Mobile Site

Claudia Sihler
Phone (907) 357-2521

1400 Regine Ave
Wasilla, Alaska  99654

Full Member

Approved Trainer
DOGO approved trainer


Frequently Asked Questions

What methods of training do you use and how do they pertain to your teaching?

We use training methods that follow these principles:

  • positive reinforcement training
  • reward-based training methods
  • force-free training methods
  • desensitization and counterconditioning of problem behaviors
  • consent training in husbandry

We believe in AVOIDING the wrong behavior, INTERRUPTING it IF it still happens (opposed to CORRECTING, which involves punishment), and REWARDING a replacement behavior. 

 We believe in leadership being built through good guidance and structure, not dominance or authority. Yes we will lead our companions through life, by teaching them that they can trust us in our decisions and that listening to us will have a great, rewarding outcome (using regular and real-life rewards). 

Tools we are using:

  • flat collar or harness
  • front clip harness (we sell Freedom®  harnesses)
  • head halter (we sell Gentle Leader® head halters)
  • regular leash
  • treats (most handy in the class setting, but for in-home we recommend lots of other ways to reward as well)

 Tools we will NOT use:

  • choke chain
  • prong collar
  • e-collar

We do accept owners using a prong collar or choke chain initially for safety and control, but not as a training aid to correct a dog. We strive to convince the dog owner to use more humane training aids that will provide safety and control without punishing the dog, but by simply taking the power out of the dog.

Do you give discounts for military/ seniors/ rescue dogs?

Our discounts are for everybody! The Packages have a discounted rate per class and give you the best savings. First choose your package and then use the purchased class credits to pay for any specific class you sign up for.

We also offer a "Pre-Registration Discount" for when you sign up and pay in advance. You'll find the pre-registration discount code online before you choose a class in the top description.

Another way to save is our "Second Class Discount". You can use this discount when you sign up for an additional class for the same household while you're enrolled in a class. You'll receive the second class discount code in your class from your instructor.

You can also always call the office and ask them about our packages or to get the code for your online registration.

How often do your group classes run?

Each class runs for 6 weeks, once a week. All sessions are full 60 minute sessions, with additional time between different classes for switch-over and questions to the instructor.

We start classes every month, some classes being offered every month, some every other month and some only infrequently. Our beginner manners classes - Puppy 1 for dogs up to 5 months and Foundation Class for dogs 6 months and older - are scheduled to start every month.

What is the difference between Doggy Daycare and Open Play Times?

At our Play'n Fun Doggy Daycare you drop off your dog with us for usually 4-8 hours while you can get other things done. Your dog will play under supervision with other dogs in our arena, get lunch and nap times as needed. We also have two fenced outdoor areas for potty breaks and short play. This activity is perfect once or twice a week as an additional outlet and socialization opportunity for your dog.

At Social Hour Open Play Times you come with your dog for one hour of play, either in our arena or, weather permitting, in our fenced grass field outside. All owners stay with their dogs for play time, meet and socialize and learn from our supervisors how to keep all dogs happy and safe by intervening where needed and how.

Do you offer private lessons and how does that work?

We offer three different kinds of private lessons:
Mini Privates, Private Lessons and Private Consults. All private lessons can only be booked through the office, not online.

Mini Privates:
Book one of our play supervisors for a 30-minute session at our facility, offered Friday evenings at 8:00-8:30 PM or 8:30-9:00 PM. Depending on who is scheduled for the Open Play Times that evening, you can use this time to have a dog evaluated for Open Play Time or Daycare, find out if your dog is class suitable, refine a certain behavior like recall or loose leash walking, or get caught up on classes you missed.

Private Lessons: Claudia and some of our instructors offer one-hour sessions either at our facility or at your home to help you with regular basics like manners, structure, calming, house soiling and some destructive behaviors. We often prefer to come to your home, where we can better assess the situation and help you with specific management and exercise ideas.

Private Consults: Claudia also offers more detailed consults for behavioral issues like dog-dog aggression, fear of people and separation anxiety. Ask the office to send you an email with more detailed information.

What does the Package Add-On "STAR Puppy" entail?

The abbreviation S.T.A.R.® stands for Socialization, Training, Activity and a Responsible owner. This is a program offered through the AKC (American Kennel Club®) and can be added on to your class if your puppy will join our Puppy 1 - Preschool AND Puppy 2 - Kindergarten class, or the Foundation Class (for dogs under 1 year of age). The program rewards responsible dog owners who take the time to train and socialize their new puppy. The class instructor (all our instructors are also CGC®-Evaluators) will mark you and your puppy off for 20 different items and at the end of Puppy 2 class you'll receive the paperwork to send to AKC. AKC does charge an additional small fee when you send your forms in.

What does Positive Reinforcement Training mean?

That means that we focus on rewarding the dog's GOOD behavior rather than punishing bad behaviors. In traditional correction-based training the handler waits for the dog to make a mistake and then punishes it immediately, trying to decrease the unwanted behavior. This can be a leash jerk when the dog pulls on the leash, or when the dog does NOT sit immediately.

At our facility we help handlers to be one step ahead by AVOIDING the unwanted behavior, and at the same time establishing a new behavior that we want them to show instead. We reward the WANTED behavior to increase the likelihood of the dog repeating that behavior, which is called positive reinforcement. This can be a treat for being with you when on leash or feeding them their meal for sitting politely.

What training tools will I need for my class?

We don't require any fancy or special equipment. Just a regular flat collar with detachable leash and something to reward your dog will be all. During class the easiest reward that can be given repeatedly and quickly is a treat. You'll learn about other rewards as well, but for the class environment, the treat has proven to work best. Because the class is a very distracting learning environment, we recommend to use high value treats, like cooked chicken, smoked salmon, liver treats, cheese or hot dogs.

Other training tools could be a treat pouch, a gentle anti-pull device (Gentle Leader® head halter, Freedom® Harness) or a book we recommend. We have all the training aids we recommend and stand behind for sale at our facility.

If you are using anything specific right now to control your dog, bring it to class! We want you to FEEL safe about controlling your dog in this high arousal environment. Then we can decide together if there are other, maybe better ways to control your dog.

What does the abbreviation CPDT-KSA mean?

It stands for Certified Professional Dog Trainer - Knowledge and Skills Assessed. This is a certification program that has been nationwide acknowledged and is conducted through official certification centers just like other professions.

CPDTs need to re-certify every three years, showing proof of continued education and signing an ethics pledge to keep up the scientifically proven standard of dog training, using humane training methods.

Claudia is a CPDT since 2003, keeping the standards for herself and her instructors high to benefit all clients and their dogs.

My dog might come in heat – can I still sign up for your services?

CLASSES: Yes! We do allow intact dogs and females in heat at all our classes. Females in heat should wear some kind of panties, to avoid smearing the blood on the floor.

DOGGY DAYCARE and OPEN PLAY TIMES: Dogs over 10 months should be neutered or spayed when joining our playgroups. That means females could come into heat once before that cut-off date.  If you suspect your dog is coming into heat, please do not bring them to our playgroups. After the heat, wait another week, give them a good bath of their behind, and then they can come back to play.

What happens if I have to miss a class?

If your dog is sick or hurt and unable to attend, you can still come to class without your dog! You will see how the exercises are taught and executed and this will help you understand reading up in your class folder (curriculum). We will also talk about the weekly feature, helping you with situations in your home environment.

If you miss the first week of Puppy 1 or Foundation Class, there might be the option to join another class that starts around the same time. Because these classes start week 1 without the dogs, you can easily join another class instead.

If you miss any week (or more), you have several choices:

  • You can always look at the written curriculum folder you have received at week 1, to check out what exercises you missed and what the homework assignments are, including how to prepare for the next week. Remind the instructor the next week that you missed last week, and they make sure to give you some extra attention when explaining an exercise that builds on the last week.
  • You can book some additional instructor time just for you and your dog. This can help not only to catch you up on things, but also to ask questions specific to your situation. We offer 30 minute and full hour private lessons – just contact our office and they can schedule that for you!

We do not allow dogs to make up a missed class in another group of dogs. This is very disruptive for the other dogs and would bring us over the maximum of dogs in a full class.

If you had/have to quit a class for good reasons and talk to us about this while it happens, we might offer you to repeat the class later at a discounted fee. Just communicate with us about this immediately!

Are there any other questions you'd like to see answered on our web page under this column? What did you or are you struggling with to understand? Email us and we'll add your suggestions to our new FAQ page! Coming up soon!

Enjoy the Journey of Dog Training!



We will inform you of upcoming classes and other events at the RDTF
We’ll send 1-2 emails per month only, and your email will not ne shared with any third parties.

Download newsletters (pdf)


November/December 2018
September/October 2018
July/August 2018
May/June 2018
March/April 2018

January/February 2018


October/November 2017
September 2017
August 2017
June/July 2017
April/May 2017
March 2017

February 2017
January 2017


December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016

August 2016
July 2016

June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016


December 2015
November 2015
October 2015


November 2014
October 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014


November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013

March 2013
February 2013
January 2013


December 2012
October/Novembre 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012


December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
Summer News
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011


December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010


December 2009
November 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009


December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008


Copyright © 2003 The Better Companion, All Rights Reserved
                   Website designed and hosted by Alaska Web Designs