Lots of people want to know how much time needs to be spent each day training their dog. While I can easily provide a general guideline to people, especially through the learning phase, the actual answer is that training is a lifestyle. It isn’t 30 minutes, twice a day or some other time that one can quantify. Obedience is something that should always be there… kind of like breathing … just part of everyday life with your dog. This does not mean that you should be running drills every day, all day long. It simply means that training and the structure it provides should be built into your everyday life. Obedience training is at the very core of providing leadership and guidance for your dog.
To provide a few examples of how you can incorporate structure into your everyday routine:
- Are you cooking or eating dinner? Don’t want your dog underfoot? Simply ask them to “down on a place” object, giving them somewhere else to be while you prepare or eat your food.
- Do you dislike your dog jumping and barking on you while you prepare their food? Ask them to “sit” and require them to hold the sit while you prepare their food. When you are ready for your dog to eat, release them.
- Have guests coming over? Worried your dog might jump on them? Once again, place is your best friend! Ask your dog to “down on place”, let your guests in and enjoy talking to them. Simply keep your dog on “place” until your dog displays calm and stable behavior. When that happens, release your dog and allow them to greet.
- Does your dog bark every time the doorbell rings? Practice ringing the doorbell and as it rings ask your dog to “come” and then put them in a stable position such as “sit”, “down”, or “place”. Eventually your dog will learn that the doorbell rings and they should exhibit calm and stable behavior on place instead of barking at the door.
I know these are pretty generic examples, but the point is to incorporate what you learn during your dog training course into everyday life. It is not enough for your dog to learn come, sit, down, heel, place etc. if you are only utilizing things when you are in a training mindset and are “practicing”. These real world scenarios are why people want a well behaved dog. Dog training provides the foundation so you can achieve these very realistic goals.
I know at first, it can be a challenge to get your foundational obedience under control while stabilizing your dog’s behavior. As you attend lessons, our job as dog trainers, is to provide you with the guidance you and your dog needs. Results will happen sooner than you think however, it is important that you remember that obedience does not begin and end with a class or a board and train and 30 minutes of practice, twice a day. It is a lifestyle … chosen by how you incorporate your dog into everyday life. As you consider your daily life and the challenges presented, think about your obedience commands and which command is the solution to your challenge. Obedience training provides the tool, while you provide leadership, structure and guidance and in return your relationship with your dog will blossom and grow!