Most dog owners don’t want to be dog trainers. When they bring a dog home, it’s often for companionship, and basic foundation training is all they’re interested in. That’s perfectly fine! It’s ok if you don’t want or need a dog that can run an agility course or participate in rally obedience!
Mainly, people are looking for dog training that is easy and doesn’t require a lot of effort. And dog trainers are looking for dog owners to continue training new behaviors and practicing learned behaviors. So how do you make dog training sustainable for everyday dog owners that don’t want to be dog trainers?
The Lazy Way
Lazy dog training. You don’t have to have all the answers or a degree in animal behavior to encourage awesome behaviors from your dog. With some easy tips, dog training can happen everyday.
**Disclaimer** Of course, there is no substitute for finding help from a qualified dog trainer or behaviorist for serious behavior problems. There is also, more advanced work that you’ll have to do to teach complex behaviors and further proofing behaviors. However, these are some simple things you can try at home, starting… today!
Keep Treats around the House
I dump some treats in cute little containers, like pretty candle holders or cute buckets from the dollar store, and place in every room of the house. This way, if I catch my dogs doing something good, I can give them a verbal marker and treat them. Catching good behavior will just encourage them to do that behavior again!
Reward the Lazy Dog
If you ever see your dog lying down while you are cooking dinner or they are chilling while your neighbors mow the lawn, treat them. Just casually treat them on the floor where they are laying down. You just rewarded them for being calm. Easy, right?
Use Anything they Want as a Reward
Does your dog want to go outside to play? Ask for a sit before you open the door. Do they want their food bowl? Ask for a down and then put the bowl down. Do they want to chase a squirrel while your on a walk? They only get to move towards the squirrel if they are by your side and you stop moving if they’re not (this one might be for the advanced lazy dog trainer). The point is, you don’t have to get all prepared for a training session, there are opportunities all the time!
Don’t Train for Hours Everyday
That is seriously not sustainable and would lead to burn out! Training a behavior or task 1 to 2 times a week for a short amount of time (3-5 minutes, 15 minutes tops if you’re working on a something like loose leash walking) is really all you need. According to a study, dogs that were trained every day for a long period of time had the same ability to complete recalls as dogs that were trained 1-2 times a week for a shorter duration. Scientific proof that lazy is the way to go.
Play with your Dog
Play has a lot of benefits for your dog. First, you’re building a better relationship with your dog and that means they’ll be more inclined to be with you because you’re fun! Next, they actually remember their training better if you play afterward a training session. Retaining information means you won’t have to go over that behavior again and again and again.
Ignore your Dog
What’s more lazy than ignoring your dog? Only ignore your dog when they’re doing a behavior that is attention seeking (and annoying). Do they jump on you when you come home? Ignore them until they’ve calmed down and four feet are on the floor (bonus points for a sit). Then you can go in for some pets. Does anyone’s dog paw at you for pets or food? Ignore them! Reward them for behavior you do want to see!
Surf the Internet
Not everyone wants to learn all there is to know about dog training and that’s ok! But, find an article that interests you and read it while your family is watching TV or while you eat breakfast. Don’t worry about reading a book (unless you want to, you overachiever!), but while you’re relaxing, read an article or watch a video about dog training. I post a wide range of articles on my Facebook page, so you don’t even have to look very far!
Be a Couch Potato
Seriously, grab some treats and sit on your couch. Turn a podcast or some music on. You could even do this on commercial breaks. Next, wait for some eye contact from your pup. Mark and treat. Or stick your palm out and if they nose your hand, mark and treat. You’re teaching your dog focus and nose-to-hand targeting. Look at you go! What else can you teach from your couch?
Play YouTube Videos
Give your dog a bone, a filled Kong, or even their dinner and put a YouTube video on that has different sounds. Start the volume low and then on your next feeding, bump up the volume a bit. You could use sounds that scare your dog or make them feel anxious, like fireworks, thunder, cars honking, sirens, etc. You are lazily teaching them those sounds are not that big of deal and they get something yummy when they do hear them!
Now get off your lazy butt…
I’m just kidding! Dog parents, I want to set you up for success! People don’t have hours to dedicate to training, even dog trainers don’t have hours to set aside for training our own dogs. Dog training doesn’t have to be overwhelming for the companion dog owners. Trying these lazy tips will help keep you, the dog parent, engaged and consistent with training, and your dog will thank you, too!
And let’s be honest, these might be lazy tips, but really, I’m suggesting you work smarter, not harder. You don’t have to bend over backwards to fit training your dog into your life. Make a few small adjustments and you’ll find success. It’s better than not training at all, right?!
Do you have any lazy dog training tips?