“Doggie bootcamp” is also known as board and train, where your dog stays with the trainer for a period of time, typically a few weeks. Having your dog professionally trained is a popular choice, and often a first step towards reaching your goal of a well behaved dog. This is because a skilled trainer will get results because they are consistent, laying a solid foundation for obedience and teaching focus, while working through problem behaviors. It takes a lot of patience and work to train a dog, as well as a lot of repetition in new environments. The schedule and consistency in the methods of training will really make a difference. Intensive training can build confidence, increase socialization, foster healthy independence, and give your dog lifelong skills. Intensive training is followed with lessons for you, so you can continue on the right path with your dog after the initial few weeks.
You must choose a trainer with a good reputation and good results. Common sense says you would not just leave your dog with just anyone. You need to do your research and know they are a professional and using fair and effective methods.
- Is the trainer a member of any professional organizations?
- Where did they learn to train dogs, and from whom?
- Have they successfully worked with dogs similar to yours?
- Will they give you an in-person demonstration with a trained dog?
- How do their own dogs behave?
- Are they open to using all tools, depending on what best suits a dogs needs?
- Are they a clear communicator who can teach you?
- Can they clearly explain the details, benefits, and expectations of each training program?
It’s often best to choose a trainer who does this as their main career, rather than someone who only does it as a hobby. The professional trainer will likely have more experience. For example, let’s say you wanted to learn to play tennis. You may not need to hire Venus Williams, but you may want someone better than your friend who took a few intermediate tennis classes themselves. You may want to hire a tennis instructor who has proven themselves, and their students, capable of accomplishing goals. For dogs, those goals might be a trainer who titles dogs, whose clients dogs are off-leash trained, or who rehabilitates dogs with behavior problems.
There are many reasons dog owners choose bootcamps. One is reliability. Regardless of what the dog supposedly “knows” it is important to have control during those times you need it most, such as under distraction. Training is not accomplished with bribes and treats alone, but with tapping into the dog’s motivation, and also using discipline judiciously. One of the best ways to train a dog is by using reward and operant conditioning, praise, some amounts of pressure and release, and corrections when necessary as training goes on. A combination of various methods will suit each individual dog. This is commonly referred to as “balanced training.”
There are many benefits to formal training. A well-trained dog has a better life than an out of control dog with total freedom. Dog owners have a different definition of what a “well trained dog” is. Knowing commands is not the only component. The dog must also make good choices on their own, and act responsibly around temptation. Dogs don’t generalize well, so if you’ve taught certain behaviors in one place, they may need to learn it applies in other places as well. This is why so many people say “my dogs knows down, but he’s just too distracted right now,” well no, he does not really know it. He only knows it in certain contexts and when he chooses to.
The cost of boocamps can vary, depending on length of stay, lessons and equipment included, and the trainer’s business model and experience level. Often the price of having your dog professionally trained through a boot camp for a few weeks at a training academy is similar to the amount people spend on boarding at a fancy dog hotel. But training lasts a lifetime, and it’s an investment.
Make sure follow-up is offered. After your dog has gone through basic training, you will then have to learn handling yourself. The dog knows many things, but the handler has to learn communication. After having your dog professionally trained, maintenance training will follow in the future, as needed. It’s not just the dog, it’s the owner. Once foundation obedience is established, t becomes your language between you and the dog, and most importantly, it establishes you as the leader.
Here are some questions you should ask about the program?
- What will my dogs daily routine look like?
- What can I expect to see at the end of the bootcamp?
- Will videos be taken to update me on progress?
- What things will my dog learn, and how?
- Will there be lessons or classes for me afterward?
- Is there a guarantee, or some offer of follow-up training for the future?
At Dynamic Dogs Training & Behavior, a company in Chicago, the dogs have multiple lessons each day. They also get time to socialize with other dogs. Down-time is also required, as there is a lot of activity during the day. Dogs are crated for nap time, for about 45 minutes before and after training sessions. This helps them better absorb what they’ve learned, and allows them to rest their mind and body. At the end of the program, the owners view a demonstration of some of the obedience and manners the dog has learned. Owners also receive instructions on handling behavior issues. All of the trainers are certified, and are involved in continuing education to constantly better themselves and hone their skills.
Intensive training school can address behavior problems such as barking, pulling on the leash, nipping, biting, housebreaking problems, manners, growling, and more. Often complaints about a dog are just symptoms of a greater issue. A professional trainer will coach you to handle your dog and get obedience. Training continues because dogs are always learning new things and new situations.
For bootcamp in Chicago, visit the trainers at Dynamic Dogs