Why do you do online Initial Consultations? Why not meet in-person if I’m close enough?
I have been teaching both online and in-person for a long time. During the pandemic, I switched to online only for a while, and I started to notice a trend: People who worked with me online at least for the first session (even if we were able to meet in-person after that) got better results than clients I met in person right from the beginning. It was a significant difference – they all achieved their training goals faster!
This got me thinking: Why did clients do better when I wasn’t there in person (even if it was just one session without me there)? As you can see in this article on why online training is so effective, there are many possible reasons, but I think it mostly boils down to this:
Dogs gravitate towards the clearest communicator in the room
I have spent many years earning a variety of certifications that also require continuing education to maintain my certified status. I am also faculty at Victoria Stilwell Dog Training Academy and DogBiz’s Dog Walking Academy, and regularly speak at seminars and conferences. In other words, I train trainers, as well as helping people with their pets.
This all means I am constantly upping my game, in terms of communicating with dogs and other pets. I am also very effective at reinforcing behavior I like. You know how you prefer working with people who give you clear, simple instructions and then praise you when you get things right? Our dogs and other pets seem to feel the same way too. So once a pet figures out that I am a clear communicator and a generous reinforcer, they tend to “glom” onto me and ignore everyone else. That makes it much harder for the family to get and keep their pet’s attention when I am around.
So what does that have to do with working online?
Let’s think about an online Initial Consultation: I am not physically present at these sessions, and pets don’t usually even notice I am there on screen. During the online Initial Consultation, I get the family to do some training with the pet, so the pet sees that the family can communicate clearly and be reinforcing. The family gains confidence in their new skills, and they and their pet have fun.
Even if the family is close enough for in-person sessions, and we do meet in person down the line, the pet is much more likely to pay attention to their own family in those in-person sessions, instead of only paying attention to me. This happens because the family is already offering positive reinforcement and communicating well before their pet ever meets me. The family doesn’t have to struggle to get their pet’s attention, since they already have it! That leaves me free to focus on what I really want to focus on, which is teaching the family how to achieve their goals.
Bottom line: Starting online leads to the best results
Ready to start your training journey? Contact me!