Our top 9 online dog training resources
If you are already working with a trainer, you may find that they will be willing to offer online dog training classes via video conference for you so that your progress isn’t lost while social distancing measures are in place.
If not, you can enrol your pet onto online dog training courses for a fee depending on your needs. These are our top-rated online courses:
The RSPCA have put together step-by-step dog training guides on how to teach your dog basic commands such as 'sit' and 'stay'. These guides also offer other handy advice for owners on finding the right trainer, dog training classes and building a good relationship with your dog by understanding dog behaviour.
The AKC has a large range of articles and videos on the 'training section' of their website ranging from basic command guidance to specific advice on taking your pet on car journeys, common behaviour issues and some advanced training to progress to once your dog has mastered the basics.
The Dogs Trust has created a downloadable factsheet which contains all you need to know about the basics of dog training in an easy to follow format to take the stress out of training your dog. It also includes 'doggy do's and don’ts' to ensure you stay on the right track with your pup.
As well as this, there is the Dogs Trust Dog School which is an excellent resource. It contains a series of dog training videos which complement their 'How to Guides' on topics such as preventing toy-guarding, stopping lead pull, how to house train a dog, along with other more specific guidance on preparing dogs for change and loud noises to prevent problems before they begin.
There are a wide range of articles on this website to help with both training your dog and learning more about your canine companion. They are divided into topics - training tips, basic commands and common behaviour problems to help you navigate your way around the site, with helpful additional advice in each article to help you achieve your training goal.
Blue Cross have created a helpful advice leaflet on training your dog, packed with top tips to help owners master basic training principles easily.
In addition to this, you can join their free online course by signing up via email where you will be sent seven dog training videos to assist in teaching your dog commands and correct behaviour. They also have a YouTube channel which has additional tips, tricks and dog training classes for you to follow when training your dog.
If you don't want large amounts to read through, have a look at these training tips by Pedigree which give good advice on where to start when training your pet.
One of the great things about virtual dog training is that you can access resources from anywhere in the world - like this Canadian based company. Their YouTube channel has over 500 dog training videos and covers a huge range of topics, from behaviour problem solving to puppy training and socialisation. If their style of teaching suits you, you can sign up for a free monthly training workshop, have a look through their training blog posts or enrol your animal in an online course for a fee to access more resources, dog training classes and training support.
This company offers an online interactive dog training course for owners where, for a fee, you can subscribe to get access to over 150 dog training classes and personal support from dog trainers to help you and your dog achieve your training goals.
This is an online step-by-step e-book which, when purchased, gives you access to an article archive on behaviour problems and a training programme with specific goals relevant to the stage of training your dog is at.
Felcana's dog training school
As well as the resources above, we've also created our own dog training tips and guidance for you from our vets on dog training and what we think is essential for you to know in order to make training your dog a positive experience for both you and your pet.
Training your dog is a great way to bond with your pet, but it’s also an excellent opportunity to keep your dog's brain engaged and keep them physically active, as exercise is a really important factor for them to be able to live a healthy and long life. You can read more about this here.
If you're unsure about exactly how active your dog is and whether this is an appropriate level to keep them fit and healthy, why not invest in the Felcana Go? You can use this to precisely track your pet’s activity levels and receive insights on their health via the app to help create personalised goals to keep your dog in the perfect condition.
Training your dog
FINDING A TRAINER THAT’S RIGHT FOR YOU
The first question to ask yourself is 'What do I want from my dog?'. This will help you to determine the type of help that you need. Experienced owners that want to teach their dogs simple commands are more likely to be able to do this without the need for dog training classes (although we would recommend these as a good way to socialise your dog). However, if you want your dog to be able to do some more advanced tricks and learn certain specific skills, such as agility training, it may be helpful to get some more expert advice and attend some dog agility classes.
The second question to ask is 'What do I want from my trainer?'. This will help you gain a clearer idea of what you want to achieve, so you can set training goals to work toward together.
The other thing to consider is whether you need a dog trainer or a dog behaviourist. If your dog is exhibiting problem behaviours such as aggression, then a trainer cannot help you and you should take your dog to the vet, as some unwanted behaviours can be as a result of a medical condition or pain.
You can use our soon to be launched Symptom Checker if you're unsure whether your dog should see a vet. From there, your vet will be able to rule out any underlying causes and then refer you to a behaviour expert with the appropriate qualifications and expertise to assess your animal to give you the best dog behaviour training.
Anyone can call themselves a dog trainer - it’s an unprotected title, so a good place to start is by looking on The Association of Pet Dog Trainers which is a regulatory body that accredits trainers with the right knowledge and skills to train your dog.
Some other things to look out for:
- Check the methods that the trainer uses. Ensure they use reward-based training to motivate and teach your dog and avoid anywhere that offers a 'quick fix' for your dog - they are not machines and training your dog properly will take some commitment.
- Check that your trainer is up to date on the latest models on learning and behaviour. Intimidation techniques and alpha dog/dominance training are outdated and will not as be as effective in helping your dog to learn and may even cause behaviour issues further down the line.
- Look for recommendations from friends or your local veterinary practice for dog training classes and ask the instructor for some client references.
- Go along to watch the dog training class before committing to several sessions. You can see how the lessons are run, how the trainer interacts with other dogs and whether it's an environment you and your dog feel comfortable in.
How do dogs learn?
Before getting started with training, its useful to understand how dogs learn so that we can target our training most effectively. Associative and non-associative learning are the two areas which we can have the most influence on when training, so it's what we focus on when teaching dogs new things.
- Associative learning - A dog’s behaviour is modified depending on the consequence of exhibiting it. Strengthening the behaviour means using positive reinforcement such as praise or a treat so that the dog is more likely to do it again. For example, if your dog sits then receives a treat, they will associate sitting with a positive outcome and therefore repeat the behaviour. This principle works for undesirable behaviours too. If your dog jumps up and you ignore the behaviour, then your dog doesn’t associate this behaviour with a positive outcome and is less likely to repeat it.
- Non-associative learning - This is a change in a response to a stimulus without the association of another event. This can come in the forms of habituation or sensitisation. Habituation is your dog effectively getting used to something, so will no longer react to a stimulus. For example, the doorbell ringing without any exciting visitors arriving will result in your dog ignoring the noise. Habituation is key when socialising your puppy and is why you want to introduce as many stimuli that will be in your dog's daily life (the hoover, the television, the doorbell, different people) as possible during the socialisation window so that your puppy recognises them as 'normal' and doesn’t react. Sensitisation is the opposite effect, where your dog shows an increased reaction to a stimuli. If this occurs you need to desensitise your dog by introducing the stimulus below the threshold of a reaction, then gradually increasing it (so that your dog can habituate to it again), or associating it with something positive like a treat to counter-condition your dog into thinking that the stimulus is positive.
- Observational learning - This is what occurs when your dog observes the behaviour of others and how your dog learns to interact with other dogs appropriately via a 'model' animal. This type of learning is something we can't do ourselves as owners, and is why it's important to socialise your dog well, so they react correctly in the presence of other dogs.
- Cognitive learning - Just like us, dogs have the ability to acquire and process information in order to react to a stimulus, rather than just conditioned responses.
Punishment is not an effective way to help your dog learn, and we do not advocate the use of it in training as not only is it ineffective, it can damage the relationship you have with your dog and may cause behaviour issues which results in these pets being the hardest dogs to train.
Dog Training Principles
We at Felcana believe that there are three golden principles for you to follow when training your dog: consistency, positive reinforcement and repetition.
- Consistency - Being consistent and clear when training makes it a lot easier for your dog to understand what you want. Ensure that you use the same signals each time as a cue for a command, and be consistent in how you respond to your dog’s behaviour. For example, you need to always ignore your dog jumping up in order for the behaviour to cease. Intermittent rewards in the form of attention for this (even if unintentional) may actually result in an increase in expression of behaviour, as your dog is trying to illicit the desired response.
- Positive reinforcement - Identify your reinforcers (praise, treats, play) and how important they are to your dog. For example, if your dog is very food orientated then using treats to train would rank first as an effective reinforcer. The best dog training treats are the ones that your dog is highly motivated to obtain. This will vary between dogs, so find out what your dog really likes before starting. You can then use these to encourage your dog to perform commands. When first teaching commands, use the reinforcers that your dog is very motivated to obtain and then gradually reduce this stimulus as you progress with your training - i.e. your dog at first will sit for a treat and then as you progress with your training you can just use praise as a positive reinforcement.
- Repetition - This is key when doing any training with your dog. It may feel frustrating that what your dog seemed to master in yesterday’s session is now seemingly forgotten, but that is why repetition is so important. Your dog is learning all the time, by changing its behaviour in response to the environment even when not in a training session. So, if you want your dog to remember what you have taught, you need to repeat your training at regular intervals.
Long gone are the days of searching 'dog training near me', we're going virtual! We hope that we've opened your eyes to the world of online dog training, as well as offered some helpful guidance on how to train your dog effectively. Remember to have fun with your dog, as training your dog can be a great way for you and your pet to bond, as well as a rewarding experience for you both to share.
You can track how your new training is affecting your dog's activity levels using the Felcana Go - you may find that your dog is moving more as a result or sleeping for longer from using all that extra brainpower!