Creating dog training stations in your home

One of the things I’ve recently learned in my few years of dog ownership is that you are always training your dog — even when you think you aren’t. We train our dogs to do all sorts of things unconsciously. (For example, they keep barking and jumping at the exterior door, because I let them in whenever they do that. Bad human!)

But to help myself train a bit more consciously, I’ve been setting up what I call “training stations” around our house.

I’m sure you’ve been there before: Your dog suddenly behaves exactly the way you want her to, and you have nothing (powerful, e.g., food) to reward her with. Or your dog issues the movement you’ve been trying for weeks to capture, and you don’t have a clicker or a treat anywhere in sight. This seems to happen to me all the time.

Hence, training stations.

Creating training stations | Doggerel

Training station with Honest Kitchen treats, from The House of Two Bows!

These are just little areas of the house where I have learned that I tend to want to work with the dogs, so I outfit those spaces with treats and a clicker and maybe a rewarding toy or two. All of this is put up in a place where the dogs can’t get to it.

In this area, on the console table in our dining room, I’m mostly trying to reward both girls for coming when called. They both have a habit of barking at our neighbors (at wee hours of the morning), which is not desirable. Now that I have this station set up near the door, I can quickly reward them for coming when called — and boy, has it been working! Both Pyrrha and Eden will come almost every time when I call them to come in from the yard. It’s still a work in progress, but having this station near the door has been so helpful.

Creating training stations | Doggerel

I also have a training station in a basket in the basement, where we do more movement-intensive training (like working on our stay, go to mat, or leave it cues). We also do most of our grooming down here, so the basket is filled with treats, toys, clickers, and grooming supplies.

Creating training stations | Doggerel

Training station in the basement, with treats from Ruby at Rubicon Days!

Finally, I also have a tiny training station in the dog room, where they have their crates. Both girls have their “go to your house” command down pretty solid, but we still like to intermittently reinforce this. Because these treats live on the windowsill, the door to their room is often closed if we haven’t put the treats up and out of reach.

Creating training stations | Doggerel

It may seem silly, but having these little stations has certainly improved the likelihood of me training and reinforcing good behavior, as well as just encouraging me to do some training on the fly.

What strategies have you adopted to make training easier in your home?

Treats from Celebrity Catwalk

Jennifer at Celebrity Catwalk was kind enough to send Pyrrha a generous box of treats from My Little Wolf.

My Little Wolf treats from Celebrity Catwalk

Pyrrha is a big fan of these soft pork liver and salmon treats. I like how small they are and how easy they are to dispense. Pyrrha throws out plenty of her “sit pretties” whenever she hears one of the bags open!

Celebrity Catwalk is a fashion event that raises funds and awareness in support of National Animal Rescue. Check out their site here and follow them on Twitter at @CelebCatwalk.

Pup links!

Floppy, cuddly German shepherd puppies. Click for source.

In rescue news, the anticipation is killing me. I applied too early, I think, because the groups have been super-responsive and they’ve all told me that nothing can really happen until our home visit. Even still, I obsessively check the postings of dogs up for adoption (like, several times a day), which is really just making me more anxious. I need to stop. I need someone to block these rescue groups’ websites and Petfinder and the SPCA… for my own sanity!

Anyway. Here are some happy and interesting dog-related links from around the Web this past week:

Crufts Show Dogs Disqualified. This has been the big news in the dog world this week. While I don’t want to open a can of worms, I’m curious what you think: Are independent vet checks a good idea at dog shows? I don’t know anything about the show world, but I am all for improving the breed standards of many purebreds raised only for their looks. I hope that that will eventually be the outcome of this controversial decision. (The Bark blog)

Dog-Friendly Yard Work. Advice from Maureen Gilmer, horticulturalist and dog lover, about dog-friendly plants and other projects for your garden this spring. I’m happy to know that dried rosemary can act as a flea repellent; we will be inheriting a huge rosemary bush with our new house. (The Bark)

Mudley. Part of me has always wanted a big, slobbery Newfoundland… (Shirley Bittner Photography)

Ollydog Mt. Tm Running Belt and Leash. This looks like pretty serious gear, but I can imagine that it would be really great to have while hiking or running. (Dog Milk)

Cheap and Easy Training Treats. Kristine shares some of her ideas for inexpensive, make-at-home treats. I will definitely be trying some of these in the months to come! (Rescued Insanity)

Impeccable Style. I actually really like this line of preppy/nautical-looking dog products, from the company Milk and Pepper. (Under the Blanket)

Canine Comforts. A beautiful suite of dog beds and bags from Cloud 7. The photography for their ad campaign is also beautiful–so natural-looking. (Design Hunter)

Guess the Genotype #56. I was going to guess that the breed was a mini-borzoi, but that’s kind of what it is: Has anyone heard of the silken windhound before? Despite the goofy name, I’m intrigued… (Musings of a Biologist and a Dog Lover)

Why Calling Her a Pit Bull Matters. A thoughtful and well-expressed post about why a pit bull mama calls her girl a pit bull, and not an AmStaff or other breed euphemism. (Save the Pit Bull, Save the World)

My Other Best Friend. One blogger’s reflections on her relationship with her dog, Bodhi. (Elephantine)

Charlie at Home. Our wonderful wedding photographer shares some photos of her sister’s sweet dog, Charlie. (Meredith Perdue Photography)

Pup links!

Bring on the big dogs. Source: LIFE Magazine.

A lot of interesting, dog-centric links from around the Web this past week:

Getting the Most from Dog Training Classes. These are really helpful and insightful pointers about how to get more bang for your buck in a training class. I wouldn’t have thought of many of these things, and I’m glad I read this before signing up for a training class. (Oh Behave!)

Surprise! These (pretty adorable) photos of a border collie pup are proof positive that breeds have strong, inborn instincts. (Alta-Pete Farm Tails)

Wrapping Up the 2011 Budgeting Project–Onward to 2012! If you ever wanted a seriously comprehensive glimpse of pet finances, look no further than M.C. and her Bows. This is a really helpful year overview and it’s inspired me to keep track of my own purchases for my future dog. (The House of Two Bows)

Love ‘em and Leash ‘em Challenge. Take Paws reviews their favorite leashes, many with flexible uses and purposes. (Take Paws)

Finding a Purpose for a Pup. A success story of a sheep-killing German shepherd turned drug-busting police dog. Just proof that every dog has his proper place, if only we’ll give them a chance to find it. (The Bark Blog)

Happy Birthday, Edith Wharton! A collection of photos of one of my favorite American novelists, Edith Wharton, and her beloved dogs. (Dog Art Today)

A Lovely Being: Heavy Petting. Classic starlets in black-and-white with their pooches. (Honey Kennedy)

The Cookie Look. We’ve all seen this intense gaze before. I love these photos; their bated breath and intensely focused desire comes across so clearly. (Paws on the Run)

DIY No-Bake Healthy Treats for You & Your Pooch. These look like pretty gourmet snacks, but I’ll probably try them at some point, because I’m addicted to oatmeal. (Pretty Fluffy)

Bull City Pet Sitting: A Day on the Job. My favorite wedding videographers (one, sister to our much-beloved wedding photographer) created a video to promote a pet sitting business in Durham, North Carolina. It’s such a fun video and they did a wonderful job with it. What a fun promotional tool! (Inkspot Crow Films)

Intermission: A Dog’s View of Dogs Playing. Another great video! Ever wondered what the dog park looks like to your pooch? Here’s an idea, in high-def, artistically rendered glory. (GOOD)