How often do you train your dog?
I get asked both these questions every week. The answer is pretty simple. I work with my dogs every day. Every time we interact with our dogs, we’re teaching them something, or reinforcing their good behavior.
Don’t worry, I’m not telling you to train your dogs for hours each day in formal training sessions.
What I am saying, though, is training’s gotta be a part of your dog’s everyday routine if you want the training to stick.
I work with our service dog in-training, Levi, in formal training sessions almost every day on various different skills. This month it’s been working on his stays, downs, and some service dog-specific tasks like moving to my right side or my left side when asked. He’s a little different than your dog, though, because Levi’s got a job to do — and the sooner he’s trained, the sooner he can be paired with his partner and improve that person’s life.
Just as important as those formal training sessions, though, is our “everyday” training.
What’s everyday training?
It’s when I ask Levi to sit before he comes out of his crate. Or down before asking him to go into the crate. Here are some other examples of our everyday training. I ask my dogs to do something before I:
- Clip the leash on
- Open the door for them to go inside or outside
- Feed them their meals
- Throw the ball
- Tug the toy
- Invite them onto the furniture (yes, the dogs are allowed on our furniture.
- Give them a stuffed Kong
- Give them individual attention
- Open the car door
- Give them a treat
You get the picture. There are lots of things you do for your dog everyday that he loves. Those things can be the way you reinforce the good behavior without needing a clicker and food (once the behaviors are learned, of course).
So stop worrying about finding time to train. Everyone’s got time. Especially if you do what I call everyday training.