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  • Writer's pictureRenée at Bravo Dog

Why We Don't Recommend Board and Train

You may have heard the term "board and train." Essentially, you send your dog away and they work on the behaviour problems you may be experiencing with your dog. Sometimes it's a kennel-type facility and other times it's in someone's home. I receive email inquiries about such services every week. Sounds like a holy grail doesn't it? Read on...


Solutions Start With You

Your relationship and interactions with your dog are so important. Your dog is depending on you to help guide them and behaviour problems don't just disappear if you send them away. It is often a long process that takes your dedication and commitment. Especially if we are facing reactivity.


Dogs suffering from reactive behaviours are often struggling with anxiety, fear and stress. Pain and discomfort also impact behaviour more than most people are aware of. Taking them out of their home environment and putting them in another environment will contribute to their stress. They may shut down and "not do anything" but that is not a positive thing by any means. And, if you are sending them somewhere that will set them up to react only to punish them, well we will have a whole new host of issues to try and undo when they return to you.


Dogs that have reactivity issues are struggling and they need support, guidance and often medical intervention. These issues are complex and can be made much worse with the wrong approach. If you'd like to learn more about WHY your dog is reactive, take a look at our Unraveling Reactivity Course.


There Are No Quick Fixes

If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. I can't count on one hand in the last 13 years a single case where a dog that I am aware of was sent away to board and train and didn't return damaged. Emotionally or physically. Most "boot camp" board and train cater to those that are desperate for help and think that extreme measures must be taken. This often means that your dog will be subjected to shock collars, prong collars, being choked and physically hurt in the name of training. They may spend the majority of their days kenneled.


When you are experiencing severe challenges with your dog's behaviour you should discuss with your veterinarian or seek out a Board Certified Vet Behaviourist.


Puppies


Sending a puppy away during the socialization window (3-12/14 weeks of age) is really such a missed opportunity for dog guardians. This is the time period when you are supposed to be bonding with your puppy, creating a secure attachment and helping them with new routines. If you are struggling with things like house training and sleep schedules then please take our Puppy Essentials Course or contact a positive reinforcement trainer like myself for a referral or to work together. You need to become your dog's trainer for the rest of their life! Invest in learning.


Can You Really Trust Them?

Google "board and train death" or injuries. I'm sorry to be so blunt but these days you can't trust anyone with your pet. Your dog cannot tell you when something is going wrong or they are being mistreated. There are no regulations and very few laws if any to protect you and your dog.

And, if you have found a "positive reinforcement" trainer that offers board who states they are doing the "heavy lifting", dogs don't generalize very well. That means, if your dog is struggling with reactivity in your neighborhood and in your home and you've sent them to someone else's home, this is not going to transfer.


Your best approach when you are needing help is to reach out to someone who:

  • uses positive reinforcement

  • does not use "tools" except food to change behaviour

  • is transparent about the methods and approaches they use

  • spends time trying to determine the underlying issues impacting your dog's behaviour

  • ensures you are aware of and rule out pain and discomfort as a contributing factor

  • is continually updating their education and knowledge

  • emphasizes teaching YOU how to best work with your dog

  • never offers quick fixes or blanket approaches


I want the very best for you and your pet. Please reach out if you are struggling.

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