You’ve heard the saying “timing is everything” right? When we think of timing in regard to dog training, we often think of the timing of the consequences to our dog’s actions. The reward should happen immediately, otherwise your dog won’t associate the reward with the behavior you are trying to reinforce. But that’s not what I am referring to here.
I am referring to the timing of your training sessions when you are in the early stages of training a behavior. Let’s say there are two things you really want your dog to improve upon: coming when called and staying despite any distractions. While you ultimately want your dog to come or stay any time you ask him to do so, your timing in working on these behaviors initially can have a big impact on your success.
When is the best time to work on coming when called? Since it is an active behavior, you should start when your dog is more active. With the dog currently boarding with me, she needs some work on coming when called. I don’t practice it yet outside in the middle of the day when it’s 90 degrees outside. Guess what, she’s not going to be nearly as likely to come to me when she’d rather be conserving energy and napping in the coolest spot she can find! But she is much more likely to be successful first thing in the morning when she’s full of energy, hungry and the weather is not too hot.
If you are focusing on staying, you want to select a time when your dog is less active. Hmm, how about the middle of the day when it’s hot and your dog really just wants to hang out and do nothing anyway?!
If you are just getting started with training certain behaviors or you are not having much success with something you’ve been working on for a while, consider backing up and finding the best possible time to get started (or start over) so that you can be successful and build from there.
Timing is everything!