I have a lot of clients ask me about a board and train program for their dogs. In theory this sounds like a great idea, you leave your dog with someone and he comes back to you perfectly well behaved. Unfortunately this is not always how it works out. My main concern with these programs is that you are not there to see how your dog is being treated. Despite the best of intentions some trainers and the methods they use are not how I would recommend one treat a dog. In addition, I feel training should be a bonding experience between you and your dog, by having someone else take over for you miss out on strengthening your relationship.
If you are considering a board and train program here are a few things to evaluate before you sign up. Make sure you visit the facility in person to see where your dogs will be housed and evaluate how happy the dogs appear that are currently boarding. Inquire about the methods and theories that the trainers use. If they use shock, choke or prong collars or any kind of physical corrections including alpha rolling, run away immediately. Ask how they feel about Cesar Millan’s recommendations and training principles. If they think he is great then you shouldn’t leave your dog there.
You also should inquire how the trainer responds when the dog doesn’t do what is asked or when he does something they specifically don’t want him to do. The answer should never include a physical correction or any kind of force. It is also a good sign if they have a webcam available so you can log in at any time and see what your dog is up to. The facility should encourage this and recommend that you watch the training sessions.
If you follow these guidelines hopefully you can find someone who is kind and knowledgeable to help you train your dog. Even so, training should be a fun and rewarding way to spend time with your dog. The training between you and your dog will always be much more effective as you can continuously work together so your dog is the well behaved, perfect pooch you know he can be.
Ashley Gallagher, DVM