Whenever you bring a new puppy or dog home, usually one of the first things you consider is how you are going to train this new member of your family.
I have been a trainer and behaviourist since 2007, I thought we provided the best experience for dogs and their humans, but I was wrong. The pandemic, Covid-19, forced the whole world to re-evaluate how we work, and this brought the opportunity to test out our online courses, learning hub and online consultations.
We had dabbled a little with online training when clients emigrated to Australia and some of our students were based in South Africa, but never had the whole business online, so this was a big step.
Can online dog training really work?
Well, all I can say is WOW!!. Not only are all the puppies and dogs learning quicker than ever before. Their lead walking, recalls, attention and even dogs with behavioural issues are all improving must faster and transferring much more effectively to the streets and local parks and other distracting environments than previously too.
Why is teaching remotely so much more effective?
So I started to question whether how we have trained for so long really was the best way and if not it then why? Well, when you strip it all back and think about it, the answer is simple. How do you learn best? Perhaps if you were trying to understand a new subject, for example, would you choose a busy party or a calm environment set up with minimal distractions? Consider for a moment, if you were to teach a child algebra, how successfully would you do this on a roller coaster? How much would they recall of the arithmetic and how much of the loops and adrenaline?
So why then do we continue to insist on teaching in public parks, or groups of puppies, in the environment the dog is scared of, or in enclosed spaces? It is distracting, overwhelming, and challenging and whilst they can learn this way, it is slower and with far more frustration. Much like many things in life, it continues this way because it is just how it has always been. I question now whether it is kind, fair or effective.
Many businesses have embraced the productivity increase
I have known many people over the years who wanted to work from home, but their companies claimed they wouldn’t be as productive. Contrary to this assumption, a considerable percentage of businesses are cutting overheads and having their employees work from home more permanently as productivity soared through the initial lockdown. This is the same with dog training.
Not everyone is the same, and not everyone has the same skillset
Whether you look for group classes or one-to-one support, often people will head to the internet to find a trainer close to them or ask for a recommendation from friends, usually from their vets too. I want all my dogs and client's dogs to learn in the most effective way, I want them to progress in the easiest way possible, and above all else I want it to be fun, this is why we teach online.
Even our long-time clients who we used to see every week for years have requested to stay online, and they love how much more they’ve got to know each other, they can’t believe how well their dogs are doing training at home first. It takes all the hassle out of travelling to a venue or having a trainer come to your home getting your dogs all fired up, waisting half an hour, getting them calm enough to train, showing you how perfect they can be only for you to realise you can’t replicate it once they leave.
Not all online training is the same, it is certainly a skill to be able to coach remotely, but I am thrilled with how many of our clients have not only embraced this new way of learning but celebrated it.