Take Advantage of Daily Dog Training Opportunities

Author: Cathy Madson, MA, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA

Published: January 29, 2019

Updated: July 7, 2021

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bull terrier sitting nicely in front of owner during training session

When starting to train your puppy or new dog, there are many small moments in your daily routine where you can practice their basic manners. The reinforcement you use does not always have to be food treats — food is great and easy to use, but think about switching it up every so often. You can use toys and play, or even real-life rewards!

Dog Training Ideas: Sessions in 5 Minutes or Less

  • Before breakfast or dinner, use a small portion of their regular food to practice a training cue. Ask your dog to stay while you put their food bowl down, then release them to eat their meal.

  • Speaking of mealtime, if your dog comes running when they hear you rustling that food bag, say “Come!” as they are running towards you, then reward with praise and a bit of their meal. This is called "capturing" a behavior.boxer sitting at doorway looking outside

  • Any time you are going through a doorway with your dog, ask them to Sit — the reward is the door opening and being released to go through. Your dog will soon learn that sitting at doorways is how they magically make the door open! (This is also a great way to prevent door dashing.)

  • During a game of fetch, have two of the same kind of fetch toy. When they bring the first toy back, ask your dog to Drop It and reward them by throwing the second toy.

  • Any time you’re taking your dog for a car ride, practice your dog’s Stay cue so they learn not to bolt out (or even into) the car door once it opens.

  • On walks, practice the Look at Me cue and reward your dog any time they offer a glance up at your face. This is a great way to be proactive with leash pulling — they can't forge ahead if they're looking up at you!

  • While the humans are eating dinner, practice your dog's Place cue (this could be Go to Bed, Go to Mat, or Go to Crate, whichever you've been working on). Toss treats intermittently to your pup in their designated space to encourage staying there rather than begging underneath the table. Or better yet, give them a yummy stuffed Kong or chew to work on in their area while you eat your meal.

  • While out on a walk, practice Sit when greeting new people. Food treats can help your dog to focus in this scenario, but the real reward is getting attention from their new friend. This helps prevent jumping!

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  • At the dog park (or anywhere for that matter), reward your dog with a treat, petting, praise, or toy play any time they choose to check in with you without being asked. Practice your dog’s Come cue, give them a treat, then release them back to play with their friends – the real reward here is getting more playtime!

    Trainer Tip: Bringing treats to the dog park can be a recipe for being mobbed by dogs and instigating resource guarding scuffles. Consider whether your local dog park is appropriate for bringing treats along. If it's not crowded, make sure treats are in a sealed bag and kept in a chest pocket of your jacket or somewhere else that's secure. Don't give any treats to other dogs without explicit permission from their owner. If the park is too crowded, skip bringing treats and use real-life rewards or toys instead!

  • While watching television, any time a commercial break comes on, practice a training cue with your dog until your show comes back on. Check out this article to "Teach Your Dog Anything in 4 Easy Steps."

There are so many benefits to training, and it doesn't have to be a long, formal session. Get creative and have fun!

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