Contracts for online classes

by | Mar 25, 2020

The sudden move to online dog training means dog trainers are learning a whole new set of technology and methods of communication.  With changes come new opportunities, but also new risks and potential problems. If you are moving your instruction online, you want to be sure you’re still protecting yourself as much as you can.

One question I am getting is “What should my contract be like for online training”?

A Whole New World, Or Same Old-Same Old?

Your contracts for online teaching may not actually differ very much from your old contracts.  You still need payment provisions and a description of the services you will be providing, otherwise it’s not much of a contract.  

I would also recommend keeping your Liability Waiver.  Even though you and your student will not be in the same room, dogs are animals and there is always a risk that someone will get hurt, even if it’s just getting knocked down or tripping over a leash.  

Speaking of things going wrong, adding in technology likely means more snafus.  I recommend that you think through all the things that are likely to go wrong, and decide who should bear the risk of that happening, you or your client.  For example, just at the moment you are starting class, your power goes out — I imagine in that situation, you would reschedule the class and not charge your client. But if your client is late for a class because their laptop battery was dead, I would not consider that grounds for a refund or credit. 

I also recommend making clear what technology will be required to participate, and giving your clients the responsibility to confirm that they can participate before sending in payment. In other words, no signing up for a group class and then asking for a refund because you don’t have a computer with a camera or a smartphone.  

In sum, you should still have your clients agree to a contract for your online classes, including at a minimum:

  • What services will you provide (e.g., one-hour group class, once a week for 6 weeks)
  • What is the client paying and when (e.g., payment in full required in advance)
  • A liability waiver
  • A media waiver
  • Cancellation and refund policies, including for technical issues
  • Other common contracts clauses, like choice of law and termination provisions
  • Some way to confirm that the client has read and agrees to the contract, like check boxes or electronic signatures.

Looking for a template to get you started? Check out our contract templates for online dog training — they’ll help ensure you’ve got your bases covered.

DISCLAIMER: This article does not constitute professional tax advice or legal advice. Consult with a tax adviser or legal professional if you have specific questions about liability waivers or any other aspect of contracts.


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