By: Anthony De Marinis, CDBC, VSPDT, CBATI
With the Covid-19 pandemic, dog trainers and behavior consultants have taken to online virtual sessions to provide support for their clients.
This blog is meant to help dog owners learn:
- About Online Virtual Sessions
- How it works
- The variety of options available
- The benefits of this service
- Addressing client hesitation about this service
- How to prepare for your online virtual session
- How to find a qualified professional
- I have also included a link to a sample video of what my sessions look like
So let’s get started!
The Main Question: Are online virtual dog training and behavior sessions for you? And if so, what can this service help with and how does it work?
When people think of dog training and behavior modification, many dog owners think of a professional coming to their home or taking their dog to a training center. But in this modern day, many businesses and services have gone online. The dog training and behavior industry is quickly becoming one of them. Because this is a fairly new service to the dog training and behavior industry, you may see this service marketed and advertised using many different names, such as:
- Online Virtual Dog Training
- Remote Dog Training or Remote Consultations
- Video Chat or Video Consultations
- Tele Dog Training
Especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, many local dog trainers and behavior professionals have taken their businesses online. (At the bottom of this blog post, I have listed professional dog training and behavior organizations that can help you find a professional.)
Professional Help Live, In Real Time
Online virtual dog training and behavior sessions are typically provided through live video chat platforms like Zoom, Skype or Facetime to name a few. All a client needs is a laptop, ipad (or other tablet device) or a smartphone with a web camera.
Depending on the platform your professional uses will depend on how you will access the appointment and interact with them. I use a system called Zoom. It is really easy to use. Clients DO NOT need an account and they DO NOT need to download anything to access the appointment. All I do is send the client an email with their own private link. On the day and time of the appointment, all the client needs to do is click on the link and wait for me to admit them. Once I admit them into the meeting we can see each other and hear each other in real time!
Can Online Virtual Dog Training & Behavior Sessions Really Help?
Yes!!! This option really works for a variety of reasons. Once your professional gathers information on your dog and understands your goals, then they can develop a custom plan with you. Plans may include training skills, behavior modification protocols and management strategies. Most sessions are guided hands-on coaching sessions where your professional will instruct you with your dog. They will do this by either explaining to you what to do or they will demonstrate how to do it. Towards the bottom I have provided a video of some of my sessions so that you can see what online virtual sessions look like. Remember, one-on-one sessions are customized to your specific situation. Sometimes sessions will be strictly consultations rather than hands-on coaching sessions.
This is also a great option for people who live somewhere that does not have a qualified training or behavior professional, regardless of where you live in the world. I personally have clients in many states across the country.
Some of the online virtual services dog trainers and behavior consultants are providing include:
- One-on-one puppy training sessions
- One-on-one behavior modification sessions
- Group classes
- How to groom your own dog- One of my friends and colleagues is providing online introduction to grooming your dog at home (since most groomers are closed due to covid-19). Here is her direct website to learn more: https://www.pumpkinpups.com/
- Pre-dog consultations- consultations to help prepare you for your new puppy or adult dog prior to them coming home.
What Are The Benefits To Online Virtual Sessions?
There are a lot of great benefits to online virtual dog training and behavior sessions. Here is a list of some of the benefits:
- Professional Experience: If you are hiring a certified and qualified professional, you will find that you will receive the same expertise and guidance just like you would if your professional was their in-person.
- Personalized: If you are seeking one-on-one sessions, you will find most professionals will tailor the session to you and your dogs unique needs.
- Convenient: You can say good bye to travel time and hello to more time! Scheduling is more flexible and convenient. Many professionals offer daytime, evening and weekend hours.
- Helpful Advice: During your online session, you will receive advice and guidance based on your questions, concerns or issues that might be occurring.
- Guided Hands-On Instruction: Working together with your professional, you will be coached on how to teach your dog skills and/or how to modify behaviors.
- Success Can Happen!: YES, you can be successful with online virtual training and behavior sessions just as you would with in-person sessions.
- Safety: As Covid-19 is causing much concern, one awesome thing about online virtual sessions is that you can get professional help for you and your dog while keeping yourself and your family safe. Click here to watch a video provided by the International Association For Animal Behavior Consultants on how to get help for you and your dog.
- Access To Professionals Outside Your Area: The dog training and behavior industry is unfortunately not regulated. Furthermore, many communities across the country do not have access to qualified professionals. However, with online virtual services this is now possible! Go ahead and search for your training and behavior professional from anywhere in the world! As I mentioned earlier, I have many clients across the country that I have the pleasure of helping.
During this current pandemic Covid-19 virus, this service is a great option to get help while keeping you and your loved ones safe. Many dog owners, shelters and rescues are learning the value of this service as in-home options are currently not available in most states.
What is a better option online: One-on-one or group classes?
This really will depend on the clients learning style and what a client needs help with. One-on-one sessions are customizable to the clients specific needs. Group classes typically follow a specific curriculum format. You should also double check the format of the group class you are interested in. Some are live classes with a group that might meet one time or might meet once a week on the same day and time. While other group classes are pre-recorded and self-paced.
Online Virtual Dog Training and Behavior Sessions can help with (but is not limited to):
- Aggressive Behavior issues towards people, other dogs, resource guarding, territorial issues and more.
- Puppy Training such as training and foundation skills, potty training, crate training, problem solving and management strategies, and socialization.
- Manners Training such as sit, down, focus, come, stay, drop it, leave it just to name a few.
- Group Classes such a puppy class, fun tricks classes and manners class.
- Fun Training & Relationship Building Games to build confidence and a stronger bond between dog and owner.
- Fear, Anxiety & Phobia Issues
- Destructive Behavior
- Relaxation Skills
- Cooperative Care such as muzzle training, head halter acclimation, and teaching your dog to accept body handling for vet and grooming visits.
- Housetraining and Acclimation to the home for new dogs
- Pre-dog preparation assistance– preparation before your new puppy or adult dog comes home!
Still Not Convinced?
I totally get it! This is still a new service for many people. If you are still feeling hesitation about this type of service, do not worry, I have you covered! Below is a video I created of my personal online virtual training and behavior sessions. It is important to remember that every dog trainer and behavior consultant has their own approach to training and providing online virtual sessions. Some might do more consulting, some might do more hands-on coaching and some might do a mixture of both. It is also important to point out that some dog trainers and behavior consultants limit their services. Some might provide basic training skills, while others will provide help for aggression and other behavior issues. I personally offer a broad range of services virtually, from aggression and behavior consultations to puppy training and manners.
Check-out My Video Of My Online Virtual Sessions
Take a look at my video with some of my virtual sessions. You will see I try to make my sessions fun, enjoyable and educational for my clients. Click here to watch a trailer of some online virtual sessions.
One of the reasons that people are hesitant about this service is because they do not think they will be able to actually teach their dogs skills, modify any behavior issues and/or that the trainer or behavior professional will not be able to see the issues the owner is having with their dog. However, this is all false! You will see based off my video, all of my clients learn hands-on skills. I do this by either using my dog as a demo or I will play a video for the client to watch with me and then I have them practice with me on the other side of the screen.
Another awesome and innovative feature is the “screen share” option. Depending on the platform your trainer or behavior professional uses, the professional and the client have the option to share their own screen with each other. This means that if you have videos of your dog that you want the trainer or behavior consultant to watch, you can share your screen and watch the video together in real time! I love doing this with clients and I encourage them to take as many videos as possible so we can review things together on the spot. Disclaimer- DO NOT provoke your dogs behavior just to capture it on video! Especially for behavior issues. We do not need you getting hurt and we do not need your dogs behavior getting worse. If you happen to have video footage that’s great, but not necessary.
If you are hesitant, here are some suggestions:
- First and foremost: If you are having a problem with your dog, it is always worth getting professional advice, even if it is just a one time session. You have nothing to loose! Don’t wait to get help, because your dogs behavior can get worse if not addressed.
- Do your research on the trainer/behavior professional you are interested in hiring
- See what professional certifications and qualifications they have. (Many organizations have profiles or information on each of their members.)
- Check-out what services the professional offers
- Learn about what training methods they use to train and/or modify behavior
- Research their education, the institutions they became educated by and the certifications they hold
- Watch their training videos to get a feel for their methods and personality to see if they are a good fit for you and your dog. If they do not have videos posted, then call to speak with them in order to get a feel for the professional. You want to make sure both of you are a good fit for each other so that you get the most out of your session(s).
How To Prepare For Your Online Virtual Session
In preparation for your online virtual session you should consider doing the following:
- Write out any important questions you would like answers too.
- Keep a journal of any concerns or important incidents that have taken place so that they can be discussed in detail with your professional.
- Provide video footage: If you have any videos of the problem behaviors, it is helpful to upload them to your computer so that they can be reviewed during your session. You can also upload a couple of videos where your dog is just being him/herself, regardless if it shows any issues. It is NOT worth trying to provoke your dogs behavior or put yourself or your dog in harm’s way for video footage. If you happen to have video footage that is great! If you don’t have video footage do not worry as it is not necessary.
- Have a notebook and pen ready to take notes and write down your homework
- Have a space where you can set your laptop or mobile device up so that you can do some hands-on training with your training professional and your dog. Having a tripod or stand for phones or an ipad is ideal so that you can easily position the camera. The space should be well lit, preferably without a window behind you so you can be seen more clearly. Your space should be as open and clear as possible so that you can work with your dog comfortably.
- Have a variety of very tasty treats to motivate your dog to work with you.
If you are interested in getting dog training or behavior modification help through online virtual sessions you can search for a qualified training or behavior professional from one of the professional organizations I listed below. If you would like to work with me through online virtual sessions you can visit my Online Virtual Training & Behavior Session page by clicking here.
Dog Training & Behavior Organizations:
Victoria Stilwell Positively Dog Trainers – (This organization offers online virtual consultations.)
How should you choose a qualified professional?
Here are three links from credible sources on how to choose a professional. The first is from the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior. The second is from positivily.com and the third is from the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants.
Anthony De Marinis is the owner of De Marinis Dog Training & Behavior in Long Island, NY. He provides both private in-home and private online virtual training and behavior modification solutions using positive reinforcement-based methods. Anthony has 6 professional certifications which include: Certified Dog Behavior Consultant from the International Association for Animal Behavior Consultants, Certified Graduate of distinction from the Victoria Stilwell Academy for Dog Training & Behavior, Certified Behavior Adjustment Trainer, Certified Victoria Stilwell Licensed Positively Dog Trainer, The Third Way Certified Trainer and is a Fear Free Certified Animal Trainer. Currently, Anthony has a young Australian Kelpie named Journey. They are learning about agility and nose work together. You can visit Anthony’s website and learn more about him and his services at: www.demarinisdogtraining.com