Today I want to teach you two of our favorite training games. I have been playing these a lot this week with nine-week-old Baxter and they are game changers in raising a puppy. ~Amy
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Our Favorite Training Games
Hello and how are you today? I hope you are having a great week. Today I want to teach you two of our favorite training games. I have been playing these a lot this week with nine-week-old Baxter and they are game changers in raising a puppy.
Raising a puppy is a lot of work. It can be very tiring and somewhat stressful, mostly because let’s face it, it changes your life. No more sleeping in - at least not for the next several weeks, multiple trips of putting your shoes on, collecting the leash and training rewards, taking your puppy out to pee (I mean really, how much pee can one puppy produce right?), always having a toy handy to redirect the constant mouthing, creating a new schedule and a new routine that works with your life.
Okay okay, so yes it is work, but oh my, the rewards that come with raising a dog are priceless. I know you all experience those moments when you sit back and realize the amazing life of a dog. They live in the moment. They offer unconditional love. They sense your emotions and provide joy filled moments throughout the day. I promise all the time and effort you are putting into training right now is WORTH IT!
One of the first games I teach every puppy I work with is sit to say please. I love this game because it teaches my puppy sitting is the fastest way to get what they want. Dogs' brains are wired to see something they want and go get it as fast as they can. They don’t come to us knowing if they wait for something, good things will happen. So we teach them.
When my puppy runs over to me, I hold a fist out to meet them, two feet in front of me and quickly lure them into a sit. Don’t say the word sit. We want this to be automatic behavior for our puppy. Then move one foot away and repeat the exercise. After five times, lose the lure and see if when you stop moving, your puppy sits on their own. If so great! Keep going by making the game harder - take more steps away each time. If not, go back to luring them into a sit 5-10 more times then try again to see if they’ll offer it on their own.
Once your puppy plays this game with you, have every member of your family play it with them. Once everyone has played it inside, take the game outside. This helps your puppy generalize the behavior to different people and different places. Once your puppy is fully vaccinated, take this game to the park and practice in public. Keep progressing the game by adding new places and new people, but do so gradually and at a pace to set your puppy up for success.
This sit to say please also translates into everyday life. Before you throw a toy for your puppy, wait for them to sit. Before you open the door to go outside, wait for a sit. Before you set their food bowl down wait for a sit. What you’ve now done is taught your puppy sitting is the fastest way to get what they want. Think of all the behaviors you’ve now sidestepped by teaching this one principle. When you go to feed your puppy, they aren’t jumping all over you or the food bag. When you go to head outside, they aren’t jumping up on the door or barking at you to open it. When your dog wants to play, they come to you and sit, instead of biting your ankles, barking or jumping on you as normal dogs do. Be consistent with this as your puppy grows and it will turn into a solid habit.
The next game is Hide & Go Seek. I like to teach new puppies this game because it is fun, gets their energy out, practices the sit to say please concept and helps create an initial recall or come. Puppies between the ages of 8-12 weeks are really interested in where you are. Sure they may wander off, but after a few minutes, if they don’t see you, they’ll go seeking for you. Use this time to teach the basic recall.
To play, get a squeaky toy and a few training rewards in your pocket or pouch. When your puppy is distracted on something else, disappear out of sight. Hide behind a chair or sofa so they can kind of see you. Remember we always start on the easiest level possible to set our dogs up for success. Then squeak the toy or tap the floor. Do something that catches your puppy’s attention. When they find you, quickly lure them into a sit (yep there’s that sit to say please game again) and reward them for finding you like a champ. Then get them off on something else again and go hide somewhere new. Stay in the same room as them until their skills improve. Eventually take this to new rooms, outside and play with other people too. Also, add in the word COME when you are ready for them to come find you.
Puppies love quick movements, unpredictability and the excitement of play. Give these two simple games a try and watch your dog’s behavior improve.
Have a great week and happy training!