I always feel guilty suggesting homework ideas to my students. They give me the look, the one that says, “But I don’t have time this week to train my dog!”
I get it. Everyone has busy lives. All of us are overwhelmed with work, family etc. But training doesn’t have to take up huge amounts of time and effort. You can fit it into your daily routine in ways that can actually be fun for you and your dog. So here are some ideas to get you started.
Training while on a walk
You’re out there anyway. You can put your brain on auto-pilot and let your dog tow you along. Or you can throw in a bit of obedience training: loose leash walking for short distances, some sits and downs, a stay or two. Simply rewarding your dog when they look back at you or return to your side will go a long way towards improving the quality of your walk.
Play in your backyard
Your dog doesn’t need to go for a walk every day. You can mix up their exercise regimen by playing in the backyard with frisbees, balls and tugs. Toys are great motivators and reinforcers. Work in requests such as sit and down, stay, leave it and take it and you have some great impulse control training. Best of all through play you are building an even better relationship with your dog.
Now that winter is approaching here in the great north it’s dark and it’s cold. It takes more time and effort to get all your winter gear on than it does to actually walk your dog. So stay in and engage your dog in some brain exercises.
Mental exercise can be just as tiring for your dog as physical activity. Spend fifteen minutes teaching your dog a trick. Tricks are surprisingly easy, engage your dog’s brain, and a lot of fun for both of you. Or you can play some hide and seek games with food. Just Google “how to teach my dog a trick” or “games to play with my dog in the house” and you will get more than enough great ideas.
Go to a class
Put your dog in the car and head off to an indoor dog class where you can hang out with other like-minded people. It doesn’t have to be about obedience. Lots of schools offer indoor agility classes which are high energy and very addictive. For those of you who are less physically inclined there are classes that teach rally obedience and nosework which require less energy on your part but are just as much fun for your dog.
You have an obligation to your dog to keep them active mentally and physically and to teach them important life skills. And now you have some ideas as to how to put it all together. So, no excuses – get out there (or stay in) and train!