Is your training time with your dog a time of playfulness and bonding? If not, it should be. No matter what type of training you do, food rewards, toys, and a ton of praise will get your dog’s tail wagging.
Good, motivational time spent with your pet leads to a companion who’s excited when they see that leash come out, will inspire him to put more effort into his work, and will encourage him to stay more focused on the task at hand. Everyone makes more of an effort for a good paycheck, and your pet is no exception.
Here are a few tips to help get you started with a more engaging training session with your dog:
- Use high value food rewards. Some examples of high value treats are real meat (just dice it up), cheese, and some of the moist, chewy treats on the market. Remember, it’s the dog that decides what treats are high value, and what aren’t. Do some taste testing.
- Get out those toys. If you have a dog that’s toy motivated, get out that ball, tug, or squeak toy, and put it to use. If you get a few steps of really nice heeling, throw the ball. If you get a good recall, play a little tug.
- Keep sessions short. Decide on an exercise or two to work on, and practice in little bursts interspersed with play. It will help keep your dog engaged and fresh.
- Keep that food or toy moving for some added excitement. Build up a little drive and enthusiasm by luring with your reward. Instead of just dropping a treat in your dog’s mouth, keep it moving, and make him put in a bit of effort to catch it. If you have a dog that thinks it’s a land shark and tries to take your fingers off along with the treat, try tossing the treat. If your dog lags, toss it out front. If he forges ahead, toss it behind. Mix it up and keep him guessing.
- Infuse the session with your energy. This is probably the most important ingredient to a fun training session. Your dog takes his cue from you, and if you keep your attitude light and fun, so will he!
A happy, motivated, enthusiastic dog is not only a joy to see, but a real pleasure to work with, so don’t be afraid to mix work and play. How do you motivate your dog and keep that tail wagging? I’d love to hear from you!