Should I choose in-home lessons or a board and train program? 

Welcome to today’s short form podcast, where we answer your dog training questions. I’m your host Nicole Forto and the client asked, should I choose in-home lessons or a board and train program? I have actually had this question a few times in person from clients who started with in-home lessons and then wanted to add on a board and train option with Alaska Dog Works. There are many benefits to either side of those training programs with your dog but when it comes down to the moment to decide factoring in a lot of your personal ability with training and your future goals should be the main focus. For this question we will touch base in a broad way but highlight some specific situations to consider when deciding.

Let us first talk about in-home training with a brand new puppy. Raising a brand new puppy is a huge responsibility. Much like raising children puppies have a better chance later in life the earlier you start to teach them things like boundaries and routines. As trainers we recommend you start training your puppy as soon as you get them home, there really are no age restrictions on beginning to train your puppy. Dogs learn things quicker when they are young but old dogs can learn new things too! Dogs are very intelligent creatures with endless possibilities to teach them things. In-home dog training is super beneficial as your home is your puppy’s most relaxed place to be thus encouraging them to behave much more freely and with less direction from you.

If your puppy can’t handle behaving at home in the most relaxed place for both of you how will it ever cope going out for a walk, to parks or trails, and maybe even dog friendly places. Doing lessons in your home with a professional trainer allows you and your dog to learn more things than just sit and high five.

When training at home your dog is learning things like boundaries of where they are and aren’t allowed to be such as your living room but not under your feet in the kitchen. How to handle when people come over to your home, or a delivery showed up and rang the doorbell. Even simpler, where they sleep at night and during nap times, to leave food and do a long stay while you eat. 

In-home training also helps to deepen the bond between you and your dog by building mutual respect and guidance.

A few more benefits with in-home training are that when a trainer comes to you in your home the training with your dog becomes even more customizable to your exact routine and lifestyle. Your trainer has the chance to see your home layout, learn if you are allowing your pup on the furniture, and how often you’ll be able to get your dog out for walks and training sessions. Lastly, and maybe the most important to note for everyday dog owners is that in-home training can be the most cost effective means for training.

If you learn quickly from your trainer you may only need a handful of lessons to get a grasp on training and managing your dog all on your own, it also cuts out overhead costs like adding in facility maintenance. In-home training sessions help you to become a more mindful dog owner and gives you the ability to adapt your dog into your lifestyle. 

Next up let’s dive into board and train programs. Board and train programs are designed and heavily popular for two reasons.

One you do not have the time to train your dog on your own or commit to weekly sessions with a trainer. The other reason is that their dog has serious behavior issues that require the dog be taken out of its comfortable setting and put into a highly controlled environment, this is often your trainer’s professional home where they undergo intensive daily training.

Depending on your specific needs, board and train programs are still customized to your dog’s needs and your goals whether that is simple obedience etiquette or dog reactivity. The difference here with in-home training and board and trains is that your dog spends weeks with a professional trainer working on skills and behavior changes multiple times a day allowing your dog to not only have ample amount of exercise and training but also to have issues worked on thoroughly and consistently without breaks in between.

As in with in-home lessons you may only see your trainer once a week and with no training being done in between your dog’s progress can be much slower. 

There are many pros in choosing a board and train program including the intensive training, less work and stress on your part, it is an ideal set up for dogs with big canine sport goals and behavior issues. However the cons lie when your dog returns home, you may not be able to maintain the same consistency, your dog will always test you far more than their trainers as they have had time to know the ways they get out of what is being asked of them.

Something I tell every single board and train client is that if your dog was allowed on furniture at home that’s okay, except while at their board and train with us they have not been allowed on furniture. Instead of taking your dog home and immediately letting them leap and bound onto the couch you are going to now require them to approach you, sit, and then be invited up onto the couch. Rules and regulations still need to apply so that way your dog’s learning doesn’t revert completely into old behaviors. 

Whether you go with in-home training or a board and train relies heavily on what you believe your commitment to the training can be.

Are you able to practice on a consistent basis between your weekly or bi-weekly training class? If not then maybe a board and train is right for you. Are you willing to follow the boundaries, routine, and commands taught to your dog while they are at their board and train program?

If yes, then you will have great success with one. So which should you choose? It’s hard to say without speaking to you directly but this episode lays out deeper information on the pros and cons of either style of training. Remember that whatever you choose still requires learning, work, and commitment on your part. If you or someone you know is considering what kind of training to go with for their dog, share this podcast episode with them! For Dog Works Radio I’m Nicole and I’ll catch you guys in the next episode.


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