The Future of Dog Training – Hybrid Learning

future of dog training

Dog training is an industry that has been stuck in the past for a while now. The future of dog training is swiftly approaching, and for some of us, already here. 

We’re going to unpack what dog training has traditionally been as a service, and also get a little personal in this one. There are very exciting things going on in the world of training, things that are making such a huge impact when it comes to how we as trainers are able to serve you.

The past methods are inefficient, outdated, and ready to get a total facelift. I am proud to be able to be growing and evolving in this aspect and offering the best I can to you all. 

The future of dog training looks very different and is coming whether you’re ready or not!

The Pitfalls of Traditional Training

To understand the industry a bit better you have to know how trainers are taught. Dog trainers generally have two ways of entering the industry. You can either mentor under someone and work your way up (assuming you’re any good) or go to a trainer school. Both methods are fine, but the focus of both is going to be on the dogs. 

Unfortunately this leaves trainers pretty lopsided when it comes to actually teaching people, and the methods that we’re taught to use to teach have never been efficient in the first place. Statistically speaking, listening to something being taught or explained to you has a measly 25% rate of actual learning efficiency. So in an hour long lesson, you’re going to remember 15 minutes at most, and you don’t get to choose what part of the lesson that is!!

On top of this, the entire act of listening closely is difficult to sustain for long and can be very fatiguing. And that’s if you’re prepared for class; what happens when you come to class a little bit stressed? Or flustered due to behind the scenes life stuff? You’re guaranteed to miss out on aural learning then even more. 

Typical Private Lesson

Usually once a week (sometimes more) for a set number of weeks. Can be focused on a problem unique to you and your dog. Progress depends entirely on the owner practicing things perfectly on their own each week without the trainer. Communication between lessons is generally slim to none. 
 
  • Can address unique issues
  • Limited by the amount the owner is able to remember from each lesson
  • Often completely overwhelming for both owners and dogs
  • Easy to forget critical parts of lessons due to lesson length
  • Easy for owners to practice skills incorrectly and be set back
  • No real support for owners between lessons
  • Can be frustrating for owners when progress is slow or not happening due to errors
  • Usually restricted to the home or nearby areas
  • Can fatigue dogs with lesson length
  • Can have life distractions interfere heavily with lessons
  • Owners sometimes hesitate to practice without the trainer for fear of doing things incorrectly, or because they’ve forgotten elements of the training
  • Limiting in material that can be covered, may not give owners tools and knowledge enough to succeed on their own

Typical Group Class

Usually held once a week for a set number of weeks. The curriculum is set, there is no real 1 on 1 time with the trainer before or after class, no contact outside of class. Progress can vary greatly between each dog and handler team. 
 
  • Unforgiving class structure, if you fall behind the class you’re left behind
  • Tons of distractions in class, your dog, other dogs, etc
  • Dogs usually are not given enough breaks to take advantage of deeper learning
  • Usually restricted to a facility
  • Trainer’s 1 on 1 teaching is extremely limited by class size
  • Curriculum is limiting and will be cookie cutter/one size fits all
  • Skills may not transfer well to training alone
  • Pressure to perform in front of the group
  • No real support outside of class or when class is over
  • No real support in addressing unique struggles or challenges in training
  • No support on how to expand the knowledge to the real world
  • Extremely limited in the amount of material that can be covered, will not give owners good enough tools to use on their own

Traditional Training has Relied on Aural Learning and Lecture FOREVER and has put the Majority of the Learning Responsibility onto the Student Without Making the Learning Easier and More Accessible!

Whether you’re at a private lesson or part of a group class, there is going to be talking and training theory involved. Now let’s throw in a misbehaving dog, or other dogs in class being distracting. And what was it the instructor said? What is it you should be doing to keep your dog’s focus? How do you do that when you’re trying to pay attention to the instructor? And hopefully you don’t make a fool of yourself when it comes time to demonstrate your understanding! And what if you’ve got to pay attention to your child, phone, spouse, pets, or other family members? There is a lot of room for improvement in the system.

These are just some of the pressures that traditional dog training puts on the learners. The funny thing is that this is never how any dog trainer would train a dog, or how we’d break down a new skill for them. Yet we’ve been taught to try to teach our human students this way, and most of us don’t know of any other way!

I’m sure you can all see that this is not the future of dog training, and when we break it down it makes little sense to continue things like this. It’s actually pretty miraculous that anyone gleans any real information from traditional lessons or group classes when the systems are not set up for owner success at all. 

Doesn’t it make sense to teach people in the most effective way possible? So that they can learn at their own speed? Without added pressure?

The Future of Dog Training is Coming

Let me tell you guys about a regret I have. 

I used to train that way. 

I did my best to take good notes for my students of our lessons (which took up many extra hours of my time and left me drained) but dog training doesn’t always translate well to text. 

I had students who did well, and others, like the dog featured in this post, who’s owners needed more support than traditional training could ever give. The cards were always stacked against them. I felt their frustration firsthand, of us needing to cover material from the first lesson over and over again, essentially making us stuck in week 1. I remember the defeat they felt at still struggling with certain issues when the end of our set of lessons came. 

I remember how I felt too. I had done absolutely everything I knew how, sent pages of notes, even took some video, and it simply wasn’t good enough to support them past very basic successes. It makes you feel helpless.

It is the worst to watch an owner who is trying to do the best they can for their dog, become resigned with training, and to give up. It is one thing to prioritize problems, to put a goal on hold, but quite another to see that light fade and the attitude of “I guess this is how things are” come over someone. 

I think about these owners often. I wonder where they are with their dog and how they are doing. I wonder about things being different, and I’m not gonna lie, I beat myself up quite thoroughly over the years about this. 

Hybrid Learning and Dog Training

This is the future of dog training. Private lessons, group classes, even just online classes, all of them have massive pitfalls. Lack of communication, lack of addressing individual needs, very limited material that can be covered, the list goes on. 

The future of dog training is not going to be found in any of these old ways and it’s time for owners and trainers to open up to the possibilities. It simply isn’t enough to just have a group class or do private lessons with your dog. Your learning is hampered, there’s no better way to say it. It’s unfair for everyone and it’s time for change. 

The funny thing is, not everyone is ready. 

Many owners I speak to are stuck in the past just as much as trainers are. Thinking that private lessons are the crème de la crème of dog training. 

Meanwhile with hybrid learning I’m able to make myself redundant. The depth of knowledge my students are getting allows them to actually grow their dog training skills to the point of not needing me for their future dogs. Of being able to navigate future unforeseen issues that may come up. And at the same time it allows us to move so much farther in the training. 

You’re not just doing a mindless pattern that makes a dog sit or heel, you’re learning the foundation skills that will allow you to train your dog just about anything. This is the future of dog training. 

Ready or not, here it is. Learn more about my take on what’s in store for modern day dog owners.

Every Journey Begins with a Single Step

Be Brave. Embark on the next stage of your life.