Solutions For Motivating Yourself To Practice With Your Dog

English mastiff stay

Practicing a down stay while out on a walk

You say you didn’t have time to practice or you couldn’t get yourself motivated to practice training your dog.

We’ve all been here. No, really even I have been.  We’ve all had that week that we’re just too busy to practice training our dogs.

Legitimately, people will sometimes have a week when they’re just too busy to practice whether a family emergency occurred, it’s finals week, or you’re busy focused on moving.

What should I do if I’m too busy to practice training my dog?

  • Increase enrichment– your dog still needs the mental stimulation. When you’re in a time pinch one of the best solutions is going to be enrichment feeders. Click here for more enrichment ideas
  • Spend a little extra money and higher a day trainer– I prefer day training over a doggy daycare or dog walker.  Remember any time you’re interacting with your dog your dog you are either training them or un-training them. If a dog walker is allowing them to pull or doggie daycare is allowing them to run around barking then think about the behaviors your dog is practicing.

Are you truly too busy to train?

If you find yourself sitting down on the couch the end of the day you can probably sneak in a few eye contacts during a commercial break.   Let’s face it, most TV channels have too many commercials anyways.  It’s a great way to pass the time.   Short, little, commercial break length training sessions are ideal for practicing eye contacts sits, downs and stays. Did you just get sucked into TV land?  Do you find yourself watching video after video on YouTube?  What about scrolling mindlessly through Facebook? If that’s the case you definitely have time to train your dog for every time you open a new window or a new app try making yourself train for 5 minutes.

I was confused while practicing, so I didn’t really want to practice the wrong thing.

If you’re not positive what you’re supposed to be practicing, it can be discouraging.  No wonder you don’t want to practice.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is there a part of the material that you did understand?  Chances are it will be incredibly helpful if you practice just the parts that you DID understand.
  • Did it all go over your head?   If that’s the case try calling or emailing your dog trainer through the week. Ask them to give you an overview and be sure to tell them you are confused on the material. They can often help identify what part you found confusing and clarify the training material, so you don’t miss out on the whole week. If you can’t get ahold of your dog trainer then you can find videos related to the topic on YouTube. Yes there’s YouTube for everything including dog training. If you were working on practicing “leave it” go on YouTube and see how they show you to practice it.  
  • When all else fails practice things that your dog already knows. While he may not be learning the new skills it will still help him learn to build his focus.The more he practices; even simple tasks, the better he will be at focusing on you.

My dog is being stubborn and I can’t get him to do it.    

If your dog is being stubborn there is a couple ways to work through this.

If your dog is acting like he wants to be stubborn try asking yourself the following:

  • At what step of practice did he begin acting stubborn?     If your dog was successful on the first step of practice, but not the next you may need to review the previous step further. Practice the previous step with your dog for several more sessions before trying to move on.
  • For example: If you are practicing stay and he can stay if you walk away four steps, but not five, then continuing practicing at four steps for a few more sessions.They have brain farts in can get confused just like you and I, so sometimes they just need a reminder by going back a few steps.
  • Is there any way that I could lower the level of distraction?   Sometimes lowering the level of distraction allows your dog to focus better.   If you’re practicing in the living room with kids running around and another dog right there consider taking training to the bedroom where it’s just you and your puppy.   Once your puppy can focus and preform the behavior you are working on correctly, then go back to the living room and try again.
  • Am I using the right motivation?     If your dog hates carrots, and you’re trying to use carrots to train your dog it may seem like your dog is being stubborn. Try to use different types of rewards like a favorite toy, hot dog, dice string cheese or anything that your dog seems to love. 

Need help picking a motivator? Check this blog out

Remember that when you invest just five minutes a day into training your dog you will begin to see results. You don’t have to carve out an hour of your day every day.  You can add it into everyday life by doing things like having your dog sit and stay before placing his food bowl down, asking him to stay on his bed while you brush your teeth, practice “leave it’s” while you cooking breakfast!

The more family members in the home that get involved in the dog’s training the more training he will be receiving.

Now stop reading and go practice!


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