24/7 Training by Kelly Murrell
Whoa! Wait!!!! What??? ‘I can’t train my dog 24 hours a day!’ Before you get too concerned, 24/7 training doesn’t literally mean what it says. Of course we all sleep… including our dog!
Every minute your dog is awake they are making choices!
But, here’s the thing, every minute your dog is awake they are making choices! So, the notion behind having a 24/7 training philosophy is to encourage you to look at training opportunities that present themselves as and when they happen, organically, day to day. Absolutely set aside some time to actively train and play games with you dog each day. For that you’ll only need to grab 3 minutes here and there, but outside of those times, what is your dog doing? Are they making good choices? Are those good choices being reinforced by you?
Catch your dog doing something right
Your big take away from this week’s blog is catch your dog doing something right and let them know! Reinforce that good choice and that doesn’t necessarily always need to be with food. Verbal feedback is all that is needed sometimes. But if the moment does require something ‘meatier’ than just your voice – perhaps the neighbour’s cat just walked passed the window and your dog didn’t bark at it! – I suggest you pop a few small pots of your dog’s food around the house so that reinforcement is at hand no matter which room you are in!
Rewarding good behaviour
Sometimes owners can fall into the trap of only giving feedback to their dog when they have made an inappropriate choice and they keep quiet when their dog is being good! ‘Ssshhhh, he’s being good, we had better not jinx it!!!!’ Well, if we reinforce that good choice, our dogs are more likely to pick that choice again in future as it was rewarded. You want to forge and strengthen those good choice neural pathways in your dog’s brain so that choice becomes ‘the thing’ your dog simply does.
What about when I’m not at home?
‘How to I reward good choices when I’m not home?’ This is where management comes in. When I leave the house, my dogs have their own dog room which is away from any windows. I leave music on so that it drowns out any outside sounds Currently their favourite station is calm radio via Apple Music by the way!!! I set the environment up for them to succeed.
I’ve been asked; ‘how do I stop my dog barking at the window when I am not in?’ Sometimes training isn’t the answer, management is. The simple solution is to stop the dog from gaining access to the window.
So with a daily mix of catching those opportunities to reinforce your dog for the good choice they will make, careful management of your dog’s environment and 3 minute active training sessions to practice games and skills; you have adopted a 24/7 training lifestyle! Winning!