Marsha Houston’s 2-minute dog trainer blog

I’ve been committed to the 2-Minute Dog Training principles since 1999.

I’m convinced that a short, exciting, engaged, and motivated training session every day strengthens the bond between dog and handler.

And I’m equally convinced that these short training sessions condition my dog to perform specific skills and respond to my cues more consistently.

When a handler asks my advice (I’ve learned to never volunteer advice — who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks! — this gets dog training instructors in trouble all the time <g>) my first question is always, “what is your daily training regimen?”

Here are the most recent reasons I train every day with the 2-Minute Dog Trainer !!!

Facebook post from recognized dog trainer, “I’ve trained my dog everyday for 23 days!” And that’s a huge event, because her training sessions probably last 30 minutes or so, and take 30-45 minutes out of her day.

Question from teacup exhibitor, “How do I get my dog to perform at trials?”  My response, “what is your daily training protocol — what training do you do at home?”  Her response, “I don’t train at home. I only train during agility class.”

Question from local student during discussion of distance training, “How do I teach my dog to work at a distance?” My response was, “You reward her for the work and gradually move further from the obstacle you’re training on. How big is your yard? What equipment do you have set-up in your yard?”  Her response, “My yard is only about 20 feet across and I don’t have any agility equipment in my yard.”  Shocked, I responded, “So what’s your daily training look like?”  “I don’t train daily,” she said.

Okay folks — if you want your dog to perform consistently at agility or obedience trials, if you want your physical and verbal cues to override environmental distractions and trial stress, if you want to feel successful and feel positive about your dog — you must train your dog.

It is absolutely NOT enough to just attend a weekly class if you intend to show your dog.  Perhaps I’m speaking as an instructor, but arriving at class every week with the same darned skills you left with last week is unacceptable.

It is absolutely NOT enough to train in one building, doing just agility class sequencing or following the lesson plan presented by your instructor.  Expecting your dog to generalize performance when you only train in one building, one night a week, surrounded by the same dogs and people, is unacceptable.

Training your dog is supposed to be fun!  One of the reasons I enter in dog agility trials is to motivate myself to continue improving.  I can’t qualify if I don’t continue to improve.  I can’t improve if I don’t continue to train. My dog can’t train if I don’t continue to devote time to him.

If I can’t devote 2-5 minutes a day to practice weave entries, or start-line stays, or sending my dog to a jump, or hitting contacts — then do I really believe I’ll succeed at a trial?

So here’s the thing.  If you want the trill of victory you must do some work. I’m not suggesting you drill your dog 30-60 minutes a day.  I’m suggesting you add mealtime training to your daily schedule — spend a couple of minutes twice a day with your dog.
The thrill of victory will become a possibility, and those victories will be all the sweeter for the investment you’ve made in time training your dog!
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One Response to “Marsha Houston’s 2-minute dog trainer blog”

  1. Linda Says:

    Thank you, Marsha, for your timely blog entry. At a recent trial, my Cairnboy (who is in AKC Ex) left the ring 2 times before even going over the first jump–something he has only done when first trialing. In another run, I excused us from the ring because he was sniffing to the extreme–issues that we’ve had before. I believe some of his behavior was caused by an ulcer on his cornea, which I wasn’t aware of until a day after the trial. Although that may have been one cause of his behavior, I still decided that we needed to go back to basics. His performance on equipment has never been a problem. So I decided to skip our weekly training class for a month and concentrate on recalls, crate games, eyes on me games–things that would keep him focused on me. He does best with short sessions–5 minutes or less–several times a day. We even do some attention sessions and recalls while on long walks. We’ll be back in training class next month, but we’ll still be doing short sessions every day at home.

    Linda in NC

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