a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: No More Guilt About Fewer Training Sessions

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

No More Guilt About Fewer Training Sessions

SUMMARY: For dogs, once a week may be better than 5 times a week.

Interesting! From a 2007 study:

"Using shaping and clicker training, 18 laboratory Beagles were trained to perform a target response. Nine dogs were trained once a week and nine dogs were trained five times a week. The results of the study show that dogs trained once a week learned the shaping exercise in significantly fewer training sessions than dogs trained five times a week. In addition, weekly trained dogs tended to have higher success rates at the different steps of the shaping exercise than the dogs trained five times a week. The dogs trained five times a week completed the shaping exercise in significantly fewer days than the weekly trained dogs. It is concluded that for dogs learning a given skill, weekly training results in better learning performance than training five times a week, when performance is measured in the number of training sessions required to reach a certain training level."

(c) 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Meyer, I., Ladewig, J., The relationship between number of training sessions per week and learning in dogs, Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci. (2007), doi:10.1016/j.applanim.2007.06.016

(Download PDF.)

(Thanks, Wishy the Writer, for this info.)

Makes a bit of sense to me. When training one's muscles, you don't use the same muscle group every day; you work hard one day on one thing, then give it at least a day or two of rest while working on a different set of muscles. Apparently this translates to mental "muscle," too!

Remington always did better with only one or two training sessions a week, no matter how long or how intense. My other dogs love doing stuff as often as I want to do it, but it does seem sometimes that progress doesn't necessarily occur daily, but in leaps after several days of stasis.

Anyway, worth pondering!


  1. Hmmm, Patricia McConnell just had an interesting post on her blog that would suggest many short sessions every day: http://www.theotherendoftheleash.com/training-schedules/

    Sorry, I don't know how to make it linky.

    Sometimes I find that less is more and sometimes it seems like the many short sessions thing works too. But I'm hardly keeping track of things in a scientific fashion so I guess I only count as anecdotal evidence.

  2. Well, ditto, and I didn't read through the whole study to see what they were teaching or how or how long each session was.

  3. Hmmm...so maybe this supports my hope that Katie won't forget everything I ever taught her while I'm out of town for 3 weeks.