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The Pros and Cons of In-person versus On-line Dog Training Classes
Since Proud of My Dog doesn’t have a training facility, and most indoor rental spaces are expensive or don’t allow dogs, our classes are held outdoors from mid April – September. Come Fall and Winter, we move all our classes on-line.
The purpose of this month’s blog post is to help you determine which class might be best for you by looking at the pros and cons of live on-line vs in-person classes.
At its most basic, on-line classes give you the opportunity to train ‘for the situation’ while in-person classes give you the opportunity to train ‘in the situation’.
Imagine, that you and your dog are coming to your first class. Your dog gets distracted by people, squirrels, dogs, birds, sounds, you name it. Your dog loves to pull on-leash and drag you everywhere.
Which option is right for you?
In-Person Dog Training (training ‘in the situation’)
You are feeling nervous about your first class, nervous about how you will manage your dog around the other class dogs, concerned that your dog might be too excited, might bark too much at the other dogs, might be more interested in the environment than working with you.
Is an in-person class right for you and your dog?
1. More practice space. Outdoors or inside, you often have more space to practice the games than you would at home.
2. Grow your dog’s disengagement skills. Your dog may learn to disengage from other dogs, people, and distractions and engage with you as you progress through the class.
3. Human connection. In-person classes allow for the human connection between you and the trainer and you and the other class participants. For those who spend much of their day on the computer, an in-person class is a chance to get off the computer, out of the house, and have in-person interactions with people.
4. Grow confidence in a safe environment (pessimistic dogs). A well-managed class will teach you how to keep your fearful dog safe and may allow your dog the opportunity to feel more confident in a highly distracting environment.
1. Time and location constraints. In-person training will require you to commute to a specific location, which can be challenging for busy individuals, those with limited mobility, bad weather and roads (especially in the winter).
2. Distractions. The class environment may be so overwhelming that your dog cannot focus on you. You find yourself spending class time trying to manage your dog instead of learning the skills and games being taught.
3. Your ability to focus. If you have a dog that struggles ‘in the situation’, you may feel embarrassed, frustrated, or irritated because your dog doesn’t seem to be learning. You may feel that your dog is not trainable and go home feeling discouraged. Your learning is compromised.
Live On-line Dog Training (training ‘for the situation’)
You are feeling nervous about your first on-line class, will you be able to access the session, will the screen freeze, will the instructor be able to see you train your dog, will you get personalized attention from the trainer, will you have enough space to practice the exercises?
Is an on-line class right for you and your dog?
1. Convenience and flexibility. Live on-line classes offer the freedom to participate from the comfort of your own home eliminating travel time and allowing you to fit a class more easily into your busy schedule.
2. Reduced Distractions. By training in a familiar environment, your dog will have better focus and will enjoy the extra interaction time with you. You can focus on what the instructor is saying and as a result, you will have an easier time practicing the games with your dog.
3. Stress Free Environment. If you have a fearful, anxious, or reactive dog, you can now take part in a group class and learn with other dog owners.
4. Never miss a class. If you were unable to attend class or simply want to review the material covered, the session is recorded so you can review it at your convenience.
1. Limited physical interaction. Live on-line training lacks the hands-on approach that some dogs and owners require for optimal learning.
2. Disengagement opportunities. Your dog won't have direct exposure to other dogs potentially limiting their opportunity to learn to disengage and focus on their owner in a structured class environment.
3. Internet connection. It is a given that at some point you or the instructor will experience technical difficulties. Tech challenges may slow down the start of class, interfere with the instructor’s ability to watch you train and to provide feedback, and could interfere with your ability to participate in a session.
4. Yet more screen time. It can be stressful staring at a screen especially if you spend a lot of your day in front of a computer.
As you can see, both options have a lot going for them. How do you decide which is the best approach for you?
Keep two things in mind when making your decision:
Class time is primarily for your learning.If you think that your dog will be too uncomfortable in an in-person class environment and will distract you from learning, an on-line class would be the place to start. Learn the skills at home with your dog first and then plan to take an in-person class where, with the help of an instructor, you can apply those skills in a more distracting environment.
Your dog can’t learn if they are in a highly aroused state. Your dog’s learning will happen when you practice at home no matter what happens in class. If your dog is so distracted or uncomfortable with the in-person class environment, they are not having a good time. It is better to start with on-line classes so that your dog can have a good experience with you right from the start.
What about puppy classes and socialization?
For puppy owners, both in-person and on-line classes can work well for learning. In-person classes are good as long as the class is well-managed to protect your puppy’s confidence and optimism. Socialization is often a concern for new puppy owners, but you do not have to attend an in-person class to achieve the benefits of socializing your puppy. Check out this YouTube video by Absolute Dogs: “How to Smash Through Your Puppy's Socialisation Checklist”
Now that you have a clearer understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of both in-person and live on-line dog training, I would like to invite you to explore the range of classes that we offer.
To learn more about our upcoming classes including information about each course, testimonials from satisfied students, class duration and price, check out our website "Upcoming Classes"
Whether you enjoy an on-line or in-person experience, our courses will provide you with the knowledge, techniques, and support necessary to foster a great relationship and raise a well-mannered family dog
Thank you for taking the time to read this post, and I look forward to welcoming you and your dog into our training community.
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AREAS WE SERVE
Proud of My Dog is located along the shores of Slocan Lake in beautiful New Denver, BC
In-person we serve, the North Slocan Valley, Nakusp, Kaslo, and the Village of Slocan.
On-Line we serve: The world!
Currently all of our in-person group classes are held in New Denver and Nakusp.
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