Dog agility training — Online vs. in-person

niki
September 10, 2021

Dog agility is a fun and addictive sport that can open up a whole new world for you and your dog. But where do you start? 

There are many different options when it comes to agility training — You could join a local club, find a private instructor, attend a seminar or train online — you can even choose a combination of these options to optimise your learning.  

Continue reading for some tips and insight to help you decide which options are best suited to you and your dog. 

In-person agility training   

In-person training options are mostly based on the availability of trainers in your area. If you are lucky enough to have several private trainers, seminars or clubs available nearby, then I recommend doing some research to decide which one will be best for you. Here are the main points I would consider for each of the different options: 

Private trainer

Private trainers are great if you can find one that fits your team. Ideally — they can cater a training program just for you and will follow your progress and support your journey. Things to consider include…

  • What training method do they use — does it align with your values
  • Are the facilities and equipment safe
  • Do they require you and your dog to have done any previous training
  • Are the classes group or one-on-one
  • Does the trainer start with solid foundations before adding obstacles 

Dog agility club

Clubs often have a great social aspect to them and have the added benefit of being fairly similar to a competition environment, as there are usually other dogs and people around during training. This helps with desensitising your dog to distractions and teaching them to focus on you. I would ask…

  • Does their training method align with your values
  • When do they train
  • What are the facilities and equipment like
  • Do they require you and your dog to have done any previous training
  • Are there instructors or is it more of a social training meet-up
  • Do they offer foundations before starting on obstacles

Seminars

Seminars are a wonderful opportunity for intense learning. You get a longer time period to take in a large amount of information that can help you to develop a training plan to work on at home. The main things I would look at are…

  • What training method does the coach use — does it align with your values
  • Does the training on offer fit in with your handling style, or will it confuse your dog by adding conflicting information for him.
  • Are the facilities and equipment safe
  • Does the level of training on offer suit you and your dog
  • Choose the sessions carefully to ensure your dog is not over-worked mentally or physically

Online agility training 

The world of online agility training opens up a huge variety of learning opportunities. You can cover every aspect of agility — from foundations to world-class competition — in the comfort of your own home! When combined with in-person training, it is especially powerful.

I personally am a great example of how well online learning can work. I live in Australia and because of the travelling distance and strict quarantine laws, I had no choice but to start my OneMind Dogs journey online. I love learning online with OneMind Dogs, the videos are so clear and easy to follow. Whenever something didn’t work I just took a video and compared it in slow motion to the ones from the site. Every time I could figure out what the issue was – for example my chest pointing the wrong way, taking a step in the wrong direction etc. and in the next session the issue would be gone!

When we had a OneMind Dogs seminar in Sydney, it did help me to clarify a few points and to learn to trust my dogs and my training which gave us that extra edge, but having the basics already down pat made things so much easier! Now, after a few trips to Finland to work closely with the team, I work for OneMind Dogs! Sharing my years of learning and experience with others, so they can enjoy their agility journeys as much as I have, no matter where they live.

Things to think about when considering online training (and yes, OneMind Dogs offers all of these!)…

  • Can you learn at your own pace — all dog and handler teams are different and require different learning speeds and styles.
  • Are all the bases covered; from foundations to applying your skills in the ring.
  • Can you get personal feedback from an experienced Coach.
  • Are there in-person training opportunities that align with the method you are studying online.
  • Does the training work for all kinds of dogs and handlers, regardless of their speed/drive/physical ability.
  • Is feedback provided by video analysis; Learning to analyse videos of your training is an invaluable tool.

Combining in-person with online

Combining in-person and online training gives you the best of both worlds. I asked some of my students what they love about being able to train online at app.oneminddogs.com in combination with their in-person lessons with me, and this is what they said:

The OneMind Dogs videos are so well presented that I found the online learning process relatively easy. Despite being a complete novice, I was able to understand and apply several techniques relatively quickly. Living in regional Australia, we practised at home using suggestions from the website, while online coaches provided feedback as required.

At club training, I was able to apply the OneMind Dogs techniques in sequences. Sharing training videos and analysing runs with the OneMind Dogs community online has also helped immensely.

We went to some seminars early on and these were great fun, if a little daunting. Later, when we needed skills to navigate more complex courses, we attended as many seminars as possible. We were able to consolidate and refine our understanding and adjust our approach to suit our team. Learning from OneMind Dogs certified Coaches is fabulous and my team actually enjoys the seminars more than trials in many respects.” – Glenys Atkins

When I went to my first OneMind Dogs seminar I knew that this was going to be a game changer for me. My Coach, Niki Drage, lives thousands of miles away from me, but I really wanted to learn the OneMind Dogs methodology, so I joined online as a Premium member and the fun began!
I learnt so much from the site, it was just what I needed — personal feedback and a really good webpage to study and enjoy. Whenever Niki holds a seminar, I grab the opportunity to work with her hands on, usually travelling hundreds of miles . I have loved it all.” – Georgia Denham

Final thoughts

No matter what training method you choose to live by, a combination of online and in-person training is definitely my recommended way to learn. It creates a well-rounded understanding and peace of mind knowing that you will always have support and an answer to every question throughout your learning journey with your dog — enjoy!

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