How Often Should I Train My Dog?

Positive dog training can happen any time, all the time. You don’t need to get your dog ready in special training equipment. Your pet is usually ready whenever you are. It is recommended that you train in several 5 to 15-minute sessions, for a total of 30 to 45 minutes per day.
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This is easier than it sounds. Every time you interact with your dog, you have a great opportunity to train him. By incorporating your practice sessions into your dog’s daily routine, he learns that responding to your behaviour cues earns him rewards, it’s not just something he does when you have a leash in your hand.
Practice the “Wait” exercise a few times whenever he goes outside or comes back in. Do some “Stay” practice during walks. Reinforce “No Jumping” when you come home from work. Before you know it, you will have easily exceeded your three to six sessions per day.
In any single training session, pick one or two exercises to concentrate on. Start with something that he is good at to get him tuned in to you. There’s nothing like success and rewards to get him excited about training. Then introduce something new or more challenging. At first, do enough repetitions so that he has an opportunity to figure out what you are asking him to do.
If he doesn’t seem to be getting it, you may need to do more shaping, by breaking the behaviour down into smaller pieces and rewarding him more often for small bits of the desired goal behaviour. For instance, if he won’t lie down, you may need to click and reward him at first just for looking toward the floor as you move your lure toward the ground.
Keep marking and rewarding as he goes lower and lower, until he is all the way down. If he quits playing the game with you, go back to the point where he was doing well and proceed more slowly, giving more clicks and rewards for smaller pieces of the goal behaviour. If you sense that either or both of you are getting frustrated, it’s time for a break. End the training session on a positive note by giving him a treat or playing his favourite game.
Once he gets the hang of it, you can make the future practice sessions for that particular behaviour shorter to prevent him from getting bored. How long you train a particular behaviour will depend on your dog’s personality and level of training. Some dogs will quit after three or four repetitions while other dogs have longer endurance.
Get to know your dog. If he gets bored after five reps, stop at three, while he is still fresh and enthusiastic. As long as you keep the training interesting for him, you will be able to gradually build up his stamina and attention span. Some dogs will happily repeat a behaviour dozens of times because they are looking forward to earning the reward that goes with it. If you encourage this attitude, just performing the behaviour itself can become the reward, because it has been so consistently associated with fun and play and other good stuff. When your dog understands and performs the behaviour on cue reliably in different  environments, then you no longer have to practice that behaviour as often.

Dog Owner Questions

Jasmine Kleine Written by:

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