Any high priced purchase is one which should be made with consideration, research, and a certain amount of healthy scrutiny. Finding the right dog training program is no different. An informed decision is always preferable to a quick impulsive one.
A board and train program will not be inexpensive. At least not with an experienced and proven trainer.
Aligning yourself with the right trainer and program can be of enormous benefit and provide long term positive returns. The wrong trainer and program can be at best a waste of money and at worse detrimental to your training goals.
Before signing up for such a program you’ll want to dig deep into what is actually being offered and just as deep into what it will all mean for your dog and yourself.
Let’s start with the basics…
Why are you doing it?
Does your dog need it? Do you need it?
What are you hoping to achieve and get out of the program?
Are you motivated by the idea of having a better trained dog with increased focus and attention? Or are you dealing with a more serious behavioral issue such as aggression?
These are valid reasons for enrolling in a board and train as most programs teach a set of skills that can prove valuable to you and your dog’s future.
Your idea of what you need and why you need it is something which you’ll want to discuss with your trainer. A conscientious training will clearly outline how the program can help you meet your goals. He or she can lend clarity to the process and align your goals with realistic expectations.
In other words, your ideas on the program and your dogs capabilities may be vague or entirely off kilter and an honest training will help set you right on both.
How do you know the trainer is right for you?
It’s just as important to learn more about the training style used and to get a sense of what your dog’s days will be like once in the program. How often is the dog trained? What kind of environment will your dog live in? What does the structure for those 2 or 3 weeks of training look like?
Always interview the trainer.
Some offer brief consultations or evaluations, either in person, phone, or Zoom session. Either way, all of your questions should be answered and major concerns laid to rest.
You’ll want to feel comfortable with their training philosophy and methodology. Ask about the kind of support you can expect when it comes time to train you.
It’s an unfortunate reality of this business and industry that it’s entirely unregulated, thus opening it up to hobbyist and fly-by-night operators. Any person with a desire to work with dogs can easily call themselves a trainer and take customers.
This doesn’t mean they’re ready or rise up to the level of the work.
This also doesn’t mean that a trainer with fewer years in the business will not be capable of helping you, but you’ll want to assess that based on your dog’s needs and the trainer’s experience.
While the trainer is the authority on training and dog matters, it is ultimately your dog and you who will be going through the program and you’ll want to feel better informed, slightly more educated, and certainly at ease after a conversation with the trainer.
A quick observation:
Social media is filled with high profile trainers. Those who amass a following but in actuality have minimal experience and know-how in working with dogs. The one thing many of these trainers excel at is either marketing or looking good in pics/videos, sometimes both.
I’ve also observed that the best trainers, at least the ones with decades of experience and whom I hold in high regard have very little, if any, social media footprint.
The moral is that social media savviness does not qualify as good training skills. Do your research into any trainers experience, abilities, and success rate, before making a decision.
Ask not what this program will do for you, but what you will do for the program..
Your second major consideration:
What will the trainer and the program expect/demand of you?
Once you have a sound and comprehensive understanding of the program and the trainers qualifications it’s time to give thought to what you’re prepared to bring to the table.
Any training program will require a level of commitment from you in effort, time, and money.
A board and train program provides a dog with a strong foundation for skills and behaviors, but that’s usually only the tip of the iceberg and the starting point for future growth. .
In order for the work to become second nature and a matter of routine to both the dog and yourself you’ll want to incorporate the new skills into your everyday life. That means you’ll need to continue to work with your dog.
How much time will you devote to training? How much coaching will you need? Will you implement your trainers suggestions and recommendations into your dog’s life?
Each will require time and patience. Your lifestyle and aptitude will be factors that either contribute to the attainment of your desired goals or detract you from them.
So is a board and train for you?
With a good training program, quality practice, and the right support, the benefits to a board and train can easily outweigh the cons or disadvantages.
You can have a dog who is less challenging to manage and control.
Increased focus and attention.
If you’re at your wits end about the dog’s behaviors then the right training should certainly improve your quality of life as well as that of your dogs.
So what are the disadvantages?
Again, you’ll need to do the work. Your dog having learned fancy new skills does not mean he will instantly demonstrate those skills on command. You’ll want to learn how to get the same results as your trainer does. This is time and effort.
Your dog will be away from your for a time
We all feel heartbroken at the idea of our beloved pet spending weeks away from us, but training is an investment in your dog’s future. Two or three weeks is but a tiny fraction of your dog’s overall life.
You can end up with little to no support if you choose the wrong trainer/program.