We are very excited to be adding Board & Trains as a new service to offer to our clients in our continued effort to be there for you and your dog in every way possible. However, this is a somewhat controversial service for us to be adding. Many of you may have heard us recommending not to utilize Board & Train services in the past. So what gives? Why are we changing our tune now? Well, it isn’t just about filling my need to have four dogs in my house. (It’s only a little bit about that.)
Typically, Board & Train’s are the domain of balanced trainers. Using aversive tools they are able to get seemingly impressive results very quickly. It has been difficult to replicate the appearance of that kind of progress using more positive reinforcement focused methods in the past. Often positive reinforcement Board & Trains take place in a kennel environment, and it can be difficult to replicate the home environment that helps the skills transfer. Over the past few years, more and more positive
reinforcement trainers have been dipping their toes into the Board & Train field and seeing great results, and we have been inspired by their successes.
In the past, our main concerns about Board & Trains have been primarily the risk for the use of aversive tools. The other reason we typically caution people against a Board & Train option, is because there will still be work for the owner to do. Often when a Board & Train is utilized there is an expectation that the dog will come home completely trained, and that is just not realistic. Owners still need to follow through on the training, practice the skills, and make sure they do the homework to ensure that the skills transfer to their usual environment.
So, how are we addressing these concerns in our program?
Well, first and foremost, we will be following our usual methodology. Our training will be focused on meeting the needs of the dog in front of us and creating a happy, problem solving dog who understands what is being asked of them, as well as helping their owners understand why they are behaving the way that they are. We will also be very open with owners about realistic goals and expectations for their dogs. Open communication throughout the Board & Train will allow us to keep owners up to date on their dogs progress and adjust our goals and expectations as needed throughout.
To make the skill transfer as smooth as possible the training will take place in a home environment. The dogs will be a part of their trainers household and benefit from consistent rules and atmosphere to their usual home environment. We will also have our students working with multiple trainers. During the boarding part of their Board & Train, the dogs will work with their boarding trainer in focused training sessions, as well as receive incidental training from other non-trainer people living in the home. During transfer lessons with the owners, they will work with a completely different trainer. This will help ensure the transfer of skills by beginning to focus on generalizing right from the start.
With the combination of video homework, transfer lessons, multiple trainers, and firm setting of goals and expectations we feel confident that we have created a program that will work well and allow us to help even more dogs and their owners while avoiding the usual pitfalls of a Board & Train.
Interested in learning more about the program? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Currently our first open term for this program is in February. We expect these spots to fill quickly so let us know soon if you are interested!