Home Podcast TOP #30: Are Online Dog Training Courses Worth the Cost?

TOP #30: Are Online Dog Training Courses Worth the Cost?

Training your dog is an essential part of being a pet owner. However, not everybody may have the budget to pay for a professional dog trainer's services, and reading dog training books isn't always that helpful, particularly for very difficult training techniques. That's why online dog training courses are becoming more popular among dog owners, but are they worth the cost?

This week's podcast guest is a professional dog trainer Doggy Dan, founder of his own dog training program and the The Online Dog Trainer course which has been used by more than 25,000 people to this date. We discuss everything related to dog training methods, how these courses work and dig deep into some of the more common questions pet owners often have regarding training their canines.

Listen to the episode in the video above and find the full podcast transcript below. For more, visit this episode’s post on the official Theory of Pets website.

Are Online Dog Training Courses Worth the Cost?
(raw podcast transcript)

Are Online Dog Training Courses Worth the Cost

This week I'm talking about dog training and I have a special guest who is referred to as Doggy Dan. Doggy Dan is known as the online dog trainer. He has a very extensive Web site, which I came across and that's what prompted me to ask him to come on the show today.

So he has a very extensive web site and it's it's www.theonlinedogtrainer.com and there's a link to that on our web site as well. So if you're listening to this on YouTube or iTunes or any kind of social media, anything like that just click the link jump on our web site theoryofpets.com you'll see the link for this interview and you can go ahead in there and it'll have the theonlinedogtrainer.com link so you can just click on it and check it out.

The thing that I really loved about Doggy Dan's website is that he offers some free courses along with a paid course. The free courses are an obedience course and a potty training course which are probably the two most common things that dog owners are looking for as far as dog training goes. We all want our dog to be potty trained and we all want our dog to know at least the basics of obedience training, fairly soon after we bring them home. Of course Dog Training takes a lot of time and consistency and perseverance on our part.

But those are the two things that people tend to focus on immediately are — potty training and obedience training. So I love that the courses are free. What the courses are basically is it's a collection of videos and it shows him working with dogs and dog owners in real life and gives you examples that you can see in video form of the ways that he uses to train dogs.

So I won't give it all away. I'll let you guys listen to the interview and hear more about his dog training method and why it's been so successful for so many pet parents.

Interview with Doggy Dan

Samantha: Thanks for coming on and talking to everybody and if you want to just talk a little bit about so your your first website that we'll talk about I guess is the online dog trainer it's been so successful. So can you tell us a little bit about that and kind of how it started?

Dan: Sure. Yes, so for those of you who don't know me I kind of go by the name of Doggy Dan. As a dog behaviorist I found I just couldn't keep up with demand for the work that I was doing. And I was so passionate about helping people, not just in my country here in New Zealand, but all over the world.

So basically I paid a cameraman for a long time to video me in my consultations and we stuck them all up into a membership site called The Online Dog Trainer. So you know for those people who don't live in the country or don't have the money to pay for a one on one service they can go to that site and watch me. There's now hundreds of consultations and videos in that site of me working, just the same way I do because it's all in people's homes. It's actually quite phenomenal. That's where it all started and it's been going for you know many many years now very successfully.

Samantha: That's awesome. And so you've now expanded a little bit as well. And I've seen some of your videos on the Online Dog Trainer, where you go into people's homes and work with them. What do you think is the number one thing? What do people usually call you up and they say this is the issue that I'm having with my dog, can you help?

Dan: I would probably say, I mean it is a mix, but there's a lot of aggression stuff out there.

Samantha: Yes.

Dan: Whether it's aggression to people or aggression with other dogs. One of the things with aggression is, it's not something you can ignore. So whether your dog's just starting to growl when people come close and the dog's lying on the bed. Or whether the dog's just getting a little bit growly at the park — you can ignore it but it generally doesn't go away and it can be pretty serious stuff. So aggression.

Recall, dog not coming when you call them. That's pretty full on. I mean that seriously limits your dog's happiness factor and your happiness and enjoyment factor of your dog if you can't get them off the leash. It's very frustrating, let's face it, if your dog don't come back. I think it's probably more frustrating when they come back but won't let you actually grab them which is another form of….

Samantha: Ah yes.

Dan: You know the one? Dancing round you — you can't catch me.

Samantha: Yes, that lovely game of You Can't Catch Me.

Dan: Yeah. I always think it's so funny, because you know we humans we love to go on about how huge our brains are and we're so clever, we're so intelligent. And I see these dogs jumping around, going — “If you're so clever how come you can't figure me out. How come you can catch me?”

So there's recall. There's pulling on the leash issues, a lot of pulling on the leash and a lot of barking.

Samantha: Oh barking, yeah, nuisance barking.

Dan: Yes, and there's two types of barking almost. I'd say. Well there's lots of different types, but you know you have dogs who just bark because they want something. There's dogs who bark because there's somebody walking past — protective. But there's also that barking when the dog is left alone at home and yeah I think that's probably one of the most misunderstood behavioral issues of all time.

Samantha: Absolutely.

Dan: We could probably do a complete podcast just on that.

Samantha: Absolutely. I think a lot of people don't realize that dog behavior and sometimes there's other reasons for it certainly, but one of the biggest reasons that I always see when people complain about behavior. Whether it's chewing or getting into the garbage or barking nuisance barking, it's that being left alone and all that pent up energy and they're just bored and it comes out in other ways whatever naughty behavior might be.

Dan: Well, look I mean whilst we're talking about it, I want to just maybe open people's minds a little bit as to what it actually could be. Because this is just my opinion but it's based on working with thousands of dogs and these dogs who bark when they left alone. And in my opinion 95/99% of them it has got nothing to do with boredom. It is basically a hierarchy issue, where if you think of it as a parent and you have a young child and your responsibility is to look after that young child age two or three, four years old. If that child wanders out of the house, up onto the main road where there's busy cars, then it's your job to be looking after them and you're sat inside the house. What do you do when you realize they've gone? Do you sit down have a cup of tea and read a magazine? No. You get out of that house and you go and get them. Imagine what it's like if you run to the door and it's locked and the windows are locked. You're shouting “Come back come back.”

Samantha: Oh interesting.

Dan: That is where it's coming from. And that is why you can't solve this problem by just giving the dog a bone, because that's the same as me saying you don't worry I know your child's on the main road, very very dangerous and you're meant to be looking after them, but look here's some cookies. Have a cookie and a cup of tea. Relax. And this is where unless we actually understand the mind of the dog and learn to think like a dog and stop thinking like a human being where we just assume it's all boredom. You know a lot of these problems are so much easier to fix than we realize.

Samantha: Yeah absolutely. That's an interesting perspective. You know it's much simpler than a lot of people….

Dan: Much simpler. And look, I used to be a maths teacher and a civil engineer, so I'm into probability and logic. I like to go well if this is true then therefore that.

My question to people is this regarding that issue. If your dog is always lying on the ground relaxing for hours and hours and hours and hours and then the second you walk out the door they go nuts and they've already had a good walk, let's just take out the exercise factor. So if you take out the exercise factor, so they've had a good walk and a good run. Why if the dog's been lying on their back and usually lies on their back and relaxes for four, five, six seven hours why within five minutes of you leaving the house would they suddenly become so bored that they're running around in circles jumping up at the fence barking their head off.

It's not boredom. It's the same reason why if your child wanders up onto the road within 60 seconds you can be absolutely in a desperate terrible stressful state.

And you can end up doing all sorts of things chewing your fingernails, shouting you know messing up the house a bit just panicking, damaging stuff. You'd smash a window to get out if your child is in serious danger and that's why dogs do some serious damage.

Anyway that was a taster of the sort of stuff I was thinking of sharing with you….

Samantha: Yeah, well it kind of leads into sort of my next question which… and now we know a little bit about it. Every dog trainer has their own style, I guess of dog training. So speaking of The Online Dog Trainer and the courses that you offer on there and things can you talk about a little bit about your style of training?

Dan: Yeah. I think my style is quite unique, because I think you know old style dog training yank n crank style, where you force the dog you know what we're going back back a bit here. Where you would force the dog, you'd make the dog do what you wanted or you kind of increased the punishment. Whether it was this device or that device you just made them do it. That was old style. Then we moved into this very positive — let's not do anything nasty to the dog let's just use treats. Which is, I love positive reinforcement and I like the idea and the concept of using food to train dogs. However I think we need to be very careful that we don't forget the fact that there is also a way of winning the dog's mind. These are still pack animals and there is a very simple powerful way of connecting with your dog. So they will listen to you trust you respect you and I mean respect in the most lovely way, the same way I respect my children, I respect my elders respect people.

And it's it's that bit which is usually missing and I call that the foundation. The foundation, the hierarchy. It's why if you know what you're doing you can walk into a pack of dogs and very quickly have those dogs listening to you and following you. Having worked with packs of dogs again, you put it into practice. If you know what you're doing you can walk into a pack of dogs and very quickly win that pack of dogs over, if you know the tricks the things which really matter to a dog.

But if you don't get that bit right you can do all the training in the world and you kind of never get there. So that's my style. My style is first of all let's think like a dog. Let's understand what super important to the dog. And from there then we can do the training we want. What I found is if you get that foundation right first then sure very often all you need is a little, you hardly need to raise your voice. You just need to ask the dog is onside. It's almost like yep you're the captain of the ship and they're happy to follow and listen. So you just ask you dog — no, yes. Sure you can use a little bit of food to train the dog as well, but you don't need to go down that track of using force and aggression.

So that's the diff… And what I find is most people, most dog trainers in fact are jumping straight to the training. And the problem with that is if your dog doesn't think that you're the one who should dishing out the orders and you haven't understood the dog code or how to think like a dog, your dog could be all over the shop so excited emotional you know over reactive, impulsive they're just doing their own thing and when the real danger turns up they're not looking at you. They just kick into gear and do their thing to protect the house protect the property protect you. They do what they want to do. They're not listening.

Samantha: Oh that's interesting. And I think like you said they're so many…. Every dog trainer does it differently. But that's an interesting way to look at it and kind of look at the other styles of training where you just sort of jump right into it and don't take your time to get to know the dog…

Dan: Correct.

Samantha: — And how they're thinking.

Dan: And it's so powerful you know. There's so many little simple things and that's to be honest what people love most about the Online Dog Trainer. People tell me — wow I've been dog training, there's dog trainers in there who say, I've been dog training for years and I didn't realize this stuff and I put it into place with all my new clients and it's working so well. And it is so simple.

We're talking five seconds. It takes five seconds to do some of these things some of the most powerful things out there and it transforms your dogs, it transforms all the training that you do, because you're thinking like a dog, rather than a human.

Can I give you a quick example?

Samantha: Yeah, absolutely.

Dan: Somebody said to me the other day that they'd picked up all…. I went to work with somebody and had all these bones lying around their back garden, dog bones. And I just explained how food is powerful to a dog. You give them control over all the food, you end up with a far more excited dog, who doesn't listen because they think they're in charge they're in control of their own destiny. If you want to talk about thinking like a dog — if you put a thirty thousand dollar gold crown with rubies at the top of all the spikes on the crown in the garden and gave it to your dog, they wouldn't care. It has no value. You know they'd probably use it as a peeing spot. But if a human has a gold crown worth $30000 you might well take it round to your friend's house to show it off and take a photo and pop it on Facebook.

It's got huge value of importance. However a dirty old stinky rotten bone to a dog. It's got huge value. Way more value than a $30000 crown. And yet to us it has zero value. In fact we think the dogs have lost these bones. And I can almost guarantee you all these dogs who've got buried bones and bits of pig's ear or rawhide buried and hidden behind the sofa and in that bed and we think they're not valuable. Oh they are super valuable.

So just by controlling the bones picking them up and taking control of them you instantly increase the respect that your dog will have for you because suddenly you become the one controlling that food. And when you leave them down all day long forever more, it's the opposite. You end up with far more excited dog, who's sort of saying — hey why should I do what you say, why should I listen to you when you shout come to me down at the park.

So that's the sort of simple thing I'm talking about when I say I think like a dog. Yes.

Samantha: Yeah. And so on your website you have the obedience course and then a potty training which I think is those are probably the two most common types I guess of training that I'm always asked about. People have issues. Normally I don't know if I know anybody that's adopted a puppy as a new pet owner and has not struggled with potty training. That's something that and of course I've been a dog owner now for a good many years, we've had a number of dogs. And so where I like to call myself potty training expert guy, we've got it down to a science now, but certainly that's something that really takes experience and you need to really know what you're doing.

I think a lot of pet parents think about adopting a dog and they think that they're going to train of course they're going to train the dog, but hey don't put a lot of thought and research into it before getting the dog. And then they get the dog and they try to potty train for a few days and they realize it's not working and that's when they reach out for help, when they're already into it and need need the help right away.

So that was one of the things that really caught my attention on your site was if you want to work with say a trainer in your local area, they may not be able to help you right away, but if you jump onto the Online Dog Trainer there is information right at your fingertips.

Dan: That's right. There's a whole course. I don't know if you saw the whole course, that whole potty training course, free course which I put together. Which again it's a consult where we went into a guy's house and lovely guy and a lovely cute little puppy with a potty training issue, we went through this. It's a five five part video course which just goes through all the different stages of indoor, outdoor how to set it up how to prevent accidents what happens when it starts going pear shaped. Potty training's a funny one, because it really does remind me of the similarities between training a child to go toilet and potty training a dog.

The similarities I think are just endless. Even the fact that so many of us as parents struggle and some children are so tricky to toilet train, some puppies are so tricky to toilet train. Other children they're a piece of cake. It happens so quickly, at a very young age, and other puppies they're real easy. So there's that crossover and there's so many other crossovers it really makes me smile. And it was one of the big reasons for actually writing my book which is called “What The Dogs Taught Me About Being A Parent.” It's just one of the areas which I cover off in the book. Yeah. It's quite quite funny.

Samantha: Yeah. So and then the other free course that's on your site is the obedience course, which again you know I think same thing happens. People think they're going to train their dog, but they don't put a lot of research in before they actually get the dog. So they've got the dog, they work on it for whatever a week or so. It's not working. And then they need, they want help. But you know they maybe can't get it right away. So those two free classes courses that are on your website I think are are certainly the ones that I am most often asked about, and probably you as well, which is why you put them on there. But there's tons of other information as well just obedience and the potty training courses are the ones that stuck out to me the most.

Dan: Yeah look I've tried to put… I mean there's a lot of information. If you're looking for free blogs and all sorts of stuff about all sorts of you know whether it's setting a puppy puppy training or behavioral issues or barking or aggression there's a ton of blogs on there.

However if… And once you've read them if it sort of resonates with you then what I would suggest you do is check out the main course and dip your finger in. Because we do have a very very I mean it's a trial of the whole thing for three days and it's currently only a dollar. I'm not sure whether when you go and check it out whether it's still a dollar. Hopefully it will always be a dollar. But you can check out the whole site for three days for $1. And the amazing thing is the number of people who actually stay on once they've tried it because they go wow, it's the real deal. And I've put everything into that site. So one thing I didn't want to do is to kind of give you a little bit and pretend it's going to solve the problem and then try and say well it won't, you need this and then you need this. So when you go on the site within a day or two a lot of people are saying oh my goodness me I've got a different dog.

Testimonials and people saying it actually works which is the most beautiful thing in the world. I was actually chatting this morning with an attorney in Florida. Believe it or not. And she was telling me she had found me through the Online Dog Trainer. She'd trained her dog using that method and that's why she was connecting about some other legal stuff. But beautiful to just to hear how far and wide the method and the site is actually reaching.

Samantha: Yeah absolutely. I mean like you said, it is so extensive, we can't sit here and list everything that's on there. But I was amazed when I got on and checked it out. You know those free courses I think when when pet owners are looking for help and they might want to check those free courses out. It kind of gives a really nice insight into your method and how you work with people in that the videos, the types of videos that are on there.

So you get a really good taste for it I think from those free courses and then of course there's so much more other than that. Those are the ones I think and in pretty much every dog owner can use those as well. You may adopt a dog that's already potty trained but 99% of pet owners are going to need some kind of obedience training at some point. So there's something that everybody can check out in and really get a feel for your style of training and how you work with your clients.

Dan: Yeah. The other thing I would say about this method is it really truly does prevent behavioral issues. So even if you've got a young puppy and you think well he's only four or five months old, it's not such a bad behavior issue just yet. What I'd recommend is prevention is better than cure. Because if you leave it till your dog is a year old or 18 months, it can become so much harder, and just a little bit of knowledge early on it can save you so much stress, time, worry and everything else.

Samantha: Absolutely. If anybody is listening to this podcast that is thinking about getting a dog. Yeah I always, always advocate for people to do your research, get all of the information that you need before you take on this responsibility. Because it's so much bigger than anybody realizes they think I'm going to get this cute little puppy and we're going to find a good puppy food and we're going to train it no problem. And it just when you break down from potty training and obedience training, kennel training, behavioral training, it is so much and people just don't realize the amount of work and dedication that it takes to train your dog to be a well-behaved dog in every aspect.

Dan: Yeah. Good stuff.

Samantha: Absolutely. So again, I'm going to link to your site. The Online Dog Trainer but you have a couple of other websites as well.

Dan: Well yeah. I've got The Online Dog Trainer, which is the membership side for people around the world who want to put together a comprehensive dog or puppy training program. The other one is it's my doggydan.co.nz and that's my sort of local dog training site here in New Zealand where I live.

The third site is my dog training academy site which is your dogtraineracademy.org. And that is for those people who have embraced this method. So they've embraced it so much and fallen in love with it so much they actually have wanted to become dog trainers and that's what that site is. So that's for those people who really have been to The Online Dog Trainer, they've seen what the method is, it resonates with them, I want to take this step and become a dog trainer. I want to share this method with people. It's becoming a part of my life to be honest. You know it's amazing to be able to Skype and work with people all around the world and share videos and share complete consultations where it's almost like you're in the consult with me, because the whole thing is unedited from start to finish. It's quite amazing.

Samantha: Absolutely. We actually have some information on our site too because we've had readers and listeners that they love dogs and they enjoy training their own dogs and so they want to kind of dip their toes into becoming a dog trainer. So I ‘m going to link to all three of your sites and if anybody out there listening either is a dog trainer and would like to learn more or is interested in becoming a dog trainer like you said, I'm sure some people just you know when you find a method that really works then you're really passionate about. You want to share that with others as well. So if anybody is interested in that I will have all those links on our theoryofpets.com website and our topdogtips.com site as well so people can check those out.

Dan: Brilliant. Brilliant stuff.

Samantha: I definitely want to have you back next time and maybe talk a little bit more about your book. I had mentioned actually before we started recording the interview that I'm ordering it for myself because we're parents and dog owners. So I'm excited to talk to you about that too. You know when you make that correlation between training a dog and teaching your child, I think if you're a parent and a pet owner and you've been through that you can totally relate to that. There are tons of similarities there. And it's interesting how you've taken that in and written a book about it, because you know it's just something that really hits home to me being a mommy and a dog owner.

Dan: Yeah, it's it's been a lot of fun sharing the book with people because so many people can relate to it. And you know it was picked up by Random House book publishing, who are Random House Penguin now, and there's a Kindle version on Amazon. However I also made an audible copy so if people like listening to books as you're driving to work or sitting in their car on the tube. There is an audible version which I can send you the link to as well so you can download that and just listen to me reading the whole thing, but it's quite funny. The start of the book is all about me shouting at my son Stanley and shouting you know shouting “Stanley, Stanley, no no.” And then my voice gets louder and louder. The story basically finishes with me realizing — hang on this is what I'm always telling my puppy owners not to do. You don't just stand there shouting. You know I started thinking, yes, there's so many similarities.

Samantha: They're so similar. Yes, absolutely. So I'm actually going to I'll link to your book as well on our site. If anybody wants to check that out. But just so everybody knows there will be a podcast coming in the future where we talk more about that if people want to wait for that. And I will link to that if they want to check out the book as well.

Dan: Sounds great. Brilliant.

Samantha: So that's a little bit about Doggy Dan and his training method. Again you know it's been online for many years and it's been successful for a lot of pet owners. The thing that I love the most about the Online Dog Trainer is that you can hop on there check it out check out the free courses, do something like obedience training with your dog using these methods. It it works for you, great. And then if you want to dive into it a little bit more and either pay for the full course yourself or maybe jump onto his Dog Trainer Academy site. Maybe this really is something that you love, training dogs and working with people and owners and you want to make it a career or at least a part time hobby that you have on the weekends or in your free time. So there's tons of information Doggy Dan is such a great resource.

I'm going to link to all of his sites on our site theoryofpets.com. So if you're, again, on social media or anything just jump right on our website. All of that stuff is right there, you can click, check things out. There is a link to his book there as well. And as I mentioned I'm definitely going to try and get him back.

So if you guys have any questions for me or for Doggy Dan that we can answer in another podcast, be sure to jump onto theoryofpets.com you can type out your questions and it'll be sent to me in an email format if you like or you can record your questions which is a great way to participate in the podcast. If you choose to record them I may use them in future podcasts, especially if I have Doggy Dan back, I might play some of your questions and have him answer those for you guys. So any questions for me, any questions for Doggy Dan be sure to get on theoryofpets.com and check that out.

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Samantha’s biggest passion in life is spending time with her Boxer dogs. After she rescued her first Boxer in 2004, Samantha fell in love with the breed and has continued to rescue three other Boxers since then. She enjoys hiking and swimming with her Boxers, Maddie and Chloe.