Are you wondering when the best time to train your dog is? If so, this guide should help you out.
While patience and persistence are the fundamental building blocks of successful dog training, it’s also true that the ‘timing’ can play an important role, too.
This can include everything from the time of day you train, the duration of your training sessions, where you train, and more.
Additionally, we’d like to give you some useful tips that we’ve learned over the years which can make your dog training sessions more efficient, effective, and fun for the both of you!
Keep Training Fun
First of all, it’s important for the training sessions you have with your dog to be enjoyable for the both of you. For best results, training simply must be a fun, enjoyable, and playful experience for everyone involved.
This prevents frustration setting in, which only makes things worse.
As soon as training becomes a chore, your results will quickly start to go downhill. So try to approach your sessions with a positive attitude and only begin a session when you’re in a good mood. If you’re feeling stressed or tired, then you can’t expect your dog to feel any differently about it, either – and this will limit the learning process.
It’s usually best to start training in a quiet environment whenever you’re trying to teach your dog something new. Anything that distracts you or your dog can make the entire process take longer, and also reduce your success rate.
However, you can increase the distractions over time (in a controlled way) so your dog gets used to following your commands despite how many distractions may appear. In fact, this is a necessity for certain types of obedience training (such as recall).
But until you and your dog have mastered the new behavior in a distraction-free environment, attempting more challenging scenarios should be out of the question.
Start With Short Sessions
It’s usually best to keep all of your training sessions short, and only train when you and your dog are both alert. Remember: You shouldn’t bother issuing any commands that you aren’t alert enough to enforce.
For example: If you tell your dog to “sit”, you need to enforce the command and see it through, instead of giving up early or trying teaching them another command instead. Otherwise, you’re likely to confuse or overwhelm your dog, and they will quickly become unsure of what you want them to do.
What’s more, virtually every dog you’ll ever meet will undoubtedly have a shorter attention span than its owner, so you need to keep this in mind at all times.
A good starting point is to train your dog for around 15 minutes each session and do this twice a day.
Overall, this means just 30 minutes of daily training, but you’ll be surprised by the progress you can make in such a short time when you’re both focused on the task at hand.
It’s a smart idea to end each training session on a positive note. You could finish with some play time or a game, or by reinforcing a command that your dog already performs successfully.
This makes the overall experience positive for both you and your dog, and it’ll leave you both looking forward to future sessions with happy anticipation.
Timing Food Rewards
Food treats make are great rewards for your dog, but you should avoid using particularly tasty ones too often.
Tasty treats can easily become a distraction, and will ultimately cause your dog to concentrate on the treat rather than on the training – especially if the treat makes your dog very excited.
In fact, some dogs may even respond better by using a squeaky toy as a reward, instead of food. If your dog is easily distracted by the treat alone, then it’s best to scale down the overall appeal of the treat, so you can maintain their attention better.
Ultimately, your positive praise will eventually be all your dog needs to feel rewarded once you’re well bonded with each other.
So When’s The Best Time To Train?
Rather than giving you a specific time in the day to train your dog, it’s better to keep this principle in mind:
It’s best to train your dog when they’re hungry.
This is because your dog will be mentally alert, and they should also respond better to food rewards when they’re hungry, too.
If you give your dog two meals a day, this will make time for two 15 minute training sessions a day just before they receive their main meals, which is perfect.
Reward With Praise
When your dog is getting to grips with a new training command you’re working on, it can be a good idea to reduce the number of food treats they receive, but always give verbal praise so they know they’re on the right track.
With some time, your dog will soon be more than happy to just receive the verbal praise. What’s more, this also means the occasional reward of a tasty food treat will become even more powerful.
Above all, you don’t want to ‘desensitize’ the prospect of a food treat in your dog’s mind, so once the command has been learned, intermittent rewarding is best.
When Should You Train Outside?
Ultimately, you want your dog to be able to follow your commands in all situations, whether indoors or outdoors. But when should you make the leap to outdoor training?
A general rule of thumb is when your dog will obey your commands in your home (where it’s quiet and relatively distraction-free), you’ll be ready to move to a quiet outdoor area and repeat the training sessions in this new environment.
When your dog is obedient indoors and in quiet outdoor locations, it then makes sense to move on to slightly busier places and see how your dog responds to the new distractions.
Overall, the key is to make gradual progress over time.