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Category: Training Tips

The best dog trick ever!

What’s the best trick you can teach your dog? Shake hands?  Dance?  Weave?  Fetch the paper?

Play Dead always goes over big in class.    Fun!   Army crawl, another cute one!

I think the best trick ever though is come when you are called.

What? You don’t think that’s a trick?  Why not?  I think it is.  It amazes me every time when I yell ‘dogs, come’ and they do!  Wow, what power I have!  I’m stronger than the frisky squirrel, more interesting than the neighbor’s  dog, more powerful than the pull of the stray cat running by!   My dogs come when they are called!

Did I hear my name?

Did I hear my name?

And you know why?  I taught them that.   Oh yeah, what a cool trick!

And every time they come, they get rewarded for it.   It doesn’t matter what they were doing, or how irked I might be at them, or if they took one last run at the squirrel teasing them on the high wire.  As soon as they get to me, its a good thing!  Praise and treats and love all around!

If you get your puppy as a baby, start day one.  Face him, take a step back, and they will usually follow you, ‘puppy, come’    Yay!

Same thing with your older dog.  If  you’re unsure if he will follow you, then hold out a yummy.  “Dog, come”   treat in mouth, good job dog!

When you are in the house, call the puppy just because.  Not always because you’re going anywhere, or need him or anything, but just because.   When I get a new one, I  count out about 25 to 30 treats and put them in a cup on the counter.  I try to call my dog that many times a day for a while.   Just from across the room, or down the hall or from one step away.  This does 2 things – teaches puppy his name, and that coming to you is fun!  We like fun, dogs like fun – fun for everyone!

But are you more exciting than dirty dishes?

But are you more exciting than dirty dishes?

If there are two of you, puppy ping pong is a great game.  Sit or stand across the room, and take turns calling puppy back and forth.    Bonus to this one, it wears him out.   We love tired dogs!

And if you don’t think this is worth doing, remember that when your dog slips his collar, or  the kid opens the door and accidently lets dog out,  or he digs  under the fence and is running merrily down the road away from you.

When he turns around and arrives safely in your arms, I guarantee you will be thinking Best Trick Ever.

Did the ‘come’ trick help recover your dog?  Share your story here!

Visit the Cresteds at www.longroadkennel.com

Saturday Quick Tip

When teaching your dog a new trick or behavior, three or four sessions of three or four minutes a day (think commercial time during the morning news,  a couple minutes after work and again in the evening after your walk) will teach it more quickly than one long 20 minute session.  And its much easier to carve out three minutes than 20!

Just wake me up when you're ready!

Just wake me up when you’re ready!

Dropping the ball

I was working with someone yesterday who wanted their lab puppy to play fetch.   Fetch is a fun game for you and your dog –  I highly approved!  If I could teach one of mine to fetch me a cup of coffee in the morning, we’d all be happier around here!

But, weirdly enough, he wasn’t wanting coffee fetching, but ball.  Sigh.  Okay.  We can do that.

He said, “watch this!” and he threw the ball across the yard.  Puppy raced to the ball, picked it up, started to run back, then dropped the ball and happily came running back without it.   “See?” said frustrated man.  “That always happens!”

So what to do?

Future ball fetchers!

Future ball fetchers!

First of all, the puppy was having fun, and racing around the yard,  so that was a good thing.  Second of all, puppy didn’t understand quite what was wanted.   Always assume that you aren’t clearing communicating your wants and needs before you assume puppy is just trying to drive you insane.  Usually, that’s just one of the perks to the pup, not the goal.

So we fetched the ball, and tossed it a few more times to begin to wear out this bundle of whirly energy.   Then when he could focus, we  slowed down and taught puppy “give”  or “drop it” whatever you want to call it.  You can call it “mustard” if you want, as long as you do it consistently.

We practiced ‘trade’.   Here, puppy, take the ball in your mouth.  Sometimes for this, I use a rope toy and do a little tug game.  Either works.  Then!  Look!  I have a yummy treat!   Drop it  (trade ball for treat).   Then we practice this a few times a day for a few days.  It doesn’t take long.   Take it, drop it.  Lab babies are very smart and he picked it up right away.

Now we work with taking a few steps – just one or two!   away from puppy when he has the ball in his mouth.   Often they will follow you.  No biggie.  But if they don’t, hold out the treat and call them.   If they drop the ball before they get to you, shorten the distance.   Have a clear picture in your mind of what you want.   “Puppy to come to my feet, sit, and drop the slimey ball either at my feet or in my hand when I say Give.”

Then teach it in small steps.  Not by throwing it all the way across the yard from day one.   This time a few weeks from now, though ,because  he understands ‘give’ means ball to hand,  his puppy will be fetching from across the park.  Just wait and see!

Go see a few ball fetching dogs over at www.longroadkennel.com

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