Dog Training Options: Group Classes, Private Coaching or Board-and-Train?


Budget sometimes is the deciding factor in choosing a dog training program. In the end, you want to enroll in the best training you can get within the budget you have available. If budget is a factor, then budget is a factor … case closed. But, apart from budget, other factors can play a role in what type training program will give you optimum chances of success.

What Dog Training Program Should I Choose?

Group Obedience Classes

We offer a very nuanced group class as an element in our three-part Intensive Leash Reactivity Program, and we are going to be offering a very cool trick-class in the near future. However, we have discontinued our group obedience classes for the time being.

While group obedience classes do have value and a place in the gamut of dog training options, we have not found them conducive to our overall specialty: high-distraction, high-performance outdoor obedience. A group class setting in which there are a dozen dogs and owners just does not offer the level of customization and individual attention necessary to achieve our ambitious training objectives.

So, if you have a puppy who needs some socialization work, we can certainly recommend colleagues who provide this in group class settings. But if you are looking for the absolute biggest bang for your obedience training dollar, we’d recommend either our private coaching or our board-and-train programs. Those options allow us the ability to focus intently on the needs of each dog and each client.

Private Coaching – At Our Location our Yours

Whether you choose our private coaching or our board-and-train programs, we are going to get you to the same end-point. There is no difference. The difference in approaches is more about who does the grunt work.

With private coaching, you will work with one of our dog trainers approximately once a week for about an hour. That is not enough to train your dog. Success comes when you follow through with the homework assignments you are given.

Here are the keys to success with our private coaching programs:

  • You must want to be hands-on with the training process. Our trainers will help rough-in new behaviors and provide you with coaching. Then you will need to put in lots of time following through with your assignments. If that sounds exciting to you, private coaching may prove to be a good option for you.
  • You must be able to make time to work daily with your dog. You will find that the performance standards we set for dogs are ambitiously high. This means you likely will have to spend more time each day during the week than you might with other trainers. If you have plenty of time to work with your dog, private coaching likely would be successful for you.
  • You must have a personality that is conducive to consistency. A key to successful dog training is sending the dog consistent messages about what is rewarding, what is not, what the boundaries are, etc. In dog training, consistency is king. Do you have the personality for it (be honest!)? If so, private coaching will work well for you.

Board and Train

We offer two kinds of board-and-train programs. One is our obedience board-and-train programs. The other is our Intensive Leash Reactivity Program (which includes board-and-train, private coaching and group classes).

All of our board-and-train programs come with private coaching sessions to ensure that you are as well-trained as your dog. These are imperative to success.

Obedience Board-and-Train Programs

Our obedience board-and-train programs are well-known in the Denver area for creating extremely proficient dogs and owners. Whereas in private coaching you are responsible for doing the grunt work and making success happen, in board-and-train a much larger portion of the responsibility falls upon us.

In our board-and-train programs, our multiple dog trainers work with all the dogs several times each day. When you come to pick the dog up, we do a full demonstration of what it can do — so you will have zero doubt that your dog has been well trained. We do not use videos to prove your dog’s progress, as videos can easily be faked to make it appear your dog has learned more than it actually has. Then we use the private coaching sessions attached to your board-and-train package to teach you how to correctly get the desired behaviors from your dog, what to do if the dog succeeds, and what to do if things do not seem to be working.

Our board-and-train program is probably a good choice for you if:

  • You are not particularly driven to be responsible for the bulk of the training process. Let’s face it … we all have our specialties, likes and dislikes. If focusing heavily on the initial dog training process is not in your wheel-house, the board-and-train might be a good fit for you. You will still get training after we have gotten your dog to our standards.
  • You are extremely busy, and carving out training time is not practical. If you are too busy to schedule weekly training sessions with us and work daily with your dog to reach ambitious goals, private coaching likely would fail. In such a case, board-and-train gets the dog to a high level of training without as much a demand on your time. You still will have work to do during the follow-up sessions, but much less than you would if you were doing a full-fledged private coaching program. If that sounds good to you, then board-and-train might be a good fit for you and your dog.
  • You are not an inherently consistent person. The truth is, you cannot make inconsistency an excuse. You’re going to have to get better in that department if you want a dog that understands you and functions well for you. No way around it. But, with board-and-train, at least the bulk of the work is not dependent upon your consistency, as it is with private coaching. You still will have to do a bit of work after the board-and-train program to learn what is required of you to keep your dog’s training crisp, and to work through any problems that are specific to your home environment (which we cannot duplicate in board-and-train), but your overall workload is significantly reduced.

Intensive Leash Aggression Program

If your dog is severely leash reactive, the only option we offer is our Intensive Leash Reactivity Program. We do not offer leash reactivity work strictly via private coaching; we’ve just not found the private-coaching-only approach to be as statistically successful as our three-part program.

If your dog qualifies for our Intensive Leash Reactivity Program, it will receive three weeks of board-and-train, and you will receive three private coaching sessions, followed by five sessions in our leash aggression group class. If you do not think you can make time to attend your private coaching sessions at our facility and the group class sessions (which currently are held Wednesdays at 6PM), then please do NOT enroll your dog in our Intensive Leash Reactivity Program. All elements of that program are absolutely required for success.

On the other hand, if you have the availability to complete all portions of the program, you will be thrilled with the results. It’s a phenomenal program with a stellar success rate. But it requires dedication and availability.

So, There You Have It! Hopefully this information helps you better determine whether you would like to pursue group classes, private coaching or board-and-train.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) About Private Coaching vs. Board-and-Train

My dog has extreme separation anxiety. Will board-and-train help him? We have noticed amazing improvements in dogs with minor and moderate separation issues. However, dogs with severe separation anxiety are usually not a good fit for board-and-train. The anxiety they experience makes training nearly impossible. Let’s set up a call to determine the level of your dog’s anxiety, and we can help you decide on the best training options for your pup.

My dog is an escape-artist. Can he be in your board-and-train program? If your dog can scale a six-foot fence or climb out of a six-foot tall kennel, our board-and-train programs would not be a safe training venue for your dog.

My dog has kennel aggression or otherwise will bite people if he feels cornered or afraid. What training program should I choose? We do not accept dogs that have bitten people or who are likely to do so into any of our training programs. We are not aggression experts and make no claims to be. While we do work with severe leash aggression issues, our unapologetic boundary is putting our trainers in any danger whatsoever. There are plenty of trainers out there who specialize in aggression. We do not, and we will immediately send home a dog who acts aggressively. We are happy to give you a referral for a trainer who specializes in off-leash aggression issues.

Can my personal assistant train my dog via private coaching, or can they do the follow-up private sessions after a board-and-train program for me. I’m just too busy. We do not take cases like this, as they are unlikely to be successful in our experience. In the end, having someone else do all the work with your dog will keep it from bonding correctly with you. While our board-and-train program is great for busy people, the dog’s owner must be a part of any private coaching required in any program.

I’m worried my dog will be lonely in board-and-train. What is it going to be like for him? Firstly, it’s important that your dog be able to live without you for a bit. Codependency is not a good thing for people or dogs. There will be times in your dog’s life when you must travel without him. In those cases, you want your dog to be able to find comfort while away from you. Secondly, your dog will be extremely active in our board-and-train. Ours is not a sedentary environment; it is a very active, outdoor lifestyle – complete with chickens, ducks, rabbits, other dogs, horses next door, partridges, homing pigeons, etc. Rest assured, your dog will get over being lonely quickly, he will have an amazing time, and he will not get bored.

I don’t think I can live without my dog for two weeks while he is in board-and-train! (Read the above answer. It applies to people as well as dogs.)

Can I visit my dog while he is in board-and train? Legally the dog is yours and you can do whatever you want. But from a training perspective, we’ve found it is a good idea to just let the dog warm up to the environment and our trainers and get through the training. Some dogs will fall into a slump if the owner comes to visit and then leaves without them. But if you really need to see your dog, we certainly understand and can schedule that.

Will board-and-train change my dog’s personality? While I cannot speak for heavy-handed board-and-train environments, positive board-and-train environments do not change your dog’s personality as much as mature it. Probably the biggest maturation you will see is growth in your dog’s ability to control its impulses … to be patient. So, if you consider that a personality change, then yes. But that’s about the extent of it. When your dog sees you at the end of board-and-train, he essentially will be the same happy dog you dropped off.

Will board-and-train break the bond I have with my dog? Nope. Every single dog that sees its owner after board-and-train is extremely enthusiastic. A loving bond is not broken by a couple weeks of fun.

I am outside of your service area. Can I pay you extra money to travel to me for private coaching sessions or for board-and-train follow-up sessions? We currently do not offer that service. We only travel to people’s homes within our service area.

Can we do a modified version of board-and-train, where your trainers come to our house and work with our dog while we are gone? Nope. Our training environment is specifically set up for the kind of work we do and the goals we are trying to meet. It’s unlikely your home environment will provide what we need to do our jobs well.

What days of the week can I drop off my dog at board-and-train, pick him up, or have private coaching sessions at your location or mine? Everything is scheduled for Mondays through Fridays. The days of the week that are available to you for private coaching are going to depend on your zip code and what day our trainers service that zip code.

Can I have a tour of your facility? Absolutely! Our practice is to first send you our sales email so you can examine our programs and pricing (this is done after you fill out our contact form), and then arrange a phone call with you to make sure we feel confident in our ability to help you reach your training goals. Once those things are accomplished, it makes sense to show you around the place if you feel the need to do that.