Sending your dog away to receive training while they are boarded is a great option if you have limited time on yours hands to train your dog yourself. It can be a big head start towards achieving the goals you have for your dog in many ways. While away, your dog’s training can achieve many things such as teaching them general obedience commands like sit, stay, heel, come, down, etc., Training may also help them to listen more reliably, to accept leadership more easily, to choose calmness over crazy impulsiveness, and to focus when it’s needed.

Go-To Behaviors & How They Effect Training

However, there is one thing everyone should know about sending a dog away for training, and that is, sending a dog away for training does not eliminate your involvement, it only speeds up the process of getting your dog to where you want them. For some people and their dog, a board and train program may result in a dog that is virtually perfect after training and virtually no additional help is needed to realize what the training was working to accomplish with the dog or puppy. But that tends to be more the exception than the more common occurrence where the dog has go-to behaviors that are triggered by any number of things including but not limited to things like going back to the home environment where the problems developed in the first place. Yes, your home has a history in your dog’s mind and it knows exactly how things always played out in the past and this memory will cause automatic go-to responses that are not something a board and train can always address. Or, walking past a house where there is a dog that always runs out causing a reaction from your dog and there is a long history there. That is another go-to behavior. Your dog doesn’t think about all the training it just had, even if it is right after it got home. It is anticipating the dog coming and is ready to behave exactly as it always has. We humans do it too. We all have go-to behaviors which in humans are referred to as fast thinking. If you are interested in the subject there is a great book called Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. 

Laying A Foundation For The Follow up Later

What a board and train program does is create an alternative way to behave when there is a reason to behave differently. A board and train program will lay the foundation for a different choice that your dog will choose if given a reason to make a different choice. A board and train does not erase all the go-to behaviors that your dog comes with, rather, your dog learns an alternative way to behave in the situations that trigger a go-to behavior if it can be duplicated. But, some go-to behaviors can’t be duplicated exactly, or there may be additional triggers that need to be dealt with after the foundation of a board and train program lays out what is expected from the dog in similar situations.

Training won’t fix your own shortcomings

This is why follow-up lessons for you are so important. You are in many cases part of the problem and the reason why your dog was doing the things you want the training to fix. If this is the case, you are also the reason your dog might go right back to doing the exact same things after coming back from training. Thinking that sending your dog away for training will fix the shortcomings you have that caused or allowed the development of the poor behaviors you want changed is shortsighted. Without yourself receiving the follow-up lessons on how to finish the work-in-progress that the training started, there is a strong chance that your dog will gravitate back to some or all the old habits over time, if they don’t right away. The good news is that most dogs will exhibit the behaviors you want modified when they come for training. It’s not always right away, but usually within about 10 days most dogs will start acting out and the trainer will get to see and work to correct the behavior problems. The goal is to get the dog choosing a new, more appropriate behavior to take the place of the old behavior in the new environment. The next 10 days of a 3 week program will work to get the new choice to become as strong a new habit as possible. 

That new habit is the foundation of getting your dog to behave for you in your home as well as they do for the trainer in their home. For some dogs, that foundation may be all that is needed for everything to go well when the dog returns home. Usually, that means one of two things, either the dog was an easier than average dog, or the person already has better than average skills at handling dogs and has already earned the dog’s respect. But, for the bulk of people that send a dog for a board and train, it is either because the dog is more challenging than average or they do not have good skills at training or handling dogs or a combination of the two, which is probably the most common.

Convincing Your Dog Your Rules Need Following

Follow up lessons solve the biggest problem of all, which is how to deal with the go-to behaviors that your dog has, be it you, a dog in the neighborhood, another person, your home environment or anything else that triggers an automatic response. It allows you, the dog owner, to see what needs to be done in your own home environment or neighborhood to allow the full transference of the training your dog went through. The foundation that was put into place during the board and train will be the first choice your dog will make when they understand that you are no longer going to accept the old behaviors you don’t like. But, boarding and training doesn’t convince them that you need to be listened to as well as the trainer, only you can do that and this is another area that follow-up helps with. It allows the trainer to zero in on exactly what you need to do now that your dog has gone through training and is back in your home.

Dogs are free thinkers. That’s why no trainer can guarantee how your dog will behave back in your home environment after a short board and train program without them being there to have an influence on the dog. And even seeing first hand the bad behaviors before training won’t guarantee that no follow-up will be needed. The go-to behaviors will still be there if there are any that need to be dealt with. This is why follow-up is so important, it will show you how to fix the shortcomings you may have brought to the table without knowing it that influenced the way your dog behaved prior to going to training. In the end, you and your dog will be much better off and happier having participated in follow-up lessons. They will know much more clearly what you want and you will have better skills to show them what you expect of them. And that’s what turns your dog into your best companion.