Good behavior is important everywhere you go with your dog. However, the same old training routine can get boring. Games are a great way to improve behavior and responses to commands while adding some variety. They can be a fun way for you and your dog to bond as well. Here are three fun games to mix up training while encouraging good behavior.
If you have kids, you may be familiar with the airplane game. For people, it’s a fun way of getting food to your child’s mouth to encourage them to eat healthier foods and try them out. For dogs, it’s a great way to instill calm, patient behavior.
Start by having your dog sit in front of you, and place a treat in your hand. Holding the treat over your head, slowly bring it down toward your dog. As long as your dog continues to sit quietly, keep bringing the treat closer. If your dog gets up or jumps toward the treat, stop, turn around, and wait for your dog to calm down. Put him back into a sitting position, and try again. If your dog is calm the entire time, give the treat, lots of praise, and a few other “jackpot” treats to let them know they did great! Your dog will learn that patience is rewarded while being too excited is not.
Puppies and very excited dogs can get mouthy and may chew on your fingers or other objects. This is a way to explore the environment or show excitement. The tug and treat game is a great way to help teach a “softer” mouth as well as when it’s time to calm down and relax.
Find a good tug toy that your dog enjoys playing with, and have them gently take it. Begin a game of tug of war, and try to get your dog excited and riled up. When they get excited, end the game by placing a high-value treat under your dog’s nose. Ask them to “drop” the tug toy. Immediately place the treat in their mouth when they release the toy and praise. You can then vary this game by airplaning the toy down to them or having your dog sit after releasing the toy. All of these steps will help teach your dog that when play is done, calm, good behavior is rewarded.
The wait command, similar to stay, is a command that can be used when your dog needs to be patient about something. This includes sitting and waiting for a treat, not dashing through a door, or waiting to have a leash or collar put on. Red light, green light, a popular children’s game, can be used to help encourage the behavior.
Start by having your dog sit, either in a room, or at a door, and ask him to wait. Begin backing up or slowly opening the door, and then stop. If your dog waits patiently, toss or give a treat. If your dog gets up, they’re “out” and the game starts over. See if your dog can wait patiently while you back away in the room or open the door fully!
These three games are all great ways to make learning good behavior fun and exciting. As your dog becomes better at learning these behaviors, the games may not be as fun, so try to find new ways to encourage them! A new game, toy, treat or even extra love and praise are all great ways to keep your dog motivated while learning.
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