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How To Train Your Dog When You’re Lazy And Inconsistent

How To Train Your Dog When You’re Lazy And Inconsistent

Lazy Inconsistent Positive Dog Training

Once you’ve learned the basics of positive training and have picked up enough ideas from blogs and books to keep you busy for the rest of your dog’s life, you may still feel like you’re falling behind.

This is especially true if you’re disorganized, lazy, or just inconsistent with keeping up the same amount of training from week to week. Like me, for instance.

Last week, we had global-warming style warm weather. Me and Matilda and Cow went out for a walk almost every day, and I was impressed at how great they’ve been doing at loose-leash walking – not the easiest feat when you’re walking two dogs at once.

This week, it’s rainy, windy, cold and gloomy. Yeah… we’re not going out there.

Our dogs deserve our best efforts at providing training, exercise and mental stimulation. I know my dogs need to learn more tricks and to practice their skills. It’d be ideal if I could work on their training each day, but even as a dog blogger, I haven’t been perfect at it.

And yet, we’re still making steady progress despite my lack of consistency.

It’s Easier To Learn Without Daily Training

Are you feeling guilty about not training your dog every single day?


A study of 44 laboratory beagles showed that dogs can retain skills whether they practice three times per day, once a day, or just 1-2 per week.

What’s even more interesting is the fact that, the less frequently the dogs practiced, the quicker they mastered the obedience task. Daily training was more effective than 3x daily training, but dogs who were trained just 1-2 times per week were the fastest at picking up the new skill.

The study does not delve into why this happened. Maybe the beagles who had three training sessions per day were getting bored and demotivated. Maybe, after so many treats and commands, their attention span faltered.

I’d also like to know if it makes sense to work on loose-leash walking just twice per week, then spend other days working on other tricks. It’s unclear if these Beagles were only trained for one task for the duration of the study, or if they spent any time working on anything else.

Mealtime As Training Time

If you’re still a fan of daily training, you may use your dog’s meals as motivation. At times, I use my dogs’ entire meals as rewards for super-long training sessions. We might work on fetch, heel and other tricks until the entire bowl is gone.

However, this doesn’t actually seem to be the most effective idea. When I take out the food, my dogs are laser-focused on the meal and have trouble concentrating on the task. It’s not until the middle of the session that they are at their brightest.

A 2012 study showed that hungry dogs have a harder time with tasks. The dogs had to search for a treat – some were fed 30 minutes before the task, some, 90 minutes, and some were hungry.

The dogs who performed best had eaten 30 minutes before the search.

Hungry dogs and those who had eaten 90 minutes before performed with about the same level of success.

So, it turns out that the best time to train your dog might be after breakfast or dinner.

This makes using food rewards a bit more complicated, because you don’t want to overstuff your dog.

However, you can feed your dog a small meal a short while before training. If you use high-calorie training rewards, you can cut back on meal portions to avoid letting your clever dog become obese.

Don’t Worry About Consistency Or Time

When it comes down to it, dogs are resilient. Even if I keep training my dogs at mealtimes, they’ll still learn, even if they don’t learn at their best when they’re hungry.

Even if I don’t stick to perfect 15-minute sessions, they’ll still learn if we train sporadically during a 1-hour walk, then spend 5 minutes here and there throughout the week.

By keeping training-related gear in sight, training is on my mind more often. When I keep leashes, sweaters and harnesses in a convenient spot, it’s easier to get out for a walk.

Do whatever it takes to train your dog more often, but don’t worry if you’re not perfect. Nobody is! Your dogs will still learn and they’ll love you all the same.

Lindsay Pevny
Lindsay Pevny lives to help pet parents make the very best choices for their pets by providing actionable, science-based training and care tips and insightful pet product reviews.

She also uses her pet copywriting business to make sure the best pet products and services get found online through catchy copy and fun, informative blog posts. She also provides product description writing services for ecommerce companies.

As a dog mom to Matilda and Cow, she spends most of her days taking long walks and practicing new tricks, and most nights trying to make the best of a very modest portion of her bed.

You'll also find her baking bread and making homemade pizza, laughing, painting and shopping.

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Ynah Claire

Monday 15th of April 2019

Ah dog training! This is a brand new way to look at it. Just to share, I come from an Asian family and when I was young, our dogs were disciplined via slippers to the butt or alot of yelling. I always consoled the scolded pups afterwards and my mom scolds me for ruining her disciplinary tactics. I am so glad that positive training has become a popular thing now and it is proven to be effective. As an additional (not alternative) training method, I believe improvements in behaviour can be learnt from fellow dogs, especially well-behaved alpha dogs. So far, I've noticed that my dogs are kinder to people in malls and parks ever since I let them go for daily walks. Apparently, being used to other people and other dogs, and environments that aren't their territory can help get rid of the I am superior nature some dogs have. :)

Brayan Lara

Friday 5th of October 2018

There are few points really needs to be taken care, for example giving training to the dog when it is really tired/sick/hungry is the really sinful act. Thanks for the tips

Stepheny Ann

Tuesday 11th of September 2018

Hi Lindsay, this post is targeting me because I am the laziest dog owner. Your tips always work for me and that’s why I am the regular reader of your blog. I believe these tips and tricks will also work for me as well. You have told that you used the mealtime as the training sessions that are very uncommon to the dog trainer. I will try your tricks, thanks a lot!

Matt johnson

Friday 1st of June 2018

My dogs absolutely love it when it's training time! Not only for the reward, carrots and apples, but because they get to spend time with there parents. Dogs are people pleasers. When they make you happy, they're happy. And when our dogs are happy..We are happy! Win win! Great article!


Tuesday 24th of October 2017

Love the idea of using meal time for training! Going to try it out tonight!

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