Here are some fun indoor games you can play to help with training and keep your dog from getting bored and developing behavior problems. These games will reinforce your leadership over your dog and provide a fun way to provide structure and discipline.
WHERE’S THE TREAT? Have the dog SIT/STAY about 10 feet away from three buckets or large plastic cups placed upside down. Place a treat under one, then ask “where’s the treat? ”Give lots of praise and an additional reward when the correct bucket is “sniffed out”.
RECALL RESPRISE: This game requires two people. Start a couple of feet apart, each with a handful of treats. (I suggest cheerios or regular dog food kibble because you can give several without extra calories or stomach upset). One person calls the dog and gives the command “COME” or “HERE”, giving praise when the dog obeys. Then the other person calls and praises and gives treats. Each person moves a few feet apart every 3rd or 4th recall. See how far apart you can venture! Even into different rooms! This is a great way to keep elementary school age children actively engaged with the family dog and provide extra “reassurance” for the dog by having other “pack members” interact with them.
COME WHEN CALLED: Call your dog to you using the command “COME” or “HERE”, put him in a SIT/STAY then move away, after counting 15-20 seconds, call your dog to you and repeat the SIT/STAY. Try to increase the distance you move away and the length of time you count before you call your dog. This is a very good exercise for dogs with attention seeking behavior because it teaches them to wait for your commands.
HIDE AND SEEK: Have your dog stay in one room. Go to another room, hide and call your dog. Try not to give away your location by laughing!
These exercises may seem like just “fun and games” but they are very good for communicating with your dog. Dogs think in terms of survival. I have to laugh at this considering my own pampered dogs on their huge dog beds not really worried about where the next meal or treat will come from. But dogs know that living in a group, under the leadership of an assertive pack member increases chances of survival and the more they feel comfortable knowing the leader is in charge, the more relaxed and well behaved they will be. Helping your dog feel “safe” by acting as pack leader will encourage your dog to respect and obey you and eliminate behavior problems. Attention seeking is one of the most common problems with our dogs (mine included!). Dogs that constantly approach you and ask to be petted or given a treat are really just pushing you around and trying to be in charge. It is hard to resist those pleading eyes, but when your dog approaches you it is best to ignore them. When they are quiet or engaged in another interest, call them to you and give praise. This will help them feel secure knowing you are in charge and they can relax and be good dogs!!
Behavior problems are one of the leading causes people give their pets to animal shelters. If you are frustrated with your dog, ask your veterinarian for assistance. Many behaviors can be corrected, if you know how to talk to your dog!