All Things Dog

Educational Fun for Your Dog

Depending on his breed characteristics and natural disposition, your dog will tend towards certain behaviors, whatever his training level. Maybe he loves chasing the ball, but is reluctant to bring it back. Or maybe he's a great swimmer, but soaks his family while shaking his coat dry. Here are some ideas on how to encourage certain behavior, while having so much fun that neither of you will think of it as training!

You Start the Game, You Finish the Game

You are the leader, so you should set the parameters of the play session, whether it's fetch, hide and seek, stay, and come, or just a sprint around the park. No matter how wild and rambunctious the game, your dog should look to you for cues and never try to re-start the game or prolong it when you've had enough. Remember: you start the fun, you end the fun.

Body Language Counts

The most obvious signifier of "this is real fun!" in dog-language is a briskly wagging tail. If his tail is between his legs it may mean he's feeling intimidated by you or that your training sessions are too long. Try shortening sessions, returning repeatedly to something he's good at, and giving him lots of praise. Treats, toys, and games are a good way to reinforce good behavior. Speaking of treats…

Treats and Timing

Make him work for his goodies. Keep some dry treats in a fanny pack or in your pocket, and give him one when he displays a desired behavior. The faster you are at deliver the treat, the faster your dog will associate the reward with the desired behavior.

Try Some Novelty Tricks

Shaking a paw, rolling over, playing dead and waving are just a few of the fun "party tricks" some dogs pick up with ease. Once he's learned that simple behavior on command will earn him attention and praise, little games like this become yet another way to keep his attention on you, and reinforce your bond.

Finally…Games to Say "Thanks!"

Once he's successfully mastered the behavior you want to encourage, let off steam together! That way, he knows that training always leads to fun. A few Frisbee tosses or a fast run with your dog are both great ways to end a challenging training session.

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