While there is much more than training to consider when it comes to caring for and supporting your dog, it is an important part of raising them.
Alongside feeding a natural diet, prioritising quality sleep and rest, regular exercise, enrichment activities, and your unwavering love - an ethical force-free approach to training your dog will help them to grow into a wonderful member of the canine society.
Training can help our dogs to navigate the human world safely. It can open up exciting off-lead adventures. It can also save hours of frustration - frustration that can ruin your relationship with your dog - and it allows you to connect on a deeper level as you learn to better understand each other.
The important question is, which training is right for you and your dog and is your trainer the right person to work with?
I asked Caroline Caroline Wilkinson Certified Animal Behaviourist from Barket Place for her advice.
If you are a new pet parent, looking for the best way to start your training journey with your dog, you might be feeling overwhelmed with the various ways you can work with a trained
From classes or clubs, to in-person one:one sessions, to online virtual support -there is plenty to choose from. There are pros and cons to each of these approaches and the
right fit for you and your dog will be an individual one.
The most important thing to consider is the person you are working with - ensuring they’re an accredited trainer who uses ethical (punishment-free) positive reinforcement methods.
Group classes are definitely the more traditional approach to dog training, especially in the pre-pandemic days. It’s a fairly cost-effective method of training too, as you are sharing the
investment with the other members of your class.
When it comes to classes, they often center around the puppy development age into adolescence. Some people enjoy the community aspect of this approach, as it allows them to interact with other pet parents who have dogs of a similar age.
For others, they may find the number of people and dogs present to be a distraction. Confident puppies can breeze through these classes - although caution should be
taken if there’s any off-lead elements to the class that they don’t get the opportunity to learn
overzealous play with other pups.
More cautious or anxious puppies may find group training
overwhelming and could benefit better from one:one support in their own home or a quiet
outside space. Group classes tend to run for a period of 4-8 weeks, with a certificate earned on completion of the course.
Training Clubs and Sports
As your dog matures, you may like to continue training with them on a regular basis or want to delve into a particular sport that suits their individual breed’s capabilities. Training clubs can allow you to build further on the community element of group training sessions. Sports you might like to try include agility, hoopers, scentwork, ring craft, or rally obedience.
One- or two-day workshops are a deep dive into a specific area of dog behaviour or skillset. It might be to help you improve your skills in a particular sport or enjoy the chance to learn from a guest trainer outside of your area. Workshops are often a mix of theory and practical sessions, allowing your dogs to rest and work without the day.
One: One Training or Behaviour Support
One:One sessions conducted in-person will often take place in your own home or in a location you’d usually spend time with your dog. They may also be offered at a training center.
These sessions allow you to dive into specific pain points you may be experiencing with your dog’s behaviour. You might want to focus these sessions on more simple training exercises such as recall or lead walking, or you might be needing more in-depth support around helping your dog to feel more confident and comfortable in the presence of other dogs.
One:one training allows you to work without the distractions of other dogs or people present.
Online consultations take place via video conferencing and can be with a professional from
anywhere in the world. As a behaviourist based in the UK, I have clients all over the UK as well as Europe and North America. Online consultations are perfect for dogs who would find it hard for a new person to enter their home. They are also hugely beneficial for you - the caregiver - as you’re able to focus purely on the discussion and training plan, instead of worrying about your dog being distracted, barking, or ‘acting up’ during an in-person session.
I love working online as I get the opportunity to dive into all areas of the dog’s life - so that we can ensure wellbeing is covered from both physical and emotional angles.
Online sessions are also great for when you just need to check in with your trainer or behaviour practitioner on one specific area of the training plan.
Without travel time, it’s very easy to have regular short sessions following on from a longer initial consultation.
Working through an online dog training or behaviour course allows you to access video tutorials or audio guides at a time that suits you. If you have difficult working hours or young children that make it tricky to join traditional training classes in-person, online courses provide you with the perfect alternative. In recent years, online dog training has gained popularity due to its flexibility and convenience. It may also be a more cost-effective option than in-person sessions.
Online Training Club
As a certified animal behaviourist and having worked with thousands dogs and their people I recognised a need to bring together the benefits of self-paced learning, group training, and behaviour support and launched the ‘Canine Connection Club’. Members enjoy the community aspect of interacting with other pet parents who genuinely care about each other’s progress.
Throughout the month you can work on the skills that are important to you and your dog, with expert guidance from the training team.
You also receive behavioural and wellbeing support for your dog, accessed via weekly ‘office hours’ and live Q&A sessions.
So that you don’t feel you have missed out on the fun of in-person group training classes - as your dog couldn’t cope with them emotionally or you find it difficult to fit them into your schedule - our live ‘Train Together’ sessions allow you to train from the comfort of your own home.
With a video vault FULL of fun training inspiration.
Our club is a space that you can enjoy with your dog for months or even years.
You will also find that our annual membership is cheaper than most group dog training courses!
Caroline and the Canine Connection Club at Barket place would like to invite you to try it out yourself with a 7 day-Free trial!
To access this amazing offer head to Barket Place now
Author Caroline Wilkinson is a Certified Animal Behaviourist and Founder of Barket Place
Caroline writes for Pets Radar and The Wildest, as well as a number of trusted pet brands.
She also speaks around the country – presenting workshops and webinars with a focus on living more mindfully alongside our canine companions.
Caroline is a Full (assessed) Member of the APDT and INTODogs – as well as a Registered Training Instructor (ABTC). Caroline is also a Certified Real Dog Yoga Practitioner and an Applied Canine Zoopharmacognosist.
She has a passion for improving connections between human and hound, with a focus on relationships and reduction of stress for canines living in a human world.