June 25, 2018

What’s The Deal With Dog Sports?!

In our very first podcast, we will answer the burning question of: what is the deal with dog sports and why would anyone ever want to get involved in one?! We discuss the benefits of dog sports as an activity, and how competition is a separate route that some dog owners may want to check out. And yes, we will also go into how online dog training really DOES work. This is going to be fun, and we thank you for listening.

Want to learn more about Dog Sport University? Check out our website and look over our Dog Sport Skills courses. You may also be interested in our informative webinars as well as the Dog Sport University blog

Have you heard about Scent Work and want to delve deeper into that activity? Perfect, we have just the thing! Check out our sister online dog training platform, Scent Work University where you will find courses and webinars suited for both those dog owners who simply want to have fun, and those who are seriously competing with their dogs.

Maybe you're looking to help your puppy or dog in the manners department. Then your need to check out Family Dog University where we provide a variety of programs to help your dog be the best canine family companion they can be!

PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Welcome to the All About Dog Sports and Training Podcast. In this podcast, we'll be talking about all things dog sports. We'll be giving you a behind the scenes look at what instructors and officials are considering, what they're looking for in competitive teams. We'll also be providing you training tips and answering your questions. All right, let's get started. Before we start diving into the podcast, I just want to really quickly introduce myself. My name's Dianna Santos, I am the owner and the lead instructor for both Dog Sport University and Scent Work University.

I've been training dogs professional since 2011. I am certified through the Karen Prior Academy of Dog Training. I'm also certified through the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers. In addition to that, I am also an official with several scent work organizations including AKC Scent Work, as well as United States Canine Scent Sports. I'm also the Judge and CSD Coordinator for United States Canine Scent Sports, where I oversee several officials. I'm coming at this with a variety of different view points. As both a professional dog trainer, as well as an instructor, as well as a competitor and an official and someone affiliated with an organization.

My goal is to give you as many different perspectives as possible to help you reach your training goals and to make sure that you and you're dog are having the best time possible as you go for those titles. All right. Without further ado, let's jump into the podcast.

For our first episode, we wanted to answer the question of, why would you want to get involved in dog spots in the first place? With that in mind, I actually reached out to several of my clients to see if they would have other questions that would spring off from that, to see if I'd be able to help people wrap their heads around the whole concept of what dog sport is, and why it is they should even get involved with it in the first place with their own dog.

I think one of the best ways of doing this, is to actually start off with how I got involved with dog sports. The way I fell into it was very similar to how many people do. My very first Doberman was dog aggressive. He was not dog reactive, he was dog aggressive. If he had the opportunity to eat other dogs, he would. I had found a professional trainer. I wasn't a trainer at this point. They were working with me in figuring out what it is that we could do for behavior modification and for training, to improve this quality of life as well as keep everybody safe. In the process of doing that, I found out about set work.

He was not a candidate at all in order to trial, but as with most people, I decided to try out for what's called an odor recognition test for NACSW, which is a Scent Work organization. In the process of doing that and both preparing for and actually doing it, that was my first foray in dog sports. I had never actually been to a trial before at that point. It was intriguing. It was very, very interesting. I have to say that we never did any trials with Zeus again after that point. It wasn't that he did badly, he actually did really, really well. He didn't have any explosions, he didn't have any behavioral issues, he passed all three tests.

He did great. A lot of people who were there didn't even know just how much he was not suitable to be trialing, 'cause he did a really great job that day. He was under really good management, and he was just set up to succeed as much as he could within the confines of that space. But what I found was that the groups of people who were there as far as the competitors as well as the officials and the trial hosts, were all very supportive. It was this sense of accomplishment for everyone. There were people who have been trialing forever. It's as though they've been trialing since the day they were born.

Dog sports are a second nature to them. Even those people were very kind to people like myself how had no idea what I was doing. That was pretty much how I was introduced to dog sports as a concept. I had Zeus for another couple years after that point until he passed away. Then I got my second Doberman who I have now, and he doesn't have any behavioral issues. He's fabulous and he's athletic and he's just game for everything. The idea was that we would be able to trial. He's introduced me to all kinds of different dog sports, 'cause he can do pretty much everything. I've had a lot of firsts with him as far as, going into a space and not knowing anything about it as far as a trialing aspect.

I may know how to train for it, but I'd never actually been to a trial. That's pretty much how I got started. It was really through both of my boys. I have to say that, before that I would hear about trials and I'd be like, "I don't know about all that. That's not really what I'm looking for, I just want my dog to be happy and healthy and well behaved." But I have to say, since I've started trialing, it's definitely something where they say that you get bit by the bug, that's definitely true. It's not just about the titles and it's not just about the ribbons. Those matter, I'm not gonna lie, but it's the community and it's also the incentive to keep going.

It's the incentive to keep practicing and training, and it's an opportunity to have these bonding moments with your dog. Traveling to and from trials, being able to hang out in a hotel every now and again, to just being at a trial site. Even though you're surrounded by all these other dogs and people, at least for me personally, I find it to be an opportunity for me to just spend time with him. Where he may just be hanging out in his crate, but I'm sharing granola bars with him and I'm giving him plastic bottles and we're going for potty breaks, whatever else. But it's just us, it's just the time for us to hang out.

That was how I fell into it. I fell in love with it, a lot more than I anticipated. I really did not think at all when I first started, that I would be the kind of trialing person that I am now. Quite honestly, if my body cooperated a little bit more, I think I would trial a lot more. That's basically how I got started. Honestly, that's how a lot of people get started. They get started because they are doing an activity that would be beneficial for their dog, either for behavioral issues or just to provide their dog with something else to do, because they are smart little creatures.

Then they go to a trial for the very first time, and if it's a good experience, then they're like, "Oh, I think I'd like to do that again." Then before you know it, they're part of the traveling masses that just go in droves over the weekend to go do stuff. I think that ties in really well with the second question that I received from one of my students was, "Why is it that trials are so popular in the first place? Why are dog sports popular? Why is trialing with your dog popular at all?" These are actually two separate questions, because I think it's a misnomer to assume that if you are going to do a dog sport, that means that you have to trial.

I really hope to dispel that in this podcast. It's probably something I'm going to be repeating over and over and over again. The story that I said with Zeus is actually a really good example, where we fell into Scent Work because it was part of his behavior modification program. It worked wonders, it really helped improve his quality of life. He was a lot calmer, he was more fulfilled because we weren't able to go out and do things. We couldn't go for walks, we couldn't go for hikes, it just wasn't safe. We were able to do things at home using Scent Work to help use his brain, 'cause he was extraordinarily smart. It helped improve his quality of life.

Now even though we did that ORT and we had done well, we did not enter in anything else, 'cause it was not good to test fate. But that didn't mean that I stopped doing Scent Work. If anything, we did Scent Work more, because now we realized just how awesome it was and how much I loved it as an activity. He really enjoyed it. I just hope that that's clear, and there's a lot of people who just assume that, "Well, I'm never interested in competing," or, "I don't want to compete," or, "My dog wouldn't be suitable to compete." "Well that means I can't play that thing." Of course you can. There's nothing preventing you from doing that.

Another example of that would be with the boy I have now. As of the recording of this podcast, he is coming off an injury. We're not really sure the extent of it. It doesn't seem to be that serious. It's probably just a muscle strain at this point. But he's five years old, and something I've been going back and forth over, is agility. Is whether or not we should be competing in agility. I am not very well put together myself. I am a physical mess, and I'm also terribly uncoordinated. It just would not be very pretty. He is very athletic, he's very fast, and he loves to play agility. We just do really short sequences in our backyard.

But I've been going back and forth for years, like whether or not competing with him would be a good idea, because the jumps are a certain height and you have certain obstacles you have to do. There are different venues that you can choose to make sure that the courses were suitable for him and maybe there would be certain obstacles we wouldn't do, and all this other stuff. But that doesn't mean during that whole time that I've been going back and forth about it. That because we weren't competing or there was a chance that we would never compete, that I never played the game at home. We do, we play the game at home when he's not sore.

Once or twice a week, if not more. He loves it. He thinks it's the best. I'm hoping that that makes sense, that just because you are either not interested in competition or you're not sure if it would be a good match for you or your dog, that you wouldn't be able to do that activity. The activity of a dog sport, such as agility, is a great thing for a lot of dogs to do. Competition is a completely different thing. As far as why it is that these things are so popular, it depends on the activity, because each activity is gonna bring you a different benefit, it's going to reward you and your dog something that's unique for that activity.

As an example, we'll just take agility. Agility is so incredibly popular, because it's combining so many different elements of the relationship that you have with your dog. First of all, it's the opportunity once they understand the equipment and they've been training, whatever else, that now they're able to run along side you and do this obstacle course where there are jumps and there are tunnels and there are things like A frames that are like these little mini mountains. There's all these really interesting things that you can do with your dog, that you can showcase their athleticism, they get to run free with you.

It's a partnership. Both of you are going through this together, it's not as though you are going over the jump with them, they're running along side you. But you're directing them to go do these things in a very harmonious way when it's done well. That's very addicting, that is something for a dog owner, is spectacular. It's awe inspiring, because this is another species, this is not a little person running along side you, this is a completely different animal. For them to understand a slight flick of the hand or a turning of your shoulder or the directions of your feet, that is incredible that those very slight signals and cues from you, can cause your dog to do a series of obstacles, one right after another.

It almost seems like a seamless flow of just awesomeness. It's addicting to watch and it's very addicting to be a part of. People who fall into agility, really do fall in love with it. There are people who are able to do it, they've done it in wheelchairs, and they've done it in automated wheel chairs, or there are people who just stand stationary and they direct their dogs with a variety of different verbal cues or whistles, it's amazing, it really is incredible at the end of the day. Dogs who do agility, love agility. The ability to actually be able to do all this is fun, it's just enjoyable for them.

To have that partnership with their person is also a very big plus. That's only one example, I mean there are so many different dog sports that are out there. The overarching reason why it is that dog sports are popular is, it's maximizing on a couple of different things. It's highlighting the fact that you and your dog are indeed a team, in one way or another. You're doing these things together. It's also allowing your dog to be a dog at some level. Whether it be like agility where you're doing obstacles or it's Scent Work, where they may be going off and they're hunting for a specific scent, or it could be competition obedience where they're using their brain to showcase how they can work as a teammate with their handler to do a certain routine with healing and staying, and retrieving and recalls.

It's incredible. You then have things like lure coursing, where the dog is chasing a plastic bag, which is supposed to mimic a bunny. You can see them go through these courses where they're not going over or anything, there are no obstacles, but watching a dog really flat out run is amazing. They love it. They're able to tap into their prey drive, to do something that is safe and exhilarating and is so not stuck in the human constraint of things, and the construct of how we make them live their lives. It allows them to be a dog. The joy that they show is very reinforcing to the person.

People who own dogs want to have fun with their dogs, I think generally speaking. The joy that your dog shows when they're doing something is extraordinarily reinforcing for you. When you're doing a dog sport that really helps your dog be a dog and allows them to use their brain, to have a physical outlet, to maybe even tap into an instinct, something like herding where a border collie would be herding sheep or even treiball, which his like urban herding where a dog of any breed will be pushing fitness balls along a course to get them into a goal. That's amazing. That's allowing the dog to tap into something that has been developed in them over a long period of time, over sometimes hundreds if not thousands of years.

That's amazing, and that's why it's so incredibly popular is because, even though people may not be able to put that into words, they can feel that, they can experience that. It's completely worth all the time and effort it is to get good at such thing and to just practice it. All those practice sessions are opportunities for you to have even more fun with your dog. It's just this ever flowing, reinforcing circle of awesomeness. Which is why people do fall into dog sports, even when they're simply initially just looking for something to help their dog be better behaved. Then they stick with it because it is just so great.

One of the other questions that I received from one of my clients was, what is it that they need to know before they take the plunge before going into a particular dog sport. I thought this was a really great question, because it's not one that many of us ask. Most of us who actually first start off in dog sports, don't even realize it's happening. We literally just step in like, "Oh, apparently I'm doing a dog sport now." Particularly with a lot of dog training programs at the moment, they are very good in how they very seamlessly fold in dog sports into even their basic obedience programs, to try to introduce people to the concept of, "Oh look, your dog can do an obstacle. Your dog can do this, your dog can do that."

Because learning is good. Our dogs are very, very smart little creatures. The more that they can learn and the more they can have appropriate outlets, the less likely they are to do naughty things like eat your couch. But before you ever were to commit to an actual dog sport training program, I would say a couple things that you want to consider is, a really honest assessment of your dog is. I mean that both as a personality, as in age and also health. There are some people who will be really attracted to something like agility or another really high octane dog sport is flyball. Flyball is where you'll have three little jumps, they're not very tall, and the dog has to go run over them to hit a ball dispensing machine at the end of the lane.

They have to retrieve that ball and then race back over those little jumps. They do this in teams. There's a multiple, I think there's four dogs who do it one right after the other. There's two teams that are competing against each other. It's basically a race. Which team can have their dogs go down, do the jumps, grab the ball and then run back the fastest? There are people who watch that and they go, "Wow, that looks like a whole lot of fun. My dog loves to run, my dog loves balls, they would love this." That's great. But then what you would want to figure out is, what's your dog's personality?

Are they gonna be okay running along side another dog who's running at a fast speed? Are they going to be scared? Are they gonna be reactive? Are they gonna be like, "Hey, you. Get away from me." There's also a lot of noise associated with flyball, because the handlers are encouraging their dogs very enthusiastically to go off and get the ball and then to race back as quickly as they can. That enthusiasm and all that noise can be very intimidating to a lot of dogs, because it can be perceived as yelling and screaming. Where they're like, "Oh my goodness, everyone's yelling at each other."

There's also a lot of barking that's very common at fly ball matches, because all the dogs are really, super excited. Those are the kinds of things you wanna consider is, the activity looks like a whole lot of fun, but is my dog going to be completely bombarded with all this stuff and then be freaking out 'cause it's so noisy and it's so stressful? Then you wanna ask yourself on a physical side, does my dog have the physical capability to do this thing? If your dog has had a knee replacement already or maybe they just have a really weak backend, maybe they have hip dysplasia, maybe they're just not fit, maybe they're just overweight, maybe they're elderly, maybe you adopted your dog as a senior.

Should they be doing something that is so incredibly high-impact as something like flyball or agility? My suggestion would be no, that probably wouldn't be the best thing to do. Maybe you want to start off with something a little bit lower impact on them so that they're not sore, so that you're not potentially hurting them. The other thing that you wanna consider is, what is it that you're looking to do as far as, what your goals? What are you looking to get out of this? If you are interested in competing, that's great. Then you probably want to see whether or not you and your dog really could compete, and at what level are you looking to get to?

What I mean by that is, if you're looking to compete at the World Team for agility, well then you have to have a really serious assessment of both you and your dog's skills, their age, and also how long it's gonna take you to get there. If you're just interested in maybe trialing at a lower level to just have fun, that's great. There's still a very big difference between doing something for fun, and also still competing if you actually wanna do well, anything above the very novice entry level level. You also wanna ask yourself what your situation is regarding finances. Because if you are interested in getting involved in a dog sport for the competition side, you actually do want to compete.

You wanna do some of your research to figure out how much that costs. Whether or not that's going to be a drain on the other things you may wanna be doing with your dog or just with your life overall. It's so disheartening when I hear people get really super psyched about something revolving around dog sports, and then they get bit by the bug and everything is great and they're looking around twice and they're like, "Oh my goodness, there's no way I can pay for this stuff now." They just feel so deflated and so ... It's just really disheartening for them. You wanna come at this with as much of an eyes wide open approach as you can.

Have just really realistic expectations for yourself. Understand what your situation is, where it is you would like to go, and give yourself a little bit of a time frame, and be flexible with yourself. There's no rush on these things. Understand that if you were to just find out about a dog sport today, it's very unlikely that you'll be able to compete tomorrow. It's gonna take you time in order to develop the skills that both you and your dog will need to be successful. Depending on the sport, it can take a significant amount of time. As an example, when I was considering doing agility competition with my dog.

My goal was, we're gonna be training for at least a year before we actually ever compete. That time frame would probably still be correct now. Maybe we get it down to six months if I was really gung ho about it. But again, he's five years old and he's a Doberman. I'm probably not gonna be competing with him because of his age, and I wanna make sure that I don't hurt him physically. That's something that you would want to consider as well is, if you wanted to compete, then are you comfortable with the amount of time and training and practice it would take to do so. All that being said, does it mean that you shouldn't get involved in a dog sport at all? Of course not. You absolutely can play the game.

You absolutely can do the training and the practicing and the working with your instructor and introducing your dog to all those different activities. That's great. But you just wanna know what the answers are to those questions, before you really take the plunge and actually try and compete.

Another really interesting question that I received from one of my students was, "Are there any reasons that someone shouldn't get involved in dog sports?" The answer is, yes there are. But I would preface this by saying that it's more on the side of not getting involved in the competition side of it, as opposed to the actual activity.

But there are definitely some activities that you may not want to do with your own particular dog, like the example we've given before with flyball. Maybe if you were doing it one-on=one with an instructor where there wasn't a whole bunch of other people practicing, maybe it'd be a fun thing that you do once in a while. That's fine. The other example again is lure coursing, where if you have a dog who is more on the senior side, maybe they have some structural issues, maybe having them running like that and doing the turns where there could be a variety of different turns on the course, maybe that would be hard fro them.

Those are the types of reasons why you may not want to do a particular dog sport as the activity or it may just not be a good match for your dog physically. It may also be that you don't want to do a particular activity if it's going to exacerbate a behavioral aspect of your dog that you're trying to work on. An example of this would be, a dog who is extraordinarily, over-the-top possessive. Where they're almost resource guarding sort of thing. You've been working on that with a professional trainer and it's been going along really well. You probably wouldn't want to get into a situation where you were then testing whether or not that would come back.

An example of that would be, let's say that that particular dog was also a terrier, and you were interested in doing something like barn hunt, where it is a course set up with a series of hay mazes, so there's hay or straw set up in the course like a maze. There are real live rats that are safely contained inside PVC pipes. Those are hidden throughout the maze. The goal is that the dog comes in and they have to do three different things in order to pass. They have to find all the rats that are hidden in the maze, and there can be between one and five, depending on the level. They have to do a climb, which means they have to get on top of one of the hay bales with all four feet. They also have to do a tunnel.

There's actually a tunnel created with the hay itself. Those are three different things they have to do within any given run if they were actually competing in bar hunt. As far as why it is that you may not want to do barn hunt with a dog who is a terrier and has a history of resource guarding, is that that dog will be entering into the barn hunt ring, will probably find their rat, and will be very excited about it, and I'm going to assume, would be very possessive about it as well. Your job as the handler, is to either restrain your dog once they find it, rewarding them, telling them how great they are, so someone else can go in to retrieve the rat so they can be safely removed from the ring.

Or that you would be removing the two of yourself to hand it off to somebody else. I'm hoping that you can kind of see where that would be a problem for a dog who has resource guarding issues. That either you or someone else is putting your hand to take away the very high value thing of a rat inside a tube, away from that dog. That's putting your dog, who's probably into a very higher state of arousal and probably tipping over into prairie drive, into a sense of conflict, where even though you and your trainer have been working on this dog not being quite as possessive or not demonstrating those really negative behaviors associated with resource guarding, you're putting them into a situation where they're now more likely to show those behaviors again. I would say, maybe that wouldn't be such a great idea to put that dog into that situation in the first place.

That's a very long example of a situation where you may not want to participate in a particular dog sport with a particular dog. Even if you weren't interested in competition. Maybe even that dog wouldn't do well even in practice. 'Cause again, you're still going into, I need to take this thing away from you that you find really super rewarding and very high value. That could be a problem.

As far as the competition side of why it is that you wouldn't want to get involved in dog sports, again, just to stress, the majority of time, you can play the activity at home or you can work with your instructor and you can do it that way, that's fine.

I would urge people who have dogs who are aggressive, like I had with Zeus, they really should not, in my opinion, be competing at all. Full stop. Period. It's just not safe, it really isn't. It's not to say those dogs don't deserve to have a meaningful life, it doesn't mean that those dogs don't deserve to have fulfillment, they do. You can do those activities again at home or in a very well controlled training environment where you're working with a professional. But to put them into a situation like a trial that is extraordinarily chaotic, there's at least on minimum, on your very small trials for certain activities, 30 dogs at this location. 30 dogs, plus 30 people that are just competitors.

Then you have the people who are running the trial, then you have the people who are volunteering at the trial, then you have the people who are officiating the trial. You have at least 50 people at this trial. Again, those are the smaller ones. You can have agility trials that have hundreds of dogs at them. You can have hundreds and hundreds of people at them. They could be located at a public facility, where not only is your event going on, but other things are going on. Where there could be hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people. Just think of the stress factor that that could do to a dog.

Again, those situations you could be putting them into where they could make a mistake. For me, it is a no-brainer. If a dog is really, truly aggressive either to dogs or definitely to people, they should not be competing at all. The other reason why you may not want to do competition is, if you or your dog wouldn't do well in those kinds of situations. That's where you just need to have a really honest assessment about it. You personally are putting a lot of weight on the competition as far as trying to build up your own self worth. "If I get this title, that means I'm great," or, "If this dog gets this title, that means that I'm great."

That's going to really bite you in the butt later, because even if you and your dog are fabulous, you have all the great training, they are just amazing with their skill set, all that's great. I don't care how good you are, there's going to be at some point that you and your dog are not going to get a placement or that you may not even queue. That's normal, but if you are approaching this as though you are tying and weaving in your self worth with your dogs ability to actually qualify or to earn a certain title, that's really not good. We see it all the time. On an organizations side, I see all the time people are just completely distraught.

There's a difference between disappointment and just broken down and falling apart if you and your dog didn't do well. If that's the case, you have to have a really serious assessment of, maybe you can change the way you're approaching it. If you don't think that you can, then maybe you shouldn't be competing, at least at this time. Maybe you can do it a little bit later when you can change your outlook on it. Within the same vein of why I would suggest someone steer away from doing the competition side of a dog sport is, it's kind of the flip side of that coin. What we were just discussing is, "If I don't qualify or get the title, that means that I'm terrible."

But the flip side of that is, because I have earned this and because I've done so well, that means that I'm awesome and so much better than everyone else. Now this is just a personal pet peeve of mine. When people are trying to attach too much value to what it is that they've earned within a certain dog sport, it's not to say it's not a testament to how you and your dog have done. It is, it is definitely proof that you and your dog have done well, that you've done your homework, you've done your training, and you're skilled. Great. But it pretty much ends there. It's not as though the heavens up and a key falls from the sky and you have the key to the world now. That's not how it works.

What I have found, is that people who are really like, "I am the best thing ever because I have X title," the problem is that it may work for that dog, but a lot of times with their subsequent dog or sometimes even with that same dog, they then are still pushing the dog far beyond where that dog should be going or they're not reading when the dog may be sore or they may be sick, or maybe something didn't go well or whatever. What happens with that is, they are pushing the dog beyond where they should go, and it can really ruin the relationship with the dog overall, which is not the point of the whole thing. It could just set you on a really dark path, and there are people who have gone down that path and they get really far down and they look around and they're like, "Wow, this is not what I was doing this for in the first place."

They have a really hard time getting back into it. But I do wanna note that dog sports overall, is a wonderful thing for dogs to get involved in. Again, there's two different tracks. There's the activity of the given dog sport, and then there's a competition side of the dog sport. Overall, I would say that the dog sport competition community is actually fairly supportive. Are you going to have drama? Are you gonna have drama queens? Yes you are. Are you gonna have certain venues that are stricter or more stringent than others? Yes. Are you gonna have others that don't have maybe as high standards as you would like as a competitor? Yes.

Do you have to do your homework? Absolutely. But on a whole, the communities for all these different sports is actually really good. Everyone is in it for the love of their dogs. If there are people who start straying away from that, then as a community we just say, "Hey, why don't we come back over and have fun with our dogs." I would say that if you are on the fence, if you are getting into dog training because you want your dog to be polite with your company or you don't want them pulling on leash or you just adopted a dog and you just want them to be well behaved around the house.

Maybe you're taking a basic obedience class, and you keep hearing these things like agility or Scent Work or obedience or rally or whatever, and you're like, "I have no idea what that is." I would say, why don't you watch one of those classes that may be offered. Maybe you should ask some questions for your instructor, maybe you'll be able to go to an actual trial and just watch for a little bit. It's really fun, and the dogs really enjoy these sports. They really enjoy the activity itself. Even if you never wanted to do competition, and maybe it's something that you don't want to do right now, maybe you'd like to try a little bit later, the activity itself can be an extraordinarily beneficial to every dog.

I would definitely urge you to check it out. Just really quickly, I just wanted to talk about how all this ties into Dog Sport University, which is the online platform that this podcast is branching out from. Dog Sport University was formed in order to provide online dog training to as many different people, dog handlers and dog owners as possible. The common question that comes out of that is, "Wait a second, does online dog training really work?" The answer is, yes it does. The great thing about online dog training is that it offers three different things. It offers quality, convenience and flexibility.

With Dog Sport University, all of our instructors have either taught the same exact course or a very similar course or course topic in person, and they've been doing so for years. They know what works and what doesn't. They also know the various types of modifications you can make for any given exercise. What they're doing, is they're taking all of that knowledge that they've accumulated over years of actual in person training, and they're transferring that to a virtual experience you can then enjoy no matter where you're located, either in the United States or in the whole world. We have students and participants, as of the recording of this podcast, seven different countries, which is amazing.

I know for me personally, having lived first on the East Coast of the United States and now living on the West Coast of the United States, it can be extraordinarily frustrating to not be near someone that you wanna train with. There are such incredibly talented trainers everywhere. Our goal is to try to connect you with those really talented trainers. Even if you're not near them geographically, you can still benefit from their knowledge. The other part is the convenience factor. With online dog training, you don't have to be pigeon hold into a particular time frame. With our courses, we offer three different types of enrollment.

Student, auditor and watcher. With students, there is a definite start date, but you still have access to all that course material for a year. With a student, it's the most intensive option that you can choose from. You will be submitting homework and video assignments for your instructor to review and to provide feedback on. They may also have an online chat with you several times throughout the course. You also have full access to the entire course forum, where you can ask questions, you can get feedback not only from your instructor, but also from your fellow course participants. The auditor is a really nice intermediary, where you will not be submitting homework or video assignments, but you can absolutely participate in the course forum asking questions, and again, getting that feedback not only from the instructor, but from other course participants as well.

The watcher is the most laid back option that you can choose from. This is where we're offering the flexibility factor. If you wanna do something that was a little bit more self taught, where you knew that your schedule was already crazy, and you just wanna be able to come on, view some lessons when you can and work on it when you have a chance, then the watcher is probably the best option for you. You would be able to see the course forum, but you wouldn't be able to actually post. The reason why there's convenience and flexibility, is that you are able to do all this from the comfort of your own home. Better than that, you can actually view your course player on any mobile device, even offline.

You can download it using a particular app, and you can view it while you're maybe training with your friends or maybe if you have an in person trainer that wanted to work on something with you, you can do it there, which is really super helpful. You don't have to try to memorize everything. You can also go over a course material over and over again. Maybe there was a side note that your instructor tried to emphasize that you were like, "I can't really remember what they said," but you can go back to the course player and you can play that part over again as often as you need to, so that you're able to get the information that you need.

The other great thing about the flexibility, is not only with the enrollment options but also because you have access to all this course material for a full year, you can go at your own pace. The key with dog training is just like learning with people, is individualizing it. They are all individuals, no two dogs are gonna learn the same. Your dog may fly through the first couple of exercises, and then with the next couple, they may need a little bit more time. Where if this was an in person course, you would have to do, these are the exercises for week one, and these are the exercises for week two, and so on and so forth.

With this format, even if you're a student, you are still more than welcome to take the time to adjust those exercises so that maybe it takes you instead of one week to do the exercise, maybe it takes you two weeks, maybe it takes you three weeks. It could take you longer. That's totally fine, there's nothing wrong with that. The ability for you to individualize this so it works for you and your dog, is really super helpful. All that to say that yes, online dog training does work. Our goal at Dog Sport University, is to provide as much quality as we can to help people reach their training goals and to connect them with some really incredibly talented trainers.

We're adding new trainers all the time, and we're always looking to add in more content. As far as the types of courses that we offer, we offer our Good Manners courses, which we have everything from basic manners to preparing for the Canine Good Citizen Test, to applying for real life skills. Then we also have our dog sport courses. We cover a wide range of different dog sports. From agility to competition obedience, to try ball. Including tricks and tracking and weight pull, and all kinds of really great things. In addition to that, we also have things that's just canine fitness, where you can learn how to make sure that your dog is as fit as they possibly can and can avoid injuries.

We also have things that can help you become a better handler, things that can be addressed across all the different dog sports. We offer a lot at Dog Sport University, as well as not only our courses but also our informative webinars. You're more than welcome to check us out at dogsportuniversity.com. I hope you found this first podcast helpful. At the very least I hope it sparked your interest a little bit in dog sports, so you can look into what dog sport may be a good match for both you and your dog. Thank you so much, happy training, and we look forward to seeing you soon.

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