We love our dogs. But we are so busy. We are texting, e-mailing, making calls, running errands, going to work. All these obligations. With our hectic life styles: how realistic would it be to plan daily training sessions with your dog?
Yet there is no question that our dogs thrive on mental stimulation and interactions with their humans. Dogs love to “perform” for us, it’s an opportunity to earn admiration and affection and privileges and food and toys and everything a dog truly lives for. It is also a wonderful tool to keep the communication alive so your dog is ready to respond to you at all times.
Once your dog has a basic repertoire of skills there are a million ways you can work them into your daily chores. It takes hardly any effort or time because you are still going about your business but using your own activities as distractions to solidify basic skills and generalize them.
Let me give you a couple of examples:
1) When you get ready to take your dog outside: Ask for a sit. Put on the leash, then gather up the things you need to bring with you and put on coat and shoes Your dog is still sitting .Open the door and pick up the leash. Now, release your dog :OKAY!!!!!ALL DONE!!!! and then go outside.
You have just practiced a sit/stay with major distractions.
(If this is too difficult at first, start with a sit while you open the door . Add the more difficult distractions, like sitting while you put your shoes on, later.
2) While you are preparing dinner: Why not ask your dog to lie down on his or her mat and reward intermittently for staying there with a piece of whatever you are chopping ( unless it’s onions, of course).
3) While walking your dog, walk at different paces: slow, fast, run, don’t walk in a straight line, change direction unexpectedly. Or run backwards and call your dog to come.
4) When taking a break from working at your desk, ask your dog to stay and walk away . Either call your dog to come or make him wait until you return. You could also stop midway and return unexpectedly, or ask your dog to sit up or lie down and then return..or walk away again. Just shake things up and have fun with it.
5) If your dog is being calm or doing something you really like, reward it! He will remember and do it again.
6) Whenever you want to offer your dog a toy or a treat, ask for “something” in return: from an automatic sit to a roll-over to shake or wave.
You see where I am going with this?
It takes very little effort and time on your part but you are engaging with your dog in a way that reinforces skills and keeps your dog entertained enough to prevent your dog from inventing their own “distractions”.