How You Can Enrich Your Dog’s Life During a Time of Self-Isolation
Dog parents may be wondering what they can do during Covid-19 to enrich their dogs’ lives besides walking them. The good news is that many dog-related activities and training classes have moved online. If you have been thinking about taking your dog to a training class, now is a great time to do it. Not only will it give you an activity to occupy your dog, but it also presents you and your dog with a real bonding opportunity. The age of your dog doesn’t matter, as long as your dog is in good physical shape. (I recently completed a Basic Manners class with my active 10-year old Jack Russell Terrier.) Taking a training class online with your dog also supports small, local dog training businesses during this economic crisis.
Advantages to Online Dog Training
There are some real advantages to online training:
- You and your dog are able to train in the comfort of your own home.
- People and their dogs are often more focused at home, and dogs can be less anxious, as they are in a familiar environment. This is particularly true if you have a fearful or reactive dog.
- Classes can be shorter as there is no commute, and class time isn’t taken up with the logistics of getting everyone into the training facility, settled and safely exiting at the end of class.
- The trainer can easily share materials during the class, such as videos about dog behavior and training techniques.
- The trainer can see all the dogs at once and can reach out immediately to anyone needing guidance.
While not all trainers are online, perhaps the greatest advantage of online training is that you are not limited to using trainers in close geographic proximity. Some training facilities have been attracting students from all over the country.
Your Dog’s Friend: Resources for Training/Workshops, Behavior Issues, and Life with Dogs
A very helpful online website for you and your dog is Your Dog’s Friend (YDF) (yourdogsfriend.org), a local 501.c.3, with the mission of preventing dogs from being surrendered to shelters. They accomplish their mission by addressing common dog-related behavior issues through free workshops, training classes, and other resources.
Greenbelters might be surprised to learn that YDF has partnered with:
1) the Greenbelt Animal Shelter to provide resources for adopters and volunteer trainers
2) the Greenbelt Community Animal Response Team (CART) to provide training
3) Well-Wishers for the Animals of Greenbelt Shelter (WAGS) to provide children-and-animal safety classes and volunteer trainers, and
4) Greenbelt Homes, Inc.’s (GHI) Companion Animal Committee on a number of community education projects.
Your Dog’s Friend (YDF) offers their own online classes in addition to (now postponed) in-person classes conducted at their Rockville, Maryland training facility. Additionally, YDF provides a list of local positive, force free trainers at https://yourdogsfriend.org/we-recommend/positive-trainers/.
YDF Workshops on Dog-Related Topics
Free workshops are also available online, addressing topics such as fearful dogs, reactive dogs, various aspects of animal behavior, and how to enrich and have fun with your dogs. Also upcoming workshops at YDF over the next few weeks will be online webinars.
YDF also provides free Advice for Adopters workshops for families with rescue dogs. The workshop provides an opportunity to learn about clicker training, hear tips about what to do and not do with new rescue dogs, and an opportunity to ask a trainer about any behavior or other issues dog parents are experiencing with their dogs.
The next Advice for Adopters workshop will be held on Sunday, May 17, 2020 from 1:30-3:30 via GoToMeeting.
Please click to register in advance so they can email you the info you’ll need to join the webinar.
Addtional Workshop Webinars
Pet Emergencies During COVID-19 is scheduled for Saturday, May 9, 1:30 – 3:30 PM
Please click to register in advance so that you will receive an email with the info you’ll need to join the webinar.
CBD – The Miracle Drug is scheduled for Saturday, May 16, 2020 from 1:30-3:30 PM
Please click to register in advance so you will receive an email with the info you’ll need to join the webinar.
Examples of Online Training Classes at Your Dog’s Friend (YDF)
Start training your puppy in basic good manners and discuss socialization and typical puppy challenges!
Adolescent Dog Class
Start teaching your adolescent dog, 5 months to 1 year old, basic good manners; learn how to deal with typical adolescent challenges; and practice training exercises to help prevent future fear and aggression issues.
Learn to speak “Doglish” and build a bond between you and your dog while learning valuable skills like Come, Sit, Wait, Leave It, and loose leash walking.
New challenges for dogs who know the basics. Learn cue pairs (“Leave It” and “Come!”) and working with distractions.
Have fun, exercise your dog’s brain and body, and build on your dog’s skills while clicker training tricks.
Fun and Games for Kids and Dogs
Join in for six fun 30 minute classes to entertain kids and dogs as they learn tricks and skills together.
My Dog Needs More To Do: Learn & Share Class
Join this online class to learn and share ways to provide mental stimulation for your dog. We’ll teach and explore how to use food toys, scent games, trick training, and more.
For more training classes, class schedules and to register, go to yourdogsfriend.org.
Online Videos Addressing Common Behavior Issues
There are a large number of videos online that address common behavior issues, enrichment activities for dogs and other dog-related topics. One example is the attention games video for dogs to help them learn an attention cue, so dog parents can get the dogs’ attention when walking them or in other situations where dogs usually do not listen to their dog parents.
Home With Your Dog Through Covid-19: Management
Learn to Speak Dog
There are many other dog-related videos online. Just be careful to make sure that the trainer and the video espouse positive, force free training. Your Dog’s Friend has a helpful webpage that illustrates the difference between positive, force free trainers and other styles of training: https://yourdogsfriend.org/dog-training/
Check AVMA’s Website for Information About Covid-19 and Your Pets
For the most up-to-date Covid-19 health information regarding your pets, check out the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).