Little Bits O’ Training

There are lots of ways to work mini-training sessions into your day. These moments add up to increased reliability in the behaviors you’re teaching to your dog, and can help your dog learn to pay even more attention to you throughout the day.

The Setup

Have treats available in places all around your house. Make sure your dog can’t get at them to help himself! (See below for a list of treat ideas.) If your dog has toys lying around the house, gather most of them up and put them away. You can keep a clicker handy by putting one in your pocket, wearing one on a lanyard, or using a retractable badge reel such as those available at office supply stores. A clicker is your best fashion accessory when dog training!

The Practice

Think of the exercises you’re teaching your dog as a way for her to say “Please” for the things she wants to do during the day. Does Fido want to go outside? Then he must do a Sit before being let out. Is Fifi ready for dinner? Then she must do a Wait before being released to eat. Does Buddy want to go greet a favorite friend? How about a Down first? If Sadie is dying to play with her rope toy, how about a little Target practice? Two or three touches to your hand earns her the toy. In these types of situations, you don’t even need to click and treat first: access to the desired item or area reinforces the behavior that came just before. At random times during the day, go someplace where your dog can’t see you, and call her. Big party with yummy treats when she finds you! Going out of sight can be as simple as going into another room, or as challenging as hiding somewhere that will require real searching on the part of your dog.

Another way to get in little training times is to take advantage of natural breaks in the activities you’re doing. For example, do a little clicker training during commercial breaks while watching a show on TV. If you’re reading a book, take three minutes at the end of a chapter to practice some behaviors. Waiting for your food to reheat in the microwave can be a great time to do a few exercises with your dog. Training during little spots like this in your day can quickly add up to lots of extra practice.

The Treats

The following are some ideas for dry treats you can keep around the house so you’re always ready for an impromptu training session:

  • Your dog’s kibble, or some other type of kibble for a flavor variation.
  • Your dog’s kibble, flavored with some kibble “gravy” (available in pet supply stores and feed stores). Make an un-messy treat by letting the gravy dry on the kibble.
  • Any dry treat your dog likes, such as Charlee Bears.
  • Chub-type dog food cut into small chunks and allowed to dry out.
  • Many semisoft treats, such as beef jerky-type sticks, can be cut and allowed to dry out.

 

Don’t forget to treat yourself for all your hard work with your dog!

 

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“The positive reinforcement we get from trainers at Savvy Canines of Arizona is exceptional, always so patient and helpful. Chloe is a work in progress, but she does make life easier by picking up dropped objects. We could not have done this on our own.” —Susan and "Chloe"
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“The Savvy Canines trainers are knowledgeable, consistent, and competent and love dogs. Phyllis provides a flexible schedule, comes to my home, and the cost is reasonable and well worth it. The classes twice a month are great for Molly to meet other people and dogs and to show off what she has learned. Molly and I are very pleased with the training from Savvy Canines.”—Diane and “Molly”
Our trainer has helped us establish a fantastic rapport with our dog! The clicker training has been great. Our dog is attuned to our needs and anticipates my commands for helping close doors on the cabinets and the refrigerator, and thoroughly enjoys adjusting the pedals on my wheelchair! We have been especially pleased with our trainer's willingness to work around our schedule because of my medical problems.—Mr. and Mrs. Larson
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"I am slowly getting back into the world as I recover from my neurological disorder, and this journey toward recovery has been greatly accelerated by training and living with my Service Dog. I spoke with people who had been devastated by their illnesses and had become virtual shut-ins, and I observed how training and living with a Service Dog changed them. Their lives were transformed by getting back into the world; these folks now have the confidence to “fight the good fight.” Then one day I saw that same confidence in myself. I now go just about everywhere with my Service Dog. I want to thank Phyllis Allan and Savvy Canines for being so amazingly kind and patient with me and my dog. I would definitely recommend Savvy Canines of Arizona to anyone who is considering training a Service Dog."—Bruce and “Elwood”
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