A: Absolutely! Using positive reinforcement means rewarding the dogs behavior with anything the dog finds rewarding to him. This is very often food, toys, petting and play. It is our job to motivate students and teach them to love learning. We do not push or pull your dog into obedience positions, we use food to lure them into the positions we are teaching.
Q: Will my dog only work for food after graduation?
A: No, with the exception of young puppies enrolled in Puppy Head Start. Adults will perform the obedience commands without the presence of treats. During the dogs training and your training, you will be using treats to “teach” your dog the obedience positions. When the dog becomes proficient we reduce the food treats so that they are not needed for your dog to be willing to perform the commands. We never go to zero food, however the treat will not need to be waived in front of your dog’s nose to get him or her to perform.
Q: Do you train with “Negative Reinforcement?”
A: Negative reinforcement in its scientific term means to “take away the pleasant thing”. An example would be not giving the dog the treat if he doesn’t sit. We utilize all 4 quadrants of learning in training, it is scientifically impossible to train any animal with positive reinforcement only.
Q: Do you use “prong collars?”
A: A prong collar is an effective training tool when used properly. The collar itself will not train your dog; it is the proper fit, function, use and introduction of the prong collar that can provide the means of communicating, achieving reliability, and ensuring safety for both the dog and the owner. No other harness, head halter, collar, or contraption will teach the dog not to pull on the leash. Harnesses and head halters teach the dog to walk at an angle, helping some to pull slightly less, while damaging their neck and spine. We are equally concerned about your safety and your dogs safety.
Q: Do you use “e-collars?”
A: In our Advanced Off Leash program and our Behavior Modification program we use a high quality Dogtra brand e-collar to communicate with the dog. We do not use the e-collar as many traditional trainers may, instead we utilize the e-collar to communicate known commands. We are not using the e-collar to punish a dog. We are using it in a systematic training process to communicate with the dog with low-level stimulation. As with all training tools, they alone will not help or “fix” a dog’s behavior. It is the proper implementation of such a training tool; fit, function, use and introduction. We do not use e-collars on puppies under 6 months age.
Q: Why doesn’t Appalachian Dog Training, LLC use “certified” dog trainers?
A: Dog trainer “certifications” can be bought online with no proof of credentials, no education, and no experience. Unfortunately, there are no state regulations for dog trainers and anyone can call themselves a dog trainer and appear professional by advertising themselves as ”certified”.
At Appalachian Dog Training LLC, we take pride in the years of education and experience committed to the training and care of all dogs. Our Head Trainer has successfully completed a hands-on vocational school Masters Program at Highland Canine International School for Dog Trainers, their apprenticeship program, and a Masters degree in Canine Life Sciences from Bergin University of Canine Studies, in addition to working in dog boarding facilities and animal shelters for over 15 years.
Board & Train FAQs
Q: Will my dog remember me?
A: Yes! We have never met a dog who didn’t remember their human. Even with rescues separated for years, they never forget family. Your dog will be excited when you arrive for graduation. Many dog also recognize their owners cars! Their memories are amazing.
Q: Will my dog miss me?
A: Dogs take about 3 days to adjust to the new training environment. Once they know where and when they will eat, sleep, walk, etc. they become comfortable and much more relaxed knowing the routine. When they relax, they are fully open to the active, fun days of training. This provides a great opportunity for your dog to learn that they can go overnight to a new place and have a fun and positive experience. Dogs that have never left their owner’s home or have significant anxiety or fears may take up to a week to fully adjust.
Q: Can I see my dog?
A: We post pictures several times each week on Facebook and Instagram. We ask that you “like & follow” our page to watch what your dog is learning and to enjoy all the adventures they are enjoying. It is fun to see their classmates and the training exercises they work on. Clients are allowed to visit their dogs, however it is important to recognize that visiting your dog is beneficial to you and not your dog. When you leave after visiting your dog, he or she will go through the adjustment period again, which may last from 3 days to a week, depending on your dog. Not only is this stressful for your dog, but it may set them back in training, resulting in additional time and fees to complete the training program.
Q: How often will I get training updates?
A: We send a weekly training update explaining what your dog has learned, what we will be teaching them in the coming week, what he has been doing great with, and what his greatest training challenges are. We want you to be a part of your dog’s training journey. We ask that you "like & follow" our Instagram or Facebook page to see pictures of your dog learning, socializing, and playing.
Q: Where will my dog stay?
A: Dogs in training sleep in their crate overnight at the Training Center. We start or continue your crate training and potty training routine. The crate provides structure, a cozy and safe rest area for your dog to enjoy. We never use the crate for a time-out so your dog comes to love his crate.
Q: How many times will my dog be trained each day?
A: Your dog will be engaging in multiple activities throughout the day. Most dogs experience a significant increase in activity being in the training environment. These physical demands are why we require your dog to be in great health and on a premium dog food.
Dogs receive, on average, 3-6 trainings each day. They also go on exercise walks, play in structured social groups when appropriate, and have regular potty breaks throughout the day. At the end of the day he or she will be tired, helping to promote quiet, restful crate behavior.
Your dog will have one full rest day each week. A rest day is just as important for your dog as it is for you. On rest day (usually Sunday), your dog will have his meals at the regularly scheduled times and potty breaks, but no training sessions or exercise walks, unless he or she has a high energy personality.
Q: How many dogs are in training?
A: Classes usually consist of 4-6 dogs. This number is variable because some dogs are in our 3-week program while other are in our 6-week program. We have staff to help with feeding, cleaning, care, exercise walks, and group training exercises. We operate as a cohesive unit and integrate the student dogs, as appropriate, to learn how to work, walk, and socialize around one another. Very often classmates become best friends.
Q: How will my dog know to listen to me after graduation?
A: Your dog will learn 6 commands plus more with our trainer and assistant trainer and staff. Training you, the client, is just as important as training your dog. We provide a training DVD of your dog performing the commands, including leash handling skills, use of equipment and general behavior management. We also train you and your family on graduation day with a fully comprehensive lesson. During this lesson, we demonstrate each of your dogs commands and work together to help transfer the training to you. Clients that actively engage in their training and maintain the dogs obedience find the transition quite easy and intuitive with our guided support.
Q: Will I have help after graduation?
A: We provide refresher training for life of your dog after completion of our Board and Train Programs. There are 3 ways to obtain assistance; call/text/email, come to the Training Center for a one-on-one lesson, or sign your dog up for Refresher Board & Train.
Service Dog FAQs
Q: What breeds are service dogs?
A: Service dogs can be any breed, however, we select the most human-cooperative breeds for service dogs. Service dogs must have the desire to please and work for people. These breeds are Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Poodles, Doodles, and Shepherds.
Q: Can my dog be a service dog?
A: Pets are not accepted into our Service Dog Program. Service dog training takes one to two years to complete, on average, in which the dog stays and learns at our facility. Due to the high health, temperament, and training requirements it is extremely unlikely an adult pet, an average puppy or even friendly shelter dog can complete such rigorous requirements.
Q: How can I train my dog to be a service dog?
A: We do not offer classes or group classes for training your dog to become a service dog. Training requirements cannot be successfully met in this type of learning environment and we value your investment. Many times your (or your child’s) disability, schedule, or finances dictate the training and this is not a successful plan for meeting your dog’s extensive training needs. We do not “task train” dogs because we believe service dogs taken out into the community should receive and pass every aspect of training, including Public Access. Performing a task is one role of many in a properly trained service dog.
Q: Can I adopt a service dog?
A: Service dogs are trained specifically for you. Because the training is tailored to you, there is not one for adoption. Service dogs require one to two years of training. After application approval, you are matched with a service dog for your needs, then highly specialized training begins.
Q: How expensive are service dogs?
A: Service dogs start training at eight weeks old. They have extensive testing and perfect temperaments for the job, resulting in a very expensive puppy, upwards of $1500-$3000. However, the puppy is still the cheapest part of training a dog to become a service dog. Training, lasting 18 months on average, accounts for most of the costs of a service dog. The national average cost of a service dog ranges from $25,000 to $50,000. We strive to keep costs well below the national average to help make service dogs more accessible to those who need them most.
Q: Is there funding or grants for service dogs?
A: Some local and federal agencies may be able to provide you with funding towards your service dog. This usually involves contacting local agencies (such as your local Family Center) and requesting assistance.
Q: Service dogs are expensive; how can my family afford one?
A: Many families do not have the funds ready to pay for a service dog. Several options to help with this challenge are split payments and fundraising. We do not require that you pay the entire costs all at once. Instead we split the payment, half due when you are matched with your service dog, and the balance not due until delivery.
Q: Is fundraising available?
A: Fundraising is an excellent way to offset costs for your service dog. While we do not organize your fundraising events, we often join them! Options are virtually unlimited. A few ideas are: a dog wash, car wash, spaghetti dinner, sidewalk sale, a walk-a-thon, just to name a few!
A go-fund me page with updates is another excellent way to reach many people without even leaving your home. We provide periodic updates for you to post about your service dog’s training journey. You also get to share the daily and weekly training pictures we post on Facebook and Instagram for everyone to follow.
Use your talents and contacts (sewing, mechanical expertise, gardening, friend’s business etc.) to think of creative ways to share an enjoyable experience, service, product or gift in exchange for a donation. Many clients raise funds well over the costs and well before delivery day. You will be pleasantly surprised with the support from your community.
Q: How do I apply for a Service Dog?
A: Applications are free and available here, or you can request one to be mailed to you. We will review your application to better understand your needs and how a service dog may best mitigate your most significant symptoms.
Q: What is the process for getting a service dog if my application is approved?
A: We select a dog for you and invite you to the Training Center to meet your dog. If the match between you and your service dog is approved, we enter into a training contract and begin training your service dog. You are encouraged to visit your service dog periodically while he is in training over the next 1-2 years. At completion of training, your service dog will be delivered to you with a week of training to ensure you master all of your service dog’s care, handling, and training.
Q: Does my service dog have a guarantee?
A: Yes, we have a detailed health guarantee which takes effect when your dog is delivered to ensure your dog’s health and your investment. We also provide support training for life, for both you and your service dog. In addition, we require that your service dog attend refresher training once per year to ensure his training is maintained and no task changes are needed. We support our working service dog teams!