Tuesday, February 2, 2010

No Time To Train

“I don’t have time to train”

How many times have you heard that as an instructor,
or have said it yourself as a dog trainer?

Maybe we need to ‘define training’.

For some it means loading your dog and treats, toys, etc into the van
and heading to a formal class or training facility.
For others, it might involve heading to your backyard,
or a certain room in your own home.
Is this really the only time you train?

Sometimes I think we forget that we are actually
training our dogs every moment we are with them.
In some cases they are training US!

Think about this:

You are sitting at the table and your dog is sitting next to you drooling.
You give him a bit of your food.

What have you just ‘taught’ him?

You are at a dog trial and you take your dog out to potty.
He drags you to the nearest post.
You let him hike his leg on it.

What have you taught him?

You open your front door at home and your dogs charge past you ….
‘making a break for it’.

What have they learned?

There are so many opportunities to train your dog.
The ones listed above are simple ‘impulse control’ exercises.

You want a piece of food, lay down at my feet while I eat
and ‘maybe’ I’ll reward you. Maybe, better yet, ‘go to your bed’
while we eat and I’ll reward you for that.

If your dog is dragging you to the nearest ‘green space’ or ‘vertical post’,
do some ‘punishment walking’. This means simply
(for some of us – Martha, please don’t try this!),
walking backwards in order to get the dog with you again.
The ‘punishment’ is they don’t get there as fast.
Walk together to the potty area.
When you get to the edge of the grass,
ask for a sit or down, then release them to ‘do their thing’.

Here’s another “misnomer”;
Male dogs must have something vertical in order to relieve themselves.
Do you have a dog that likes to mark ‘ring gates’, ‘door ways’,
‘weave poles’, ‘jump uprights’, ‘sides of buildings’?

If you don’t like this behavior,
then why would you reinforce it by looking for
something vertical for him to ‘go’ on?

Letting your dogs out your back door to ‘potty’ or exercise
can turn into a 3 ring circus in a multiple dog household.
Why not require that they sit while you open the door.
If they break position, close the door; and they don’t get to go out.

After they’ve learned to wait to be released,
practice releasing them one at a time out the door.
This is a great one for impulse control.
Form your own criteria; for instance,
“He who breaks first goes LAST!”

Training doesn’t necessarily involve formal behaviors, such as
- “contact training “or “weave poles”.
Training also involves behaviors needed for every day living.
Skills that make our dogs more enjoyable to live with.

If you don’t care about any of the above, that’s perfectly fine too.

Just be sure you’re not losing your temper
over a behavior you’ve been reinforcing all along.


  1. Most excellent - PLEASE don't let Martha walk backwards...

  2. 量力而為,別勉強了,Cut your coat according to your cloth..........................

  3. Too late, I already done it.

    And lived to tell.

    It helps the maligator not be in such a hurry. We need to do it a LOT more.

  4. Hi... thank you for dropping by our blog!

    This is a great post. We will make sure that Selby will understand when we are "naughty", it's not only our fault but also hers *wiggles*

    Adele, Vincent & Bella