When the pandemic pushed us into the realm of the virtual, I was reluctant to even offer digital training. Surely, I wouldn’t be able to affect behavior change without physically working the dog, or physically meeting the guardians? Oh how wrong I was. Four months into lockdown and I’m seeing the best results of my career, and here’s why…
Before the shift to digital, I had spent the last four years working as a dog trainer in New York City. I worked 8-10 hours a day teaching in-person group classes in Manhattan facilities, going to and from private sessions, and working reactive and fearful dogs in the chaotic urban environment. The idea of hanging up my clicker and treat pouch, staring into the blank lens of a webcam all day, and somehow - magically, it seemed - changing canine behavior really scared me. The Calm Canine Academy team immediately sliced our prices in half to subdue my imposter syndrome and we continued, tentatively, to support our clients through these unprecedented times
As the months unfolded, and we started to experiment with technology, I feel like I had found the missing piece of the puzzle. Our success rate shot up, client relations dramatically improved, and my dogs were seeing rapid and long lasting behavior change. After lengthy discussions with the CCA community and staff, I am officially ready to plead my case for the digital training revolution…
One year ago it would have cost up to $200 an hour for a behavior consultation with me in New York City. The cost of our facility, the travel costs, time and energy that went into maintaining and sustaining a physical business drove my services to a price that - honestly - I was uncomfortable with. As a fervent "leftie" I couldn’t shake off a sense of shame about the exclusivity of my service. CCA was founded under the ethos of: “Modern Training, for every dog”. Simply put: we believe high quality, ethical training should be accessible and freely available to all. The digital format has allowed me to dramatically cut down on the fixed and marginal costs of my services, while achieving results that are better than ever.
Not only is digital training more financially viable, it allows us to help everyone - regardless of their location. We now have a global dog training community with clients in the US, UK, Canada, Brazil, Europe and more. Dog training is a shamefully unregulated industry, and being able to stream our ethical, certified trainers into living rooms globally is a gamechanger for our team, who are dedicated to promoting modern training methods that allow guardians to train without the use of fear, pain, or intimidation
Working digitally has made me a better trainer.
Hands down. Let’s face it, dog training is really just human training - teaching guardians how to bring about behavior change in their canine companions. When I first started I was really attached to this idea of needing to physically see and touch the dog. However, I found that once the option of physically training the dog myself was taken away, I was able to focus on refining my behavior therapy process, protocol writing, and client coaching skills. My training plans are now clearer, more refined, and far more effective, and all for a cheaper price: it’s win, win all round
Innovative Client Coaching: Our“Trainer In Your Pocket”
This is by far the most exciting innovation we have made since transitioning to digital, and it is being expanded and refined everyday. Our free “Trainer In Your Pocket” service allows you to access trainer support daily. Clients in private training plans check in with their trainer via Whatsapp - daily, if needed - with written updates and videos of them working through the training plan. Group class participants gain access to private class chats where they access trainer support, and cultivate a canine community with their fellow classmates. Trainers offer their expertise, coaching, and support daily to help refine and develop the guardians training mechanics, dog behavior knowledge, and body language reading skills. It has facilitated skill and knowledge transfer on a deeper level than ever before and clients report less frustration, faster progress, and greater ease in working with their dogs through even the most difficult behavior challenges
Low Stress Learning
Having rolled out a series of group classes to help our canine community during lockdown, we realized we were on to something big. Clients who had never been able to attend group classes due to fearful, reactive, or dangerous dogs, were now able to join in - from the comfort of their living room!
Classes like “Noise Reactivity” & “Leash Skills” allowed all dogs to be able to access effective training without being pushed to practice reactive or aggressive behavior in a busy group class setting. Classes like “Fear Free Handling” allowed guardians to stream directly from their bathroom, while trainers coached them through counterconditioning protocols to get their pups comfortable with bathtime, nail trims, and more. Puppy classes became peaceful, pleasant experiences where the young dogs are set up for success, rather than struggling in an overwhelming cacophony of new smells and sights. We have been able to facilitate low-stress learning, and the benefits are far reaching
More Free Stuff!
The nature of Digital Training allows me to spend more time creating free content for our wonderful community, this includes three weekly IGTV classes @ 5pm Monday, Wednesday, & Friday, as well as youtube tutorials, blog posts and more! More free training content allows more people to access this valuable information and transform their lives with their animal companions
I could go on for pages, but I won’t bore you. The headline is that digital training works! This innovation facilitates the most efficient and effective behavior change firstly for our humans, then our canine clients: allows for integrative support and speedy, long lasting results. We are so excited to continue our digital journey and look forward to seeing you and your pups along the way!