A local dog training group has moved its activities online to help pent-up pooches and their owners to cope during quarantine and beyond.
Warkworth and Districts Dog Training Club has established an online beginner’s course for puppies and older dogs and set up a Facebook group to provide a support and advice forum. Secretary Gary Martin says a spell of social distancing and on-lead exercise is not a disaster for dogs, and may even do them good, but it is still important to keep them occupied and behaving well while they can’t run free and socialise.
With no opportunity to hold actual classes, he tracked down a professional online course similar in style and content to the Warkworth club’s approach to dog training.
“This time has given us an opportunity to review what training options exist out there and how we can do better,” he says. “We found some UK-based trainers doing dog sports who have put together a programme which was far better than anything I could achieve, so we’re offering that during lockdown, with a Facebook group for support, where people can ask questions, post photos, and so on.”
Gary is so impressed with the online course that he is incorporating it into the club’s training programme even after lockdown is over.
“As we went through it, it became clear that it was going to fit really well, so we’ve decided to make it part of our package, and offer that as our basis of learning,” he says. “As a result, we won’t be running any of our previous structured six-week courses in 2020. Instead, we’ll offer the online course, along with Facebook support, and then access to up to 10 weeks of in-person group training to practice skills, ask questions, and so on.”
Gary says the benefits include owners being able to start the course at any time, no class cancellations due to bad weather and being able to review different aspects of the course at any time, as well as being able to just drop in to the follow-up in-person sessions when it suits.
“This is much more flexible and it’s the way the world is moving. The world we used to live in where everyone worked nine to five, Monday to Friday, that has changed now,” he says.
Gary is hoping that club agility and obedience sessions will be able to resume once the country is at level 2.
Information on all courses can be found at Warkworth and Districts Dog Training Club on Facebook or at warkworthdogtraining.club/training/beginner-trainin