Here’s a little dog training tips challenge for you over the Christmas break. There is one activity per day, and at the end of it, you and your dog will have some new skills! The first six are this week, and the next six follow on next week. You can have a break on Sundays.
On the first day of Christmas…
One sit and stay!
Ask your dog to sit for 5 seconds, then 10 seconds, then 5 seconds, then 15 seconds, then 1 second. Move your dog off the spot in between each sit. Have a break. Then, start again for 15 seconds, 30 seconds, back to 15 seconds. When you start again, begin with 30 seconds as the first amount of time. Always drop back to a shorter time now and again. As your dog settles more, begin to walk away and come back to him whilst you are counting. Work up to leaving your dog for longer until you can go out of the room and come back!
On the second day of Christmas…
Two steps of heelwork.
Heelwork is walking at your side, with the dog’s head and shoulders level with your leg. For competition dog training the dog needs to be on the left, but I like to teach my dog to stay close to whichever side I place him. This can be safe when you are near traffic as the dog can be positioned away from the roadside. Start with your dog slightly behind you, pat your leg and waggle a treat at your side. As your dog comes forward, say ‘heel’ and walk two steps only. Stop, feed your dog the treat. Start again – two steps at a time, no more. Reward as you go, rather than each time you stop. Before you know it, you will be walking along with your dog happily and neatly at heel.
On the third day of Christmas…
Three downs a-staying!
Ask your dog to lie down. Let him settle in this position before you try to stand up straight. If you need to use a treat to lure him into the down position, do so. Dog training should be an enjoyable and relaxing activity. If your dog enjoys it, stroke his sides gently and give him a tummy rub too. When he has relaxed, slowly stand up straight, reminding him ‘down’ as you do so. Repeat this three times.
On the fourth day of Christmas…
Four dog toys to search for!
Pick out four of your dog’s favourite toys. If your dog prefers treats, use four of these. Ask your dog to stay in place (using the previous days’ training) or shut the dog out of the room. Hide the toys or treats around the room and let your dog come in to find them all!
On the fifth day of Christmas…
Fetch five things!
Get your dog to fetch, and bring back, five different toys. If your dog grabs things and runs away, play this game into a corner so that your dog can only come back to you as he picks up the toy. If your dog isn’t keen on toys, work on getting your dog to play with a toy, containing food if you can. Try and get five quick games with it, then put the toy away. Dog training is all about keeping it fun!
On the sixth day of Christmas…
Six people playing (with your dog)!
Work on socialising your dog by asking six different people to play with your dog, offer your dog a treat, or if your dog is shy, just offer a treat every time you meet a new person. Dogs of any age need to enjoy social contact, so make sure your dog does not get out of practice.