I Don’t Have Time to Train! How to Balance Dogs and Life

January 2, 2021

There are only so many hours in the day, and there is always something to do!  How do I find time to do it all?  Well…the short answer is, I don’t!  But I do the best I can!

As I sit down to write this, my 6 year old foster daughter runs into the room.  “Mom, I’m hungry!”  I reply, “Go make a sandwich.”

Fast forward about 15 seconds.  “Mom, the dog ate a horse treat!  Is he going to die?”

“No honey, he’ll be fine.”

One minute later, “Mom, I’m still hungry.”

“Go eat an orange.”

Hold on a second.  I need to go heat up some soup for some little girl that is still hungry.

OK, I’m back!  This is the story of my life – with three homeschooled kids, four dogs, and a husband, I don’t have “quiet time.”  I read all these productivity blogs and they suggest that you find a quiet, distraction-free area so you can get some blog posts written.  Ha, ha, that’s funny!

But I do the best I can.  Then I tell myself that the best I can is good enough.  It’s important that we are kind to ourselves, just as we are to our kids and our dogs.

So, how do I find the time to train my dogs amongst the chaos that is my life?  I schedule in very short training sessions.  I don’t schedule by time, because I’m never good about predicting when I will finish with the task before.  Instead, I schedule an order of events.  Sometimes my list doesn’t get done, and other times I get through everything.

I have a dog room where I keep my training supplies.  Everything I need is there – a clicker, treats, plus whatever training equipment I might need.  It’s all easy for me to access quickly.

I usually know what I want to work on, either in my head or in my training notebook.  This allows me to jump right in!

My priority Monday through Thursday is to get the kids’ school done.  This usually takes me to early afternoon.  When the school is done, I will do a quick training session with a dog.  Then I get to my work, which is clearing online training forums, writing blog posts, scheduling classes, writing material, or whatever else is on my list for that day.  After a couple hours of that, I do another quick training session, usually with a different dog.

The other time I like to train is after the kids go to bed.  Sometimes my workday starts at 9 PM!  I will train for a few minutes, then sit down at the computer to get some work done.

Most days my dogs in training get one, or maybe two, sessions per day.  They are short – maybe 3-4 minutes.  They are focused on 1-2 target behaviors.  Sometimes they are about cooperative care.  Other times they are about obedience or agility behaviors.  This week we’ve been focused on being comfortable with ear drops, because one of my dogs has a nasty infection that I’ve been treating.  He’s no longer convinced that getting his ears cleaned is fun, so I spend my couple minute training sessions working on that.

Some days my dogs don’t get any dedicated training sessions.  And once or twice per week, they get longer sessions when I go to my building and train.  But my goal is 5-10 minutes per day.  If I stick to that, I really notice improvement in whatever behaviors I’m training.

I’m not the best planner, but planning can definitely help you get closer to your goals.  Even if it’s just jotting a few notes down in a notebook, planning will keep you moving forward.

In summary, fit in training wherever you can.  Look for the natural breaks in your day.  If you work away from home, can you fit in a quick session in the morning before you leave?  Or maybe doing some training when you come home will work for you.  How about right after supper?

And if you don’t train for a day (or two, or three), it’s okay!  You and your dog both need breaks!  Don’t feel guilty, just jump right back in when you can.

And one final note, off-leash hikes with my dogs are definitely training sessions.  I throw a few cookies in my pocket and we practice recalls and sometimes stays.  Hikes are good for both you and your dog, so don’t forgo that for a training session!

















Let me know in the comments how you fit training into your day!

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1 Comment

  1. Debbie

    I like to train a couple/few minutes before dog meals. It’s amazing how much training time that adds up to over the years. Stays and position changes are a favorite for that time. If I’m in a hurry and do nothing but a short stay, I’ve added to that accumulation of training. With my current young dogs, it’s also a great training time for settles and waits while the senior boy eats. Focus, LSM’s, Target, Touch, Chin Rest, Leave It, Back Up, Spins, Shake, Wave, and many more exercises and tricks lend themselves well to this time period.


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