The site is divided into sections with one page for each topic. Each page has a combination of videos and instructional text. The amount of text is substantial; if you need to look up a question, you don’t have to watch a video and hope there’s an answer in it. You can read the lesson. For example the Fears and Phobias page has 6 videos plus 1000 words of instructional text.
There are a lot of videos. And they’re not just short clips; they’re anywhere from 2 minutes to 10 minutes long. Take a look at the Obsessions page:
Honestly, I’ve been pretty impressed with it all. Overwhelmed even, faced with all this very specific situational information I didn’t even know I might need. Taking your dog through a carwash? There’s a topic for that.
Almost every topic has more than one video, because situations can vary. For example the page on teaching dogs to be calm at feeding time has one video about training a single dog, and another about training a group of dogs to share food.
Especially the topics about dog problems might have many videos. You’ll see how the topic of taking your aggressive dog for a walk and encountering other dogs has 9 whole videos dealing with unique situations.
I read that the site is 10 years old, but there’s a new design compared to old screenshots I came across when I was deciding whether to join. The whole site including the forum is usable on phones and tablets.
There are 7 main sections. (I have found the Pack Leader and Everyday Tools & Techniques sections to be the most valuable to me.)
Before I signed up with TheOnlineDogTrainer.com I read a lot of internet articles that all said the same thing: You gotta become the pack leader of your own personal dog pack, even if it’s just you and a single dog. But these articles and videos only explained why, never how.
Well now I know that the how lives in the first few videos you need to watch from Doggy Dan. Finally, instead of talking around the concept, the videos show you how to do it.
This section teaches you how to be a new dog owner, and how to teach a dog the basics of living in your home. It has about 25 topics including Spaying and Neutering, Toilet Training, Chewing, Barking, Crying, Sit and Stay. Even if your untrained dog is not a puppy you should still go through this section until your dog has all these key skills.
Understanding these 3 tools and 6 techniques will help you work through every training session, and handle any real-life scenario that comes up. All of the topics refer back to these lessons.
The Barking and Aggression areas have a dozen topics combined, each with multiple videos covering various scenarios. Plus there are another dozen topics including Separation Anxiety, Jumping on Furniture, Fears and Phobias, and Eating Poop.
This section covers the theory behind Doggy Dan’s training methodology. There are 20 topics with videos, including Dog Body Language, Rewards, Safety, why Shouting At Your Dog doesn’t work, etc.
This is a really cool series of 60+ videos where Dan trains a new puppy from scratch. Last I looked Moses is almost a year old now. I think you couldn’t go wrong if you did nothing but follow this.
The discussion forum allows members and trainers to communicate with each other.
A lot of times Dan sets up a situation that a dog could react badly to (e.g. a playroom full of bigger dogs), and then brings the new dog into it — so you get to see the problem (e.g. fear or stress) and see Dan solve it.
The training is like magic sometimes. I get a funny feeling inside, watching a dog change so quickly. Because when you watch, it’s clear that the dog is much happier as soon as he feels controlled by Dan, his pack leader. It makes you eager to do the same with your dogs.
There are a lot of different dogs in these videos: Dan’s own dogs, neighborhood dogs, dogs Dan is currently training, groups of dogs in day care locations, etc. There are little dogs, big ones, and puppies at different ages.
You can adjust the playback speed of the videos, which makes me happy. Doggy Dan is not a slow-talking guy but I like to watch educational videos at 1.5 times the normal speed, which I’ve gotten used to on YouTube. Here you can choose one of 6 speeds for slower or faster playback.
Newer videos are 1080p HD-quality while older ones are 720p, I think? The older ones are quite watchable. The training topics that have more than one video often have a mix of newer and older videos. The big Project Moses series is all HD.
Dan is like that one co-worker you have who is sane and reasonable and smart and doesn’t get worked up about stuff and is good at explaining things. Dan is calm: It’s no problem… we can solve this… everything is going to be okay.
I expect Dan could train me, so dogs, definitely.
You only have to watch a few videos to see that Dan is a competent man with broad experience. Seeing him work with so many dogs in so many different situations makes that clear.
Dan is a full-time dog trainer, lives in New Zealand, and says, “Watching dogs change their behavior of their own free will is amazing.“
The best thing about the forum is that you can post a particular problem you’re having with your own dog, and get an answer from Dan or a professional dog trainer who works with him. Other forum users might chime in too, but there’s always an answer from a trainer.
Plus the forum is searchable. Before you post a new question you can search for previous questions, similar to yours, that have already been answered — many of them by Dan personally. There are thousands of searchable posts because the forum has been active since 2010.
Before I sign up for anything online I need to know what personally-identifying information will be public. (I confess, my real name is not Beth.)
On TheOnlineDogTrainer.com you will have an Account on the membership site, and a corresponding Profile on the forum.
You will receive a welcoming email with login information for the email address you used to sign up. It will tell you your password but you can change your password later using the My Account link on the membership site. I recommend using a password that you aren’t using on any other site.
Although you log in using your email address, you never see it anywhere on the site unless you are editing your own information.
Use the Forum menu option to access the forum from the membership site. On the forum, your email address is not visible to other members. Only your User Name and First Name are visible, and you can change these right away if privacy is important to you, by editing your forum profile.
The first time I entered the membership site I watched the Welcome Video and then started looking around, clicking random links and watching parts of random videos that looked interesting.
Just in that first tour, I came across two separate videos that taught me tricks I never would have thought of myself… that made me think, “Of course that would work.” It was tricks for how to calm my dog down when he’s stressed, and how to make him come back to me if he has wandered away.
I signed up because I wanted to know how to get the animals to stop barking when people come to the door. I’m a woman in my 50s, but still a little new at having more than one dog. They hear someone at the door, and Skeeter gets started barking and the other three join in and they don’t stop until the humans get settled in a different room.
It’s hard to discipline four dogs at once so I’ve been following Dan’s advice and focusing on Skeeter since he’s the ringleader when it comes to barking. I’m definitely seeing improvement so signing up was already worth it.
You have to be calm and in control when you’re teaching your dog, and I’ve found it helps to watch a video of Dan right before I start a training session. I mean when we’re doing something like a practice walk, as opposed to reacting to a problem. Dan is so relaxed and steady, I try to channel him when I’m out with a dog.
One thing I’ve noticed: My brother-in-law trains thoroughbreds, and it’s kind of cool how sometimes Dan works with a dog just like I’ve seen Bob work with a horse.
There is a monthly subscription charge for accessing the site, but you can see it all for 3 days if you sign up for the $1 trial, which is how I started. I haven’t cancelled yet. I will probably stick with it for a few more months because there are some videos I’ll still need to use, and I need to ask at least one more question on the forum.
Normally I would rather learn by reading instead of watching videos but I admit videos are better than books, for this, to see how to act. I agree it’s better to train your own dogs than have someone else do it, so I’m doing my best.
This is the link to the $1 trial sign-up page.
If you’d rather, there is also a short series of free dog obedience videos that Dan gives away.
I’ve come back to add another comment. I remembered how some people, they get a puppy and then send it away somewhere to be trained. I never looked into that for myself but I was wondering what it costs and how it compares to doing it yourself guided by the Doggy Dan videos.
So I just checked the Services section of my local Craigslist. There’s a basic obedience course: “Two-Week Puppy Board-and-Train Special : $750.00”. And there’s this better deal: “10 Day Special $500.00. Each additional Training week is $400.00”
No way. I’m paying $37/month for the Doggy Dan membership. I think of it like a no-contract gym membership. I can stop once I’m happy with how far my dogs have progressed.
There aren’t any dog training classes on my Craigslist that teach you and your dog together, but I did a search and there’s programs offered by the Humane Society. A “Fundamentals” course is $85 for 4 one hour sessions. That’s one hour a week, with several dogs and owners participating. Or, a single one-on-one session can also be had for $85.
So that’s also less value for the price than what Doggy Dan videos cost. I didn’t consider these other options at the time — I only looked at books and decided I’d do better with videos — but I’m certain I made the right decision.