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Finding a Good Dog Trainer - Introduction Finding a Good Dog Trainer - Choosing Weekly Obedience Classes Finding a Good Dog Trainer - Choosing Boarding & Training

Choosing Boarding & Training

Boarding and training courses are offered by some professional training establishments, but not all. It involves leaving your dog at a boarding kennel where it will be trained on a daily basis for a length of time that is usually defined by the course selected by the owner. It is a great alternative to weekly training classes because it gets quicker results, but it will generally cost more due to the fact that professional trainers are doing a lot of the work for you.

Compare businesses, compare services!

However, you need to do your homework with this training option to ensure that you are getting real value for money and training that will be effective when the dog returns home again after its course. Also, each business has their own way of doing things and you need to carefully compare what they actually offer within their courses, not just how long a course is or how much it costs.

Like most things in life, you often get what you pay for, so be careful of making decisions based on price alone. The length of the course must also be compared to the content of the course and the training standards. The cost of the course must be valued against its overall inclusions. Is pick-up and delivery home again included in the price? Does your dog get washed and groomed before coming home again? Is this an inclusion or is this done at an extra cost?

Above all else, take the time to talk with the trainers (not receptionists) and ask as many questions as you feel necessary, making sure that you get the answers you require. Make sure that trainers are available for consultation before, during and after the course. Make sure that you feel comfortable with their manner and their professionalism.

Who is offering the service?

This is an important question. Has the business got experience in this type of training service? Boarding and training is a specialised service, not just something that can be offered as an add-on or some sort of money-making sideline. After all, you are trusting these people with your dog's welfare, not just its training.

The more questions you ask in general will give you a good indication if the boarding and training offered is a sideline or a professional service. Even the way it is advertised will show its true importance within any dog training business.

Where do the dogs stay?

This is also an important question. Is the kennel professionally run? Are there plenty of kennel and training staff to look after your dog. Is the kennel environment set up for training purposes? there is a difference! Is the kennel environment calm and friendly?

The more professional the service, the more detail they will confidently, if not proudly offer on these points. Of course, you should always be able to visit the kennel establishment to see it first hand.

Who trains the dogs?

As mentioned previously, boarding and training is a specialist skill and requires a lot of specific training and experience. Not just any trainer can turn their hand to it as not all training methods are suitable for this type of service. You must ascertain whether the trainer you are talking to is experienced enough to offer this service.

Then there is the question of how many trainers work with the dog. Is it one person who does all the training or is there an experienced team working together, making sure the dog works for different people, not just the one person who trained it? If you are having multiple dogs trained it takes more than one trainer to get them working together and independently of each other. Also, more than one trainer means that many more scenarios and workouts can be included in the training process as standard.

Professionals in the boarding and training business will openly discuss their trainers' experience and the number employed to train the dogs.

How are the standards set and then met for each course?

Do the trainers have set standards for each course and how are these assessed? How do trainers keep track of the dog's progress and ensure that it's ready to go home on the due date?

A professional boarding and training business has structured courses that are developed with a deliberate end standard in sight. The trainers know from experience how to get each individual dog to that standard and are flexible enough to alter their approach if required. There should be systems in place for monitoring progress and sharing information amongst different trainers working with the dog.

How long are the courses?

Course length is going to be different across the board. Just because the training takes longer, it doesn't actually mean it is better. Some courses are shorter, but contain much more content and in some cases, can be of a much higher standard also.

There is no rule-of-thumb for course duration because there are so many relevant factors to take into account. The training method being used will have a huge bearing on how long it takes to train a dog as well as how often the dog gets trained each day.

When you talk to the trainers about the courses, they should be able to confidently explain how their training objectives are met by the due date.

Course content what is covered (obedience & behaviour) and how?

What is covered in the course is vitally important when it comes to making overall comparisons. Is it just obedience training? Is behavioural problem solving part of the training?

If it is obedience training only that is primarily offered and your dog requires some behavioural modification, how is obedience going to help with the behavioural problems? What standard is the obedience trained to and can it be demonstrated when the dog is in the home? What happens when the lead comes off after the obedience is finished and the dog runs free?

When you talk to a trainer who is experienced in boarding and training they should be able to tell you how obedience training relates to behavioural modification and they should be able to outline their overall approach to helping you solve your dog's problems. The more experienced and professional the service, the more organised their systems and approach will be and they will be able to help you understand the entire process, from start to finish.

All this information should be given willingly to help you make an informed decision about your dog's training options.

What happens at Hand-over (hand-back) and beyond?

This is one of the most important points to take into account when assessing a boarding and training service - where the hand-over or hand-back takes place! You also have to know whether your dog will be demonstrated with you and your family/friends present the whole time as part of the distraction or will you be expected to keep away until the demonstration is finished potentially avoiding the biggest distraction... YOU!

There are two main choices available when it comes to the hand-over location:
  1. at the kennels where it was trained or
  2. at the home where the owners and dog spend most of their time together.
One of these choices makes much more sense than the other, for many reasons that are common sense when it is all broken down.

Firstly, having your dog demonstrated at the place where it was trained and then handling it at the place where it was trained will not necessarily translate into the same standard once the dog returns home... away from where it was trained. If the hand-over is at the kennel, you must be extremely satisfied with the explanations from the trainer before you commit that your dog will work for you at home even though it will never actually be professionally handled and demonstrated there as part of the course.

Doing the hand-over in your own home means that the dog will be affected by all the familiar distractions that will be present when you practice with the dog. This point cannot be understated, especially when there are other pets (cats, dogs, horses, etc) or children (younger or older remaining calm & still or wildly active) relevant to the day-to-day distractions you are likely to encounter. It also means that you will be present from the start and be part of the hand-over process. It will also give the trainer the opportunity to work with the dog off-lead both inside and out, ensuring that the dog's overall behaviour can be managed.

Common sense dictates that the hand-over should be done in your presence, right from the beginning and that it should be in your own home, for obvious reasons.

An experienced and professional service will be absolutely positive about their training methods, teaching methods (for the owner) and their ability to hand-over the dog in the owner's home regardless of distractions present! This is not an optional part of the service this is an essential part of the service!

How long is the hand-over?

All of this information about obedience and behaviour takes time to learn let alone practice under professional supervision! Does the business allocate enough time to the hand-over process for you to comfortably learn the skills and theory required to apply the learning once the trainer is finished. Is the hand-over a specific process that ties in with the rest of the training?

Ask about the hand-over process and expect detailed information to come freely and clearly this is one of the most important parts of the course! Remember, this is when you get taught what your dog has learned!

What is expected from you after the boarding and training course?

When the hand-over is finished, are you expected to go along to obedience classes to get your own skills up to standard? Is the hand-over shorter because the teaching is an ongoing process, again, away from the home?

Boarding and training is usually chosen as a substitution for weekly obedience classes because owners often can't commit to the time or travel involved. In some instances owners opt for boarding and training as a jump-start to weekly classes, but you must be clear which category you fit into and what you are prepared to do after the hand-over or you may find that you are expected to attend classes as part of an ongoing process.

The other point to consider here is probably the most important of all what do you expect to get from a boarding and training course? Professional trainers will be realistic and clear about the whole boarding and training process and will present realistic outcomes for you and your dog. You must listen carefully and ask questions about what you are expected to do when the dog returns home.

A professional service will offer ongoing over-the-phone support with easy and quick access to a trainer every time you call and will also offer extra help in person if that is deemed to be necessary.

Boarding and training is not a quick fix, but it is a valid and extremely effective training process that if packaged correctly, has proven to be the perfect training solution for many dog owners.

Good luck with your dog training choices!