Dogs have the amazing ability to love owners through thick or thin! When I think of the crappy training methods I used back in the dark days before I learned how to use reward based methods, I cringe!
Dogs love so many things – food, balls, toys, walks, the beach, the park, doggy friends, rolling in smells, smelling smells, making smells! What does your dog love? Go make a list right now! List things or experiences they like at home and when they are out and about.
Now, think of three things you would like your dog to do for you – how about walk nicely on lead, come back to you and stop jumping up.
Now, let’s put it all together!
Your dog just loves to roll on the soft grass in the middle of the oval.
If you dog is walking nicely on the way back from a walk, head to the nice soft grass, unclip the lead & let him roll! If there is something nice & smelly on the grass, even better. Set your dog up for success by teaching loose lead walking, or choose a time when he is calm.
Or maybe your dog loves a swim at the beach.
Do a little recall practice on the beach (on lead if necessary) & when she does a nice job, let her have a lovely swim. If she likes balls, maybe fetch in the sea. Your dog is then rewarded for coming back with another swim, and some ball play!
If your dog is a hunter & loves to sniff & search, head to the bush. Use this as an opportunity to practice your recall (on a long lead to start with). He comes back, you might give him chicken, but best of all you let him go free to sniff the bush & the rabbit poo. Eventually, you can progress to off lead work. It doesn’t take long!
The dog park!
Do you head to the park with a barking, pulling, excited dog & then let him off the lead? Your dog could be learning that pulling & excitement gets free play. Mmm, perhaps try doing it the other way around. First, put in some work teaching loose lead walking & calm behaviour. When you approach the dog park on a loose lead, guess what? The dog is free to go play with friends!
Reinforcing behaviours you want with what your dog wants is empowering for your dog and shapes strong behaviours. Let’s face it, if we do something of our own free will (rather than being forced) and get something we really want in return, chances are we will want to do it again!