Category Archives: Games

“A door is what a dog is perpetually on the wrong side of.”

“A door is what a dog is perpetually on the wrong side of.”
Ogden Nash

This is so true and because I am raising two puppies, I can assure you this stops being funny!
I open the door to the garage to put out the trash and both puppies rush out, get one in, the other stays out and plays hard to catch, I finally get it and when I open the door to get it in, the other comes out! They could play this game all day but I start to get exasperated.
A fast and fun solution is to teach them the “Touch my hand” game. It’s very easy, and the puppies love it. You start by placing the palm of your hand about 3 inches in front of your dog’s muzzle. Out of curiosity he will approach to smell and quite possibly touch it. When he does so, readily “mark” the behavior with an enthusiastic “YES!” and immediately give him a treat. The key is to get him to actually touch your palm. Because puppies are usually always interested in food, you can practise 5 or 6 times in a row gradually increasing the distance he has to move towards your palm.
Now you can use your palm to get your puppy in or out and to stay on the side of the door YOU want him on!
Below is sequence of photos that will help you see the training process.
Additional training tips:
1) If he does not actually touch your hand rub the treat on it first.
2) If he gets bored after just one or two reps, your treat is not good enough (try slices of hot dogs)
3) If he insists on smelling the hand that holds the treat, put it behind your back and hold your palm right in front of his muzzle.
4) Remember to “mark” the touching with an enthusiastic YES! followed immediately with the treat.
Happy training!


Play and Learn

Last weeks homework was for you to reward your dog many times for looking at you whenever you said his name. You see, if you say your dog’s name and he does not even turn to look at you, there is no point in calling him because he is NOT going to come; so you are just practicing the wrong behavior over an over.

I like to teach my dogs to come by playing a series of games. This not only makes it fun for both of us, but it also teaches him that coming to me is better than any other thing he is doing. When competing with very distracting stimuli, like a squirrel, or the neighbors horses, dogs or cats, I really need to make it worthwhile for him to stop the chase and want to come to me. Fun games are a great way to do this.

One of the first games that I play with Oliver and Amelia is called a restrained recall. I ask someone to help me by holding one of them by the collar ( I use a buckle collar, not a choke collar or any other type of correction collar), while I run away from him hooting, hollering, waving and acting very silly. At this point he is pulling trying to break way from the person holding him to chase after me. I will then turn around, kneel down and call him “Oliver COME! My helper will now let him go and he will come like he has been released out of a sling shot, running full speed towards me. All this time I will be praising and smiling. When he gets to me I pat him, shower him with praise and also give him super yummy treats.

We can usually repeat this 3 or 4 times allowing me to increase the distance that I run away from him. Since we live on a farm, my dogs can wander a few hundred feet from me, so I make it point to practice right from the beginning to come to me from a good distance.

I will continue to practice giving him a treat whenever say his name and he LOOKS at me; this is really the first step to a truly reliable recall, if I can get his attention, I greatly increase the probability of him actually coming.

Stay tuned for more games!