Early in the year, I feel like I get more inquiries than usual for dog training. And sometimes people are surprised that I work online. When I tell them that, the next thing I hear is either “But I was really hoping for someone to be in person,” or “Really? How does that work?”
You have a lot of options when it comes to dog training in 2023. In-person group classes, in-home private lessons, board and train, dog schools/daycare, day training. But as you may have guessed, my personal favorite is online coaching.
I am a big believer in online coaching to help dog guardians work through reactivity with their dogs. If the idea of working online with a dog trainer is new to you or if you are wondering if online dog training is right for you, keep reading. I’m giving you all the reasons why I think online coaching for dog reactivity is ideal.
#1 Online sessions keep your dog calm
Many of the guardians I work with say they want their dog to relax. We can start to practice relaxation at home – and this goes much better when it’s just you and your dog.
Last year I attended a mentorship program (because coaches need coaches too!) and another trainer/student asked “What do I do when I arrive at a person’s house and the dog is so keyed up I can’t really teach anything? The dog is stressed and the owner is too. Everyone is on edge right away.”
Easy. You don’t show up.
Working online means your dog stays under threshold and allows you to go at your dog’s pace. This is reason #1 because it is that important.
For a lot of the dogs I work with, they have very big feelings about a complete stranger walking up to their door, entering their home, and then standing and moving about once inside.
If your dog is barking, pacing, whining, jumping, and/or snapping when a person comes over, that is not going to be an ideal headspace for learning – canine or human.
It took me some time to learn this, however.
I remember early in my career, I offered in-person private lessons. One of the first clients I had was a dog named Ghost. Ghost was an Australian Shepherd and knew a lot of cues and fun tricks. He walked perfectly on a leash and loved to play with his dad. Other dogs did not bother him. He got along well with the cat.
So why did they need me? Because Ghost had reacted to other humans coming into his home. He had even nipped at a person.
The first few sessions with Ghost, we had to meet outside and walk around the block before I could come inside. Once inside I would only walk into the hallway. Over time, as Ghost got to know me, I could come inside and sit down. Even then, I made sure to not move too suddenly. We spent our sessions with me on the couch talking about management strategies and describing what to do the next time a friend came over.
Looking back, I could have done so much better for Ghost. (And his dad!)
In the initial sessions, a lot of the work is done at home. Dogs need to learn new skills in a non-distracting environment and your home is the perfect place for this.
When you are ready to introduce new distractions (like people or dogs), I give you step-by-step instructions on how to do that.
Which leads to my next point…
#2 Curriculum to follow
I provide a curriculum online for you to work through.
I am going to be brutally honest with you. I am not teaching you anything new or groundbreaking. With behavior and learning, we are all bound by the rules of science. Science tells us the different ways dogs learn and the best, most humane methods to teach them.
You have probably heard of (or maybe even tried) the techniques I cover. But the difference is I give you steps to follow. I make sure it is clear when to move on to the next step.
Tell me if this sounds familiar: You teach your dog a new skill like “rest on a mat” and they learn it quickly! As soon as you cue it, your dog happily goes to their mat.
But then a guest comes over, or someone walks by the window, or there is a sound outside. And your dog seems to completely forget the behavior. This isn’t because you are a “bad teacher” or doing something wrong. It’s because most dog training plans don’t take you beyond the “teaching” aspect to how to effectively apply it in real life by changing your dog’s emotional response.
#3 Train your dog when it works for you both – not when the trainer shows up or class starts.
When I got my start in dog training, I taught group classes in a pet supply store.
In the evening classes, there were plenty of times when guardians showed up seemingly out of breath, having rushed home from work to let their dog out for a quick potty break before rushing to get to class on time. Their dogs were keyed up from being inside all day. Everyone was hungry and thinking about dinner.
I taught one mid-morning class and often heard the dog was napping and had to be woken up to come to class!
Neither of these scenarios are ideal.
With my online format, you watch the curriculum and implement what you learned when it works best for you and your dog. Set up your cell phone camera to record your training session and you are good to go.
#4 Our time together is maximized
You only see your trainer for about an hour a week – and that’s in-person or online. What you do in your time outside the sessions is what really matters.
Which is why I want to make the most of my time with my clients. I want to make sure that my clients feel comfortable and confident with what happens outside of our time together.
Our coaching calls are not spent with me live-demoing how to teach your dog a skill and then you try it a few times. You’ve got demo videos and handouts in the curriculum for that.
Rather, our sessions are to discuss what is working, what is going well, what we need to keep doing, and what we need to change or even stop. We review videos of your training sessions. I coach you on how to track and evaluate your progress. We make plans for next steps and continued progress.
Clients tell me these sessions hold them accountable. They know what they are working on in between sessions and commit to the plan because they want to have feedback and support.
#5 The sessions are all recorded.
Did you know we only remember about 10% of what we hear? Having access to the recording of a session is great if you need a refresher on a specific topic.
Recorded sessions are a favorite for me and my clients. Recording the sessions allows everyone to stay present in the conversation rather than taking notes. (Although some clients take notes too, and that’s OK!) I almost always go back and rewatch sessions and take notes then. I truly feel this makes me a more effective dog trainer.
#6 YOUR confidence will increase.
You live with your dog every single day. You deserve to feel confident to help your dog through behavior struggles.
My sincere goal for clients is to not need me anymore because they have the knowledge, tools, techniques, and analytical ability to address behavioral issues with their dog.
When I did in-person sessions, I used to internally cringe when guardians would say “My dog only listens to you, you have magic abilities!” No, I promise you I don’t.
In fact, you already have the ability to get behavior change from your dog. You will see there isn’t any “magic” that a dog trainer/behavior consultant has. I’m here to help you hone your skills and help lay the path.
#7 Geographical limitations are removed.
Working online means I can work with people anywhere in the world! I have worked with folks from all over the United States, Mexico, Canada, Australia, England…some of which worked with me because they could not find anyone in their geographic area.
While there are plenty of dog trainers out there, finding one to help you work through maladaptive behaviors can be tough. Additionally, it has been my experience that in certain parts of the world, older, out-of-date methods are more commonly used – methods that can actually be detrimental to the dog.
In short, finding a qualified, positive reinforcement dog trainer can be no small task. Working online removed any geographical limitations!
Have you considered working online with a trainer? What other questions do you have about online dog training? Ask me in the comments!
Thanks for reading.
Until next time,
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