This Happens a Lot.
Someone contacts me for dog training. They say they are looking for in-home private lessons. While talking with them on the phone, I explain why I believe online virtual dog training is better than in-home visits. As a result, they choose virtual training instead. After we complete our training session, I ask them about their experience. They say they were skeptical at first, but the experience far exceeded their expectations, and they don’t know why everybody doesn’t just jump on this wonderful opportunity. (In fact, one client has described my online virtual sessions as “sheer genius!”, and many tell me I should charge considerably more.)
Through experience, I’ve discovered that there is a very popular (and unfortunate) myth out there. It says this: “In-person dog training is better than online virtual training.”
Let’s bust this myth right now: It’s flat out wrong.
In fact, online virtual classes are far superior to face-to-face dog training classes in almost all cases.
Let’s walk through why.
1. I'm Not Going to Train Your Dog For You
When I show up to someone’s home for dog training. I’m not really there to work with the dog. I’m primarily there to work with the people.
Here’s how the training process works. When I introduce a technique, I begin by working briefly with the dog to show the owners how to do it. Then, I hand everything over to them and coach them so they understand what they’re doing and how to do it properly.
Note that I’m spending very little time with the dog myself. Here’s why…
The more human companions work directly with their dogs, the better the educational experience will be for them. The more time I spend working with their dogs, the less time they do it, and the weaker their education experience will be. So, when I’m working with clients in their homes, the amount of time I spend working directly with their dogs is extremely limited…by design.
And here’s the thing…
When I work with clients online, I do the EXACTLY same process. The only difference is that I demonstrate with my assistants—Loki and Lugh, my own dogs.
The truth is that my presence in the home does not add any unique benefit to the quality of my training. Rather, it is completely unnecessary. And, more than that, it can even become counterproductive. After all, I love working with dogs, and I may want to spend more time working with their dogs than I should.
So, bottom line: Doing dog training virtually online leads to a better learning experience for the dog’s human family.
2. My Presence Typically Makes it Harder for Dogs to Learn
This might sound strange, but it’s true for any dog trainer. Imagine a trainer walking into your household. How will your dog respond?
Your dog may love visitors and get super amped up. Here comes the excited jumping.
Or, maybe your dog isn’t sure about guests. Here comes the cautious distance-maintaining behavior.
Whether the dog is excited or scared, the bottom line is that stress/arousal levels are going up. As stress/arousal levels go up, the ability to process information and learn new things correspondingly goes down. (I talk more about stress/arousal levels over here.)
Before we can even begin to start working, we have to give the dog time to calm down to more appropriate levels. And in many cases, the dogs even struggle to reach that state. When higher arousal levels lead to lower-quality learning, it may take more sessions than initially expected (which leads to more expense for the same result).
When we work virtually online, your dog’s home environment is not “contaminated” by my triggering presence. That means that you get to work with your dog at optimal stress/arousal levels. And, I get to act like a fly on the wall to see how your dog acts normally in the home.
Bottom line: Working virtually online rather than in the home leads to a higher quality of learning experience for the dog.
3. Time Matters
When I work with clients in their homes, I have to take into account travel time on top of the time that I spend with them. Since I may have other clients in timeslots after them, I need to make sure that training sessions do not exceed the time allotted.
That means that one hour means one hour. I generally like to give clients time to ask questions and have concerns addressed beyond the training that I have scheduled for the day. However, that time needs to be built into the lesson plans so that I can leave on the hour.
When training virtually online, I don’t have to take into consideration travel time. That means I can be more free with my time. I like to say that a one-hour class through my Dog Training Anywhere Program (over Google Meet) is “at least one hour”, because I typically run over the time limit. Why? Well, because I can. I don’t have to be as strict with time limits when I don’t have to travel.
Bottom line: When working with me online, the quantity of training can increase significantly.
4. Online Virtual Dog Training is More Economical...With Me Anyway
My Dog Training Anywhere Program is my economy program. I do not charge the same rates for virtual classes as I do for in-home classes. Here’s why.
First, if I have to travel to a home, there is a chance that I will be gone too long for me to be able to assign the following time slot for another client. That means I may have to use two slots for one client. As a result, going to homes can become far more expensive for me as a business, and that’s not counting the price of gas. I need to accommodate this reality when pricing my in-home servicers.
When I work from home, however, I do not have to take any of that into account. I can assign timeslots and know I have enough time to get ready for the following client. So for me, the business expense of working online is less, and I choose to pass that savings on to my clients.
This path I’ve chosen doesn’t seem to be a “normal” practice. Dog trainers seem to prefer to charge the same rates whether they are in the home or online. And I totally understand why.
Here’s the reason: When people hire a dog trainer, they are paying for access to the dog trainer’s knowledge. That knowledge doesn’t change whether they meet face-to-face or online. So, the standard seems to be to charge the same rate for the same knowledge.
Are dog trainers who take that approach correct? Yes, they basically are. Only I would go so far as to say (as I have above) that the quantity of knowledge they have access to actually increases for online learning because less time needs to be spent helping the dog to calm down. So, what they are doing makes sense.
But, that takes me to my second reason…
My mission is to make human dog training accessible and affordable. Since my business expenses are less for online training, leveraging that platform allows me to charge less. Yes, I could charge the same rates, just like other trainers do. But, I choose not to, because I see the platform as an opportunity to make that mission a reality.
Bottom line: As a result, you get the same content, but with a superior experience, all for extremely low prices…at least with me.
Online Virtual Dog Training is Hands-Down the Best
Let’s run through the highlights one more time.
- A higher quality educational experience for you so you can learn more in less time.
- A higher quality educational experience for your dog so your dog can learn more in less time.
- More time to spend with me, which leads to a higher quantity of dog training opportunity.
- All of this at extremely low prices.
What’s not to like?
Is Online Virtual Dog Training for Everyone?
No, it isn’t. I believe there are some situations where it is best for me to be in the home. But, those situations are few and far inbetween. And when those situations arise, we can start with online training and transition to the home. We will do what we need to optimize our opportunity.
My Clients Rave About Online Training with Me
Remember, my opinion of online virtual dog training is not just based on my own personal experience. It’s also based on what my clients have told me over the years.
Want to know what my online virtual dog training is like?
Here’s how one client described her experience.
A few months ago, my boyfriend and I adopted a dog from the shelter. She is a four year old dog who knew some basic commands and was potty trained, so initially we didn’t think we needed training… but then we noticed that she was very possessive about objects and always on edge around new people and dogs. After she bit me, we were stressed and didn’t know what to do! While both of us had dogs growing up, we had never dealt with these issues and knew we needed help.
We chose [Puppy Tutor Dog Training] because of its emphasis on forming a good relationship with your dog and we cannot be happier. With COVID-19, we did four virtual sessions and each session was so informative. It was honestly so much fun watching our dog learn all of these skills!
With the training, we began to have a better relationship with our dog and, as a result, her resource guarding has decreased, although we are still working on it with the skills that Bo gave us. Before this training, we were stressed and didn’t know what to do, but this training honestly made all the difference!
If you are struggling with your pup’s behavior, or you just want to learn more about dog training so you can deepen your relationship with your dog, then check out my Dog Training Anywhere Program.
I would love to hear from you. And if after a conversation we determine that it would be better to have me in your home, then we can do that, too (provided you are in my service area, of course).
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Hi! I’m Bo McGuffee, owner of Puppy Tutor Dog Training. My mission is to make human dog training accessible and affordable. If you are looking for an alternative to the more aggressive training styles out there, then you’ve found the perfect dog trainer for you and your dog.