The amount of content on the internet is overwhelming, and for pet owners looking for good, solid information about training or taking care of pets, the task is daunting. In your efforts to search for training courses, you’ll find some are free, and others charge a fee. Which is better? The answer is, it depends.
Evaluating Online Sources
You want the most reliable information you can find on the interest, which is not the easiest task. However, there are things you can look at to decide whether a source is credible.
There are 5 things to check when evaluating the validity and value of a web source:
- How current is it?
- How relevant is it?
- Is the source a respected authority?
- Is the information accurate?
- What is the purpose of the video?
So, how do you find this information?
Currency is easy for YouTube videos, not necessarily so easy on websites. On YouTube, right after the title of the video, it shows how long ago the video was loaded. Determining currency on a website requires you to search the site, with the publication date most likely at the end of the first page. Be wary of the source if you cannot find a date.
Relevancy depends on what you are looking for. A video or course on biting won’t be relevant for your need to potty train your dog. Now, for respected authority and information accuracy. For both of these, you’ll need to validate them by googling. For authority, google the name of the trainer and see what pops up. For information accuracy, take an important fact or two (or even three) from the source, google them, and compare results. The facts should all match. Finally, the purpose of the video should be evident right from the start.
Online Courses: Free or Fee
Free and fee-based courses abound on the Internet. Here are some of the pros and cons for both:
Free Course Pros
- You are not committed because you haven’t paid anything. If a trainer’s style doesn’t work for you, there are many others to choose from.
- Most of these courses are asynchronous, which means you can take them on your own schedule.
- You don’t need to go anywhere – you can take the training in the comfort of your home.
- You can locate the best trainer for your dog’s and your skills and abilities.
Free Course Cons
- You’ll miss getting individual instruction, correction, and feedback.
- Asking questions, if even possible, usually does not happen in real time.
- It’s hard to determine who’s legitimate among the thousands of alleged dog trainers on the internet.
- You may be subject to a course that is more interested in achieving internet optimization than instructing students.
Paid Course Pros
- Most courses allow complete flexibility and don’t require a set time for instruction.
- You’ll find them easy to access and navigate.
- They may be more affordable than a local, in-person course.
Paid Course Cons
- You will miss the opportunity for social interaction.
- Some courses require meeting virtually at set times.
- There may be technical issues that interfere with the course, especially in real-time.
K9 of Mine
One site that acts as a collective, or portal, for a number of free and paid videos for training dogs is K9 of Mine . What’s especially helpful about this site is that it offers a summary of the videos as well as a description of their contents, trainer’s qualifications, constructive criticism of the program, and a discussion of “best for” and “avoid for”.
The free training courses cataloged here include the following:
- Mr. Dunbar’s Dog Behavior and Training
- Howcast: How to Train Your Dog with JoAnne Basinger
- Journey Dog Training
- Zak George’s Dog Training Revolution
- Training Positive with Tab Shamsi
The paid courses described here include the following:
- Mr. Dunbar’s Dog Behavior and Training – paid version
- 30 Things to Teach Your Dog in 30 Days
- Brain Training for Dogs
In addition, this site has recommendations on resources for dogs with the following:
- Separation anxiety
- Behavior problems
- Dog sports
Other resources include:
K9 Training Institute
K9 Training Institute offers free training using techniques utilized in training service dogs. It also advertises training for housebreaking and dealing with behavioral issues.
Udemy is a well-known source for training and instruction on just about any subject you can imagine, including dogs and pets. A search there using the key word “dog” yielded 842 hits on subjects ranging from solutions for common training and behavior problems to dog CPR and first aid. The courses here average from $15 - $20.
Wikipedia gets a bad rap when it is, in fact, a very good source of information. The way it works is that experts craft and publish articles on a self-selected topic. They are required to include a list of sources at the bottom of the entry. Other experts in the field police what is written and add comments and directions if any information is misrepresented or false. No matter what kind of information you’re looking for, you will get a hit for just about any search term. This article on dog training provided a lot of helpful information. What’s particularly valuable about Wikipedia is that you’ll have access to even more information from the sources listed at the end of the article.
Animal Humane Society
The Animal Humane Society offers courses in dog training, but their tuition fees are on the hefty side. There are 5 levels of training that start with foundation skills and cap with expert skills. The online courses are held at a specific time, which eliminates the aspect of schedule flexibility, and the fee is $185 for two months of training.
The ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals)
The ASPCA offers courses on a variety of topics related to animals. These programs are skewed more towards people working in animal welfare, but there is still value to be had for anyone who wants to explore additional information. A real plus is that the ASPCA is an inarguably credible site.
American Cat Fanciers Association
The American Cat Fanciers Association offers a directory of articles and other features for cat owners. There is an emphasis on showing, but a section on cat health proved to be informative and helpful.
YouTube is the source of all the videos you ever dreamed of on any subject. For example, entering the keyword “pet training” yields endless pages of hits that include renowned trainers Cesar Milan and Brandon McMillan. However, as you embark upon the exercise of endless scrolling, how do you know who is a valid trainer and who isn’t?
These are just a few resources for you, but as you know, the list goes on to infinity. Your key to finding credible information is to go through the steps for evaluating a YouTube site.