Finding Time to Train Your Dog
Excerpt from When Pigs Fly by Jane Killon
You do have the time to train your dog. Whether you realize it or not, you already are spending a lot of time training your dog. Every minute you are with your dog you are training him. Your everyday interactions with him are the most powerful training tools you have.
Your dog depends entirely on you for all of his needs. If he wants to eat, you feed him. If he wants to go outside, you open the door. If he wants to come out of his crate, you let him out. If he wants his toy, you get it out and throw it for him. Everytime your dog wants something, that something can be a reinforcer for something that you want him to do. If you are going to give your dog something he wants or needs, that is an opportunity for you to ask for something in return. Head scratches, belly rubs, play sessions, treats, and walks are all things that you dispense to your dog and they all represent training opportunities. Since you do all of those things everyday for your dog anyway, you can train your dog without taking anymore time out of your day than you are already giving your dog.
Remember these two concepts:
1. If you do things for your dog without asking him to do something for you, you have trained him to not work to get what he wants. You have trained him that he is free to ignore you until you signal that you will be gratifying one of his desires.
2. If you ask him for a behavior in exchange for doing things for him, you have trained him to work for you to get what he wants. You have trained him that he had better pay attention to you because you never know when a reinforcement opportunity might arise.
Anytime your dog wants to go out or come in the house, you have a golden opportunity to train something. He wants something that only you can give him. Why not get a little something form in return? Ask your dog for a sit before he rushes through the door. You should work on door etiquette, where your dog sits and stays before the open door until you release him.
When you train with the methods in this book, just being with your dog becomes a dialog. You will find that it is incredibly easy to integrate dog training into your life. Once you have taught the basic foundation behaviors, you never need to have a formal training session with your dog again; just being with your dog will shape him into a model citizen.
For more advice on training impossible (and not-so-impossible) dogs, purchase Jane Killon’s When Pigs Fly! Training Success with Impossible Dogs from Your Dog.