In light of the pandemic, many of us now spend more time at home with our furry friends. That also means we got more time to dedicate to their training...or more time to realize that we’re in need of some professional help. So what are some at home dog training solutions available right now?
1. Check out free online dog training
Let’s start off with the good old self-help resources. The internet and YouTube are full of dog trainers who will gladly teach you the basic skill set for in home dog training. When I first got a dog, I started off with some Zack George’s or Cesar Millan's, a.k.a the Dog Whisperer, videos (note, we’re not affiliated in any way, just speaking from personal experience). Zack uses positive reinforcement techniques and is just pleasant to watch. Both of these guys offer tips that are quick and easy to implement. Once you start going down that YouTube rabbit hole though, you’ll find thousands of videos from experienced trainers. So if you are just looking to teach your pooch some new tricks, or work on some minor behavioral tweaks now that you spend more time indoors - simple online videos like that will easily do the trick. Consider getting a clicker, training collar or other helpful dog training tools, so you come prepared.
2. Take an online course
Now, if the quarantine times gave you the opportunity to finally find yourself a 4-legged friend but you have NO idea how to even start training your dog, we would recommend taking a basic obedience training course. Given the times, it might be easier and safer to do that online. Basic obedience is pretty simple and very repetitive. Practice and repetition are key here, so most of the time you and your dog will be practicing on your own anyways, so an online format can be very convenient here. You can go ahead and watch the videos as many times as you like, on demand. So if you happen to forget any steps, you can always go ahead and review them again. If you are sick and tired of ONLINE - we get it! Go ahead and grab a copy of one of the bestselling dog training books out there - they do tend to give you more useful theoretical knowledge and also some time away from the screen.
3. At home dog training
If your dog’s behavioral problems are crossing the line, and you require assistance from a professional - you can request an in home dog training session. Depending on the regulations in your area, a dog trainer can come to your home and spend some time with your pet, instead of you going out to a group class with a higher exposure.
Note that the dog training industry is unregulated. However, there are certifications and organizations that can help you identify those who actually have the right designations and experience. Always check to see if the trainer has some of the following certifications: The Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT), The Academy for Dog Trainers (ADT), the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CPDT KA), the Karen Pryor Academy for Animal Training & Behavior (KPAATB), or the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. Being the primary educational organization for trainers, APDT has a very useful resource called Trainer Search that allows you to find trainers in your area based on your city or zip code. Great tool! Note that if a trainer is certified by the APDT it does not necessarily imply that he or she uses a specific training method, which brings us to the next tip.
Make sure the trainer you pick uses the dog training methods you are comfortable with. The 4 major ones are positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, positive punishment and negative punishment. They all stem from behavioral psychology. Now, the words positive and negative aren’t representing the concept of “good and evil” here, they function more like they would in math, with positive meaning addition and negative meaning subtraction of something. We discuss these methods in all the details in this article.
The infographic below explains it in a nutshell. Every trainer will have a different philosophy about dog training, but just make sure you know what methods are used and that you are comfortable with them. You will need to be using them in the future, so it's essential that you are on top of this from the get go.
What are some of the most typical behavior issues to look out for?
- Excessive chewing - that’s when you are on your 5th new pair of snickers this month or your baseboards are looking like a heap of recycled paper
- Excessive barking - that’s when your Zoom calls don’t go without you apologizing for the noise and your neighbors stopped talking to you
- Excessive whining at night - that’s when you need to sleep next to the crate to get at least some shut-eye
- Leash pulling - that’s when your DOG takes you for walks
- Jumping - that’s when your whole family is scratched up and your wife can’t wear stockings anymore
- Housetraining problems - that’s when your living room carpet has turned into a public toilet and you’ve spent a fortune on carpet stain removers
- Aggressive behavior - that’s when everybody leaves the dog park once you show up
Now that you spend more time at home it’s a wonderful opportunity to connect even more with your 4-legged friend, learn new tricks and do more fun things together. Or work on behavior problems and spend more time strengthening your bond. If the lock downs turned your relationship with your pet into a nightmare - don’t despair. There is a plethora of at home dog training resources and tools out there, whether you are a beginner or a seasoned trainer looking for advanced techniques. Dog training can be a new fun way to spend time during the quarantine and get a great companion as we come out on the other side of it all.
Stay safe and have fun with at home dog training!