Training doesn’t have to be regimental and structured but it sure needs to be fun. Ever wondered why your dog runs over to other dogs or people? Or chases rabbits, birds or squirrels? Because it is fun, interactive and unpredictable.
Standing in front of your dog telling them to sit luring with a treat does challenge their brain for a while but if you run a few steps and then tell them to sit you are more likely to get speedier results because it’s fun.
Do you remember the schoolteacher that made learning fun and different? You always seem to listen to them and learn but the teacher that stands in front of a class droning on you mostly switched off.
Using games to teach your dogs is fun for you and your dog. Your bond grows and your dog wants to be with you not the dog across the field.
Look at the sport dogs they have a great time, their training is made fun and they are doing something they love, the dogs have a great bond with their owners. Remember Ashley and Pudsey winning Britains got talent, look at the bond they had and all because they did fun things together, Pudsey was actually a very talented Agility dog too. I follow Ashley on Instagram and she has several dogs now all doing fun things and has a great bond with all of them.
So how do you know what to do?
I started by doing some trick training, then agility, using toys, getting them to use their nose to look for treats and toys. I then joined some agility pages that used games and progressed from there. We are so lucky to have the internet as the list is endless but just make sure it is all force free.
Some people may have seen me in the middle of Newbold running and playing chase or throwing treats and running away to throw the next one or getting them to stand on logs with me. It all sounds a bit daft but the dogs love it because they are interacting with me. I am unpredictable, like the rabbit and I won’t do the same things, I run off in different directions or play a game of hide and seek or hide treats to find, they never know what is coming next which makes me exciting. I say the word Ready or What’s this and I have their attention straight away which is great if there is another dog or picnickers in the distance.
If I can do this with a group of dogs that aren’t mine what can you do with your own dog?
Put some of your dogs’ daily food allowance to one side for games training and while you are waiting for the kettle to boil play a game. Throw the food in different directions in the kitchen, throw some food in front of you and dash into another room and throw another, play catch a treat, throw some food in the garden for them to find, honestly the list is endless. One to three minutes a day is plenty and watch your bond grow.
This type of training isn’t just for pups either, my 9 year old loves the games and loves learning new ones too.
My dogs love playing games where I throw treats in one direction and run another, they love magic hand where I randomly drop treats from waist height, they also love catch a treat. At home I throw treats into one room and run into another and hide, so funny and they are so excited when they find you. You can also play games that teach self control and calmness it doesn’t always have to be wild but does have to be interactive.
Give it a go, create that extra special bond and see the happiness grow even more.