Ah, now there is the question! Where do you find the time? Everyone who has a dog, wants a well-trained dog. But how do you squeeze the training time into an already full schedule? It’s really not as hard as you might think.
Studies have shown that dogs learn best if trained in short (five minutes or less) sessions, repeated often (three or more times per day). Your dog’s performance will improve rapidly if you repeat a behaviour four or five times, and then stop on a good note. It’s almost like the dog goes away and thinks about what you were doing and comes back next time ready to advance some more. Really!
The key seems to be not trying to get a finished product in a five minute session. Say you decide you would like your dog to ring a bell that you’ve hung on the back door to let you know he wants out. Don’t expect a bell-ringing fool in the first day. Break the behaviour down into small chunks and teach each one alone until it is well understood before going on to the next. The bell-ringing thing could look like this: teach the dog to touch the bell to get a reward (in the living room during commercials is fine for this step). Then the dog needs to ‘touch’ the bell hard enough to make it ring to get his treat. Then put the bell on the door and ask the dog to ‘ring’, when he does, he gets a treat and then let out. Before long he’ll be ringing to ask out. If you have a loud enough bell, you could put one on the outside so he could ring to come in too – no more scratched doors!
I like to prepare a large batch of dog treats (I like small pieces so the dogs don’t get too fat!), all at one time. I keep them in a plastic container in the fridge. If I’m going to be home for the evening, I’ll put a handful in my pocket and train the dogs as I go about my chores for the evening. As I sit at the computer, I have two dogs practicing their down-stays. At first I’d only expect one paragraph from a puppy, these two can stay for an entire article! ‘Sit’ and ‘down’ happen before they get to go outside. ‘Stay’ happens again when I prepare their dinners, they can’t eat unless they do a good stay and I release them. Walking is good for your heart and your dog! A short walk (around the block) gives you a perfect opportunity to teach your dog to walk nicely on leash, come back to you when you call him off something interesting, even try a couple sits to greet the children who want to pet him. You get the idea.
Training does not have to be a gruelling schedule of an hour a night for six weeks. In fact, that almost guarantees failure (who can keep that up?). You are far better off to work training and interacting with your dog into your lifestyle – after all, isn’t that why you got a dog?
Posted by Josh Cobbe from: Dogfoodadvisor