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Dog Training Tips

Category: Dog Training Tips

5 Easy Ways to Give Your Dog A Job

Walking isn’t the only thing that dogs enjoy doing. They also love having their minds exercised. Here are 10 ways you can give your dog a job – they will thank you for it!

1. Get your dog a backpack. 

When I walk my two dogs, I usually add a backpack. Apollo carries the water, and Merlin carries his Chuck-It!, leash, water bowl, and anything else I think I’ll need during our walk. Having them both engaged in carrying their gear has improved Apollo’s aniety, and made them both feel like they are helping out.

2. Buy slow feed bowls and puzzle toys.

Dogs LOVE working for their food. You could even use plastic containers from the dollar store if you’re on a budget. Put about a ¼ cup of his food in each container and stack them. If that’s too easy for your dog, you can put the lids on the contairners for an extra challenge. 

3. Teach your dog a new trick. 

My dog Merlin always loved fetching his ball, but Apollo needed extra incentive, so I started feeding him when he brought the ball (or frisbee) back to me. When they were young, I gave them treats for sitting and downing on command. They were often more tired after those training sessions (about 15 minutes long) than they were after their walk.

4. Practice obedience commands or incorporate them into fetch.

If your dog is like mine, his most favourite thing in the world is his ball, and his most absolute favourite thing to do, is play fetch! Merlin will do anything for his ball, so when I want to add extra challenge to the game, I will tell him to “sit” before i throw the ball. He is not allowed to move from sit until I tell him “OK!” This makes it more challrnging in a couple ways; first, it is hard for him to sit when he REALLY wants to chase his ball, and second, he has to actually search for the ball once I tell him to go get it. 

5. Learn how to bikejor or skijor with your dog.

When all your dog wants to do is run, let him! Training for bikejoring is pretty easy and can make walking your dog easier as well since you are teaching your dog direction commands (right, left, stop, slow down, etc). I have done this with Apollo and he got winded pretty quickly, so I would recommend it for high energy dogs.

What are some other ways to give our dogs a job? What helps your dog?

The Power of Intention (Confidence!)

Dogs understand our body language much better than our words, and our intentions are manifested through our body language. Therefore, it is very important that you think about what your intention is before you attempt any training with your dog. This will help your dog understand what you want from him and will therefore make the lesson easier for him. If your objective is to teach your dog to sit, have an image in your mind of your dog sitting. If you want your dog to walk calmly on leash, don’t worry about how sore your shoulder is after you walk him before you even head out the door.

Learn the difference between being prepared, and stressing about all the little details.

If your dog barks and lunges at other dogs on walks, have an action plan in place for when you see another dog. Don’t work yourself up fretting about what might happen at the next corner, or 5 blocks up the street. This anxiety travels down the leash to your dog and will make the situation worse in the event that you do happen to come across another dog. Instead, hold your head high and walk with confidence. Cross the road when you see a dog coming towards you on the sidewalk, change directions, take a side street. Whatever action you choose to take, move with confidence and your dog will gain confidence in you. 

Our intentions translate into our actions. 

We are what we think.

How does this apply to training your dog? 

When we feel excited, like when we just get home from work. Our dogs are excited and happy to see us, as we are them. If we reciprocate their excitement, what will they do? 

Get more excited!!

This becomes a problem when we’re bring home an armful of groceries, or coming in with young children. 

Our emotions are also communicated through the leash. When we’re tense or nervous about a dog walking towards us – for whatever reason – our dogs will pick up on that quickly.  We may hold the leash tighter, our body will most definitely tense up, and we may walk faster or slower depending on the situation. 

Human emotions are a beacon for the dogs we share our lives with. They don’t converse so our body language is the only thing they have to try and understand us. 

And they have become experts, according to some studies. I would rely on how my dog felt about someone before I would accept someone’s word that they were a decent person! 

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-dogs-emotions/dogs-can-read-human-emotions-idUSKCN0VP1DH

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Feeling sorry for your dog

So, you just rescued a dog (yay!) but the story the shelter gave you is heartbreaking.

Good news!

It doesn’t matter what the story is! Your dog won’t live in the past unless you do. Dogs have an amazing ability to live moment to moment – and yet still remember the important stuff (like when dinner time is!). The only time they get stuck in the past is when their humans feel bad for them because of what happened, or they don’t want to discipline their dog because they were “abused”, or feel sorry for them for any number of other reasons.

Does a criminal get special treatment because they had a bad childhood? No.

A prime example is my dobie, Willow. She was used as a puppy factory in a puppymill in a previous home, and has been bounced around a bit after that. If I had refused to provide rules and structure she would not have made the progress she’s made so far.

Even though we still have issues to work on, like her fear of hissing noises and thunder, she’s overcome her intense fear of men. Merlin and a lot of treats helped her out with that!

She has come from shying away every time to actually nudging their hand for them to pet her.

She didn’t learn to trust because I felt sorry for her, she learned to deal because I told her it didn’t matter – I was going to keep her safe.

So remember, if your dog has had a rough past, the best thing you can do for him is to give him rules to live by, structure to follow and guidance to learn from.