Too Busy to Train? Here Are 4 Ways to Fit It In!
Sometimes it’s hard to get motivated to do the dishes when you get home after a long day, let alone get some dog training in. We have all been there, you walk through the door, take off your shoes, catch your breath from a crazy day, and your dog is sitting there staring at you… waiting to go do something. But never fear - when time and motivation are lacking, these easy tips will help you squeeze in some dog training and still getting some down time for yourself.
1. Pajama Training Pajama training, also known as indoor brainwork, is great for days when you just can't go for a walk (or just don’t want to!). By adding indoor brainwork games to your daily regimen you help your dog live a more balanced, healthy life. Spend five or ten minutes teaching your dog a new trick (or the start of one), or spend the same amount of time practicing something they already know.
To help my dogs chill out when I want to chill out, I grab a handful of treats (or a bag in all reality, I have three dogs) and do some fun brainwork games with them. This is also a great way to have kids take part in training, they can come up with a fun trick or make an obstacle course for the dog and lure them through it.
2. Daily Walk Training I love to watch my dogs run around investigating things and being silly when we go on walks and hikes, but it’s always good to add some training to the adventure. It’s important for our dogs to get their daily exercise and adding brainwork adds balance, so when you're done with your walk not only is your dog physically tired, they are mentally tired and ready to relax with you. Now, I'm not saying your whole walk is a training walk, just a few minutes here and there. By intermittently adding training to your walk you will also keep your dog from going into auto pilot mode and keep them more engaged with you.
Some easy ways to incorporate training if your dog walks mostly on leash, is to teach them a new skill on leash. This can include a default sit whenever you stop, or take a couple of minutes to revamp leash skills. If you walk your dog off leash, practice recall with the “chase me game” (they chase you, you don't chase them) or play hide and seek.
3. Daily Manners Training By practicing manners every day you can help keep your dog on track. Even though they may already know how to do most of the basics, it’s good to have them perform them every day. This will keep them mentally stimulated and wanting to work for you.
Doing a sit/stay at the door may seem simple to us, but what we are asking of them is a great deal of impulse control and focus. Usually going through a door means something fun or exciting is going to happen; to keep them on their toes have them do a sit/stay at every door.
A couple other things you can do: Teach them an “on your bed” while you cook and/or eat dinner (this will help keep them out of the kitchen) and make them work a little for each meal: take a handful of kibble and have them do some tricks.
4. Tummy Rub Training With tummy rub training you can keep up on a very important skill, all while loving on your dog. To help your dog become more comfortable with touching at the vet, you can practice “vet touch.” I do this almost every night with all my dogs. When they are hanging out with me, in the middle of petting them I will look at their teeth, ears, legs and paws (including in-between the toes). Not only will this help with your dog learn that this is a regular occurrence, it gives you a chance to do a once over to look for anything new.
Make the most of the time you have to train your dog. Remember that training with your dog should be fun and doesn't have to be a time consuming chore. By spending just a few extra minutes playing brainwork games with your pup, you will not only cultivate a stronger bond with your dog, but also maintain foundation behaviors. Now that you have your training protocol covered, pour a glass of wine and relax with your dog, you both deserve a break.
Amber Pickren BA, CPDT-KA
Amber is owner of GentleCanineLLC. After earning her bachelors in Psychology, Amber found her passion working with dogs and has never looked back. Since 2004, she has been training dogs, specializing in behavioral issues. When she's not busy helping other pet parents with their dogs, she can be found running and climbing around Durango with Sadie, Lily and Imogene.