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Looking for a dog trainer in and around Philadelphia or the Lower Lehigh Valley? You've found the right place. Everyone at OpBarks considers 'dog' their second language.
You'll feel good about how we'll work with your dog.
We use practical, modern, positive, humane and scientifically proven methods. This means we never do (or coach you to do) anything that would cause your dog pain—or to fear, mistrust or be intimidated by you. We stand by this, even for the many challenging cases that come our way.
You'd be amazed (in a bad way) at some of the stories we hear from people seeking second opinions. Some trainers out there are using very out-of-date methods or methods that misinterpret dogs. Granted, it's hard for an average dog owner to know what's right, but trust us when we say you can get results without doing anything that weighs on your conscience or makes you feel unkind. Building a good relationship with your dog is key and we can show you how.
There's more about our qualifications and methods further down on this page. Poke around our staff page for a whole lot more assurance that you and your dog will be in good hands. And if you have questions or need a second opinion, pick my brain.
Thanks! Now go explore the site :-)
Leigh Siegfried, CPDT-KA
OpBarks Owner and Training Director
CLASSES & WORKSHOPS
Here's where speaking 'dog' is crucial. For dogs with issues that seem beyond basic manners training, we highly suggest you ask someone who speaks 'dog' about it.
We start with a FREE "brain pick" where you can tell us what you need help with. And if it seems like a job for a professional, we'll do an evaluation, and provide clear next steps.
We’d rather help you stomp out mole hills now, than help you deal with mountain-sized problems later on (though we can help with those too).
Our one-on-one private training options are the fastest way to make progress.
Evaluation Evaluating your dog is the starting point for private lessons, boarding school, our reactive rover class and working on behavior, fear, anxiety or aggression issues.
Private Lessons We work with you and your dog in your home or in our offices.
Boarding School Your dog comes to our country place in Quakertown, stays with us, learns and gets lots of play time on 5 acres. When their stay is over, we'll follow up with private lessons to hand the reins back over to you.
Group classes Held in East Falls, Philadelphia and Quakertown, we have programs for puppies and dog built around humanely teaching real-world reliability, focus, control and of course, obedience. Upon completing a starter program and B-Dog 1, dogs have what they need to participate in our Agility, Circus Dog Tricks and Super Sniffer Nosework classes.
Workshops We offer occasional single-session workshops, sometimes humans only, sometimes dogs are invited. Topics range from body language to dog park play to brain games and dog sports.
Pre- and Post-Adoption Advice
Looking for a new dog? We can help you find a great match. And we can help newly-adopted dogs settle in. Making sure dogs find (and stay in!) "forever" homes is important to us.
So before you get your dog, get in touch. A good match can mean the difference between a lot of stress or a lot of fun once you get the new dog home.
And if you just adopted a dog and want some guidance on helping “the new kid” adjust, we'd love to give you tips on that too. Also no charge.
Puppy Starter Program for puppies 5 months old and under. This 5-week class covers starter skills and includes trainer-supervised socialization. Philadelphia, East Falls and Quakertown.
Country Adventure Days Book some R&R time at our Quakertown HQ. Your dog can roam around off-leash, enjoy nature, chase butterflies, hit the trails on our fenced property and try agility or swimming in the pool or creek.
Off-Leash Hiking Adventures Workshops to build trust, confidence and reliability with your dog off-leash.
Reactive Dog University This is for dogs presenting with on-leash barking or lunging toward other dogs. These dogs may be friendly off-leash with dogs, but tend to get fearful, frustrated or agitated on-leash. For owners it's embarrassing; for dogs it's stressful. Learn how to get a handle on this training challenge. More >
Dogs and Kids We offer two programs—one to prepare dog for baby's arrival and a secondary program to help parents prepare for toddling. From the first days home to the baby becoming mobile, learn how to guide the kiddos to interact with your dog and minimize doggie drama.
1-year-old Weimaraner and Great Dane mix
The training our dog received from Opportunity Barks was at once skillful, effective and compassionate. Our dog is so calm and mild mannered now, but still very much his own personality. Thank you so much!!
– Liz S., Greater Philadelphia
We've worked with Opportunity Barks on two occasions,
both of which have been very successful for our pup, Echo. We highly recommend Opportunity Barks for their focus on positive reinforcement and pragmatic approach to problem-solving dog behavior issues. We are very appreciative of Opportunity Barks for helping turn a situation where we felt in over our heads to one where we were empowered to improve greetings and help reduce our pup's stress. Thank you!
- Erin B., Northern Virginia
I just wanted to send you a note thanking you for the wonderful classes. While visiting my family in the Finger Lakes of New York I got to practice with Penny outside in some nice distracting environments and she did great. My husband was feeling more adventurous than me and let her off leash in the "yard" (really 26 acres) and played fetch with her. The one time she ran off after a critter into the woods we panicked, but we just yelled "Penny, come!" and she charged back to us. It felt great! Thanks again for the help with Penny!
- Shannon J., Greater Philadelphia
Wally was fearful and displayed aggression by growling and lunging at people. Leigh described him as stressed. We described him as “impossible.” Our previous dogs had been quiet, rug-like animals whose even temperaments made them easy to manage. Clearly, Wally was not! When Leigh came into our lives we all needed professional help. Recently we participated with Wally in the Philly PAWS Mutt Strut. There was a crowd of fifteen hundred people and a thousand dogs. Wally was awesome, he couldn’t have been better behaved. We are so grateful for the help and ongoing support Leigh has given us in our journey with Wally.
- Lloyd W., Greater Philadelphia
When we decided to adopt a lab mix puppy, luckily we were referred to Opportunity Barks.
Leigh came out the day our puppy arrived and helped answer all of our immediate questions with not only basic puppy training, but also incorporating a new puppy into a family with 5 kids as well as an adult dog. She made the transition so much easier for us.
A bit later we started the JumpStart Training program and it was FABULOUS! The changes in behavior and obedience in both dogs has been unbelievable and the training and advice we've received has been invaluable. We couldn't be happier with the program and the results we've experienced.
- Julie T., Greater Philadelphia
I never thought I'd be able to get my Yorkie to do agility but with Leigh's leadership and teaching skills my little guy was able to do it all!
I was so impressed with her, when I decided it was time to get professional help for my dog's separation anxiety, Leigh was the first person who came to mind. She immediately honed in on the problem, assessed the problems in my relationship with the dog and gave me practical steps/recommendations that I could carry out. And she even managed to make me FEEL better about the situation, which meant a lot to me.
If you are looking for a trainer, I can't recommend anyone better. If you are looking for fun activities for your dog, check out OpBarks' classes -- they are a LOT of fun.
- Rebecca B., Greater Philadelphia
Leroy has made incredible progress thanks to the staff at Opportunity Barks. They are encouraging and supportive; making sure to point out all our tiny victories.
As a reactive dog owner, training my dog will be an ongoing process. But they've helped me learn about management, disengagement cues, calming signals, threshold, body language, and coping mechanisms.
Reactive dogs come with a lifetime of training, management, positive social interactions and boundaries. It can be overwhelming, but I have a team behind me. I know we can work through any problems that come up! Thank you OpBarks :).
- Casey H., Philadelphia
Read more about life with a reactive dog on Casey's excellent blog, Leroy and Company. We gave big wags when we read this entry: Things That People Don't Like to Talk About: I Have a Dog with Issues.
I just wanted to share that today my dog Moses—who attended Michaela’s Real World Manners class last spring and had a private session with her—jumped up on a bench at the dog park to sit with 2 friendly strangers (photo attached) and proceeded to sit on their laps and give them both kisses! This is beyond HUGE! Moses has done a 180 since attending Opportunity Barks and we are so appreciative of you guys and most of all Michaela!!
- Kristen G., Philadelphia
See our trainer Michaela's take on
Moses' case in this "Star Student" flyer
we shared on Facebook.
After a walk taking her reactive Weimaraner through a series of challenging distractions and meeting with nothing but success, KellyAnn K. sent us a long, excited email that ended with "I was BEAMING when we went in the house!!" We LOVE getting emails like this.
We've been working with KellyAnn, who is the President and Placement Coordinator at Tri-State Weimaraner Rescue, and her dog Haze on BAT (Behavior Adjustment Training). It's a series of humane training steps that help dogs who react in aggression, fear, or frustration learn to take their triggers in stride and not have meltdowns. It's obviously started to click for Haze and he's making wonderful progress in real-world situations.
We were having difficulties with Joey’s reaction to people, dogs, bikes, scooters, etc. passing the front of our house as well as while on walks...To complicate matters further, we also have a six-year-old wheaten terrier and, while the two dogs get along fine, Mayzie’s barking often wound Joey up further...[Leigh] has made an incredible difference in our house. Having her work with us and the dogs in our own home was extremely beneficial as she got to see the real behaviors that we had been dealing with and we got to see how her suggestions would be implemented in our own home. In addition, Leigh has been readily available to us by email and phone...She really knows and understands dogs and provides practical, workable solutions for every problem or concern we have had.
- John and Debbie C., Chalfonte PA
Everyone here is highly experienced and professional. We’re vet-recommended and committed to using humane training methods based in modern behavioral science. We have 2 full-time staff members (Leigh Siegfried and Michaela Greif) and 2 part-time staff members (Ingrid Faber and JMatt Schimsky). Together we've worked with many, many dogs—including 11 of the Michael Vick pit bulls.
We’re proud to be CPDT-KA certified (or for some newer part-time staff, pursuing certification). It’s the only internationally recognized dog training credential — achieved by just over 2,000 dog pros worldwide. It’s like the “bar exam” for trainers.
CPDT requires hands-on experience as well as a written test and continuing education. To maintain our certification we must commit to 36 CEUs (Continuing Education Units) every 3 years. We're such dog nerds that we'd do that anyway and always exceed the required hours.
We’re pros at interpreting what dogs 'say' through their actions and body language. And it’s something we teach our clients—because knowing what’s going on from the dog’s perspective is the first step to getting anywhere with behavior and training.
– Leigh Siegfried, Owner and Training Director
We do lots of consults (and get lots of referrals to do consults) for puppies or newly adopted dogs who are mouthing, biting and jumping up. We can handle the nuisance variety or the YIKES variety, but always prefer to nip the problem in the bud, so to speak. This problem never gets better on its own and often escalates.
This comes in at a close second. We work with new dog owners to help them get things off to a great start. Whether you've never owned a dog or have new feisty pup that is quite different from what you are used to- relax, we're here to help. We know you just want to get it right and get everybody on the same page. So do we!
This is a common problem and therefore a high percentage of our clients. We see mild cases and some very severe cases. We can help you through all of it. Tell us about your situation and we'll provide some recommendations. Read more.
We are the only trainers in the Philadelphia area with extensive experience with reactive dogs (i.e. dogs who bark and/or lunge around other dogs, people or moving objects like bikes). Like Casey said about her dog Leroy in the photo gallery, owners of reactive dogs at some point realize, "...training my dog will be an ongoing process." Making progress with reactive dogs means a lot of practice—and their owners need a safe, low-stress place to work with their dogs around other dogs. Once they know the basics, that last part is often the challenge so we create safe dog-to-dog or dog-to-moving-object setups and are there to observe, guide and coach the handlers as they practice with their dogs. Keeping the dogs below threshold is key. Most reactive dog clients use a mix of at least two of these services: a behavior consultation, private lessons, group classes and working retreats at our spacious headquarters, Sweet Spot Farm in Quakertown. This mix of offerings is something we call Reactive University because one lesson or class is only the tip of the iceberg for Reactive Rovers and their patient, dedicated owners.
For a lot of people, these are a great starting point and may be all your dog ever needs. We can take your dog or new puppy from basic training through to dog sports and even Canine Good Citizen certification. We have a core set of classes that are always running and some that we only do a few times a year. See our current listings.
Dog owners never call us complaining about how stressed out their dog is, but they do call us about barking, fearfulness, destructive behavior, aggression, distress when being confined or left alone, or elimination issues. Once you tell us about their history and we meet your dog, we'll translate things from the dog's point of view for you and help you connect the dots from the behavior problems to their root cause (often stress). From there we'll work with you on modifying the stressors (if possible) and work with your dog on its reactions to the things it perceives as stressful.
We use humane teaching equipment and methods based in science and natural animal behavior. We don't force dogs to do things to get results. We work on establishing communication and having a dog learn to 'tune in' to their owners. This teaches them to include humans in their decision making process. We've found that establishing trust and being a reliable, predictable handler can help boost the confidence of a fearful dog and helps a very confident dog learn to work with the handler as a team. The goal is to root the dog-human relationship in trust, give and take, and communication.
We do rely on treats and other things the dog likes in the early stages but we will show you how to fade the use of that so that your dog will respond to you even if you're not carrying hot dogs in your pockets ;-)
Food is a powerful reward for most dogs, but it's never the keys to the castle. We'll show you how to properly use treats as a tool but also give you other tools in your toolbox that your dog will "work" for too.
Wondering where to start with training? Facing puzzling or seemingly unsolvable behaviors? Just looking for a good article or book about a certain topic? I'm happy to help.
I'm also on a Petfinder FurKeeps Expert Panel, so hit me up to review links to dogs you're thinking about adopting (from their site or elsewhere). Or ask my advice on helping your newly-adopted furball adjust. Let's make sure they are "FurKeeps"!
Owner & Training Director: Leigh Siegfried, CPDT-KA Photo credits: April Ziegler
© 2015 Opportunity Barks. All rights reserved.
– Leigh Siegfried, CPDT-KA
Owner and Training Director
Piles of dog info