10 Jun PLAY WITH YOUR DOG!
Teaching the Dog Through Play
If you stop and think about it what would be the easiest way, and the least stressful way to teach you something new? Probably something that let you be yourself and have fun, don’t you think? So why can’t we teach our dogs that way, heck why don’t we teach our kids that way?!?
If you look at success rates in the schools that is how they have found our children learn the most, by having fun. Even being fifty plus years (not telling my real age!) I think it would be super cool to learn something new while I was having fun.
In order for your dog to learn you first must have the dogs attention. This is something that is not easily attained, unless you were super diligent when you first got your pup. The average dog today would rather go off and sniff the grass than pay attention to their owner. To me that is sad, and what needs to be changed. So how do we do it? We have to be more fun than the smell of that grass! Easier said than done, I know. Even if one week your dog thinks you are the tops, the next week, the smell of the grass won out.
We all want our dogs to have personality, and not be robots, but we do need them to focus and pay attention to us when we ask them too. So let us start with the mindset that our dog is totally untrained. We are working on the bond between us and having fun at the same time. We are going to start with a simple game of find it!
You can play this game in the house or outdoors. Get someone to hold onto your dog whilst you excitedly tease him with a toy and then run off and hide behind a large object (a door, cupboard or a tree). Let your dog watch you hide. Your helper should then ask your dog: “Where did she go? Go and FIND HER!” in an excited voice and release your dog. When your dog comes rushing to you, enthusiastically praise him and reward him with the toy.
Repeat the game a couple more times, making sure that each time your dog watches where you are hiding. Add to the complexity by hiding in another room or behind different bushes or trees each time.
Once your dog gets the gist of the game and is running to you enthusiastically, you can move up one level. Now when you go to hide, ask your helper to turn the dog around so that he cannot see where you have hidden – though he must have a general idea of the limited area in which to search or he will run around aimlessly.
When your dog finds you praise and reward him. If he has trouble, let him search for a while, before you softly call out to him. Then let him work his way to you. At no point should you or your helper show him where you are hidden –as this will discourage him from using his nose and rely more on human help. Let him figure it out for himself.