Welcome to the #AtoZChallenge covering practical dog training tips for busy people. I'm not a dog trainer, so I won't be sharing any secret techniques for getting your dog to stop pulling on that leash.
However, I am a dog mom of two enthusiastic and loving Labradoodles. I've never had dogs before Bernie and Lizzie, and my significant other Matthew last had a dog when he was in middle school, so we've spent the last two years figuring out how to make time or find opportunities to train our pups.
In April, I'll be sharing the little a-ha moments I've had as I've worked with Bernie and Lizzie.
Before I begin, though, I do want to be transparent about some assumptions I have about you.
I’m assuming that you want to train your dog.
Sounds odd, I'm sure, but as a newish dog mom, I've noticed that dog people are a wee touched. Now that's cool with me most of the time because I'm a quirky person myself. However, the more I interact with different dog people, the more I realize that while some people say they want a well-behaved pup, the reality is that they really don’t care.
And they may have good reason for not caring. If their dog is their companion who goes on neighborhood walks, hangs out in the backyard, and snuggles up in bed with them, their behavioral expectations for their dog will be different than the person who wants to take their dog with them to as many places as possible.
I'm assuming that if you've taken on the responsibility of a dog, then you've done the research on the cost of taking care of your companion pet.
Some of my ideas require money.
If training wasn't something you budgeted or you under-budgeted, then when holidays and birthdays come around, you may want to consider asking for gift cards for your favorite dog service.
Scour the internet for free resources as well. I found a free puppy socialization class advertised on Facebook after Lizzie was too old to attend. Missed opportunities always make me twitch a little. But I still regularly search for opportunities to socialize and train our dogs. I put in the time to see what's out there, so I'm assuming that you're putting in some effort as well.
I'm assuming you've got some training goals in mind.
You don't need fancy goals, but you should have something you're working toward. Maybe you want to go on a walk without your dog pulling you. Maybe you want to have company come over and know that your dogs won't jump on anyone.
Warning here. If you do well with training, you may decide you like it.
Being able to communicate with your dog is a fantastic experience! When I say certain words or follow established procedures, and Bernie and Lizzie respond appropriately, life functions even smoother in the McSquare household. Everyone is happier.
I'm assuming you're not going to balk at every suggestion.
If you've truly thought about your training goals with your dog and you have a picture of where you're going in mind, then you realize that you have to practice training techniques with your dog. Every day.
Notice I did not write that you have to practice *every* training technique every day. But you do need to practice at least one training technique every day if you want to see results. If you makes excuses about being so busy that you have no time for training, then you won't see progress because you're not doing anything.
During the first months with Bernie, I had some days where my expectation was that he would sit nicely before I put his food down. We practiced three times a day, once at each puppy meal. If that was the only training I squeezed in for a day, then so be it.
While my results were not lightning fast, I did achieve them over time. Now Bernie usually watches me from the couch when I prepare meals. I actually have to call him over to let him know breakfast or dinner is ready.
If you’ve thought about how much time, money, and effort you want to put into training your dog, but you need some tips to inspire you to action, you'll find realistic solutions over the next 25 posts.