Does your dog bark for your attention while you’re working from home? Do you struggle to fit puppy training into your busy schedule? Or do you want to try a new enrichment idea?
What is the Pomodoro Technique?
The Pomodoro Technique (named after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer) is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo during his time at university. Relatively popular in academia and business for some time, the method has since reached the popular market – over a dozen red and orange smartphone apps await your download.
You can read the research and resulting 45-page paper about the Pomodoro Technique, or this quick summary on the official website. Basically, you set a timer for 25 minutes, and focus on one particular task, be it replying to emails, writing a report, or cleaning the house. (Turn off the phone and email alerts – even if you don’t check them, research suggests that the tone itself breaks your concentration in a significant way.) When the timer goes off, you have 5 minutes for a break. This is one Pomodoro cycle. For every four Pomodoro cycles, you’ll take a longer break of 15-30 minutes. This technique is modifiable to your needs of course – you split your work/break time into any combination that fits your schedule and helps you get your work done.
Just add a canine!
So, how does the cute puppy fit in? It turns out the Pomodoro Technique is perfect for dog training. Here are some of the benefits:
- Several short training sessions keeps training fun and exciting for both of you
- Your dog reaps the benefits of repetition throughout the day
- Your dog practices and is rewarded for settling quietly
- It’s a great way to add enrichment throughout your dog’s day
Here’s how I suggest trying the Pomodoro technique with your dog:
- Make a list of exercises you’re working on with your dog, and prepare your reinforcers (food, toys, etc).
- Settle your puppy on a mat or in her kennel near your workspace. If you’re still in training, keep some treats handy to reward your puppy for calm and quiet throughout the Pomodoro. If your dog finds small bits of veggies rewarding, you might find it is cleaner to type on your computer while using vegetables as a reward rather than kibble or meat. Or, you can get help from technology – there are a few products on the market that deliver food rewards to your dog on a timed schedule, such as the Treat and Train or Pet Tutor.
- When it is time for a break, choose one of your exercises and get training! Remember that transitioning back to settling may be a little difficult, so reward the first few minutes more highly until your dog calms down a bit.
I have a tendency to spend too much time working on my computer – I’m often surprised by how much time has passed! I love that this technique reminds me to take time out for my dogs, which is an equal priority for me.
Give it a shot, and let me know in the comments – I’m excited to hear how this works for others!