In this blog, I am going to teach you how to stop taking an all-or-nothing approach to dog training and give you lots of tips on how to find the time to train your dog!
So many people are living life with out-of-control dogs. Correction, they are not living, they are surviving.
Maybe you got a puppy and were not properly prepared as puppies require A LOT of time and effort put into training or you can end up with major problem behaviors. (Check out our Puppy Management Class for help with training your pup!)
Maybe you got a rescue wanting to save it from further trauma and hardship and you were not prepared to deal with its reactivity, anxiety, or aggression towards people or dogs.
Maybe you were taught to believe by the media that if you just spoil your dog with endless amounts of free love, affection, food, treats, toys, and snuggles that they will recognize all you do for them and reciprocate by never doing bad things.
You realized you are out of your depth and contacted your local trainer and signed up for a training package. That’s an amazing first step!! You should feel good you did that!
You knocked on the door of dog training and guess who answered. Work. Lol, yup! That’s what dog training is. Work. Anyone who seeks growth and transformation in their life needs to be prepared for work and dog training is no different.
I have conversations with clients a lot, especially during the pandemic, that they are stressed, tired, burned out, overwhelmed with their hectic lives and all their duties and they struggle to add dog training to their list. We live in world now where you are expected to hustle 24/7, drop everything to deal with others emergencies and maintain peak performance in productivity while sacrificing your down time and self care. Moms definitely know what I mean!
No wonder clients struggle to make time to work with their dogs and end up falling behind on their training or quitting not long after they start. In my experience, some owners tend to be all or nothing about training. They feel in order to do it right you need to set aside hours of your day to spend with the dog. This leads to guilt, regret, feeling overwhelmed which will cause you to avoid and merge into comfort seeking habits while continuing the old habit of just putting up with the dogs behaviour.
I can be the same way sometimes! I get in my head on occasion that in order to see real change in my life, I need to have hours a day to spend focusing on it but who has that? This way of thinking can make training seem to be a very large project instead of simple small tasks to move the needle forward. You then tend to retreat into stalling until…the perfect day, the perfect time, the perfect weather when all the stars line up and you are free of stress.
In my personal experience that never happens. Life will continually throw curve balls, people who need me will continually make demands of my time. What works well for me is to stop thinking of the “big project” and start thinking of small, measurable goals and tasks necessary to complete the big project.
Coach Sara’s Tips: Creative Opportunities To Work On Your Dog Training Goals.
Here are some ideas on how to find time to train your dog. I do these while I also manage:
- A full time 50 plus hour week job teaching and coaching wonderful clients.
- An 80 minute a day commute to and from work.
- Living with 1 to 2 board and trains in my care most of the year in addition to my own two dogs.
- Being responsible for all my home/property maintenance on my own as I live alone.
1. You don’t need to train for hours a day. Science shows that dogs learn best with several short training sessions. I train dogs 3 times a day for 2-5 minutes. I can train up to 5 times a day if I have the whole day off. With some planning and scheduling, you can find 15 mins to engage and work with your dog every day. It’s like going to the gym. You work one muscle group for short sets. Then you stop and let them rest and work in a different group. There’s leg day then back and shoulders day etc. Short sets move you along your goal to the higher level of strength and fitness you desire for your whole body.
2. I’m a weekend warrior. On the weekends I take dogs on adventures all around PEI to play/train and be socialized in new environments or environments we don’t go to often. Point Prim, Fort Amherst, Green Park, Confederation Bridge Park are a few places we roadtrip to. During the workweek, I do training, walking, hiking and games at home, and close to home designed to use their body and brain to burn off energy quickly and satisfy them – yet suit my busy schedule. Think about where you could go within a 5-10 minute drive from home to hang out with you dog.
3. Incorporate obedience into your fetch and tug games. Before you say fetch or cue them to attack the tug, ask them to do commands- sit! down! Fetch! Heel, Place! Fetch! Mix it up and never let them guess what you’re going to ask them to do next. This encourages deeper thinking and will tire them out faster if you have dogs that never seem to get tired mindlessly chasing the ball over and over. You will cut down your time needed greatly and this is stuff you can do right at home.
Here’s a video to help you 👇
4. Treadmill training. Train your dog to walk/trot on a treadmill and you will eventually be able to let them have fun burning off energy while you are doing something else. Don’t leave them alone on the treadmill though! Be in the room. I trained my dogs to use the treadmill this winter and they legit love it. Some breeds are not suited for long outings in the heat of summer or cold of winter so treadmills are great for them. Also perfect for clients with mobility issues.
5. I know you feel guilty that your dog is home all day while you work but you have full control over what you choose to do with them before and after work. Set your alarm to get up minimum 10 mins earlier and now you’ve freed up time for a train/play session before you leave. Session #2 when you come home, session #3 before bed.
6. If you are lucky enough to live with a partner or family then you have help with the dog training duties. (I have your back Mom’s! Make the spouse and kids help! This is not all on you!) Have a family meeting. Discuss why you decided to get the dog and why it’s important that you all work together to take care of them. Plan and delegate the daily tasks for the dog’s care. If you have small kids, you can work the leash/tools and give commands and the child can say “Break” and feed the dog. Put someone in charge of potty breaks, someone in charge of exercise, someone in charge of training. Then rotate the duties so the dog will learn to listen to everyone equally. Have a points system for all the duties and the family members can earn points towards prizes.
7. Potty break time can be training time. You have to take them out a few times a day or more to do their business. You are already geared up to be outside with them. Train them for 2-5 mins after they potty then go back inside. Or stay out and play.
8. You can carve out more time than you think to keep the momentum going. Boiling water for pasta? Train the dog while you wait. Saucing up ribs on the BBQ? Train a dog, and brush the ribs. Scrolling around social media? Set alarms and allow yourself a set amount of time to scroll then go do something with your dog. (My screen time alarm says “Get off your ass and go do something!” Works!) Taking the garbage can out to the curb? Work on your dog’s heeling as you roll it out.
Here’s a video to help inspire you 👇
9. Take your dog with you when you go get gas. Choose a station that has the thingy that allows you to pump hands free. (Esso and Petro Canada in Charlottetown) You just created 2-3 mins you can get your dog out of the car on a leash and practice some sits, downs, place on the gas pump platform, and jump in and out of the car on command.
10. I often slip to my local country general store for a few things. You can buy systems to monitor your car’s temperature when you’re not in it and a live stream to your phone for further monitoring. If you dont’ trust your dog loose in your car purchase a car kennel. I train dogs in the parking lot, go get my few things, train for another 2-5 mins if time and go home. Bam! 1-2 sessions done!
11. My parents have me over for dinner sometimes. Bring the dogs and train/play out in their yard then they can hang in the garage while we visit. (No dogs allowed in their house as it’s a B&B) Can’t be trusted loose on their own? Put your car kennel in the garage.
12. Have errands to do at pet-friendly stores such as Canadian Tire, Home Depot, Kent, and Princess Auto? Bring your dog!
13. Need dog food at your local pet store? Bring your dog and train them in the store before making your purchase. Dog reactive and don’t want to take them in? Just train in the parking lot then.
All this continuous short-term exposure to different environments/situations will go a long long way towards helping you reach your goals. Best of all, now that your dog is spending more quality time with you, your bond with them will deepen and their drive and willingness to pay attention will improve!
Follow along my dog training journey on Instagram where I also give you lots of ideas on how to find time to train your dog! Follow – @unleashedpotentialpei
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