ONE, TWO, READY, GO!
Mini Training Sessions: don’t underestimate their benefit
So many clients I work with have busy lives, juggling a lot of ‘must do’ tasks every day. Though they have the best intentions when hiring me to help them with their dog’s training, putting in the actual training time between sessions can feel daunting.
What I’d like to stress is that a mere minute or two of training a day MATTERS! Almost everyone can carve out 1-2 minutes/day for some simple training tasks.
This is about building a new habit as much as it is about training.
For example, this year I’ve begun using a treadmill, something that has ZERO intrinsic appeal to me. If I’d set goals that were too lofty, I knew I’d just quit in short order, so I made sure to ramp up the time and intensity of the work-out in small bites. After a couple months of doing this, I’ve slowly but steadily increased time on the treadmill. More importantly, I haven’t abandoned the task as undoable, and that’s a big deal for me.
I encourage you to set yourself up for success, to begin, by just committing to one or two minutes of training each day. My bet is you’ll be surprised and pleased to see that you actually make some training headway in that short amount of time, and that your dog has a fun time working with you, too!
Seeing some results and a happy dog will motivate you to do it again the next day. Maybe you’ll squeeze in a second, 1-minute session the following day. Build in small bites.
As I began writing this, I decided to see how many reinforced training reps I could log in just one minute with WildeBean. I had her practice bouncing randomly between four separate cues she’s already been introduced to:
Place (target and lie down on a mat)
Okay (release from mat)
Perch (jump up onto an ottoman and sit)
Touch (nose-target my extended fingers)
I set a one-minute timer. At the end of the session, WildeBean had successfully earned 31 clicks and treats for her signature speedy responses. I also spotted two areas that need additional training attention, and plan to schedule a couple of short sessions to smooth out those issues.
The best part of our training session was seeing her wilde-waggy tail.
Positive reinforcement training is fun and enriching for dogs. And when your training efforts yield a better-behaved dog with some functional skills, that’s mighty reinforcing for you!
Give it a try. Commit to just a minute or two a day. Start with an easy skill that’s fun for both of you.
Let me know how it goes!
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Virginia Dare is a dog trainer & behavior counselor with decades of experience. Her business offers remote consultations anywhere in the US for matchmaking services, and pre- and post-puppy arrival counseling. She also provides in-home, private lessons and behavior consultations in northern Fairfield and Westchester counties, Putnam and southern Dutchess counties. Please visit www.NorthStarCanines.com/services to learn more, or contact me at 804.784.0120
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