The February Theme of the Month is Focus on Behaviors!
Every dog owner has certain behaviors that they love to see their dog do and other behaviors they hate to see their dog doing. In 2022, the Focus was understanding what drives behaviors, what reinforcement means, what enrichment means and other elements that we can use to encourage our dogs to do more of the behaviors we love. A few months later, in September, we looked at some of the common behaviors that we often find challenging or difficult to change. This month I'm going to bring all those previous posts together to help us how to move away from those behaviors we hate while increasing the recurrence of the behaviors we love.
- One ZOOM session that will be roughly 28 mins long, geared toward discussing that one challenging behavior you want to work on with this plan.
- One Behaviors Worksheet that we fill out together to help us develop the plan.
- Access to shaping plans that can be modified to meet the needs of you and your dog.
- 28 Days of text support following the Zoom session to help with any questions or struggles you are having in your plan process.
- Describe what the behavior looks like?
- What canine need is the behavior fulfilling?
- What is the dog achieving by doing the behavior?
- And what behavior would your rather them do in that situation?
- Virtual training offers stress free training. No longer is your dog being triggered by the trainer, the environment the session is taking place, the distractions that interrupt a session, etc. No longer is the dog owner trying to manage the dog and listen to the trainer at the same time. Trainer and owner have a quiet conversation discussing the "Whole Dog" and then the trainer gives the client some things to do before they meet again.
- Virtual training offers a more flexible schedule. Many dog owners work therefore needing classes in the evenings or on weekends. By skipping the drive time to the appointment, trainers can spread out sessions more easily seeing one client at time that works for them and another several hours later without the need to book them one after the other to save drive time. This is especially true for people like me where the average client lives 10-20 miles away from my house and spread out in a rural community in all directions. This also means that often the trainer is not rushed to get to the next client so if you need an extra 5-10 minutes in your session that can be accommodated. Some sessions are shorter, some are longer giving both client and trainer the time they need to discuss the topic without pressure to fill the whole slot.
- Digital resources including links to more information and worksheets that can be filled in digitally or printed off for notebooks can be sent during or immediately following the session. I have a free blog on my website that has tons of great resources for dog owners. But this format can be overwhelming for many. I can send a link directly to the blogpost on the topic we are discussing either in the session or between sessions to remind you what we discussed. I also don't like to waste paper, but often worksheets are not able to be filled in virtually. All my worksheets and plans are in Google Drive using a spreadsheet or word processing format that makes it easy for both trainer and client to fill in and expand as the training progresses. This saves us all time and saves trees as well!
- Ongoing support is not something that all trainers offer, but I do! Most of my clients buy a package instead of a single session. Packages are laid out based on the difficulty level of what is being trained. I offer packages that have a 3 month plan & 6 month plan most often, with the occasional monthly special like this one that has 28 days of extended support. This support begins immediately following the first zoom session in that package and typically involves text based support through messenger, directly to your cell phone or through the group that relates best to your training package. For example the Medical Alert classes I teach are a 3 month class and work within a Google Classroom which offers private & group messaging within the classroom, plus we a Service Dog task group where questions can be posted, plus I'm available to private messages during that time. No that doesn't mean you get an immediate response the moment you send a message. But since I have a great team of support staff, you generally get a response within a few hours and for sure within 24 hrs. This includes weekends with a rare few holidays that are announced as unavailable dates.
- Virtual training allows for individualized needs of both the handler and the dog. This is probably one the biggest perks to virtual training. Years ago, the common force free way to handle stopping a dog from jumping was to have them sit when a visitor came and wait for permission to greet. While this is good in theory, many dogs struggle to be calm enough to actually sit and owners need help finding a behavior that meets the dog's need to move and release some excitement yet still saves the visitor from an over enthusiastic greeting from the dog. Once an alternate behavior has been found that meets everyone's needs, training is some much easier. Dog training is not a one size fits all situation as each dog owner, each dog, and each trainer has unique life experiences that all add to the relationship sometimes referred to as the Training Triangle; owner, dog, trainer with each individual impacting both of the others. Individualized training helps training to happen more naturally which in turn makes everyone happier with the end results.