Finding time to train your dog can seem hard, but getting creative makes it easier
Technology is amazing, but I’m still waiting for someone to figure out how to manufacture time. Now THAT inventor I’d bow down to. Everyone today has too many ways to fill their time, and technology is actually one of the culprits. Watch your dog’s body language when you sit down at the computer or to watch TV, or when your phone rings. Does Fido droop, look dejected, turn away? Or put his chin on your thigh and gaze at you wistfully? Dogs know well the cues that they have lost your attention.
Then there are other time demands: work, kids, volunteering, extended family – the list goes on, and for many of us it’s hard to fit dog training in there. I’m certainly not immune, hence the long gap since my last blog (BTW, the phrase “It’s not over until it’s over” applies to parents of graduating seniors as well). Lately I’ve been contacted by a lot of families with children whose young or adolescent puppies are craving interaction. No blame on the families – it’s been a long winter of shoveling and ice dams on top of everything else – and puppies need to be separated when they can’t be fully supervised, especially from young children. So what to do?
First, rethink your concept of “training time”. Training should be done in small chunks: 1-3 sessions of 10 repetitions may even be too much at first for some dogs (or busy people). “One and done” is a great way to incorporate training into everyday interactions: sit for meal/toy/attention, wait at door/stairs, any cue and then play time or a belly rub. (See video below.) If you think of training as a chore, it will keep getting reprioritized to the bottom of the list. If you think of it as playtime with your dog or, better yet, a great personal reinforcer for checking something else off your list, it becomes an enjoyment instead of an obligation.
Next, find ways to insert training moments into your daily routine. Do you still watch network TV? Commercial breaks are plenty long enough to train or practice a skill with Fido. Just put the kettle on for tea? Ask your dog for a down stay while you get your cup ready. Heading out the door for work? Pull a prestuffed kong from the freezer and ask your dog to go to his place. With a little planning and preparation, you can be ready to train at a moment’s notice – and that’s all you need.