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Private Lessons or Board & Train: Which One Is Right For You?

Private Lessons or Board & Train: Which One Is Right For You?

Private Lessons or Board and Train?

Your dog sits only when you have a treat, but when the treat is gone, so is the sit. He hears you when you call him, but he glances back at you with what looks like a smirk and continues on his way. You open the front door and he bolts like a rocket (complete with his own little contrail) across the street into the neighbor's yard. Ugh! You have decided that some formal training is necessary, but when you search the Internet and come across a few dog training sites you see choices, and lots of them. One of those choices is probably "private lessons" (PL) versus "board and train" (B&T). Let's examine some of the pros and cons of each.

First, let's look at the positive aspects of the private lesson option. (1) I know some people have a difficult time parting with their beloved friend for one, two, three weeks or more. The private lesson alleviates this anxiety by scheduling lessons (usually about one hour, once per week) so the dog stays with you. (2) Private lessons can occur at the place of your choosing, frequently your home. This makes the PL option very convenient. (3) Because you are frequently working with your dog in between lessons, it becomes more than simply training. You are building a healthy relationship with him. (4) Depending on the overall goals of the PL, it can be a cost effective option.

There are a couple of negatives associated with the PL as well. (1) It takes a great deal of time and commitment on your part to make sure Spot becomes proficient at the commands from each lesson. It is truly a waste of money if you end up practicing once or twice for ten minutes each during the week. (2) Teaching the commands consistently and appropriately does take some practice on your part. The trainer you have hired should be able to communicate effectively with you (that should be part of your "trainer evaluation" when you are looking to hire). If you are afraid to ask questions when you are being shown what to do, this may not be a viable option.

So, let's look at the positive aspects of the B&T option. (1) Your dog will be immersed in training. I was once asked how much time I spend training a dog in a B&T program. It took me a little by surprise, but the answer was "all the time." I will conduct "formal training" sometimes four or more times per day. But in between those lessons the dog is being trained as well... Down-stay or place while we are eating a meal; wait at thresholds; correcting a bad behavior. It's all training. (2) During the B&T program, your involvement is minimal. You may receive updates or at times be asked some questions, but other than that, you are just waiting for him to come home. (3) The training delivered in a B&T program can be more consistent.

What are the negatives in the B&T option? (1) Of course, if you are really attached to your dog, it can be difficult parting with him for the length of the program. Updates are sometimes provided, but generally there is no "visitation." (2) After the B&T program, you will be shown what your dog has learned, and taught how to maintain the commands or continue your dog's journey of proper behavior. There is a period of time when your dog will test you to see if you are as serious as that trainer guy. Remember, you will have to "stay the course" with a thousand points of light. OK, I got a little carried away. Just stay the course. (3) B&T can also be more expensive than private lessons.

You can see that each of the options, private lesson or board and train, have their benefits and downsides. Evaluate your goals and budget; determine which training option fits best; select a trainer; then move ahead and stay committed. Happy training!

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