Don’t tell me you don’t have time to teach your dog how to behave! If you have five minutes to spare, you have time to help your dog learn DogLife Skills (aka “training” which is such a yesterday word).

I am a big fan of short, fun sessions with lots of repetitions and lots of rewards; it leaves everyone feeling great and wanting more! Is there any better way to get your dog to love doing things for you?
Weave them into your day whenever you have a few minutes (while microwaving something, waiting for a phone call, commercial breaks, etc.).

Still unsure? Here’s a short list to get you thinking:

WHAT YOU CAN DO IN FIVE MINUTES

• Practice sits, downs, waits, comes, or just about any other behavior

• Conduct a rapid-fire workout: randomly call out instructions (sit, come, etc.) in a playful excited tone, and as soon as your dog does it, call out another. Rain treats down after three in a row, then do another rapid sequence. See how many in a row he can follow. If he gets lost, laugh and start again!

• Five one-minute stays, two two-minute stays, or one five-minute stay

• Socialize by introducing one new object, sound or being (human or otherwise) to your dog or pup in the proper way (i.e. let him sniff/investigate; praise forward movement, not retreats; if he’s freaked out move him away till he calms; stay by him in a relaxed stance to comfort and calm).

• Pick up and put down your dog’s leash over and over so you can get him to calm down before a walk (and by the way, it would really help if you stop saying “Want to go for a WALK?? HUH??” which is what’s jacking him up in the first place!).

• Let your dog munch on some of his dinner, held in your hand, while you gently handle ears, touch feet, etc. When food is gone stop touching.

• Sprinkle treats around your dog when he is eating at his food bowl, and when he is chewing a bone or other chewie. Do it as you walk by: call him name cheerfully, sprinkle, keep walking. Hear a growl? Don’t sprinkle — walk away, wait a minute, walk back BUT stay farther away this time. No growl? Go ahead and sprinkle treats. That’s the distance to work for now. 

• Give your dog one more potty opportunity before bedtime.

• Do a Follow Me jog through your house. Wave a treat at your dog, say LET’S GO and take off! When your dog catches up to you, say GOOD and drop a treat. As he grabs it, take off again, saying LET’S GO etc. Great walking practice AND great exercise!

• Charge up a marker word (eg GOOD/YES/YEP/YAY) to start communicating simply and efficiently. (How? EASY: Say word, treat; say word, treat; say word, treat; repeat, repeat!)

• See, mark vocally (GOOD/YES/YEP/YAY) and reward as many behaviors as you can (including “doing nothing” — aka being good).

• When frustration bubbles up, give yourself a time out so you can cool off and not bring anger into the teaching process.

• Let your dog calm down and try again.

• Let yourself calm down and try again.

There’s lots lots lots more you can do — What can you add to this list?

And hey — if you can do all these things and more in five minutes, think of what you could accomplish in 10 minutes!!

Don’t have time to teach, huh? Think again! You’re done reading, now get going. Time’s a-wasting!

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