Board and Train: Is It Right For Your Dog?

Looking for a dog trainer doesn’t have to be complicated. Before pulling up your internet browser or calling your vet for a referral, an important thing to know is what type of training you are looking for. Are you looking for aggression rehabilitation or just basic obedience training? Is it for a puppy, or a mature dog? Do you want your dog to be taught in a group environment with other dogs and people around, or would you rather have something private in the home, or maybe even where your dog is sent off to training boot camp somewhere?

There are many different styles of dog training approaches, and one that has become increasingly popular is in-home training. Group classes are widely available (including through Circle City Dog Training…check out the Practical Pet Protocol!) but some people think that their dog might do better with one-on-one attention, away from distractions. There’s also the Board and Train programs, which many people choose to go for, as it offers a certain convenience to the owner and their scheduling.

Dog Trainer Indianapolis BlogAs a professional dog trainer here in Indianapolis, I have had experiences with all these approaches, and have had clients that have tried all these approaches (both with me and with past trainers). In-home dog training is my main type of training that I offer at Circle City, but I actually want to talk a little bit about Board and Train. The reason why I want to delve into this topic is because I have gotten a lot of clients recently that have had experiences with this method of training, and based on my own knowledge and their experiences, I want to discuss some of the perks and flaws of these programs.

To begin with, I am NOT saying Board and Train is a bad approach to dog training, but it is definitely not my preferred style. This entry is taking a lot of experiences with the program – both the positive and negative experiences – and letting owners decide on their own what sort of training they want for their dog. After all, the owner knows best and should make the decision on what training their dog is going to enroll in. However, it’s always good to make an informed decision…especially anything that involves our beloved fur babies!

Firstly, Board and Train involves the dog being sent to a trainer’s facility, such as their boarding kennel, their home, etc. The dog stays with the trainer for several weeks (the exact amount of time depends on the trainer and their unique program) and during that time, the dog is trained. Usually any dog with ANY behavioral issue can enlist in the Board and Train program, unless the trainer specifies otherwise. The training can occur both or either privately with the trainer, or maybe with the trainer and other dogs that are also part of the program. Once this training period is over, the owner then gets their dog back, fully trained, and typically they receive some instructions to follow up with, so that the training can be maintained. Overall, that is how a Board and Train program functions.

The certain convenience of the Board and Train that I mentioned earlier in this post is the fact that the work falls nearly 100% on the trainer. The owner simply has to pay the fee, get their dog to the trainer, and then follow up once their dog is returned. For those people who feel they simply do not have time to do the training, the Board and Train program might be perfect.

Now, one pitfall of the Board and Train program is the price. This may be the most expensive way to get your dog trained. With the amount of time and training put in, not to mention boarding and caring for the dog, the price is normally not unreasonable for the service. But for those who cannot cough up thousands of dollars upfront, then the idea of Board and Train might be on hold, or completely out of the picture.

Now, this is the most important thing I want to talk about: the training itself. Yes, it is convenient that a professional will take your dog and get him/her trained according to their behaviors and your needs. But the major flaw I see in the Board and Train is exactly this – while the trainer teaches the dog everything, the owner has very little involvement in the dog’s behavioral progress. The dog sees the trainer as the leader, but will that leadership role carry onto the owner in the dog’s eyes? If not, then it will be very difficult for the training to be maintained once the dog is back home. If the owner is not taken seriously as the leader, then the dog has no need to follow their direction or command. This leadership role could carry on, but what if the owner is not capable of following through with the training? The owner was not part of the training, and has no experience with it – so being able to replicate that same leadership and training techniques, might be quite difficult. Not impossible, of course, but it can be a huge challenge.

This is what many clients that I train now have said about their past experiences with Board and Train. They as owners did not learn themselves how to communicate and handle their own dogs. Because of this, even follow-up instructions were useless, and the dog began regressing in different degrees. Thus, the dog is still acting inappropriately, a bunch of money was wasted, and now both dog and owner are back at Square One.

This is why I offer in-home training – it keeps owners part of the training, and I don’t mean just giving them the tools and skills they need, but the owner can happily bear responsibility for their dog’s success! Board and Train isn’t useless, but it can be difficult and very expensive. In-home training might be costly to some also, but as long as owners are committed to learning and to the well-being of their dogs, then success is nearly guaranteed. Not only do owners acquire lifetime training skills, but their dog achieves long-lasting results and behaviors, and everyone feels accomplished!

If you are curious about training, call 800-649-7297 and we can see what training program is right for you and your dog!