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Big Training Projects: All the Balls in the Air

Especially when you’ve got a new puppy or are working on a major training project, it often feels like you’ve got a ton of different training projects going all at the same time.


Leash walking! Distraction proofing! Both the introduction of new skills, and review of the old ones! If your dog is having problems with anything, you also might have behavior protocols to work through. There’s just so much stuff to do!


How do you keep this all straight? How do you know what to prioritize? Everybody struggles with this, and there’s probably no perfect answer.


I tend to give different “themes” to different training sessions. Since I usually train three times per day, my regular pattern is to do TEAM in the mornings, engagement/focus/offsite work in the afternoons, and Obedience/Rally in the evenings. OK, so I’ve at least got a basic plan for the week. Then I also need to make sure I’m introducing new things as well as reviewing old things to make sure nothing’s forgotten, and go over things that aren’t going great. And also I have to make sure that I’m working in a variety of locations, adding distractions, and weaning off treats. If there’s behavior issues, fears or bad manners/habits in the house, I have to do that too.


Keeping all those things going, and continuing to make progress, is definitely a moving target. All you can do is your best! As a sample, here’s a rehash of all the training I did with my dog “Halo” this week. (It looks like a lot, but most of the training sessions only lasted 3-5 minutes and honestly the most time-consuming part of training is traveling to and from our off-site locations.)


Day 1 Session 1: Reviewed “back up” from front position in kitchen.

Day 1 Session 2: Engagement and focus training at Chautauqua Park.

Day 2 Session 1: TEAM exercises 1-2 and transitions in kitchen.

Day 2 Session 2: Engagement and focus training at Chautauqua Park.

Day 2 Session 3: Fronts and Stay on platform in kitchen.

Day 3 Session 1: Distance Positions on platform.

Day 3 Session 2: Engagement and TEAM exercises at Trenton Park.

Day 3 Session 3: Fronts and Distance Positions on platform in kitchen.

Day 4 Session 1: TEAM exercises 5-8 in backyard.

Day 4 Session 2: Rally exercises Serpentines and Spirals at Trenton Park.

Day 4 Session 3: Fronts on platform in kitchen.

Day 5 Session 1: Noise sensitivity counterconditioning in spare room.

Day 5 Session 2: Introduction to “mark” in kitchen.

Day 6 Session 1: Fronts on platform in backyard.

Day 6 Session 2: Cyber Rally course (4 exercises) at Chautauqua Park.

Day 6 Session 3: Retrieve practice in kitchen.

Day 7 Session 1: Pivot practice in kitchen.

Day 7 Session 2: Heel and Down practice with distractions in kitchen.


Doing a quick review at the end of the week, this week was good in that most days we got all three sessions in, and most days one of the sessions was outside. We did a loooot of platform work (fronts and positions) and at the end of the week her platform work looks great! I noticed that we didn’t go anywhere truly novel to work, so hopefully next week we can get that in, because practicing anything in new locations (not just busy or distracting locations) is yet another “ball in the air!”

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