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PuppyPALS Playgroup

NOTE: Opens in May this year!

Trainer-supervised play!

Every moment designed

to build confidence.


Drop-off 3-hour sessions, 

typically Wed & Fri, 9am to noon. 

Age range: 10 weeks to 6 months.

(But what about puppy shots?)

Size: 12 to 40 lbs.

(Pups grouped by age/size.)

No more than 6 puppies at a time.

$50 per morning. 

Located in Alexandria, VA 22306.

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Click here for the waiver that'll get you on the list. Print, fill, scan, email back.

Click here for the payment/drop-off details. 

"I could see the difference in Juniper after just one PuppyPALS session! Suddenly on our walks she was way more relaxed around other dogs."

                            – Lee Litchford


The Benefits of PuppyPALS


My key goal with PuppyPALS is for each pup to have the positive play experience that will build confidence for a lifetime. (Note that this is not doggy daycare -- it is an enrichment program directed by a certified force-free trainer.)


For each session, I carefully select pups who will do well together. I use fun distractions (toys! perimeter hikes! sitting for treats!) to redirect less-desired play.​ Our setting is filled with wonderful obstacles (bushes, trees, benches, planters, etc.) that naturally facilitate good play by slowing things down.

As a result, PuppyPALS puppies are set up to develop the confidence and the communication skills that will keep them happier and safer in future dog encounters.  

PuppyPALS creates positive associations with all sorts of new things! Suddenly, car rides predict big fun! Being left at a new place without mom/dad isn't scary -- in fact most pups don't want to leave! Pups also get to greet the other puppies' humans at drop-off and pick-up, which helps enlarge their happy world.


And while I personally am in it for the developmental angle, PuppyPALS parents realize after the very first day that the immediate upside is that their normally inexhaustible pup comes home and happily zonks out for hours.  Clients tell me there is a remarkable decrease in mouthing, jumping, chewing and general destruction even the following day. 


A typical three-hour session involves about 20 minutes of settling in as the pups greet each other. After that I bring out my own dogs, who set a great example, gently guide appropriate behavior, and de-mystify the idea of a big dog. Generally, there’s an hour of exuberant wrestling/chasing/tug-of-war, etc. as the new friends figure out what’s fun to do together. On hot days, I fill up the kiddie pool, so bring a towel for the ride home! Once they slow down a bit, I do some training on and off – some recall exercises, and some sits and touches. Learning to listen in a group is a great skill! The youngest ones often then lounge around and even nap a bit, before a final burst of action prior to pick-up.

Click here for a video to . . .

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