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Inboard Training Facilities – Friend or Foe?

I get it! Owning a dog, and doing right by them, is difficult, it is time-consuming, takes LOTS of effort, consistency, patience, and lastly… kindness.

When you think you have managed, and won the war during the puppy phase – out comes the adolescent problems, like jumping up on guests, counter surfing, pulling on that lead, barking at every little thing passing by, destructive chewing, digging the next Kimberly Big Hole in your back yard. So you call in for a trainer, who visits, gives you some homework, BUT, you are unable to do the homework because you have three children, school, sports, extra murals… even when we say .. ‘TAKE THE THREE MINUTES IT TAKES TO BOIL THE KETTLE, WORK ON YOUR BASICS” there never seems to be time to even think about it…. I GET IT!!

So the next idea would be to send them off to BOARD AND TRAIN…. with being sold that ” we can fix your dog’s behavioural problem, inappropriate urination, aggression, socialisation issues, lead issues”… agh the promises never end…

Anyways, let me get to the nitty gritty of MY experiences and opinions of whether in-board and train facilities actually work.

  1. You are not learning how to communicate effectively with your dog. This should be part of your daily routine, bonding, having fun, and learning from each other. Yes, there is the ” when your dog gets home we will send a trainer over and show you what to do” .. and the trainer takes the lead and shows you how and BOOM, the dog does it, YAY! trainer leaves, and for love or money, your dog will not do it.
  2. A great training programme is unlikely if you do not bond with your dog. Sending them away will not build a bond with you – it is that simple. And if you have a super sensitive dog, this could set you back.
  3. YOU HAVE NO CONTROL OVER HOW THEY TREAT AND TRAIN YOUR DOG: that’s right, things can get very dark in this unregulated industry, some warning terminology: when you hear things like ” you can not come to visit during the three weeks as this will upset your dog”, while this may be true, what else are they hiding? Intimidation training techniques? Most likely, and you can tell by the equipment being used, these include SLIP LEADS, SHOCK COLLARS, and PRONG COLLARS, all punishment based and aversive. These methods are emotionally and physically HARMFUL for your dog. You have to get certificates of qualifications, and double-check the institution, do DUE DILIGENCE, otherwise, this one is on you.
  4. Training and socializing is a lifelong commitment. THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES (that is right, there are no magic wands available).
  5. Dogs do not generalise well, in other words, your dog will do something perfect in one place, but move to another area, and your dog will have no clue what is happening.
  6. Just because the trainer offers treats, this does not mean they are positive reinforcement – we see this all too often, a simple explanation: saying sit, pulling the slip lead up, and the dog sits, the trainer gives a treat… THIS IS NOT POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT!

So what should you watch out for?

Language and catch phrases to avoid:

  • Helping you become the “alpha”
  • Pack-leader
  • Control
  • Make your dog respect you
  • Calm and submissive (referring to your dog)
  • Assertive (referring to you or training style)
  • Dominance
  • Guaranteed results
  • Behavior expert (without credentials)
  • Balanced training
  • Corrections

Language and catch phrases to look for:

  • Force-free
  • Positive reinforcement
  • Reward-based
  • Science-based
  • Evidence-based
  • Fear-free
  • Humane training
  • Relationship-based training

Let us take a quick look at which dogs and behaviours are not suited for inboard training, yet for some reason, have been told that they can help:

  • Reactive dogs
  • Dogs who have not been adequately socialised.
  • Dogs who suffer from separation anxiety / distress when being away from the owner.
  • Dogs that suffer from anxiety
  • Dogs that have phobias
  • Human aggressive dogs
  • Dogs with a bite history
  • Aggressive dogs (remember, aggression can not be trained out of a dog)
  • Fearful dogs
  • Dogs that are experiencing some form of behavioural problem such as:
  • Destructive chewing
  • Digging
  • Inappropriate urination
  • Excessive barking – be it at guests, the birds, the monkeys, passersby
  • Begging
  • Resource guarding / food aggression
  • Counter surfing
  • Separation anxiety
  • Hyperactivity.. the list goes on!

Essentially, when they say they can assist with these problems, they usually punishing the dog or flooding them, which is counterproductive and unethical.

So, why do you think I have written about this? Yes, the latest controversy about inboard training, from personal experience, I have been called upon numerous times to assist, after these dogs have been at such facilitites, the dogs who ” just couldn’t get the exercise right”, ” didn’t want to do any work”, ” they are not food motivated”, and the genuinely broken ones, the ones where you cry on the way home after spending some time with them, wondering how any human being can be so cruel.

Now, no one is perfect, I am not saying I am, by any stretch of my imagination. I may be shoddy at sending homework timeously, or returning to a query, admin is usually up the pole, I can not guarantee results – which turns people off, but there is one thing I can, without a doubt, guarantee, is that I will always be kind, patient and gentle with your dog!

Love and understanding


*picture of Cola, thank you Lisa <3 *

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