Do you often find yourself getting busy with your kids’ after-school activities, hectic work schedules, and errands to run? Then it can be hard for you to fix a time to give your furry buddy consistent training. Has it become quite common for your doggo to steal food from your table, jump on your guests, pull their leash, or bark at the window?
Then, honey, you need to address these issues as soon as you can!
I understand you need a solution. And this is exactly where dog training boot camps come into the picture!
Now, you may have a lot of questions regarding a dog boot camp.
Is it good? Will it be helpful? Do you really need to send them away for training?
To give answers to all your questions, I have come up with this post.
What Exactly is a Dog Boot Camp Program?
A dog boot camp, also known as a board and train program, involves sending your beloved pup off to a kennel facility or trainer’s home for intensive training.
Now, these programs are also known as:
- Dog training camp
- Dog training boarding schools
- Doggie boot camp
- Send away dog training
You may send your doggo to these programs so that they get to know the basic foundation skills, how to walk when the leash is loose, or to give their manners a good polish.
When you enroll your pup in these programs, they will get one-on-one training from a professional. If the training facility is good, they will arrange multiple short training sessions throughout the day. Of course, your pup will get a lot of time to rest too.
When your pup is not training, most probably, they are spending their time going for walks, playing with other dogs in the facility, enjoying various enrichment items, or just sleeping.
Normally, the food that your furry buddy eats is what you provide. So, always stock up their food items ahead of time and give them food according to their dietary requirements.
Do Dog Boot Camps Actually Work?
Not all dogs are the same, and not all dogs are brought up in the same circumstances.
While some dogs can benefit from dog boot camps, some don’t. It depends mainly on what you expect from these kinds of programs.
Here, I have listed some points on why you need to THINK AGAIN before sending your doggo to a dog boot camp.
#1. You Don’t Really Learn to Interact and Communicate With Your Pup
Training can be considered an ongoing part of life when it comes to dogs. Also, just as you value human education, you should value dog training the same.
Do you want to be a part of these board-and-train programs too?
Some programs offer packages that include you in a transition lesson. In that, they teach you how you can handle your canine buddy and continue what they have taught in your home or other environments. However, it is less impactful than working directly with a trainer yourself every week.
#2. You Don’t Have Any Control Over How They Are Handling Your Dog
When you send your beloved four-legged buddy to a dog boot camp, you don’t get to know what is exactly happening to your pup behind closed doors.
There can be anything such as a lack of enrichment, social interaction, and proper care. They may even follow punishment-based training methods. It could be using shock collars or abusing your dog. In extreme cases, they can even make your doggo sick.
If you decide to send your furry buddy to these programs, always make sure to research well. Know everything you can about that training facility, including its reputation, history, and, of course, reviews.
#3. Dog Training Is Not A Regulated Industry
Not all dog trainers who claim to be a trainer are an expert. Keep this in mind. There are some uneducated trainers too, who are just there to take your money in the name of training. Then there are others who use fear-based and outdated training techniques.
These methods can harm your furry buddy emotionally.
Before you enroll your dog in a training program, always schedule a meeting with the trainer. Talk to them and ask them all kinds of questions that you have in mind related to dog training. This will give you a clear understanding of the trainer and their training process. So, you can make your decision depending on that.
#4. Good Training Is All About A Strong Bond With Your Pup
First thing first: If you want to train your pup, you need to have a strong bond with them. This will establish a feeling of trust between the two of you. Also, it will make the process of training easy and enjoyable.
If you send your canine buddy away, you will miss out on this great opportunity.
#5. Pups Are Not That Good When It Comes To Generalizing
This means your doggo will not perform the same behavior in multiple contexts.
Let me give you an example.
When you command your dog to sit on your sofa, they may do that at home. But the chances are that they will not do the same when some other person commands them or when they are at some other place.
This is mostly the case when that sit behavior has not been generalized. Unfortunately, this means you have to make your pup practice it multiple times in multiple contexts and scenarios.
So, your canine buddy may learn to follow their trainer’s command in the dog boot camp, but when they come home, they may not understand what you want from them or what you are asking them to do.
#6. There Is No Shortcut
You need to be consistent with the training. This means you need to make your doggo practice every single day. After all, it is a life-long journey. This makes it important for you to learn the skills you need to follow through with your pup training.
Dog Boot Camps Are Good For Which Kinds Of Dogs?
While some dogs do thrive in a kennel setting, there are others for whom going to dog training camps might not be a good idea. This makes it important for you to understand if your pup will be a good fit for a send-away-dog-training camp.
These kinds of dogs may do well in a dog boot camp:
- Dogs that are social and like the presence of other dogs and people.
- Dogs that need only to enhance their skills. There are no shortcuts when it comes to the enhancement of their behavior. And utilizing dog boot camp training may boost the process for the right kind of doggo.
These kinds of dogs may not do well in dog boot camp:
- Dogs that are fearful or shy may find the change in the environment to be extremely stressful
- Dogs that are reactive when they are with other dogs
- Dogs that are aggressive as they will benefit more from one-on-one or in-home training
Now, do you want to enroll your pup in a dog training boot camp because you plan to go on a vacation without them?
In that case, enrolling your doggo in one of these training programs is a good idea.
After all, you need someone to take care of your furry buddy when you are away. And what better choice than keeping them in the care of a professional who can teach them a few skills?
In situations like this, you may choose a board-and-train obedience school. Of course, you need to do a bit of research to select the best training facility for your beloved buddy. You need to make sure that the facility has a good reputation and is run by a well-educated dog training professional.
Are There Any Particular Training Methods That Dog Boot Camps Employ?
Your dog receives intense and frequent one-on-one training from qualified professionals if you enroll them in these kinds of programs. But the training methods that these professionals use vary from each other. And that is something you need to know well before you leave your doggo in their care.
Ideally, dog training methods should be modern and humane and only force-free techniques. It should be backed by modern research in animal learning and behavior. And the trainer should be compassionate.
Of course, you don’t want your favorite four-legged buddy to get hurt in the name of training, right? But that doesn’t happen in most dog boot camps. Instead, they use harmful and aversive tactics.
So, before you enroll your pup in these programs, ask the trainers about the philosophies they embrace and the methods they use. Look for a different dog training facility if you see that they don’t use compassionate, respectful, and positive training methods.
You Can Look For Dog Training Facilities That Use The Following Catchphrases:
- Positive reinforcement
- Humane training
- Relationship-based training
Avoid Dog Training Facilities That Use The Following Catchphrases At All Costs:
- Make your dog become the alpha
- Guaranteed results
- Assertive training
- Submissive and calm dog
- Balanced training
- Behavior expert
Can a Dog Boot Camp Correct Your Dog’s Aggression?
The short answer is “No.”
Is your doggo aggressive?
Then the best thing that you can do is train them at your home. You can hire a certified behaviorist who will train your pup on a one-on-one basis. They can correct your pup’s aggression issues as they have a lot of experience dealing with these kinds of dogs.
Can a Dog Boot Camp Program Treat Your Dog’s Separation Anxiety?
Of course NOT!
If you want to deal with your pup’s separation anxiety, there are other ways to do that. And sending them to a board and train program is not one of them.
In fact, doing so will do more harm than good by making your pup more anxious.
Are Dog Boot Camps Good for Addressing Leash Reactivity?
However, if you ask me, I would not recommend it for leash reactive dogs who bark and lunge at other dogs while on leash.
That said, it might work for dogs that are very social. But, of course, in that case, their training environment must be controlled, and the number of dogs in the facility should also be very less.
Also, it would be great if you enroll your pup in an in-home dog facility.
Do Dog Boot Camps Work for Manners Training?
The answer is “yes!”
If your canine buddy is behaviorally as well as socially well-adjusted, dog boot camps can be great for them to polish their manners. For example, they can learn impulse control or how to heel on a leash.
Of course, you can give manners training to your dog at your home too.
In that case, you can take the help of a well-educated one-on-one trainer.
Can You Send Your Dog to a Boot Camp for Relieving Them of Fear and Anxiety?
The answer is a BIG “NO!”
Is your dog already anxious and fearful?
Then, in that case, if you send them away from you and the environment that they are familiar with, it will lead them to be extremely stressed. So, this approach is a big no-no!
Can Dog Boot Camps Help with Nuisance Barking?
The short answer is “NO.”
If you want to deal with nuisance barking, both you and your dog’s trainer need to understand the reason behind their barking at first.
Maybe your pup is barking because they are scared or anxious for some reason. Or, they want your attention. Or, they want something. It could be anything.
Also, your pup may bark just a normal amount when they hear or see someone in some cases. But that can be problematic for your neighbors as you live in a housing complex, and they can complain. This is just an example.
Whatever the reason for your dog’s barking, it would be difficult for them to generalize the lessons they would learn in a dog boot camp facility and utilize them in your home environment.
This makes a dog boot camp not a good choice when it comes to stopping your pup’s nuisance barking.
Does Dog Boot Camp Work When It Comes to Dealing with Food Aggression or Resource Guarding?
The answer can be “yes” or “no.” It depends a lot on the environment of the dog board and train facility.
One should be very careful while setting the environment.
If the dog boot camp that you choose has many other dogs around where the shared resources such as treats, beds, food, and toys are, it can actually make resource guarding a huge flop!
Do Dog Boot Camps Work When You Want to Train Your Dog How to Behave Off-Leash?
It can be both “yes” and “no” again.
Does your pup like it when they are with other dogs but find it difficult to behave in a socially appropriate manner?
Then yes, your pup can benefit from a dog boot camp!
Does your furry buddy get scared or stressed when they are around other dogs?
Then a dog boot camp might NOT be a good idea.
In that case, if you enroll them in a dog boot camp where there is a kennel-like environment, it would be called “flooding.”
And did I tell you that this kind of over-exposure can be detrimental for your beloved pup and make their fear even worse?
Can Dog Training Camps Help in Stopping Your Pup’s Destructive Chewing Habit?
The short answer is “no.”
There can be several reasons behind your pup’s destructive chewing habit. And just as nuisance barking, the first thing that you need to know is WHY your furry buddy is chewing up your things.
One of the most common reasons behind destructive chewing is boredom. Then there are other dogs who chew up your stuff because they are in their learning phase and not quite aware of all the rules.
You need to offer your pup some more time, supervision, and enrichment for these kinds of issues. But, overall, you need to make some changes in the way you manage your furry buddy at home.
Did I tell you that separation anxiety can also be the reason behind your pup’s destructive behavior?
And in that case, you don’t want to send your dog to a training program and make things worse, right?
Can a Board-And-Train Facility Stop Your Dog’s Constant Begging?
Of course not!
If you train your dog in the training facility, there are few chances that they will actually learn to stop begging. This is because that is not the place where they have learned and practiced the behavior.
Now, if I look at most cases, begging happens when your pup is in the kitchen or around the kitchen table. So that is where you should make them stop doing it.
If You Enroll Your Pup in a Dog Boot Camp Program, Will They Stop Barking at Your Guests?
If you want your four-legged buddy to stop barking at your guests, know that you should teach your pup in that environment only. This means in your home when your guests are at your door.
Trust me, this way, the training will be way more fruitful than in other environments!
Can a Dog Boot Camp Help You Deal with Your Pup’s Hyperactivity?
Is your doggo hyper-aroused or hyperactive?
Then the chances are that they will not do well in a kennel setting.
Now, is the reason behind your pup’s hyper-arousing nature their anxiety?
Then sending them to a dog boot camp can make their anxiety worse.
However, is your dog hyperactive because they can’t control their impulse?
Then enrolling them in a dog training program can help them learn at least some self-control. The results will be more fruitful if you manage to enroll them in an in-home, small-scale board and train facility.
Of course, the best thing you can do is hire a qualified dog trainer who can train one-on-one in your home.
What is the Cost of a Dog Training Camp Program?
I have seen many trainers charge somewhere between $1000 and $3000 for your pup’s one-week stay at these facilities. However, the cost depends on a lot of factors, and it can vary.
For How Long Can Your Dog Stay at a Boot Camp Program?
In general, people get their doggo enrolled in these programs for two weeks. Now, the time will extend if you are planning to go on a longer vacation.
What Does an Average Day at a Doggie Boot Camp Look Like?
Again, this depends a lot on the facility that you are planning to keep your doggo in.
If the dog training facility is good, they will offer at least two hours of one-on-one training every day. Also, there will be social time with other dogs and people, walks, and lots of enrichment such as games, scents, puzzle toys, and chew items.
How to Select a Good Dog Training Facility?
Now, have you already decided that you will enroll your doggo in a board and train program?
Then, honey, there are many things to look for or even consider!
So, what are they?
Come, have a look!
#1. Take a Tour
Look around closely before you sign on the papers and leave your doggo in a training facility.
Does everything in the facility look okay? Are the other dogs that are already enrolled there looking happy?
If the answers to these questions are positive, then it is fine.
Are the dogs wearing any prong, pinch, or shock collar?
If so, then walk out of the facility right away. After all, you don’t want to hurt your favorite buddy in the name of training.
Know if they provide enrichment items such as puzzle toys for the pups during downtime.
Are there cameras installed everywhere in the training facility? Can you have access to those cameras so that you can check on your doggo on your mobile device?
If the answer is “YES,” go for it.
#2. Look For Professional Memberships and Certifications.
Certifications and professional memberships matter!
After all, you are going to leave your furry buddy in their responsibility, and you need to check if they are worthy of your trust.
Don’t forget to have a look at the dog training facility’s code of ethics. It should align with Least Intrusive, Minimally Aversive (LIMA).
If they have the following certifications and memberships, know that you can trust your pup with them:
- Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC)
- Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA)
- International Association of Canine Professionals (IACP)
- Karen Pryor Academy (KPA)
- The International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC)
- The Pet Professional Guild (PPG)
- Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT)
#3. Ask Everything That You Want to Know
Don’t hesitate; ask the trainer whatever questions or doubts you have in mind regarding the dog boot camp.
I have listed some questions here. You can start with these:
- What will my pup do every day while they are in the facility? Will they get to explore the outdoors or the common areas? Or, will they be confined the entire day?
- Where will my pup sleep at night? Will they have to sleep on a hard cement floor or have their own bed?
- How many dogs will be there at the facility at one time? Is it fun and well-managed? Or is it chaotic and crowded?
- What safety and emergency measures do you follow?
#4. Check the location
Always consider the facility’s location before you enroll your pup in it.
Is it far from your home? How far? If there is any emergency, can you get there quickly?
Also, you need to consider how far it is from the nearest animal hospital or vet.
How is the area surrounding the facility? For example, is it located next to the freeway, or does it have a quiet country setting?
#5. Know about the training methods
This is one of the most important things you should know before signing up for the dog training program.
Apart from knowing whether your pup will be sprayed with the hose or get shock treatment, you should also have an idea about how you can carry over their new skills when they return home.
Many training facilities take videos of their training sessions so that you get to know what particular skills your furry buddy has learned.
Ask them what they do to make sure that the newly learned skills will be generalized by your doggo and will transfer in your home or other settings too.
#6. Check If They Provide Your Dog With The Best Environment
Is the dog training facility in a large commercial kennel or an in-home setting?
The environment can make a lot of difference to the way your pup learns and, of course, their emotional well-being.
Both large commercial kennel and in-home environments have their own share of pros and cons.
Let’s start with a commercial kennel. It has more staff, more resources, and of course, more social opportunities than an in-home setting. On the downside, the environment of these facilities can be stressful. There are high chances for mistreatment of your favorite buddy. Also, they may use harmful methods so that they can gain quick results.
Coming to an in-home setting, they are quieter, offer a less stressful environment, and your pup will get more one-on-one time. But these facilities have fewer management or control options. So, in case anything goes wrong, there can be a delay in taking the required measures. Also, the resources are fewer in this setting.
#7. Know How Often A Dog Gets Injured In The facility
Accidents don’t come knocking at your door. And it can happen when your favorite four-legged buddy is staying at the dog training facility too.
But you don’t want to enroll your pup in a facility where dogs frequently get hurt because of their lack of care, right?
So, what you can do is consult the vets in the area. Ask them what they think about that specific dog boot camp. Also, ask them about their experiences with the pups from that facility.
This will help you decide whether you should zero in on that facility or not.
#8. Know About The Experiences Of Other Dog Owners
You can look for reviews of the facility online.
But, if you ask me, I would say don’t trust all the online reviews, as anyone can write anything there. Word of mouth from trusted people is the best in this case.
You can check why behavior consultants, positive trainers, and vets recommend the dog training facility.
You can even check out the directory of IAABC and CCPDT for qualified professional doggo trainers in your area.
#9. Don’t Choose The Facility The Offers Guarantees
Is the facility that you have chosen is offering guaranteed results?
No one can guarantee results when it comes to dog training – EVER!
So, if a dog boot camp is offering you a guarantee, know that it will definitely come with a price. And in most cases, the price comes in the form of prong or shock collars.
Now, you don’t want this kind of guarantee, right?
If reports are to be believed, these techniques often have a lasting emotional effect, such as an increase in fear or aggression.
#10. Ask Them If They Have Proper Security And Emergency Procedures In Place
The dog boot camp must have a proper emergency protocol in place. Ask them about it. Know what exactly will happen if your furry buddy gets injured or sick. Knowing this becomes more important if you plan to be on vacation during your buddy’s stay at the facility.
#11. The Facility Should Have Competent And Sufficient Support Staff
Now, this is really important!
If a training facility is large, the chances are that not every staff member will be a professional dog trainer.
But, what about their experience? What courses have they taken up to become a trainer? Do they know how to offer first-aid to a dog? Can they understand a dog’s body language?
You can ask these questions over a phone call or during your tour to the dog boot camp.
Also, you should know the ratio of the number of trainers and dogs staying at one time.
The ideal ratio is 10:1 or lower for training staff to dogs. This will make sure that your beloved pup will get the required care and attention.
Now that you know all about dog boot camps, are you ready to sign up for one? Or, are you going to give it a pass?
Let me know in the comments!