How to Design a Dog Training Schedule
Table of Contents
Decide what training materials and commands you need.
Create a schedule.
Stay flexible for maximum progress.
Training your dog is extremely rewarding. I love working with my dogs, and it's so gratifying when they pick up on a command and I can use it on a daily basis. Training is also great for nourishing the relationship between my pups and I. We have a much deeper respect for each other and a much less frustrating relationship. I do have to keep a schedule though, not only to make sure that they are learning everything I want them to learn, but also to make sure that they are progressing. Below I discuss how to design a training schedule to keep you and your pup on track.
Get Prepared: Materials and Commands
Dogs are amazing animals. They can learn so many commands! Now is the time to figure out what commands you want your pup to learn. For example:
I want my dogs to know the basics: their name, sit, down, climb, come, and heel.
I also want them to know a few other harder tricks: paw, other paw, crawl, salute (for my military SO). I'd also like to start scent and agility training with them.
What commands do you want your dog to know? What commands will make your relationship with them better? The second question is extremely important to consider. If you have a dog that never comes when called, maybe you need to teach them "come". If you have a dog that begs at the dinner table or jumps on guests, a "climb" command would be helpful.
The main goal when training your dog should be to improve your relationship with them. Granted, some people get into it for showing purposes, but having a strong and reliable relationship with your companion should be top priority.
In addition to preparing a command list, get any training materials prepared. If you use training collars, make sure you have the appropriate types and sizes (and make sure you know how to properly use them!). If your dog is into food, make sure to have some tasty treats. If they love toys, get them a special toy specifically for training. Be prepared! Having rewards that are specific to your training sessions makes them that much more excited for useful. Imagine this: you can only have your favorite meal when you get an A+ on an exam or actually go to the gym. You're going to study/workout more, aren't you? The same goes for your pup - if they can only have their favorite toy when they complete a command, they are going to be more willing to work for you.
Schedule Your Training
Next, it is time to schedule your pup's training. Decide how much time you have to give to their training. I suggest setting aside at least fifteen minutes, four days per week for training. You also need to consider what commands to work on. For example:
Week one: Climb, sit, down - five minutes each session
Week two: Climb, down, heel - five minutes each session
Week three: Down, heel, come - five minutes each session
Each week, you should be progressing and adding a new trick to the pool. Equally as important: you should be making each individual trick more challenging.
- Train in your house
- Train with distractions (i.e. food, toys)
- Train in your backyard
- Train at a park
- Train at a public place that allows dogs
Give your dog as many challenges as possible. The trick to training is to dare your dog to mess up, and when they mess up, show them that they were wrong. Keep doing this until they get it right; then make a huge deal about how good they are!
Be Flexible with Your Schedule
Finally, you need to be flexible with your pup's schedule. There might be a trick they don't pick up on very quickly. If so, then take a little extra time to mentor your dog. If they pick up on a command quicker than you expect, then make it more challenging for them. The schedule you design is not in a textbook or written in stone; keeping it flexible will help your pup and you make efficient progress in your relationship.
Training you pup and seeing them learn is so exciting! Decide what is important for them to learn, make a schedule, be flexible, and you'll see amazing results!
How long have you been involved in dog training?
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