Are They a Real Solution to Your Training Problems?
- Have you been struggling to train your dog?
- Do you have a misbehaving little puppy or adult dog that is constantly peeing all over your home?
- Do you have an older dog who jumps on you and everyone who walks through your door?
- Does your dog eat your shoes when you’re at work or bark all day aggravating your neighbors?
In the minds of most people, there’s probably no doubt they could benefit from professional dog training help, but is a Board and Train program the solution?
What is Board and Train for Dogs?
Think of Canine Board and train facilities as boot camps for dogs. Dog owners place their dogs in an organization’s care generally for two to four weeks. They are usually promised or nearly guaranteed they will have a transformed, well-behaved dog at the end of that time. While a dog is at board and train program or facility, the dog should be working daily with at least one trainer to remove basic behavior issues and retrain the pup for better obedience while eliminating deeper rooted and more problematic behaviors such as aggression or fear.
So let’s learn more about Board and Train and why it might not be all that it seems for everyone.
Board and Train Isn’t Always a Quick Fix
Board and Train sounds like a relatively quick and super easy solution for a transformed dog to many people. It requires no commitment from the owner because somebody else does all the work, and they seemingly still reap the rewards. In reality, it doesn’t work quite like that. You do need to understand you’ll need to do some reinforcement work when you bring your dog home, and many programs last for a month, which may be warranted but may be too much for some families. At Trifecta Kennels you can choose a Board and Train timeframe that suits your needs to a tee, any where from a few days to a month. And discounts are available for longer stays.
There are a few reasons why Board and Train might not be right for every dog. First, dogs don’t always generalize things such as training well. What that means is, when dogs learn a behavior, they tend to learn it very specifically and associate it with certain things or environments. If you teach your dog to lie down in your family room, they may think “lie down” just means lie down in the living room, but not everywhere else for that command. So you’ll may need to teach your dog to associate that command behavior to other environments.
So, if your dog learns a new skill at the Board and Train facility, they won’t necessarily understand the same rules apply in your home. Another example would be if your dog loves to dash to the door, and the Board and Train teaches your dog to wait at doorways, your dog may need some reinforcement at home. You can’t just be 100% sure your dog will now automatically wait at your front door. The environment changes, so your dog’s behavior might change as well. You may need to reinforce the training to ensure it carries over.
If your dog lives in your house with you, you should look for a Board and Train facility that does some training in a home like environment. Many facilities including ours, keep their dogs in safe, enclosed kennels. So the dogs need to be brought in rooms that resemble home environments and trained outside as well for different aspects of behavior modification. At Trifecta Kennels we do these things.
Along with helping your dog generalize behaviors and associate them with different environments, it’s likely that you’ll need to continue parts of the training process to ensure their new behaviors stick. If your dog was taught to sit at the Board and Train program, but you never affirm or reward your dog when sitting at home, it probably won’t be long before your dog stops sitting for you at home. In order to maintain your dog’s new good behavior(s), you should reinforce them with praise, treats, toys, games, fun, etc. Think of training is a long term endeavor.
Another important thing to consider is you may need to change your lifestyle after Board and Train, especially if your behavior was contributing to your dog’s problems before training. Things you do around your dog really matter. For example, if you leave food out on the table, you’re tempting your dog and making it easy for him/her to fall back into bad behavior. If they’ve learned to leave the food at Board and Train, continuing to offer temptations is basically retraining your dog to regress and go back to old, bad habits.
Finally, the key to continued good canine behavior is building a solid, loving relationship with your dog. A dog should want to listen to it’s owner and have an interest in being obedient and well behaved. It’s not going to matter if your dog listens to the Board and Train staff, but they don’t listen to you. That means you need training too!
A good Board and Train program like Trifecta’s will teach you the commands, hand signals, and behaviors they taught your dog in addition to the best techniques to continue working with your pet. You will then need to put those skills into place to continue to make your dog understand that you are worthy of their attention. Another positive benefit is the time you spend engaged with your dog in healthy training moments will increase your bond. It will serve to build your dog’s love and trust in you.
Dangers of Lesser Board and Train Programs
At Trifecta Kennels, our staff love dogs and as such provide safe training, grounds, and facilities. But that doesn’t mean other Board and Train programs are always safe. There have many cases of animal abuse documented, and there have even been deaths reported at Board and Train facilities.
Many trainers associated with Board and Train programs around the US use harsh methods including shock collars and other aversives. Bad techniques like these can bring unhealthy and undesirable consequences for your dog. These can range from stress, to aggressiveness, to physical harm and more. Reliance on aversive dog training techniques may be due to having only short time frame available to get quick results. Some trainers suppress bad behavior through punishment rather than build better behavior via positive training techniques. Remember, you won’t be there to see how your dog is being trained, so you have to trust the Board and Train facility. They should know to put your dog’s health and welfare above any guarantees to make your dog a canine good citizen.
How to Assess a Dog Board and Train Facility
The importance of finding a safe and positive facility if you are interested in seeking this service is paramount. So here are some tips for assessing the suitability of a Board and Train facility if you are not located in the Poconos or Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania.
- Find out what methods and equipment dog trainers use in addition to the behaviors they will be teaching your dog. If possible, you should get them in writing.
- Inspect the kennel or facility where your dog will live while staying at the Board and Train. Is it in the trainer’s home setting or in a kennel setting?
- Try to take note of other dogs currently in the program or at least boarding at the facility. Do the dogs seem happy and relaxed? Do they respond positively to the trainer? Conversely, look for signs of resentment and fear.
- Find out the policy on visitation privileges, insist on them, and take advantage of visits to your dog.
- Ask for Board and Train references from previous clients and try to speak with them.
- Don’t necessarily trust any trainer or company that guarantees results. Many do have high success rates, but remember dogs are individual creatures and learn at their own pace.
Other Dog Training Alternatives to Board and Train
Provided your dog does not have issues around other dogs or people, dog training classes near the Lehigh Valley and Poconos such as those offered at Trifecta Kennels for many decades now, are a fabulous alternative to board and train. They provide fun, behavior training, socialization opportunity, distraction training, even agility training, and can help your dog generalize behaviors that will transfer to other locations. You will also have an expert instructor who will help build your dog training skills to reinforce what’s learned in other places. If you feel need 1 on 1 support, private training can also be a great alternative we offer. Some trainers may even be available to come to your home if your dog’s issues warrant being addressed in their normal everyday environment. For problem behaviors, our experienced trainers can help, or you can enlist the help of a veterinary or animal behaviorist.
Remember, dogs are not inanimate things like cars or bicycles. You can’t fix problems with one trip to a mechanic. Whether you use board and train to jumpstart your training or use classes and private training, you still need to put in the effort. Your pet is a living, thinking, and feeling being, so teaching them means you can’t pass the work onto somebody else. Training your dog should last for their lifetime and is part of meeting their physical and mental needs.
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