Helping Shelter Dog’s with reward based training


We are finally getting to a place where animal shelters recognizing the need to enrichment and training is the norm.  You maybe thinking about starting something at the shelter where you work or proposing the idea to a shelter you volunteer at.  This is a roadmap to helping you set up your own program.

Why do we choose reward based training for shelter dogs? 

Shelter dogs are under huge stress and it goes against animal welfare to knowingly add additional stressors to their life. There are two ways to change a behavior:

1.Make the unwanted behavior less rewarding- adds stress

2.Make an alternative behavior more rewarding- decreases stress

Reward based training is more forgiving of handler mistakes and if the timing is off or you miss use a tool the dog simply gets an extra treats.  Which makes it easier for volunteers who aren’t professional dog trainers to be effective.  Reward Trained Behaviors also transition easier to the new home.  It works even if you are a smaller person handling a larger stronger dog.

It also builds confidence in the dog.  A large number of shelter dogs lack confidence. Confidence is needed for a adopter to have a smooth first trip to the vet and a confident dog will transition more easily to new environments.

 Why is it important for shelters to offer training to their residents? 

It provides mental stimulation known as enrichment, increases how quickly animals get adopted, prevents bad habits from developing and helps keep the dog in their new home.

When you think about why dogs come to the shelter in the first place the demographics of a surrendered dog are worth mentioning.  Most dogs surrendered to an animal shelter are adolescent dogs in their teenage years.  Why?  Well my guess is it’s because they have puppy brains and adult bodies.  They are coming into their teenage years and owners often mistake their lack of self control and focus as “Rebellion”.  Common puppy problems go from cute to annoying.

Training in the shelter starts with clear communication.  If one volunteer is teach off means no jumping and another is using down and one is saying here while the other says “come” that can be confusing.


Teach volunteers to use reward markers.  I like to use “Yes”, but you can use a clicker.  Some volunteers find clickers to be cumbersome.  If they forget them at home they may feel like they can’t train that day.

click here to learn about reward markers

What to teach: 

“Off”  Defined as four feet on the floor it is used to prevent jumping

“Sit” Defined as their butt on the ground it is used to prevent jumping, makes leashing easier, frequently used by owners and helps with stay.

“Down” Defined as their elbows on the ground it is used to create calmness  and may increases adoptability when dogs can settle down next to a visiting adopter

“Touch” Defined as their nose touches your hand, desensitizes to strangers putting their hands up, can be used to call the dog, keep the dog in heel position, builds confidence, increases understanding of expectations.

“Focus” Defined as their eyes meet your eyes, fakes that “magical connection”, teaches dogs to stay checked in their handler, used to teach heel and prevents distraction. how to Teach Focus

Cute Tricks, one cute trick like “Prairie dog”, shake or roll over can help a dog win a forever home. Make a video of the trick, create a URL code and put it on the kennel card.


Trouble shooting

Sometimes dogs need time to adjust to the stress of being in the shelter.   There are things that you can do to help with this.

If the dog is overactive and restless 

Find a quiet place to sit with the dog “Capture” calm behaviors like when the dog comes back to you, sits down, or lies down. This will train the dog to get in the habit of relaxing with people visiting the dog.  Such as adopters…. Remember adopters want to the “magic connection”

If the dog is shy and calm 

Find a quiet place to sit with the dog “Capture” the dog’s curious behaviors like looking your direction, moving closer to you, or engaging with you. Teach Touch first once they are ready.

Go for a walk with another volunteer with another dog KEEPING a safe distance.  Sometimes dogs that are shy with people blossom around other dogs.

If the shelter allows it go into the kennel and read for a while, if they don’t sit outside the kennel.



It’s all good in the neighborhood


You love your dog, so it can be hard to think about anyone not seeing him for the crazy love bug that he is. However hard it may be to imagine, some people simply do not like dogs, and some of those people may just live in your neighborhood. Here are three common problems dog owners face and how to solve them if you want to be a conscientious neighbor.

Excessive Barking, Baying, or Howling

Barking, baying, or howling every now and again is normal. However, if your dog is making excess noise for extended periods of time, it is considered a form of noise pollution and a valid complaint on your neighbor’s part.

A common cause behind a dog’s excessive noise is separation anxiety. The best way to remedy anxiety is by making sure your dog is getting enough activity and providing him with things to do when you are away. Most people are not walking their dogs enough. If you are walking your pup less than 15 minutes twice a day, it’s time to hit the pavement more often for your dog’s well-being. If you don’t have time to walk your dog because of long hours at the office, hire a dog walker who can stop by throughout the day to provide your dog with fresh air and exercise. This should help reduce the noise as well as other destructive behaviors your dog may exhibit due to anxiety and boredom.

Your Dog Keeps Getting Into Neighbors’ Yards

If your dog keeps escaping into neighbors’ yards, you haven’t done enough to maintain your fence. If it is full of holes or has loose boards, it may be worth it to replace it entirely. The average price to install a wood fence runs from $1,434 to $3,362. If your fence is in good shape but your dog just keeps finding ways to escape, you can fortify it with some of these dog-proofing techniques:

  • Use landscaping as a way to create a buffer area between your dog and the fence.
  • Stick bamboo or reed rolls along the inside of the fence to prevent him from digging underneath.
  • Place a concrete footer around the perimeter.
  • Use coyote rollers along the top of the fence to keep a jumping dog from being able to make it over.

Your Dog’s Leaves Messes Behind

If you are not picking up after your dog when walking in the neighborhood or at the park, it’s not really your dog’s behavioral issue—that is you being a bad neighbor! In just about every city, village, and township, there is some sort of regulation that requires dog owners to pick up after their pooches. Leaving dog feces on the ground leaves other people, pets, and animals susceptible to the harmful viruses, bacteria, and pesticides it can contain. If it rains, all those harmful organisms get washed into your area’s water system. It’s just bad news all around.

Always keep bags on you when you are spending time with your dog, and pick up after him. If you are worried about the amount of plastic these bags contribute, you can find compostable and biodegradable versions in just about any specialty pet store.

As much as you love your dog, not everyone is going to love his behavior. If your pup spends his free time creating noise pollution, chances are he has too much energy to burn. Up the amount of walks you take and consider hiring help when you’re logging many hours at the office. If your dog is an escape artist, you may need a new fence or reinforcements to curb his wily ways. Finally, you need to pick up your dog’s poop. Dog feces is harmful to people, pets, animals, and your local water supply. Always carry biodegradable bags on you when taking your dog in public so you can clean up after him.


Jessica Brody created to offer a place for animal lovers to share their favorite pet photos and stories about their furry pals.

Tricks Event

Englewood Tricks Title EventAt Bennett Canine Training we love encouraging our students to take their training to the next step and strongly believe EVERY dog can and should be able to pass a Canine Good Citizen Test. 


What is the Canine Good Citizen Test?  It is a ten point test open to ALL breeds and mixes.  The test is looking for basic manners and stability in public.  Our students reach this goal feeling closer to their dogs and feeling very proud of their accomplishments.  It is also a perfect first title for a owner. I encourage students to attempt to pass their Canine Good Citizen before working towards goals like public access for service animals, therapy work or even the BH (Which is the first level title in IPO). 

Learn more about Canine Good Citzen

Once our students complete the AKC Canine Good Citizen we don’t want to see their training stop so we encourage them to consider sports like Rally, Advanced Canine Good Citizens or my favorite AKC Tricks Titles. 


You can train for Trick titles at home on your own or in our Drop in Trick classes that we offer in Englewood Colorado.  What I love about the Trick Titles is it is really geared towards HELPING your dog be successful.  Plus, once again ALL breeds can title!  


We held our second ever AKC Tricks Title Event a few weeks ago.  We offered the AKC Canine Good Citizen and right after we offered the AKC Tricks Titles Testing.  It worked our perfectly and boy-o-boy did we have a turnout.


Please enjoy these photos and if you would like to learn about our next Tricks class or event find us on FACEBOOK! 



dog playing in a muzzle

Muzzle Training


Use a treat to lure your dog’s nose into the muzzle and feed the treat while your dog is wearing the muzzle

Dogs can be trained to love their muzzles.   The key is to teach your dog that muzzles predict something positive like yummy treats or fun play sessions.

Here are some easy steps to follow to get your dog comfortable in a muzzle.

Be sure you are practicing these with a well fit basket muzzle, nylon muzzles are not meant for training.

Step 1: Muzzles taste good.

Your dog has no problem sticking his nose in a jar of peanut butter to lick out the yummy stuff.  The same can be true for your muzzle.  Place peanut butter or cream cheese on the front of your basket muzzle and hold it towards your dog.  Let your dog place his own muzzle in to lick it out.  Don’t try to snap it on or hold it on your dog.  Practice several sessions like this until your dog is no longer suspicious of the muzzle.


Step 2:  Hold a treat and feed through the muzzle.

Hold a treat with one hand and the muzzle in the other.  Encourage your dog to place his nose in the muzzle by showing him the treat on the other side.  Once his nose is in the muzzle say “yes” or “good” and feed your dog the treat through the muzzle.  Repeat this until your dog sticks his head in the muzzle just to get the treat.


Step 3: Put it on cue.

Now, that your dog is comfortable putting his face in the muzzle we want to name that behavior.  Practice the same behavior as last time, but say “MUZZLE” once before you lure your dogs face into the muzzle.

feeding muzzle art

Hold your muzzle and treat away from each other and treat when your dog looks towards the muzzle or puts his nose in.


Step 4: Phase out the lure.

For this step have the muzzle in one hand and your treat in the other, but don’t lure your dog’s nose into the muzzle.  Say “Muzzle” and hold the muzzle open if your dog moves his face closer to the muzzle say “Yes” or “Good” and give your dog a treat through the muzzle.  Repeat this until your dog can consistently put his nose in the muzzle without being lured.  Remember your still going to reward your dog your just not going to bait him into the muzzle.


Step 5: Snapping the muzzle.

Now repeat the last step and snap the muzzle closed and give your dog three treats then unsnap it.  Repeat this until your dog no longer has a reaction to the muzzle being snapped shut.

dog training art

Snap the muzzle on and give lots of treats


Step 6: Wearing the muzzle.

Repeat this last step, but instead of unsnapping it right away have your dog chase you with a fourth treat.  Then feed your dog the treat and unsnap it. Repeat this until your dog doesn’t show any discomfort or hesitation moving towards you with the muzzle on.


Step 7: Muzzle party.

Just like care keys predict a car ride, a leash predict a walk we want a muzzle to predict a fun play session.  Start with step 6 and then finish with playing with your dog for 3-5 minutes.  You can chase a soccer ball together, run around the house together, let him chase a flirt pole ect.  Gradually make these muzzled play sessions longer and longer and you will start to see your dog can’t wait to put his muzzle on.

dog playing in a muzzle

playtime in a muzzle

Learn more about muzzles Muzzle Myths

We would love to add photos of your muzzled dog.  Please send photos to

Muzzle Myths

muzzle myths

lab comfortable in a well fit muzzle

“Muzzles have done more to protect owners and their dogs than legislation”, quote by Dr Mugford.

A muzzle is not a bad thing… yes, that’s right lets say it again.  A muzzle is not a bad thing.  Many people feel a tinge of shame, fear or embarrassment when they are told their dog should be muzzle trained.  I would love to see the muzzle stigmas removed.  Here is my attempt to help dog owners understand muzzles just a little bit better.


Let’s start by busting some myths:

My dog can’t eat or drink with a muzzle on. 

There are different types of muzzles.  Some are ideal for vet clinics and others are perfect for training, because they allow your dog to drink, pant and eat through the muzzle.  The best muzzles for training reactive dogs are basket muzzles.


A muzzle will not fit my dog. 

Yes, it will.  Deerhounds, rotties, pugs, and great danes there is a muzzle that will comfortably fit every dog breed.  There is a muzzle on the market for every dog in every shape and size… heck there are even goat muzzles available.  There are even muzzles that can be purchased, heated up in the microwave and custom fit to your dogs face.  Make sure that you pick a muzzle that fits your dog and if your not sure how to do this click here fitting muzzles.


Muzzles will make my dog look scary looking. 

Maybe, this is true, but muzzles are frequently used by responsible owners in all sorts of situations – such as controlling excitable animal during vet visit, when meeting new dogs, or during busy events and gatherings – and new products have been designed to be welfare friendly. They are another great tool in the training box for responsible owners – alongside good discipline and positive reinforcement – and ultimately provide peace of mind if you are worried about a dog’s reaction.


My dog can’t protect himself in a muzzle.

Yes, that right they can’t.  That being said it is our responsibility to protect our dog.  If you are putting your dog in situations where he feels like he needs to protect himself or really actually needs to protect himself then that maybe a even bigger problem.  If your dog has a opportunity to bite a human or another animal that could be a really big problem.  Thousands of dogs a year are euthanized for behaving badly.  This allows you to protect your dog from his own behavior.


“I can handle my dog without a muzzle.”  and “I really don’t think he needs one” 

A dog biting a human or animal is a really big deal.  With tougher laws surrounding antisocial dog behavior coming into force, dog owners might find themselves worried what the changes could mean for them. The legal changes mean a possible 14-year prison sentence for owners of dogs that kill, as well as tougher terms for people whose animals attack a person in a home or private property, or attack assistance animals such as guide dogs.  Here’s the deal you don’t only wear a seat belt when you ride in a car because you anticipate getting into a car wreck, it is just incase.  If you wear it and don’t get into a wreck it’s no big deal, but if you get into a wreck and your not wearing one you may wish you had been.  The same is true for a muzzle, if there is any potential for your dog biting a human or animal it is your responsibility to fit your dog with a muzzle.  Don’t let ego cloud your judgment.

To learn how to teach your dog to love wearing a muzzle read this: Muzzle Training


Why Didn’t Obedience Classes Work?

The Right Tool for the Job

Pat Blocker, CPDT-KA, is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer with over 19 years experience. She offers private in-home training specializing in solving canine behavior issues. 

Trick dog training kids

kids can train too!

“I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” – Abraham Maslow

“What do you want to get from this class?” It happens in almost every obedience class orientation. Someone responds to that question with the likes of, “I want my dog to stop barking and lunging at other dogs.” “I want my dog to stop growling at children.” “I want my dog to stop barking all day while I’m at work.”

Owners are surprised to learn that the aforementioned are behavior issues, which cannot be effectively addressed with obedience training. In reality, there is obedience training and there is behavior modification. They are not the same. To use Maslow’s analogy, attempting to solve behavior issues with obedience training is treating the problem like a nail, because the only tool we think to be available is a hammer.

The widely held belief that obedience classes are an easy fix to all problems can ultimately result in owners believing that training doesn’t work. Take the problem of barking, for instance. The dog that is barking all day while home alone is not disobedient or unruly. Her barking might be due to separation anxiety, boredom, and/or lack of basic needs being met. It’s not a disobedient dog that is growling at children or barking and lunging at other dogs. The behavior could stem from, among other things, fear, which cannot be addressed with obedience training.

Behavior modification and obedience training have different objectives. Obedience training is for the disobedient and unruly dog. It sets boundaries and establishes rules. Behavior modification is intended to change the dog’s emotional state. It requires effective management and training that addresses the root cause of the problem. Manners can help with the management and control of many issues, but don’t change them on the emotional level. If we change the way a dog feels about something, we will change the way she behaves in its presence.

Behavior modification and obedience training are, however, intertwined. Obedience exercises can be taught to complement behavior modification. For instance, basic obedience training can help build the fearful dog’s confidence and leash-walking skills, like paying attention, can help the reactive dog. Basic obedience builds communication and both types of training help to establish a healthy relationship between owner and dog. (Communication and understanding canine body language are important elements in preventing problems and instrumental in the treatment of behavioral issues.)

Behavior modification addresses issues, which are often complex. It requires evaluation and treatment by a skilled trainer or behaviorist with knowledge of learning theory, animal behavior, and ethology. Some owners, believing that obedience training will solve behavioral issues may employ ineffective, even abusive punishment resulting in frustration (on both ends of the leash) without solving the problem.

Taking a dog in need of behavior modification to obedience class could make matters worse. For example, immersing the fearful dog into a roomful of other dogs, risks creating extreme fear and even damaging the owner-dog relationship.

Obedience training in lieu of behavior modification may not only exacerbate the problem, but can be unkind as well. In my opinion, it is cruel to ask the frightened dog to sit and look at me or to punish her in the presence of the thing that terrifies her. For example, training methods based on the theory of dominance, often use obedience as the solution. In theory, if the dog is afraid, make her obedient and submissive. Here, it appears that dominance has worked because the dog is not reacting. However, if anything, the dog is more afraid–afraid of the frightening situation and now of you. Pushed to her limits, she will revert to the old behavior. Punishment and dominance can serve to suppress the behavior, but like a beach ball held underwater, sooner or later, it will resurface.

Behavior modification takes you from reactive to proactive. Sure, I can correct a dog for lunging and barking at another dog. I can (maybe) get the dog to sit and look at me instead, but this won’t change future behavior.

Choosing the right training tool can be confusing because the same problem might require a different tool. For instance, your dog lunges and pulls on the leash whenever another dog passes. The problem could be solved either by obedience training or by behavior modification, depending on the emotion that lies beneath the behavior. Is the dog lunging at the passing dog because she is excited and wants to greet him, or is she doing it because she’s afraid and attempting to warn him off?

The friendly dog with no leash-walking skills wanting to greet the passing dog has, perhaps learned that lunging and pulling gets her what she wants. If she’s been allowed to pull her owner up to other dogs, she gets a payoff–greeting the dog. Here, we could use obedience training to teach polite meet and greets.

The fearful dog is lunging and barking at passing dogs in order to get space from them. She’s using a good offense as her best defense. A behavior modification plan to help her feel more comfortable in the presence of other dogs will address the root cause of the behavior. When the emotions behind the actions are dealt with, the lunging and barking will diminish naturally. Then, if we want to tweak leash-walking skills we’ll do some obedience training.

Knowing the difference between obedience training and behavior modification will help you choose the right tool for the job. Ensure that your training choice meets the criteria to resolve the issue by properly defining it, and then implement the plan. Now, you’ve nailed it.


Pat Blocker, CPDT-KA, is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer with over 19 years experience. She offers private in-home training specializing in solving canine behavior issues. Contact Pat at Peaceful Paws • 303-364-4681 • Pat the author of Taking the Lead with Jerking the Leash available on Amazon.


Success Stories

When an adopter walks the rows of adoptable dogs, they are looking to feel a connection with a dog.  In their mind they are picturing enjoying a patio lunch with a dog sleeping at their feet or walking at the park with the leash in one hand and their coffee cup in the other.  Sometimes expectations fall a little short of reality.

That okay, dogs don’t come perfect.  The good news is behavior is changeable!  You can teach a dog to not jump up, walk nicely on a leash, perform a down stay at a restaurant.

Dogs aren’t born knowing these types of skills, so it is up to us to teach them these doggy life skills.  Dogs are exceptional at adapting into the human world.  They were bred to work with humans and fit out lifestyles.

I see people giving up on dogs with fixable behavior issues on a daily basis.  Which is why we offer free phone support to new adopter and we offer discounts to newly adopted dogs, but sometimes this can feel extremely overwhelming to new pet parents so I decided to start a page dedicated to success stories written from the heart from pet parents of naughty dogs that became successful with a little help and understanding. Here is the LINK I hope it inspires you!

Feel free to share your dog’s success stories with us.

trick training

Markers are great for all dogs

Pet-Picking Pointers for People in Recovery

“The moment a pet realizes he is yours and you are his, you become instant partners without hesitation. He will be by your side the moment you need him, and always give you the benefit of the doubt.” That endorsement from says it all. Plus, having the love and trust of such a faithful companion can give you the confidence you need to tackle any goal you set for yourself, including recovery from substance abuse or mental health issues.


That being said, we should stress that pet ownership is a two-way street. You have a duty to choose your animal companion wisely and to make sure you can provide proper care for him.
In this post, we’ll look at what you need to know before making this life-changing commitment.

Ask the Right Questions

The road to happy pet parenting begins with asking yourself important questions like:

  • “What kind of pet will match my income/interests/surroundings?” Companion animals differ like night and day when it comes to their care needs. For example, dogs draw their security from group dynamics. They need companionship to avoid becoming lonely and afraid. Reptiles and fish are on the opposite end of the personality spectrum. They couldn’t care less if you pay them any attention as long as you feed them. On the other hand, they may have exotic diets and may need heat rocks, warming lamps, and other expensive equipment to replicate their native environment.
  • “What kind of pet will match my lifestyle?” People who travel often or who work long hours may have to give the selection process a little extra thought. Do you know someone who can care for your pet when you’re away? Will your animal companion miss you during your absences? What about unexpected emergencies that require last-minute improvisation? Will your pet be all right during such times?
  • “What kind of pet will meet my companionship needs?” This question may sound selfish on its surface. In reality, though, it’s one of the most important factors to consider. Pet ownership isn’t just a purchase; it’s a relationship between living beings. Both you and your companion animal will be better off if you choose a pet that matches your personality, temperament, and lifestyle, according to Pet MD.

Check Your Resources

Whichever pet you choose will require food, a suitable habitat, and access to veterinary care.
So check your local area for these resources. Remember that vet bills can run into the hundreds or even thousands of dollars, depending on the ailment and the animal. Not all vets are the same. Some focus on treating farm animals, while others work exclusively with cats and dogs. Some are certified to work on birds, others on reptiles and fish. Check with your local clinics as to what types of critters they care for.

What About Food?

Choosing the right diet for your pet is a complex topic, one which is well beyond the scope of this post. Here are some general tips:

  • Price is no guarantee of real-world benefits. Pet care is a huge and lucrative business. Companies design and market their products with this in mind.
  • You might want to go the DIY route. You can find recipes online for wholesome, nutritious pet food. Many of these options cost less to prepare than buying the expensive name-brand food.
  • Some people foods are on the “no way, never” list for pets. These include alcohol, chocolate, avocados, and anything containing caffeine.
  • If in doubt, then ask your vet. Your pet’s health is too important to leave to chance or hearsay.

Welcoming a pet into your home can open the door to some of life’s most enriching experiences. Not to mention that a companion animal can provide the unconditional love and support you need on your recovery journey. So do your homework first, then prepare to have your heart happily stolen by your new best friend.

Jessica Brody created to offer a place for animal lovers to share their favorite pet photos and stories about their furry pals.

Spend The Day With The Family And The Dog

We spend so much time at work, playing on the phone and not enough time spending quality time with our dogs. Spending time with your dog builds a stronger relationship, develops stronger communication, and provides your dog with plenty of mental and physical stimulation. Plus the majority of these activities are free or cheap! You really can’t beat that.  These are not only great ways to spend time with your dog, but also great ways to get your family together.

Scavenger Hunt– This one you can do indoor or out. Use playing cards and hide them/hang them out on the trail or in the house. The person to find the most playing cards wins.

Make it a training exercise:
Have your dog sit for every heart, down for every spade, shake for every spade, and stay for diamonds.
Charity Pet Walk- Get active for a good cause

Make it a training exercise:
Since there are tons of people and possibly dogs this is a great place to practice loose leash walking. Give your dog a treat when he looks at you.
Hike– there is a hike for everyone from a short one to a long one.

Make it a training exercise:
This is a great place to practice recalls. Bring a 10-15 foot long line and every time your dog gets close to the end of the leash say “Come” as you jog backwards.
Bike Trip– Going for a long bike ride is a great way to get out as a family.

Make it a training exercise:
Have your dog sit before crossing any street. If you are riding in a area where there aren’t streets try stopping and asking your dog to hold a sit as people pass.
Sunset– Go out and watch the sunset.

Make it a training exercise:
Ask your dog to hold a down stay or bring a KONG so your dog can practice patiently waiting.
Picnic– Go for a walk to the nearest park and enjoy a picnic park with your family and pup

Make it a training exercise
: Practice having your dog leave food, be sure to bring dog treats and a KONG
Yoga– Go to the park and practice Yoga with your dog.

Make it a training exercise:
You can have your dog hold eye contact, do a down stay, sit stay, or leave it while you hold a pose. If there is more then one person in your yoga party try calling your dog from one person to another.
Take a Trip- Go camping or spend the weekend at a dog friendly pet hotel. This is fun for everyone.

Make it a training exercise
: Staying at a hotel? Practice down stays in the lobby during busy check-in/check-out times. This will be great for practicing with distraction. Going camping- This is a great place to practice rewarding your dog for coming when called. Since there is a lot of fun things for your dog like wildlife, smells and food you can also practice your leave its.

You can also join a fun drop in agility, rally or tricks class with your dog.  

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!