You know you should do it … and yet, here you are, wondering WHEN?!? How to fit training your dog into your already busy schedule? After all, signing up for that dog training class wasn’t cheap and you really need your dog to listen better. Before I share my 3 personal strategies with you for how I fit training my dogs into my own busy schedule, let me take some weight off your shoulders: Training your dog doesn’t need to be complicated or even take much of your time. Even if you train for only 10-15 treats ( or 1-2 minutes) at a time, doing so consistently will get you results!
Yet, some action is needed on your part. Creating a new habit is really not that easy, and common advice offers little help. “Everyone has 5 minutes a day”. “If you really want it, you’ll do it”. “It’s just a matter of motivation”. Let’s be real: has this advice EVER worked for you? Has it ever made you go to the gym more often? Read more books? Train your dog more often? I’m willing to bet that it hasn’t, and that is why I want to share these 3 simple but effective strategies with you today. They actually help you stick to your plans and not let you waste all that money you’re investing in puppy training classes and courses.
STRATEGY #1 Schedule it (in your calendar)
Ever heard million-dollar life coaches preach that “what isn’t in your calendar doesn’t get done”? I’m always amazed at how easily I forget to do the things I love, like training my dogs, if I don’t schedule them in advance. If this resonates with you as well I suggest to plan now when you want to train your dog this week, and actually write it in your calendar. By the way, you are more likely to follow through if you add the exact time of day for your training session. Not regularly looking at your calendar? Go digital, and set a reminder on your phone.
Action item: Take out your calendar (or phone) and schedule 3 training sessions (day + time) within the next 7 days. At the end of your last scheduled training session: rinse & repeat.
STRATEGY #2 Use a visual reminder.
Any visual reminder will do, but I prefer using one that helps me jump-start my training session: a container with dog treats, placed in a spot where I can’t miss it even if I tried. What I usually do is prepare the container when I’m already in the dog food zone, setting aside 20 treats or even kibble while I prepare my dog’s meal. While she is munching on her breakfast, I’ll bring the container to the living room, where it will remind me later of the task at hand.
I love this strategy for an entirely different reason as well. One of my favourite ways of training my dog is by rewarding good choices throughout the day. Having treats stored in at least one if not many multiple places around the house makes this so much easier.
Action Item: Find a container for storing treats. Next time you prepare your dog’s meal, add 10-20 treats and put it somewhere easy to see for you, but out of reach for your dog. If you use a clicker, keep it right with the treats and you’re ready to train anytime!
STRATEGY #3 Use your existing habits.
One of my favourite ways of keeping my training sessions on track is inspired by B. J. Fogg, habit expert and creator of Tiny HabitsⓇ. He suggests picking an action that you do every day (e.g. brushing your teeth), and to let this be your reminder for practicing your new habit (e.g doing push-ups). In other words and to stay with this example, every night right after you brush your teeth, you’d do, let’s say, 2 push-ups (okay, don’t judge me here: 2 push-ups sound like a lot to me!). I call this “Espresso Training”. Why? Well, I love my daily afternoon latte, and while my Moka pot is making the espresso magic happen on the stove, I sweeten the wait by training my dog. And, if you aren’t a calendar person this strategy might give you a bit more flexibility and still not let you forget about training your dog.
Action item: Find an action you do every day and that could serve as a prompt to train your dog. Write it down and put the note on your fridge (“After [add action], I will train [add your dog’s name]”).
Pick any of these strategies or combine them all!
There you have it, 3 simple strategies that you can use either alone or combined. Plan your Espresso Training session for when you make coffee, with the treats you had already prepped in your container when you made your dog’s dinner the night before. If that’s not enough, let your phone remind you.
If you found this helpful, Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know which strategy worked best for you - I read all my emails and always love to hear from you (extra points if you attach a picture of your dog ;))!