Q & A No. 7, How long will this take?
Hello again. Answer time! So another question I’ve heard from far more people than I thought possible is the question of how long the training process is going to be. And while I can understand why people ask this, I have to take a minute to think about how I should answer this in each situation.
Much like education in school, college, and all of those CE credit programs, dog training is process with a lot of factors. Everyone learns differently. Yes, most people and most dogs learn similar things in a similar way. But that’s just the basics. That’s just the “standard learning template” as I call it. Some of us aren’t very good at memorizing our multiplication tables or focusing on a single subject for long periods. Some dogs need a reason for coming back when called or a reward that isn’t that boring biscuit they had yesterday.
Really, there’s no definite answer to how long the training is going to take you and your dog. This will depend on your dog’s age, intelligence, problem solving, memory, motivation, and sensitivities. But it will also depend on your own problem solving, memory, motivation, and sensitivities, as well as your willingness to commit and your strength in resisting that adorable little look your dog is giving you.
If no progress at all is made after giving it your all for several weeks, something is going to have to change in the process. Or maybe your dog is a slow learner. There are basic standards. A service dog generally trains for up to two years. But even there there’s factors that can change the training process. And no, the training doesn’t just finish and they’re done. Dogs need CE credits too.
To give you a basic idea, Billie and I trained for around 18 months (a year and a half) before she really became a service dog. But we’re still reminding her that she’s not allowed to stick her head into the treat bag while I’m not looking and she does have to come all the way back when I call her to me. I also have a neighbor who’s pet dog learned the basics in less than a year while he was growing up and growing into his huge feet. Basically, give it a few months before you give up and trade in the dog for stuffed animal. And hey, give me call and I’ll help you out wherever I can.