As part of training with my terriers and with customers dogs it’s important that’s dogs receive some kind of recognition when they are getting it right or at least trying to think about it!
This doesn’t always mean food – food can be quick and easy for a food loving dog with no intolerances or stomach issues but food can be substituted for toys, belly rubs, a game of chasing their owner, itching that spot behind the ear – whatever your dog enjoys can become their reward!!
Take my three; Cassie has never been a big playing dog, doesn’t care about her toys (has her first ever toy from 15 years ago still with working squeak) but she can still have fun and interact! As part of praise I give her lower back a massage, I give a thumbs up (visual ‘click’ as she is deaf), big smile and she will have a piece of treat too. But it’s a package of praise not just lobbing a treat into her mouth – there’s emotions of joy and celebration, there’s body language, and touch too!
When I work with Border Terrier Pongo we use solely toys, praise and fuss – no food at all. So a tennis ball in my hand to assist my body language in showing Pongo what I am asking for then a ‘yes’ to mark the desired response and the ball is brought to Pongo’s mouth to take and squeak! We also praise him, give his body a fuss, laughter and smiles and I’m sure sometimes he laughs back!!
Being pleased with each type of success when training your do can be difficult when we are aiming for a higher goal but remember from your dogs perspective that they don’t know your end goal! So letting them know when they are right or heading the right way makes such a difference! And keeping it fun for you and your dog! Mix in with the new training some of your dogs favourites – Taylor enjoys a good emergency stop and a play retrieve so these are included with new activities – currently he is starting to learn to wrap his paw around my leg on cue so after a couple of repetitions we also do a retrieve then ask for a stop! This keeps Taylor motivated and focused, helps us both enjoy our time even if he struggles one session to offer what I think I’m asking for, and breaks up the intensity that at repetition training!
Fun is whatever you and your dog say it is, not what you are told it has to be and only that! Enjoy the time you spend training – I love every training session I can have with my dogs, regardless of what we are working on, and sometimes we go back to real basics just for the sheer pleasure of some fast paced training full of games, praise and motivation – and that’s as important for us as it is for our dogs 🙂
Go have fun working your dogs!