It seems there’s an app for everything these days. Need groceries? There’s an app for that. Need to do your banking? There’s an app for that.
When you think of training your dog, though, an app isn’t typically the first tool that comes to mind.
But — you guessed it — there’s an app for that. In fact, there are several apps for that.
A World of Apps
These apps don’t actually do the training for you (this is 2017, not 2057), but they generally provide information, tips, tricks, sounds and other useful tools to aid you while you are training your pooch.
The great thing about the apps is that you carry your training tool wherever you go. You may have the opportunity to do some on-the-spot training while you and your dog are out and about. If your training app is on your phone, you can provide consistent training techniques.
Curiosity led me to download a few of these apps to see what they offered.
Clicker training has become very popular with both dog trainers and regular dog lovers.
Clicker training involves having a small device that enables you to communicate with your dog via a unique clicking noise. “A clicker is a small plastic box containing a piece of flexible steel. When pressed at one end, it makes a distinctive ‘click, click’ sound that can be taught to have meaning for your dog,” explains the Association of Pet Dog Trainers in Train Your Dog: Teach Yourself.
Virtually all training apps have some form of noise that is intended to be used as a clicker. This is handy because it means you’re never going to lose your clicker. It also enables you to provide consistent training to your dog — even when you’re not at home.
Several of the apps I looked at offered sounds for desensitization training. For example, the iClicker – Free Dog Training app offers over 40 sounds, ranging from babies crying to thunderstorms to animal sounds. If you are working with your dog to reduce their fear of storms, then using an app to play the sound in a safe environment can be very helpful.
Granted, the noises are only as good as your phone’s speaker. If you have an older phone (like I do), some of the sounds may not be as clear as you’d like.
These apps can be a handy reference that you keep right in your pocket. Most include helpful videos or links to YouTube videos. They also have text tutorials for training your dog in certain commands like “sit,” “stay,” “come” and more.
The free apps tend to have basic information, while the apps you pay for will have a bit more in-depth detail. The Dog Tricks & Bark Machine app costs $0.99, but it includes specific information on certain breeds as well as a “puppies only” section. Puppy Coach 101 also offers a checklist for you to keep track of your dog’s training accomplishments.
Go ahead and review several apps before making a decision – read about other users’ experiences with the apps and look at what each offers. You may fall in love with an app that you pay a little for, or you may find a free app that gives you exactly what you need.
Watch this adorable furball train in targeting using an iPhone app:
When it comes to training, you can never be too consistent. And many trainers and pet organizations agree on this:
- “If there is any magic to training your dog, it’s consistency.” — Jack and Wendy Volhard, Dog Training for Dummies
- “Dog training is all about consistency. The more consistent you can make your requests, feedback and consequences, the quicker your dog will learn.” — Kyra Sundance, The Dog Tricks and Training Workbook
- “Housetraining your dog or puppy requires patience, commitment and lots of consistency.” – Humane Society of the United States
So where does an app come in? Quite simply, it’s consistency you carry in your pocket. It’s the same clicker, the same sounds and the ability to reinforce training no matter where you are or what you’re doing.
While apps can’t do all the heavy lifting for you, they can allow for more consistent, easier training. Best of all, the apps are geared toward positive reinforcement training, which means you don’t have to worry about instilling any kind of fear in your dog — just fun.