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SG Susan Garrett
SG In August of 2021 I shared a video entitled “Normalizing Imperfection in Dog Training,” where I spoke about the fact that struggling with a dog at some point through their life is completely normal. If you haven't watched that video, I encourage you to watch and go back and rewatch it. Because it really helps to normalize what owning a dog and training a dog is all about.
At the end of the video, I encouraged everybody to take a daily action in order to make tomorrow better than today. And in this podcast, I'm going to share with you exactly how to do that and what it looks like.
Hi, welcome to Shaped by Dog. I'm Susan Garrett. When you're planning your dog training, it can be a little bit overwhelming because you've got to go, “Oh, well I’ve got to block out time in my week and I’ve got to do like maybe 40 minutes. I can grab 40 minutes here and 40 minutes there because I’ve got to read my lesson plans and I've got to, you know, strategize what I'm going to do and where I'm going to do it in.”
And this video is not about that because I've shared videos on how to plan your training right here in the podcast in different episodes. This is a little bit different. Today I'm going to share with you how I go about getting so much accomplished without having these big dog training sessions. It's called Daily Quickies. And as the name implies, it's something that I do daily with my dogs and it's a quick training session.
However, when I've encouraged my students to do this, I see that they're just doing like mindless, nonsensical like, “Oh, good dog. Here's a cookie.” Which guess what, having time to relate to your dog on any level, even giving cookies for nothing, that helps to contribute to the relationship you have with your dog.
But that reinforcement can be used to help build something intentional. So first of all, you've got to ask yourself, ‘what is that something?’ Whenever you look at behavior, you are either growing something in your dog, you are maintaining something you've previously trained, or you are retraining something that's fallen apart because either you didn't train it properly to begin with or you didn't maintain it.
Because here's the reality, all behavior is either growing or falling to pieces. Unless it's a behavior that gets reinforced by the environment, or maybe you've got some sort of automatic reinforcement system, all behavior is either going north or south.
It doesn't stay neutral because behavior is not static. It's always on the move. Knowing that your training plan should include growing something new, maintaining behaviors that you have that are important to you, and working on things that maybe have gotten away from you.
So today I want to share with you how do you decide what you're going to train, what a Daily Quickie is, and how to get the lesson planned so you can do Daily Quickies starting tomorrow. So, when you think about what it is you should be growing or maintaining in your dog training, for me there's a list of priorities. And it begins with skills that helps that dog be more comfortable in their own skin. Things that are growing confidence, that are decreasing anxieties, decreasing fears.
And a lot of times I'm talking about conditioning or counter conditioning and it’s strategic application of reinforcement that helps the dog feel better about situations they're kind of upset or worried or fearful or reactive about. So that is always priority number one. And this list of priorities is really important, guys. Because you might say, “Oh, I want to, you know, do a dog sport with my dog or I want to teach my dog how to play frisbee.”
All these things are fun. I have things I love to do with my dog, but I don't get ahead of this list that I'm sharing with you. So, number one, it is: keeping that dog comfortable and confident in their own skin. Number two for me is: husbandry behaviors. Things that the dog looks forward to getting their grooming. Getting their ears cleaned or getting their teeth brushed or getting their nails trimmed. Husbandry, please, please, please, this is just so important.
I've done a podcast on Pedicure Please - podcast episode number 107 gives you the details on how to condition a dog to love to have their nails trimmed. So please, that could be and should be a priority. That might be your Daily Quickies for I don't know, the next several weeks or months. We need a dog who is comfortable getting groomed. We need a dog who is comfortable being handled to have their nails trimmed. Now you can say, “Oh, I just let my Vet do that.”
Well guess what, you let your Vet do that because your dog doesn't like it, right? So, what do you think your dog is learning happens at a Vet? Things they don't like. And that makes the Vet and the Vet Technicians the bad guys. And that sets up an adversarial relationship and one of anxiety and fear for your dog. And that's just not fair. You can do this. You can condition really good feelings.
And any of you with a Doodle, listen to me, there's a lot of you out there that got Poodles or Poodle crosses, or dogs with long coats, Afghan Hounds. Let's have some applause for all the Afghan Hound owners out there. Love me some Afghans. If you've got coated breeds, you need to start right the day that puppy gets home and help them learn to love to be groomed in any way possible.
Alright, so we've got conditioning things, anxiety and fears to help the dog be happy in their own skin. We've got husbandry behaviors. The next thing are manners, things that make your dog a respected member of society.
Things like how to greet people and how not to be a problem at home. Or if you are going away and have somebody looking after your dog, how to make it so that they go, “When are you going away again? I'd love to look after your dog.”
So, hand in hand with manners are all the skills that make an amazing family pet. Things like a recall, first and foremost number one, a dog who comes when they're called no matter what. Things like walking on a loose leash or the ability to hold a position. If you ask them just to sit or lie down or hop it up in what we call a Hot Zone, that they are comfortable to stay there for as long as you ask them to.
So those are really some of the skills that I believe make a great family pet. You don't go beyond that, guys. You don't go, “Oh well, I thought I want to teach my dog frisbee.” You've got to do this in order. Now can you work on things like loose leash walking while you're conditioning your dog to be comfortable in her own skin? Of course, as long as you're doing it in an environment where your dog is comfortable.
So, you're not going out to a busy street to try and do this. Now, once you've got all the skills of a great family pet, sure. Now think about maybe there's some tricks you'd like to train, or there's a sport you'd like to consider playing with your dog. Now's the time to start adding that.
Those of you who've got a puppy, because guess what, I want to do dog agility. That's great but I love to do dog agility, this is still my order of priority. Nothing changes. I don't go to the sexy stuff, the sports skill stuff until I checked off all those things above.
And if you do it right, the things above actually help teaching sport behaviors a lot easier. Okay, so that's the priority. Those are the things you look for. You look at growing, maintaining, or retraining, and there's the priority.
Now, where does a Daily Quickie come in? A Daily Quickie is a behavior that contributes to your priorities in dog training.
So, what you would have is, you would have a list of things, three things that you would like to take on. Remember it's going to be either behavioral or husbandry or family pet, whatever it is, what are your three skills? “Oh, I really want to work on these. I really want to get great outcomes.” What are the outcomes? What do you want?
Can you break that into small pieces? If you're not sure, jump over to YouTube because I've got more than 30 behaviors that I describe. And oftentimes give detailed videos on how to do them over on my YouTube channel.
Really successful, engaged, enthused sit or stand. All the details are in the podcast. How to teach a nose target or a paw target.
How to teach a dog to do a trick like digging, which is great for their front end or backing up. Or, as I mentioned before, all the details on how to teach the pedicure please, the dog loving to get their nails trimmed.
All of that you can get for free on my YouTube channel. Let's say that you've decided I want loose leash walking as a priority. So, for me it would be conditioning a dog to wear a head halter, conditioning a dog to think my side is an amazing place to be. So go and find those episodes and I'm going to list them here on the show notes of this episode.
I'm going to make it super easy for you. Games like Search or Collar Grab or The Name Game. Those are all things that are gonna contribute to making training easy for your dog. Teaching the game of tug or Hide and Seek with you. Those are all things you can find them on my YouTube channel. Alright, so my priorities let's say it's going to be husbandry, Pedicure Please, come when you're called, and loose leash walking.
So, you're going to go to the Pedicure Please and you're going to pick one little behavior, and that is going to start with a quick and easy down. Go to the podcast that gives you the quick and easy down so the dog is joyful and happy without lures. Just boom, they hit the deck. That is going to be one of your Daily Quickies.
So, it's going to go on this week's Daily Quickies. And where you're going to do is you're going to attach that to everyday habits. Making coffee, putting the kettle on, brushing your teeth, getting dressed, and you're going to do five reinforcements into that Daily Quickie activity.
And every day you may have repeating one or two Daily Quickies. You might have three, you might have four or five for the whole week.
At the end of the week, you review. Have I grown something? Have I maintained something? Have I retrained something? Which ones am I going to bring forward to next week? And which ones are going to put in my list to go back to and add maintenance to them maybe a week or two down the road.
So, they're just short. They're just small moments of time. A training session might take you, I don't know, 30 minutes to plan and get organized and get set up for and execute and then take notes and review your video.
Daily Quickie, it can take you 10 seconds, 60 seconds, you've got it planned because you've made your list of what you're going to do. You are going to highlight the times in your day that you know you can put in a Daily Quickie. When you come home from work, let the dog out, do a Daily Quickie.
Things that are habits that are easy for you to inject a Daily Quickie. Make it a promise to your dog. You will not scroll social media without at least one Daily Quickie.
Alright? So, that's how all of a sudden, if you do these every day, you come back and you're going to leave me a comment either on our Shaped by Dog website or over on YouTube and you're gonna say, “Susan, I've been doing Daily Quickies for a month. O.M.G. You're right. I cannot believe the difference it is made.”
That is you taking daily action. That is you growing consistency in your training with your dog. That is you deepening the relationship you have with your dog. That is you getting some outcomes where before, you were overwhelmed because you had so much to do. We're breaking it down into Daily Quickies.
Yes, I still encourage you to do more formal and longer training sessions throughout the week. Maybe three or four if you can do it five times a week. But these Daily Quickies, these are irreplaceable. Remember, we're just creating some touch points, some engagement for your dog. Don't overthink this, guys. We are not solving world peace. We are not curing cancer. We're just creating some connection points with your dog.
So, you've got to go back to what is your priority, how can you break that down into smaller behaviors? If you're one of my online students then I've given you a lot of Daily Quickies in the games of your lesson plans. So, you don't have to do anything except schedule them to attach them to a habit.
If you're not one of my students, as I said, there's a lot of great training on my YouTube channel. What you need to do is decide, if getting your dog to walk on a loose leash is a priority then you might add Perch Work as a Daily Quickie where you get your dog pivoting in beside you on that perch.
Also, working on the dog's comfort level with a muzzle. We're not going to be walking them in the muzzle, although you might have to, but it gets them comfortable wearing a head halter.
Any behavior that you're doing is contributing to your dog wanting to work. Remember, we're helping the dog feel comfortable in their own skin, just relating to them, training them in an environment rich with positive reinforcement. The dog's going to love it.
So, if it is loose leash walking, I might be doing some Nose Target at my side, some Perch Work. I might open the front door, reinforce my dog for having their paws on the perch and then close the door. And I might progress to the point where I can open the door, take a step out on the front porch, reinforce my dog, turn around, go back in.
So, we're rehearsing what it's like to step out and start a walk. We're not rehearsing the anarchy that is open the door, the dog pulls you off the front porch.
So, you're breaking down your skills into Daily Quickies that will contribute to you growing the skills, contributing to the big sessions that you're going to have during the week, but it makes training less overwhelming.
And it makes you be a person who sees things from what's possible rather than “I'm never going to get there.” “I don't know if this is gonna work for me.” “I don't know if I've got it in me.” It's easy when you make it a part of the fabric of the day that you share with your dog, even if you're away from home for a big chunk of that day.
Let me know if this makes sense to you. I would love to hear from you. I would love to get your feedback on the podcast. Leave me a comment and I'll see you next time right here on Shaped by Dog.