I want to normalize the idea of a half hour training session with a professional trainer.
Over the last year I’ve spent a lot of time adjusting my business, like we all have. One of the ways I did that was moving to an online platform for training, first by necessity, then by choice. I love working online. I love working over video. The ability to record, and watch without any interference from my presence has forced me to elevate my training. I have had to sit down and analyze the way I teach and learn all the subtle nuances of my own methods to translate them to other people without the handicap of grabbing the leash. And something I’ve realized is that a half an hour is the perfect training session.
I offer half hour training sessions online only. This is because the cost of driving around my valley makes a 30 minute session not really worth it given the cost of traveling in time and gas around the city. Except that maybe it is?
We talk a lot about the dog’s ability to focus in training. Keeping sessions short and in multitudes rather than one long session during the day. But what we don’t talk about is the owner. As people we too have limited attention spans, and brains that can become over saturated with information ensuring not enough gets retained.
So why are we still working on an hour long model when a half hour model is more efficient for everyone? I think on eof the primary reasons is tradition, growing up attending public schools class times are an hour long, meetings with therapists, lawyers, doctors are all charged by the hour. But the reality is those hour long classes aren’t actually an hour either. It’s 50 minutes. Your therapist? 50 minutes. Your doctor? Maybe a half an hour really. So why in dog training has the industry standard become an hour when a half hour will serve every one just fine?
As someone with ADHD I often worry my perspective on focus is skewed. I oscillate between so fixated on a goal I can remain on a single task for hours, and so wildly unable to concentrate I can’t even get the dishes done. So I tend to view my perspectives on the best use of time through a lens of inherent suspicion: am I accurate or am I just having an ADHD moment? But the truth is moving to offering 30 minute sessions online has been an amazing blessing.
In 30 minute sessions I am able to have my notes made, my plan of attack done a head of time, and I can hit the ground running. Everything is streamlined. I have the ability to present information and practice skills in doses that do not overwhelm the dog, or the owner. Because I keep my own active teaching to short bursts in traditional sessions, it’s easy to fall into the trap of information dump between working with the dog. For some clients this is something they can soak up, and they love it. But for people who are less interested in the nitty gritty science of dogs, and more interested in just having a good relationship with their dog, this can be an information overload. And this can make it hard for them to remember the key points they needed to take away from the session, or what specifically they were to work on.
And yes, after session notes are helpful for this, but for me after session notes can be very time consuming, and take a day or two to get out to clients when I am doing back to back hour long sessions. My brain has a saturation point too, even for an area of hyper focus like work. But in a 30 minute sessions I can have time set aside after for those after session notes. I can make them immediately, and get them typed up and sent out directly following my work because I have budgeted the time for it more smoothly then with a traditional time slot.
So going forward I am going to be sitting down and reworking my current plans and packages. I think making training sessions with clients into shorter, more frequent bursts, like in dog training it’s self, is going to see more success for everyone. And at the end of the day my job is to make sure my clients can train their dogs, and 30 minutes is all it takes to a better relationship with any dog.