As we head into the New Year and we’re all thinking about our goals for the year (in my case 90% of them happen to be dog related!), I thought I’d write a bit about how to easily fit training into a busy day. The more training becomes part of your daily life, the more improvement will be made and the less you’ll feel guilty over ‘having to train the dog’ and keep up with your homework for class. Enjoy!
It takes three weeks to set habits in humans. This means that over a six week training course or a three session training or behaviour package it’s possible for my clients to have set themselves long term training habits to set themselves up for success. However, training in person with me is not enough to train your dog successfully, especially if you’re trying to undo long term issues. You need to be training at home consistently, not necessarily for very long, but it has to happen. This article is about how to combine your needs in a busy lifestyle where training your dog may not be your top priority with methods that will train your dog most effectively.
Studies have shown that dogs learn best in short, sharp training bursts that occur regularly. So, you don’t need to block out an hour each day to train your dog in order to make progress. In fact, you can progress with 2 minute sessions five times a day. I know this because not only is this what the science says, but I’ve done with Timon who had to learn to train for extended time period and could only stand a two minute training session to start with. We made astounding progress in those two minute sessions, far more than I thought would be possible!
Start by setting yourself up for success. Have all of the equipment you need to train easily accessible. This means treats easily accessible, a variety of levels, kibble isn’t going to cut it if your homework is to practice recalls out on walks! If you have time to train but have to spend all of that time messing around getting treats ready, suddenly it’s not so easy. If those treats are prepped ready to go then you’re all set to just get started.
Now let’s look at how to implement these two to five minute sessions throughout your day. How many times a day do you put the kettle on? I’m willing to bet at least once. Grab a handful of treats or have your dog’s portion of food for the day next to you and train whilst you’re waiting for the kettle to boil. It’s a fabulous natural timer and is no hard task to spend that time with your dog, you can’t achieve much in between putting the kettle on and making a cup of tea or coffee anyway! This becomes much easier to implement the more your boil your kettle each day. As I’m self employed, I’m constantly coming in and putting the kettle on between appointments so it’s really easy for me to fit any training I want to do with my dogs in even when I’ve got a pretty packed schedule.
Next, if you watch just one episode of a TV show on a platform that has adverts, if you train in those adverts you generally average four training sessions per show. Remember how I said you only needed five training sessions a day? Advert training and kettle training has gotten you there already. You can do even more if you train when out and about on walks, for example every 3rd person you see, do a sit stay or practice your favourite trick until that person has passed.
One of my favourite times to train is when I’m cooking. Even if I’m cooking something incredibly simple that takes 10 minutes maximum. Whilst waiting for the water to boil for my pasta, train the dog. Chicken nuggets take 15 minutes, train the dog three different things for five minutes each! Trying to use parts of your day that you naturally don’t have much time to sit and get into anything else on your to do list is a fabulous way of fitting training your dog in. If you implement just one of these you’ll find that training your dog suddenly doesn’t feel like such a chore and is just part of your day. Not only that, but by having everything prepped and ready to go as well as using cues to train that are found regularly throughout your day you won’t have to think as hard about actually doing the training, it will just become a natural part of your day.
Do you like any of these tips? Do you have any other methods of sneakily fitting a training session into your day? Let us know down below, we’d love to hear about how you plan on using daily training sessions to achieve your training goals for the year!