Over the years we've come to understand that most dog owners send their dogs to residential training believing the trainer will teach the dog, which will return home to perform well for life. This is the most pervasive myth about dog training.
Here's the truth: Assuming you've chosen a competent trainer, the most important variable in your dog's performance is not the trainer but you. You'll want to consider the implications of this fact before enrolling your dog at Woofers Canine College.
We have learned the hard way that without owner involvement, dogs return from our college well-trained but soon their behavior or performance worsens. Our training process, honed over years, is highly effective but only if the owner is willing and able to invest some time and effort.
Years ago we trained dogs, demonstrated the commands to owners, and then wished them all well. Often we'd receive a call three or four months (or a year) later saying the training didn't work or last. "He won't come when called." "She lies down only when she wants to." "He won't listen to me." "She's pulling the leash again." We'd visit the dog only to find that for us it performed every command to perfection. We'd then have the owner put the dog through its paces. And of course, we'd offer coaching and assistance, but we were perplexed about why some dogs continued to do well after college and others didn't.
Over time we noticed a correlation between training "failure" and owners who had been unable or unwilling to, after the training, receive coaching from us and/or practice with their dogs at home. We began to understand that owner involvement is the key.
This fact is why we developed our two-phase process: Two weeks with us, two weeks at home. During phase one, dogs attend college for two weeks where we teach skills or behaviors. During phase two, the owners' work begins. They work with our trainer and receive coaching about how to maximize their dogs' performance. For approximately fifteen minutes each day they practice at home for a week, calling us for help if needed, and then meet with our trainer again. They practice for a second week. Two weeks after Canine College an owner who has invested the time and effort feels confident and capable and has the skills to insure his or her dog will listen and behave well for life.
In the case of dog in college for behavior modification, phase two may involve meeting with our trainer at Woofers, in public, or at home. It may involve calling a few friends to drop by for us to test the dog, or asking several neighbors to bring their dogs over so that we can insure the dog will get along with dogs in its own environment. Or various other things an owner will need to do to insure the good behavior continues at home.
Here's the main reason we meet with every client prior to accepting his or her dog into Woofers Canine College: We want to determine whether or not he or she is willing to invest the time and work during phase two. If not, we'd rather know that so we can refer him or her to a different trainer.
Our proven process works but isn't for everyone. We do not judge anyone who says he or she doesn't have the time or doesn't want to put in the work. Rather, we appreciate the honesty, which saves everyone wasted time, effort, and money.
We want to make sure that the dogs who get one of the few seats in Woofers Canine College have owners who are committed to their success. That way, everyone--trainer, dog, and owners--are happy.