Virtual Dog Training Tips

Whether you are just across town – or all the way across the country, virtual dog training sessions give you opportunity to train your dog in your own home and consult with a trainer via Zoom (an online conferencing system).  

What are the advantages of taking a virtual dog training class?

  • No travel necessary.  Too far away for in-home training? No training facility near you? No problem, I can still reach you via the internet.
  • Classes are still interactive.  I will have my own dogs on hand to demonstrate cues and behaviors, then you get to practice those skills with your own dog.
  • Behaviors are often only practiced within the home. If your dog is guarding his food bowl or suffering from separation-related behaviors, it is most beneficial to work with your dog in your home to modify these behaviors.
  • Your fearful/reactive dog feels safer at home. Fearful and reactive dogs often find meeting strange humans/dogs and entering new environments so stressful that they are unable to think and learn. Virtual training allows a trainer to work with you and your dog in his safe space.

What equipment do I need for a virtual class?

  • Internet Access.
  • Device with a Camera. You can access virtual dog training sessions from any computer, tablet or phone that has internet access and a camera.  
  • Tripod. If you are using your phone or a webcam, a tripod is very useful in stabilizing your camera while you are working with your dog. 
  • Zoom. We use Zoom, an online video conference call application, for our virtual training sessions.  Zoom is easy to use and is compatible with almost any device or operating system.  If you are unfamiliar with Zoom, please visit this page review the basics.

How do I prepare for class?

  • Training Space. You will want to keep these things in mind when setting up a training space for your virtual session. Choose a quiet space with few distractions and little background noise/activity.  This will allow you and your dog to better concentrate on your training session.  
  • Camera Placement. You will want to position your camera so that both you and your dog are visible when you are working.
  • Choose a well-lit location.  Try to avoid having a window or bright lighting in the background as it makes it hard to see you.
  • Choose a location with enough floor space to allow you to practice with your dog during your session.
  • Make sure that you have a good internet signal.
  • Zoom uses up battery life quickly. It is best to have your device plugged in during your session.
  • Try out your equipment ahead of time to be sure that everything is functioning correctly for your training session.

How do I access the training session?

  • When you sign up for a virtual training session, you will receive an email that includes a link for joining your session.  
  • A few minutes before your session is scheduled to begin, simply click on the link and your device should automatically download and open Zoom.  Depending on your device, you may need to click ‘Open’ or ‘Allow’ in order to proceed.  
  • You will be placed in a virtual waiting room and the trainer will let you into the session as soon as class begins.  

How can I get the most out of my training session?

  • Ask questions. If you have questions, write them down ahead of time so that you don’t forget to ask them during your session.
  • Take videos. If you have a specific behavior that you are going to be asking about, it is very helpful to capture it on video so I can observe the behavior.  You can email videos ahead of time or share them during class.
  • Followup. I will send you a follow up email that will include notes from our session, homework and may include relevant readings &/or video tutorials.

How can I set my dog up for success?

How can I set my dog up for success?

  • Have a treats and a leash nearby so that you don’t need to leave the session to go and get these items.
  • Be sure to take your dog out for a potty break before your session begins.
  • You may want to have some sort of enrichment activity to keep your dog entertained when you are not working with him (e.g., a snuffle mat, frozen kong or lickimat).  
  • It can also be helpful to have a crate or a way to tether your dog to allow you to take notes or watch demonstrations during your session.
  • If you have other animals that may be a distraction for your dog, it is a good idea to keep them in a different area during your session.
  • Don’t feed your dog a full meal just prior to class.  Your dog will not be interested in treats if he is already full.
  • Treats!  Make sure that you have LOTS of yummy treats handy.  Some dogs will work for their kibble in a low distraction environment.  Other dogs will need to have some higher value treats such as soft treats, cheese or hot dog.  

What happens after my training session?

  • Homework.  During your session, the trainer will provide you with a list of things to work on outside of class, as well as relevant readings &/or video tutorials.
  • Practice … Practice … Practice.  Behaviors do not just happen after one training session.  It takes LOTS of practice to train or modify a behavior.  Set aside time for several short training sessions each day.  Keep your sessions short – 5-10 minutes – to keep your dog focused on and enjoying training.  
  • Set your dog up for success. Be sure to end your session while your dog is still having fun so that she will want to come back for another training session.  If you or your dog is getting frustrated, take a short break and regroup.  
  • Remember …. baby steps.  Take small steps when advancing behaviors.  If you take too big a step and your dog is unsuccessful, reel yourself back a bit.
  • Help your dog to generalize new behaviors.  Just because he knows that ‘sit’ means to sit down in the living room, it does not mean that he will immediately understand that ‘sit’ also means to sit down in the kitchen or out in the yard.  Be patient and help your dog to transfer these behaviors to new locations.
  • Keep a training journal.  Sometimes, it can feel like you are making little to no progress, but if you keep a daily training journal, you can look back and see just how far you have come. This is also a great place to keep track of questions that you want to ask during your next session.
virtual dog training