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The Ideal Training Schedule
Study finds training less often is beneficial for learning
Sneaking in a quick training session in our hotel room while Remy and I were in Canada.

There's nothing more fun than training a new puppy and watching them experience everything for the first time. Since bringing Remy home, I'm always thinking about how often to train and for how long.

I devote time every day for formal training. I do two to five sessions per day, usually for a few minutes at a time. I definitely find that shorter training sessions are more effective than longer ones. This is especially important for a puppy, but even for a adults, it's always good to keep them wanting more.

But is there a magic number?

A recent study looked at the effect of training frequency and duration on how fast a dog learns a new behavior and on retention.

The researchers found that dogs trained one to two times a week learned a new behavior faster than dogs trained daily. They also found that dogs learned faster if they had one training session instead of three in a row. The study didn't find any correlation between the training schedule and retention.

It's interesting that training less often would help dogs learn faster. However, I think this has more to do with training the same behavior every day, as they did in the study, than training every day. Dogs are smart and will get bored if they have to do the same thing a million times. When I train, I try to mix it up and work on different behaviors each day. I also find that dogs need time to process new information, so it's good to take a break and revisit behaviors a few days later.

How often do you train your dog?

 

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JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.

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