10 Busy Schedule Dog Training Hacks

January 8, 2024
The words at the top of the image reads 10 Busy Schedule Dog Training Hacks. Image shows a clock with 8 different pieces of a person's day in a circle around it. They go to work, get coffee, walk their dog etc. Next to that is a cartoon image of a man training his dog to high five. The Wise Mind Canine Logo is on the image.

When you have a busy schedule it can be difficult to make time to train your dog. With these hacks, I’m going to help you find the time you need without stressing you out.

Busy Schedule Dog Training Hacks were born from the most frequent question people ask me. How do I fit training into my busy schedule? So I thought many of you were likely wondering too. As a business owner, disabled person, and juggler of the needs of 3 dogs, I hear you loud and clear. Sometimes it’s just plain hard to make training fit. When this happens, you deserve realistic solutions. Not shame or guilt. Nor being told to just make it happen. Just solutions for a real and legitimate problem.

Before we get to your 10 Busy Schedule Dog Training Hacks, I need to set a few things straight. First, if you’re like a lot of my clients, you think of training as one big time block where you work on everything all at once. When in reality, dogs learn better during shorter sessions. THAT is GREAT news for you because even the busiest among us can find minutes at a time versus 30 minutes all at once. Second, EVERY correct repetition counts as progress toward your goals. That means training can literally look like 5-10 seconds of your time, just rewarding your dog for the right behavior. Third, you are allowed to take breaks and have days where you don’t train. Missing days doesn’t ruin everything. You are not failing. Learning doesn’t just get erased. Now, let’s dive in!

Please note that I am an Amazon Affiliate and there are affiliate links throughout this blog. I receive a small commission when you purchase through those links. Funds from the affiliate program fund training scholarships for people with disabilities at Wise Mind Canine. 

Hack 1: Success Stations

This hack is often the foundation of all the others. Getting treats together can be a big barrier for a lot of people. The easiest way to ensure that you have treats available whenever you get the urge to train is to keep them throughout your home. Just be mindful of this hack in situations where dogs guard resources in a problematic way. All you need to do is select jars that you’re OK with displaying in your home and fill them with shelf stable options. That way you can prepare treats when you DO have time, and they’re already ready to go for when you don’t.

Hack 2: A Minute to Win It An image of a timer shows 60 seconds remaining next to a silhouette of a person training a dog.

Do any of you remember the game show Minute to Win It? If you don’t, it was basically people scrambling to complete silly tasks with only a minute on the clock. If they completed them, they won cash prizes. Now I’d like you to play A Minute to Win It dog training style. All you need is your dog, any materials for your training exercise, treats and a timer. If  making it more “game show” like is part of the fun and motivation for you, you can get a fun visual timer like this one. Set it for a minute and get as much done as you can! When the timer is over, you’re done! You can play a minute to win it during any micro bits of free time you have in a day. Feel free to use this hack up to 3-5 times in a row if you’re having fun or have the time to spare.

Hack 3: The Routine Remix

This hack isn’t about finding MORE time for your dog, it’s about using that time DIFFERENTLY. First, write down the ways you already actively spend time with your dog during a given week. Often you’re already doing most of the following: Walks, playtime, providing meals, and yard time. Basically, any time you spend with your dog is an opportunity. An opportunity to add a little bit of training within it OR repurpose that time for training.

For example, can you use 10 pieces of your dog’s meal to work on an assignment before you put the bowl down? What about spending a third of your walk time on training exercises, either before you leave or out in the world? About to go spend time playing fetch or tug with your dog? Great, between tosses or tugs, throw in a repetition or two of something you’re working on like “sit” or a pattern game.  The time spent actually walking or playing might be shorter, but you have gotten your training done too.

Hack 4: Perfect Pairings A cartoon woman is sitting on the floor working with her dog while coffee dispenses on the kitchen counter next to a jar of dog treats.

Busy schedules lead to plenty of things getting lost in the shuffle. It’s easy to forget about dog training when your brain and body are moving at a mile a minute constantly! That’s where the perfect pairings hack comes in to save the day. Think about the everyday things you do. Things like brushing your teeth, making coffee, packing your lunch etc. This hack is simple. Choose a few things you have to do everyday. Place treats near the location where you do those things to serve as a visual reminder that you want to train. Train for a few minutes, either while you’re doing that thing, or just before. This might look like someone training their dog while they brush their teeth or training with the treats they left next to the coffee maker.

This hack is a great way to create a training habit, simply by attaching it to habits that are already in place! Not to mention that training your dog while completing other tasks is a great way to teach your dog that they can listen to you, no matter what you’re doing in the moment.

Hack 5: The Binge Watch/ The Commercial Break/The ONE More Chapter

Sometimes we all need creative prompts or reminders to train our dogs. In this hack, you’re building small bursts of training into your leisure time with the added benefit of rewarding yourself right after. Whether you love to binge watch shows commercial free, still watch cable or services with commercials, or love to forgo TV in the favor of a good book, this hack works for you. All you need to do is keep your dog and treats handy while you’re reading or watching TV. Then, whenever you end an episode of the show you’re binge watching, encounter a commercial or finish a book chapter you can do a short 1-2 minute training session before continuing to enjoy yourself! It’s amazing how much you can get done with this small change.

Hack 7: The Downward Dog A cartoon of a woman doing yoga outdoors with her dog.

Alright, so maybe you don’t do yoga, but if you spend time in your day working out at home you can also use it to train your dog! In this hack, you bring your dog and treats into the workout room with you. You can get in a few training repetitions during your rests between exercises or work on training with your dog while you’re doing your exercises.  Like the kitchen hack, this solves a common dog training issue where dogs struggle to respond to cues like “sit” or “down” when their person is in a different body position. I often use this hack while on my indoor recumbent bike or as I work on strengthening exercises from physical therapy.

Hack 6: Cook’N’Train

Do you cook or prepare food? Most of us do and it’s the perfect time to train your dog! You know all of those little waiting steps in cooking? THAT is your moment to train your dog. Bonus? If you were already preparing or working with dog safe food options, your treats are already made for you. When you integrate dog training into your cooking/kitchen routine the dogs also learn the appropriate ways to get access to the food they often drool over as you cook. In the end, that means less stress for you and dogs during your daily cooking routines. This is a particularly great place to practice settle on a mat and taking turns in multi dog households.

Hack 8: Lateral LearningA woman lies on a couch with a golden retriever nearby.

Sometimes you are TIRED from that busy schedule. In that moment the LAST thing you want to do is get up and train your dog. Well, I’m here to tell you that training your dog while you lay on the couch or in your bed still counts. Just keep a stash of treats near these locations for easy access. This is also a great hack for those of us with chronic illness to contend with. Your body can rest, while you still help your dog learn new things.

Hack 9: Treat Yourself

You’re being asked to reward your dog for their hard work in order to motivate them. But, did you know you can do the same thing for yourself? You deserve a reward to motivate you too. For this hack, all you have to do is identify rewards that would motivate you to use these other hacks to build training into your day. These are going to be really individual. For years mine was iced coffee, I needed that immediate and tangible reward. Now I might decide how many dog training sessions equal a new book or board game. Yes, dog trainers reward themselves too.

Hack 10: Decision Fatigue Busting

Decision fatigue is REAL when you live a busy life. If your major barrier is choosing what to train, then it’s time to take some of the burden off of you.  For that I have two solutions based on your learning preferences:

  1. I really need to only work on one thing at a time. Switching behaviors is hard for me.
    1. That’s OK! Make a priorities list. If you can’t make one or don’t know where to start, you can call in a professional to help you do just that.
  2. I can make progress on multiple different areas at a time. I get bored with repetition.
    1. To help, I want you to take the behaviors you’re working on with your dog and either write them on a slips of paper or popsicle sticks. Stick these in a jar and pull one out when it’s time to train. That’s the behavior you work on in that moment. In order to make sure you cover everything, you can set aside the things you have worked on until your jar is empty. Then throw them all back into the jar.

 

There you have it. 10 Busy Schedule Dog Training Hacks. Let me know your favorites in the comments! If you’d like a trainer with compassion for your busy schedule you can schedule a free assessment by clicking HERE.

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *