Tough Dog Camp

Tough Dog Camp


with Carolyn Wilki

FMI: TELEPHONE — (610) 674-0160

You’ve never had a dog like this before! If your dog were human he would be tagged with one of the psychiatric labels such as ADD, hyperactivity, ADHD, OCD, paranoia, schizophrenic personality disorder. You might swear that your dog carries grudges, and his mission in life seems to be to defy you, his owner. He reacts fearfully or explodes angrily. You think maybe your dog is protecting you, his home, his car, his bed, his food dish, his beloved toy. But your dog can’t tell the good guys from the bad guys! Your dog acts with such bizarre, outrageous behavior that you are almost ashamed to admit to strangers that, yes, this is your dog, the one that shares your food and bedroom every night. However, your dog also has good moments. Your dog is so adorable with you alone—as long as no one rings the doorbell, grooms his ears, tries to cut his toenails, touches his tail, or gets too near with a black dog, blond dog, big dog, small dog, a puppy, a cat, a man with a hat, a woman with a broom, a boy on a bicycle, a girl in a wheelchair, a stranger, the garbage man, the postal carrier, the school soccer team, a UPS truck, your mother-in-law, etc.

You have made up your mind to help this tortured creature who is, in turn, psychologically, and maybe even physically, harming you and others. You may or may not have been to trainers who have given you all sorts of advice, mostly about showing your dog who is the boss (you). However, although your dog, when commanded, may now sit down faster than ever, the training advice doesn’t seem to be touching the dog’s major, bad, behavior issues that concern you. Some of your dog’s behavior seems to be worsening. You have considered putting your dog on doggy Prozac, putting yourself on Prozac-- anything to get the problem better!

If the above description sounds somewhat familiar to you, then maybe you and your dog ought to consider coming to Tough Dog Camp and it’s companion seminar Help! My Dog Is Aggressive! held at Raspberry Ridge Sheep Farm. The good news is what is learned by your dog, including aggressive or avoidance behavior, can be relearned, and behavior improved! We can show you how. However, how successful we are in turning your dog’s problems around will mostly be dependent on how re-trainable YOU are! You may be amazed, once you yourself grasp the training and management principles and make them habit, how easy it is, how little time-effort it can take from you on a daily basis to train your dog to be the calmer and gentler canine good citizen you always thought he could be.

Your dog is so bad you can’t take your dog anywhere? Well, we welcome you to bring your dog to our farm for an intense week of work (& fun!) as we help your dog unlearn his undesirable behaviors! Tough Dog Camp is for owners of tough dogs who need to practice how to apply positive reinforcement training principles and canine management in their lives so that they and their dogs can be successes in daily life rather than failures.

Tough Dog Camp gives you a chance to experience total immersion dog training and companionship with your dog, Monday through Friday. Positive reinforcement is emphasized in all Raspberry Ridge dog training. You and your dog will have ample time to focus on and practice various training exercises. We will provide you with different experiences and new, useful training ideas as well as sufficient time to practice them. The week-long camp format should give you sufficient opportunity to practice building training progressions so that you can be more successful in continuing to build the behaviors you want from your dog when you return home.

The aims of Tough Dog Camp are to: 1)Teach your dog how to relax, 2)Build the necessary, basic, positive reinforcement training communication tools between you and your dog through specific training exercises that will help you to teach your dog to learn to relax, 3)Teach you how to be more observant and more effective as your dog’s positive reinforcement trainer, and 4)Design and work on a customized desensitization program addressing your dog’s specific trigger stimuli, the situations that now provoke your dog into his undesirable behaviors.

We want to teach your dog to relax, not to be provoked! Many of the training sessions at Tough Dog Camp will be with you and your dog alone or in limited exposure situations, not necessarily in large group training situations. When the training focus is on you and your dog, other handlers may watch and learn from you, either in sight, hidden out of sight, or on video, or they may assist you in your training session. Large group training situations—tough dogs and handlers-- will occur only if appropriate for the dogs involved.

This is total immersion dog training and an unparalleled opportunity for you to learn. Depending on how much stamina you and your dog have, theoretically, you two can have as many as 16 training opportunities (or more) per day. Your dog will receive as much down time to rest or exercise as he requires to make him a more efficient student. During your dog’s down time, you will have the opportunity to remain busy and sharpen your skills by observing, helping, and role playing with other students. You will also listen to lectures, watch demonstrations, and watch videos. Besides all the training, depending on the interest and suitability of activities, we may-- with or without canines-- go swimming, hiking, or shopping.

We take a baseline measurement of each dog at the beginning of the camp and at the end so that you can see your progress. We cannot guarantee that your dog will be completely cured of all his bad habits by Friday. However, we can guarantee that you will see measurable, significant improvement if you follow-through on the training principles that are presented to you in Tough Dog Camp, and by the end of camp, you should see measurable improvement.

One of the main objectives of the camp is to make sure you the handler are proficient in the many areas that need to be addressed in order to rehabilitate the tough dog.

Focused discussions and demonstrations will address:
  • Doggy zen, arousal, displacement behaviors—sharpening your awareness and recognition of these behaviors.
  • Five Keys for Observing a Dog.
  • The rules of the flight zone and how to apply them to stimulus presentation.
  • Evaluating a stimulus—neutral, attractive, arousing, or calming—and changing its value for your dog.
  • Default behaviors—recognizing what is not desirable and identifying what is desirable. How to elicit desirable default behaviors from your dog.
  • Practice in debunking dominance, pummeling the importance of punishment, and negating negative markers.
  • Practice in applying positive operant and associative conditioning principles.
  • Establishing the basic communication building blocks-- Practice in suggested training exercises—the fab five and beyond.
  • Desensitization training scenarios.

Tough Dog Camp
Camp Dates 2024 (recent)
Session II. May 27 - May 31, 2024. Mon-Fri 5-day session, 9am-4pm
Session III. Sep 9 - Sep 13, 2024. Mon-Fri 5-day session, 9am-4pm
Session IV. Dec 9 - Dec 13, 2024. Mon-Fri 5-day session, 9am-4pm
A la carte registration available within each session.

PRIVATE CAMP: For owners who prefer a week of private training, a Monday through Friday Private Tough Dog Camp can be arranged subject to availability. No prerequisite required. Training Fee: $2500. Talk to Carolyn about this.