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 find time to train your dog.
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?
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
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.
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.
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.
If she stays by my side, she gets a reward. If she gets distracted, we return to the sidewalk and try again.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
Your turn: Do you build purposeful training into your day?
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