Board and train:  I love it!  

I love it enough that I wish we, at Dogtrained, had the space and time to offer it to our clients!   I would happily make a full time business out of laying the foundations and advancing skills to competition or great pet dog manners levels for every pup that came my way.  I love this side of training and have seen how it can benefit both dog and human! 

But since we can’t, and summer is fast approaching, and everyone is asking,  we want to give a shout out to some of our other favorite companies that do.  

Canine Lifestyles Academy in Maryland

K9 Divine in Maryland 

Woofs in Virginia 

Furgetmenot in Virginia

If you have experience with a great board and train, please let us know and we would love to consider adding them to our favorites list.

All of our recommended facilities hit all of the following criteria:

Goal Setting:

A great board and train will help you choose your goals. Among the most common goals are “proofing” and advancing behaviors like COME, STAY and leash walking.  While you are setting goals talk to your trainer about what happens to your dog when they offer the right behavior and what happens when the offer the wrong behavior. 

Written and video rollup instructions:

The trainer should be able to outline the plan for you, offer videos and written instructions on how your dog was trained and how far they were able to go with your pup while in training with them as well as provide you the steps to continue the training. 

Visitation rights:

A huge red flag in this industry is when another person, even a pet professional, bans you from seeing your dog while in training or boarding.  You should be able to watch your trainer work with your dog and other dogs currently enrolled with them. Be wary of a trainer that is only willing to show a finished product dog.  A dog with great skills and manners is not always a good indicator of a knowledgeable trainer. 

The facility itself should offer:

Cleanliness: including clean play yards, kennels, water bowls and feeding areas. 

Play and rest time for your dog.

Adequate supervision. Daycares that offer daycare or board and train should have staff that number about one staff member to ever 10- 15 dogs. Staff is able to read body language, has knowledge of pet first aid and are involved n trade associations and professional organizations that require continuing education.

Safety measures like double doors so no dog can escape through one open door and if offered, small dog play time is separate from big dog play time. 

Homework:

You should expect that you will have follow up and homework. A dog that goes to board and train might still jump on people walking into the home, or counter surf food items in the kitchen because your dog learned those behaviors first but you will also immediately see them offering behaviors that were heavily reinforced while in training. 

No guarantees!

Sounds scary, right? But it’s not!  Working with dogs isn’t about uploading the software, it’s about teaching skills and raising criteria until goals are hit! Health, your dog’s hardwiring tendencies to herd, chase, work or guard, and response to rewards will impact training as well as how much practice has your dog had offering the wrong behaviors and getting reinforced!

What to watch out for    “Balanced trainers” — 

Balanced trainers will use toys and food to reward behavior but also shock, prong or choke for undesirable behaviors.

Dogs who are exposed to this type of training are more likely to become aggressive and bite in the future.  This is not just my opinion but also that of the reputable animal welfare organizations in the United States. 

The American Animal Hospital Association, The Humane Society of the United States,  The Association of Professional Dog Trainers, The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, and the Pet Professionals Guild, have all condemned training with shock and prong. 

Your neighbor, friend or family member might have had a great experience with a balanced trainer but lack the knowledge to recognize a happy, engaged dog versus a dog who is compelled, fearful or shut down during training. 

Your relationship should be based on respect and trust, not fear and compulsion.

What doesn’t get better with board and train:  Anxiety.   

Dogs who are fearful of people, other dogs, noises, or have separation anxiety need the support of their human family.  In conjunction with a vet behaviorist, a great trainer experienced with classical and counterconditioning combined with management can produce great results. Working with a dog who is reactive is NOT about getting the perfect sit, down and stay, instead it is about supporting our dogs, teaching them coping mechanisms and sometimes living with their limitations. 

Interested in other classes and training? 

We are always happy to refer you to other great trainers who are hosting Barnhunt, Agility, Nosework, Advanced obedience, meetup walking, play groups and so much more! 

Interested in Daytraining? If you aren’t looking to board your dog but you would love that boost forward in training, don’t forget we offer day training!  You trainer will come to you home 2-5/week and train with your dog.  You will receive email and video homework and examples of your dog’s progress while you are at work or out and about! 

About Gwen Podulka

Gwen is a certified professional dog trainer with over 20 years experience and proud owner of TRAINED.

Her journey began with the adoption of a deaf Dalmatian, launching her into the world of agility and teaching at the Humane Society in Columbus Ohio while managing bookstores across the Greater Lakes area.

Her love of the dogs and people took her cross country to train service dogs with Canine Companions for Independence for people with disabilities.

Gwen has continued her education through out the years finding a passion teaching classes, a love of DC’s incredi-bullies, and an ability to read and help people work with their reactive dogs through a multitude of issues using positive training methods.