A week ago the positive reinforcement trainers in Toronto had dinner together and one of the topics that came up was how to find the time to train our own dogs. Life gets really busy for everyone and it is so paradoxical that we work with dogs but our own dogs often don’t get as much quality time as they deserve. I hate not having enough time for my dog, being with him/her has always been the highlight of every single day for me. I have always had ambitions with my dogs, I would train obedience, tracking and SAR all day if that paid my bills. But unfortunately it doesn’t so some time management is necessary.
I am so happy I have made friends with a bunch of other trainers who have aspirations in the dog sports. Once a week myself, and the wonderful clicker trainers Emily Fisher, Julie Posluns and Nancy Franklin get together, and everyone works on their own dogs. We all have slightly different goals but our training group is a good mix of obedience, freestyle and agility. These sessions have increased my motivation to train, Forbes and I get to practice our behaviors under distractions and and it is always useful to watch good trainers in action, you always learn something new. Unfortunately, our group has threatened to bail on me when the weather gets cold. Sissies :-)!
Anyways, after the dog training dinner I decided to do a little experiment. What completely new can I train Forbes to do if I train 5 minutes twice a day for a week? We need to feed our dogs anyways so why not train right before the meals. I decided to leave planning to minimum, and for each session I just made 3 piles of 10 treats and started shaping. No judgments on how the training is going and not getting stressed about getting the behavior as fast I would like to. Just pure plain observations and at the end of the week I would make a summary of what happened.
Here is the result of the experiment recorded. 2 x 5 min formula for 7 days did produce a new behavior that is somewhat on cue and I started putting it under stimulus control. I encourage other people to do the same experiment, training to keep your dog’s mind somewhat engaged really doesn’t take that much time (unless you’re recording it like I did…).