“Can you meet me at ballet?” I ask my husband. “Mav has class tonight.” The day had started with a rushed morning as I got myself ready for work and my daughter ready for school. After work, I picked my daughter up from school and ran her to her after school activities. In order for Maverick to make it to doggie school on time, we had to meet up at my daughter's ballet school so that I could get home to get my pup.
When I arrived home, I immediately sprang into action. I checked the fridge and realized that I had no treats prepared for my pup. Freshly cooked meat is essential for keeping Maverick’s attention during a distracting dog class. My heart sank. How would I ever have time to cook liver and still get to class? Wait, I'm super mom! If anyone can do this it's me.
I grabbed some liver out of the freezer and threw it into a pan. While that was cooking I ran to change my clothes and call a client back about her pet. After a lengthy phone call, I glanced at the time. No problem I can still make it! I was already dressed. Now all I needed was my shoes. As I stepped into the closet, I felt something wet on my foot. What? The cat threw up in my closet! I smell the liver burning in the pan. The carpet is stained anyway. I could probably just leave it until I come back from class. After a couple of seconds of debate, I stop to clean the mess. I sprint into the kitchen carrying my shoes and socks. With Matrix-like smoothness I flip the liver over in the pan and take a minute to put on my socks and shoes. Within minutes, I had chopped all of the liver into quarter inch pieces, stored them neatly in snack bags, grabbed Maverick’s training bag and was running out the door!
Like many families, we are on the go. It's difficult to find the time to actually work with your dog. How can busy moms squeeze in that extra couple of minutes a day to be a good mom to her pup? Here are some tips that help me to find the time to work with my pup.
1. Make obedience training part of your daily life. Instead of working with Maverick for half an hour each day, I work on the behaviors that are necessary to be a good family pet constantly throughout the day. For example, we work on “go to your bed,” “lie down,” and “stay” each and every time we sit down to the table to have a meal. We also work on sit each time Maverick has to go outside.
2. Place treats all around the house so that it is easy to reward your dog. If you have to go looking for the rewards, not only will there be a delay between the behavior and the reward, which makes the reward ineffective, but you will be unlikely to reward the behavior at all because it will take you so much time to find a treat.
3. Involve your dog in what you do. If your dog is with you when you go out to breakfast or when you're playing in the front yard with your kids, it is easy to work in a couple of obedience cues.
4. Make play a learning experience. Just as you teach your children numbers and letters as you walk through the grocery store, teach your pup basic behaviors while you are playing with him. For example, before you toss the ball, ask him to sit.
5. Work with your pup while you are doing something else. Many stationary obedience activities like lying down, staying, and relaxation behaviors can be completed while you're working at your computer checking your e-mail or cooking dinner.
6. Involve the entire family in the training of the pup. Just as you delegate the activities involving dinner — setting the table, cleaning up the table, doing dishes — you can also delegate certain training activities to other members of the family.
7. Make it a priority. By making it clear to the entire family when you adopt your pup that training is important, you'll have a much better chance of getting the support you need on those busy afternoons.
Dr. Lisa Radosta