Take Training Off Your To-Do List

You may be shocked to hear a trainer giving you this advice, but I promise you there’s a good reason. I used to ask my clients to schedule five to 10 minutes up to three times each day  to train their dogs. But when I would arrive for the next session, most hadn’t found the time to practice. Now, I have wonderful clients and they all have very good intentions to work with their dogs. But adding one more thing to their long to-do lists can feel impossible, no matter how eager they are to see changes in their dog’s behavior.

So, now I take a different approach. Instead of piling on another daily chore, I help my clients see each interaction with their dog as a possible teaching opportunity, no matter how brief. 

This way, training becomes an organic part of their everyday lives with their four-legged family members. They begin to see the results they’re looking for without it feeling like work for them or their dog.

Here are just a few ways to do this:

If you’re in one part of the house and your dog is in another, call your dog in a happy, excited voice and reward him with food or a toy when he comes. If he doesn’t come, you’ll need to start from across the same room until he understands the concept. Be sure to generously reward and praise your dog every time he shows up. Making this a simple and fun game to play while you’re folding laundry or cooking dinner will go a long way toward building a solid recall with your dog./dog-training-videos-on-dvd/

If you feed your dog twice a day from a bowl, this is a perfect opportunity to work on “sit” or other specific behaviors like “down” or targeting. Simply ask your dog to sit and then reward him with the food bowl.

The same goes for sitting before going outside. Asking your dog to sit and stay while you open the door teaches him impulse control. Be sure to use a “release cue” to tell your dog he is free to get up and go outside. Access to the safely fenced yard is his reward for his patient sit and stay behavior.

While I recommend using most interactions to teach or reinforce behavior your dog already knows, I would caution against making every interaction a teachable moment.

There are some times when you and your dog should just be able to enjoy each other’s company and affection without any performance requirements involved.

The possibilities are endless when you approach teaching and training your dog this way; it becomes a natural way of interacting together. Your dog’s need for learning and your obligation for teaching him no longer feel like a chore, but instead become a few moments in your day to be shared and enjoyed.

Tiffany Lovell, CSAT, CPDT-KA, AAI, operates Cold Nose College, Space Coast in Brevard County, Florida and offers force-free training and behavior consulting. She specializes in private in-home coaching & training, separation-anxiety training (local & remote to anywhere in the U.S. & internationally) and behavior consults. (321) 757-2059; coldnosecollege.com


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