Posted Date: March 8, 2016
Some fun ideas for fitting training your dog into your busy daily schedule!
When life gets really hectic, finding time to train our dogs can sometimes go by the wayside. Coming home tired from a long day can discourage people from getting up the energy to go out and train the dog. In a recent blog, Zuke's writer and trainer Amber Pickren, CPDT-KA, provides some ideas on how to find different and fun ways to fit training in when you're too busy or tired or both to get out and work with your dog.
First of all, you don't always have to go outside to train your dog. Pickren describes "pajama training" as an option when you can't go out. You can do simple things such as spending 10-15 minutes teaching your dog a new behavior or trick, or working on things they already know but upping the criteria, such as a longer down stay with more distractions and distance from you. If stays at the start line are an issue for your dog, you can set up a "starting line" in your house and practice stays there. Be creative!
Pickren also suggests using your daily walks with your dog as a great training vehicle. Even if you are just teaching "simple" behaviors, such as a default sit when you stop at curbs, you are giving your dog mental exercise as well as physical, which can improve your dog's behavior overall. If there's enough room where you walk, bring a long line with and take a few minutes to practice recalls with your dog, or stays from a distance.
A third option Pickren suggests is making sure that you include training in your every day activities. Any time you are at the door, ask the dog to sit and stay, or do the same if you are cooking and the dog comes into the kitchen. You can have them do stays or other behaviors while you sit on the couch and watch TV, and practice "go to your mat/bed" when eating dinner. Dogs that learn things that are repeated every day will learn the routine they are expected to follow and it only takes a few minutes for you to ask the dog to do a behavior instead of requiring spending a great deal of time on training.
Finally, Pickren suggests using "tummy rub training" which is not as simple as it sounds. While you engage in petting and rubbing your dog, this is not only pleasurable for you both, but also acclimates your dog to handling. A dog comfortable being handled all over their body is a dog that will tolerate being handled by the veterinarian or groomer and feel less stress at an experience many dogs dread. And you can "tummy rub train" anywhere you like - on your bed, the couch, the living room floor - wherever you and your dog like to cuddle, which makes it an easy way to train when you're too overwhelmed to do much more. And a great side benefit is, if you're stressed from too much work or other life issues, this cuddling time with your dog can have a positive effect on your mental and physical health!
Photo credit: George Woofington via photopin (license)