Home Based Board and Train

Why We are Home Based

One of the most common concerns that people have about a board and train program is the transition. Can a dog really transfer all of their new vocabulary, skills, and manners to a new home and different people?

This is a really valid concern, and is definitely something that board and train programs should address. The lessons on the tail end of training are an important component to training transferring to owners, but there are other components that are important. Dogs are famously bad at generalizing. That means that dogs can learn something in one environment, but maybe not do it so well in a new location.

We choose to do all of our board and trains through home based boarding rather than a kennel facility because we find that this is the best recipe for success. A kennel setting might provide great opportunities for dog distractions, but it doesn’t replicate a home like yours. By training dogs in our homes, we can provide them with all the real world situations they will experience with you. Going to place when the Amazon guy comes to the door, ignoring dinner on the countertop, and not jumping on guests that come over are all examples of where we can make training really realistic.

Training Schedules

Another thing that can cause dogs to struggle is if they are used to “obedience hour” as a framework for training. A lot of dogs listen really well in group class, or when they know it is obedience time, but then will ignore directions outside of those times. By having the dogs in our homes with us 24/7, we can provide an environment where obedience and manners can be reinforced at all times.

Rather than one big hour long session, we break up sessions across the day. We have set training sessions 2-3 times a day for skill building, and outside of that your dog is still immersed in a training setting. Go to your place when I grab this package off the porch, then you can go back to what you were doing. Recall away from play with the other dogs, and then you can go back to playing. An obedience command doesn’t always mean a big session is starting, but it does mean that we want your dog to respond regardless of what is going on.

Generalizing Handlers

If a dog only does obedience with one person, they may struggle with learning to take direction from a different person. Your dog will learn to work with each of our trainers, and that the rules are the same with everybody. Every member of your household should be able to give your dog direction, and this is really clear to the dogs once they have already learned that they can work for different individuals.

We take a limited number of dogs per trainer to make sure that each dog is getting plenty of time and training opportunities. Our goal is always a smooth transition to the dog’s home, and these aspects of our program make sure things are smooth sailing!

Will My Dog Forget Me at Boarding?

“I Don’t want my dog to forget me” is one of the most common concerns people have about a board and train Program

This is understandable, as your board and train might be the longest period of time that you have ever been away from your dog. The reality is that in the over a thousand dogs we have boarded, not a single one has every forgotten their owners. In fact, the reunion with their owner is one of our favorite parts because the dogs are so excited! Have you seen those videos of dogs greeting an owner that was off at college or the military? Even after months and years, one of the beautiful things about dogs is they will remember you.

We are just a small part of your dog’s life. We work with them for a short period of time, teach them a wide variety of skills, and then transfer all of those skills back to you. Your relationship with your dog is already well established by the time they join us for training. While your dog also has a great relationship with us, it’s not the same. We are there for a season of their life, while you are there for a lifetime.

Puppy Board and Trains

One of the big reasons that we wait for dogs to be 6 months old when they come for training, is that those first couple of months are really important for bonding with you. We want your dog to have a great relationship with you, and be familiar with your home. One of the most important aspects of a board and train is that your dog performs the same at your home. Having an established life there makes this much easier, because your dog is already familiar with you and your lifestyle.

Younger puppies can also get board and train style training, but the transition piece can be trickier. One of the key pieces to keep in mind in these situations is that your puppy hasn’t spent as much time at your house. You might have to help them adjust to your routine and lifestyle, as it isn’t quite patterned for them yet.

poodle runs through a grass field

Rescue Dogs

Rescue dogs are another category to consider. A lot of people worry that their dog will feel abandoned being dropped off somewhere after being adopted. The reality is that dogs in our program are well cared for and comfortable, and are getting lots of activity. It doesn’t resemble a shelter or rescue situation, and they have a blast! A good boarding facility should be a “home away from home.”

The one situation we will be careful is for very recent rescues. For example, if you just adopted your dog a few weeks ago, board and train should probably wait for 2-3 months. This goes back to the relationship building stuff with puppies. We want your dog to know you, be really familiar with you, and to get attached to you. Shelter dogs can take a little bit to settle in, and that couple of months lets them establish themselves before training.

a cattle dog mix at his board and train

If you have any other questions about the board and train process, feel free to contact us!

Bluegrass Classic Dog Show

The Bluegrass Classic Dog Show takes place every year at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington KY.

This show is a combined effort from the Lexington Kennel Club, Northern Kentucky Kennel Club, and the Mid-Kentucky Kennel Club. The show is predominately a conformation event, like you may have seen on TV at Westminister. Dogs showing in conformation are being judged on how closely they match their set AKC breed standard. Conformation isn’t the only event going on. Obedience, rally, dock diving, and lure coursing are all happening on site.

The public is welcome and encouraged to attend! Your day at the show will start with entering the Altech Arena, and walking into dog central. The conformation rings are generally bustling with activity all day, and you can check the website to see when your favorite breeds are showing. Vendors are all around the arena, and the shopping is fantastic. You can pick up treats or toys for your dog, check out colorful collars and leashes, and might even come across a booth for a dog chiropractor!

At the Back of the Arena

When you walk past the rings of all the beautiful conformation dogs, you will find a separate couple of rings. This is where rally and obedience competitions are being held. These sports put handlers and dogs through an obedience routine, judged on precision and speed. All breeds can compete, and so can mixed breeds! There are levels ranging from novice, to much more advanced levels for top competitors.

One of our dogs, Temper, had a pretty clean sweep in rally and obedience a few years back.

Outdoor Events

The higher speed events at the Bluegrass Classic are dock diving and lure coursing. In the sport of dock diving, dogs will run the length of a mobile dock and leap into a pool to get a toy. You might be amazed at the variety of breeds that are out on the dock! Everything from Dobermans to Dachsunds compete in this dog sport.

Lure coursing is a sport that channels the natural prey drive of a dog. A plastic bag is attached to a remote operated pulley, and the plastic lure will take off at high speed. When they see it go, dogs want to chase! Dogs are judged based off of their speed, and there are rankings for each breed.

How to Attend

The Bluegrass Classic Dog Show will be held September 1-5th 2022, at the Kentucky Horse Park. Parking includes access to the rest of the park, and admission to the dog show is $10. While the show is full of dog lovers, you should leave your personal pets at home.

Dog Show Etiquette

  • Always ask to pet any dog that you want to meet
  • Dogs may be recently groomed, or about to go into the ring, so don’t take it personally if their handler says no petting
  • When standing ringside, make sure not to block gates and ring entrances
  • Feel free to ask questions! Dog show folks love their dogs and are generally happy to talk about them in between showing
  • Try not to eat right next to the ring, and never give food to someone else’s dog
  • Turn your ringer off, and please no loud phone conversations while standing near the ring

The Bluegrass Classic is a wonderful event that draws in dogs from all over the country. We love attending this event every year, and hope to see you there!

You can check out their website here for more information on attending the show.

Explore Our Beautiful Winchester, KY Dog Training Facility!

We are located on 8 acres of pristine Bluegrass just outside of Lexington, KY.

Our dog training programs are built around giving your dog a fun and enjoyable experience, while also teaching them reliable obedience and vital life skills. We have 8 acres of open green space, which is used for both training and free exercise. We have a country setting, and are able to practice obedience around rabbits, birds, and other good distractions in our training spaces.

During down time, each dog has their own spacious kennel to relax in. Our dog area is a large, open sunroom attached to our house, and is completely climate controlled for your dog’s comfort. The entire space is cleaned thoroughly twice a day, and is completely sanitized between groups of dogs. We do not take on any aggression cases, and all dogs on the property are fully vaccinated, so your dog’s safety is never in question. We have kennels for all sizes of dogs, including one custom East Coast crate designed for our giant breed guests.

The dogs also spend lots of time in the main house with us, which is crucial when we are working with family dogs who are going back into your house around food, house guests, etc. The dogs are part of meal time while working on their place command, work on manners at the door when the UPS guy comes, and practice settling and relaxing around each other in the living room.

We are located only 3 miles from I-64, and are just a half hour drive from Lexington, Paris, Winchester, and Georgetown. We offer complimentary pick up and drop off services to any of our clients in the greater Lexington area. If you would like more information about our Winchester, KY dog training facility and our Distraction Program, please reach out for more details.

4 Reasons Why Dogs Become Collar Wise

The term “collar wise” is used to describe a dog who only listens and performs when they are wearing equipment. When collars are taken off, the collar wise dog will ignore commands, perform at less than their normal level, and will not take direction from the handler. This is an issue that has a couple of different factors to consider.

1. Relationship

This is one of the most critical, and one of the most misunderstood aspects of why dogs become collar wise. Sometimes people will use an ecollar as a shortcut when there is a deficit in their relationship with their dog. This is especially true with recalls. If I have a young dog, and teach them recalls in a motivational way, with lots of rewards from me and strong positive emotions for the recall, it is very easy for me to then layer over the remote collar for proofing against things like wildlife. When I then go to remove the collar later on in my dog’s life, they love recalls, they love interacting with me, and I have not allowed bad habits to develop around distractions such as deer. It is highly unlikely for me to run into issues with my dog blowing me off.

Now let’s look at a different scenario. I have a dog who I really want to have off leash on the hiking trail, and he’s hard to motivate and doesn’t really like coming back to me. I could spend a month on foundation work, but that’s so much time, so I am just going to rush into the collar work. For this type of dog, the collar has become the reason that the dog comes back, rather than a backup form of correction for rare mistakes. This dog has a very strong likelihood of ignoring me completely when the collar is gone. It is the difference between a dog coming to you because he likes you and enjoys his job, and a dog who is only coming to avoid a correction.

off leash recall

2. Different Sets of Rules

You have put in a ton of work on your recalls, and your dog knows the communication of the ecollar very well. When you have your remote and the collar is on, you have a high standard for your dog. You expect him to come to you quickly and directly, and to do this in any setting. You and your dog have clear expectations for what this looks like. Until one day, you leave the remote in the car, or you forget to charge the collar so you just go without. Your dog does well, so you stop using the collar at all.

A week in, you are letting him play with his friends, and you call him to go home. He ignores you. You say “Oh well, I can give him 10 more minutes.” And you change the rules. Come no longer means the same thing when the collar isn’t in the picture. After this happens a few times, you will put the collar back on and correct him, and he will have an even clearer picture that the collar is the piece that’s different when the rules change.

collar wise dog

3. Bad Procedures

Fluffy gets easily distracted around dogs, but he’s fine on the rest of the walks you take. He heels nicely, works well with you, and never ignores direction as long as a dog isn’t around. So you say to yourself that Fluffy doesn’t need his collar on unless we are in high dog traffic areas. You keep the collar in your bag, and put it on him when you are going through a busy park. You take it off the second you walk in the door back home.

Buddy needs his e-collar on for protection work because he gets really amped up around the helper. When it is protection time, you put his collar on, you go and work, and when he is done and coming off the field, you take the collar off because you no longer need it.

What both of these handlers have done is turned the collar into a cue that something is about to happen. Fluffy starts to see the collar as a cue that dogs are going to start showing up. Buddy starts to see the cue of the collar as a sign that protection is happening. Buddy’s handler is going to be in for a rude awakening on trial day when Buddy does not receive this cue.

4. Rushing

The remote collar is a fantastic communication tool when taught right, and can give you and your dog levels of training that are beyond what you ever dreamed. With just a small low level reminder, you can heel your dog through a crowd, recall him away from deer, and stop him from counter surfing. You get him home from his board and train, and he is a total rock star, doing all the things you always dreamed of. It is natural at this point to decide that the collar is no longer needed, and you can put it in the drawer. The problem comes two days later. You haven’t needed to correct him for two weeks, but on this day there is a particularly interesting squirrel, and he chooses the squirrel over you. Your collar is at home, you do not correct him.

Great responses to instructions and low rates of correction are a great and fantastic thing, and they do not mean that you are ready to remove your training equipment. Life is unpredictable, and you can never control what happens in the environment around your dog. You can easily create a collar wise dog by rushing to remove equipment before your dog is ready for it to be faded out.

e collar recall

Training tools are not a replacement for training.

Your e-collar is a fantastic tool to help in the training process, but it is not a magic button that will solve all of your problems. Teaching things correctly, building a great relationship with your dog, and being thoughtful about how you structure your training sessions are all key for building a dog who works beautifully regardless of what kind of necklace they have on.

If you need help with a collar wise dog, feel free to reach out to us .

April Dog Training Class: 2020

We had an awesome, diverse group of dogs for April! Each of these dogs was enrolled in our distraction program, which is a three week program where the dogs learn on and off leash obedience around distractions. Let’s take a look at each of our graduates for this month.

Sebastian, Standard Poodle from Louisville, KY

Sebastian came to us for the first time when he was a younger puppy to work on manners, obedience foundations, and potty training. He came back at 6 months old to finish his training, and we are super happy with everything that he has accomplished. Sebastian has a busy household, so the ability to listen around distractions is really important for him. He also has a big, beautiful yard that his family wants to be able to enjoy with him off leash, so his off leash recalls were a big item on our list.

Ajax, German Shepherd from Lexington, KY

Ajax is a panda shepherd from Lexington Kentucky who was struggling with pretty severe leash reactivity. He is actually very social with dogs in off leash situations, but when on leash gets frustrated and lashes out. This is an extremely common issue with German shepherds, and we see it all the time. Teaching Ajax a solid heel command, a system of communication, and adding dog distractions to his obedience training was the ticket to giving Ajax success.

Skye, Silver Lab from Vine Grove, KY

Skye also came for an initial training week when she was a younger puppy, to work on taking food nicely, potty training, obedience foundations, and jumping. She was starting to develop some “stranger danger” reactivity, which can happen as young dogs age and go through fear periods. Skye is now back to her happy, social self, and has strong obedience to give her a bright future.

Scout, Collie Mix from Greenup, KY

Scout is a lovely collie mix who was having a few issues adjusting to having a new baby in the house. He also had some issues with leash manners, and liked to pull when on walks, and bark at the mailman when he walks up to the house. We taught Scout new skills, and a solid communication system of reward and correction, and now he is ready to go back home and tackle all of the challenges of home.

Hank, Cockapoo from Versailles, KY

Hank is a spunky young Cockapoo whose rambunctious nature was getting him into trouble. He was chewing on things that he shouldn’t have, excessively barking in the yard, and wouldn’t come in from the yard when asked. We have done a lot of work to channel Hank’s energy into more productive outlets, and to make him a more enjoyable dog to live with.

Off Breeds and Bite Sports

If you hang out in any IGP or PSA Facebook groups, you will start to see a trend. People are looking for advice on selecting an “off breed” for a biting dog sport, or for a club that will let them play. While Malinois and German Shepherds are commonplace in these sports, you will occasionally see other breeds crop up. Traditionally, Dobermans, Rottweilers, Boxers, and Giant Schnauzers have all been participants in these sports, and there are breeders today who still work to preserve the working character. Every now and then, you see something different. Somebody working their lab/cattle dog/collie in IGP protection, or trying to get a PDC with one. Some can pull it off, most can’t. They do not have the right building blocks.

“But my dog loves to tug, and loves to bite toys, and has super prey drive. He will definitely love bitework.”

This is a very common misconception, and protection sport people are partially to blame. To help people understand the sport, and to make it more palatable, people will talk about how the dog is biting an extra large tug toy in the shape of a sleeve or a suit jacket. While for many dogs this is a giant game, it isn’t as simple as a jumbo game of tug. There are pressures and challenges in these sports that require very specific traits that off breeds typically don’t, and shouldn’t, have.

The History of Protection Sports

Schutzhund is the sport that most people are familiar with when it comes to protection sports. Now known as IGP, this sport features tracking, obedience, and protection, and was designed as a breed suitability test for the German Shepherd. In order to prove that your GSD was suitable to produce offspring, you had to achieve a base level of proficiency in the sport. Just like hunt tests were designed to test labs and hunting breeds, and earth dog was designed to test working terriers. Other sports were designed to test the qualities of a working police dog, and other breeds of guardian types were developed with these programs.

Over time, these sports have developed into more of a sport than a breeding test or a police dog test. We have specific lines of Malinois for IGP, specific ones for French ring, and still others for the KNPV sport in Holland. A German shepherd who competes in the AKC show ring generally does not have the same character as a modern working bred GSD, who excels in all three phases of the IGP sport that they have been selected for.

Slight Off Breeds

After Malinois, GSDs, and Dutch shepherds, there are a couple of breeds that you will see relatively frequently in protection sports. Dobermans are probably the next most common, followed by Rottweilers, Boxers and other bully breeds, and Mastiff breeds such as the Cane Corso. You will see these dogs titling, and sometimes to high levels. Dobermans and Rotties have stood on all breed championship podiums, and there is a Beauceron with a Mondioring 3.

But there are some issues here. The selection pressures on these breeds have not been the same as the main 3 breeds. Most of these dogs that you see from reputable breeders today are being bred for the show ring or for performance sports, and there isn’t as much of a focus on the things that a protection dog needs. There are health and structure issues that can cause these dogs problems moving to higher levels of sport, especially the ringsports. So while there are some phenomenal working Dobermans out there, they are hard to come by.

Csabre, MR1 FR Brevet IPO APR3

Very Off Breeds

A border collie competed at the FCI IGP world championships, and people were all about it. It was a much different dog to see in a see of shepherds and Malinois. The performances were also much different. This is a border collie in a million to be able to take the pressure of world championship helper work, and even he could not muster a passing score.

There are a good number of breeds with Schutzhund 3 titles. Labs, goldens, a great dane, some cattle dogs and border collies. These dogs become beacons for people who want to go out and show the world that any dog can do the sport. But for every dog that you see who makes it through at the club level, there are 1,000 who would not and could not. Nor should they. When I look for a correct lab or golden, I want a handler sensitive, soft mouthed dog with exceedingly friendly character. A good retriever should not have a full hard grip on a sleeve, and they should not see stick hits as a fun cue to keep sparring. When I look for a correct herding dog, it is a major issue for them to have a death grip on a sheep. It is a major issue for them to be eager to get into fights.

Why can’t you just teach the dog to go down the field and bite the tug? Because the guy is trying to get them not to bite. Pressure is poorly understood in most dog circles, and we do not always perceive it in the way that dogs do. I can have a rock solid stable cattle dog or lab, not worried about anything, who is worried about the type of pressure that my Malinois lives to work under. It takes a very specific kind of dog to do a PSA or Mondioring attack with accessories. It takes a very specific kind of dog to bark in a dominant and powerful way for a minute straight. These things may seem simple from an outside perspective, but it’s hundreds of years of genetics that make those things happen. And for your collie, there are hundreds of years of genetics telling it something else.

FAQ: What goes into the price of a fully trained dog?

The price of our Dream Dogs does vary from dog to dog, but generally is between $10,000-15,000. This price is based on the quality of the dogs in our program, the massive amount of training that goes into them, and the other things that we provide along with the dog.

In this post, I will breakdown all of the costs associated with raising and training these dogs. Then I’ll go into more detail about what is included in each area.

Price Breakdown

Well-bred Puppy- $2500-3500

Vaccines, Preventative Care, Spay/Neuter- $1100

Training- $2000 per month (4-8 months of training is standard)

AKC Registration- $65

Microchip and Registration- $25

Equipment and Supplies- $600

5 Private Lessons- $1000

So if you were to get an 8 week old puppy, and raise them in a professional training program until the 8 month mark, you are looking at an investment of about $16,500. By comparison, our program eliminates some of your stress, extra expenses, and the headaches of raising a young puppy through potty training and teething.

Let’s examine each category in more detail.

Getting Your Puppy

Our puppies are not from random breeders, or from people producing sub-par dogs. We work with health tested parents, well socialized puppies, and dogs from solid pedigrees. There is nothing more heart breaking than raising an 8 week old puppy and falling in love, only to discover they have genetic health or temperament problems. Utilizing the right genetics eliminates that risk, and gives you peace of mind.

Veterinary Care

Our dogs receive regular veterinary care, including vaccines, deworming, heartworm prevention, flea and tick repellant, other health screenings. Our dogs all get bloodwork done before their spay or neuter to ensure that they have good organ function, and are healthy enough to go through surgery. We handle all of the recovery from the spay and neuter, and make sure that healing happens according to plan.

Daily Professional Training

This is the most expensive, most time consuming, and most valuable category. Our puppies are raised in the home of a professional trainer, and get daily training sessions. They are safely socialized with people, kids, dogs, loud noises, and new places. They are exposed to stairs, riding in cars, and things like vacuum cleaners and hair dryers. They learn on and off leash obedience, how to play fetch, and how to relax in a crate. They learn not to jump on counters or people, and to come when called. More than 100 hours a month go into their individual training.


AKC registration is included in the price of your dog, as is lifetime registration of their microchip. Microchips are the best way to ensure your dog makes it back to you if anything ever happens where you get separated.

Equipment and Supplies

We feed top quality dog food and treats during the training process, and want dogs to get the best possible start. When dogs graduate, we send home a kit of supplies for you. This kit includes: 1 large bag of dog food, 1 crate, 1 dog bed, multiple quality toys, multiple bags of treats, a training leash, a remote collar, a regular collar and leash, shampoo, flea and tick prevention, as well as all of their paperwork.

Lessons with You

When you are ready to bring your dog home, we work with you one on one to make sure that the training transfers to you. We offer more transition training than any other company. Below are some videos of one of our graduates demonstrating how well his training transferred to his new owner.

A Smart Investment

When you get one of our Dream Dogs, you are investing in a fantastic dog to spend the next 12-15 years of your life with. A dog who will be healthy and well mannered, and a best friend you can take on adventures. You are investing in full trainer support for the lifetime of your dog, and a guaranteed healthy pet.

Contact us for an application.

Success Story: Beau the Goldendoodle

Beau is a social, happy goldendoodle from Lexington, KY. He was struggling with good manners at the door, which is a very common problem with doodles. Having a dog who loves strangers is a fantastic thing to have, but it can lead to issues with jumping and hyperactiveness. Beau also pulled badly on walks, wouldn’t come when called, and had issues with seperation anxiety.

The first step with Beau was to teach him a solid system of communication. Dogs can’t understand that a behavior is undesirable unless we have a way to communicate that to them. Beau has great food drive, so it was easy to build new behaviors with him, and introduce him to a fair system of corrections. He was conditioned to a marker system to help give him feedback with training. We also introduced him to a slip lead, and a quality remote collar from E-collar Technologies.

The e-collar makes communication a breeze with a dog who has had the right kind of conditioning. After being conditioned, we can move onto off leash reliability, and reliability around distractions. Once Beau made it through three weeks of training, including a trip to the FMBB Selection Trial in Tennessee, it was time for him to graduate. We did a few lessons with his owners to make sure that his training transferred back to his home environment.

On follow-up on Beau the other day, his owner had this to say: “Things are going good! We haven’t really had any problems. It’s funny anytime we go out on walks, you can tell he’s in the zone!”

We love updates like these, and this is several weeks after Beau graduated. People often ask if training will stay the same once the dog returns home, and the answer is yes! Our training program is designed to make sure that we are the last trainer you ever have to use.

Dream Dog Diaries: Dec 12

Polo (formerly Solo)

Polo the lab is getting ready to go to his new home in Iowa! This wonderful boy just got his hip and elbow x-rays, and everything looks fantastic. There is no better peace of mind than getting a young dog who you know is healthy both physically and behaviorally.

Polo also got neutered yesterday, so he will be all healed up and ready to start his new life by the time he goes home in January. He can’t do any serious training while he’s recovering, so he’s going to get some nice relaxing time off.

Brutus (formerly Luke)

Brutus also has a new home! He will be going home around Christmas time, and will have a great family who has an older female Boxer who will be his new buddy. We have already started on his name recognition training with his new name.

Brutus is also working this week on his sit, his place command, relaxing in the house, walking on leash, and continued socialization. He is sleeping 8 hours through the night regularly, and is an angel in his crate.


Leia is still looking for her forever home, but she’s in no rush. She’s having a blast playing with her Kong while I’m writing this blog post. Her name recognition training is going well, although she may end up with a different name when she finds her new family.

Leia is responding really well to leash training, and is sleeping 8 hours through the night with no complaints and no messes. She is learning sit, place, and wait at all of the doors. She and her brother are going to start going on a few field trips this week as well.


Stay tuned for more information about Cody, the newest dog to enter the program! We will add some more info about him later in the month.