Many trainers, including myself, have a program in their school where a dog stays overnight for training for a period of two to three weeks. During this time, the dog is taught all the basic commands and any minor behavior problems are corrected. While this is a costly way to train your dog, it is exceedingly effective, especially if are away from home for long periods of time and do not have enough time to work with your dog on a daily basis to ensure he understands the basic commands.
We do the hard part of the training, the part that takes a lot of patience because it is the teaching phase. As a trainer we also go through the proofing phase, this is where we ensure that the dog understands the commands and that he must obey no matter what the distraction. Some people always steer owners away from this type of training because the ‘dog will only obey the trainer; but that is not necessarily the case.
I can only speak in reference to the dogs that are left with me for training. During the two-week period of time the dog eats, sleeps, trains and lives with me. I spend the first few days bonding with the dog, playing with him and getting the dog to feel as comfortable as possible so I can see his bad habits. I do not allow the dog to misbehave without consequence but the dog is allowed to investigate and feel comfortable away from home. I allow him to play with my dogs and basically, be a dog; but while he is interacting with my dogs he picks up on how they are around me, the respect they have for me and how they obey. Once I feel this new dog and I have a bond, the formal training begins.
The dog is now my partner and a part of my family. We do everything together from going for walks to rides in the car. The dog also accompanies me to lessons so I can use him or her as a demonstration dog. The dog is in training usually about 8-10 hours per day.
The Lesson with the Owner:
At the end of the training program either the client comes to my school to pick up his dog or I deliver ‘Fido’ home. This is the hard part for me. The dog already went through the hard part of learning, now he must contend with his owner who gives him mixed messages. I now have to teach the owner how to be the dog’s master and not his pack member. This is not hard for the dog; it is hard for the owner.
The owner gets an individualized training manual on his dog, how to train, how to correct and reward. And, I demonstrate everything the dog has learned and how to work with the dog daily. Yes, daily! I instruct the owners they most still spend at least ½ hour per day working with their dog or the training will not stick. It is like going to a spa and losing 100 pounds, if you go home and don’t workout or diet, the weight will come back!
I also encourage the owners to continue to participate in training lessons, so I can see what they are doing wrong and how to handle their dogs. I don’t charge for more lessons and the owners can come as often as they like. I want the training and my hard work to stick!
We also have daycare at our training school. But our school is different in that we encourage our clients to come to class here. It doesn’t matter how much we work and train your dog, your dog is only going to obey and listen to you if you are Alpha and you enforce the rules. At our daycare we make sure the dogs get enough exercise so when it comes time for training, they are not frustrated by lack of exercise. But, you must still work with your dog at home. We are just helping you out by teaching and practicing, being Alpha and getting your dog to obey you is going to take practice on your part.
Our Job vs. the Owners Job
Our job either with daycare or campus training is to make sure the dog understands the commands and understands that there is no choice; he must obey when commanded. We make your day a little easier by working with your dog and figuring out how we must ‘tweak’ certain exercises so your dog understands them. Your job is to work with him everyday, put him through his paces, we have done the hard part of teaching, and your job is now just repetition and enforcing the rules. You must be Pack Leader and the only way to be your dog’s Alpha is to train with him every day and correct when needed.
Sending your dog away for training is not a bad idea, especially if you do not have the time for the hard part of the training, which is the teaching phase. The only time it becomes a waste of money is when owners think they never have to make the dog listen or obey and never have to put him or her through his paces. Each dog needs to be trained daily, at least for 20 minutes to ½ hour; and a walk in the neighborhood does not count as training. The training can be as structured as participating in a class or as lenient as training in your home, but you must run him through his commands every day. The daily training is going to make your dog understand that you are Alpha and he must always obey.