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BY AMY GARABEDIAN
Here’s something you probably haven’t thought about when it comes to training your dog. Training is just a game you play.
In the beginning, we teach our puppies all kinds of things. We teach them to sit, to lay down, not to jump on counters. We teach them where it’s appropriate to go to the bathroom and where it certainly isn’t. We make a party out of each move the puppy makes that is right, that wins. We celebrate with treats and praise.
Then, many times, suddenly the shine is gone and the training stops. Where before we’d spend hours with our pup to “teach” them, it starts to get a bit boring and we just … stop. We expect, like some kind of computer, that we’ve programmed our dogs. That they just know what to do and that they will do it.
A lot of frustrated people make this claim: “My dog knows what to do, he just won’t do it.”
Play With Me
Most dogs live for engagement with their people. You’re likely the most interesting thing in their world. Their day revolves around your schedule, when you wake up, go to work, come home. So when we stop engaging them, is it really any wonder they stop playing by the rules we set out?
Think about this the next time your dog does something you don’t like. Can you turn compliance back into a game? If you can, and you can engage your dog with joy or a reward, chances are, the next time you ask in a non-game setting, you might just get a win for all involved.
Come When Called Becomes Hide-and-Go-Seek
Here’s an idea to get you started remembering how fun training can be. A solid recall is arguably one of the most important commands you can teach your dog. That means having a dog that can reliably come to you upon command. A fun way to spice it up if the old recall is getting a bit rusty is to engage in hide-and-go-seek. Bring something that is sure to get your dog’s attention, the whiff of a yummy treat or the squeak of a fascinating new toy, and pair it with your call from the other room, “Come!”
Many dogs simply love the game of “find it” and if you are the thing they are finding, so much the better. Hide somewhere, maybe behind a door or crouched down behind the couch and call for your dog. Make sure to make it possible for them to find you with some a little work in the beginning and more as they start to “get” the game.
Guest Blogger for The Pet Beastro thepetbeastro.com: Amy Garabedian is the co-owner of Sit Means Sit Metro Detroit, which trains hundreds of dogs locally each year. She has a passion for helping dogs and their owners live their best life and she believes therapy dogs might just save the world. For more information, visit sitmeanssit.com/dog-training-mu/metro-detroit-dog-training/.