While I do have daily training sessions with Ranger, I want to emphasize that I also integrate his new behaviors into our daily life, and you should do the same with your dog!
Many of the challenges to doing this are logistical and can be solved with simple fixes. Today, I’ll show you one.
The Treat Station
You don’t want to unintentionally teach your dog that he only gets rewarded when there are certain context clues (like the treat bag or clicker) present, but not in daily life when you actually NEED him to listen right then. So it’s good to address this from both sides – try to mix up the context clues during training time, as I have discussed previously, but also make sure he gets reinforced for responding to your cues outside of a formal training session.
As you can see, I have upcycled old jelly jars into treat jars. I fill these with Charlee Bear treats, a wonderful little crunchy cookie that is bite sized for a medium to large breed dog. I’m sure there are some other non-perishable treats that would function just as well, but this is what works for us. By the way, I am not posting an Amazon link here because those suckers are 8 bucks a bag on Amazon and under $3 on the Foster and Smith website. So… just go there if you have a hankering to try these.
Right now I have two treat stations in the living room, and I plan to add a few more around the house after my little munchkins ingest another couple of weeks worth of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, AKA “Is It Really Dinnertime Already?” lifelines.
These jars are nice because if I want to ask Ranger to do something in the midst of the daily hustle and bustle, I can pop the jar open and grab a cookie right then instead of having to go search for the treat pouch or dig in the fridge for some deli meat. I have also been tossing cookies (…wait. fine. you know what I mean.) at Ranger periodically when he is curled up on his bed, just to help reinforce that the bed is the best place to be in the house.
I like the sturdy glass jars, although if we had hard floors instead of carpet I’d probably look for something metal instead. If you’re brainstorming for yourself, you just need to know your dog and make sure you have selected a dog-proof material and a safe location that will not entice your dog to steal the entire container and chew the contents out.
I may also re-assess once the baby is a toddler, and ensure the treat station container is safe to handle and the contents secure from gnashing baby teeth.
But for now – this is a great little zero-cost solution that will help Ranger learn to use his behaviors in “real” life and not just training time.