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  • Writer's pictureToby

Top everyday "TRAINING" activities to try at home

The idea of training can be overwhelming for everyone. Our lives are busy and we often feel we are pulled in many different directions during the day. Family commitments, work commitments and 'life' can make it difficult to fit just one more thing in! We can however create 'micro' opportunities to train our dogs in our everyday activities.

  • One of my expectations of Memphis is that he waits at gates instead of rushing in/out or past me. We go in and out of gates a lot here during the day which presents plenty of little training opportunities. I ask Memphis to 'wait' to the side of the gate then release him with an 'ok' cue. There is no need for treats on these occasions. Being able to head out into a new area for a sniff and run around is his reinforcement. This is also useful at doorways to prevent pushing past you and potentially tripping you up when you are carrying washing or groceries.

  • Preparing dinner is a great opportunity to ask your dog to sit on a mat or bed instead of jumping up at the counter. The mat can be either in the kitchen or close by. Reinforce your dog by tossing treats at the bed to start this behaviour before releasing and picking up the bed. Practice mini sessions often and you will see progress. Giving your dog a chew or stuffed Kong can also be very beneficial with this behaviour as it will last longer.

  • Pop a couple of treats in your pocket when you are walking around the garden or going to the clothesline. Decide where you want your dog to walk beside you (LHS or RHS) and practice the 123 game of leadwork by Leslie McDevitt. Say 1,2,3 as you are walking and give your dog a treat every time you say '3'. Reward your dog when his/her head is next to your leg in the position you like. This will encourage your dog to walk beside you nicely when you put the lead on and head out and about.

  • Practice handling paws and gently handling when your dog is snuggled up with you on the coach. Reinforce calm behaviour and acceptance of handling. This will be handy for visits to the Vet and nail clipping.

  • Try the 50 treats game. Place 50 (small and yummy) treats in a bowl and capture behaviours you like throughout the day. You can also do mini training sessions with a maximum of 10 treats in any sitting. The aim is to have an empty bowl at the end of the day. The treats should form part of your dog's regular food quota throughout the day. You may need to reduce regular meal size.

🧠 Trivia: Did you know that the idea of putting a squeaker in a dog toy was to simulate an animal dying? The behaviours associated with killing an animal are normal for dogs in the wild. Some dogs will be more predisposed genetically including terriers, herding breeds, working/hunting breeds and sighthounds but ALL dogs will exhibit some of these behaviours as part of their normal repertoire - even our cute fluffies bred to cuddle up with us (like my Cavaliers).

  • These include caching (rub, nuzzle or cover an item)

  • Resource guarding

  • Biting

  • Chasing

  • Dissecting

  • Consuming

  • Grab/Shaking

  • Identifying irregular gait (potential prey who moves different is more at risk)

  • Running/Fleeing/Falling

How does this affect us?

  1. Research and choose your breed carefully. We need a good understanding of what our dogs were originally bred for. Don't choose a dog bred to chase if you have a house full of cats and expect that it won't chase. Or a terrier that is bred to kill vermin if the kids have pocket pets.

  2. Socialise early and appropriately so your puppy will be comfortable in his/her new world. This needs to be done carefully in your puppy's own time and at his pace. New things/people/situations can be scary if they haven't had good experiences from a young age

  3. Do the training early and reinforce the behaviours you do want. This could be 'look at me' when you see a car/cow/cat instead of chasing.

  4. Manage the environment to prevent inappropriate habits (e.g. chasing cattle, killing cats). Physical barriers, gates and fencing. The more a dog practices a behaviour, the better he/she will get at it.

  5. Lastly, but REALLY IMPORTANT, is to provide an outlet for your dog's natural behaviours. These could include : fetch, nosework, tug, flirt poles, squeaky toys, herding, snuffle mats, scatter feeds...

Note: If you see any behaviours you are worried about, contact your trainer/behaviourist early to help put some good strategies in place Cheers, Toby xx


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