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Leerburg Should I send my dog to boot camp?

Should I send my dog to boot camp?

Should I send my dog to boot camp?

by Ed Frawley

I often get emails from people who are frustrated with various behavioral problems their dogs have, most of the time aggression problems. They ask my opinion on sending their dog to "Boot Camp" to solve their problem. I always say "NO!!" and point them to my free ebook MY PHILOSOPHY ON DOG TRAINING.

Today I received one of these emails and decided to post it and my answer for others to read. Here is the email:

Dear Ed,

We live in Lake Geneva, WI on 10 acres. We have 2 dogs with dog aggression issues. The female is a stray. She is probably 5 years old and is a mixed herding breed weighing about 50 pounds. The male is a German Shepherd we got as a puppy. He will be three in April. He is neutered and weighs about 95 pounds.

We have done dog obedience classes and worked with a trainer individually. We walk the dogs regularly on leash and encounter other dogs. Their behavior is unacceptable. We have had several dog fights and do not have confidence in them with other dogs.

My husband has been reading books. We have been training at home but we are now thinking a total immersion boot camp might be the answer. Given the age of the Shepherd, we feel an urgency to get this problem under control. Do you have any suggestions? Are there any "boot camps" in our general area? Do you think boot camp would be a good next step?

Any help you can offer will be greatly appreciated.

Many thanks,


My answer was:


I can unequivocally tell you without a doubt in my mind BOOT CAMPS don’t work.

Your dogs got the way they are because of the way you live with them and their problems are not going to be fixed by someone else. You have to fix the the problem yourself if you don't want to see them again.

I don’t say this with malice – it’s a simple fact. You have not establish pack structure and the dogs don’t respect your leadership. Oh – you may think they do but dogs don’t do what you describe and respect their handlers. Pack leaders decide when to fight and when to be aggressive – not lower ranking members of the family pack.

This only happens because:

  • People don’t understand the dynamics of pack structure

  • People are too small to physically deal with a large dog and don’t know what they can do to equal the playing field.

  • People treat their dogs like little humans and not dogs - often times as equals. (in the dog world there are no equals your either a leader or a lower ranking pack member)

  • People are too lazy to train their dogs

Sending a dog to a BOOT CAMP will result in the dog learning to respect the people who run the camp. But these dogs will always revert back to their old selves when they come home. This may not happen in a week or two but it will always happen.

Only when owners learn how to become respected leaders and introduce and enforce OWNERS RULES will their dogs ever change.

If you want to solve your problems you can, but it needs to be done by you and your husband. You need to run these dogs through a pack structure program at home. This is not difficult or really not even that time consuming. It simply means you change the way you live with your dog.  I just released a DVD titled Establishing Pack Structure with the Family Pet .

¾ of way through this program you should begin to retrain the dog in obedience. At this point your obedience is not good – that’s evident by your email. So start from scratch and begin again. Use the foundation in my Basic Dog Obedience DVD

I can almost guarantee that you will need to finish this obedience work with remote collars. This doesn’t mean you take the dog out and fry them. It means you learn to use low level stimulation in your training. This is a learned skill and it’s explained in this DVDs Remote Collar Training for the Pet Owner

In the end you will find that you never take your dogs for a walk without their collars on – not ever. Once dogs fight they almost always fall into this category. It’s the same as when I worked as a K9 handler on the sheriff’s department – I never left home without my dog having his collar on. I did this because I wanted to be prepared and in the end I SELDOM had to use it.

I use a Dogtra 1900NCP on my personal dog.

Cindy (my other half) used Dogtra 200NCP on her dogs. It’s a little smaller in size than the 1900.

There are less expensive collars on the market but I don’t believe there are better collars.

I prefer the 1900 because it has a digital read out on the transmitter that goes from 1 to 127. This allows very precise control. I am raising a GSD right now and he started wearing the collar at 4 months. I would never own a dog again without using a remote collar. (in years to come we may switch to different models but in 2007 this is what we are using)

The information to solve all of these problems is here for the learning. It must be done by you and your husband. Go and read the free ebook I wrote titled MY PHILOSOPHY ON DOG TRAINING. You will get a better idea of what I am talking about and probably see a little bit of yourself in that article.

My web site has a large number of FREE eBooks that I have written. Go to the main directory for eBooks.

I will also add that a great many people who write me have dominant and aggressive dogs. These people can benefit from my dvd of the same name Dealing with Dominant and Aggressive Dogs. Often times I can't tell from an email if people just need the pack structure work or if they need this along with the more advanced dominant and aggressive dog work.

The bottom line is that people need to educate themselves on correct training, handling and environmental control of their dogs. When they do things correctly they will have a safe, submissive dog that is under their control.

So the bottom line is that the DOG HANDLERS need boot camps not dogs and you can't learn what you need to learn from a training article. These three dvd's provide over 11 hours of instruction. They are not meant to be watched once or twice. They are meant to be studied. Every time you watch them you will pick up something you missed earlier.

I hope this helps.


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