Train Your Dog Like You Stole It

During a recent vacation, our flight was delayed. Once buckled in and ready for takeoff, I turned to my husband and said, “I hope the pilot flies this plane like she stole it!” Next, I had a lightbulb moment and got to writing this blog post.

I am not suggesting you steal a dog, cat, bunny, bird, etc. However, I am suggesting that you challenge yourself during a training session. Living with our pets can create complacency about training our pets. We figure, “What’s the worst that will happen if I don’t get this behavior? I always have tomorrow.” That’s true. But, what if you applied a wee bit of pressure to yourself? What if you challenged yourself to get a new behavior on cue in 10 minutes or less? How efficiently can you train?

While teaching a group dog training class, I cringed at the lackadaisical training I saw during a particular exercise. Instead of berating everyone, I challenged everyone to get a 10 second down stay in 1 minute. In that moment, my students needed a sense of urgency to succeed. Rocket boosters engaged and they soared towards success!

I often reflect on Bob Bailey’s mantra, “Anyone using any method can train any behavior….given any amount of time.” After training a behavior, ask yourself Bob’s question, “What took you so long?”

What does it take to train as efficiently as you are able? First and foremost, a training plan. Bob Bailey says, “What do you have? What do you want?” This will help you forge a path from A to B.

Secondly, mechanical skills. Turns out the path to Carnegie Hall and great behavior are both paved with practice practice practice. Consider practicing your training plan without your pet first. Once you have the motions down and know what you are looking for, get your pet, set a timer, and go!

Pick one behavior a month for this challenge and have fun training your dog like you stole it! You’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish in a short amount of time. I want people to watch you train and paraphrase Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton, “Why does she train like she’s running out of time?”

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