Beware Searching for “Dog Training and Boarding Near Me”
I have been involved in the dog training industry for almost 20 years. I have seen a lot in my time, and I have done things that other people would probably love to do (like work with Cheetahs, and highly advanced service dog training work for the disabled).
This is one of those “Tips” I have learned over the years:
Be very careful of someone who says they can “fix” all your dog’s obedience problems if the dog lives with them, or in their kennel, or comes to their boot camp for a specific period of time!
Please understand that there are a lot of GREAT professional dog trainers out there!
But my experience with this kind of “send them off to boot camp” dog training program (even from a dog trainer’s perspective) is not good.
Why This is Not Good…
Usually this type of dog obedience training is very expensive, and usually it is “guaranteed.”
I could charge you $1000 for a couple weeks of “guaranteed” obedience training sessions and promise to fix any problem. But one of the problems is that the dog will work for ME.
I CAN get animals to do just about anything.
I am gooood! The sky is the limit with dog training for me. I can control aggression (I believe most aggression cannot be cured) and I can fix any obedience problem in a very short period of time!
If I came to your house and you gave me your dog for a few minutes you would be amazed to watch the transformation before your eyes.
I know what I am looking for, I can recognize the signs of aggression BEFORE your dog shows it, and I can train specific behaviors or fix simple behavior problems very quickly.
I have never met a dog that I couldn’t work.
That doesn’t mean YOU will have all these attributes when your dog comes home.
YOU will not recognize the signs of aggression before your dog shows them, you will not have the years of experience to know how to get your dog to perform a set of skills like I can, and, ultimately, your dog is going to live with YOU – not me!
This is Never the Way!
How often do you think your dog will come out of his crate or kennel?
Most often, it is only once (maybe twice) per day for 15 minutes to an hour, if he is lucky.
The rest of the time these board-and-train programs will have them rotting in a kennel.
Unfortunately, I have seen a lot of this in my career.
Remember how I said I only need a few minutes to work obedience miracles with your dog? Even if he was living with me that is all I would need. Many dog trainers are busy trying to make a living so those that choose this type of training generally have a kennel full of dogs to train.
The odds of interaction are not in your dog’s favor!!!
Even if your trainer swears the dog will live with him, be leery!
Compulsion is Faster
Beware! Compulsion, prong collars, choke chains, and shock collars are faster and the dog trainers don’t have to deal with the repercussions later in the training process. And we’ll show you how to make it FUN for your dog!
I Have Been There, and I Have Done This Kind of Training
Not everyone who does this type of obedience training sessions are bad or has bad intentions. Some people have integrity no matter what and these are the ones you would need to find.
But I only did it for people who were at the end of their “leash”, as it were, and were considering taking their dog to a shelter.
And, in those cases, the dogs did live with me in my home. I didn’t have a kennel, nor did I take more than one dog at a time, but I always wondered if this kind of obedience training (since the dog was learning to work for me) even worked.
I usually figured within a short amount of time the dog would regress to his former behavior.
But people are often too ashamed to admit they haven’t kept up on the training, so I rarely heard from any of the owners of the dogs I took in.
I could assume “I am AWESOME” but chances are higher that they were just afraid to contact me.
In Order for Your Dog to Change…
YOU need to be involved in your dog’s basic obedience.
And all it really takes is for you to do 5-minute, fun training sessions with your dog, three times per day (which we’ll cover more later in this article).
Here at TheDogTrainingSecret.com, we have created 3 different categories of basic obedience games that we believe every dog lover should play with their dog themselves, instead of outsourcing to some random trainer.
Basic Obedience Category #1: Impulse Control Games
Impulse Control games are a crucial part of your dog’s basic obedience foundation and must be done by YOU: the dog’s owner.
These basic impulses include:
Jumping Up Impulses
Dog to Dog Impulses
Charging Ahead Impulses
Again, these are not impulses that you can do a google search for “local dog trainers near me” and find. These need to be issues handled by you.
Even if you never taught any other basic obedience commands, you’d still have a remarkably calm and pleasant dog by just playing these Impulse Control games with your dog.
Basic Obedience Category #2: Learning to Listen to Commands
The next type of basic obedience focuses on you learning how to be the type of leader that your dog wants to listen to.
A classic example of this is the schoolteacher.
We’ve all had a teacher in school that we knew we had to show up and work for or there would be consequences, and, in contrast, we’ve all had the teacher who we knew would let us get away with anything.
Dog training is the same way.
Often when we send our dogs off to boot camp trainers, the training works because the dog is taught that the trainer won’t let him get away with bad behavior. But when they come back to us, if we are a trainer that they CAN get away with stuff on, then the dog’s training will be ruined. Most dog owners actually cause their dog’s behavior problems without even knowing it.
That’s why we’ve designed a fun program that dog owners can use to teach their dog they actually mean what they say when they give commands. It’s full of games, tricks and strategies for getting dogs to want to listen to you when it comes to teaching them their basic obedience skills.
When to Use a Local Dog Boarding and Training Facility
I do want to point out that local dog boarders, and dog walking services, can and SHOULD play a huge role in helping your dog turn into the best dog he can be, specifically when it comes to socializing your dog to other dogs.
Few things are more annoying or embarrassing than owning a dog who loses his mind whenever he happens to see another dog.
This is where reputable dog boarders, doggy day cares and dog walkers can really help you.
A Deeper Look into How Dogs Should be Socialized
A common myth that has been spread around the internet is that in order to properly socialize your dog, you should get him around other dogs.
This is only HALF true.
You see, one of the things I’d like to make sure you engrave in your brain is this truth:
The quickest way to raise a poorly socialized dog is to let him spend time with other poorly socialized dogs.
This is why you should NEVER take your dog to the dog park to get socialization. Because what kind of dog owner takes their dog to a dog park to get socialized? People who have dogs who aren’t socialized right?
Sure, there are a few good dogs there, but local dog parks are a $&*# show when it comes to the percentage of bad dogs that all come together to hang out. If you regularly take your dog to parks like that for interaction, your dog will come away from the experience with the belief that most dogs are bad.
What Your Dog Really Needs to Become Socialized
The thing pet owners need to understand is that the difference between a well socialized dog and a poorly socialized dog comes down to how confident the dog is, and how good he is at reading body language signals from other dogs.
For example, did you know that there are 9 types of tail wags, each type sending a different CLEAR signal to other dogs about how they feel?
Here’s a chart as an example:
Now here’s the bummer.
While every dog wags his tail in these patterns, and every dog is unintentionally sending off these signals to other dogs about how they feel….
not every dog knows how to read these tail wags. Especially a young puppy!
Take a second and put yourself in the dog’s shoes.
If you were flipping somebody off (not that you would ever do that 😉) and the person who you were flipping off had no idea that being flipped off was bad, and proceeded to run up and try to hug you….
How would that go?
Maybe not so well?
Well that’s what happens to dogs!
Poorly socialized dogs have no idea how to read each other, so they push the social envelope and end up bubble invading other dogs. It is critical, especially for a young puppy, to start to learn how to read the body language of other dogs at a young age.
This is where good dog boarding, walking or day care services can be a LIFESAVER, but only if you know how to spot them
The solution rests with PACK interactions
The best way to get a dog to learn what all the different body language cues mean is to put him into a pack of dogs about his same size, who’ve all been proven to be well behaved dogs.
I just did this with my own Golden Retriever who had developed some social anxieties around other dogs after being attacked twice while out on a walk as a puppy, and who had been attacked by another dog when he didn’t recognize the other dog didn’t want to play. My dog missed this message completely, proceeded to wrestle my niece’s dog, and it resulted in the other dog pinning him to the ground by the neck!
Suffice it to say my puppy was lacking in social skills, and I had noticed him constantly pushing other dogs too far who didn’t want to play. So it was time for some socialization work.
So here’s the beauty of exposing poorly socialized dogs like mine to a pack.
When my dog was first put into the group play pen with thirty other dogs, he was nervous and hung away from the other dogs. But eventually a happy, social, dog decided to approach him to see if he wanted to play.
Dogs who want to play often do what’s called a play bow, as a signal that they want to engage in “bite free” wrestling. That’s what the new dog did to my dog, which he obliged, and they had a little fun playing.
Then as I continued to watch I noticed the true power that a pack of dogs plays in teaching social skills.
My dog, wanting to play, approached three other dogs and attempted to play bow to the dog in the middle. The dog did NOT reciprocate (because he didn’t want to play). However, one of the dogs off to the right DID, so what happened? My dog just decided to play with the dog that wanted to play, and not the one who didn’t.
This pack scenario allows dogs to experiment with how they greet other dogs and learn to recognize the different ways that other dogs respond.
After a few days of this, my dog was able to see what dogs wanted to be played with, and which ones didn’t! If my dog was put in a kennel with just one other dog that wouldn’t want to play, it wouldn’t have provided the same social signal learning that a group of dogs can provide.
SIDE NOTE: Many pet owners who wish for their dogs to pass the Canine Good Citizen Test, where their dogs need to be 100% calm around other dogs, would do themselves a HUGE favor by giving their pups exposure to a well behaved pack of similarly sized dogs on a weekly basis, especially during the first two years of their life.
Pack Play is a CRUCIAL Part of Your Dog’s Socialization! Require it From EVERY Pet Care Provider, Service or Facility!
Here are 7 other things I’d recommend looking for in a dog boarding or training facility:
— Does your local veterinarian recommend them? Guess who knows more about who the best and worst local dog boarding facilities are in your community? That’s right, your local Veterinarian! If there’s a facility near you that has caused a lot of dogs to need a VET, your Veterinarian can warn you about them. I would specifically ask them who they recommend and why. Your pet’s safety should come first, and the Vet is the one who would know best.
— How does the boarding facility handle poorly socialized dogs? Does the facility have professional dog trainers on staff to help train dogs to have the level of obedience required to be allowed into the facility? Or, do they have training options from their services menu that you can sign up for so your dog can be on a customized training program to more quickly adjust to their facility? If, when answering this question, the facility says they use dog trainers who use a negative reinforcement based training approach, they’re likely one to steer clear of. There has been so much research published about how negative reinforcement based dog training increases the likelihood of a dog developing aggressive behaviors that it’s simply not worth the risk. Steer clear of any facility who uses negative based training.Instead look for services like the one offered by Debbie Bauer’s facility [barknbarrel]. Debbie used to work for me, and I hired her because of her wonderful process for using positive reinforcement based training sessions to properly socialize shy dogs before she’d introduce them to her packs. She uses these sessions on her client’s dogs to get them ready for social interaction; as well as teach them the skills for loose leash walking, where without this type of training many of her client’s dogs would never make enough social progress to be allowed in a pack. If you’d like to learn more about how you can do this type of training to teach your dog social skills yourself, (if your local facility doesn’t) then click HERE to learn more about our Socialization Secrets program.
— What type of exercise is provided for NON-social dogs? Not all dogs are capable of being socialized with other dogs. A good facility should realize this, and they should have some sort of a person on staff who exercises the dogs individually who don’t interact well with others.
— Will they give you a tour? Never let your dog stay somewhere that won’t let you have a tour. If they let you take a tour, what do the facilities look like? Is it clean or does it smell like feces and urine? Is there enough shade? Are there wading pools where dogs can cool off? Boarding facilities that are dirty are a breeding ground for disease, so avoid them at all costs.
— How does the staff treat the dogs? As you’re going on the tour, how does the facility handle the barking of dogs? Is there a lot of yelling, is anyone swatting the dogs? Or do they use positive reinforcement based methods for getting dogs to have good manners? Higher quality facilities will mix in lots of training sessions with their dogs, like staying before eating or before going out to play. It doesn’t seem like much, but if you can find a facility that adds this into how they operate on a day-to-day basis, you’ve got a winner on your hands who you know CARES, vs. a facility that just yells at their dogs. The way a facility’s staff treats its dogs can really be a telling sign… Watch as the receptionist greets new dogs, are they happy to greet them, do they seem to have a genuine love towards dogs?
— Are dogs allowed to wear collars?
One of the most common, known, causes of death in a boarding kennel is two dog’s collars getting tangled with each other and causing a strangulation. If while touring a local dog boarding or training facility you see dogs wearing collars, we strongly advise that you steer clear and take your dog elsewhere.
— Does the facility offer premier dog food, or cheap brand X? While there is still a great debate about what type of dog food is actually best for dogs, one of the quickest ways to tell how much a boarding facility cares about your dog is by looking at the quality of the food they will be feeding during your pup’s stay. Ask them to let you know what type of food it is, and then do your research on that brand. There are several dog food quality calculators out there to help you learn more about which premier brands are good for your dog, and which ones are full of low-quality filler ingredients. The answers you find should give you a clearer picture on the facility’s priorities.
What to do if Your Dog has Separation Anxiety
If your dog has separation anxiety, you should probably consider not using a local dog boarding service, and instead look for a local pet sitter, who can give your dog more attention. Dogs with separation anxiety usually show less stress related symptoms when being pet sat, than when being boarded.
Just make sure that when looking for a pet sitter you ask for references, and actually do the follow-up interviews. Just like with a dog boarding facility, ask your Vet if they know of a reputable pet sitter.
Don’t forget Facebook posts either and ask your friends if they know of a pet sitter they had a good experience with. Referrals from a trusted source are usually a great place to start.
A Few Other Suggestions:
Stress is a part of every dog’s life. Doing your due diligence to find the least stressful place to board your dog while you are away on vacation or out of town on business is the first step, but it won’t reduce all the stress that your dog will feel while you away.
Chet Writes: That’s one of the reasons it’s so important to use a program like my Hands Off Dog Training course to learn how to control your dog, instead of relying on someone else.
It doesn’t matter whether you need help potty training, loose leash training, or working on aggression; YOU are the one that needs to learn how to work your dog and what your dog looks like if he is showing signs of aggression.
Beware of anything that seems too good to be true!! It probably is!!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.