Online dog training has been around for a while, but many people are trying it out right now since no other training is available in many areas. I’ve taken online classes with my own dogs for several years and have recently started teaching more online, so I thought I would share some tips
First off, put the online class on your calendar just as you would a real class. For a class offered live through Zoom or other platforms, the time might be decided for you. If not, pick a consistent time to work on the class each week. This doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t practice at other times, but make time on your calendar to watch the demo videos, gather your supplies, and plan your training sessions. Don’t forget to watch videos uploaded by other students in the class. You can often gain insight by watching other handlers and dogs work through an exercise. “Sometime” usually translates to “never”, so make an appointment with yourself.
For live sessions, add an extra level of preparation by gathering your supplies, checking your camera angle (remember that the instructor needs to see the dog, not just your face), and writing down any questions that you have. Camera angle is important if you plan to work your dog live. A tripod with an attachment for your phone or tablet might be a worthwhile investment if you are taking classes this way. Bluetooth headphones are a great idea for Zoom calls- you will be able to hear and be heard easily, but your background noise will be blocked out. (not that any of our dogs would ever bark during a video conference……..)
Don’t forget to keep records, both of class content and your training. Downloading class materials into a single folder will make them easier to locate later. Keeping training records is always important, so think about what format works best for you. I use a bullet journal for longer term planning and goal setting, but keep my day to day plans and records in the Notes app on my phone. Each dog has a note for each month, which is archived for easy reference later. This system also allows me to scan in course maps and other documents directly to my training records. I also do my best to video as many training sessions as possible. Video files do take up storage space, so you will need an organized way to keep them. I have found cloud storage to work best for me, but a physical hard drive is another way to go.
If you are new to online training, please consider giving it a try!