How can you keep your dog’s brain stimulated when the temperatures outside are too cold for longer walks? Games that engage your dog’s mind! Free-shaping is a excellent “game” that both gives your dog a mental workout and improves your skill at training your dog (specifically, your observation skills and timing). Free-shaping can build confidence (when done correctly to avoid too much frustration) and improve your relationship with your dog. Here is a very good video that explains free-shaping and how to use it to play a game called “101 Things To Do with a Box.” The first half explains the concept and the second half demonstrates it.
Teaching your dog to come when called (Recall) is an important skill and it needs to be proofed in a variety of contexts, levels of distraction, and locations. And it needs to be practiced frequently so your dog’s Recall remains a strong behaviour with a long history of positive reinforcement.
Here is a fun training video teaching a Recall. It does a very good job of breaking down the skill into small pieces and shows the progression of the dog’s skills in varying levels of distractions. NOTE: you do not need a clicker (as shown in the video); you can use a marker word like “Yes!” if you like. And you do not need to use the same word as the verbal cue.
Does your dog know SIT? In a high distraction environment? When you are sitting in a chair? From a distance? Without any body language cues from you?
Here is one of my favourite instructional videos for teaching a dog to SIT on cue. The instructor includes some important points about fading the lure and establishing a verbal cue. It’s a great review, even if your dog already knows how to SIT on cue.
photo credit Taylor Kopel on UnSplash
With just 5 minutes of training a day, teach your dog to relax and settle when people come to the door or when guests visit your home
Now is the time to start training to help ensure your dog is better-behaved and better able to relax when people come to the door or guests come over.
What you will need:
A blanket/mat/towel to serve as your dog’s “place.” A dog bed or crate will work, too, but if you use an easily portable mat/blanket/towel, then it can be used in many locations and you can easily take it with you to other locations outside the home (yard, park, a friend’s home, an outdoor cafe, etc.).
Small bits of food your dog likes. The food should be valuable enough that your dog will want to train, but not so valuable that your dog is too excited to relax. Using a portion of your dog’s regular meal may be ideal.
A non-toxic hollow food dispensing toy or a bully stick that will occupy your dog for 5 minutes (for teaching the beginning of SETTLE).
Contact me if you would like to participate privately, with or without online personalized instruction. I’ll email you 12 sets of instructions, each with a 5 minute training session to help your dog settle and greet guests politely and calmly.