Yes! The purpose of a board-and-train is partially to train your dog for you, but more importantly to establish a foundation of learning for the owner to work with over the long term. We teach your dog to follow leadership and develop a mode of communication. Then we give you hands-on practice using the personalized approach that works best for your dog. We'll empower you to handle whatever comes your way once you leave our doors. You'll continue working with your dog for only 10 minutes per day, just 5 days a week, to maintain the commands, plus simply enforce manners daily as needed.
Since our approach is focused on helping you to be a trusted and respected leader for your dog, we see beautiful results with any type of dog! We work with canine psychology and equip you, the owner, to be successful without a trainer attached to your side. This makes our program ideal for puppies that simply need manners as well as challenging adults that need a fresh start.
Oh my goodness, yes!! Training does not alter your dog's personality or break their spirit. Training isn't about beating your dog into submission, it's about establishing leadership and opening up communication. With dogs, leadership does require you to be firm, but this is natural. We are very fair and humane with our discipline, and even more generous with our praise! Though it's true that not all dogs love the training process (I mean, really, who likes being bossed around all of a sudden?), we take the extra steps to keep spirits up and show your dog that they are loved. Your dog will see that it's only the behavior that is disliked, not themselves. You'll find it to be a bonding experience and everyone is happier in the end, especially your dog!
The flip side of this is that training does not alter a dog's personality even if you want it to. Cocky dogs will stay cocky! Goofy dogs will stay goofy! Dominant dogs will maintain their dominant nature. But you can have more control over your dog's behavior. That is the key! We will help your dog be their best.
So you've heard that board-and-trains don't work? Man, those people are missing out! We LOVE the service we offer, and have come to dedicate ourselves to this after many years of private lessons because of the higher success rate. A board-and-train is just an avenue of educating your dog. Yes, you will still have to take the time to earn your dog's respect, but that's a lot easier with a dog that already knows everything! We can make sure that your dog learns efficiently and correctly, without confusion or user error along the way.
It's also not true that dogs have to be trained in their home environment. To limit a dog's intelligence to a geographical location is greatly underestimating their minds. If your dog knows how to sit on command at home, then they can do it at the park! If they won't, then we need to help you earn a higher degree of respect as well as give your dog a stronger foundation in the fundamentals and a lot more practice. Anything your dog knows can be applied in any situation or location under the guidance of an established and respected leader. This is our goal for you!
Yes! We teach and maintain potty training during your dog's stay the same way that we would instruct you to do at home. We help difficult potty trainers get on track, and keep newly potty trained puppies from regressing. You would receive personalized instructions to follow at home that are designed to meet your dog's needs and your schedule. Potty training is a process that can take many months, so we'll be sure you know how to proceed on at home!
Understand that we cannot say your dog will never have another accident at home. We will work out a plan that helps your dog succeed, and you will need to continue this work at home. We'll make sure you know exactly what do!
*sniff* we're not enough for you?... ;) Just kidding! But seriously, there should be no need for advanced training! Advanced training is just a way of segmenting training into multiple classes or lessons. We don't do that here. You get it all the first time! What "advanced training" even means varies depending on who you talk to. Most people mean off-leash, so let's go with that.
We teach you how to have a communicative and healthy relationship with your dog. You earn your dog's respect and faith by demonstrating your authority and confidence. So think about it...if your dog already understands the commands, and respects you, what's stopping them from doing it off-leash? Just keep practicing regularly at home, on-leash for a good long while to prevent mistakes, and your dog should evolve into off-leash training naturally. Bear in mind that not all dogs are geared for off-leash, especially if you don't start training as a puppy, but most can achieve at least some level of reliability.
We just ask that you don't do it too soon! If your dog is still testing you and you ask for a Come command off-leash, and they blow you off, you will quickly show them that you can't really make anything happen. They learn to be good on-leash and naughty off-leash. You're being inconsistent. The trick is to keep the training on-leash as long as necessary - we recommend two to six months, depending on your dog - so that when the leash comes off, there is no doubt in your mind that they're coming! At that point you will know if your dog is practiced enough, mature enough, and if you have truly earned their respect.
No much! We'll break it down for you...
#1: Your dog's food. We don't want any upset tummies! Dry food can be brought in its original bag or the container you use at home. Wet food can be brought in the original cans. No additional preparation is necessary. If your dog is on any fresh or cooked food, or food that requires preparation, please have it all cooked and prepared, ready to feed, in single serving baggies - one baggie per meal. We have a fridge and freezer for dog food storage and we'll defrost a few days' worth at a time.
#2: Supplements or medication. No additional preparation is usually necessary, unless it's complicated. We do not charge a fee to administer supplements or medication. If your dog is on medication for a contagious disease, please contact us to reschedule the training for when he's well.
#3: Proof of current vaccinations. We require Bordetella with 1 year. Rabies and a Parvo/Distepmer combo are required to be current within 3 years. We need printed documentation from your vet, or labels on paper with a date. Handwritten records, including a folded card from your vet, are not sufficient unless the vial labels are attached and dated. Most vet receipts have the date last given or next due summarized at the bottom, which is simple and sufficient.
#4: Flea control information. We need to know what product you're using. We have Frontline Plus available for $20 (or $15 each if you enroll multiple dogs), but prefer they're on something before coming in. You can often obtain a free sample from your vet. Any product acquired through a veterinarian is acceptable. The only over-the-counter products we accept are Frontline, Advantage, Advantix, and Pet Armor. We do not accept flea collars or budget brands. Capstar is not acceptable since it kills fleas on a dog for immediate relief, but has no lasting effect. We are very firm on this policy, even if you know your dog does not have fleas. This is for every dog's safety, including yours.
#5: You're welcome to bring something from home that smells familiar for your dog. We recommend old rags and t-shirts since these items are typically thrown out at the end. They can get pretty stinky after being slept on for almost two weeks! You are welcome to bring most other items, just please not too much and nothing of sentimental or monetary value.
#6: For giant breeds: We have heavy blankets for bedding, but encourage giant breed owners to bring a thick bed or elevated cot to keep their sensitive joints more cushioned. This especially applies to great danes and mastiffs, but any dog owner is welcome to bring something if they want to. Please understand that we do our very best to keep things in good condition, but the dogs and the washing machine don't always cooperate.
Nope! Treat-based training sounds great and can be a lot of fun, but unfortunately it puts all control in the dog's hands (paws?). This is not a good method for obedience training. Your dog learns to check what you have before they listen. You also have no recourse if your dog cares more about what they want than the treats, or is too distracted. And it's not even natural! Have you ever seen an alpha dog bribing his pack members to follow him for cookies?
However we do use a few treats for only the first few days. Treats have a place in training, but it should be temporary. They help the dog to like and trust us quickly and they enable us to easily identify when a dog understands what a word means. If they'll do it for a treat, then we know the command is understood. But once the dog knows the vocabulary, the treats disappear, before we develop a dependency. Some dogs always turn up their nose at treats, which is fine too. We don't really need them!
Where treats are great is with "fun behaviors". Go ahead and use treats to get your dog to play dead or spin in a circle! We would never require these things, so it's fine if the dog chooses not to do it.
We don't name our method, but rather we use all four principles of Operant Conditioning. The one you always hear about, Positive Reinforcement, is only one and was never intended to be used alone. The other three are Negative Reinforcement, Positive Punishment, and Negative Punishment (which isn't as bad as it sounds - sending a child to their room is an example of Negative Punishment). Operant Conditioning isn't actually a method, rather it scientifically identifies how animals learn. There is a great article to tell you more about it here.
If we had to name what we do, it would be what many trainers now call Balanced Dog Training. Balanced Dog Training is Operant Conditioning, it just sounds cooler! But we really like to say that we simply work with each individual dog, get to know them, find what makes them tick, and go from there!
Yes! And we don't hide it from you. We love training collars! They're awesome! We get as excited about training collars as a mechanic would about an amazing wrench - it's a simple tool that just works! Training collars enable you to correct your dog on a physical level in a humane way that they instinctively understand. They give you results, and are so much nicer than yelling at your dog and getting nowhere! They keep correction objective rather than emotional. You are simply telling your dog they're wrong, not getting mad. Isn't that great??
Despite the stigma attached to many of them, used correctly, no training collar should injure your dog. We mostly use the ugliest one of all, the prong collar. A high quality prong collar should have smooth movement that doesn't pinch your dog's skin and rounded tips that are not sharp or pokey. We give you a Herm Sprenger to take home since they're the best. Prong collars are effective at mimicking a corrective snap from another dog. There is almost no teaching involved - the dog just gets it. We teach you to pair the use of the collar with a verbal signal, like "No" or "Ah Ah". This enables you to eventually be able to simply say the word without having to use the collar through the process of associative learning (a major aspect of operant conditioning).
The best part is that a training collar further enables you to earn your dog's respect and keep it. You are establishing leadership in a way they understand. Dogs do not give each other treats to establish authority, or drag each other on leashes, or yell at each other. They growl, posture, and, when needed, bite. The bite is not hard enough to break skin, but rather just enough to say, "Hey, I mean business." This means that eye contact, tone of voice, body language, and cool confidence are all essential aspects of our training.
Occasionally we'll come across a dog where it's evident that a prong collar is too intense. In this case we would use a martingale collar. A martingale is essentially a prong without "teeth." However we would need you to leave it up to us to choose what is best for your dog. A martingale on the wrong dog will require a lot of force to have any effect, which is not safe. Since a prong collar is about the feel of teeth, not force, they can be safely fitted and used on dogs as small as three pounds (they make tiny ones!). Little dogs function with the same psychology as big dogs. They are all canines on the inside!
We do not typically use electric collars (e-collars). We are not opposed to them, and actually think they're great, but they don't give you that personal feel that you get with a prong or martingale. They are also not a natural sensation, so there is a lot of teaching involved to be effective and not scary. We do sometimes recommend e-collars to clients under certain circumstances, but not as a replacement for a prong collar.
We can help you to have a well-mannered pup that may qualify as a companion or emotional support dog. There are no specific requirements for these two categories (which are really the same thing) other than your dog is well-mannered in public and under your control. This easily falls under our scope and we're always happy to help! Service dogs, as protected by the ADA, are not the same as companion dogs or emotional support dogs. We do not offer any specific task or service training to meet ADA qualifications. However, if your dog can perform two tasks that you have taught or plan to teach, and you just need good behavior to qualify for ADA, we may be able to help you.
It's important to understand that there is no official certification for companion or emotional support dogs. Be leery of companies that promise this since it is not an ADA qualification and is unregulated. There isn't even paperwork to prove your dog is ADA qualified (it's illegal for anyone to ask; they can only ask what two tasks the dog can do). Some people chose to get these anyway. They're easily purchased online and give your dog a more official look. Yet they're unofficial and a business owner can still refuse your dog entry. The closest thing to official you can get is a letter from your doctor.
Temperament also plays a significant role in your dog's ability to be a companion dog, emotional support dog, therapy dog, or an ADA service dog. Though training can have some effect on a dog's genetically based temperament, it does not guarantee any necessary changes. We would give you a fair assessment based on what we see as we work with your dog.
Our training also helps many dogs meet the requirements to be certified as a therapy dog. Please refer to tdi-dog.org and petpartners.org for more info on therapy work. Many of our clients have successfully gone through these two organizations.