A lot of the time, a question I get is “Ali, Is Online Training As Good As In Person Training?”
This is a great question! It’s a choice that puppy and dog parents will need to live with as long as they own their dog.
At Rebarkable? I only offer online training, but the truth of the matter is that online dog training might not be the best option for you.
This blog post will discuss the differences between online dog training and in person puppy training in an honest and transparent manner (because that’s all I’m good at!!). This way, by the end of reading this? You’ll know which of these is a best fit for you and your pup.
So let’s have a look at the pros and cos of online training and in person training, so you know what the best option is for you and your woof!
NOTE: Some services do vary! Some trainers work in the real world as opposed to in arenas, and some online classes provide zooms to cover the face to face aspect. But this is tailored to the ‘general’ experience throughout.
In Person Training For Your Dog Or Puppy
✅ Direct face to face access
✅ Class environments can be social
✅ Time bound
✅ Supplies available
❌ At your trainer’s schedule
❌ Classes are often a sterile environment
❌ Not accessible
This synopsis is considering group classes in the main; these are the pros and cons that you will likely experience. There are, of course, trainers who offer other services and vary from the norm, but for these purposes, I’m discussing the ‘normal’ attributes.
Direct Face To Face Access
The biggest thing here is always that face to face access, this can be really valuable if you’re a person who likes to talk things though, who enjoys the human touch? This can be a wonderful way to interact, learn and disect your issues.
Though, do be aware in a class setting, your tutor will have limited time to share with you and your dog.
Class Environments Can Be Social!
You can meet other puppy or dog owners who have a similar issues to you, which is such a wonderful thing – because you can become friends over the same situation, sharing the same struggle. So that’s a wonderful thing you can benefit from, especially if your dogs become friends (if it’s that sort of class) and some puppy classes offer short play sessions for puppies too.
Once you book onto a course, you’re kind of tied in. It’s not like the gym membership you have where you’re accountable only to yourself and your goals, this one is a strict class schedule and you kind of become accountable. Which, if you struggle to keep to a programme can be a great element of accountability!
Similarly, the class environment can help you to normalise your experience with your dog, because there are other paw-rents there who are dealing with what you are, and that shared pain, frustration and aggravations (or even just a low mood!) can really validate the way you’re feeling. It’s not easy being a dog parent at times, and it can make you feel pretty dismal! Knowing that that is okay? Knowing that you’re not alone in that experience? Actually makes you go “Oh, well, if others feel like this? I’m not a bad person” (Which I assure you you are not! It just feels that way) – shared experiences are very normalising.
Sometimes if your class is talking about, let’s say recall, they’ll bring a long line with them so you can practice – even if you don’t own one yet. Which gives you some hands on experience doing exactly what you need to do.
On Your Trainers Schedule
Training classes are build around us trainers – not necessarily around you – because it’s impossible to make everyone happy, and sometimes compromise just has to happen. So, it’s asked of you. That can be a problem.
Classes Are Often A Sterile Environment
Classes held in secure fields, halls, or even in arenas are very unique environments. There are some distractions, but they’re not real world distractions, and as a result, it can often be hard to translate these into real life scenarios and consequently successes. This ‘sterility’ can make in person classes a little hard.
Now, I’ve never seen it but it may exist. I’ve never seen a training class that has an interpreter available, so you would have to bring your own if you are Deaf, or audibly impaired. It also may be the case that the classes may not be explanatory enough and rely more on visual teaching that those who are visually imapired may struggle too.
Summary: In Person Dog Training Classes
So that’s a few of the pros and cons for this section. Overall? There’s no denying that this sort of learning works and it works really well! But there are some obvious drawbacks or limitations too.
As the world develops towards a new, technological age, perhaps online training classes have something to offer that traditional, in person classes don’t? Or maybe they’re just better suited for you and your lifestyle? Let’s go investigate the world of online training!
Online Training For Your Dog Or Puppy
✅ More exposure/experience
✅ Risk Free
✅ Do It At Your Leisure
✅ Optimise Training Times For Your Dog
✅ Repeat Access
✅ Vary your environment easily
✅ Accessibility can be covered easily
❌ No face to face access
❌ Zoom or programmes can be laggy
❌Supplies are purchased
This is based on a ‘distance learning’ course, not necessarily all programmes that are available. These are the most common types of classes available in the online dog training world.
Dog trainers who offer online training tend to get experience with a greater number of dogs, faster due to a quicker, broader, larger feedback loop. This means they’re more likely to know the solution to your problem because they’ve had it come up – and probably a few times.
Their niche is their niche for a reason, and a wider reach means that that learning curve is steep, and can (if they’re a good trainer!) create an even stronger knowledge that you will benefit from via their online training offerings.
In aggression cases? They come with innate risk to your dog (if something goes wrong) and to the trainer who’s trying to help. That can help to make a big difference in your stress levels and consequently your dogs’ stress levels! There’s not an additional weirdo there that’s ‘participating’ in their training. Online training brings that bubble down to just you and your dog.
Do It At Your Leisure
Training classes at midday on a Sunday, or first thing Saturday morning – yuck! With online training? If you want to do it at 3am? You actually can. And goodness only knows if you’re dealing with a puppy? You might want to watch it whilst they’re napping, get a grasp on it and try it when they’re awake again – that way you’re prepped and not learning on the fly.
Online training is typically on demand and you can fit it around you, and not your trainer!
Optimise training for your dog
Learn at your pup’s pace and at the times they want to learn.
Some dogs are faster than others, others are slower, some are the exact right pace. It’s like goldilocks! But online training means that you can work to his or her pace, that you can make the most out of it, not feel guilty for holding a class up, or not sit idly whilst your dog is excelling. Online training allows you to get past that social pressure.
Ever sit there after a meeting, or event and go “Oh shoot, they said a thing that was really important, but I can’t remember…” Well, that’s no longer an issue with online training, you can watch it over, and over and over again without feeling like you’re losing valuable time, and learn as you go. You can also tune in to your online training around your dogs natural schedules like breakfast, dinner, lunchtime naps – and feature it right when they’re best poised to learn for the very best effects!
Easy To Vary Environments
Whilst your dog training classes will probably be in the same environment from class to class, with online training? You can re-run the class in different environments and get in your practice everywhere, with guidance throughout. It does leave a little more on your shoulders, but a well structured online training course will explain why the environment you train in is really important. Still! You can do these things easily for your training sessions with online training.
Accessibility Is Easier With Online Training
The world is trying to be a more accepting world. And part of that? Is the accessibility aspect. Online videos and teaching can be done with subtitles – which is phenomenal for the Deaf! Which is a wonderful thing to offer!
Online Training Doesn’t Offer Face To Face Access
This can be a benefit, or a problem depending on you as a person. Personally? (Especially since the quarantine!) I find in person classes a little intimidating? There’s a lot of pressure on in person classes, but you may love it! And if you do? This is a big drawback for you and potentially your learning style.
Online classes can be difficult because of the lack of direct access and hands-on-ness? But a well explained course, will overcome that quite easily and give you everything you need to know.
Zoom And Other Online Training Programmes Can Be Laggy
Depending on your wifi, on your signal, on the weather, or on a hundred thousand things we all know zoom can be a problem, as can other distance learning platforms. Which can be frustrating and off putting factor involved in online training. But as technology improves, this is always getting better!
Supplies will need to be purchased.
As you’ll be doing it at home, you’ll need to be organised and bring in the supplies you need, and your trainer won’t be able to do that in your stead, or introduce you physically to a product. Whilst I’m sure they’ll have a list of products they love ready for you to avail of – but it still means you’ll have to invest before experiencing it which can be a bother.
Summary: Online Puppy & Dog Training Classes
They’re a really great option for a lot of people. It just depends on you and how you learn – that’s really important to remember.
Like our dogs, we’re all individuals, and we learn in different ways. If you know and understand how you learn already? You’ll know what is best.
Is Online Dog Training The Future?
Possibly. There will always be space for us to learn in person though I think! Sometimes that’s just what you need.
The point is that you now have flexibility to choose what’s best for you. You have a world of trainers at your disposal. So you can pick… literally anyone of thousands of trainers across the world who offer online services to make that work for you. The world has become your oyster – don’t squander that!
My Best Quick Tips About Finding A Trainer… Online, or Offline.
Do your research.
I mean that. Online or elsewhere. You want to see transparency about what the course offers you, the training methods and the person behind it. They should have material you can see, experience or attend in order to get a taste of what they do.
Trainers rarely offer a ‘meet and greet’ but they will often allow you to watch and attend a class without your dog to get an idea of how it runs, how it’s structured and what you can expect.
Your trainer must engage you. Give you the understanding you need and make it clear in a non-jargon way that helps you to get the issues behind the problem or what they’re teaching so that you can apply the knowledge yourself.
“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”Albert Einstein
And I believe that to the core. It’s the reason I cannot teach you about resource guarding properly, I can tell you what I understand but beyond that? Pffft nope, find someone else! We have our strengths, we have our weaknesses, and a good trainer will only impart the things they truly understand to you.
That’s why researching the trainer is important.
Know your goal
Again, sounds simple? Actually isn’t that simple. But try and prepare an idea of what ‘perfect’ (hate that term!) means for you, where you realistically want to get to? Is it a peaceful walk with your reactive Great Dane? Is it just that they stop trying to bite you when you drop something on the floor? Or maybe it’s you want your puppy to grow up to be a confident, capable member of your family?
Different courses offer different outcomes, and different trainers do too. So try to know what you want out of the training!
Ultimately, We Train People, Not Dogs
Remember that when you’re going through any process with any trainer. I mean it helps a lot with in person training if your dog likes them, but we trainers are there for you primarily. You’re the biggest component in making training work. Not your dog. If this is confusing? Head over to the blog below to figure it out…
Online vs Reality, Confusion Resolved!
The next thing I want to say is that if you need some recommendations? I’ve compiled 2021’s list of best online dog training courses for specific problems, for you! These trainers do explain things well, and I’ve done that research for you, with you in mind.
Or, maybe you need help finding your training class? There’s more information to be found about that in our post about finding the perfect puppy class.
If you need input, or are wondering if a service might be appropriate for you, why not email me? I’d be happy to chat you through the decision!
Katie Doyle from Furever Friends Pet Services
Karen Rhodes from Luxury Dog Hampers
Rowan Williams from Pooch & Pineapple
Michelle Burgess from Scruffy Little Terrier
And Zoe Willingham from Best Behaviour Dog Training
For their contributions to the Pros & Cons to help me ensure I got a well rounded view on this!