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Ashley & Dax

Boot Camp

Working with Atlantic K9’s staff has been life changing for us and for our dog Dax.

We adopted Dax in April 2021 when he was 3 months old, and immediately set to work with training. Both my partner and I grew up with dogs, but neither of us had ever “raised” one, and we wanted to be sure we got it right, setting Dax up for success. We did some research and opted for a several week training course at a local, small, woman-owned training business in our town. Dax failed out of the class. We felt like we had failed Dax, and the trainers seemed to agree. We tried a few other training solutions – both on-site and at our home, with basically no progress.

Dax is 100% chocolate lab and has the energy of 100 chocolate labs. He’s an incredibly sweet, cuddly, loving, and entertaining dog. We always say that every moment is the best moment of his life. But Dax struggles to focus, which made for challenges in training we just weren’t getting even close to overcoming.

We couldn’t take Dax on walks. We couldn’t have guests over. He got kicked out of daycare after only a few hours. We left vacations early when “professional boarders” couldn’t (or wouldn’t) keep him any longer.

We were frustrated, Dax was frustrated. The vet was frustrated. Our cats were frustrated. Our friends and family were frustrated. We just weren’t in a good place, but we also recognized we had made a commitment when we adopted this dog. It was time for something “drastic.”

I’ll say up front, I was pretty scared of “boot camp” training. I had heard horror stories of dogs being “broken” and returning home not the same dogs. We couldn’t imagine breaking Dax’s spirit. We had been preached to about the absolute evils and abuse of using prong and electric collars.

And then I came upon Atlantic K9 on Google. I did a triple take: except for one four-star review, they had all five-star reviews. That just doesn’t exist, so I paused. And it wasn’t just the stars; there were stories. Stories that started to change my mind about what a boot camp might be like for us and for our dog.

We were soon on the phone with Ari to see if Atlantic K9’s boot camp would be a good fit for Dax. Ari was incredible: a kind person who cares about dogs and their humans. She understood our frustrations and, for the first time, we felt heard and validated, not blamed. We were sold.

We filled out a profile about Dax, detailed what outcomes we hoped to see, and dropped him off for his two-week boot camp! We were able to reach out to check in on him at any time and see how much fun he was having in the photos that were posted. Then we started to notice something interesting. There were photos of Dax sitting. There were photos of Dax on a leash, there were photos of Dax focusing on the trainers. These were things we never thought would be possible, and here was proof of his progress.

We got a call about a week into the camp to hear about his progress and to ask any questions we had. Upon pickup at the end of camp, we got a deep training with Jenny on how to use the tools (prong and electronic collars), the commands, and the structure Dax now expects and needs.

A week or two after he got home, we had a call with Kathleen to check on progress. We learned that we were not using all the tools and techniques exactly the right way, so the timing of that check-in was perfect.

About a month and a half later, Jenny came to our home to see how we were doing and to address some lingering issues. When we first scheduled the session it felt like too long of a time gap. However, these folks know what they are doing. We had the opportunity to implement the training on our own. Because the things that needed tweaking had not yet become fully learned, we could pivot without Dax getting confused. 

Our lives and Dax’s have improved so much we cannot even quantify it. We can take Dax for walks. Dax has manners. Dax is noticeably HAPPIER. We are finally able to enjoy our dog. We are not perfect. We have not managed to reinforce every single thing Dax learned, but we are trying. When we do try something, we get results thanks to the tools and understanding of Dax and his motivations that Atlantic K9 has given us. And when we get stuck, they are responsive to questions big and small.

We can now go away and know that he is safe and cared for in boarding. We can also now send Dax to a daycare where he is not only welcomed but loved. The best part is that there is training reinforcement built into the day. Okay, maybe the best part is how tired and happy he is when he gets home.

We tell anyone who will listen how wonderful Atlantic K9 staff were and continue to be for us and for Dax. Their care, support, and sheer knowledge and understanding of how dogs interact with the world around them cannot be overstated. We only wish we found them sooner.

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