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When working with your dog at home, opt for shorter training sessions for the best results.
Considering that training classes are typically an hour long, it may seem counterintuitive for me to say that at-home training sessions should be kept short. But bear with me: Training classes are for the humans, not the dogs. During class, the instructor teaches you how to train your dog and checks that you are doing it correctly — then you do all of the real work at home. Also, if you have a young puppy, you know that during training classes, they tend to zonk out because it’s just too much for them.
Instead of trying to do 30- to 60-minute training sessions at home, opt for shorter ones. Here are four reasons why less is more in this situation.
It can seem daunting after a long day at work to spend an hour (or even 30 minutes) working with your dog. You just want to relax, and I get it. That’s why thinking of a training session as 10 to 15 minutes (or even five!) is much easier. You can do that in between your favorite TV shows! If it’s easier to fit the training into your schedule, you are more likely to do it consistently.
If you are able to work with your dog for two short sessions, or have each family member work with your dog for one, it adds up. When you work with your dog two to three times a day for 10 to 15 minutes each, that adds up to the 30 to 60 minutes a day!
Training is stimulating for dogs, and too much of it can wear them out. You may have noticed that your dog tunes you out after a while? That’s how you know you’ve been working too hard or training them for too long.
Almost every thing that happens is a training opportunity. Going outside? Ask your dog to “sit” or “wait” first. Feeding your dog? Ask him to “sit” before you put down the food bowl. Watching TV? Work on “come,” “down,” or “go to your bed.” When you get home from work, ignore your jumper, giving her attention only when she sits or puts all four feet on the floor. All of these little opportunities add up, and real-life practice is better experience than a controlled training situation anyway.
Top photo: Shiba Inu in training by Shutterstock.
Abbie lives in Colorado with her dogs Daisy, Sadie, and Buster, and can usually be found outside with one of them. She is a dog trainer and freelance writer who loves to explore environmental and animal rights issues. Find out more about her at abbiemood.com and lifediscoveryproject.com. Follow her on Twitter @abbiemood and Instagram @abbiemood.
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