I’ll get right into it so you can get going on the training:
Train first thing IN THE MORNING.
Yes, this is a solution to the problem. Don’t like it? Read on first.
When I was starting out in the dog world I attended a class at the local dog club – in which there were WAY too many students, about 20 or so. By the end of the class, only 6 of us remained and two of us were club members, one the instructor.
It really comes down to one thing: many dog’s humans just aren’t able to put the time in to train. Me included at one time. Most often the reason is we have not set priorities, or we HAVE and dog training is not on the list.
The truth is it happens to ALL OF US. It is “normal” to put off things that we cannot see the results of immediately. We are designed, as humans, to avoid doing things that are difficult. It is an adaptive trait – we are supposed to avoid things that are difficult as a survival method.
Obviously, we don’t have to really worry about serious threats to our survival when training a dog, but the motivation to AVOID things that take a long time and are difficult is still there.
AND, if you have a “difficult” dog or a dog with a behaviour issue it can be even more daunting to even just think about starting.
When DOES it get easier?
It is often easier to get started doing something of importance when there is time pressure on you. You know, like when you cram for exams or try to do a week’s worth of training the night before the class. I did this a LOT.
Time pressure is often a great motivator, but it really won’t do much in the long run to prevent behaviour issues from appearing or cause you to love training your dog. You can’t be that influential on a being who has his own thoughts, interests and drives, yourself included. Changes will take time, just like any habit that you might want to change in yourself. It most often takes weeks or months.
If you REALLY want your dog to be able to do a particular behaviour well, to put it bluntly, you have to make training your dog a priority. It is as simple as that.
Avoiding or procrastinating doing something does not make it easier. It only makes it so that you build up more anticipation and likely stress, around a perfectly simple activity. You are actually making it more difficult for yourself by doing this.
That is why doing the training in the morning can help.
Do a five minute training session with your dog for your first activity when you get up (more or less). You get the work done early, before you go to work. Then it is done and when you get home and are tired and don’t want to do anything but relax, you already have that checked off your to do list.
This in itself will give you a feeling of accomplishment.
It may even give you energy to do more when you are home from work. I know this works for me. I actually get enough energy from thinking about how well I did that morning with training that I want to do more.
You can also see the results of the training quicker because you are actually doing it, and this also helps you want to train more. When your dog starts improving because of something you did, it is a great feeling, and makes it easier and more fun to do more.
It is an amazingly great “vicious” cycle. Train early, get it done, see the results, feel good, want to train more, dog learns more.
Now, if you are not a morning person and simply CAN’T do this, then schedule in a time when you can and do it.
If you feel irritated or annoyed by the suggestion of morning training, you might need to examine your reasons for not wanting to train. I know I used to hate the idea but once I realized that I was actually accomplishing things and my dogs were getting trained faster, I changed my tune.
So, if you can, train in the morning and make it a habit. Even the smallest amount of training counts (1 or 2 minutes). Then don’t worry about not training for the rest of the day. Or do more, if you want. The choice is yours.