With the world plummeting into self-isolation, businesses closing left, right and center and the self-employed struggling to stay afloat, the dog training and behaviour industry is about to be forced into a huge transformation.
Now here's the thing, and it's an important one to understand, most dog trainers or behaviourists don't need to see the inappropriate behaviour to know what is going on with a dog we are working with, nor do we need to see the behaviour to know how to help.
Let's face it, whether that is a dog reacting to other dogs, pulling on the lead, guarding items that they have stolen or not coming back when asked - we've seen it all.
We are able to understand more about the problem you and your dog are facing simply by knowing the right questions to ask you. The right questions will tell us exactly what is going on and we can get all the information that we need without seeing the behaviour or even meeting your dog. Not to mention the risks associated with putting the dog in question into positions where they feel the need to react.
So, knowing the above, it's clear that we don't actually need to meet the dog to be able to help to a high standard. But what is the alternative to an in-person consultation?
Well, the answer is: Technology!
Dog trainers and behaviourists have been using technology to deliver consultations for years, and realistically, the entire industry is moving this way - the current world circumstances are just giving us that much needed push to fully embrace it! Not only this, technology means we don't even need to change out of our pyjamas and no one will ever know 🤷♂️
So if you are wanting to help your dog with their behaviour struggles, now is certainly the time! But how does the consultation process now work?
Here is the standard process:
1. The initial assessment. This is the initial contact with your dog trainer or behaviourist. This is where you can learn about them and ask any questions that you have. I would advise asking about methods they use (and ensuring they are force free, LIMA or similar), history of working with similar cases and what they would advise if your dog made the wrong choice (as this will tell you more about their methods). During the assessment call, the trainer or behaviourist can help you understand why your dog is doing what they are doing and provide you with the next steps. At the end of the call, you can book in your initial consultation.
2. Rule outs. During the assessment call, your trainer or behaviourist would have discussed ruling out medical problems, and for this, you may have been asked to visit your vet. You will also have been asked to complete a form about your dog and the behaviour which will help understand what is going on.
3. Videos. You may also have been asked to take some videos of your dog in certain situations, such as leaving the house, while you relax in front of the TV, on walks etc etc. Usually, these will not actually involve putting your dog in a position where they are rehearsing the unwanted behaviours, however if you already have any videos of your dog doing the unwanted behaviours, you can send them.
4. The consultation. The consultation will take place via a service called Zoom. Zoom will allow a video call, whilst letting the dog trainer or behaviourist share whats on their screen and showing
videos, tutorials and step by step guides. During the initial consultation, you will work together to create an action plan. Any training that's needed on this action plan will be sent to you in a step by step instructional video after. A monitoring process will also be set up, so you are able to see the progress you are making in real time.
5. Regular contact. During your consultation the trainer or behaviourist would have asked for videos of your training session. These can be sent via WhatsApp or Facebook messenger. These give a great opportunity for feedback and ensures you're never left alone with any struggles you are having.
6. Follow-Up session. Again, these can be via Zoom. Sometimes, where it is reactivity, they may be in person where appropriate. During the follow-up, we can review what has worked and what hasn't, tweak the plan and progress the training to the next step.
7. Regular contact and follow-up sessions will continue throughout your training plan until you are happy with the new behaviour your dog is showing.
So there is it, the full process of a training or behaviour modification. I hope this helps in clearing up why dog trainers and behaviourists can still successfully help you and your dog and why you shouldn't put off your dogs training.
If you have any questions, or would like to book your initial assessment, please contact me or use the booking option on the home page.
Finally, please stay safe, stay home and spend that extra time with your pooches while you have the opportunity to!