In the Photos: Our trainers Alex and Lauren with their dogs, Flickr and Raylyn, working on some tricks!
Training Beyond Commands
The other day I was talking to a couple clients and the question came up - “What else can I do other than Sit, Down, Come and Heel? I want to do more but what can I do with my dog?”
This is a really good question. Basic obedience commands are important in that we can establish the right relationship with our dog and teach them habits of the house and show them what we expect them to do during specific situations - Place during dinner time, down stay while I relax, sit at the doors and so on. But there is more to life than just obedience commands, there are lots of games you can play with your dog that continue to keep your dog mentally challenged and engaged! Here are a couple pawsitive ideas and games we enjoy.
One of my favorite things to do with my dogs is to play hide & seek. Sometimes I’ll hide or have my kids hide and sometimes I hide one of their favorite toys or a special treat. In the beginning of teaching our dogs this game we made it very obvious where the “find” was and progressed our way to the point that we are hiding things that they really have to use their nose to find. This game is loads of fun and a great mental workout for any dog!
One day when we decided to go “without screens” we realized how much we relied on texting our kids even though we were all home. Through this, we created a new game to play with our dogs. Instead of texting our kids, our dogs became personal couriers, taking messages back and forth. Our dogs had learned soft mouth retrieval so we would write notes and tell our dog to “take it to Hannah”. My dog would hold the note in his mouth and off he would go, delivering the note to Hannah who would reply and send it back. Another way to send messages is to have your dog wear a backpack. That option will keep your messages dry!
Teaching Tricks is another thing we do with our dogs. While it’s great to see peoples faces light up in amazement at how well trained our dogs are, I get the greatest enjoyment showing off their tricks! It took time to get a fun routine of tricks down but it was well worth it. Shake, roll-over, “bang”, sit pretty, and weave between my legs are fun but the best is the shell game! Friends are amazed that my dogs can figure out which cup holds the ball!
There are a lot of things you can do beyond the basic commands and being creative with games is another way to actively engage with your dog and create a closer bond with them. Remember, all work and no play is boring! Remember to have fun too!