Written by Laure-Anne Viselé-Jonkman (PG Dip, MSc, BSc, O&O KI)
On Feb 4, 2021
Illustration credits at the end of the post
You’ve been waiting SO long for your puppy to arrive and he’s finally here! You soon find out that that cute fluffy head can get quite naughty and, let’s face it, maddening at times.
So how do you give a puppy boundaries humanely? How do you get fluff-butt potty-trained? Oh, and all that socialisation business. Looking all this stuff up on the Internet is only giving you a headache as everyone seems to have a different opinion, and there’s precious little in the way of facts and reliable advice. Time for a puppy class!
That’s easier said than done in these Corona times: you’re not exactly jumping for you at the idea of your course probably getting interrupted a million and a half times due to lockdowns? As it’s looking like Corona will be with us until September 2021 at the earliest, delaying your puppy course “for a bit” is not going to fly.
Safety and continuity in your puppy classes in times of Corona?
Many dog training schools (ourselves included) seamless switch between online and physical lessons for their puppy courses. The thing is, there’s quite a few prejudices against on-line classes so we thought we’d lift the veil and show you how it’s done. Still want to delay after that? That’s totally no problem, but we hope we’ve debunked a few myths about on-line classes along the way.
Online classes: the common worries
1. My puppy will miss out on socialisation in class?
Puppies also don’t interact during field lessons. The puppy class is not THE socialisation opportunity of the week. In class, we give you socialisation tools and tips. You do the actual socialisation throughout the week. This is for a variety of reasons, not least of which the fact that puppies make terrible role models for teaching each other socially acceptable behaviour.
2. Won’t I get less 1-on-1 attention on-line?
Good dog training schools work in mini-groups during Corona times (whether the lessons are temporarily online or on the field). So you get as much attention on-line as you do when we return to the field.
3. But on-line classes are much less interactive and hands-on, right?
Your teacher covers the exact same lesson material on-line and on the field. You get to practice each exercise and we give you instant and personalised feedback and tips. We can see you and the dog during the on-line class too, you know. And you can see us too.
4. I am really not that technical. On-line is not for me
If I can do it, anyone can. I hate (hate, hate, hate) faffing with technology. For me to even contemplate the idea of on-line lessons, it had to be ridiculously easy.
All you have to do is click on a link (the same every week) and that takes you to “the classroom”. Every now and then, you might have to faff about to find the right angle on your laptop so that I can see you and the dog, but that’s about it for technological sophistication.
The hidden benefits of on-line dog training
Not only the instructors, but the students have also been happily surprised by the temporarily on-line classes. To the point that some students almost regret ‘having to’ go back to the field so often. We discovered some pretty nice bonuses of teaching on-line too:
- More family members can attend: Whereas we are limited in the number of participants on the field due to Corona restrictions.
- Manuals: You get step-by-step written instructions (including videos of the exercises) after each on-line lesson that you can consult later.
- Nice and warm: The field classes are given outside, come rain or shine. Treating yourself to a warm lesson from the comfort of your living room once in a while is not too shabby.
- No travel time: No need to get back in the car or put on your outside shoes: you are already in class.
- Quiet learning environment: You and the puppy can participate in the lesson without getting distracted or over-stimulated by the rest of the group. That is ideal when you are taking your first steps in an exercise.
- Real-life exercises: You get to apply the exercises directly in your home environment – exactly what they are meant for. We had so much fun doing the “Leave it” with slippers!
What do our students think?
I had my doubts about on-line lessons at first: can you really offer the same quality? After months of perfecting the hybrid online/physical lesson formula, the answer is a resounding ‘yes’. The more we taught on-line, the enthusiastic we got. And it’s not just us. This is what the students had to say:
Dog training: the ONE thing that Corona cannot take away!
Luckily, dog training is one thing that the Corona situation can’t take away from us!
- Puppy teckel in blankets with text: Courtesy of Dominika Roseclay on Pexels. License: Pixel license. Modifications = added text and OhMyDog logos.
- Photos of Atum, Rose and Sophietje: Courtesy of their respective owners, shared with permission.
- Woman with a puppy looking at her tablet: Found on PxHere. License: CC0.