"A one month board and train is $4,000. It's expensive, but I'm desperate and I'll do anything, so long as it works. And oh look, they offer loans AND payment plans."
Here are five reasons why people should think twice before they move forward with that decision to board and train their dog.
5 Major Dangers of "Quick Fix" Guarantees
Most board and train facilities are all about the bottom line. It's a business. The bigger the training business the less likely you will have a knowledgeable trainer working your dog. Most of these kennels will hire "trainers" that are doing a lot of "on the job learning." Are you really going to spend all that money so that someone else can get a hands on learning experience? That smooth talker that made all those big promises and sold you that 4,000 dollar training package, you remember that guy? He may never train your dog.
#2 Understand Their Methods
Your dog is aggressive, so they need a corrections based training approach. Right? Wrong. Many corrections based trainers knowingly (or unknowingly) suppress aggressive behavior. Which looks fabulous in the short-term and can create dire consequences in the long-term. It's like putting a top on a boiling pot of water, you can only hold that steam in for so long before it blows. Many of the bigger training facilities use choke chains, throw chains, prong collars, and electronic shock collars to create quick fix solutions. Have you ever heard someone say "The dog bit without warning!" The dog was most likely corrected for giving warning signs. Corrections based training "solutions" will manifest into more serious behavioral issues before you've finished paying off your payment plan.
#3 The Kennel Experience
The insurmountable stress of being confined to a kennel for 2 -4 weeks is not going to bode well for any dog's mental or emotional well being. You're looking for training because your dog is aggressive? fearful? anxious? Living in a kennel for any length of time will not work in favor of your dog's behavioral training plan. End of story.
#4 The Training Environment
Will the training transfer? You may have asked about this on the phone, and you were probably pacified by the answer. But this is a REAL concern. Even if the dog learns to behave beautifully at the training facility. Who cares? Is the dog still going to go wild and bark when someone rings the bell in your home? Probably. Is your dog still going to switch into beast mode when you pass the neighbor dog's fence line? Probably. Is your dog still going to mark his territory on the rug. Yeah, probably! These are behaviors that are conditioned into your dog's repertoire and won't change until you learn how to get to the root of the problem.
#5 You and Your Dog Are a Team
Real changes will only occur when you realize that you and your dog are a team. Don't send your dog off to "boot camp," call in someone that will coach you through the training process. When choosing a trainer, choose wisely. Your dog is depending on you. Start by looking for people that are Certified Professional Dog Trainers. Look to see if they have a blog or Facebook page that will give you a better indication of their approach to training and behavior modification. If you see references to systematic desensitization and counter-conditioning, that's a good start. If they are casually throwing around words like "alpha" or "dominance"- they probably learned most of what they know from dog training television ... and you should keep searching.
The small print: Be skeptical if you are considering one of these "deluxe resorts" with "intensive behavioral training" - too many dogs pay the price because owners are lured in by promises that are too good to be true. There are honest, skilled, positive reinforcement trainers that are offering board and trains, that are both transparent in their approach to training and realistic when setting expectations. These trainers probably aren't paying the big bucks for massive advertising campaigns, so do your research well.
About me: My name is Alyssa Lapinel and I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer and Behavior Consultant based in San Diego, California. I own and operate Legends Dog Training and work primarily with dogs that exhibit fearful, anxious, aggressive or highly impulsive behavior. Take a look at some of my training videos for a better understanding of what I do and how I do it: https://www.youtube.com/user/legendsdogtraining