Every morning I crawl out of bed around 6 am.

I walk to the living room and let the dogs out.

We say our good mornings, and then I brew a pot of coffee as they take care of business in the front yard.

When they come in, it’s training time.

Each dog gets about 5 minutes.

That’s all it takes.

But those 5 minutes, spent over coffee, are some of the most important in their day.

My name is Meagan Karnes, and I am a pajama dog trainer.

Listen, when I had my first dog before I knew anything about dogs except that I loved them, the idea of training felt overwhelming.

My dog was reactive, so I always had to psych myself up to take him out.

And truth be told, I was always expecting the worst when I did finally stick that leash on and we headed out the front door.

I always felt like training was something I had to dedicate a chunk of time to.

That I’d have to go to that hour-long training session each week…

That would be frustrating, long and overwhelming to say the least.

And in between sessions, I’d model my daily training after those weekly sessions I had with my trainer…

They’d be long and overwhelming too…

And inevitably, we’d hit roadblocks and we’d get frustrated.

And I’d always feel defeated at the end of it all.

Fast forward a few years, when I got my first working dog.

Same rules applied.

Long club training days…

Long sessions…

And a frustrated dog and handler…a handler who had to psych herself up to train because secretly, she didn’t want to.

But those days are long gone.

These days, I’m excited to train, sessions are more effective, and my dogs are motivated.

And it was one simple shift that set us on the path to success.

I became a pajama dog trainer.

Check it out.

Logging quick reps every day over coffee will give your dog a more profound learning experience, than drawing things out for way too long will.

Not to mention, if you want behaviors to stick in everyday life, whether you are training a family pet or prepping for competition, you’ve got to actually practice those behaviors in everyday life.

That means over coffee, in your PJs, or after lunch. Or as dinner is cooking.

To be effective, you’ve got to be a pajama trainer too!

Here are the top reasons you should become a pajama trainer:

  1. It’s less daunting: The idea of a 5-minute training session is far less daunting than an hour that may or may not go to plan. It can be hard to carve out an hour or more in your schedule each week, but I guarantee, if you cut the facebook time by a fraction, you CAN carve out 5 minutes to train your dog. And you’ll be more likely to follow through because 5 minutes feels less overwhelming.
  2. It’s more comfortable: Who doesn’t want to do things in their pajamas? I work from home and there are entire days where I don’t put on grown-up clothes. I mean really, pajamas (and a good pair of slippers) are the most comfortable thing around.
  3. There’s less chance for frustration: Practicing something for 5 minutes is easy. Practicing for an hour can be downright frustrating. Pushing a dog to learn, and absorb for an extended period of time can lead to higher stress and a higher chance at failure. But those short sessions tend to leave both dog and owner wanting more.
  4. Your lessons will be more effective: Retention is more profound if you practice often. And it’s easier to stay consistent if you create training habits you can keep. Short daily sessions (in super comfy clothes) are easier for both dog and owner to commit to, greatly increasing your chance at staying consistent.

So raise your hand if you’re a pajama trainer…

And if you’re not, I’ll challenge you…

If you’re not training daily…

Over coffee…

In your pajamas…

To hop on the pajama training bus.

And carve out 5 minutes each day to train your dog.

And let me know how it goes.

Oh, and one more thing.

(Because I’m here to make your life with your dog better and easier, I promise)

Overtraining our dogs is real (I’ll talk more about this in an upcoming post so stay tuned).

And it’s a serious problem (especially for those of you who compete in dog sports…you know who you are).

So give yourself and your dog a couple of days off each week.

Where you do NO training.

And instead, just be together.

Perhaps go for a hike, or curl up on the couch and watch a movie.

Because those little breaks will do wonders for keeping your dog motivated to train.

Meagan Karnes
Meagan Karnes

Meagan has been training dogs professionally since 2002, most recently working with private security, military and law enforcement to provide K9s for high level applications. She owns both The Collared Scholar, an online dog training academy, and 690 Security Services, a company that trains and deploys Executive Security and Protection K9s to private customers. She recently partnered with both Average Frog and SM Leaders, who repurpose the proven performance principles of the Navy SEALs for individuals and organizations.

    20 replies to "Pajama Trainers UNITE: Why you should be training your dog LESS"

    • Mary Lumsden

      This blog is great. Less is actually more. Short frequent sessions throughout the day.

    • Kathy Weaver

      So glad to know that I’m not the only one who is a “pajama trainer.” Thanks!

    • Robert Torres

      I must say, I started unintentionally doing that this week with Daisy and the change has been noticable even in just a few days! 5 minutes, and her desire to train has gone up, her performance and attention to detail has gotten better and we both are ending on happy, positive notes.

      • Meagan Karnes

        Yes!! Keep up the awesome work with Daisy! You guys are doing GREAT!

    • Summer Frazier

      Reading your last post about setting good habits, I sub-consciously decided to become a “pajama trainer” and I’ve already noticed a difference! Thanks for the good advice! I’m always happy to NOT have to put on grown up clothes.

    • Nicole

      We do a short morning session and a short evening session, but we work different things. In the morning we work on Duke’s reactivity to his paws being touched and his impulse control. And in the evening we mix it up with different tricks, commands, and games fir am energy outlet. Though Duke gets a break on the weekends.

    • charity silva

      The NO training days are the best when we get out for a walk or hike… even just being a lazy day together!!

    • Erin Teare Martin

      What do you recommend covering though? We can run through sit, down, stay, go to the mat, come, shake. But it’s gets boring for me. I’m sure for my doggo too!

    • Debbie Ross

      I love your blog! I have trained dogs for 46 years and I have sought a different way to train. I am going to give your PJ training a try. I will let you know how it goes!
      Debbie Ross

    • Rhyannen Wallace

      Love it! I am definitely a Pajama trainer. So many times I filmed our sessions and look back and giggle at my pajamas.
      So much more comfortable and relaxed, My dogs definitely pick up on the relaxed environment too.

    • Sarah

      I am going to work on this with our lab/corgi mix rescue ! He is so sweet with us but he has a lot of fears that make him difficult to socialize. At least he feels safe at home with his pack, myself, 2 teenagers, a big lab and a small cat. Socialization for him is a slow process but we are learning!

    • Shayne Woods

      I love this. I have been feeling very discouraged that I never will have the energy to train MY dogs, the way I want, on a regular basis, because I am a professional trainer and a person with chronic illness, pain and fatigue. By the time I finish the client dogs, I am usually out of energy. I compete in conformation, obedience, rally, agility and dock diving with my dogs and regular training sessions are crucial, so you can imagine how depressed and overwhelmed I feel when I have no energy left after the client dogs are worked. I needed to see this article today. I certainly can carve out 5 minutes for my own pursuits with my personal dogs. Even if I work all 4 (my 5th is a geriatric and retired) that is 20 minutes. I can carve out 20 minutes, even if I am tired. In addition, I know that my clients feel empowered when they know that even a few minutes every day can create positive change in their dogs. So many of them worry that they won’t be able to maintain training at home and don’t have the time to train for hours, or even an hour a day. Wonderful article.

      • Meagan Karnes

        Yes!!! I know the feeling of giving all of your attention to your client dogs. Pajama training to the rescue!! I train mine in the morning for just a few minutes. It puts me in an AWESOME mood to go to work (because it’s REALLY, REALLY fun) and I typically find myself more motivated to log a second session later in the day 🙂 Plus, you’re right. It sets an awesome example for our clients 🙂

    • Samantha Adams

      This has made such a difference with my IPO dog. We got stuck in a rut of always drilling the same things over and over again and we were not getting anywhere. I’m doing way more “PJ sessions” with him, and the difference is fantastic. More energy and drive from him, and I’m getting a much better performance.

    • Josee Boulanger

      Hello, I’m feel better to know that I’m not alone… Lolll
      I work from house too so I know how we’re comfortable in pyj …
      So much than one day I had to ship a puppy to his new owner by plane. At the airport Airlines Cargo aera.. Everything work well on this winter snowing early morning… At the accounter time to pay I realized that I’m in pyj with slipper shoes in the snow.. Lolll
      Nobody realized or telling me !

      But Honnestly, I have to put in place a 5min morning pyj training for my dogs.
      You’re right I’ll be less stressed and more easy to do with my coffee 🙂
      1)when you train do you start always with the same dog ?
      2) The others dogs are in crate in the same room or in another one ?
      Thank you for so nice articles,

      • Meagan Karnes

        No. I tend to mix my schedule up. Sometimes the other dogs are outside, sometimes in the same room in crates/kennels, and sometimes, they are loose depending on what I’m working on and what stage of training they are at 🙂

    • Marge

      Love this article. I used to feel so guilty training a competition dog but having no time (or energy) left to spend with the other two dogs in my life. Doing short 5 min sessions allows me to spend quality time with all of them and doesn’t wear me out!

    • Lynne Wolf

      We have recently started pajama training in the evenings, in the downstairs rec room, to begin scent article retrieve. We have made a game out of it. Like you said, just 5 minutes or so. Now my dog begs me to go downstairs to “play our new game.” Every time I go downstairs to put in a load of laundry, she’s right behind me with that “Hey let’s play that game” smile on her face. Love it!

    • Vicky Hird

      Thankyou for your blog. Can you say a few words about cat chasing. The dogs that I have raised do not chase cats, but I have two rescue dogs that do. It is hard to assimilate them into the household since I have cats also.

    • Brenda

      Love it! Actually trained my dog and not sticking to it. Seems like the way to go.

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