You walk your dog every day (and if you don’t, start now). Why not use the time to do some on the spot training that will build your skills and help your dog learn? You might as well use the time, rather than meandering along wondering what you will have for tea tomorrow. Here’s a few quick dog training workouts for you to add into your walk.
Before you start
Take some food treats with you. The best things to use are small (the size of your little fingernail, no bigger!) pieces of meat such as ham or sausage, mixed in with a portion of your dog’s normal biscuit. Either get a treat pouch, or line your pocket with a plastic bag. These are your dog’s wages, so don’t be a mean boss.
Next start on your walk
Don’t allow your dog to drag you down the path. Stop, call your dog to you, give him a treat, then say it’s ok to move. If he lunges forward, repeat. Keep repeating until he stops and waits for you. Congratulations, you have made a great start already. If your dog is just too excited to do the first exercise, don’t panic. Try it each day. It will come!
As you walk down the road, try to say ‘Good dog’ and give your dog a treat every time he is by your side and not pulling. Easy and quick. You will find he walks at your side waiting for his next bit of wages, if you do this every day.
Count 5 paces, and ask your dog to sit. Pay him with a little bit of food, then tell him ‘heel’ as you walk again. Count 10 paces, then sit him again. Another little food piece. Then count 5 paces again… as before, sit, and reward. Vary the number of paces you take, but always ask your dog to sit when you’ve counted the number. You might want to do a few more, or even just 2 paces, to keep your dog guessing.
If you get it right, your dog is soon going to be watching your every move, waiting for the sit command. This is what we call control, and is the kind of behaviour that makes others admire your cool, calm and collected handling!
Now it is time to do a bit of recall practice. Either on or off the lead, whichever you prefer, step back a little way and happily call your dog to you. Give him his wages (a food piece). Walk a bit further, and repeat, calling him, step back, he comes to you, reward. Do this at least twenty times on every walk. If you have problems and your dog ignores you, put him back on the lead so that as you step back, he is drawn gently towards you.
Keep repeating these little circuit training workouts as you walk, until you are home. Congratulations! Your workout is complete!
– Karen Wild