As dog trainers, it's easy to get caught up in the "I have no time to train my dogs" lie.
We have dogs to train, clients to talk to, businesses to market and e-mails to send. We barely have enough time to train our clients' dogs, that it's easy to just forget to do a training session with our own. Before you know it, your own dog is blowing you off, your demos are not as smooth and the reliability of your own dog becomes questionable.
Another problem that arises when you don't have enough hours in the day is that you may run the risk of not training your client's dogs by the end of the day.
We know that everyone has 24 hours in a day. What you choose to do with them is what makes the difference. I'm not talking about working till late hours of the night and getting up at the crack of dawn (although it wouldn't be a bad idea), I'm talking about managing those few hours here and there, those 15 minutes here and there that add up, I'm talking about multi-tasking.
I wont bore you with more "Use your time wisely" crap. I'll get right to the point. You don't have to be a hard-working overachiever, you can still take breaks and you can still enjoy time off and be done when you're done. My experience with time management range from working about 5 to 10 dogs plus private lessons and consults to training upwards of 30 to 60 dogs, in some occasions by myself.
Here are some strategies that have helped me when I trained dogs from my home and for someone else.
With this type of schedule you're actually training throughout the day. This is only ideal if you work for yourself. It can work great if you get bored easy or your attention span isn't that great. I preferred this method myself when I trained dogs from my home.
The way splitting works is by training, taking a break, train again for a few hours, take another break to run personal errands or just rest, then train again.
This strategy may seem unorganized at first, but make no mistake, it's intense and you have to hold yourself accountable. You have to set deadlines, give yourself timelines and stick to those times.
Here's an example of what splitting can look like:
*6:00-9:00AM Train dogs and/or send e-mails or talk to clients
*12:00PM-3:00PM Train dogs and/or send e-mails or talk to clients
*6:00-9:00PM Train dogs and/or send e-mails or talk to clients
Obviously, this is just an example that may have to be adjusted according to how many dogs you're training, how many private lessons you have scheduled, etc. The example above gave you 9 hours of training and fulfilling your duties as dog trainer. You would schedule appointments for those times and calls for those times. You really need to stick to your breaks because it may be easy and tempting to get things done then but you can only do that so much before you burn yourself out and become miserable. You may have to train more or maybe even less depending on your workload.
With Lumping, you're working a set number of hours pretty much non-stop. Once done, you take the rest of the day off. If you're working for someone else, this is probably the schedule you're sticking to.
If you are working for yourself you can still follow the lumping schedule. It's easy to burn yourself out if you don't watch it though and you need to remember that at some point you should pull the plug and call it a night. Otherwise you will burn yourself out fast. As stated before, you should schedule appointments and phone calls for that time if you can help it, not after you're done.
Additional tips for getting as much done as possible:
_Run! No I mean it.
Literally run! When I worked between 30 to 60 dogs, sometimes all by myself I trained every single dog in that kennel. I was expected to to do so and I could not live with myself I a dog missed a day of training. So I ran. I would run to a kennel, get the dog, run to the training area, train the dog, run back to the kennel and get the next dog. I took breaks but I got a lot done. I was exhausted by the end of the day but I was satisfied that every dog had been trained at least once if not more.
You can actually train more than one dog at a time. What I used to do when I trained dogs for myself was train more that one dog at a time. The dogs that have advanced obedience can practice their down-stays/sit-stays/place-stays while the newer dogs can work on basic commands. "Well, what do you do if one of the dogs leaves the stay exercise?" You can back-tie the dogs doing the stays as a safety net while they're on place or down with no tension on the leash. I also have a crate nearby so that if I to tend or physically help the other dog, I can just put the dog I'm working with in the crate while I help the dog on the stay.
This is also a good way to train your dog as your client's dog's get trained. I used those sessions for client's dogs as valuable opportunities to work on my dog's stays (Distance, Duration and Distraction)
_Train during mealtime.
Dogs have to eat at least once a day, right? for my personal dogs, they were training sessions. My dogs ate twice a day and these were opportunities for my dogs to earn their meal as well as doing a training session.
_Get up an hour earlier and/or go to sleep an hour later.
If you're overwhelmed with clients and dogs, don't fret, you can still make things work. Here's a strategy that works great. Get up a bit earlier. It could be an hour or an extra two or three hours earlier. Why in the world would you want to do that? because if your day starts a couple of hours earlier, these are times when you don't have to worry about the daily distractions of your family or clients because chances are they're sleeping, so you can get a full hour or two or three of non-stop, uninterrupted training.
If you get up an hour earlier and go to sleep an hour later, that's an additional 2 hours you have to get things done.
The biggest problem with time management is discipline, not lack of time. It's one of those things that require constant work on our parts to ensure we are getting the most out of our day.