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How often to train your dog

Posted in 'training' on March 20, 2015, 10:00 am


Most people realise that they should spend some training their dog in a regular basis, but how often is often enough, or too often? And how long should each training session be?

As a general rule, more time you put into your dog's training, the better your dog will be. At the same time, you don't want to train so much that your dog gets sick of training with you. As a general guideline, you should spend 5 minutes per day training your dog. No matter what breed your dog is, what age, or what motivation level, you usually can't go wrong with 5 minutes of training per day.

Spending a few minutes per day consistently is better than spending an hour once per month. Try to make it a habit. 

A good way to make training a habit, is to use a technique called "habit stacking". This is where you pick a habit you do every day anyway, and stack the new habit on top of the existing habit. The existing habit could be having a shower, drinking coffee, making dinner, etc. Make a rule for yourself that "every time I do x, I also do y". Your new habit could be "every time I wait for the kettle to boil, I do some training with my dog".

You can work on a different skill per day, such as recalls, or sitting and staying, or self control. Or you can do a bit of everything every day - you can warm up with some self control, then work on sitting and staying, and end the session with recalls. Both methods will work just fine.

If your dog is easily motivated and high energy, you can do more than one session per day. I don't recommend doing training sessions longer than 5 minutes, because you want to leave your dog wanting more when you end a session, but you can do 2-3 of these sessions per day.

Remember to use lots of rewards. The more you reward, the quicker your dog will learn, and the more fun he will think it is to train with you. When teaching something new, you should usually reward once every 1-2 seconds. A more experienced dog can go longer between rewards, but don't try to push your dog too fast too soon.

Be sure to end the training session before your dog starts showing signs of boredom, such as looking around, sniffing, moving slower, etc. And if you are feeling frustrated one day, it's ok to skip the training. Training is meant to be fun for you and your dog, so if you are having a bad day, give your dog a hug instead.



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