Change It Up

Good Thursday to everyone!  Today’s post is about the importance of keeping your dog engaged and interested when you’re going through routine lessons like sit, down, stay, and so on.  Just like we humans, dogs get bored when they’re doing the same lessons the same way all the time. Some dogs will become vocal, other dogs will fidget and get distracted. Some dogs will outright refuse to work their lessons by laying down and just staring at you like you’re off your rocker, or by sticking their nose up at you and walking away. It’s rude and disrespectful of them, and you get frustrated with them because of it. But it’s the only way they can show you that they’re bored.

When you’re working your dog on their basic lessons, watch for those signs of boredom. Then, think on your feet about what you can do to make the lessons more interesting and fun.  For example, if you’re working your dog on recall, try building a little maze for him to work through to get to you.  You’ll have to walk him through it a few times, at first, but it will be interesting, engaging, and fun for him while he’s making his way towards you.  When he reaches you, reward the heck out of his achievement with verbal praise and pets. Get excited about it! Your dog is going to be much more likely to repeat the exercise if you make it interesting, fun, and rewarding for him.

Another way to keep your dog engaged is to work them in different locations, and change your speed and direction when they don’t expect it.  When you change the routine, the dog is unable to anticipate your next move. If they can’t anticipate what you’re going to do, they have to focus their attention on you so they don’t get tripped up. By the time the training session is done and you’ve released your dog from the exercise, any pent-up mental energy they had before will have drained out, and the dog will be too tired to argue with you.

You must remember that a dog’s natural instinct is to investigate things that interest them – things like birds, squirrels, other dogs, people, and etc. Asking them to ignore that instinct and focus solely on you in the presence of those types of distractions is like asking you to ignore the presence of something you normally can’t resist. It’s challenging…. and it’s exhausting.

So, if you find your dog is getting bored with working the basics, try making them more interesting and more challenging.  The exercise will be more fun for both of you, and your dog will happier.

Have a great day!


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