How coffee made me think about setting up easy-peasy dog training

by | Jul 7, 2022 | Training

The problem

My kitchen is a decent size but not the most efficient.

A couple of years ago when I started drinking more coffee at home, my kettle was in the northeast corner of the counter, my coffee paraphernalia was to the west of that in a cupboard, and my compost pail was in the south east corner…the sink was in the middle of all that. But the whole ‘system’ wasn’t working.

I had to take multiple steps to fill the kettle. When it was boiling, I had to travel with it (often stepping over large dogs), to the coffee set up. When the coffee was brewed I had to travel with the soggy grounds to the compost.

You know where this is going right?

Inevitability there’d be coffee shrapnel in a trail on the kitchen floor. Or if I tried to be smart and quick about the disposal, there’d be a waterfall, deep and brown, dripping down a cupboard door.

I wanted less mess and fewer steps! I needed a coffee station!

The plan

I re-arranged everything. My husband is used to this with me, sort of…Years ago, when we had a living room with lots of space, he’d often come home to a completely different ‘look’, because of course, the sofa works better here.

Now the kettle is near the sink – easy to fill!

Now the coffee paraphernalia is in a drawer, near the sink, so it’s near the kettle – no traveling!

The compost pail rounds out my little station of hot coffee love.  No more drips, no more mucky trails of grounds. And with the sink in the middle of all this, cleanup is a breeze!

What the heck does this have to do with dog training?

A lot of dog training is hard and messy when the environment is not set up for success. How can your environment be set up for easier training? It’s really just about doing some simple planning and re-arranging of equipment.

Let’s look at some specific examples…

Are you housetraining a puppy?

How often have you had to go out with her in the middle of the night? And then you couldn’t find the leash, which you need so that she doesn’t wander off and lose focus on the real reason for being out in the backyard at 2am.

Did you forget your treats? You can’t build value for peeing outside without treats.

So do this – set up a leash, with the collar and a baggie of treats on a hook by the door. Suddenly, housetraining is easy at 2am! If you’re on the west coast, don’t forget to include an umbrella in this set up.

Or try this…Set up an x-pen in the backyard and plunk your puppy into it for potty time in the dark. You’ll be able to keep track of her, and you can easily grab her up when she’s done.

When you’ve got structure around your puppy’s bathroom breaks, she’ll quickly learn – “it’s pee time, not playtime!”

Are you teaching a dog to greet more politely at the front door?

Hang a leash on the door knob, so that you can get it on your dog before you open the door. Now you can manage behaviour more easily. Better yet, do what I do, and install a baby gate to limit front door access.

You can tell people what you’re doing before they come over. Or you could do what some awesome Clever Canine clients did, and make a sign to hang on the front door:

please be patient, we’re getting control of the dog


And finally, put a container of cookies OUTSIDE on the front porch, and tell people to grab a handful. The first thing they’re going to do when they enter is toss the treats onto the floor. Treats get the dog thinking ‘down’ and ‘floor’. Even better, it will get the dog sniffing and relaxing, instead of spiraling out of control.

Are you introducing your dog to nosework?

Training becomes much harder when you aren’t prepared. When I’m introducing a dog to the target odors used in nosework, I set stuff up so that I can do multiple sessions in a day with ease.

I do one big prep session of cooking, chopping and freezing treats. Then I store the daily quotient in the fridge. I’ve got my equipment at the ready. It’s all kept in the microwave, so my dog isn’t exposed to the odor all day long, and I can grab it when I need it.

This prep work means fewer steps, less thinking, less “mess” and doing more of whatever is going to move my dog’s training forward.

Over to you

Think about your training problem (or desire, or goal). Consider your options for setting up your environment differently. Set up required equipment where you need it, to make training or interactions with your dog as easy-peasy as possible.

With your environment figured out in advance, you’ll be set up to succeed.

If you feel like you’re not even sure where to start…start with a phone call with me…it’s free and I might be able to help. Book that right HERE.


  1. Philippa Sloan

    Great article Janet.. makes complete sense! Super info for the 1st time dog owner/trainer or even just someone who can be disorganized here and there. P

    • Janet Parker

      Thanks Philippa! But disorganized? Who would ever be disorganized? LOL

About me

Dog trainer, gardener, musician, martini-lover and cook. I heart dogs 🙂