Your Guide to Online Dog Training: What it is and Why it's Worth a Try
Training Tips | By: TAYLOR WYLLIE, KPA CTP | Aug 01, 2023
Join our mailing list
Get updates about new courses, new classes, and the latest discounts.
Online dog training isn’t a new concept.
Zak George first began teaching people effective ways to train their dogs through a screen 14 (!) years ago when he posted his first YouTube video. Chirag Patel also posted his first video 14 years ago. And Emily Larlham, the woman behind Kikopup, posted her first video 16 years ago. (Her YouTube channel is now old enough to drive!)
But with the improvement of video chat programs and the popularization of online learning platforms, we’ve entered a new era of online dog training.
One where dog owners can more effectively engage with and learn from professional trainers via one-on-one private training, group classes, self-paced courses, or even online communities.
And I love it!
I am a huge fan of online dog training. I both offer online classes and private training and have taken multiple online classes with my own dog. A good chunk of my dog training professional program was even online.
But if you’re confused by the concept or not convinced then I’ve written this post for you.
Let’s dive in and explore why online dog training can be such a powerful (and fun!) way to learn and transform your dog’s behavior.
What is Online Dog Training?
Online dog training is exactly what it sounds like—a way to virtually work with a dog trainer from the comfort of your own home. There are both private options and group classes available.
There are as many types of online classes as their are dog breeds—that’s to say a lot—and programs vary wildly. It’s important to check the details of the program you’re specifically interested in.
But there are some commonalities.
Usually, there is at least one virtual meeting a week, either one-on-one or with a group of people, where training concepts are discussed and questions are answered. Sometimes, these live sessions include training with the dog on the spot, allowing the trainer to observe and guide the training process. Note that some more flexible or self-paced online classes don’t offer this live component.
In between these sessions—or instead of them—you’re typically expected to do “homework.” (Same as most in-person dog training programs.) The homework assignments may be delivered via video or in a written form.
There may also be video reviews where the trainer analyzes videos from their clients, providing personalized feedback on training progress.
Virtual office hours are an option some trainers also include, allowing clients to connect with the trainer outside of regular sessions for additional support and guidance.
A trainer may also offer email or text message support.
Who is Online Dog Training For?
Would it be too cheesy to say everyone? But seriously, online dog training is for anyone who has some tech savvy and wants to work on dog training and/or behavior modification.
It's a wonderful option if you’re busy and would prefer not to drag your kids along to a facility or sit in traffic as you make your way across town.
Online training can also be extremely beneficial if you have an anxious or reactive dog. In-person classes or even in-person private training can be too overwhelming for these sensitive dogs. For example, if your dog reacts when strangers enter your home, it may be best to start working with a trainer online. That way, you can prevent your dog from being pushed over-threshold, which could lead to excessive stress—hindering their ability to learn—or potentially result in a bite.
Of course, it’s also a great option if you can’t find a local trainer who aligns with your values or specializes in the kind of training you need.
What are the Benefits of Online Dog Training?
First off, online dog training classes offer a lot of flexibility. Whether you live in a remote area or have a busy schedule, online classes allow you to learn at your own pace and on your own time. You don't have to worry about making it to a physical location at a certain time every week. You can train while dinner’s cooking or your kids are doing their math homework. You don’t have to trek through the snow, rain, or excessive heat.
Online dog training classes also offer a unique advantage — you get to work with your dog in your own environment. Dogs learn best in distraction-free spaces. And dog training facilities are distraction-full environments. As your dog gets the hang of new behaviors, you can slowly add in controlled distractions, which teaches your dog to listen anywhere. But that should come after your dog has already learned the behavior, not before.
On a similar note, online classes allow you to focus on the information being presented, without having to worry about managing your dog's behavior in a distracting environment. Or struggling with feelings of embarrassment if you seem to have the “problem” dog of the class. This can lead to better retention of information and a more effective training experience.
And, as already said, online dog training is particularly beneficial for reactive or anxious dogs who may struggle in a traditional classroom setting or if a trainer were to enter your home. If your dog has a bite history, online training also helps keep everyone safe.
Is Online Dog Training Effective?
Like all training, online training is what you make of it. If you are consistent and actually do the homework then yes, absolutely. It is super effective.
Virtual training can be even more effective than in-person classes for dogs and humans who struggle to focus amid all the distractions.
Can I Do Online Dog Training with My Puppy?
Absolutely! There are numerous online training classes specifically designed to cater to puppies.
In traditional in-person classes, puppies can get quite wiggly and challenging to manage, which may distract you from the trainer's instructions. However, with online training, you won't have to worry about such distractions. You can focus solely on the expert guidance from the comfort of your home.
Moreover, puppies have short attention spans, and hour-long in-person classes may not be the most suitable option.
That said, online training does have one down side—it does not provide socialization opportunities. That means you need to ensure that you safely expose your puppy to a variety of new and positive experiences. This will help them become confident and well-adjusted companions.
What do I Need for Online Dog Training?
You’ll need a reliable internet connection and a device that can access the internet, such as a computer, tablet, or smartphone. And, of course, a dog that needs training.
You'll also need a webcam or camera to allow your trainer to see you and your dog during live sessions. (If required by that particular class.)
A quiet and distraction-free space for training is also important, as it allows you to focus on the training and minimizes distractions for your dog.
Some trainers may recommend specific training equipment, such as treats, a clicker, or a specific type of harness or leash, but this can vary depending on the trainer and the type of training you'll be doing. Your trainer will likely provide you with a detailed list of what you'll need before you start your online training.
So, if you're considering dog training classes for your dog, I highly recommend checking out online options. With their convenience and flexibility, online classes can be a fantastic choice.