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The Pros and Cons of Board-and-Train Dog Training

A row of nine dogs of various breeds and sizes, sitting in a row on a bench outside at a park.

Training a pet can be a time-consuming process. Depending on their age, breed, and history it could be a months-long process. For pet parents who work, this may not be a feasible time commitment—which is where professional dog training comes in. Professional pet training isn’t just beneficial for pet parents with busy schedules.

Professional training classes can help pet parents socialize their dogs, and trainers have the tools to handle particularly aggressive dogs who may have experienced trauma.

There are several different kinds of training classes for different needs. Some cater specifically to puppies, while others handle retired service dogs, and so on. One type of dog training class is board and train—which may sound appealing but is not for everyone or every dog.


What Are Board-and-Train Programs?

Board-and-train programs are training programs where your dog stays at the training school until the program is finished. This is to create a more comprehensive training environment and is well suited for dogs who may need more supervision or rigorous training. There are three types of board-and-train programs:

  • On-leash: On-leash programs work with training your dog while they’re wearing a leash or harness. This can be beneficial for particularly aggressive dogs.
  • Off-leash: Off-leash programs work with training your dog off a leash. This can be beneficial for less aggressive dogs.
  • On- and off-leash: This is a combo program that works with both on- and off-leash training. This is the most comprehensive kind of training.

Because you will be away from your dog for an extended period, these programs aren’t as well suited for young puppies or dogs with serious or unresolved separation anxiety. The typical length of a board-and-train program is between three to six weeks. This can be longer or shorter depending on your program type and the programs in your city.  

Pros of Board-and-Train Programs

While board-and-train programs are not suited for every dog, there can be some real benefits. You can talk with the program you’re considering to see if it is right for your pet, or if they offer any other modified training classes.

Accelerates Learning

Board-and-train programs can help accelerate the learning process because your pet is constantly with their trainers. A strict routine helps reinforce new behavior, which is what a board-and-train program provides. Your dog will also spend more time in class or actively training than they would in traditional training classes, which can help reinforce lessons and behaviors.

Convenience for Dog Parents

If you’re a dog parent with a busy schedule, then a board-and-train program offers you the most flexibility. Because your dog will be entirely cared for during the length of the program, this can be an ideal time to do projects that may be more complicated by the presence of your dog.

For example, extended travel, major yard or house work, and pest control can all be more easily done during your dog's boarding, as you won’t have to make special safety accommodations for them.

Provides a Different Environment for Behavior

A board-and-training program also helps expose your dog to new environments. This allows them to feel secure in places away from home. The training facility can reduce distractions that might exist at home, such as small children or other pets. Just like people, having a dedicated space to work and learn can seriously aid your dog’s retention and productivity.

Getting an Overall Assessment of Your Dog

One of the biggest benefits of attending board –and train is that you’ll have professionals assessing your dog’s behavior for an extended time. Smaller windows, like weekly classes, aren’t as comprehensive as classes in which an instructor is seeing and working with a pet every day.

The instructors at a board-and-train school will give you a fuller picture of the mental and physical status of your dog when it comes to training. These resources can help you continue training successfully at home. 

Cons of Board-and-Train Programs

While there are benefits to board-and-train, there are also some drawbacks. Board-and-train programs may be more of a rigorous training program than is needed for some dogs. It can be emotionally and physically harder on some than others. There are also some administrative drawbacks that pet parents may experience.

Finding a Good Program

While all board-and-training programs follow a similar template, not all are the same. You’ll want to carefully check the reviews, and you may even want to tour the facility before you sign up your pet. You want to ensure that the program has your pet’s best interest in mind, and has the means to provide for them while they are in the facility’s care.

Animals can’t speak up for themselves, so their parents must be their advocates. One way you can vet programs is by finding dog training forums online and asking members about programs they have had positive or negative experiences with.

You Will Not Be Instructing Your Dog

Training is often as much for pet parents as it is for their dogs. Emotional bonding between the trainer and the pet may happen during instruction. This can be especially important for creating a relationship with a new dog. Additionally, because you won’t be instructing your dog, you will also have to adjust to a new set of commands to keep your dog’s training on track.

No Control of the Treatment of Your Dog

During a board-and-train program, you will be relinquishing the care of your dog for the entire length of the program. This means that you will not have control over how your dog is treated — including how your dog is disciplined.

Other aspects you won’t have control over include their grooming, diet, and exercise. This is why it’s important to find the right program for you. Note that this could cause a prolonged adjustment period once they return home, as they’ll need to readjust to their old routine.

Board-and-train programs can impact your dog’s behavior. These programs may also seriously benefit your pet’s mental health, and ability to socialize. However, it’s important to know what you’re getting your pet, and yourself, into before you sign up for this type of training. If you have serious concerns about your pet’s behavior, talk with your vet and find out what they think about a board-and-train program for your four-legged friend.  

Pets 101 - Potty Time & Training | Four Paws

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