Where should I train my dog?
Nowadays there are a range of options for where to have professional training and behaviour consults for you and your dog. As always we recommend that any training you have is from a qualified professional using force free approach.
The options to consider are:
Training in your home:
This can be a great option for some families. It can be useful to work on some issues in the home such as settling at home, walking from home or at your usual route.
It also offers less distractions for your dog and is great for dogs who don’t travel well too.
But if your dog really struggles with visitors it can actually be more useful to train outside of the home (or online) initially, building up to a session inside your home. Otherwise it can be too overwhelming for some dogs and actually cause more harm than good. There can also be some limits with space for certain exercises depending on your set up. You’ll also usually need to pay for the additional time for a trainer to come to you.
An indoor venue:
This can be an excellent choice offering the space needed but out of the weather and can be less distracting for many dogs. Unless the indoor venue is solely used by your trainer or behaviourist then there may be other people or dogs around who are not working with you which can be a negative in some cases. And these venues are hard to come by so this often isn’t an option.
Some dogs find a new space difficult, and especially if they are worried by the vets they can be suspicious initially but usually relax as they begin to work. For dogs who are terrified of leaving their home, or struggle with travel it can still be too much for them and a home visit or online consult may be most appropriate.
An outdoor venue:
This is absolutely the best choice for progressing behaviours needed outside and with more distractions such as recall and lead walking. It’s also perfect for some issues which require a lot of space such as reactivity towards other dogs.
It’s one to avoid if your dog struggles travelling in the car or is sensitive to weather changes (such as heat or rain). It can also be too distracting for some dogs when first introducing behaviours especially for dogs who like to hunt or already struggle with arousal levels.
Although most people’s first thought when we mention online training is a big “no!” hear us out. Online training can be the perfect choice for certain dogs and certain issues you’d like to work on. We use an online consult as the start point for all of our veterinary behavioural consultations in order to cover the theory element which makes it a lot less stressful for dogs instead of them having to get bored whilst we talk. It can allow you to focus more on what is being said as you don’t have to manage your dog who is just relaxing at home and we don’t lose any time traveling either.
Online training where a trainer or behaviourist coaches you through a video call enables us to work with dogs who might otherwise not cope yet meeting new people, leaving the home or having visitors. It allows you to practice as you will be doing it so it can be a lot more realistic; remember that the treatment plan will only work if you can do it at home by yourself. And it can be great if we are working on any separation issues as it’s much harder for us to see how the dog really reacts when doing the work if they are already wound up by having a behaviourist visiting too.
Online training works best if you can also see the exercises you need to do which is why we use videos to accompany the treatment so you have those to fall back on. It has shown to be at least as effective if not more so in some cases so don’t write it off without first really thinking about if it might work for your dog. It can be used in combination with in person training too to tackle multiple concerns or to progress your dog through different stages.
So there are lots of options to consider for the location of your next training session. Not all of them suit every dog or every issue but picking the best one for you and your dog can see you progress faster.