Shepparton’s Unleashed Dog Training yesterday launched an online dog school, complete with instructional videos, Q&As and guidance from the pros to help owners and their faithful hounds reach their full potential.
The pandemic has seen a surge in the number of people taking on the responsibility of puppy parenting, while being stuck at home means more time for rumbles, cuddles and cleaning up little accidents.
But Unleashed owner Michelle Cassidy said successive, extended lockdowns had interrupted and undermined the all-important rite of passage that is puppy school.
“It’s been really, really hard with classes,” she says.
“I have customers who have been enrolled for 12 weeks and it’s been start, stop, start, stop, start, stop.”
The title ‘dog trainer’ is a bit misleading, according to Michelle, who says her job is really about training people — and human learning has also been disrupted.
“Unless the owner has the techniques right it can really, really affect the outcome you have,” she says.
“It’s been hard for people to maintain motivation as well.”
There’s plenty of free dog training content online already, countless YouTube channels and Instagram influencers spouting opinions about how to control canine behaviour.
But Unleashed Online Academy offers an expert curriculum strategically designed to strengthen the relationship between dog and owner, and teaches targeted skills.
“There’s so many different ways of training and if you’re gathering things from a whole range of websites it can become really confusing for the dog,” Michelle says.
It’s important to follow Unleashed’s online lessons in order, with each laying the foundation for the next.
One payment guarantees lifetime membership to the learning page, which is on Facebook.
Michelle says she chose to use the social media giant’s platform because the majority of people already knew how to use it and logged in every day, meaning they were likely to train more frequently.
“Most people are on Facebook, and I know I’m a member of different dog groups and stuff that do video lessons on different websites — you can forget they’re there,” Michelle says.
Behaviour management units will address pandemic-related issues such as separation anxiety — with so many dog owners working from home, some pooches have forgotten how to self-soothe when left alone.
Importantly, the online training platform is not just for puppies.
“We’ll have our level one program on there as well for adult dogs that haven’t had much training either,” Michelle says.
Although the online offering could never beat the benefits of face-to-face training, Michelle says it’s a great starting point, or refresher, and will particularly benefit people who work irregular hours or who live in remote areas.