Not every puppy is a stand-up guy. Dogs are well-known for being aggressive and exhibiting various other behavioral problems. According to research published in the Journal Of Veterinary Behavior, 85% of dogs face some behavioral issues. You may have also observed your dog throwing tantrums and indulging in aggressive behavior. For example, suppose your neighbors regularly complain about your dog barking at their pets or children. If he acts aggressively in front of food, if you frequently find him digging aimlessly in your backyard, or if you regularly find him pooping or peeing in different areas of your house, it’s time to teach your dog some basic commands.
Training your pup is the most fundamental part of dog ownership. “What’s the big deal?” you’re probably thinking now, “I’m confident in my ability to train my dog independently.” Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as it appears. First and foremost, your dog requires a consistent training schedule to become accustomed to it. You might not be successful in finding out this consistent time from your hectic schedule. Secondly, dog training is a long-term procedure that takes patience and time, which you may lack. Lastly, training a dog at home can impact your bond with your pet. When reward-based training approaches fail to produce the desired results, one has to resort to punishment-based methods to keep your dog from harming others or himself. Your dog may be unable to tolerate such behavior from you and ends up being depressed.
To avoid all of the issues mentioned above, it is always preferable to plan and train your dog with one of the many expert dog trainers available. Do your pets benefit from training camps, by the way? Let’s understand the advantages and disadvantages of dog training camps.
What Are Board and Train Programs?
Board and train programs are dog training programs in which the dogs are sent somewhere else to a boarding school or an academy. The need for board and train facilities arises due to the pet owners’ busy routines. Training a dog to learn some basic manners and other tasks is not hard. But it demands a lot of time, especially when one is serving a 9 to 5 job, keeping a check on kids, and doing home chores alone. So, to help those busy pet parents, these programs were started.
Now the question is: do these programs work? Sending your dog away for training seems a big decision. Everyone worries and wants to consider the pros and cons of sending the beloved pet away. A dog owner might worry that he will lose the lovely bond, and what if the training doesn’t go well, and what if it’s just a waste of money? But, before every big decision, all one can have are the negative outcomes in his mind. So, here’s the complete guide discussing all aspects of doggy boot camps.
How Do Dog Training Boot Camps Work?
Residential dog training programs work by taking the dog away from the owner for some time. The time period differs for different academies. There are two basic ways, either a professional dog trainer will keep the dog in his home and give him one-to-one training, or several dogs will be under the supervision of some trainers together. Both types of training have some pros and cons, which are discussed in the article’s next section.
Wait! Did I Confuse You With the Terminologies?
You must be wondering there were different terms used above for the same thing. These are all the names for the same thing. Some like to call them camps others just say out training programs. However, that’s not where it ends. Some people like to call it a dog boot camp, while others just go with a dog training camp. Some like to call it a board and train program because the dog is boarded and trained somewhere else away from the owner. On the same basis, many call it a dog boarding school. Residential dog training or simply residential training is also on the list.
So, don’t get confused; there are different names for dog training camps, and all of them refer to the same thing: sending the dog away for training. Even in this article, different names will be used to make you familiar with them.
Types of Dog Board and Train Programs
There are two types of dog board and train programs:
In-home Board and Train
In-home board and training facilities refer to the ones where the dog is kept at the trainer’s home. There are benefits as well as some downsides to this type of facility. The major gain of the in-home board and train facility is that the dog gets a natural environment. By natural environment, it means a place for pets. Pet dogs will live in the owner’s house, right? So, it would be better to get training in the house. The dog will learn not to mess up with kitchen counters; that’s impossible in all other training facilities. As many human foods are not safe for them, they can get training to avoid the humans’ leftovers. The trainer intentionally leaves some crumbs on the floor and monitors the dog. As soon as he reaches them, he says a firm NO or gives a vibrating command to his collar. Similarly, he can get the training of not crossing the invisible boundary of the backyard and not eating anything randomly from the floor. He can get basic behavioral training as well within a comfy place.
The downside of this type of house training is less socialization. He only gets to socialize with the neighbor’s dog (if any) or when the trainer occasionally takes him out on a walk.
Kennel Board and Train
In the kennel board and training program, dogs are trained in groups. Several dogs are trained together, providing more chances for socialization. The only danger is of a careless owner not vaccinating his dog, but in most cases, the academies don’t accept the dog if he has not been vaccinated. The dogs are taken out for walks. There is a proper arrangement for exercising and getting a good physique. All dogs are treated equally. They have a proper schedule of waking up, exercising, doing small tasks, relaxing, practicing the tasks again, and sleeping. All dogs have separate kennels for sleeping and relaxing. Moreover, the professionals know better how to train and handle all types of dogs.
But there are some disadvantages to kennel board and train facility as well. First, you will never know if your dog has been trained through negative reinforcement. Some trainers are cruel enough to punish the dogs. Moreover, when the dog returns after training, he takes some time to bond again with the owner.
What Does a Doggie Boot Camp Program Teach?
Doggie boot camps give the dogs a chance to learn many things. Some of them include the following:
Dogs Learn to Obey Commands
A dog trainer at the boot camp can make dogs learn to obey commands. For this purpose, time and patience are needed. Finally, dogs can listen and understand human words. Though at the start, they don’t know what they mean. But dog trainers always find a way to make them understand. For instance, a trainer might start with basic obedience like sit, stand, come, and go. Dogs probably don’t know what these words mean, so a good dog trainer uses gestures and actions with hands to make dogs understand. For example, while saying the word “sit,” he will lower his hand; asking him to “stand,” he will raise his hand. The same goes for other commands.
Then trainers strengthen these actions by repeating them over and over again. They either use shock collars or employ clicker training methods for this purpose. In both the training methods, every time the dog completes a specific task, he gets a treat. This encourages the dogs to complete the commands over and over again in order to get treats. After training for some days, dogs get habitual to obeying that particular task, whether he gets a treat or not.
By now, you probably wonder you can carry out these training practices at home, so why need to send the dog to a doggie boot camp? As said above, these procedures need time and patience. Moreover, trainers at a dog training school probably have more experience as training dogs is their job.
Dogs Learn Socialization
Socialization classes are very important for dogs. They give a chance of strengthening their bonding with humans, but they also help them have good behavior. They can overcome their fear, shyness, and anxiety about visiting a new place and meeting strange people. They will be happier and more confident. They learn to focus while surrounded by distractions. A better-behaved dog or a well-socialized dog can adjust himself to every situation. As he is not afraid of trying new things, he can save his life in an emergency. According to AVSAB, if a dog is not socialized correctly, he can have behavioral problems for the rest of his life. At the top of the list are fear and aggression.
Socializing can be started as early as 2 to 3 months of age. It is the time when the young puppy can learn more. But other dogs older than this age can also get the training. For this purpose, board and train programs are the best. However, many of them offer one-to-one training to dogs. But they have a training session in which group classes are held. These classes are more organized and safe for the pup to start his training journey.
Tip: all the training programs demand vaccination cards. So, get the dog vaccinated prior to enrolling in any program. It is important for his as well as other dogs’ health.
Dog’s Behavior Gets Better
If your dog is showing bad behavior, like barking and jumping at the guests, peeing in the living room, chewing whatever he sees in the house, digging in the backyard, pulling at the leash, or demanding attention all the time, perhaps it’s time to enroll him for a board and training program. These training sessions can help your dog by fixing the bad behavior.
Trainers will teach him basic manners, like where to pee and not to dig and chew. They will also give the dog loose leash training. There are such collars that tighten when the dog tries to escape. Some other collars give him a shock (it’s a static shock and completely safe) or a mild vibrational sensation. In this way, dog behavior can be fixed. But remember, even the basic training process trains dogs with positive reinforcement. A well-behaved dog deserves a reward.
Besides fixing the dog’s behavior and making him social, the training methods provide the mental stimulation they need to strengthen their intelligence and physical fitness, which is important to avoid obesity and other diseases.
Pros of the Board and Train Program
There are many advantages of sending a dog to a training program, including the following:
Trainers Have More Knowledge and Experience
The residential dog training facility has professional trainers. They have more knowledge about training a dog. They have gone through training and have experience handling different breeds while training. One reason you might be unable to train the dog properly is the lack of proper communication between you and the pet. But trainers know how to communicate with the dogs. In addition, they have tackled many unusual behaviors of dogs, so they know the solution to almost every problem.
Specialist training uses positive reinforcement methods; thus, there is nothing to worry about. Besides teaching the dogs basic obedience, they can also teach certain tasks, like opening a breadbox and making them learn games. It can result in a more cheerful dog who keeps the owner happy. Another advantage of choosing the experts at boarding schools is that they know the right methods of training the dogs. For instance, you just binged about the shock collars and came to know their use is humane. You just bought one from the market and started training. Do you know what the proper use of it is? Do you know what stimulation level is right for my dog? Yes, you can come to know all these things, but they will take time. Sending the dog away for training can help you save your precious time.
The Dog Will Get the Proper Training Environment
The environment in which the dogs get training matters a lot. If you consider training the dog at home, let’s see if you can resolve the following problems. Is your yard big enough to give the dog off-leash training? Walking around in the same confined space may bore the dog. How will you socialize with your dog? Or the same question can be asked, how will you help the dog focus in the presence of distractions? Dog training facilities can help resolve these problems.
They have enough space for several dogs to exercise at the same time. They help dogs to deal with distractions. Trainers keep them hydrated during the training sessions and ensure their well-being. Dogs train fast in proper environments.
You Can Get a Break
If you have to travel on a business trip for a few days, you must constantly be concerned about what to do with your dog. When you are away from home, your dog will perhaps be staying in a kennel facility, or you have to leave him with a dog sitter. This could also explain why pet owners are hesitant to travel abroad for vacations or business trips since they don’t want to leave their pets with a dog sitter or kennel facility. Therefore, we recommend taking advantage of this time and using it to train your pup.
Before going on vacations or a long business trip, you can make a list of your puppy’s training requirements and consider registering your dog with any residential training professionals who will be there while you’re away! Vacations are, in fact, a perfect opportunity for residential training. You can take a long break from the daily grind and relax in a tranquil environment away from home. Your dog will be learning some basic training skills at the same time. You’ll find your boy all slicked up when you get home.
Cons of the Board and Train Program
Though there are many benefits of residential dog training programs, there are many downsides to consider. Before making such a big decision to send the dogs away for training, it would be better to thoroughly analyze the good and the bad aspects of the training schools.
You Are Unaware of the Training Methods
The major downside of the board and train programs is that you don’t know how your dog is being treated in your absence. There have been many cases of dogs dying at the training schools. The main reason is the implication of negative reinforcement. Some trainers use aversive methods like prong collars and choke chain collars. These cruel training devices can take dogs’ lives if not handled properly.
Similarly, overuse or misuse of shock collars can also cause death. An example of dog cruelty was seen when a dog died due to trainers’ cruelty. They turned the 2-week training into six weeks. When the dog was taken for the off-leash training, he was 32 pounds by weight. According to them, the academy never lets the owners meet because it will disturb the training process. Suddenly, the owners received a call that the dog had died. At the time of death, he was only 16 pounds by weight. Seriously, this carelessness is unexplainable.
Similarly, many dogs have lost their lives because they were not good care of. Eight dogs died in local training schools due to trainers’ negligence. Their HVAC system went out of order, and the dogs were blown with hot air for 4 hours, and no one was there to attend to them. Eight died (including their dogs), and many were hospitalized.
You Will Not Be Able to Bond With the Dog
If your dog has a great bonding with you, he might have separation anxiety after going to the residential training. But most dog owners like to send the dog away for training right after buying him from a pet store. You will get a well-trained dog, but it will take a lot of time to bond with him. It is because the dog will be having a hard time practicing and memorizing all his training. Also, introducing him to new family members will be a kind of burden for him. Dogs are not very smart; they take time to process things.
Moreover, if you are a first-time dog owner, you will have a hard time. Communicating with a dog takes time, and you will have to learn certain things. Gradually you will also know that many human foods are not safe for them. You will have to put more time and effort into searching and making dog foods. Moreover, you will not be aware of all sides of dogs. When he gets aggressive or doesn’t act normal, you will be surprised and confused at the same time, wondering how I can assure him.
You Are Not Sure if the School Has Professional Dog Trainers
Sometimes training schools advertise themselves as the best dog boarding schools in the world, but they are all talks. It’s human nature to fall for these advertisements, but one wastes money. These programs are just carrying business out there of making money. They don’t teach the dogs well. These train programs employ newbies or local trainers who don’t have much experience in training and handling dogs.
Dogs Are Not Good at Generalization
Generalization means applying the techniques learned in training classes to routine situations. Humans are good at generalizing; for instance, teach a school-going child some manners, and he observes them at school too. But in the case of dogs, usually, the opposite is noticed. For instance, when a trainer teaches him to sit, he sits immediately, but when the owner asks him to sit, he has blank expressions as if he is hearing the word for the first time. Why does this happen? The reason behind this is the Brain. A part of the brain called the association cortex is well developed in humans. It is responsible for learning and relating the past and the present situations. It helps humans to generalize their experiences and learnings. On the other hand, in dogs, this part is not well developed, and they take more time processing what’s going on around them.
The training camps have taught your dog well; his inability to generalize is not the academy’s fault. It doesn’t mean they cannot generalize at all. To help your dog with generalizing, you need to put in the extra effort. You will have to use hand gestures to make him understand what “sit” means for some time.
Dog Owners Don’t Know Dog Training Rules
Even after the dog returns from a boot camp, the owner needs to practice his training repeatedly. The reason why many pet owners fail this step is that they are unaware of the training rules. They restart with clicker training and don’t know they have to feed the dog each time after the clicking sound goes off. Some use shock collars without knowing that the shock should not be given more than 3 to 5 times in one training session. Some indulge dogs in long training sessions. Intensive training makes the dogs bored, and they lose interest. Most dogs become unwilling to learn new things.
In some cases, owners know the training rules very well but fail. It may be because the dog was trained through negative reinforcement, or maybe he was punished for not obeying. Such dogs don’t follow their owners, and most of them try to escape the training by all their means because they are afraid of getting beaten up again.
Training Should Be Consistent
3-week or 6-week training is not enough for the remaining part of their lives. Dogs tend to forget things if they are not trained consistently. Even after full-time training for several weeks, dogs need to be trained again at home to make them remember the commands.
Another downside might be that trainer had been using a different vocab. He might have trained the dog to sit as soon as he says, “Sit.” You might be training him by saying, “Sit down.” He won’t understand easily what you are trying to tell him. For this purpose, you need to train him too and be consistent.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How Long Does a Doggy Boot Camp Take?
A boot camp can last for three weeks or six weeks. Certain factors affect the total span of the training sessions. Firstly, what kind of undesired behaviors do you want to diminish from your dog’s personality. If your dog is poorly spoiled, the session might be longer compared to the case in which the dog is quite obedient but needs to learn some tasks. Secondly, the dog’s nature matters a lot. If the dog is aggressive, he might take longer than the dogs who tend to listen and obey the trainer.
Speeding up the process seems reasonable as you can get to meet your pooch back, but it’s not a good idea at all. Just like humans, dogs take time to learn new things. You can only speed up the training process through negative reinforcement, but the aftereffects will not be good. Moreover, teaching the dog some tasks and behaviors and not practicing them can put the dog in chaos. The dogs are smart, but their smartness cannot be compared with that of a cat or a rabbit. So, let the dogs take their time and wait patiently for the training to complete.
How Much Does a Doggy Boot Camp Cost?
Costs differ per boarding school. Some charge between $500 to $6o0. On the other hand, some academies charge as high as $1,000 or $1,200. Of course, with more money comes more benefits. Academies with high training fees have more well-organized schedules. They give the dogs better hygienic conditions. These academies have hired professional dog trainers that demand more money than local trainers. Before training and before keeping a pet, you must be aware of the expenses of keeping a dog.
What Are the Requirements of Dog Training Boarding Schools?
Before sending the dog away for training, you must have the following things prepared:
- Dog’s vaccination card: Vaccination (such as rabies and kennel cough) is not only important for your dog but also for other dogs at the camp. Suppose your dog is not vaccinated and gets a transmittable disease, unfortunately. Then, he can infect all the other dogs he comes in contact with.
- Medication: If your dog is sick, prepare his medicines and write a note with the proper medication schedule. Academies will be responsible if the dog gets sick during the training, but sick dogs might be left unattended.
- Food directions: If the dog is allergic to a specific food, like gluten, soy, or milk, do let the trainers know. Although the boarding schools don’t feed the dogs dairy products and other foods, most dogs have allergies. Still, you should be careful to keep the dog safe.
- Provide your leash, collar, and identification card.
A specialized training program will demand all these things, but some programs don’t care at the start, with bad consequences. As the saying goes, “Prevention is better than cure” would be better to inform them as a precaution.
Can All Dogs Get Residential Training?
There does not seem to be any problem with all the dogs getting training. Many dog breeds are more trainable than others due to their inherited intelligence. Still, certain dogs seem to have issues with the residential training. On the top of the list are the dogs suffering from separation anxiety. Separation anxiety refers to the state in which dogs over obsess themselves with their owners and become depressed if they ever get separated.
They start acting disturbed when the owner is preparing to go out, follow him from room to room, and often seem clingy. When the owner returns, they become super excited, start following him again, showing their love and care by all their means. The major reason behind this anxiety in dogs is the lack of socialization. When dogs don’t interact with other people and completely depend on one person, they show this kind of behavior.
Though it can be treated through training the dog to become social, the dogs never get ready to be taken out for training. It would be better for this type of dog to start training at home. Take him out on walks occasionally at the start and more often later. Try to meet other dogs and their owners. Your dog will be scared at first, but he can become better gradually.
Similarly, if you are trying to fix your dog’s aggressive behavior by sending him off to training camps, you should stop. Aggression is not something that can be treated through group training. Dogs might end up attacking and bullying other dogs at the academy. This behavior should better be fixed at home by hiring a private, professional dog trainer. It would be expensive, of course, but it will be worth it.
If you have a busy routine, dog training camps can help you train the pup. They are also called boarding schools or board and train programs. Dogs are sent to these schools and are trained in the absence of owners. There are two types of board and train programs. In the first type, the dog is kept at the trainer’s house and gets to learn all the behaviors. In the second type, the dog is kept along with other dogs in an academy. Dog does not only learn to obey specific commands but also learns to socialize with other humans and dogs. At boarding schools, dogs get a chance to be trained by professionals. A well-organized proper environment helps them learn more. You can get a break too and recharge yourself till your dog returns.
There are some downsides to these training camps. Some schools don’t have professional trainers. They don’t know how to train the dogs properly and end up being cruel. They even use negative reinforcement. Moreover, dogs are not good at generalizing, so you have to train them again.