Why online puppy training can be the best way to train your puppy

November 10, 2020

When we all went into lockdown in March of this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was a very worrying time for the majority of the population, as we all tried to change our usual way of working to keep our businesses alive. A huge percentage of the population, myself included, were forced to move their work online which was a massive learning curve and quite a daunting prospect.

Fast forward, however, to November 2020 and I am a huge fan of online dog training….so much so that the online aspect is going to not only be a permanent part of my puppy classes going forward, even when COVID-19 is a distant memory, but I am also running regular, weekly online puppy training alongside my “face to face” classes. In many ways, online dog and puppy training is actually MORE effective than “face to face” classes! Before you fall over in shock and question my sanity….let me explain why 🙂

It is the optimal environment for your puppy to learn

As I always tell people in my face to face classes, the puppy training classes that I run in Surrey are aimed at teaching the owners how to teach their puppy, and that the best place to start teaching your puppy is actually at home, where there are no distractions. With all puppies, and adult dogs, we have to set them up to succeed, and once a behaviour is reliable at home, then that is the time to slowly start to work on it around gradually increasing distractions. A puppy class with other puppies and owners, in a new environment, is actually a really hard environment for puppies to learn in. So while the words ‘online’ and ‘dog training’ never used to be widely used in the same sentence, I am really pleased to find that it is becoming more popular and actually works incredibly well.

You get a recording of the online training classes to watch at your leisure

I record all my online training classes (once I have obtained permission from all attendees of course!), and this has been another aspect of online puppy training that people have loved, because all attendees of the class get a recording of the class afterwards to keep as well as the usual handouts that I send after all classes. I know I am very much a visual learner – I learn much better by watching someone show me something, an then practicing it…but I also tend to forget the intricacies of things, and therefore like to be able to refer back to a video if it is at all possible.  At the end of the 6 week course, you will be able to refer back to each and every one of the classes at any time for as long as you wish the keep the videos.

 

The whole family can take part in the class

Due to social distancing guidelines and to ensure we abide by the Government guidelines in terms of the maximum number of people allowed to meet outside, only one person per puppy or dog is permitted to attend current outdoor, face to face classes. This is hard for me as usually I like to welcome the whole family if they wish to be involved, but I take the current situation very seriously and it is my priority to keep myself and my clients safe, and to ensure I do not aid in the spread of the virus. With the online training classes, this is not a factor anyway as the whole family can be involved, while also being in a more relaxed environment!

There is also no need to allow more time to drive to the venue, organise child care, or be out at night!

Demonstrations are easy

At the moment when outdoor classes are allowed to start back again, in order to comply with social distancing guidelines, i am required to remain a minimum of 2 metres away from each client and their dog, which means I am not able to use puppies in the class to demo behaviours as I normally would.  With the online classes I am able to either use Dylan (my dog) to demonstrate exercises, or I share videos on my screen of me working on exercises with other puppies, so you can see what to do that way, and then I watch you practice.

Geographical location is no limitation!

Whereas normally you are limited in your choice of puppy or adult dog training classes according to location, although I don’t believe you should choose a trainer simply by who is closest to you. With online puppy training, however, location truly is no limitation! Over the summer I was lucky enough to have the pleasure of welcoming clients from all over London, and even had conversations with a client in the USA!  So make sure you research reputable trainers…..you can go with recommendations of trainers who are outside your area…..if you want to train with someone who uses clicker training, for example, or who is accredited with a specific association, you are able to even though there may not be such a trainer local to you.

But what about socialisation?!

I am going to do a whole new blog post about socialisation, but sometimes people have a concern that their pup’s ‘socialisation’ will suffer as a result of training online over in person.

To begin with we first need to truly understand what is meant by the term ‘socialisation’. I personally prefer to use the terms ‘exposure’ and ‘habituation’, as I feel ‘socialisation’ is too similar to ‘socialising’….a word us humans  understand well! But in terms of socialisation with puppies, there is so much that is involved over and above puppies interacting with other dog. It basically means the process of ensuring your puppy builds a positive association with everything that they will be expected to be comfortable with throughout their adult life, and to learn that the world is a happy and good place. This involves gently exposing pups to  a variety of different people, dogs, environments, sounds, smells, surfaces to walk on and building a positive emotional response, but while a small percentage of this process involves learning appropriate social skills around other dogs and learning appropriate play, it also involves teaching pups they do not have to greet and play with every dog that they meet. Socialisation is down to you as the owner Im afraid, and is something that should be taking place every day. If you rely on one puppy class a week for 6 or 7 weeks to work on ‘socialisation’ then I’m afraid that is nowhere near sufficient, and is nothing that you cant work on out on a walk.

The most important age range in terms of building lasting associations is between the ages of 3 and 12 weeks, so a big chunk of this will be taking place while the puppy is still with the breeder. We talk about socialisation in week 1 of puppy class anyway, and explain what you should be doing.

So….if you unsure about how effective online puppy training can be, I hope this blog has alleviated some of your concerns and helped you see how beneficial it can be. If you would like to join one of our online puppy training classes, or if you have any questions I would be happy to answer them so please get in touch – angela@politepaws.co.uk

 

By Angela Doyle

I am a highly experienced and qualified reward based dog trainer and behaviour consultant based in Surrey, UK. I am a fully qualified CSAT (Certified Separation Anxiety Trainer) and specialise in helping dogs overcome Separation Anxiety.

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