Tag Archive | games

Power Play – the key secret to any training lesson

Ever wondered how a trainer gets the best from their dog? How they can get their dog, be it a police dog, a search and rescue dog or a movie dog to do something you think ‘How did they do that?’

I’ll let you into a little secret that the best trainers and dog owners in the world know. You probably do too but you’ve never used it to your advantage before

Dogs Love to Play!

That’s the secret! Canines live to play. They do it together, on their own, they use it to create bonds, learn about one another and learn about themselves and their limitations or skills. What could be simpler!

As soon as they can hold their own bodyweight and they can see one another, they’re off. They will nip, bite, chase each other, steal from each other and learn from each other. What better way to learn than when you’re having fun!

Who’s biggest, who’s strongest, who’s smartest?

They learn team-work gets them farther than tug of war.

There’s nothing better than having fun with a friend!

Now you know.

I always say to my clients  ‘always end on a game’ I don’t say this for the good of my health. There is a reasoning behind this and that is  if you finish on a fun game, your dog is going to want to do it again and again and again. Why? Because he’s having fun!

Most importantly, playing is about bonding. If you don’t play regularly with your dog, there’s a chance you aren’t so high ranking in your pack as you might like to think. If you do play with your dog regularly- who instigated play? If it is your dog who brings you a ball or a toy and you then start to play a game of fetch, your four legged friend is teaching you that he is the one who is making the decisions and on his terms – with play!

There is no such thing as a ‘dumb’ animal and even your puppy can teach you a trick or two when it comes to play-time. Your dog is a body language expert and when it comes to play, this is where you can try and keep him guessing. To be the best leader/ owner you can be you need to have fun and games with your dog. Everything you teach him about manners, boundaries and rules can all be concreted in a game of fetch!

Don’t expect your dog to know how to play. I have met rescue dogs who didn’t know how to chase a ball never mind bring it back! Show them. When I worked with rescue dogs like these, it was me who did most of the running to begin with! Then they want to start running with you and catching the ball or toy, now they’re getting it! Then you start putting the rules into place – when you bring the ball/ toy back, you let it go for a reward. Loads of praise, energy and fun is the key to any successful game. I might just add here that I do not play tug of war games with my dogs, they play tug together, as this is a strength game and I wouldn’t put my strength into question as a leader. That’s something the dogs can play and learn between themselves.

Finally, play is about being social. We are both social species, humans and canines and that is how it should be. If  a dog steps over the line in regards to becoming possessive, aggressive, dominant or rough, play ends. You are making the rules and games and play happen on your terms if you are involved, or even if you aren’t.

So, use play to strengthen bonds, re-inforce learning and have fun!

I hope you enjoyed my blog, please feel free to leave a comment below I’d love to hear about you and your dog(s).

Bernie – The Dog Owners Coach

Works a Treat! Is your dog a smart cookie?

Do you use positive reinforcement when training your dog?

Definition: Adding a positive stimulus contingent on a behavior in order to increase the probability of that behavior happening again.

Ok here’s a few examples: When you call your dog to you (ie recall) do you give him a treat, a tid bit or lots of praise? That’s positive reinforcement

If you’re house training your puppy, when it looks like she is about to go you take her outside and when she goes do you give her loads of cuddles or a small treat and tell her she’s the best dog in the world? That’s positive reinforcement.

Dogs are very much like us, they want to know What’s in it for me. Would we do our dull 9 to 5 job if we didn’t get paid a wage? Would we go to the gym if we thought it wouldn’t get us fit and shapely to get into that dress or bikini?

Positive reinforcement is a way of training your dog to do something again because they have received a positive or good thing that they will make them want to repeat again and again to get that reward. I know if someone waved a bar of chocolate or a tenner in my face and asked me to mow the lawn, I’d do it!

Think ‘What motivates my dog?’ Find the thing that makes your dog go do-lally and use it to motivate him into fun training! It can be squeeky toys, balls, bubbles, food, all dogs are different.

Recently I did a coaching consultation and the dog was a bit of an independant terrier, did his own thing at home and was starting to get too big for his boots and get himself in trouble with the family. I usually get owners to do more bonding and play with their dog, on the humans terms, not the dogs.  It’s amazing how people are unaware that their dog has been the one to initiate a game. The dog trots over to the owner with his favourite toy in his mouth and either drops it at their feet or in their lap and then looks up, or they start playing with the toy right in front of owner inviting him to join in. Who is being trained now?

Anyway, this very smart terrier was one of these type of dogs, he’d squeek his ball and one of the family would come running to play with him! So we tried it my way. We all sat chatting as he tried every single one of us, me included, into a game of ball, we ignored him and eventually he went and lay in his bed. I then asked each member of the family to try and get him to come to them for a play or a cuddle using something they thought would motivate him. Guess what happened? Only 1 of them got him out of his bed, they had a treat, he sniffed it and then went back to his bed and lay back down. Does that surprise you? To many owners it doesn’t.

I then pulled out my home made treats (tuna&cheese flavour) I always have them with me coaching and have yet to meet a dog who doesn’t like these babies. I asked each person to walk past sleeping beauty and whaft the treat under his nose and walk to the far end of the kitchen and call him. All of a sudden there was a different dog in the house, he came when called, he was giving paws and doing tricks, he wanted to interact now, on their terms. Why? Because they had found what motivated him and he found something good in it for him to repeat the behaviour.

Smart cookie is an understatement! You can find my treats and what I do Here

Please leave a comment if you liked this post or find me on Facebook -Bernie Browne