The number one reason (ahem,” excuse”) that I hear for not training is “I just don’t have the time.” While a very valid reason, I’m going to bet that you have more time than you think. Remember, training doesn’t have to occur in a 45 minute block once daily in order to be beneficial. As a matter of fact, shorter training times can work just as well and incorporating training into your day to day interactions with your pet are even better!
Here are my top tips to help you make time for training:
- Be organized- Have your treat bag, treats, clicker, or any other needed items ready ahead of time. It’s a big bummer when you’re ready to work and you’ve forgotten a needed item. I keep all of my training items in one area, making it easy to grab and go.
- Set a goal- Start with something easy, “I will train once a day for three days this week”. Once you’ve succeeded with that goal, increase, “I will train once a day four times this week”. The key is to set easily attained goals for yourself and then set higher goals once you’ve succeeded.
- Pick a time- For those of us who love to adhere to a schedule, picking a specific time to train is certainly helpful. You can pick an actual time, like 5pm, or an event time, such as after dinner or before lunch. Whatever you choose to do, pick a time that is easily attainable. I like to train as soon as I get home, before I’ve had a chance to put my pajamas on!
- Get everyone involved- Just because I train animals for a living doesn’t mean I want to do all the training on the 3 dogs that I share my home with. Involving everyone in the house with training is a great way to accomplish training goals and fit training into a busy schedule.
- Incorporate training into your daily activities- Although this sounds like it might be a lot, it’s actually a very time efficient way of training. It’s also very simple, as you’ll be asking for a behavior to reward periodically throughout the day whether you are home, out for a walk, at the park, etc. For instance, I might be sitting on the couch and call my dog over and ask for a “sit”. Once he’s sat, I then reward him with praise, a treat, or a toy. BAM! Training session done.
- Count success- One last easy way to make more time for training is to set out a specific number of treats to use throughout the day for training. You can use these treats at any point throughout the day, in any combination. When they’re gone, you’ve accomplished your goal. One treat equals one success, so if I set out 10 treats, that’s ten successes. This is my favorite way to set aside training time as I just count out my treats and then train for a few successes at a time throughout the day.
Setting aside time to train may seem like a daunting task, but with these simple steps, you can make time for training!Jenn Fiendish, CVT, VTS (Behavior) Animal Behavior Clinic, Portland, OR