Adding Day Training to Your Dog Daycare
By Eve Molzhon
If you’re considering creating a day-training program as an add-on service to your dog daycare, more than likely you already have everything you need to implement this helpful, effective service for your clients. You just need to answer a few questions to make sure you have your ducks in a row…
Who will conduct the training?
First, you’ll need to know which of your staff members are capable of working with the dogs and have the patience to do so. Do a training demonstration and have the staffers mimic what you do with a dog so you can see if they have the patience and the timing down in order to do training. Some staffers are great with dogs, but they don’t quite get the “ask” of the dog, the marking of the task and then the reward piece. Before you begin training any dogs, make sure that you and the other staff members all share the same training philosophy.
How long should the day training program be?
Most dogs need consistency in order to really grasp the concepts of training. A typical board-and-train program is three or four weeks (or longer), and that’s because the trainer needs to achieve consistency with the dog. If you’re adding training onto a daycare day, it’s best to recommend that the client books daycare with training on a consistent basis—twice a week is ideal for four to six weeks.
Which clients would use this service?
Many clients who choose to add a day-training service onto a daycare day are people who are busy and feeling flustered or overwhelmed with their dog—that’s why they’re asking somebody else to train their dog for them. Choosing a structured program like daycare combined with training sessions twice a week (e.g., Mondays and Wednesdays or Tuesdays and Thursdays) for four to six weeks takes out the guesswork for the client and provides you with more than just a one-off training session for the dog, which isn’t as beneficial.
What skills will you teach the dog?
The skills that I teach during this add-on training service are just basic obedience skills: sit, down, wait, come and loose-leash walking. We will work on no jumping if requested because we have extra staff members in the facility, so that task is easy to work during these sessions. We don’t work on aggression issues or potty training during the day-training add-on service.
What tools do you want to use?
Determine what tools you’re going to utilize when you or your trainers are working with the dog. Will you use a flat buckle collar and a standard four-foot leash, a slip lead, possibly a gentle leader, a Halti or a body harness? Are you going to use your tools or the tools that come with the dog you’re training? These are all things to consider when creating your program. Most clients are very open to a suggestion of a body harness or a different type of collar, but you need to be comfortable and familiar with those tools before suggesting them.
Your tools should also include a treat pouch (if you’ll be using treats as rewards) or a clicker if you prefer that over treats. If you’re using treats for training, you’ll need to consider any dietary restrictions for each individual dog. Oftentimes, someone has already tried to work on training these dogs, so you’re going to need some higher-value rewards for training, such as hotdogs or string cheese—maybe even some rotisserie chicken.
When and where will you or your trainers train the dog?
Most training sessions are 30 minutes in length. Sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less; it just really depends on the dog. If we’ve got a client who purchased the add-on training service of 30 minutes of training for $30, I usually try and break that up into two 15-minute sessions in the day.
Typically within a daycare day, you have lulls throughout the day. If your daycare opens at 6:30 a.m. and you start your group let-outs at 7:30 or 8 a.m., those are wrapped up by 9 a.m. There’s usually a slight lull right there from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. where you or one of your trainers could step out and work the dog. In the afternoon, there’s usually a lull again between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. when we work with the dog for the second 15-minute session. (The afternoon lull might work well for your facility if you’re doing a single 30-minute training session rather than two 15-minute sessions.) If you want to work multiple dogs, simply find those existing lull times within your daycare schedule and plan for one or two trainers to work with the dogs at those quiet times in the day.
For the first 15-minute session of the day, I work with the dog in an area where there are minimal distractions like the lobby during a lull, a back hallway or an employee break room. The second 15-minute session in the day should include a little more distraction, so I work with the dog in the daycare hallway or in an area where people may come and go like the lobby during a busy time.
How will you communicate training homework and expectations to the client?
With modern technology and social media platforms, I’ve found that shooting videos on a cellphone and posting them to Facebook is the easiest. You simply have your staff members post the videos to your Facebook page or training group for the client to see their dog’s training progress so they can work to replicate and reinforce those skills at home.
It’s your choice if you want to make it a private, closed Facebook group or post to your facility’s Facebook page (which is likely an open, public Facebook page). If you post videos onto a private, closed Facebook group, that can get rather time consuming with approving people who request to join the group. If you post videos on your facility’s Facebook page, the client can easily view their dog’s videos and it makes for a great marketing tool to help promote your training services.
The most important piece is making sure that you’ve talked to the client about their expectations and communicated with them that consistency is key. Emphasize that one training session once a month really isn’t going to help their dog, but a day-training program twice a week for a few weeks could make all the difference for their dog, and for them.
Eve Molzhon is the creator and owner of Dog Handler Academy. Dog Handler Academy is a 100% online, automated employee training program designed specifically for dog daycares and boarding facilities. Our real-life daycare videos and online quizzes fast-track your new hires into understanding dog handling and care, saving you time and money. Courses cover basic and advanced dog handler skills, social cues and safety, client relations, and more. The mission of Dog Handler Academy is to provide employers training new hires with comprehensive material in a cost-efficient, consistent, and effective program. Our end goal is to create better handlers within our industry to ensure the proper care of animals.