Online Puppy and Dog Training - Does it really work?
Online training services are becoming more and more commonplace, and the recent pandemic and subsequent lockdowns made it more important than ever that both dog owners and dog trainers adapt to this medium of training. However, online training isn’t just for when we’re not able to meet face-to-face; it’s actually a wonderful way to provide behavioural support to dogs with complex needs and a great supplement to every day training.
Why is Online Best for Behavioural Work?
Behavioural consultations are more than your average training. Going beyond simply teaching our dogs new behaviours and cues, behaviour work is needed when a dog has a more complex need to address. This could be separation anxiety, reactivity to other dogs or people, resource guarding, or something else. While cowboy TV trainers do a good job of making it look like a magic act, taking the lead from the owners and seemingly “curing” a dog within a 20-minute segment, reality is very different from this. For a qualified behaviourist to properly assess a behavioural issue and for the trainer and the dog’s owners to them work to support their dog past this problem, a great deal of time, care and effort needs to be taken. Contrary to popular belief, behaviourists do not need to see the problem behaviour in action to be able to address it – they already know what a fearful dog, and anxious dog or a guarding dog looks like. In fact, the worst thing we can do for our dogs is deliberately put them into a stressful situation just to see what they do.
For many dogs, the presence of a new, strange person in their home will change their behaviour anyway, so the trainer wouldn’t even get a true view of the issue. For fearful dogs, they will be afraid and unable to learn – a new person entering their home is likely to be far too much at this early stage. It is therefore actually much more effective for a trainer to speak to the owners and discuss in depth the dog’s history, life style, routine etc. without any disruption to the dog. Online consultations allow owners to show the behaviourist the layout of their home and the set up they have for their dog, again without any disturbance of intrusion for the dog.
Online behavioural consultations are a great way to keep the dog happy and safe without exposing them to triggers unnecessarily or causing any distress. If the owners are working with the dog on a video call, the behaviourist will be able to see a true representation of how the dog responds to training that would not be possible if they were in the home, influencing the dog’s behaviour with their presence. This means they can give the best advice for how to progress the training, knowing that it will still apply after the call ends. Remember – the majority of the work is being done without the trainer present, throughout the weeks and months between appointments. If the results only happen when the trainer is present, progress is going to be impossible. Moving to in-person training further along in the process is something that can be done as and when it is appropriate for the dog, but starting online is not only just as good, it is often the best option for everyone involved.
Why is Online Great for Normal Training?
Online training platforms are often a wonderful option for regular dog training, too. Platforms like Dogversity
offer a wealth of information and tutorials at the touch of a button, available to users at any time and place to suit them. The flexibility and freedom this give dog owners to work start training new behaviours with the guidance of a professional is something that cannot be provided via in-person classes. VIP membership even gives users access to a trainer effectively in their pocket – they can ask questions in the members-only community and get advice from professionals in real time.
Online Zoom classes
are also proving to be popular, fun and effective – many of us live busy lives, and being able to train in the comfort of our own home of an evening with no additional commute is a great way to make sure we can fit our dog’s training into our schedule. Bringing with it the instant communication with your instructor and the fun of training alongside other dog owners, just like an in-person class, without even leaving the house!
Why is Blended Learning Beneficial?
A combination of in-person and online training is the optimum formula for accelerated learning! Training in different environments is a great way to ensure the lessons our dogs are learning will carry through to new places and situations, so taking the time to train both in a class environment – outdoors and around other people and dogs – as well as at home and at different times of the day is the perfect way to help our dogs generalise their training. Most dog owners are also learning these new skills too, alongside their dogs – a class only accounts for an hour of the week but our dogs are learning life lessons every second that they’re awake, and it’s easy for us to forget the details of what exactly we worked on and how exactly we were supposed to do it. Online training means we can rewatch tutorials and check in for guidance and advice at any point throughout the week, to ensure we are training effectively every day!
Online learning also offers us ways to track our progress, with check systems to show you what exercises you’ve already covered and what’s left to work through. This is a great way both to see the potential for us and our dogs as well as to hold ourselves accountable, so that we continue to invest in our dogs’ ongoing education.