Many times when I am doing doing training classes or dog training sessions with clients, when we finish and are reviewing their “homework”, sometimes there is a look of dread. The look of having to do another chore or the frustration of trying to fit puppy training into their schedule. Often this is where we will have the discussion how to enjoy your dog training with your puppy or dog. That training your dog actually can be fun. Now I won’t sugar coat it either. Yes, having training sessions with your dog is helpful and does take time and patience. However, you can also make dog training sessions fun and turn real life situations into something where it is possible to enjoy your dog training sessions.
Let’s take a look at some examples of what you are probably already doing and how you can change them to dog training sessions.
- You know those games and fun toys that you play with your puppy currently? Pivot. Rather than just freely give them the toy, ask them to sit and / or drop it before you throw it or play. Reinforce that sit. Teach the drop it for all of those things that shouldn’t have been in their mouth. Reinforcement happens with fun for both of you and you don’t need to use food treats.
- That behavior Touch / Hand Targeting that is so diverse? Teach them a trick like weaving through your legs. I did this with a border collie mix who need an additonal focus exercise. It was fun for both of us and easy to learn and teach.
- Are you Playing tug with your dog? You can read my blog here on the rules and more specifics on the healthy way to play tug. While playing you can start with basic behaviors like sit and drop it. Then add more behaviors such as down, multiple touch combination, etc in between pulling the tug toy. You are reinforcing training behaviors, having fun and both of you are getting a workout. And of course you are enjoying your dog training sessions without even realizing it.
Of course these are just examples of having fun with dog training. This also is in addition to those “boring” real life training situations. Real life meaning having your dog doing a sit / stay at the door before you go outside or a sit / stay for the leash being hooked on their collar. In my classes, I will have clients always have a do a sit / stay before a “meet the trainer”. This is an example of having a polite dog to meet people.
Training your dog doesn’t have to be a chore. You and your dog can both enjoy your dog training journey. Sometimes you won’t even realize it’s happening and other times just a little creativity can go a long way. Dog Training can be fun. Just ask my dog Mojo who will tell you how much she loves doing hi-fives on our walks for focus or to get through a stressful situation.
“The greatest pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself too.” – Samuel Butler