Our Home Integration program is available in two different ways: in-person and virtually. Details below.
Home Integration is about restoring peace to your home. Dog owners can encounter a variety of scenarios where two or more dogs in their home don’t get along. Common situations include:
- A friend or family member is temporarily moving into a dog household and bringing their own dog along.
- Integrating dogs when couples move in together and both already have dogs.
- Adding additional dog(s) to a dog household (rescue, purchase, fostering, etc.).
- Two or more dogs in a home starting to fight with each other, even after living together peacefully for years.
Whenever two or more dogs don’t get along in a home, it becomes very stressful for the entire family. Rehoming one or more dogs is, of course, an option but often not desired by the family. Restoring or creating harmony is most people's goal in such situations. This is what our Home Integration program does.
However, it is important to embark on a dog integration process with open eyes and realistic expectations. There are no quick fixes or easy solutions. Doing this the right way is a meticulous process that avoids accidents (meaning more fights), requires patience, and demands commitment by all family members.
A Few Conderations
- Take it seriously. Could the dogs sort it out themselves? Maybe, if you’re lucky but hoping to be lucky is not a responsible choice when animals and people can get seriously injured or killed in the process.
- Have a candid conversation as a family and honestly assess if everyone is committed to the task. The entire family must be on board to have a realistic chance of success.
- Anyone, who tells you this will be easy and/or quick is lying to you or lacks experience, is ignorant or uneducated at best. No dog trainer with experience in this kind of work would make such a statement.
- If you want to tackle the integration, hire a seasoned dog trainer with extensive experience in this kind of work. Do not try this yourself without professional help.
- Expect it to take a year; yes, a year. Maybe you get lucky and it goes faster but expect time and effort at the outset. You don’t necessarily have to pay a dog trainer the entire time. I.e. our program is specifically designed to keep the expense manageable throughout this process.
- Not all dogs can get along. It is impossible to guarantee the dogs in question will ever be friends, play with each other and you achieve total harmony without having to worry about a thing. It is possible, but not a good expectation to start with.
- A realistic expectation is to have a peaceful co-existence between the dogs in question, with freedom while you are present and separated (crates, kennels, separate parts of the home, etc.) in your absence. This may end up being the result. Be at peace with that possibility before you start.
The Home Integration Process
Our structured Home Integration process consists of five phases and three dimensions. All phases build upon each other and the pace of moving from one to the next varies with each situation. There is no “how long does this normally take” answer. The phases are sequential, there is no overlap. We can only move forward when you and your dogs have mastered the prior phase. Mastered, not barely passed.
The dimensions of Proximity, Confidence, and Obedience all span across most phases. Especially the obedience phase has some sequential dependencies. If you want to learn more about the details of this process, this podcast is a good start: Something to Bark About Episode 22: When Dogs Fight within the Household
How the Home Integration Process Looks Like
Proximity Work focuses on getting the dogs comfortable in stationary (i.e. crates) and mobile (i.e. walks) scenarios through habituation and management.
Confidence Work includes establishing safe zones in your home, which the dogs can access to deescalate a too stressful situation, as well as learning to have faith in your ability to keep them safe.
Obedience Work builds the tools we use for all home integration work. Your dog might have prior obedience training. We can draw on that and evaluate your dog’s proficiency but will still need to sharpen all commands for our purposes. This process requires competition-level, reliable obedience, not big-box-store-group-class proficiency. A good amount of time is spent in the beginning taking your dog’s obedience to the required reliability level. Often, that means retraining (even learned) commands from the ground up. Most dogs have what is referred to as interpreted obedience. We need your dogs to have literal obedience.
How We Work Together
During phases 1, 2, and the first few weeks of phase 3, we are actively working together. We will be meeting almost every week to build the foundation and train the commands and behaviors we need to move through the program. We will also start the Proximity and Confidence Work, so you will feel confident when we are transitioning from active, weekly sessions to phase coaching.
During the remainder of home integration phase 3, you will mostly work by yourself, applying the skills we have built up to this point until you have gained the comfort and reliability level needed to move forward. We are of course available the entire time to support you and meet as needed.
At the beginning of phase 4 and 5, we will again meet for weekly sessions for about four weeks in a row, before moving to phase coaching again, also, of course with full support the entire time.
The Finalization proofs and completes the Home Integration program. You will have lifetime support for your dogs through phone, chat, video, and online channels.
In-Person: $4650; this is the traditional training option where we come to your home and work with you and your dogs hands-on. Given the current pandemic, this option presently starts virtually and converts to in-home sessions once the stay-at-home order is lifted.
Virtually: $3650; this option is almost exactly the same as the in-person option but everything is done via video sessions in our virtual classroom. You can see and hear us and we can see and hear you. We demo with our dogs and guide you through to success with yours. Many of our clients LOVE this option, as it avoids driving and allows for more flexibility while still achieving the same outcomes and success. We use Zoom and it works on any laptop, tablet, or mobile device. As long as you have a camera connected or built-in, you're good to go.