Raise your hand if you are perfect. Wait, don’t see any palms in the air. If we are not perfect, how can we expect our dogs to be perfect?
And, sadly, sometimes we see dogs who are expected to be foolproof performers but never get a chance to practice behaviors unless they are stressed, distracted or anxious. That’s so not fair. So, we suggest you wrap up cruising Facebook for photos of your friends’ dinners and spend five minutes, just doing something, anything with your dog that you consider to be a vital skill.
Here are some ideas:
- Practicing “stay”, yes, a few minutes a day with guided instructions on how to build reliability with distractions, duration and distance helps make this an easier behavior for your dog when you actually need it.
- Doing recalls before or after “stay” is a nice balance of movement and stationary work for silly dogs.
- Run through obedience drills: “Sit”, “down”, “touch”, “watch”, “let’s go” and see how much better your dog will listen when you are on a walk.
- Tricks and games! Great inside activities for dogs who are reactive and/or fearful on walks. Yes, dogs need exercise but if the physical activity outside is overshadowed by dreadful things coming at them all the time, life kinda stinks.
- Get creative. Think of things you want your dog to do and create similar scenarios. Want your dog to stop picking up trash? Try some “leave it” in the house. Practice makes perfect, or closer to it! Want him to stop jumping at the door, uh, practice opening and shutting the door (safety, first…on leash if you do not have 15 doors leading out to the street and the nicest dog in the world) and rewarding for calm. Want him to stop barking at dogs? Play barking dogs on LOW (so low it does not cause barking) volume on your laptop and reward for another behavior like “touch” or just for being quiet.
Would more training time a day make for a better dog? Sure! But, if you put it off everyday because you just don’t have time, don’t make it so hard on yourself. Set the timer on your gadget or phone device thingy and train your dog. I bet he will have fun and so will you! Practice does make perfect, doing crunches one day won’t give any of us rock hard abs so keep going and you will actually have a dog who listens much, much more when you want him to.