How Often Should I Train My Dog?

Apr 02, 2020

Have you ever thought about whether or not you're really getting the most out of the time that you are training? 

If so, then congratulations, and if not, you may want to keep reading...

The amount of dog training time per day you need is probably less than you think, and it doesn't even have to be every day. I am about to share with you some valuable information that will help you avoid the frustration, and best of all, it will help you get more done with less effort!

The duration of the training session is important to keep in mind.

If a training session is too long, then you may lose your dog's attention, and then you will see a decrease in how well your dog performs.

If a training session is too short, then you aren't getting the most that you can out of that session, and it slows the overall progression of your dog's training down.

Another thing to consider is the age and experience level of your dog and whether or not you're working on something new or your working on something that your dog is very comfortable with.

With all of that said, I would like to share a few tips with you that will help clear things up and get you on the path to making the most out of your training.

A 12-week old puppy and a 2-year-old dog have two totally different attention spans.

A young puppy won't be able to stay fully focused for more than around 5 minutes. The keyword here is "fully." 

After all, we are talking about getting the most out of your time as well as helping your dog be the best that it can be.

You could definitely train a young puppy longer than 5 minutes, but after 5 minutes, the overall focus level and productivity of the training that your doing will start to decrease.

When working with a young puppy you are better off to keep the sessions short but do multiple sessions. 

This makes the time that you spend training much more effective, and it leaves little time for waste. 

I have a few charts that I will show you that will hopefully paint a visual picture of what I am talking about. These numbers aren't exact because every dog is different, but it is reasonably close for must young pups. 

Example one:

So when you're working a puppy, you can see after about 5 minutes, the overall focus level and productivity will start to decrease.

So what do you do?

The best thing is to do multiple short sessions instead of one long session. The key is to give your puppy a short break in between each session.

When you give your puppy a break, it resets their focus level, and that allows you to do another 5-minute session in which you maximize time.

Now I want to show you a chart that compares giving your pup a break between each session vs. just training straight through without any breaks.

So in the chart above, the line that starts decreasing is the line that represents training a young puppy straight through for 15 minutes.

The line that stays at the 100% mark represents training a young puppy but giving it breaks in between each session.

As far as actual training time goes, both options are a full 15 minutes of training. There will be some added time for giving your pup a break in-between each session, but... the results that you will get are significantly better.

As your puppy grows and develops, you will be able to extend the session length without compromising how much you get done. 

What about a young dog or a dog that has a good bit of training?

Once you've worked with your dog a lot and it is more experienced, you can start to extend your training session.

Once your dog has basic obedience down and you start to move into other skills, it might be time to do one long session. 

Now when you do one long session, it's essential to set it up correctly.

Keep a few things in mind:

1. Work on 3 or 4 different skills/drills in one longer session.

2. Everything needs to be layered with obedience.

3. Start off with something your dog is great at and then sandwich the new skill in the middle of the training session.

4. Always end on a good note.

In the Complete Gundog Academy, we provide a blank lesson-planner template that is designed to make it easy to plan your training session. All you have to do is print it out, and then start planning your session.

In 52 Plus, we provide you with a pre-planned lesson planner for each week of training. 

To give you an example, I have pre-made a lesson planner to provide you with a visual of the things mentioned above.

In this lesson plan, we cover 3 different skills: Lining Memories, Hand Thrown Dummies, and On Lead Steadiness.

We start with obedience and do obedience, in-between each different skill that we work on.

Choosing multiple skills to work on and layering everything with obedience helps keep the dog focused throughout the whole session, and it enables you to maintain the highest level of control over your dog.

If you are going to work on a new skill, your best bet is to work on it after you have started the session on a good note. Finally, always end the session on a good note.

Ending the session on a good note keeps your dog eager and ready to come back out the next time.

The last little tip I would like to share is when you are doing one long session, aim to keep it between 30-45 minutes. 


Joshua Parvin

P.S. Interested in having all of your training sessions planned out for you? Check out 52 Plus here