You see, she got me to thinking. When she asked, I was only thinking about formal training sessions. So, the honest answer to that is that I spend about 20 minutes daily training my dogs in formal sessions (an hour if we factor a walk into this, but let's take that out of the equation for a minute). First, I pick 2-3 behaviors. Then I start with one dog and I set a timer for 2 minutes, we work on one behavior of the behaviors. Then I switch dogs and do the same thing. Then I switch again and work on a new behavior for 2 minutes. Then we are done for that session. If I do that twice a day (ideally), I am working with each dog formally for anywhere from 6-12 minutes a day. That's it.
But that really isn't it. When I let them outside, they sit before dashing out the door (we have lots of bunnies who like the yard, so I have to scan first). I call them to me when it is time to come in and they get reinforced for that through praise and lots of love for coming to me. For breakfast and dinner they have to wait patiently while I prepare their meals and then they wait until given the go ahead to eat. After meals they get a treat and I usuallt run them though a few behaviors before giving it to them. If they are laying on the couch, floor, in a crate, dog bed, etc. and they are being calm while I work, watch TV or read--they get praised for that. Gracie wants to play fetch? We work in a little obedience work in there. Garmin lets me rub up and down his front legs and mess with his feet? Praise and love. They let me brush their teeth, more love and praise. In the middle of this blog entry, my dogs saw a stray cat walking outside and started to bark at it (as dogs do). I stopped what I was doing and we worked on new reactions to that cat--so sometimes the opportunities present themselves.
I can't tell you how many times a day I walk by Gracie sleeping and say to her "good girl." Why? Because she is being calm and quiet in the house and that is a behavior I want reinforced. Garmin is laying in the bed watching the world go by through my open window right now--and when I am done with this, he will get some love for that calm behavior.
So I guess the answer to my client's question is that I am always working with my dogs in some way. My dogs are a part of my daily routine and even when we aren't training, we are. I just make sure to let them know they have done something I like. It doesn't have to be through food. A simple scratch behind the ears or even just a "good boy" is usually enough for those daily behaviors.
So don't be so hard on yourself if you didn't have time to do a formal session. Focus on the behaviors you want and build from there. My dogs are an integral part of my life. We work together. And that is what I want for all of you--to have a relationship that is effortless and based on mutual respect, understanding and lots and lots of love.