Residential Dog Training

Posted Tuesday, 22 December 2015

The problem with most boot camp dog training services

I have frequently been asked if I can train a client's pet dog on behalf of the client. I always answer "No" to this, as should any reputable dog trainer really; although there may be some exceptions; e.g. times when an already trained adult working dog is purchased for working purposes such as; assistance dogs, working sheep dogs, security dogs and working gun dogs.

Why you say? Why indeed when I know that if I offered this service I could charge a small fortune for providing this service. The reason why is because it is not generally ethical to do this. Let me explain.

What makes a dog work for his owner? Firstly, it is the bond that develops with an owner during the training process. This is the single most important aspect of training a dog. If you share a good bond with your dog; built on trust, affection, care, kind training methods and of learning how each other tick, your dog will be prepared to follow you to the ends of the earth.

Secondly, training is not a finite process. You simply cannot hand over a dog for two weeks and get a trained one back.  Think for a moment. How long does it take parents to teach their children how to behave? How often do we have to revisit what we are educating our children? Each day, every day we need to be consistent with our children. The same applies with dogs. They require ongoing reinforcement of the good choices they make and they need guidance away from behaviours we would prefer not to see. Some things we teach our dogs can take many months to achieve rather than weeks. 

Thirdly, we need to know how to teach our dogs. If someone else does this for you, how will you be able to maintain this and how can you be consistent? Usually the residential trainers don't show you how they do this because they want you to return later for refresher training to spend another small fortune.

I can't tell you how many dog owners I have worked with who worked with me AFTER sending their dog to residential training. Within a month or two the dog "forgot" his training because the owners were unable to maintain the training the residential school had delivered.

Also some owners' dogs were returned in a very fearful condition. I can only assume that some rather unpleasant styles of training had been employed, or,  that the dog found separation from his owner traumatic. 

You should know that if anyone boards your dog they should have a boarding licence and be registered with the council. 

The skill in dog training is in the trainer's ability to show the owner HOW to educate their dog and to motivate them to be consistent. This way learning can be maintained for the life of the dog and a strong bond between owner and dog develops; it is a combination of these factors that produces well trained dogs, not sending them away to boot camp/residential training. 

Why is ongoing training important? Why doesn't training a dog finish? Because dogs, like us, never stop learning. They can easily learn the wrong thing in the absence of your guidance. Dogs are learning new things every day, and it is your responsibility as owner to ensure that you know how to reinforce the good choices your dog makes in his life, and how to deter your dog from making choices you would rather he didn't make. 

So, if you want to live with a well behaved family dog, it is down to you to do this; not a stranger (unless you employ a dog nanny who does daily training for you but the dog lives primarily with you, or hire someone who does the training daily and then shows you how to maintain this by involving you in a series of training sessions). You do not want to lose control of HOW your dog is taught or WHAT they are learning. No matter how busy you are, YOU need to be involved in educating your dog if you want to have a good relationship with him.