Finding training time doesn't need to be difficult or stressful. And if you incorporate it into your day with my suggestions below you'll see an improvement in just one week!
- First thing in the morning
Ask your dog to Sit before letting them out of their crate or out into the back garden. If they move before you release them, simply close the door. Repeat until your dog understands that permission to go out relies on them maintaining position when you ask.
- Breakfast time
If your dog doesn't already, ask them to Sit whilst you put their dish on the floor. If they move before you release them, simply lift up their bowl and repeat until they can keep their bottom on the floor. Better still, if they can already wait nicely ask them to switch positions and do a bit more before releasing them. Keep life interesting by mixing up your verbal cues so they have to listen to your words.
- Going out for a walk
Heading out on an adventure is an exciting time for most dogs. But that doesn't mean they should show you some self-control before you leave the house. Decide what you'd ideally like to be able to do - clip the lead on whilst they're sitting/ have them wait by the front door/ loose lead walk to the car etc. And then look to reward what you want along the way and don't accept less!
- Off-lead adventures
The simple game of Name Response that we play in puppy class is a great way to start your off-lead adventures. Take 10 treats and with your dog on the lead, throw one out in front of them. Once they've finished, call their name and when they turn to look at you throw another in the opposite direction. Repeat until you have just one left and this time use your recall cue to call them into you, take them by the collar and feed them the remaining treat. This is a great way to make sure your dog is going to listen to you when you go to let them off the lead.
- Cleaning off muddy paws
Whether you use a hose or they have use of a shower, build some value for standing quietly whilst being cleaned up. Pop a pot of treats close by where you'll be cleaning them up and make a point of rewarding them when they're doing what you want. Try not to take good behaviour for granted - it pays to notice it! Incorporate some Susan Garrett's It's Yer Choice by placing the treats on the floor and once you've wiped one paw dry pick up a treat and reward.
- Time for a cuppa
Training doesn't require hours of your time. Having a pot of treats handy in the fridge next to the milk or on the side next to your tea bags, means that you can do a training session each time you go to make a cup of tea! Lots of short sessions will be a lot of fun for both you and your dog, and will be miles more beneficial than spending long periods doing it.
- Ad breaks
So much of my training has taken place in the ad breaks between my favourite TV shows. Just being prepared and having some treats in a pot available is the perfect way to ensure you get a training session slotted into your evening. And if you want to be really organised, perhaps have some index cards written up with some training games so that you can simply select one. This will save you coming up with ideas off the top of your head.
Training should be FUN for both you and your dog. And being a little organised with some preparation in advance will really help you pack some helpful sessions into your day.
Today I'm grateful for the joy my dogs bring me in our daily training sessions. It's a really good way to put a smile on my face! :)