It can be very tempting to send him away to ‘boarding school’ and let someone else solve your problem, especially if you are struggling with your dog.
I was recently contacted by a lady who had been struggling with her dog’s recall.
She was at her wit’s end and decided that the solution was to send the dog away on a ‘crash course.’
Dog training can be tricky. But for most people, sending the dog away to be trained is not a decision they take lightly.
We love our dogs, and being separated for several weeks can be very upsetting. And residential training is costly.
To help you make this decision, let’s look at some of the problems with residential training.
Table of Contents
Is it you or the dog?
When a dog fails to obey simple commands, there is a problem. And the problem is that the dog controls the consequences of its actions. Dogs learn through the results of their behaviour; the only way to prevent a dog is to avoid those consequences. This is a practical skill that can be learned. The problem with residential training is that it doesn’t teach the dog’s owner anything.
Can you trust your dog to this trainer?
Sending a dog away into another person’s care for several weeks is a massive leap of faith. You need to have complete trust in that person. You need to be sure that they will treat your dog as you would want him to be treated. They will use methods that you would like them to use.
The lady I refer to above was devastated to find, at the end of her dog’s four-week recall course, that he had been ‘trained’ with an electric collar.
Dog training is unregulated.
Bear in mind that dog trainers are not regulated in the UK. You do not need any qualifications to train yourself as a dog trainer. Anyone, absolutely anyone, can do this.
And while many excellent dog trainers are around, there are some poor ones, too. There are dog trainers still in the dark ages as far as training methods are concerned. Dog trainers need to understand more about canine behavior or psychology. Dog trainers do a lot of harm.
At least if you are attending classes with your dog, you can walk away if he or she is incompetent.
If you must send your dog away, question your prospective trainer closely, find out his methods, and ask for testimonials or references. Don’t take it on trust.
No quick fixes
A dog trainer in a residential establishment is under pressure to make a satisfactory amount of progress in a limited space of time. The temptation in this situation is to use quick fixes.
And for most serious problems, quick fixes are a myth. They don’t exist except under very controlled conditions. Another temptation when time is short is to use punitive techniques, as these can sometimes get faster results. Is this what you want for your dog?
What about specialist training?
There are exceptions where I recommend residential training. Some gundogs, for example, will benefit by being sent away to ‘finish’ their training. This is because advanced gundog training requires facilities that many of us do not have access to regularly. Various types of water, for example, and game. But for the most part, residential training is not the solution to your problems.
A false assumption
Sending a dog away for training assumes that the dog is the problem. This is a false assumption. Dogs are controlled by the consequences of their actions. While a dog is in residential training, someone else holds those consequences. When he comes home, you will have to take over this job. But how will you do that if no one has shown you how?
When you collect your dog, more than a twenty-minute demonstration is required to enable you to understand how to control a dog. Especially a dog that has been sent away with a severe and complex problem.
Do yourself and your dog a favor and get help regularly from a reputable local trainer. The time you invest will be worth it in the long run.