Frequently Asked Questions
WHat kind of dog trainer are you?
I am a dog behaviorist, this means that I do not always see “training” as the only solution to the problems we face with our dogs. This means that I am always trying to see things from the dogs perspective, and determine how much of their behavior is learned or genetic in nature. Brandon Fouche said, “if the problem is genetic is can be managed and if it is learned it can be unlearned.” I very much agree with this statement, as sometimes it is just as important to realize who a dog is, if we are going to find out who it can eventually be. I have spent the last 10 years owning and rehabilitating some of the most challenging dogs I have ever met, and this is what has taught me so much about animal behavior.
I am a balanced dog trainer. That means that we use both "yes" and "no" to get the dogs into a better state of mind and eliminate unwanted behaviors. We use food, affection, inclusion, adventures, exercise, toys, play, and treats to tell the dog "yes" we like that behavior. We use prong collars, e-collars, pet convincers(air sprayer), slip leads, spacial pressure, social pressure, and bonkers (rolled up towel) to teach the dogs "no" we do not want you to do that anymore. Through balanced training we are not only able to get the dog trained, but we are able to give the owner the tools they need to succeed in keeping up with the training.
What is an e-collar?
E-collars or electronic collars are one of the safest and most effective tools when it comes to training dogs and including them in our life. Many people naively refer to these collars as "shock collars", however that is not an accurate word to describe them. The truth is while these collars at high levels can produce a "shocking" sensation, they can also provide the dog with extremely low levels of electrical stimulation to gently provide the dog with information from the handler/owner. When used properly, the electronic collar is used primarily at a very low level, which actually is not painful at all. To properly train a dog to be sensitive to low level e collar pressure takes time, which is why we only offer e-collar training after 5 or more private dog training sessions or 2 or more weeks of boarding and training with us.
What is the benefit of boarding versus hour long training sessions?
When we have a dog here with us for an extended period of time, we are able to have the dogs entire world be enveloped in the training/socialization process. By being able to take your dog through their day in a highly structured and balanced manner, your dog will be set up for success no matter what the case. If you have a puppy, we will be able to be sure that all throughout their day they are getting well socialized and trained at the same time. If you have a dog who has been practicing bad habits, board the dog here will give them a virtual “reset” form their typical routine and subsequently habitual behavior. Many times, it is simply too difficult for an owner to step back emotionally from their dogs and put that 110% priority on socialization and training. Other times, there are other aspects of its daily environment that make it extremely difficult for the dog to make the leap to the next level behaviorally. Sometimes roommates, animals, or even the owners relationship to the dog make it next to impossible to get the results we strive to achieve, without removing the dog from its home for a period of time . When you leave your dog here we will give you “homework” to do while your dog is away, and spend hours working with you and your dog once we have returned your dog to you.
Can my dog be boarded at your facility or participate in your structured day camp program if my dog has not been previously trained by you?
In most cases the dog cannot. For the safety and peace of our pack, we only allow dogs in that we have spent an extensive time working with and training ourselves. All of the dogs we have personally trained and allow off leash in our pack have 100% off leash recall around even the most difficult of distractions. In addition these dogs are all dogs whose personality we know, understand and respect so as to be careful how we help them flourish in our pack. In rare cases we do encounter people with well trained and socialized dogs who would like to join in on the adventures or boarding. After a careful evaluation/training process, we will allow “new” dogs into our day program and dog boarding. These dogs must already be e-collar trained.
Do you deal with aggressive dogs?
Yes we deal with aggressive dogs. For serious cases we only offer board and training, and not one on one sessions.
is my dog too old / too young to be trained? what age is the most beneficial to train a dog?
We can train puppies under six months as long as they have had their shots. Often it is best to train the dog as soon as possible so that it can begin practicing good behavior while it is young. This way by the time it is fully grown it will already be fully trained. We can train old dogs as well. Often times older dogs do great when their owners decide to help them with their training and socialization. There is no age to old to consult with a trainer or behaviorist to help your dog and yourself better understand each other. In fact low level electronic collar or electronic collar on vibrate can be a great way to work with even an older dog who is beginning to lose some of his or her senses.
WIll my dog be safe with you and your dogs?
Your dogs safety is of utmost importance to us here at follow the leader k9. We will never leave your dog unattended around other dogs and we will never let your dog off leash without either a long line attached to it, an electronic collar, or both. When taking your dogs out into the public we will always advocate for the safety of your pet and do our utmost to keep it safe.
Are you insured?
Yes we are fully insured by Business Insurers of the Carolinas, an insurance company that offers insurance specifically designed for businesses that handle dogs, just like we do.
Do I have to keep my dog in a crate?
Honestly it depends on the dog, some dogs really do need to have a safe and calm space for them to relax. Some dogs do fine without a crate, but most dogs should have some sort of room, car, dog run, or enclosure that is designated for them to remain for some period of time.
HOw long will my dog need to wear an e collar?
It honestly depends on how much follow up work you do with the dog, and obviously on the dog as well. Some clients never even use the e-collar and the dog behaves perfectly after being trained with us. Other people have to spend time reinforcing the training with their dog in a variety of situations before they are able to eventually stop using the collar. Some people eventually will just use the e collar selectively when going to high distraction or stimulating environments. Other people, will love the security and control they gain from an e collar and decide to use it for the remainder of the dogs life.
What role do I play in the behavior of my dog?
Whether or not you have had the dog since it was a puppy or it is a recent rescue, you play a huge role in the behavior of your dog. There is always a level of responsibility that anyone who's dog we train, must take for the behavior of their animal. Exercise, affection, routine, structure, advocating for your pet, and holding the dog accountable for it's actions all play a vital role in the way your dog behaves. The more we work with dogs, the more we see to be true, and yet often times it is one of the hardest things to get dog owners to understand. Obviously there are more difficult dogs or more genetically aggressive or nervous dogs or dogs that have had experiences that left them confused and perhaps even traumatized. Even taking this into account, the biggest determining factor in a dogs behavior is the owner. Don’t worry, however, because we are going to suggest books and movies and take the time to help you see and understand this for yourself. Ultimately, we want owners seeing a deeper connection with their dogs, and understanding how and why they have an effect on their dogs behavior. It is our belief that this deeper connection actually helps us and our dog do our best, together.
Will your training include socialization?
We strive to include socialization as much as possible for all of the dogs in our care. It is impossible to fix dog aggression or people aggression or many other serious problem behaviors without socialization. In addition, it is often the lack of socialization, not the lack of training that causes our dogs to make mistakes. Often times, owners are mistaking training with socialization. Training involves making a dog move in a certain way when we say so, socialization involves the dog understanding their relationship to the world around them. It is out belief that our dog pack here and the other dogs that we meet along our way, play a crucial role in the rehabilitation and socialization process. We simply could not rehabilitate difficult dogs without socializing them with other balanced dogs. That being said, safety is our number one priority, so we do not socialize dogs until we have established a certain level of trust with them. The socialization that occurs while in our care is one in which structure and safety are priority.
How long will it take for my dog to reach its behavior goals?
Obviously we want everyone to have the “perfect” dog in as little time as possible. Time and time again we see the time it takes range from hours to weeks to months to sometimes even years. There are some dogs, that we struggle to understand or master for years, while others, seem to take days. Too often we spend our time comparing one dog to another dog, than truly accepting them for who they are, and at what rate they learn and grow. Genetics, early experiences, personality types, breed, temperament, all of these things vary amongst dogs. It is our job to give you realistic goals and a timeframe that is accurate, and it is your job to follow our directions as best you can. Often times, it is not just the dog that may take time to change, sometimes the humans struggle as well. Often times, getting our dog to that higher level of behavior is a matter of us changing the way we interact with the dog. This takes time to implement and learn to stick to as a way to set your dog up for success. The bottom line is, the faster you can learn and change and understand how you interact and effect your dog, the faster your dog can change.