Bringing home an adorable yet unruly puppy leaves many owners wondering – should I consider sending my puppy away for intensive training? While tempting, understanding the drawbacks of this old-fashioned approach helps ensure your pup’s training gets off to the best start.
What is Puppy Training Camp?
Some dog trainers offer send-away “boot camp” style training programs where your puppy goes to live at their facility full time for 2-4 weeks. They claim to deliver complete obedience training using methods like:
- Constant corrections and conditioning using choke chains, pinch collars, or shock devices
- Extended isolation kenneling when not training
- Forcing activities like treadmill walking whether puppy is willing or not
- Draining food motivation by restricting meals before training
- Flooding dog with triggers to “get them over” fears and phobias
These confrontational approaches aim to dominate the puppy into compliance. This training style is now controversial and opposed by positive reinforcement trainers.
Risks of Sending Your Puppy Away for Training
While quick fixes sound enticing, risks of send-away training for puppies include:
- Inadequate socialization being isolated during critical development windows
- Loss of bonding opportunities with the owners
- Overuse and timing errors with punishment leading to anxiety and fear
- Lack of owner education and continued training on proper techniques
- Risk of kennel cough and parasites at training facilities
- Overwhelming shy, sensitive puppies by flooding them
- Focus on human goals versus truly addressing the puppy’s needs
The damage done in just a few weeks can negatively impact behavior for years. Modern methods yield better results.
More Effective Puppy Training Approaches
Instead of send-away boot camps, choose positive-based training where puppies live at home, receiving:
Gradual exposure – Introduction to new places, people and challenges is kept below puppy’s anxiety threshold to build confidence.
Rewards-motivation – Treats, praise and play teach the behaviors you want while strengthening your bond.
Clear communication – From cues to corrections, training is precise, consistent and tailored to puppy’s personality.
Owner education – You learn techniques firsthand from trainers to maintain manners long-term. Classes establish lifetime skills.
Socialization – Puppies get supervised playtime with vaccinated pals to develop polite doggy social skills.
Enjoyment – Training feels like fun! Puppies think working cooperatively with you and earning rewards is the best game ever.
While slower, force-free positive training fosters well-rounded, willing companions.
At What Age Can Puppies Attend Training Classes?
The ideal window for puppy socialization and training starts as early as 8 weeks once they have initial vaccinations. Popular options include:
- Local group puppy preschool classes
- Private lessons focusing on engagement, manners, and bonding
- Specialized scent detection, agility foundations or tricks classes
Avoid intense board and train boot camps until at least 6-12 months and only with reputable facilities using positive methods.
My Puppy Keeps Having Accidents – Will Camp Help?
If your puppy seems to struggle learning potty training basics, issues playing a role may include:
- Not recognizing natural signals yet like sniffing or circling
- Insufficient supervision and access to pee pads or outdoors
- Medical issues like urinary tract infection or diarrhea
- Stress or changes in routine disrupting habits
- Cognitive impairments affecting ability to learn
Rather than sending the puppy away, troubleshoot training setbacks at home. Seek vet input to address medical issues and positively reinforce every step toward success. With diligence, they will master this fundamental skill.
While convenient in theory, sending young puppies away to intensely train risks jeopardizing their crucial developmental phases. Pet parents committed to force-free positive training applied consistently in joyful ways at home end up with the most socially-adapted, emotionally well-adjusted companions for life. When challenges arise, work as a team to emphasize patience, compassion and relationship-building during your puppy’s first behaviors lessons.