One might ask what making coffee has to do with training dogs, but I thought it was an interesting segue since I am constantly harping on my training students to “use it or lose it”.
A few 10 minute dog training sessions a day is pretty much all you need.
People are so concerned with finding the time to work with their dogs in what they have been indoctrinated into believing is a ‘learning environment’. They attempt to designate periods out of their busy days for training their dogs, and give up after looking for that special moment that will somehow miraculously transform their dog from the unruly little monster he is, into Lassie.
Life gets in the way. Kids need picked up from school. A work or family emergency takes precedence, or you are just too tired to commit to a half hour after work, before work, at lunch or what-have-you.
I get it. I really do.
A lot of times, folks are impressed but overwhelmed by the spectacular displays of obedience many dog trainers post all over YouTube or FaceBook. They see these skills as out of reach and somewhat out of touch for the average pet owner who is just interested in not having their dog bolt out the door or maul Auntie Gracie when she comes to visit on Thanksgiving. Those simple skills do not require a lot of effort and training time, and more clearly reflect the ambitions of the average person with the average dog, who just needs a little help getting his pets’ manners a little more…refined.
I am not going to lie. Dog training does take effort, but not the Sturm und Drang that people have been led to believe is required. It takes time, but you would be surprised at how little you have to change your habits or your lifestyle. It takes meaningful planning, but if you perceive it as a chore, you will never achieve your goals. If you perceive it as goal, your efforts will be rewarded, and quickly.
This 8 minute dog training video clip is an example of actually practicing basic obedience as part of an everyday event; that of me making coffee. I thought it was a good example of simplifying the overly complicated “making time” issue by demonstrating that practice during even the most mundane events leads to a well-behaved dog.
Training opportunities present themselves every moment you and your dog happen to be awake and together. It happens at the most convenient times too, like when you are unloading the dishwasher, folding clothes, answering the door, the phone, or during a commercial break when you are watching your favorite TV show. Training should not only be fun, it should be convenient. If your dog is in a crate, he is learning crate behaviors, not how-to-live-in-a-house behaviors. If he is with you, and you are appropriately limiting options, guiding choices and controlling outcomes, your training should be as seamless and natural as making coffee. Practical, effortless and uncomplicated.
You have a minute for dog training, you really do!
A minute dog training session as you pass in and out of your front door to get mail, answer the doorbell, retrieve the paper.
A 5 minute dog training session practicing down or sit stays while you unload the dishwasher or put away groceries.
A 2 minute dog training session practicing the ‘wait’ command at the top or bottom of the stairs, the end of the hallway or just outside your bedroom door.
8 minutes of dog training. Just think, it’s so gratifying, you may want to repeat that process the next morning before you leave for work!
That’s not cheating, even if it equals a 16 minute dog training session. Honest! Especially if you practice different things!
Zwei, now 9 months old, has learned appropriate door behavior by sitting and staying until I release him. I have the physical ability to handle a pot of boiling water and a cup of coffee, as well as a door, a leash, and the young dog at the end of it. This is only possible with those daily reminders of what to do, as opposed to what not to do.
This was 8 short minutes out of my day.
I am pretty sure we can all come up with something to practice in 8 minutes!