Are you wondering how you can train your dog when you have don’t have the time? It’s easy to say “I don’t have time to train my dog”. And I get it, you have to go to work, take care of the kids, clean the house, go grocery shopping, drive the kids to soccer, basketball, karate… this list can go on an on and on!
But do you have time to feed your dog, take your dog for a walk, watch your favorite TV show after the kids go to bed? If you answered yes to any of these, then you do have time to train your dog.
All you need is 3-5 minutes each day to train your dog. Yes, I said 3-5 minutes. Dog training doesn’t need to take 30 minutes each day. In fact you will see better results training in short spurts vs. long training sessions. Taking your everyday activities and turn them into learning experiences for your dog, that’s training.
Here are 5 quick ideas to start training your dog today:
Most people feed their dogs twice a day. So this gives you two opportunities to train your dog every day, no excuses!
Level 1: Start by asking your dog to SIT before you serve him his food.
Level 2: Put your dog in a PLACE command, and make her stay in the PLACE for a few minutes while you prepare his food bowl.
Level 3: Feed your dogs entire meal in a training session. Practice basic commands, including SIT, STAY, and COME by using your dogs kibble. Take it a step further and add different trick commands. Don’t worry, you aren’t going to feed your dog one kibble at a time! After each successful command, give her a handful of food. This session should only last a few minutes.
Hopefully you take your dog for a walk every day; if you don’t then please take a few minutes to read the Top 5 Reasons to Take Your Dog for a Walk. Even if you have only time to walk your dog around the block, take that 10 minutes to sprinkle in some training. Always walk your dog using a 6 foot leash, never a retractable leash.
Level 1: When you are preparing to go for a walk with your dog, make him SIT before you put on his leash. And when you open the front door, tell him to WAIT. You walk out the door first, then release your dog to come with you.
Level 2: When you come to the corner or crosswalk, stop, command your dog to SIT before moving forward. Eventually your dog will learn the automatic sit, which means when you stop, your dog will auto sit without you having to tell him to.
Level 3: If your dog is a puller, instead of walking around the block, occasionally turn around and go in the opposite direction. Do this sporadically so your dog does not expect it. This will help your dog keep his attention on you and will slowly teach him pulling is not going to get him anywhere.
I don’t watch commercials anymore. Either I have the show recorded and will fast forward OR better yet, I will take that 3 minutes to train my dog! Three minutes is a perfect length of time for training. Keep a bag of training treats on your coffee table so it’s even quicker to get a few commands in.
Level 1: Use commercial breaks to practice your basic commands, SIT and DOWN or even the PLACE command. See if your dog can stay in PLACE throughout the entire commercial break. Read Why You Need to Teach the PLACE Command to Your Dog.
Level 2: After you have practiced the PLACE command during commercial breaks, try switching the PLACE command during the live show.
Level 3: Put a leash on your dog and walk around the living room, working on the HEEL command. Your dog should learn how to walk next to you, on your left side. If he pulls, then turn and walk the opposite direction. Another way to stop pulling is to walk and turn into the front of your dog, you will need to keep him on short but loose leash.
Does your dog like to play fetch or tug? If your dog is toy motivated, use it to your advantage with these ideas:
Level 1: During the times you are playing with your dog, ask him to SIT or DOWN before you throw the ball.
Level 2: Have your dog SIT and STAY while you walk a few feet or yards and then throw the ball to him to catch it.
Level 3: Playing brain games with your dog can strengthen your bond with her. Check out these indoor games that you can play anytime, even though they are fun, they are training your dog at the same time!
You may not realize it, but anytime you are with your dog, at home or outside, you are training your dog. Anytime you pet your dog, you are training him. Training what you ask? When you pet your dog, you are giving him affection, most dogs love and seek out affection. So if your dog jumps on you to say hello when come home from work, and you pet him, you are training him to jump on you. If you pet your dog when he jumps up on the couch, you are training your dog to jump on the couch. Make sense? Your action results in your dogs reaction.
Level 1: Make your dog work for your affection. Don’t give your dog a belly rub or any affection without asking for something in return. For example, your dog walks up to you wanting to be pet, simply ask him to SIT or DOWN before petting him. If he gets up, stop the petting
Level 2: Pick one thing your dog does that you DON’T want him to do. Be aware of how you react to this behavior and change it. Do not give him any attention, good or bad, for the bad behavior.
Level 3: Take your dog for a ride in the car. If you have quick errands to run, such as picking the kids up at school or dropping off the dry cleaning, take your dog with you. Getting your dog use to short car rides can create an overall calmer car experience for your dog. If the only time your dog gets to go for a car ride is to the vet or the dog park, then the car is going to be associated with those things.
This is overall the most important tip ever. Be consistent with everything you do for your dog. If you let him get away with not listening to your commands when you are “too busy”, then all the training is out the window.
Think of it this way… as a kid your mom tells you to clean your room, most of the time you listen to her, but one day you don’t feel like it so you decide to ignore her request. Your mom has two choices: one is to let you get away with it and then next time you “don’t feel like it” you probably won’t clean your room again. OR your mom can punish you for not cleaning up your room by taking away your cell phone. Next time, are you going to clean up your room?
So you see, you don’t need to block out an entire hour to train your dog. Simply take a few minutes several times a day to play and train your dog and you will be amazed on what you can accomplish.
P.S. Try these tips for 2 weeks and then report back, I really want to hear how it’s made a difference with you and your dog. Comment below with your experience and if you have any additional tips for our Rescue Dogs 101 Community.
Debi McKee is a life-long dog lover and owner, volunteers for Fetch WI, fostering rescue dogs, performing home visits and more. She also attends every dog training seminar available to her, and is continually looking for ways to build her knowledge of dog adoption, health and training. Her goal is to guide you through every step of your dog journey. Read her story and learn about the dogs behind Rescue Dogs 101. If you have a question, please feel free to send Debi a message here.