Tips for Virtual Pet Training
Do some research: Find a trainer who uses an approach you like. With virtual training, geography is not an issue.
Create training space: Designate 8 to 10 feet of space in a quiet area where your pet won't be distracted.
Position your technology: Place your phone or laptop slightly above eye level and angled down.
Be prepared: Have plenty of treats on hand and ask your trainer what type of equipment (leash, toys, etc.) you should have ready.
Get into the real world: Virtual training won't socialize your dog. Consider socially distant walks or puppy play dates.
After months of anticipation, Ellen Cohen picked up her fluffy white Cavachon puppy Maisie in March, just four days before the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic.
The in-person puppy training classes Cohen, 69, had planned for Maisie were no longer an option due to social distancing restrictions. But Cohen, of Danbury, Connecticut, needed help. When she tried to get Maisie to lie down or stay, Maisie would look at her “like I was out of my mind,” says Cohen.
Instead, Cohen turned to virtual dog training. Using an app on her phone, Cohen has been working one-on-one with a trainer through live video sessions.
Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP the Magazine.
Those virtual sessions taught Maisie how to listen to commands, stop barking and be alone without her human — something many new pets may struggle with after so much togetherness. The sessions trained Cohen as a pet owner, too, teaching her to read subtle cues in Maisie's behavior indicating whether the dog was experiencing fear or boredom, or needed a potty break.
More flexibility offered
Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, a record number of Americans have brought new pets into their homes. From 100-person puppy wait-lists with breeders to a shortage in shelters, the 2020 surge in demand for dogs and cats has been unprecedented.
A lot of those pets — and their owners — need training. With social distancing measures still in place throughout much of the country, many cat and dog owners are using virtual training to get their new family members up to speed.