My brain is currently on over-load from the long week I just came away from. I attended a 5-day dog training conference from the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) that consisted of all-day seminars from wonderful dog trainers from all over the world. We heard Victoria Stilwell of "It's Me or the Dog", John Rogerson from the UK, Ian Dunbar (the inventor of puppy classes and found of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers) and we even heard Temple Grandin speak about canines and emotions. So I have a lot of blog posts coming, I just have to sort through the material!
Until then I wanted to get this out there . . . Did you know that in under 15 minutes a day you can train your dog, or any dog? Yeah, more time would be better, but if 15 is all you've got per day then use it! You don't need hours and hours to get a dog to know the who and what of things.
I also like to show people how to make everyday situations a training session. For example, if my dog is in the other room I'll call him excitedly from across the house--"Noah! Come!" He'll come bounding in to me and sit. I happily pet him and say, "Gooood boy!!", then trot myself to the dog food bin and give him about 15 pieces of kibble, one by one. That was a training session for a recall (come when called). 30 seconds. I'm done. I can do it again later too, and again and again. After a while all these little sessions add up and my dog realizes that coming when called is the best thing ever. While this isn't going to proof my dog for real-life situations, it is still a way for me to train throughout the day to solidify basics.
It's best to break up your sessions and implement them in daily life so the dog doesn't respond only "during a session" but at all times. If you only train your dog when you train your dog then you aren't doing something right in between. What I mean by this is: you should take advantage of making everything you do part of your dog's training. This means you practice leadership rules all the time--don't leave toys laying around the house, don't leave food out for free access, don't let them receive attention, food or play by initiating it first, don't talk to a dog that is doing attention seeking behaviors . . . there is a long list of things you can do all day every day that will ensure that your dog not only respects you but listens to you--willingly and happily.
Training is, and should always be, fun. Intimidation and "alpha" rules are ancient history and have been proven wrong and untrue in wolf and dog packs. This means that if you think you are doing "alpha" behaviors to teach your dog who is boss then you are probably going to end up screwing something up. You have to lead with direction and an earn-to-learn philosophy.