Daily Training Routines
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  • I'm curious to hear how people incorporate dog training into their daily routines. I'm mostly interested for the perspective if you are trying to train multiple new skills or behaviors for general obedience or even competitive events, or even training multiple dogs (which I might crazily be doing next year if I get a new puppy :rolleyes:).

    Do you break things up into multiple short sessions or train different behaviors right after the other with a short break/distraction in-between?

    Maybe I'm overcomplicating things but it seems difficult to train multiple things in one evening when you have limited amount of time to devote to it. I've been trying to train a number of things around duration, which requires a bit more time to do inherently, so maybe that is my issue at the moment. I'd love to hear how other people handle this in general.

    Thanks!
    Clay

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  • Usually, I attend a once a week class where we will introduce several new behaviors over the course of the hour. During the week, I stick to short training sessions focusing on one of the behaviors. I am really lucky to have a good selection of courses in my area. The nice thing about classes are they provide some structure to what skills we are working on and they give an opporutnity to work with increased distractions.

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  • I've only trained once, so take my advice with a grain of salt, I guess.

    When Paco was a very young pup, I would spend 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening working first on just one command ("sit"). During the day, if he were following me around or looking bored, I'd try the command and give him a treat if he complied.

    Once he had that down, I'd change the 10 minute sessions to something new, ("come"). I'd still do "sit" during the day in the house. Once he had the new command down, I'd try doing both in the 10-minute sessions, to make sure he knew the difference.

    When he knew the difference, "sit" and "come" became everyday household commands, often for no other reason just to remind him, have an excuse to give him a treat, and maybe, just maybe to distract him from chewing something. I moved on to new commands during the 10-minute sessions, and made sure to review all the commands he had learned once he had finished learning a new one.

    Hope that helps!

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  • Clay, I think it depends on the complexity of the new behaviors. If I am doing basic stuff with a puppy, I would do two or three simple behaviors in no more than 5-10 minute sessions. If I am doing more complicated stuff with an older dog, I would probaby only work one behavior in a 10-15 minute session. And I might try to do at least two different sessions (AM/PM or afternoon, night)…but you could do different behaviors. It also depends on the learning style of the dog. Shorter sessions and more varied behaviors for a dog that tends to get bored or frustrated. You can do longer more focused with a dog that can tolerate it.

    I agree with Lisa. I find that it *I do much better with my training if I am involved in a class. It gives me one on one time with the dog, and makes me commit to working on specific behaviors.

    As far as working training into everyday life, I work leave-it a lot at random times. I will grab a toy that belongs to the kids, and just work leave-its with the younger dogs. Right now, that is the main behavior we work on, 'cause I just don't have time for anything else :(

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  • I have to admit being the "not so into classes" type. I have taken dogs to classes only when preparing for obedience work.

    Training I keep to about 5 to 10 mins TOPS, depending on age. It depends on what I am teaching. If something complicated, I break up the steps and work til each step is mastered to do the next step. I do a quick one or 2 repeats a couple of times a day to reinforce. I use meals and treat times for reinforcing.

    I must admit with my Rotties and chows, they never got food without doing a command. Not so strict with the basenji.

    I just posted this link but will do it again.
    http://www.clickerlessons.com/index.htm

    You can write Mary if you have questions (tell her I sent you). She is utterly clear. I still laugh because once she was fussing about how people have command words, then their REAL command words. I am noticing I have slipped on "come." I always say "come" and then go get the dog… but I have caught myself saying to Cara "DON'T MAKE ME COME GET YOU!" and it has, indeed become the real command. So I have to change that.

    Like Andrea, "leave it" is one of my top. I also teach "look at me." Again, not quite so critical with a small dog you can hoist out of trouble if need be... but with my Rotties and Chows, they learned to lock their eyes on me, ignore EVERYTHING (usually a rude dog) else and let me handle things. More than once at shows or in public it helped prevent them engaging. I used it instead of just "leave it" because I wanted a specific response... not just stop but to actually put their focus on ME.

    I like adding tricks into regular obedience. Changes things up, is often fun.

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  • We are doing the KC good citizenship with Malaika and have completed the Puppy foundation, she has also completed the Bronze course but was unable to do the assessment due to coming into season. We like the classes because as well as the very valuable socialisation the training is structured and is broken down into chunks of learning.
    We tend to practice the things we have learned in class during the week in 10 min training sessions but the bulk of the work is done in day to day life, ie we practice the stays at the gate everytime we leave the garden, we always try to go first, she also has to stay before leaving the car. Heel work is of course done on every walk and she has to sit or high five for treats. Leave it usualy comes up several times a day :D

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  • I train for larger chuncks of time than 10 minutes, but there are lots of breaks and play in our session. Zest has great retrieving skills and loves to fetch her fuzzy toys, so we do that after doing a sequence. I do a lot of agility training and I will either work on a skill or work on a sequence. I usually stop and change the drill once i get a really good performance. And I'll toss the toy as a reward and when she brings the toy back to me she gets food.

    We also often train during her dinner and i do that for as long as the food holds out. (seriously) and she's working the entire time, but we do work on different behaviors.

    If you really want to get good at training your dog, keep a training log. (I do that in fits and starts, if I were better at it, i'd be a better trainer.)

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  • @agilebasenji:

    I train for larger chuncks of time than 10 minutes, but there are lots of breaks and play in our session. Zest has great retrieving skills and loves to fetch her fuzzy toys, so we do that after doing a sequence. I do a lot of agility training and I will either work on a skill or work on a sequence. I usually stop and change the drill once i get a really good performance. And I'll toss the toy as a reward and when she brings the toy back to me she gets food.

    We also often train during her dinner and i do that for as long as the food holds out. (seriously) and she's working the entire time, but we do work on different behaviors.

    If you really want to get good at training your dog, keep a training log. (I do that in fits and starts, if I were better at it, i'd be a better trainer.)

    This is true, and I would hazard a guess most, if not all, trainers at zoos do just that. I know that when I was working on some complicated behaviors with the gorillas, the training log really helped keep things in perspective, and gave a good picture of the development of the behavior.

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  • I should also add that as I train Zest she is happy and engaged. so, we continue. if your dog is unhappy and not having fun, you're doing something wrong or pushed too long. ;-) stop before you get to that point next time.

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  • And Make sure you always end on a good note. you want them to enjoy things. If its not fun they wont want to do anything anymore and they wont want to learn. If you push them to much, then you can ruin their training. just remember go until you make them end on a positive note! :)

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  • Thanks, everyone for your input. I think I am going to start a journal, it will probably keep me more consistent and methodical as I figure out how to train things. I hope to start classes again in late October. Zoni came in season twice this year so that derailed our ability to even consider two of the class sessions this year (I can't wait till she finishes conformation :rolleyes:). The classes available to me are sort-of okay. I'm not a particular fan of the training styles taught maybe because I'm the only weirdo in the classes with the clicker. But I've kind of learned to be comfortable doing my own thing. Plus I feel like I need to be several steps ahead of classes since my dog gets so easily distracted during the classes relative to some of the other ones.

    I can train Zoni for a pretty decent amount of time in an evening, even an hour or so if I wanted to. If I notice she is getting bored, I usually do one trick she knows really well a few times and stop for the evening. One issue I have is she seems to default to show training behaviors which I have focused a lot on in the past and still refresh from time to time. So, I think I definitely need to mix it up more on a daily basis to avoid that from happening with other behaviors. I probably focus too much on trying to get one behavior "the best it can be" in a session and rather should try to improve multiple behaviors to a lesser degree incrementally so that I can progress them all over a period of time. :p

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  • @Nemo:

    Thanks, everyone for your input. I think I am going to start a journal, it will probably keep me more consistent and methodical as I figure out how to train things. I hope to start classes again in late October. Zoni came in season twice this year so that derailed our ability to even consider two of the class sessions this year (I can't wait till she finishes conformation :rolleyes:). The classes available to me are sort-of okay. I'm not a particular fan of the training styles taught maybe because I'm the only weirdo in the classes with the clicker. But I've kind of learned to be comfortable doing my own thing. Plus I feel like I need to be several steps ahead of classes since my dog gets so easily distracted during the classes relative to some of the other ones.

    I can train Zoni for a pretty decent amount of time in an evening, even an hour or so if I wanted to. If I notice she is getting bored, I usually do one trick she knows really well a few times and stop for the evening. One issue I have is she seems to default to show training behaviors which I have focused a lot on in the past and still refresh from time to time. So, I think I definitely need to mix it up more on a daily basis to avoid that from happening with other behaviors. I probably focus too much on trying to get one behavior "the best it can be" in a session and rather should try to improve multiple behaviors to a lesser degree incrementally so that I can progress them all over a period of time. :p

    Yes, Clay…try to think of it as "shaping" behaviors, instead of waiting for the behavior to be perfect. A training plan/journal will help you set criteria steps...so you can train one step, then up the criteriea. The journal will help you identify your progress, and not get frustrated :)

    When she defaults to show behaviors, use the cue "try again"...if she senses that you are getting frustrated, she will revert even MORE to the things that she has been rewarded for in the past, instead of trying something new :)

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  • i actually have two training journals that i sometimes use. i have one for agility and one is started when we took our dance class. i had to do one for the dance class b/c we were doing so many new commands i lost track of what word i was using. susan garrett recommends keeping track of rewarded behaviors, unrewarded behaviors (say you asked for a sit and the dog did not) and total. then you can get you success %.

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