and honesty as possible, whether it's a yes or no by the end of the eval. If it's a no, 95% of the time it's just a no for me, and the dog might otherwise be a good fit for someone else. If it's a yes, I tell the client upfront if there are any specific things I'm not sure about, and that I'd like to feel it out during the trial adventure. I've only had two evals where I told the client that the dog cannot go out on adventures without scheduling training first, and both were dogs who remained fearful of me throughout the 30 minute eval.

I generally give an overview of how adventures work after asking all of my questions, and then ask if they have any questions. I tell them that the dogs wear the GPS collars while off leash, reiterate that the collars have no capacity to shock or vibrate, and reassure them that the collars are reliable for an emergency, but are really there for peace of mind, not as the primary means for keeping track of dogs. I walk them through pickup/drop-off, and tell them that dogs are usually away for between 3-4 hours, but that I'll communicate ETAs. I also set an expectation for what I focus on training-wise during adventures: for me it's auto-check ins, recall, and social/play skills.

Lastly, even if I'm nearly 100% sure this dog/client is a keeper, and even if they are an existing DANW client being transferred from another trainer, I always set the expectation that I will be doing a "trial run" to make sure everything is a perfect fit. I've been wrong before, and it's much easier if the client understands beforehand that so many things have to click for things to work!

Shared by Jess Lara, specifically for Boarding: Consider what behaviors are unacceptable in your home, either for safety, your dog's preferences, or your preferences. Can you handle housing a dog who stress pants frequently? Does the dog need to tolerate your neighbor's barking dog? Does the dog need to spend time alone? Do you dislike the way a certain breed smells? Does the dog need to be safe with guests or roommates waltzing in the front door? Do you want dogs that need special considerations? Can you board a dog who is fearful of car rides? Can you board a dog with aggression? Can you board a dog over 100 pounds? Define your parameters of behavior and physical traits that are suitable for you to board well.

Consider your dogs! In home boarding can be quite stressful for your resident dogs. You must consider your dog if you want this work to be sustainable. One too many annoying puppies up in your adult dog's face can create intolerance, fear, and aggression. Know your own dogs social preferences and weaknesses. Have systems in place so your dog doesn't feel like their home life in unpredictable and stressful. If your dog watches TV on the couch with you every night, maintain that routine and do no allow guest dogs to interfere. If your dog gets a calm walk with you each morning, maintain that and leave the bouncy puppy at home with a kong. You can bring guest dogs in through the back door rather than the front door. You can let your dog smell their gear before introducing. You can go several days before you introduce your dog to the guest dog. Give your dog a space that is their own, where boarder dogs do not go. Train your dog to cooperate with boarding. Teach them to allow you to go through thresholds with the boarder while they wait. Teach them to leave the boarder alone during training, eating, and resting. Teach your dog to fluently go to their bed/couch/hallway/place on a single verbal cue to quickly de-escalate or manage a situation. Talk to your dog and tell them what is happening! Prioritize your dog's well being when selecting which dogs you will board.

Evaluating a dog is a process. Spend time with this dog if they are not familiar with you. You can require that the dog spends the day with you for Day Camp, goes on a hike with you, and does 1 day of boarding. Some dogs that are dreams on hikes can have unexpected challenges in a home or on a leash. At any point (before committing to boarding) you can determine that this dog is not a good fit for boarding in your home. Be clear with the client that this is part of your evaluation process. Be clear that even if the dog is not a good fit for boarding with you, the services they sign up for as part of the evaluation process provide enrichment and training.

Ask direct questions. Has your dog ever bit another dog? Did you have to break up the fight? Did the bite case any injuries? How old was your dog when this happen?

When the front door is open, do you have to physically block or restrain your dog to prevent them from running outside? What do they do if they make it outside? ETC.

After you have determined a dog is a good fit to board with you, instruct the client on how to help prepare the dog. Does the dog only crate overnight at home? Assign homework to crate the dog through out the day for 5-60 minutes at a time. Other behaviors that make boarding safer and easier: CER+ to collar grabs, sit at thresholds, recall, load up in car, spent time alone, and relax on a mat.

Play safe and then play it safer. Dogs can display new behaviors under new antecedents, some that can really catch you off guard! Crate or contain dogs when they are alone, until they prove themselves reliable around your valuable/dangerous things. Have 2 barriers between dogs that shouldn't meet. Create a vestibule around your fence gate and front door. Do not have any medium or high value resources around unfamiliar dogs. Study dog body language, have ways to temperature test dogs, have emergency recalls. Use baby gates and xpens. Keep arousal levels low and encourage relaxation. Let your boarder sleep a lot. Do not allow a group of dogs to spend very much unstructured time together. Separate dogs when you are not actively supervising. Invest in gear that makes things safer: dog proof garbage cans, locks on your gates, security or treat dispensing cameras, chew proof toys, chew proof dog beds, chew proof leashes, more secure harnesses or collar, carabiners, secure crates, etc.

Give your client an honest evaluation of their dog's behavior during their stay. Compliment sandwich style this.