I won't be your buddy, yet!
I think we've gotten to know each other well enough by now, that it is time to let you in on a little training secret of mine. Well, it's not really a secret and it's certainly not "mine", but it might be new to you so here goes:
My intention when you drop your dog off, is not to make friends with your dog. I wont touch your dog, speak to your dog or give your dog a treat. In fact, I will completely ignore your dog.
There, I said it. Sounds horrible, doesn't it? For you maybe, because you're a human, but not for your dog. Your dog will actually thank me. He doesn't need a friend right now, he needs someone he can trust to follow.
Your dog will be tethered to me at all times for the first few days, if he is human aggressive or extremely fearful, he might be tethered for weeks; unless he is resting in his crate, and I don't ask for much:
Don't try to eat me or other dogs (It'll be bad for your indigestion)
Don't attempt to pull me over (Good luck with this ton of bricks)
Don't be rude (Push past me at thresholds)
That's it. I'm an easy going date.
So why am I doing this? There's a few reasons.
Your dog doesn't understand the spoken language. It's true that they learn commands, some learn up to 200-300 of them, but that doesn't mean they understand English, or any other spoken language for that matter. If you teach your dog that "sausage" means "sit", the dog will look very confused when someone else asks it to sit, as the word itself doesn't have any meaning to the dog. What they DO understand however, universally, is body language and energy.
I also get to know the dog! I will know how he feels about pressure, dogs, humans, sudden movements, noises, puppies, strangers, aeroplanes, cars, loud machine gun in a computer game, doorbell, etc. etc. etc. while still being able to keep him, other dogs/humans and me, safe.
While tethered, they learn three main things; they learn to follow, they learn that I always follow through and they learn that I will always keep them safe.
They learn to follow: When I move, lets say from the sofa to the kitchen to make a cup of coffee, I just move. I don't ask the dog to follow me, I simply expect it to. (Remember, the dog and I are not on speaking terms yet) If I need the bathroom, it'll be busy in there.. when I do laundry, they're there right next to me. You get the picture.
They learn that I always follow through: As they are tethered to me they can not, not follow. Some dogs do dig their heels in; they're used to doing things on their terms, and they refuse to budge. Well I refuse to not get my coffee, so it's a battle of wills. I will keep moving forward, which will apply pressure on their (normal, not prong) collar. By the way, I am not dragging the dog on the floor here, I just keep applying enough pressure so that the dog feels it. Once they give me ANY kind of movement towards/with me, I stop applying pressure. We then start moving together again, towards the coffee machine. This might repeat itself a few times; it is particularly unpopular when they're asleep and I need a bathroom break.. but wherever I go ,they go, every time. They get the hint REAL fast, so a few days is normally all that is needed. But they LEARN, that I ALWAYS follow through. I lead, they follow.
They learn that I always keep them safe: Whether they are scared of dogs, show aggression towards dogs, show aggression towards humans or they're just shy and fearful; they are thrown in the deep end on day one. I am VERY busy so it's normally no less than 6 dogs in the house. I will however, make sure that they have their personal space protected at all times. Dogs, humans or whatever it may be that triggers them, will stay out of their space, I make sure of that. This is a big one for your dog. It doesn't take long until they realise that they do not have to worry about any of that stuff anymore, I've got their back. That's when the real "magic" happens. They no longer need to worry, to fight for their own space, to fight, or run away. This is one of the main reasons I only take on one human and/or dog aggressive dog at the time and that the training availability for these dogs are so restricted; I need to make sure that the other dogs that are here, already knows how to interact and adhere to rules, so when I say to stay away and give the new dog space, they do, because I've taught them that they're always safe and I always follow through.
So, please do not feel discouraged that I don't shower your dog in affection or treats on day one, or even at the assessment. It will never happen. I do this because I love them, truly, and want to help them. It doesn't matter whether they are here for boarding or training, they will all get the same treatment. Even boarding dogs need to know, for their own peace of mind, that I will keep them safe and that everyone has to follow the rules. I've never seen a dog come back to visit and NOT be happy to see me, which tells me, and hopefully you, all you need to know :)
Look forward to working with you and your dog.