Leaving Puppy at Board & Train
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Thread: Leaving Puppy at Board & Train

  1. #1
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    Leaving Puppy at Board & Train

    My boyfriend and I are going away for the holidays next week, and our trainer recommended that if we're leaving anyway, we may as well put our 6 month old pup in a 2 week long Board & Train program to work on her obedience while we're gone.

    I researched and found a great program - it's on a ranch rather than at a kenneling facility, so Holly will only be crated for an hour or two a day and at night. The woman who runs it also runs a rescue, so she'll have lots of room to run around and other dogs to play with. I think she'll get a ton of exercise and will also get some mental stimulation when training.

    BUT here's the thing - Holly gets separation anxiety when we leave the house, because I work from home and am ALWAYS with her. And she's a rescue who was moved around a few times as a baby. I'm so worried we're going to drop her off on Friday and she's going to think we're never coming back, and that breaks my heart. I'm hoping she'll be so busy playing and learning that she won't miss us too much, but I'm really nervous about the whole thing. We've never left her overnight before. I feel like maybe she'll be just fine and I'm the one with the separation anxiety.

    I wonder if anyone can tell me if you've had similar experiences, what worked for you, how it went, etc.? is there something we can do before Friday to help Holly understand that even though we're leaving her somewhere, we're coming back? I guess I am looking for some help in getting rid of the stress and guilt I'm feeling!

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    Senior Member ireth0's Avatar
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    Re: Leaving Puppy at Board & Train

    How much do you actually know about the board and train?

    Personally I would never be comfortable using one unless it was with someone I personally knew very well. Too many risks for fallout from forceful techniques when I'm not there to intervene.


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    Re: Leaving Puppy at Board & Train

    Quote Originally Posted by ireth0 View Post
    How much do you actually know about the board and train?

    Personally I would never be comfortable using one unless it was with someone I personally knew very well. Too many risks for fallout from forceful techniques when I'm not there to intervene.
    I've done a lot of research and read a lot of reviews; the program is well-rated across the board and has been featured as one of our city's Top 10 programs. The program itself isn't the concern, I'm worried only about how our puppy (and I) will react.

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    Senior Member Hiraeth's Avatar
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    Re: Leaving Puppy at Board & Train

    I'm also always concerned about board and trains. First of all, the odds of it having any positive impact on your dog are minimal. If you want your dog to listen to YOU in YOUR HOME, YOU need to train the dog in YOUR HOME. Listening to a stranger in a strange facility has almost no impact whatsoever on your training relationship with your dog.

    On a related note, if your dog suffers from SA, pretty much the last thing you want to do is leave her with people who may be impatient or harsh in their training techniques because she's anxious and not responsive to their methods.

    I think because of her SA, the odds of you getting back a nervous wreck of a dog who has taken many steps back in its training are high. If you must board her, I'd recommend an accredited, highly rated boarding facility that will help keep her calm and distracted in your absence.

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    Super Moderator Kuma'sMom's Avatar
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    Re: Leaving Puppy at Board & Train

    I agree with Hiraeth. I've never heard of a board and train that doesn't use harsh correction based training methods, which would be disastrous for an anxious dog, and useless, because as Hiraeth also said, dogs don't generalize well, so training in a boarding facility won't translate over into your home. I'd focus on finding a great boarding facility where your dog will get lots of fun, positive one on one interaction with staff, and leave training until you get home.

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    Re: Leaving Puppy at Board & Train

    The training is secondary and honestly if she doesn't learn anything I'm not concerned. For me, the training is only intended to give her brain something to do while she's away from us. I selected a program specifically so that she would spend all day playing and learning instead of sitting around worrying. I should stress that this really isn't a "facility" - it's run in-home by a person I've done extensive research on and trust. She does not use harsh training methods.

    I think the question I'm asking is getting buried in judgement about whether the program is a good one. Let's assume it is; I trust the program. What I'm asking for is experiences others have had with leaving your dog for an extended period (2 weeks), how/if you have been able to communicate to them that you're coming back, and how we might prep our puppy for this long time away from us to help make the transition as smooth as possible.

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    Senior Member ireth0's Avatar
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    Re: Leaving Puppy at Board & Train

    Well generally how you would prep for it would be for leaving for shorter periods of time with her in an environment she's familiar with well in advance of a longer trip away. Or taking time to do several trial visits so she can get used to the person and their home, routines, etc. An overnight, a weekend, etc.

    But since you're now leaving in a few days, there really isn't enough time to do that kind of desensitization, especially for a dog with SA.


  10. #8
    Senior Member Shell's Avatar
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    Re: Leaving Puppy at Board & Train

    Usually, the recommended way to introduce a dog to being boarded is to start with a day at daycare, then after the dog is comfortable with being at daycare once a week or so, do a one night boarding at the same location. Then a 2 night stay. Then a vacation long stay. If you're using a traditional kennel that doesn't have daycare but does leash walks/potty breaks, you can sometimes do a half-day board to try out.

    I've boarded two dogs for vacations (one for 2 weeks at the boarding plus 1 week at someone's house for a 3 week trip; the other for one week at boarding only. Both kennel style, not play group) plus a couple dogs that were in-between fosters or had been returned by adopters who boarded for a week to months.

    Unfortunately, I have to say that both of the dogs I boarded were pretty stressed by it. I think in large part because they were rescues with prior experience in long term kenneling and in part because they were totally unfamiliar with the facility. But, both shook it off after a few weeks back home.

    One thing that made the kenneling worse for two of the dogs (Eva and my former foster Alma) is that they are both female-dog-aggressive and yet, the geniuses at the boarding facility kenneled them next to each other so they "fence fought" for a week. Good (or bad) interactions with the other dogs in the facility can definitely effect how the stay goes.

    The rescue dogs that were boarded between fosters varied in terms of stress level; some quit eating and lost weight and got horrible fur while others were unfazed and showed no ill effects mentally or physically.

    Chester was boarded for 2 nights for knee surgery but I don't count that as "boarding" because of the stress and pain of surgery and it being in a medical clinic rather than a pet resort. He didn't eat the whole time and barely drank water but again, he was dealing with the medicines etc.
    Last edited by Shell; 12-13-2016 at 11:27 AM.

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    Senior Member Hiraeth's Avatar
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    Re: Leaving Puppy at Board & Train

    Quote Originally Posted by jadesays View Post
    I think the question I'm asking is getting buried in judgement about whether the program is a good one. Let's assume it is; I trust the program. What I'm asking for is experiences others have had with leaving your dog for an extended period (2 weeks), how/if you have been able to communicate to them that you're coming back, and how we might prep our puppy for this long time away from us to help make the transition as smooth as possible.
    You can't communicate that you're going to come back. And prepping, as others have noted, takes a long time and desensitization by boarding for short periods. Basically, prepping for your absence should have started months ago, not days before your departure.

    Dogs I've known who were boarded for two weeks have not done very well, especially dogs who were overly anxious or attached to their owners. My own dog stopped eating for the two weeks I was in Scotland, and he wasn't even boarded, he stayed with my mom.

    I don't think many of us have positive feedback to give about the situation because not a whole lot of good can come from leaving a dog who suffers from SA at a board and train facility for two weeks. I know it's unavoidable for you, but I don't want to be dishonest or sugarcoat things. I think you'll likely come back home to a skinny dog whose SA is far worse than before, because she will have learned that sometimes you leave and don't come back for a really long time.

    When you come back you can start working on leaving her for longer and longer periods of time so that she becomes used to your absence and learns that you're always going to come back eventually.

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    Senior Member TGKvr's Avatar
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    Re: Leaving Puppy at Board & Train

    I wonder, do you know if the dog actually does have SA? You've mentioned you have never left her alone before overnight, but you DO leave the house - so how do you monitor her behavior when you leave the house in order to know if she's just generally missing her people (and excited when you come home) or if she's truly suffering from SA? Is she destructive? Exhibiting other, more serious behavior? 6 months is still pretty young and they are still fairly adaptable at that age. I'd agree with ireth that ideally, you'd have left her at least overnight somewhere with trusted people prior to leaving her for two weeks, but I totally understand how life gets in the way of things.

    I had a similar situation with my dog when she was about 8 months old. I have never boarded any of my dogs before but we just couldn't get around it that time - I also had plans to try her out for a night or two before our trip, which was 8 days long, but due to many different reasons, it just didn't happen. So I left her, and I was a wreck at first - I just felt terrible leaving her that long for her first time, and in such a strange (and loud) environment. But I tried not to be neurotic about it - I mean she was in a secure location, but at the same time she had just come into heat for the first time so it added another level of anxiety. Thankfully the kennel I used had a great staff and I checked in on her every few days - asked about her eating and bathroom habits, things like that. She also sent me a few pictures of them going on nice long walks and she looked really happy so that set my mind at ease.

    I'd suggest asking if she can keep you in the loop while you're gone and perhaps snap a few pics for you. Maybe also get her a special chew or safe toy she can have while she's there - I'd ask about their restrictions on that though because some places won't let you have chews they consider unsafe while unsupervised. I'd also request NO baths or any grooming while she's there - sort of like what people are saying about the training, I think that stuff can traumatize them sometimes.
    If your dog doesn't like someone you probably shouldn't either.

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    Senior Member Shell's Avatar
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    Re: Leaving Puppy at Board & Train

    Also, from a practical side of things---
    Make sure you have made arrangements for what to do in case of emergency. Including back-up telephone numbers, particularly for a trusted local contact, and your vets number. Discuss where the dog should be taken if injured or ill and who can authorize medical treatment (just you and your boyfriend or also a parent or sibling?).

    I'd expect that the boarding facility requires flea and tick treatment for all the dogs, if your type of treatment takes a few days to get to its full effect or is near the end of the month of use, you might consider apply or dosing early (Check the package for safe dosing intervals!). If you use a flea collar, you might be better off with a topical or a pill because dogs running and playing together often collar grab.

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    Re: Leaving Puppy at Board & Train

    Quote Originally Posted by TGKvr View Post
    I wonder, do you know if the dog actually does have SA? You've mentioned you have never left her alone before overnight, but you DO leave the house - so how do you monitor her behavior when you leave the house in order to know if she's just generally missing her people (and excited when you come home) or if she's truly suffering from SA? Is she destructive? Exhibiting other, more serious behavior? .

    That's a good point - we're calling it separation anxiety but I'm not 100% sure it's not just the fact that she's a puppy. She can be destructive when we leave, like she's chewed up my shoes before or will find her leash and rip up the poop bags tied it. But this might just be a combination of being a puppy and being bored. I do know she sleeps by the front door when we're gone, but she doesn't bark or cry as far as I can tell (I occasionally leave and then wait a few minutes at the door to listen for anything like that).

    I'm definitely going to communicate to the woman who runs the board & train/rescue that I'm hoping to get a lot of updates. She knows that Holly is our first pup and that we're anxious. I'm glad to hear that your dog seemed to have a good time in boarding - it's very good to know that, if left in a good environment, the situation doesn't have to be traumatizing to the dog.

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    Re: Leaving Puppy at Board & Train

    Quote Originally Posted by Shell View Post
    Also, from a practical side of things---
    Make sure you have made arrangements for what to do in case of emergency. Including back-up telephone numbers, particularly for a trusted local contact, and your vets number. Discuss where the dog should be taken if injured or ill and who can authorize medical treatment (just you and your boyfriend or also a parent or sibling?).

    I'd expect that the boarding facility requires flea and tick treatment for all the dogs, if your type of treatment takes a few days to get to its full effect or is near the end of the month of use, you might consider apply or dosing early (Check the package for safe dosing intervals!). If you use a flea collar, you might be better off with a topical or a pill because dogs running and playing together often collar grab.
    This is super helpful, thank you! I didn't even think about having a backup contact. We're dropping her off several days before we leave town to make sure she has time to get settled, but I will make sure one of our friends (who is staying in town) is listed as a contact and is OK with us asking him to pick Holly up in case she needs to leave for any reason. I hadn't considered Flea/Tick treatment because we're well into cold weather here, but I just did some googling and it seems like it's best to continue treatment year round so I'll make sure to apply.

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    Senior Member PatriciafromCO's Avatar
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    Re: Leaving Puppy at Board & Train

    dogs act differently in different places and with different handlers.. Will be interesting to get feed back when you return of what your dogs behavior was like while you were gone.

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    Re: Leaving Puppy at Board & Train

    Quote Originally Posted by jadesays View Post
    That's a good point - we're calling it separation anxiety but I'm not 100% sure it's not just the fact that she's a puppy. She can be destructive when we leave, like she's chewed up my shoes before or will find her leash and rip up the poop bags tied it. But this might just be a combination of being a puppy and being bored. I do know she sleeps by the front door when we're gone, but she doesn't bark or cry as far as I can tell (I occasionally leave and then wait a few minutes at the door to listen for anything like that).
    Does not sound like separation anxiety at all to me. Particularly with the lack of barking, crying or injuring herself. In fact, if her destruction is limited to the occasional shoe or ripping bags, then she seems like a quite well behaved 6 month old puppy!

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    Re: Leaving Puppy at Board & Train

    Quote Originally Posted by Shell View Post
    Does not sound like separation anxiety at all to me. Particularly with the lack of barking, crying or injuring herself. In fact, if her destruction is limited to the occasional shoe or ripping bags, then she seems like a quite well behaved 6 month old puppy!
    We take efforts to "puppy proof" when we leave so she can't get into anything, but she doesn't chew the furniture, scratch the door, etc. I mean, we don't make it easy for her to find stuff to eat but if she really wanted to, she could still cause some destruction. I guess we got so used to the idea that it was SA that it didn't really occur to me that it might just be totally normal puppy behavior!

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    Senior Member Lillith's Avatar
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    Re: Leaving Puppy at Board & Train

    Quote Originally Posted by jadesays View Post
    We take efforts to "puppy proof" when we leave so she can't get into anything, but she doesn't chew the furniture, scratch the door, etc. I mean, we don't make it easy for her to find stuff to eat but if she really wanted to, she could still cause some destruction. I guess we got so used to the idea that it was SA that it didn't really occur to me that it might just be totally normal puppy behavior!
    Yeah, I agree, that sounds like normal puppy behavior. Dogs with SA typically eat the house if not confined. Like, eat drywall and wood trim, and make enough noise to wake the dead.

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    Senior Member Shell's Avatar
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    Re: Leaving Puppy at Board & Train

    Quote Originally Posted by Lillith View Post
    Yeah, I agree, that sounds like normal puppy behavior. Dogs with SA typically eat the house if not confined. Like, eat drywall and wood trim, and make enough noise to wake the dead.
    This was the result of 10 minutes alone and un-crated for my former foster Luna during her early days with me....



    Former foster Frankie was so stress/ anxious in the beginning that she chewed the last 4-5 inches of her tail into a bloody mess. The first week, she wouldn't eat anything less I was sitting with her and preferably, hand feeding her.

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    Senior Member Lillith's Avatar
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    Re: Leaving Puppy at Board & Train

    Quote Originally Posted by Shell View Post
    This was the result of 10 minutes alone and un-crated for my former foster Luna during her early days with me....



    Former foster Frankie was so stress/ anxious in the beginning that she chewed the last 4-5 inches of her tail into a bloody mess. The first week, she wouldn't eat anything less I was sitting with her and preferably, hand feeding her.
    Holy. Yeah. It's amazing how incredibly stressed and afraid and out of their minds they must be in order to completely destroy stuff like that, and injure themselves to that degree.

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    Senior Member TGKvr's Avatar
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    Re: Leaving Puppy at Board & Train

    If you're planning to leave here there for a few days before you leave, then why not take her just for an overnight stay first, then take her home for the next night, then drop her back off for the trip? Just a thought...

    But yeah, it doesn't sound to me like she has SA from what you say. It's probably normal puppy behavior - dogs want to be with their people, but it typically doesn't become SA until there is more extreme behavior as mentioned above. (self-injury being the most concerning)
    If your dog doesn't like someone you probably shouldn't either.

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