What you will need: ½ of your dog’s kibble A high incentive treat, cut into very small pieces; (dehydrated beef liver or freeze dried turkey livers are a great options that most dogs LOVE and they support their overall nutrition) Exercise to try: Beginning inside your home, find a spot to sit and keep your kibble and treats nearby and easily accessible for quick rewarding. Throw a piece of kibble a short distance away from you to begin, telling your pup to “Go Find!” As soon as they grab the piece of kibble, Mark it with “Yes!! Good Find!” When they naturally turn back to you, because they are excited by your tone, your enthusiasm, and the realization that you have snacks, Mark their eye contact with “Yes! Good Look!” begin to reach for the higher incentive snack. If/ When they begin to return to you*, Mark this behavior with “Yes!! Good Come!!” When they get to you, give them a small piece of the high incentive snack, before repeating and throwing a piece of kibble, a bit further away this time, and instructing them to “Go Find!” Continue playing this game as long and as often as you like. As your dog excels at the game inside in a small area, begin to increase the challenge by throwing the kibble further away or even around obstacles, like down the stairs/ down the hallway for example.
When your dog is good at this inside, build on their foundation and increase the challenge by moving into the hallway, just in front of your building/ home, in the lobby, outside in a quiet and not busy area, and eventually around lots of distractions and activity. Some things to be mindful of: Training is meant to be fun!! If it’s not fun, you’re not doing it right. Simply pivot, take a break, or change tactics. Dogs learn best through play, enthusiasm, and being incentivized. (It has been proven through research over and over that not only are corrections and aversive techniques (like prongs, e-collars, etc) emotionally damaging and traumatic, but they are rarely effective in teaching our dogs our expectations as we intend.) When teaching a new skill, always begin doing so in the most comfortable and least distracting environment first. The more distractions, the more difficult the task becomes for our pup. It is unrealistic to expect our dog to be engaged with us if we are not engaged with them. Be present with your pup! *If your dog does not naturally want to return to you, incentivize them by being more exciting and engaging. Call your dog’s name and then step backwards a few times, repeating Pup! Pup! Pup! In a high and excited tone. Dogs like to move with movement, and so if we move away, they want to move towards us. If your dog is not recalling, do NOT move toward them as they will no longer see the purpose in returning to you if you intend to move toward them instead. If you’d like more 1:1 support, create your pet’s profile and set up a consultation at www.petsinresidence.com If you’d like to learn more tips like these, follow us on all social media platforms @EngagedDogs