- Calling the dog back to you - straight recall
- Walking with the dog next to you (heel work) for a few minutes before 'freeing' him again.
- Dog next to you and asking for a sit or down before carrying on.
- Practise your wait/stay exercise.
- Practice your recall with a ball or toy.
- Practice your 'watch/look' exercise in different locations and with different degrees of difficulty.
You are putting together such a simple training program without doing anything extra such as going to classes. You can take this a step further and ask for a 'sit and wait' before going out the door, in or out of the car etc. We just don't always see the possibilities that are available to us in our daily interaction with our dogs - every single interaction with our dog is a possible training opportunity - training does not only happen once a week at dog school.
Bringing in simple things like the above will increase you bond, improve your dog's overall behaviour and cut down on the possibility of behaviour problems happen.
Written by Sarah Fulcher, Cert. CBST
Edited by Barbara Medland
Every meal that we feed our dogs is an opportunity for us to improve our dogs’ behaviour, enhance our bond and enrich their lives. Unfortunately, this daily occurrence is often overlooked and is a missed opportunity to improve the lives of our pooches.
As easy as it is for us to just fill our dog’s dishes up on occasion and let them graze on their food, this approach is not successful at teaching your dog the needed skills such as good behaviour and reinforcing your role as the food provider. Studies have shown that there is a strong correlation between behavioural issues with dogs who are free-fed. Allowing your dogs to eat whenever they want is a bad habit to have, especially if you are travelling with your dog or boarding him.
The Problems with being Free-Fed
- Allowing your dog to eat whenever they want is a bad habit to get into if you are traveling with your dog or boarding him, as a grazing dog may be difficult to have on the road when there is only a specified period of time for him to eat.
- It does not allow you to take notice if your dog is not feeling well, because their eating habits will change depending on their health. If your dog is trained to eat when their food is infront of them, you know immediately if you are dog is not well, as he will not want to eat.
- It makes it really difficult to house train a puppy because you don’t know when they have eaten, and therefore cannot predict when they will need to eliminate as easily.
Our pooches love to work for their meals, by doing something that will reward them with food, or make them search for their food. You have to feed your dog everyday anyways, so why not use this time that is required as a training reward?
I suggest that you feed your dog’s daily portion of food the following three ways:
- 1/3 of food in their bowl. Even though it is best for the majority of your dog’s daily food intake comes through training and enrichment, it is still appropriate to feed them from their bowl. I recommend feeding them this portion of their feed in the evening after a training session.
- 1/3 of food given during training. The training sessions conducted can either be formal obedience or tricks training. A portion of their feed can be set aside to work on problem behaviours. For example, you could use the food portion to reward your dog for remaining quiet if he has a barking issue or if you are attempting to train him to stay on the mat while you prepare food to eliminate begging behaviour.
- 1/3 of food given in enrichment activities. Enrichment activities can include using a food puzzle toy like a Kong or playing food seeking-hunting games with your dog. These types of activities allow your dog to use their head and work for their food. This technique allows your dog to satisfy their instinctual needs by using their nose, hunt and scavenge. My dogs enjoy when I hide their food throughout the house so they have to search for it. This not only gives them something to do, gets them fed, it tires them out.
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