Blog - Online dog training classes

Posted Thursday, 21 May 2020

Pros and cons

Online dog training classes is a new idea and resulted out of a need due to Covid 19 lockdown, which made it impossible to deliver "in person" training. 

Obviously, I look around and take a look at what other trainers are doing and how they are running them, but I never expected to see dog trainers selling pre recorded training classes. Whilst this might be lucrative for the dog trainer, it's not a good way for dog owners to learn. I'm not sure why someone would pay for these either when there are many excellent quality FREE You Tube tutorials available. 

When people are trying to learn how to train their puppy or dog, it can be really difficult as they are not aware of what they are doing wrong. A few years ago, I wanted to learn how to do competitive obedience with Lily. I watched fabulous You Tube videos, but I knew I would never be able to do this without finding an  obedience trainer. Luckily I found Brian Reed, a fabulous clicker obedience trainer, who happily was very nearby. I learned a great deal from him, not least of which was the impact my body positioning had on how my dog behaved. Even a slight shoulder twist was enough to make Lily walk in a curved line rather than a straight one. My foot position would guide her as to what direction I was going to take, rather than my verbal cue (not allowed to use). Sadly, my journey into competitive obedience never took off as I then took a master's degree and as Saturday is my busiest work day, I never managed to get to compete. 

What I am saying is that, professional dog trainers go to "coached" dog training classes/private training because they know they rely on feedback from a trainer to make sure they are doing things correctly. We just can't see ourselves. This is also why nearly all insurance companies will not cover pre recorded videos for which the owner has not been assessed, or is not being coached. It is easy to get things wrong if you are not being coached, and sometimes it's downright dangerous (e.g. pre recorded behaviour tutorials for dealing with reactive dogs).

There are some amazing free You Tube tutorials by the likes of Kiko Pup and Domesticated Manners. These people are true experts in dog training. Not all dog trainers are equal. But for a typical dog owner being able to follow them all fully may not always be possible as, most dog owners are not aware of how their body, voice, hand positions etc. affect how their dog reads their cues. This results in unsuccessful attempts to train their dog, and then disillusionment with the idea that they can train their dog. In some cases this could actually lead to more aversive methods being used as the owner finds that positive methods of training do not work for them. 

This is why I only run live COACHED online dog training classes.  We have small groups of four so that I can spend quality time with each as coaching is more challenging for the trainer working remotely. We cannot always see the whole picture due to camera work and are not always aware of any limitations an individual might have. We also don't know the dog and it's more difficult to get a feel for the dog and their motivation. Working remotely requires more in depth support for clients. So far, online training has resulted in far superior training outcomes, probably because the owner and puppy are less distracted and the demonstrations are perhaps easier to follow on a screen the in class. 

I will always support and in between sessions, can continue support via our private Facebook groups so that clients can show me their progress in between sessions. 

So if you have been disappointed with the results of pre recorded puppy or dog training classes you have bought, this is not a surprise to me. Look for classes where the trainer can assess your needs and deliver you coaching in the way you learn best. Once size does NOT fit all when it comes to training your dog. Not least because each person is different and each dog is different and we all have different learning styles.