Since my first sessions, my puppy and I have attended puppy socialization, basic obedience, and nose work classes at Dog Fun Forever. My puppy also attended the monthlong, in-depth Whole Dog Institute (WDI). I have found each instructor to be positive and encouraging for the dog AND the handler; all of the classes and WDI have enabled me to communicate better with my pup and have built my own confidence in managing dog behavior. Of note, even in group classes, the trainers observe dogs and handlers individually and tailor exercises to the needs of each pair. When handlers feel frustrated by their dogs’ behaviors, the trainers explain the underlying causes, identify solutions for managing those behaviors, and help the handler to understand that their dog is not a bad dog, but a dog that needs some different guidance to elicit a better behavior.
From her participation in WDI, my pup has increased her confidence and attentiveness; I have also learned that training is a long-term practice and discipline that strengthens the relationship between handler and dog. Although WDI has a bit of a price tag, it is FAR less expensive than comparable send-away programs (about one half the cost, and you get the added benefit of having your dog home with you in the evenings).
My pup has grown into a lovely adolescent dog who is very gentle and (mostly) well-mannered (she and I will continue to learn and improve). She will be taking her Canine Good Citizen test soon, and I anticipate that because of the wonderful work of the Dog Fun Forever and WDI staff along with my pup and me, my pup will undoubtedly pass. I strongly recommend working with the kind and enthusiastic staff.
Heather K. | Durham, NC
“I had taken a couple of class with my boxer puppy at Dog Fun Forever with great results, so when Kate suggest that Lucille (my Pup) would really benefit from the Whole Dog Institute, I quickly enrolled her. First the staff there were GREAT, just before the class started I found out that I was going into the hospital for a couple of days, Kate picked up and dropped off my puppy for the first three days of classes. That’s going out of your way. The second thing is the training that Lucille,my wife, and I received was the best.
I encourage anyone that wants to have a good relationship with your dog to look into Whole Dog Institute, you will be glad you did. I know that my wife, Lucille, and I are.”
Bill E. | Hillsborough, NC
“Whole Dog Institute’s intensive day training program has been a fantastic investment. Blue made astonishing progress in a few weeks, and we have been able to maintain key skills at home. I would highly recommend this program for anyone looking to jump start training or correct bad habits.
We learned about Whole Dog Institute’s day training program after attending puppy class the year before. Our puppy class instructor, Kate, had done a great job of teaching us how to instill good manners in our new puppy, and we had the best of intentions to follow through. But then work, school and and life happened, and 18 months later we found ourselves with a sweet, friendly family pet who we had allowed to develop a few really bad manners. We enrolled Blue in the 15 day-training intensive with the goal of improving Blue’s three problem behaviors: leash pulling, impolite greeting of guests, and recall. When we came for a “parent-teacher meeting” at the end of the first week, I was amazed by the skills and commands Blue had already learned. Not only that, but it was clear that Blue LOVED learning and working in his training sessions. He was eager and excited to work, and actually seemed proud to demonstrate his new skills!
Blue has always attended dog day care for socialization and exercise. However, I’ve never seen him more exhausted then after his days at Whole Dog Institute. He would return home, stretch out the floor, and fall into a deep sleep until the next morning. The mental work of learning takes a lot of energy. In the morning, as we were packing up to leave the house for the day, Blue would stand by our front door and whine because he was so excited to go back to school.
Kate and her team followed methodical, quantitative assessment methods to track Blue’s progress on a dozen or so commands and skills. Manners are consistently reinforced throughout the day. This means the staff asked Blue to wait at every gate, every time, even for pick up and drop off.
Before the program, Blue was a relentless leash puller and had damaged his trachea pulling on a collar and put his spine out of alignment pulling in an easy walk harness. My son could not walk him around the neighborhood. WDI showed us how to correctly use a prong collar, using a light jiggle to remind Blue to leave slack on the leash, and a light redirection sideways if he is pulling forwards. I was hesitant at first, but Blue is happy to have this collar put on before a walk (he hated having his easy-walk harness put on), and he seems comfortable, happy, and calm when walking, without the relentless urge to tow us down the street. Blue walks easily and even my son can walk him. If the leash becomes taught, a small jiggle is all it takes to remind Blue to create some slack, and even this small reminder is rarely needed. Walking our dogs has now become a fun family routine, instead of an unpleasant shoulder-straining chore.
Another problem behavior we wanted to addressed was rude greetings. Thankfully, since he weighs 60 pounds, Blue no longer jumps up on visitors. However, he is very curious and friendly, and his favorite way to learn about a new guest to the house is a hearty sniff of the person’s butt. Kate taught Blue a command to touch his nose to a visitor’s outstretched hand, which gives him an outlet for his intense need to sniff, without goosing the guest.
A third command that has “stuck” in the weeks since graduation is “wait.” We give the verbal and hand cue to show Blue the boundary of a doorway and ask him to wait instead of allowing him to shove his way through ahead of us. Blue still wants to push ahead, and the command is a good reminder to help bring his focus back to us. “Wait” has been especially useful as a safety tool when unloading our two dogs from the car.
Blue learned many other commands, and I’ll admit I have not practiced these at home. So, I was excited to learn that WDI is now offering “refresher” day stays. We are planning to bring Blue a couple of days a month to keep his skills up and help us to incorporate more of what he has learned into our home routines.”