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Paw in Hand wants you and your pet to succeed. As such, we offer a variety of types of services, so that you can pick the one(s) that best fit your needs and help you transform troublesome behavior into a harmonious relationship.

Private Lessons

Many times an animal is more comfortable in their home, and the stress of going out can decrease their reception to learning new skills and behaviors. Fearful and reactive dogs benefit from beginning skills to decrease their anxiety in a familiar environment with controlled distractions before going out and attending something like a group class. Also, many behaviors that trouble owners are specific to the life-style, and in-home lessons can help you find ways to manage your pet's behavior while you work with them to create new, more desirable behaviors. They can also help you learn to apply techniques from lessons specifically to your home situation. For the vast majority of cats, training is best done in the home, in their territory.  

Mel highly recommends all family members be present at the lessons so that everyone gets the same information at the same time, in order to increase consistency. 

 There is no additional charge for multiple pets in the house. To aid you in working with your pet, Mel offers several packages. Since Mel loves rescue pets, all clients will receive a 5% discount with proof of adoption of their pet from a shelter or rescue.

Feline Packages and Rates: 

Individual lessons and consultations last up to one hour. Among the issues commonly addressed are litter-box issues, inappropriate scratching, or trouble introducing a new member to the household. Call for a consultation today: many issues are fixable over the phone.

Canine Packages and Rate:

Individual lessons last about an hour each, and are usually spaced out a week or two between lessons, to give you plenty of time to master skills between lessons. Mel is well-versed in working to solve obedience or manners issues, impulse control, puppy behaviors, fearfulness, reactivity, aggression, trouble introducing a new member to the household, and more.

 A set of three lessons is a 10% savings, and a set of 6 lessons is a 20% savings.


Day Training (Canines only)

If you don't have time to train your dog, or if you are afraid you don't have the techniques to train your dog properly, Mel can simplify your life. Day training involves Mel coming to your house to train your dog for you, or you can drop your dog off at Paw In Hand for about an hour. She will work with your dog for an hour a day three times a week on basic manners, obedience, and problem areas. At the end of each week she will meet with the family to show progress and teach you how to keep up on the skills learned. Call for a consultation and price quote!


Group Classes: All dogs must be 4 months or older and current on distemper, bordatella, and rabies to attend. Rescue dogs receive a $10 discount. Classes are designed to be affordable and still packed full of learning, and enrollment is limited to 7 dogs per class.

A note about the Sample Syllabi provided: This is what the average class covers. Some classes progress faster than others, some slower, simply due to the ability of the dogs and handlers and any issues they are bringing to class. I will not progress faster than the ability of the dogs and handlers in the class, but I will push you and your dog to progress as quickly as you are able by encouraging you to tackle as much difficulty as possible.

 Basic Obedience Class: We’ll begin with the basics like Conditioned Relaxation, Sit, Down, Come, Loose Leash Walking, and Leave It. We’ll also work on appropriate greetings and solving problem behaviors, and then proof all behaviors against distractions. Class meets for an hour a week once a week for six weeks.

 Sample Syllabus:

Week One: Conditioned Relaxation, Sit (implied stay) w/ release command, Down (implied stay) w/ release command

Week Two: Review Conditioned Relaxation, Sit and Down with distractions and distance, Leave It

Week Three: Waiting at doors, Loose Leash Walking with pressure and release, Come - paper plate game

Week Four: Review pressure and release, Loose Leash Walking - Attention Game, Come - paper plate game, increased difficulty

Week Five: Appropriate greetings, Loose Leash Walking, Come - paper plate game or lines

Week Six: Wrapping up loose ends, Repeating any exercises needed, Answering questions, If time, Tricks.


  Intermediate Obedience Class: If your dog has already mastered Sit, Down, Stay, Come, and Loose Leash Walking in moderate distraction, then the intermediate class will provide you and your dog with challenging group activities to complete together, moving toward off leash reliability! Learn how to keep your dog's attention with higher distractions, and work toward mastering activities like targeting, place, moving Sits and moving Downs, commands from a distance, and long stays including while out of sight. Class meets for an hour a week once a week for six weeks. 

Sample Syllabus:

Week One: Sit from a Down, Doggy Push-ups, Stand-Stay, Weave throughs with position changes, Begin position changes with distance, Targeting

Week Two: Splitting the Mind, Weave throughs with position changes slowly increasing distance, Targeting, Place

Week Three: Popcorn Dog, Independent releases, Weave throughs (increase distance farther), Place with distractions, Opposing Heel/Come, Long Downs, begin out of sight

Week Four: Popcorn Dog, Independent releases, Close Encounters of the Canine Kind, Opposing Heel/Come, Perpendicular Heel/Come, Heel/Place around the room, Long Downs out of sight, Treat lines - Leave it

Week Five: Strange positioning for Sits and Downs, Perpendicular Heel/Come, Long downs together out of sight, Long stays, release independently, Close Encounters, Begin Sit/Down in motion, Begin Heel/Finish commands

Week Six: Leap Dog, Come with high distraction, Long downs together out of sight, Long stays, released independently, Sit/Down in motion, Heel, Finish commands, Heel progression to off leash, Rally-O. 


  Off Leash Class: Is your dog reliable on leash but not so much off leash? Progress from on leash reliability to off leash reliability in a safe, enclosed space, with group activities and moderate to high distractions. We'll work with activities including Heel, Come, Moving Sits and Downs including at a distance, Stand-Stays, Send-outs, beginning Retrieve, and beginning Scent Detection. Class meets for an hour a week once a week for six weeks. 

Sample Syllabus:

Week One: Independent Releases, Martin Deeley’s Splitting the Mind exercise, Close Encounters Game, Weave throughs, leash in pocket, Come with Leave it, Stand Stay with Distraction (“Examination”) and Distance (Owner in front)

Week Two: Close Encounters Game, leash in pocket, Perpendicular Heel/Come, Weave throughs, dragging leash, Long Stays, released independently, Send outs, come back, Stand Stay with Distraction (“Examination”) and Distance (Owner in front, 6 ft away)

Week Three: Close Encounters, leash dragging, Weave throughs, leash dragging or off, Send out, come back with distance, Sit/Down in motion, Sit/Down/Stand at distance 

Week Four: Retrieve, Left side/Right side, Silent commands - Hand signals, Sit/Down in motion, from distance, Send out, come back, with direction.

Week Five: Silent commands - Hand signals, Directed Retrieve, Left side/Right side, Scentwork, Control Exercise

Week Six: Directed Retrieve, Item Delivery, Scent Discrimination, Control Exercise, Play as a reward, Impulse Control


   Therapy Class: This 4 week course is specifically designed for dogs getting ready for therapy work. If your dog has or could have CGC certification (for manners and obedience), you are welcome to take this class! For three weeks we will work on skills needed for therapy, and for the final week we will go out and about for a mock therapy session to give you and your dog a taste of what it’s like!


Other services:

Extracurricular Sessions:

These sessions are designed to help Paw In Hand clients continue to practice their skills and retain learning. They are free and open to all current and former clients. On the second Friday of each month, come to the Dubuque Humane Society at 6 pm and pratice whatever you need to practice under the supervision and guidance of Mel, being mindful of and respectful of the other participants, of course. Mel does not come with a prepared list of activities- instead, you take the lead, and Mel is there simply to answer questions and keep everyone safe. 

Service Dog Q & A:

If you are confused about the differences between service dogs, emotional support dogs, and therapy dogs, or if you have questions about your dog's suitability or the requirements, this is for you. This is free and open to the public, provided by a partnership between Mel and Becky from the Tri-state Poodle Club, who has been involved with service dogs for over 20 years. We meet the first Friday of the month at the Dubuque Regional Humane Society at 6 pm. 

 Lost Pet Recovery:

If you've lost your cat or dog, call Mel in the first few hours for a consultation. She can advise on where the best places to search for your pet might be, how best to search, what flyers would best look like, and aid in getting the word out. The more people that know about your lost pet, the more likely you are to find him/her!

AKC CGC Testing:

If you would like to get your CGC, simply call Mel to run a test for you! Tests are only $10 each, and test items can be found by clicking here.

Therapy Dog Testing:

Is your dog ready to be a therapy dog? Mel is a certified evaluator for the K9to5 National Therapy Dog Registry and would love to help you get your dog certified! Your dog must have their CGC and have taken therapy class in order to test for the registry.