i keep my actual blog posts few and far between these days, mostly because i can say everything that i need to in IG captions, stories, etc…. but when i have something really exciting to elaborate on, it calls for a “big girl post” and today i’m bringing my 1 year old frenchie percy into the picture as we discuss ‘board & train’ programs, pet training stigmas, and the time he spent at canine connection – a mom & pop home-based training facility that took him under their paw for THREE whole weeks. read on to hear about our experience, how he’s doing now, and to get all the details on these amazing people and this amazing service!
i connected with john cotone, one of the owners and trainers, back when i was still pregnant with indie. i knew percy needed help with his behavior, but the thought of leaving him in someone else’s care for that long really freaked me out. would he think i was giving him away? would he like them better than me? would something terrible happen to him there? would people judge me or think i was a bad dog-mom for being willing to part with him for such a long time? so many thoughts ran through my mind and i backed out not once, but twice! finally, after two different in-home training consultations and an 8 week “puppy kindergarten” group class (which did absolutely nothing) i knew i had to call in the big guns, bite the bullet, rip the bandaid off….. you get the picture. things were getting bad around here. i had a newborn in the house and a dog that was chewing my walls, using our sunroom as his secondary potty, and ignoring you when you called his name. it was TIME.
this program is built off the mantra (and their hashtag) #DoItForTheDog…. and it’s honestly this mantra (along with months of frustration) that allowed me to open my eyes and my heart to the idea of board & train. this wasn’t for me… i’d reap the benefits but really….. this was for HIM. because think about it: if you were constantly scolded, wouldn’t you feel a certain way? the miscommunication between dog and owner is enough to really mess with a dog’s psyche and i don’t even mean that to be funny… my puppy feeling figuratively ‘beat down’ for his behavior was part of the never ending cycle of bad habits that he’d gotten himself into. if you feel this way (or even a fraction of this) in your own home with your own dog, this program might be something you’d love. after an evaluation from john & kristina, we were told that taking percy out of the environment that made him anxious and act out was the first step towards ultimate success – so we packed up his belongings and drove out to lebanon, nj where they board & train out of their own home! their personal dogs stay upstairs, and the boarded dogs stay downstairs. rather than a high tech facility, what i love about canine connection is the fact that your dog is being trained to behave inside a home, which is where he or she will spend a great majority of their time. they accept dogs of any age in this program, not just puppies – because you CAN teach an old dog new tricks!
the day i dropped him off i definitely cried my eyes out, but i was allowed one visitation so i drove out to see him halfway through the program and his trainers caught me up to speed with what he had been working on. during his stay, percy learned a place command, a recall, loose leash structured walking, and the phrases no/leave it. the place command is a big one, because you can tell your dog to go to place (likely their bed) and not leave that spot until you give them permission to. a lot of what percy learned is about getting permission before acting, which was important because i’ve got my hands pretty darn full lately!
here are some of my favorite shots from my visit half way through his program. and yes, he did get a doggy massage! –
one other thing percy learned was how to do “down” – an amazing feat, since his puppy kindergarten instructors gave up and just accepted that he wouldn’t do it!
some days it felt like forever, but overall the three weeks completely flew by, and yesterday we were reunited in our own home and it felt AMAZING!!!!! john & kristina came to teach us the ropes. our dog walker (also named liz) watched and listened, as did my hubby. we watched his recall and practiced it several times. a recall is calling the dog back to you – something percy never ever did. in fact, when i called him in from the back yard he would ignore me and i’d have to trek out there, baby in hand, to essentially drag him back inside. it’s impressive that despite wearing the e-collar for training, we haven’t once had to use it in a situation like this one. now, when we call him… he comes! here are a few pictures from our in-home offboarding lesson where he reunited with his doggy sister zoey and showed us his recall for the first time.
during the offboarding session, percy’s trainers gave us scenarios to set him up in and fully equipped us with all of the terms he now knows and responds to. we practiced a structured walk around the block, which is going to be an adjustment for us all – but something i think we will grow to love! up until now we were just letting both our dogs out back to hang… but he’s a puppy and he’s still got a great deal of energy to get out, so i’ll be strapping indie to my chest and taking percy around the block every single day. it’ll be great exercise for me, as well… something i haven’t gotten to do much of lately. maybe we’ll motivate each other! and on the rainy days? have no fear…. percy is now TREADMILL TRAINED!!!!! i kid you not!
he’s not even been home 24 hours yet but we’re already so happy to have him back. he has been calm, docile and sweet. we were able to sit indie next to him for these photos without a single worry that he’d nip at her feet! i’m so excited to see them become BFFs now that he’s well trained and she’s more aware of her surroundings!!!
send me a DM on instagram or an email if you have questions about this program and are local to the tri-state area. i’m happy to pass along pricing or get you in touch with john & kristina! the reason there is a 3 week minimum is because it takes a full 21 days to make or break a habit. think about quitting smoking or cutting carbs…. after that 3 week hurdle is when the new behavior starts to feel like a regular part of your life! the board & train program includes all basic commands – sit, down, no, leave it – as well as loose leash and offleash walking, recall, and the big place command. canine connection works on addressing behavioral issues as well as social/environmental work. they even helped percy hone his potty training skills! this program is amazing for a busy working family or moms with babies. the reality is that if you don’t have the time or ability to train your puppy round the clock for several weeks, it’s not going to happen without that consistency. sending your dog to a board & train program gives them the consistency that they need to train properly. it sets them up for success in the rest of their lives and when they get home everyone will be happier, including the dog, who craves the loving structure you will now provide to him. john & kristina are incredible people with a true passion for dogs and this was 100% an investment into percy’s future. after all the hemming and hawing i did to get us to this point…. my only regret is wishing i had done it sooner. i joked that percy’s homecoming was like an episode of intervention where we’d get all of his loved ones in one room to discuss his wellbeing….. but i quickly realized that wasn’t a joke – john & kristina have become a huge part of his sweet life and we are so grateful for their love, patience and guidance with our little papito!!!
now wish us luck as we move forward implementing all of percy’s new commands! we are so excited for this fresh start and we already feel so much more relaxed with our boy! if you need me i’ll be doling out ALL the snuggles today! follow canine connection on instagram (and follow me, too!) – they are always posting cool and useful dog training videos and pictures of their scenic neighborhood. oh, and cute dogs. it’s a no brainer.