Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Person holding palm out to dog on leash

Q: I have a new dog who needs training. A person near me offers a boarding and training service so I can send my dog there for a few weeks while I’m on vacation and he comes back to me trained. Is this a good way to train him?

A: Board and train programs for dogs are offered by some dog trainers or facilities. In this type of program, you send your dog to stay at the trainer’s facility or home for an agreed-upon time, ranging from a few days to several weeks. The trainer works with your dog on certain skills, which may include obedience (sit, stay, come), behavior modification (aggression, anxiety, barking), or socialization with other dogs and people. Trainers, their facility, and their staff should be thoroughly researched before you send your dog away to stay with them.

Although having someone else train your dog may be appealing because they do the work and you pick up a trained dog, there are significant drawbacks to this program style.

  • Trainers should be training you, the caregiver. You are the one training your dog because you are the one living with your dog.
  • The training environment is different than your home environment. Your dog may become well-trained at the facility, but that training may not carry over into your home unless you have worked with your dog.
  • Training is an excellent time for you and your dog to bond, which cannot occur if you are not there.
  • The trainer may use a method you are uncomfortable with or may address a behavior differently than you would want.
  • Your dog may become more anxious in an environment that is not their home. Fear and anxiety can prevent your dog from learning.
  • Some facilities board the dogs together, not allowing for safe spaces or quiet time. Forcing dogs together does not create socialization and can have long-term consequences.
  • Board and train programs have historically used punishment-based methods such as shock or prong collars.

Even if you do get excellent referrals to a board and train facility, research them thoroughly.

  • The person working with your dog should be a certified, positive-reinforcement trainer who does not use aversive equipment or techniques.
  • Ask your veterinarian what they have heard about the facility.
  • Verify the facility is equipped to handle an emergency with your dog. Identify their protocols for taking your dog to a veterinarian or emergency clinic.
  • Ask how the facility provides daily updates. Live video access would be an excellent bonus.
  • Training time with you should be built into the program before your pet is released to return home. The trainer should teach you how to work with your dog for consistency.
  • There should be an agreed-upon time frame for training. Sudden extensions, which then add to the fees, are concerning. 
  • The trainer’s goals and values for your dog should align with your expectations.
  • Avoid trainers who use punishment tools such as choke collars.