Also Called Pattern Training, is all about setting your everyday routine to include some basic cues and practical exercises so your dog learns that appropriate behavior should be on-going, not just during a training session.
Don’t get me wrong, the benefits of having a clear training session are huge. Not only can you plan out exactly what you want to work on in a focused environment but you can also see more clearly how learning is progressing. This can be very reinforcing for you, as the trainer!
These set sessions are also beneficial for the dog because things can be presented to him in a controlled way, with no distractions. Keeping these sessions short and fun is extremely important, but also they help the new information “sink in” and even if he didn’t do so well at “down” in that first session, the next he might get it so fast you thought he was practicing between sessions!
Of course there is also a huge benefit to pattern training or “real life” training. This is where you look at your everyday schedule and see where you could fit in the occasional (down, sit, wait, or any other trick) this helps the dog learn to focus around distractions and become more attentive.
The absolute best use of pattern training is for creating calm. If there is a moment during the day where your dog can’t seem to focus or just easily gets over-excited, then that is a perfect time to practice calming skills and relaxation exercises, which can include simple basic obedience tricks, like sit and wait. Try cueing for a sit before your dog comes into the house, cue a sit before placing her dinner on the floor, cue for a sit then eye contact before starting a walk. If your dog seems inattentive then don’t repeat your verbal cue or hand signal, simply wait. As your dog gets bored she will sit, as soon as this happens open the door and start your walk!