What do you think of sending your dog away to live with a trainer to be trained?
You are asking about a process known in the profession as “Board and Train.” When I first began training dogs (1974) I worked for a Boarding Kennel as the trainer for dogs who were scheduled to be trained as well as boarded. Most were on a two week training plan. It was a wonderful experience for me as I got to work with many different breeds of dogs.
Most of the dogs I trained were very motivated because the only time they spent out of their runs was working with me. The kennel situation was a useful but artificial scenario. The dogs usually learned quickly and I could get them to respond to basic commands well within the two week time period. When the owners returned I had between a half hour and an hour to explain to them how to give commands and get their dogs to comply. Everyone left happy and satisfied, but the results didn’t last.
When you employ another person to train your dog, you end up with a dog that obeys someone else! Initially, it appears as though the training transfers, but over time the behaviors inevitably deteriorate. This is because the owner does not know how the initial training was accomplished. As dogs begin to make small mistakes in performance, there is no one to rebuild and reinforce the original correct behavior. Little by little the training weakens and in some cases disappears completely.
Even in the case of Assistance Dogs, trained by professionals to aid the handicapped, new owners spend weeks living with and learning to train their already trained dogs. Any dog will only perform a task if the owner understands how to train it and is willing to enforce and reward the behavior. It is not uncommon for Guide Dog Foundations to send trainers out into the field to work with dogs and their blind owners and give them a “tune up” from time to time.
The reason dogs are willing to obey and work for man is rooted in their ability to form a strong relationship. The human-animal bond is a well known force. When a dog is sent away to be trained, the dog has no relationship with the trainer and usually, with limited amount of time, there is no way to develop such a relationship. As a result, “Board and Train” trainers are often forced into using techniques that offer quick results and not necessarily the best methods for the dog.
Not everyone is a natural born dog trainer but every owner can learn to teach basic commands to his dog. The real secret is how to find a talented, reputable instructor who can teach you to train your dog! To find out how to locate such a person, watch for my next blog