Your training sessions with your dogs are more apt to be successful if they are fun. Humans and animals are both alike in that we both absorb and retain more knowledge when we are having a good time. Your dog will not only learn quicker in a fun training session it will also strengthen the bond between you and your dog. To quote Dr. Ian Dunbar, an animal behaviourist, “You can instill fear in your kids and get them to mind, but they won't function better in the world and your relationship will suffer greatly."
Dogs are very intuitive to our feeling; therefore it is paramount to approach each training session with a happy positive attitude. When we are happy and upbeat our dogs will want to join in the fun. Give your dog positive feedback with lots of verbal praise, pats and yummy treats. Training by adding fun games will enhance your bonding and it will alleviate stress and frustration for both you and your dog; the added benefits of game playing includes keeping your dog fit through exercise, developing confidence, good manners and sustaining attentiveness.
What do I mean by game playing? Fetch for example. Tossing a ball for your dog to retrieve and return to you. While playing fetch you can have your dog learn and practice the Sit, Down, Wait, Stay, Recall and Drop-it commands. Your dog is very in tuned to your body language and will respond quickly to the anticipated direction of where the ball will be thrown. Make if fun by changing up the direction of the ball throw. Sometimes allowing your dog to chase the flight of the ball and other times having them waiting till the ball has landed.
During agility classes I encourage my students to bring a tug toy for their pets to engage in a game of Tug-of-War while waiting to run their dogs. Tug-of-War keeps your dog’s attention towards you and develops physical back end strength. Letting your dog win often will build his confidence. When done playing practice the Sit and Drop-it command.
At home you can play Hide and Seek. Having your dog Sit and Stay while you hide treats or a favorite squeaky toy. Give the Release command then allow your dog’s natural curiosity and nose to search out toys and treats.
Dog tricks are also games: beg, bow, and roll-over. There may be times that it is imperative you require your dog’s focus on you and away from enticing distractions – tricks are a great way of re-focusing their attention on yourself.
Teach your dogs to spin to the right and to the left or walking forward with you and walking backwards with you. Get them to jump through your looped arms or over you when crouched. How about getting to walk between your legs in a weave pattern? Now you may be ready to teach your dog a dance routine!
Dog training is a lifetime commitment to your dog as a variety of challenges may come up in your dog’s lifetime that may require new skills required of your dog. Perhaps a new baby or puppy may change the family dynamics. All of a sudden that neglected Leave-it command is a now needed useful skill.
By implementing games in your training regimen the games will foster your dog’s interest in learning new skills and create desirable behaviour patterns. Remember to keep your training session fun and short mounting small steps towards your goals. End each session on the positive, before your dog becomes tired and you get frustrated. Once your dog has figured out that training is about having fun he will look forward to the next session and will love learning new skills.
Salty Dogs Agility