It seems like there are a lot of dogs out there with no off-leash obedience training. Is it only certain dogs that can learn?

If you know how to train a dog in off-leash obedience, you can teach almost any dog. Some dogs might learn faster than others or actually follow through with commands faster, but that’s more because of their individual drives than their breed or age. The most effective way to train a dog is to take advantage of what motivates them, whether that’s praise, food, toys, or something else. If you don’t identify what motivates a dog, you’ll have a tough time teaching them.

How long is this training meant to last?

It’s meant to last the life of the dog, and that’s for all of our programs, not just off-leash obedience training. We’re here to set you and your dog up for a lifetime of success. We don’t cut any corners in puppy training and we don’t rush our on-leash obedience. You need these foundations to be strong if you want to train a dog to walk off-leash and respect your commands.

Once we have the off-leash obedience perfect with our trainers, that’s when we work on you! Training needs to be reinforced and maintained at home. It’s not just the secret to training that lasts, it’s the way to make your dog’s training even better long after the last training session is over.

I also want to emphasize that if you’re not committed to making a change for yourself and your dog, you’re not ready to start the training. As a business owner I never want to turn people down for training, but it’s something I have to do if I can tell a person’s not willing to put the work in. Anybody who’s willing to follow our training principles and practice is going to get the results they want for the rest of their dog’s life.

When you say that the training needs to be maintained at home, does that mean you’re personally coming to do more training or can the owner do it on their own?

Well, we do offer dog training maintenance for our clients where we come to your home or wherever you want and brush you up on how to motivate your dog, how to give leash or collar corrections the right way, and we work with your dog on being attentive. But if you go through our training and follow the steps and do things in a consistent way, you won’t need maintenance training.

Most of our clients keep up with their dog’s training at home with the skills we gave them. There are always some people who get too busy, or friends and family members watch the dog and don’t keep up with the training and things get compromised. Life happens. If you feel like you haven’t been able to keep your dog’s training sharp, we’re happy to help you get things back on track and keep them there.

But if you’re really serious about getting results, you can’t just have your dog trained and then go back to doing things exactly the same as you used to. It takes some effort to keep things in shape, and we have a lot of clients who can tell you it’s worth every minute. Look at Tom Brady…he’s trained to play football- he already knows how to do what he needs to do, but he can’t stop working out or practicing and expect to just win games. (Editor’s note: Did you hear, that Tom?)

Once a dog is trained and goes home, do you ever get to see the dog again?

Oh yeah, we love that! It’s great to hear from people after training. A lot of our clients come from referrals and word-of-mouth around Boston and New Hampshire, so we stay in touch that way, but we also have people calling us and emailing us just to show off their dog’s training. It’s a good feeling for us because we obviously bond with the dogs when we train them, but it’s also rewarding to that people are really learning about how their dog thinks and how to make their life better together.

I mean it when I say that a dog’s training will actually get better after they go home. If the owner is following the steps, it becomes second nature for them, and their dog develops really good habits. One of my favorites things to do is to have clients come back after years and test their dogs’ off-leash obedience training in Boston, around a lot of people and animals and distractions. We filmed a couple of those follow-up sessions for our website. Gene and Brian brought their German Shepherds to Boston Common and down busy streets. Their off-leash obedience was still perfect, even 5 years after training.

What’s the benefit of training a dog for on-leash obedience?

Teaching on-leash is the key to training a dog for off-leash obedience later. And even if you don’t plan on ever training your dog to walk off-leash later, there are good reasons to train your dog on-leash now. It’s enjoyable to go for a walk without being pulled down the street. It’s nice to be able to ask your dog to sit or lie down on command- whether they’re meeting new people or just staying still for a visit to the vet or groomer. As a handler, you benefit from on-leash obedience training because we’ll teach you how your dog thinks. You’ll develop more mutual respect and understanding with your dog.

With leash laws in so many towns, is it worth it to train your dog in off-leash obedience?

If you have the choice, off-leash training is a must. It doesn’t matter if you plan on taking your dog off-leash or not. A few nights ago I was leaving the training center, and we share a building in New Hampshire with a dog groomer. Someone was bringing their groomed dog out to the car. The dog was pulling a lot because I was next to my car with my dog Eteo. Sure enough, the dog slips out of its collar and starts running across the parking lot at me and Eteo. I told Eteo to hop into the car and I shut the door before the dog got to us, but that’s an example of how training is vital in ways you might not consider. For me, I was able to take my dog out of a potentially bad situation, not knowing if the other dog was aggressive. For the other dog’s owner, I’m sure it would have been nice to call the dog back! Luckily we’re set back from the road enough that we were able to round the dog up safely, but those are the times when off-leash obedience training is priceless.

If you life in a place with a leash law, there’s a good chance that at some point you’ll go out of town with your dog. It’s a great chance to let loose and let your dog enjoy the outdoors without being worried about other dogs and people and cars. My wife and I use the off-leash obedience commands around the house and it makes life a lot easier. I can keep my dog off the floor I just mopped, we can put tell Kazou and Eteo to wait in their bed if a guest is over. There’s a hundred little ways throughout the day that the training comes in handy, it just works into your routine. You’re happy because your dog is listening, and your dog is happy because you’re not yelling or keeping him in the crate all day.