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The Nuts 'n' Bolts of Teaching Dogs

Because great training starts with great communication

Do you wish your dog would listen to you more?

Don't you just hate it when you feel like a spare part while your dog does their own thing - oblivious to you?  I think most of us have been there.  I know I certainly have.  My first dog made selective deafness an art form!  It can be frustrating at times, embarrassing in public and downright dangerous in some situations.  

Ever wondered how those people with 'obedient', happy, connected dogs, get there? I mean, people don't 'speak dog' and dogs can't 'speak' human language - so what's their secret?  

Their secret is simple: they know how to build a common language with their dogs.  Their dogs listen and respond because they understand what their person is telling them.  It's no longer irrelevant 'noise' to be ignored.  There is information flowing both ways - dog and human are connected and have a dialog going.   Once you both understand each other it's easy to develop a relationship built on trust. One where both you and your dog are listening.

Imagine what it's like to have a dog that responds to you because they want to, prefers to spend time engaging with you because you're more interesting than anything else AND can behave well in public?

That's all possible and it comes down to having a 'common language'.
When you have a 'common language' you can:
    •  Teach the things that are important to you - even if they're not on the class list of your local dog school.
    •   Enjoy more freedom together - a dog that listens is welcome in far more places than one that is out of control!
    •   Have fun learning new skills together - from tricks to sports, to assistance skills. They're all built from the same foundations.
The options are endless!  Understanding HOW training works; the process and the pitfalls, puts you in control of your dog's education.  You get to decide what your dog needs to know and you can adjust your training to suit yourself, your dog and your unique situation.  You won't get that from a standard 'obedience' class.
You don’t have to be an aspiring dog trainer to do this course. The material is applicable whether you’ve only just got your 1st puppy or you've had pet dogs before but now you want to understand how training works, rather than just 'winging it'. 

The Nut 'n' Bolts of Teaching Dogs does exactly what it says on the tin. It explores the basic science and foundation skills you need to successfully train your dog in a way that you will both enjoy. It will also help you avoid many of the common errors that lead to annoying behaviours and misunderstandings.

"Sarah’s approach to dog training is evidence-based and is positive, humane, and compassionate. I’m looking forward to continuing to work with Sarah and seeing more great progress!“

- Karen T. and Kenzie

Why I Created This Course
Quite simply, I want you and your dog to enjoy your time together.  Life is too short to spend it feeling frustrated and exasperated.  You got a dog to have fun, for companionship and connection, but sometimes it doesn't quite work out that way.
I've been teaching this course to my in-person clients for 8 years now. However, I've also had quite a few out of town people ask where they can learn this material online.  

Hunting High and Low
Trying to answer this question let me to hunt all over. But I couldn't find an online foundation level course that gives the skills you need to be able to either teach the basics to your dog or get the very best out of in-person classes. The only courses I found covering this stuff were aimed at professional trainers - but not everyone wants a degree in dog training!

So I created the Nuts 'n' Bolts of Teaching Dogs course to provide solid dog training education for people like you, who want to learn how to communicate with their dog, or are frustrated with getting no-where in in-person training classes.

To get great results out of any training you and your dog do, it really helps to understand the actual nuts 'n' bolts of the process you're using.

Once you understand what makes dogs 'tick' and how training works, you can set both you and your dog up for success and see real progress, real fast.  No more feeling frustrated because your dog is great in class and still bonkers everywhere else.

The Nuts 'n' Bolts of Teaching Dogs takes you step by step though the process.

By the end of it you will be able to:
  • Plan what you need to teach, so you can successfully go from baby steps to real life situations without coming unstuck on the way
  • Teach your dog using clear, fun, methods and
  • Problem solve common reasons for training to go off the rails - because no plan is ever perfect and dogs are not machines.
Once you can see the world from your dog's point of view, teaching them what you'd like them to know is SO much easier. You have a communication system; neither of you is confused so friction and conflict are removed - life with your best friend is suddenly a whole lot more relaxed and fun. 

Course Curriculum

Sarah Ripley

I've been teaching dogs, and their people, for about 20 years now. In that time I've had plenty of success with helping dog owners resolve their unique issues, and with my own dogs in the competition ring (including producing an Obedience Grand Champion). My in-person clients range from ordinary pet owners to enthusiastic dog sports competitors - with all sorts of canine conundrums across the board!

In addition to plenty of hands on experience teaching dogs and their people, I also have the academic qualifications to back up my practical knowledge:

  • BSc (hons) Animal Behaviour and Psychology (1st class)
  • DipCABT (Diploma in Companion Animal Behaviour and Training)
  • Cert IV in Workplace Training and Assessment
  • Certificate of Excellence for “Living and Learning with Animals; The Science & Technology of Behaviour Change” course
  • Fear Free Certified Trainer

I love teaching! I get a buzz out of helping dog owners succeed in whatever it is they want to do with their dogs. From high-flying competition dog to adored family member, whatever your goals, I want you to reach to them!

Ready to join me?

 "I went to Sarah for help with competitive obedience and while I received great help with this I also learnt how to train the dog as a 'whole being' become more of a team in our everyday lives."

- Michelle C. and Rowan

This course IS for you if:

  • You are completely new to dog ownership and don’t know where to start with teaching your dog.
    • You've had dogs before but now you'd like to improve your understanding and techniques to achieve better outcomes.
  • You want to use training methods that are dog-friendly, effective and science-based rather than bullying hocus-pocus.
  • You are fed up with going to in-person classes and finding your dog is GREAT at class and absolutely hopeless as soon as you leave.
  • You want to develop a great bond with your dog built on trust, understanding and respect.
  • You want a training system that allows you to adapt your training to suit yourself, your dog and your situation.
  • You want both of you to enjoy training and see it more as recreation than drudgery!

This course ISN'T for you if:

  • You already have an excellent knowledge of animal training, including marker training, but you now want to teach complex behaviours and chains. (That will be covered in the next course!)
  • You are looking for a solution to your dog’s serious emotional problems.
  • You’re looking for a quick fix.
  • You don’t want to invest time and energy in learning.
  • You don’t want to invest time and effort into teaching your dog.
  • You just want your dog to lie down and shut up. All the time.
  • You truly believe that dogs should do as they're told because you're the pack leader.
  • You honestly believe that physical force is an acceptable way to train a dog.


Although this course will help you understand your dog’s behaviour, and how to teach them effectively, it WILL NOT solve problems such as fear, generalised anxiety or aggression towards humans or animals. You need in-person help from a qualified behavioural trainer for these serious issues.

 "I just wanted to email you to thank you for your advice and assistance. I thought you might like to know that after a few weeks of consistent work Roxy’s recall has improved tremendously. We can walk her off lead again now, as she can be called back consistently, even from interesting things like other dogs and seals."

- Justin S and Roxy

Frequently Asked Questions

When does the course start?
The first lessons will be released on 01st October 2019.

How long do I have access to the course?
After enrolling, you have ONE year's access to this course - across any and all devices you own.

What if I am unhappy with the course?
You have 14 days from purchase to ask for a refund if you are not happy with the course.  
Will this each my dog to be obedient?
This course is focused on teaching YOU how to successfully train your dog, not on what the dog learns. We will be covering some specific useful examples, but the outcome of the course is that you will have the tools needed to be able to train the behaviours you want.
If you follow the process as outlined, your dog will most certainly become more responsive and willing to listen to you.  However, it can take months of consistent training to change established behavioural habits so don't be disappointed if things aren't totally fixed over night.

Which behaviours will we be teaching?
I make some suggestions for suitable behaviours to work on during the course but you are totally free to choose others if you prefer. This is a course to teach YOU, the human, not the dog.

Do I need lots of time to train my dog?
No. In fact, shorter sessions done regularly and frequently are far more effective for learning. I include a lesson on how to fit training into a busy schedule. Also, remember your dog is learning all the time they are awake – not just when you are training them. We cover how to most effectively influence your dog’s behaviour in the course.

How long will the course take?
The material is released, one module at a time, over 6 weeks. However, you can go through the lessons at your own pace as you will have lifetime access.

Do I need any special equipment?
No. The only things you need are a dog, some suitable food treats and a mat, dog bed or blanket. Anything else we use can usually be easily found around the house.

Does my dog have to like food?
Yes, at least at home and in quiet places – it’s much simpler to train a dog who will eat!  You might struggle with a dog who won’t work for food, even at home.

Does it matter how old my dog is?
No. This method of teaching dogs is suitable for dogs of all ages.

Do I have to submit homework?
No. However, you will get much more out of the course if you DO the activities listed.

Is there a payment plan available?
No. All payments must be made in full at the time of enrolling.

When does Enrolment close?
Enrolment finishes at midnight (NZDST) on 10th October 2019.

Decisions decisions...
Still on the fence? Well you could:
Do nothing different and...
    • Spend hours online searching for this information. You'd find it! There's plenty out there - but there's just as much total rubbish as useful stuff. Do you know what's good and what's not? Do you have the time and energy to find out?
    • 'Crowdsource' quick fixes from social media. It may work, or it may make your problems even worse.
    • Spend weeks or months, and countless dollars, on in-person training with someone who may, or may not, have a clue - dog training is an unregulated industry so anyone can take your money and claim to know what they're about.
Or enrol and...
    • Get a tried and tested process taught by a qualified, experienced trainer (with the credentials to prove it.).
    • Improve your dog's behaviour, your relationship and your stress level - all without resorting to outdated, damaging methods, social media conflicting advice or frazzled nerves (yours or your dog's).
    • Be able to suss out an in-person trainer's suitability in the future, should you want to continue with in-person classes. You'll have the knowledge you need to be able to check their knowledge level too.
    • Achieve all of this whilst having a whole heap of fun with your dog.