The Miraculous Way To Make More Time To Train Your Dog

We never have enough time in the day. How can we fit training our dog into an already full schedule?

Here’s my miraculous way to make time to train your dog.

Honey the golden retriever in front of Peacemaker schooner.

Will we be traveling back in time?

Switch Your Mind

You could quit your job to make more time for training. But your dog would resent giving up his comfy bed for a leaky box under a bridge.

You can’t create time out of thin air. And I wouldn’t buy lottery tickets hoping for a big win to allow you to hire housekeepers, gardeners, and personal chefs.

The best way to find more time to train your dog is to switch your mind to a new way of thinking.

You have to realize that you’re training your dog every moment you’re together.

Your dog is always learning. It’s just a matter of what he or she is learning.

When you eat snacks in front of the tv when relaxing, what is your dog learning? That if he drools on your foot long enough he’ll eventually get a treat? Or that if he relaxes quietly on his pillow he’ll be rewarded?

Honey the golden retriever wants a snack in the cockpit.

I’ve learned a lot from watching this human. Mostly that I need to stay very close if I want a snack.

Does your dog learn that barking at the UPS delivery driver gets your attention? Or that going to his crate and waiting will give him a few minutes of tug?

Remembering that Honey is always learning something helps me to train her throughout the day. These are a few things we work on every chance we get.

Training The Dog All Day

With Me

Honey is 97% trustworthy off-leash. Every day we work for that last 3%.

I allow Honey to roam off leash in safe areas as long as she checks in with me. But she is absolutely NEVER allowed to step onto asphalt without me.

Honey the golden retriever crosses the street.

We’re crossing the street. I have a job to do.

I want her to learn that grass and sidewalks are safe. Roads are not.

If we’re crossing a road, Honey is ALWAYS leashed. But even in an empty parking lot, Honey has to cross asphalt by my side.

Honey the golden retriever crosses the street off-leash.

Wait for me. You have the treats.

As we approach the asphalt, I tell Honey to wait. Sometimes I’ll have her sit. When I’m ready to cross, I tell Honey “With me” as we cross the pavement together.

Honey the golden retriever crosses the street off leash.

There’s the sidewalk. I smell a treat coming.

If she stays by my side, she gets a reward. If she gets distracted, we return to the sidewalk and try again.

Honey the golden retriever gets a training treat.

Ahhh, that’s what I’ve been waiting for.

Don’t Drool On My Foot

When we lived in a house, nothing bugged me more than having a begging dog underfoot.

Now that we live on a boat whose galley (kitchen) is the size of a phone booth (are you old enough to remember phone booths?), it makes me absolutely insane.

If Honey comes anywhere near me when I’m cooking, I ignore her. If she lies quietly on the settee, I toss her little morsels.

Luckily she’s a fast learner. And I get to cook in peace.

Honey the golden retriever with her food and water bowls.

If I lie down I get food? Sounds like a good deal to me.

Stay

I’d like to take more pictures of the places we travel. Of course every picture improves with a dog in the foreground.

Heck, when you’re as bad a photographer as I am, the more dogs the better.

Being able to trust your dog to stay still and not wander when you pose her for a shot is an important skill.

Honey the golden retriever with friend.

Why wouldn’t I stay? I’ve made a new friend.

It becomes even more important when you’re out for a walk and need your pup to remain still while you’re searching for your keys or getting the car ready for a trip to the vet.

When we’re leaving the boat, I ask Honey to stay on the deck while I pull the boat closer to the dock for her to jump to shore. When we lived in a house, I asked her to stay before setting out on a walk. If she sat still for a few moments, I rewarded her with getting started on our walk.

Honey the golden retriever on the boat with her ramp.

It’s about time you put my royal ramp up. I’ve been waiting for minutes.

Once you start thinking about it, you’ll find many chances to practice your stay cue with your dog.

Tips For Dog Training All Day

If you want to train your dog all day, you’ll need to do a few things to make it work.

You’ll find affiliate links below.

Make a list

It’s easier find moments throughout the day if you know what you want to train. Jot down a quick list of the skills you want to work on.

Carry rewards with you

Be ready to treat your pup when she does something right. You’ll need to have her favorite rewards close at hand, whether it’s a tennis ball or stinky treat.

Invest in helpful tools

Everything is easy with the right tools.

My favorite training clicker has a wrist strap. It’s so comfortable sometimes I find it on my wrist hours after I’ve left Honey at home.

Honey responds well to the clicker so I find it most helpful when I’m working on new skills.

Honey is also motivated by stinky treats. Rather than get my pockets smelly, I stock a dog treat pouch with anything that smells like liver or fish.

I prefer tiny, soft treats like Cloud Star Chewy Tricky Trainers.

Take advantage of time you already spend with your dog

I’ve never visited the vet without having to wait at least a few minutes. A busy waiting area or exam room is ideal for a short training session.

If you walk your dog every day, you have built-in time to work on loose-leash walking or paying attention to you.

And what if you taught your dog to lie down for a few moments every night before bed?

Keep looking for chances to train throughout your day

Once you start building training into your day, you’ll see more places and skills to train.

Weekend brunch at an outdoor restaurant is great for reinforcing sit and stay. The local park is the perfect place to train jumping up on objects. And you’ll find dozens of fun things to do around the house.

Pretty soon, you’ll realize that you’ve made loads of time to train, just by switching your mind to a new way of thinking about training.

Honey the golden retriever poses in front of boat.

Here I am again in front of the big boat. We really DID travel back in time.

Your turn: Do you build purposeful training into your day? 

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Comments

  1. Couldn’t agree more. Taking advantage of the time you already have together has made such a difference with Laika. I think I used to equate training to just learning new tricks & behaviors, rather than realizing that almost everything we do can involve a lesson, or that most activities create an easy way to brush up on manners & impulse control. That change in mind set regarding training has made a world of difference.

    • It’s time-efficient and it helps us bond. As you know with Laika, there is nothing better than really paying attention to our dogs when we’re together. And training is a great way to do that.

  2. Some things have to be specifically trained, but lots of training does just fit right into every day life and what we normally do. Madison gets her obedience homework done when she has her lunchtime walk. Bailie and Madison work on agility items while watching TV in the evenings, and we have class and sniff groups to practice nose work. It isn’t that hard to fit it all in. Tracking is probably the most difficult but if you set aside a few times a week, it will fit in too.

    • You and your family could teach a graduate course on making time to train, 🙂

      I’ve done nose work games with Honey to settle her down before visiting a crowded event. And we’ve practiced agility tricks on walks. So even things beyond manners can fit into a regular day’s activities.

  3. Terrific tips and a great way to look at ‘stretching’ time for training. Elsa has gotten really good with the ‘wait’ command when we cross streets. I’m trying to get her to ‘check in’ more with me and just need to carry treats on our walks. It can be a challenge with her brother tries to horn in on the treats but I’ll have to reward him when he obeys rather than just to get him away from her. Thanks for such great suggestions!

    • I don’t know if Elsa is ready for off-leash work or if you have a safe place to practice but there’s one thing that might work as well or better than treats–hide from her.

      I used to wait until Honey got interested in smelling something while she was off-leash. Then I’d duck behind a tree or start walking away from her. When she looked up and couldn’t find me, she’d perk up.

      Of course, you might still have Sam finding you and giving you away. 🙂

      • They both tend to stick to me like shadows although I note two of the past 3 mornings, Ms. Ninja ran lickety-split down the alley. #ohthatdog! Thankfully her recall is pretty good. Most of the time. Ok, some of the time. But we ‘practice’ everyday. 🙂

  4. I think being in that frame of mind can lead to even more training than if we only did it at set times. One of the best things I ever trained Luke to do was stay out of the kitchen when I’m cooking (and I think I got that idea from you), plus it’s something that we get to reinforce a lot. In the beginning, he’d still try to come in the kitchen (and he still occasionally does), but we’ve worked on it enough that most times he just goes to his spot outside the kitchen immediately. I’ll always give him something when he does that.
    I love the clicker with the wrist strap! I just ordered one. 🙂

    • Glad to hear how well it’s going with keeping Luke away from the kitchen. One benefit of taking a break from blogs is all the exciting progress I get to see when I check in again.

      And the clicker with the wrist strap–it’s a game changer. I can’t tell you how many of the box clickers I’ve lost. But the wrist strap, when I remember to take it off, is great for putting on a coat or leash hook.

      • I’ve lost most of my clickers since we moved. I know they’re here somewhere….but where? Being able to hang it on a hook will make it much easier to find again!

  5. I would say Mr. N’s recall is also about 97 percent. He doesn’t get to cross roads without me either. And yes, photo stays are very important! Thanks for joining the hop.

  6. This post should be required reading for new dog owners. I’ve seen so many people work very hard to teach bad habits and practices to their dogs. Of course these same people manage to ruin their children too.

  7. Am enjoying your adventures and hearing about how you train Honey…she is a beauty. We had a wonderful yellow Lab, but we lost him over a year ago and have since rescued a dog…our first hound! She is coming along, but still have a lot of trouble when on the leash and we dare not just let her run or she is gone out of sight. Never had this problem with the 5 black Labs or the yellow one we had. We could let them out and they’d stay in the yard, but this hound puts her nose to the ground and takes off. She comes back but after she has found something really smelly to roll in first. We are getting too old for this but she is in our heart now.

  8. This is great advice. We see so many people walking their dog and paying the dog no attention at all. It’s so much more fun, for dogs and humans, with some training and games thrown in.

    When I was a puppy, my biped would work on ‘stay’ with me while she was preparing the cat food. You can’t get a bigger distraction than cat food!

  9. I really do try to do this with Ducky. But it’s not easy to work on her “quiet” when the male human is barking back at her more loudly than she was barking in the first place. ? So, when all is quiet, I have to remind myself to reward BOTH of them.

    Shadow has mellowed out over the years, especially since Callie got her angel wings, so I rarely have to ask her to be quiet. ?

  10. Daily training is such a habit that I forget that I’m reinforcing skills every day – like when I take pictures of the dogs, they know to look when my phone comes out! Even just asking them to sit patiently before they go out the door is a little training moment.

  11. There are so many great tips in here. I like your tip – always have treats on you. Before living with “reactive” dogs I didn’t do this and now I always have something awesome on my person. This helps training in the moment for sure. I also like you tips the “with me” and sitting at every cross street. My sister did that with her Lab until it was clockwork. I’m lazy and haven’t done that so I’ll start that tomorrow!

  12. I love how you incorporate training throughout the whole day. I try to keep that in mind all day, too. It’s especially important with my new dog because she’s so wild that getting the time right to reinforce the behaviors I want is tricky!

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