You've got questions, we've got answers!
“I've never boarded my dog before..how does this work?”
What should I expect, how does it work?
At drop off or the evaluation, the trainer will ask you what specific problems, if any, are you having with the dog outside of the realm of normal obedience training. You can expect a dramatic improvement in these behavior areas, more control under distraction, and a much more pleasurable dog to live with. Each board and train has a baseline curriculum of the standard obedience commands, but beyond this it is completely tailor made to whatever you communicate to us you need help with.
What we expect from you is to adhere to our recommendations, and that every family member be consistent. Dogs relate behavior to both environment and individual people, so training must be enforced with these people and in those specific environments (the home) in order for the training to transfer. To get the full benefit of the training work we put into your dog, you must utilize all of the private lessons provided with the purchase of the board and train program in a timely fashion. The importance of owner education through lessons cannot be overstated.
At the pickup lesson, the first portion is us demonstrating the training level the dog has achieved for each command. The remainder and majority of the lesson is to train you, the owner, how to work towards achieving the same level of focus and response you see the dog offering to us. This is something that is earned. If you pick the dog up and follow none of the advice, and do not practice, your dog will not follow commands for you to the high level it will still perform them for us. However, if you pick the dog up, follow recommendations closely, and work with your dog through the end of the owner training period, your dog will only continue to improve beyond where we were able to bring it during the board and train duration. The dog’s success during the board and train program is up to us, the Olympia trainers. Ultimately, the long-term success and maintenance of training is up to you, the owner.
What should I bring?
You should bring food, vaccination records, and any prescribed medications. For behavior modification clients, if your dog’s medication was prescribed specifically for the treatment of the anxiety/aggression issue such as Alprazolam, Diazepam, Fluoxetine etc. please discuss this with a trainer prior to drop off. We provide everything else that your dog will need and use during their stay here with us including: beds, blankets, approved toys, leashes, longlines, treats, crates, etc. so that you do not have to bring these things with you. Let’s talk about dog food—this is an important one!
We ask that you provide more food than you normally feed the dog. This is because your dog will be very physically active during their time here. Throughout the day we provide them with scheduled downtime naps in their crates to encourage rest and recovery, but their training sessions are frequent and often long. In addition to training, the dog-friendly dogs have the option of playing with a pack of dogs in our daycare yard between training sets. The human-aggressive, dog-aggressive, or extremely anxious dogs all have increased physical exercise as part of their training regiment, i.e. a trainer taking the dog to a woods trail for a jog/run on leash to help establish leadership and quiet their mind, much like exercise does for us humans. Most people’s dogs are used to lounging about the house all day, sometimes going for a short leash walk after their owner gets home from work. Naturally, all the dogs need to be eating higher calories to account for the higher energy output here, so make sure you pack more food than you would normally feed.
We can feed our own food to your dog for an additional fee which is sometimes necessary in emergency drop off’s for behavior modification where there wasn’t time for the owner to prepare, or for our long distance clients who are flying the dog in to BOS Airport Cargo. Just keep in mind dogs can experience digestive upset for a few days when switching food abruptly without transitioning slowly, sometimes resulting in diarrhea while they adjust to the new diet. For this reason, whenever possible, we do strongly recommend that the owner provides their own food to keep it consistent for their dog.
If your dog is a picky eater, or a ‘grazer’ at home who doesn’t eat their meals right away and you normally only offer dry dog food (kibble), please consider bringing a full case of canned wet food for your dog. We monitor your dogs eating habits very closely while they are here to ensure they are eating all of their food at each mealtime. Nervous dogs, anxious dogs, or picky/lazy eaters benefit a lot by having something extra yummy available to us to add into their normal dry food.
How will I know how my dog is doing while at training?
Owners are welcome to check in as often as they like on how the dog is doing health wise, if they are eating, handling stress well. Requests for training updates, however, are best spaced a few days apart so that enough time and trainings sessions have passed in order to have something new to discuss. We strive to return all emails and voicemails within 24 hours. The vast majority of our day is spent with the dogs, often outside on our training field or trails. Because of how much time we spend with the dogs in different areas of our large country-set property, the office phone may go unanswered unless a trainer is utilizing the indoor training space, or working at the desk drafting an email to another client. Email is the quickest way to get in touch with a trainer. Most of the trainers have access to the business email on their cell phones and can answer quick questions while they are in the middle of training on the field or trail with a dog.
Especially with behavior modification cases, our previous clients can attest to the amount of explanation and detail provided in updates to educate the owner. These types of responses take time to write. Quality communication is very important to us and we appreciate patience during board and train as we work to keep you educated and informed on your dogs progress.
Where does my dog sleep?
The cover photo for the post is a picture of the building where the dogs sleep. Each dog has their individual secure crate with bedding, and fresh water bucket clipped to the side. The building is heated in the colder months, and air conditioned in the summer to make sure the dogs will be comfortable in all weather. There is a corner kitchenette where we prep the breakfast and dinner meals for the dogs. It feels and looks like a room of your home—just with more dogs!
How often is my dog training? What will a typical day look like for my dog?
The dogs get formal morning and afternoon obedience sessions. Throughout the entire day, there is constant behavior training going on at an informal level. This is a huge benefit to the board and train vs. the lesson program, because the dog is literally living with trainers. Everything your dog does throughout the day is automatically addressed from a trainers perspective. We are always monitoring their behavior in each situation for whether it is acceptable or not. A lot of the magic happens outside of formal sessions, during the group play, the leash walks, the feeding times, the downtime to rest in crates, we are asking ourselves—do I like how the dog is behaving right now? This is where your dog learns the important things beyond obedience and formal behavior work: boundaries, respecting space, manners, independence. How is the dog going through doorways? Is he calm, or over excited/manic to be the first one through? How is the dog behaving in the play yard? Is she guarding toys from other dogs, or playing well? How is the dog when he greets us? Is he jumping on staff and pulling on the leash, or is he sitting calmly and accepting a leash being put on? How is the dog behaving during meal times? Is she demanding and pushy or able to wait while the bowl is prepared and then invited to go ahead and eat? It is this full 360 approach that allows to make transformative changes in realistically short periods of time.