At A Good Dog’s Life, our mission is to deliver canine insight and understanding through the science of up-to-date positive approaches to dog training. We want to change the way owners think about and interact with their dogs. The 21st century environment and media has made us think and act differently, and we’d like to help you sort through all the information and get the understanding and results you want.

As owners of a successful training center in Asheville, Susan Wilson and Gail Hubbard have developed a dog-loving, people-oriented team of trainers. Our trainers, with 67 years of combined experience, are here to offer an unprecedented range of behavior services and expertise that best fits your situation and expectation.

Most of the classes are for non-reactive dogs who can handle the stimulus a class offers. AGDL provides a great atmosphere for teaching the value of compliance. However, private lessons are offered for those dogs that need to work on impulse control and reactivity as well as for those people who have busy schedules.

Our Dog Training Philosophy

Dog training can loosely be grouped into two main categories: reward-based and correction-based. Reward-based can be split even further into lure-reward, marker system training or shaping games. Marker training, with the use of lure-reward when it is needed, is what we try to practice. In tricks and cross training classes, we review shaping with a behavior marker (a clicker) as a primary means of teaching tricks and new behaviors. As a result, the depth of fun, confidence and relationship built is above what the average person can imagine.

We are not a permissive training group, just a positive one. We do not use force, yelling, squirt bottles to get rid of problem behaviors because of the other unwanted behaviors that pop up in their place (among other reasons). Instead, we use our main tool, the human brain, to find ways to prevent the dog from practicing the behavior and rewarding itself (called management), while teaching the dog an alternative behavior.

Your relationship with your dog is so important to us that we try to coach you with a toolbox filled with proven training practices that are not necessarily a hybrid of reward-based and tradition-based methods. A mixture of those two methods does not equal the science of up-to-date positive approaches to dog training. Research will show that the inconsistency of a household using a mixture of training methods is actually the least effective way to train a dog, and the dog will show it when the requested behavior isn't understood. Don't loose your patience, simply call us for a private lesson!

Our Promise to You!

In all private or group lessons, our primary goal at A Good Dog’s Life is to give you, the dog’s real trainer, the tools to build communication, respect and trust. All three things placed between you and your dog equals a solid relationship. We will show you how to understand your dog, how to teach your dog to understand you and how to fit training into your every day life.

Nothing we teach will harm your dog or the relationship you have with your dog. You have the right to leave a class or private session if you feel any trainer is doing something that will harm your dog in any way.

Our methods are based on the scientific principles of learning theory. However, we are always willing to use other techniques, as long as they are both effective and humane.

The ideas behind learning theory are not tough to understand. If you reward your dog for doing something, he will repeat the behavior.  If there is no reward, the behavior will go away.  Period.

It's important to understand that you are actually training your dog every instant you are with him, but you don't often use that to your advantage. If you don't pay attention to what you are teaching your dog, you could end up training your dog to jump on you, whine for attention, and run away when called!

Motivation comes in many forms:  treats, toys, attention and all of the fun things in life your dog likes. Our goal is to show you how to use all of them if your dog is responsive. Do you know what your dog likes?

The great thing is, once you understand the principles of learning theory, you can start applying them to a lot of different aspects of your life – like training your kids to clean their rooms, motivating employees, and even modifying your spouse's behavior. That is why the first class of our Basic Manners Program is dedicated to teaching people mechanical skills and important training concepts that will help your dog live a good life.

Ending Thoughts

What does training your dog mean for you? What does it look like?

What does training mean to your dog? If s/he were to draw a picture, what would it look like?

My hope is that you realize you may need to modify your own behavior before the dog's behavior improves. Wow ... couldn't that apply to any relationship?

Believe it or not, dog training isn’t tough, it's actually fun! 

Let us help you teach your dog what you want. Let us help you choose good motivation and a communication system that is consistent for the whole family. Your dog will show you what he needs from you to live a happy life, and when you start looking for it and understand it ... life is good and your dog will be well on his way to living a good dog’s life.

Nicole Martinez shared a status

Gail had great advice to help us get our fearful Uli into the car without him freaking out so much! We still have a long way to go but as least traveling got easier!

student stars

  • studentstars brewster

    OWNER: Maggie Brindell-Watt 
    I have to tell you we went to our Neighborhood Christmas Party and I was singing your praise.  Many of my neighbors that walked by our house daily commented on how well Brewster is behaving.  They were impressed when he barked at them and I can come out and tell him to be quite and he actually does listen to me.  So, in general they were just impressed at how well he is behaving for such a young dog.  So, I just wanted to say "thank you" for helping us, couldn't have done it without your help. We still have a lot of work to do but we are on the right track.

  • studentstars roux

    OWNER: Cindy Hartman  
    "Gail, thank you VERY MUCH for reviewing our runs from last weekend, your comments were very helpful! You make some great points. I appreciate your keen eye and willingness to help us become a better team! Can't wait for class on Thursday!"

  • studentstars rigel

    OWNER: Susan McKenzie
    Rigel (2 ½ yr old black and white retriever/hound mix) took basic manners class and Pedals (6 mo old brindle lab/pit mix) attended both the puppy and basic manners class at A Good Dog’s Life  When people visit our home, I often receive compliments on how well behaved my dogs are.  They do not try to counter surf and I can ask them to stay on their beds to get out from under foot.  I am a strong believer in challenging dogs physically and mentally and intend to take further classes at A Good Dog’s Life.  They both enjoy it.

  • studentstars elke

    OWNER: Tanya Alstott 

    I was happy with the content of the class.  I think these type of puppy class are limited in what you can expect out of your dog, mainly due to age and the inability to focus for any length of time.  Socialization was my main goal and I feel like Elke got that from the class.

  • studentstars sky

    OWNER: Peggy and Bob Dellinger 
    Gail, WE loved class today. I had read most of the book "tracking from the ground up" but boy you made lots more sense then the book!

  • studentstars franklin

    OWNER: Lisa Wester 
    You are Wonder Woman Dog Trainer. My son and I did a short session with Franklin today. Did not jump any. We did five or six meet and greets. Michael did three short walks and Franklin behaved very well letting Michael pet him.
    Hope to do a session Fri and Sun.
    Thanks so much!

  • studentstars eiko

    OWNER: Anna Ferguson, Vibrant Heart Yoga 
    Eiko and I have had great fun learning with Gail from A Good Dog's Life. We have done classes at her wonderful facility and also some private lessons. I am always impressed by Gail's knowledge, patience and obvious love for dogs. Her training tips and handouts were crucial for great puppy training, and we really enjoyed our puppy classes. We now have a wonderfully well-behaved, intelligent dog that is our best friend! I recommend her all the time to new puppy owners to get started on the right paw!

contact us

A Good Dog's Life
Training Center

33 Hidden Acres Drive
Asheville NC 28806

Susan    828.231.4172
Gail    828.712.4245