Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A 5 Minute Trick to Bonding with your Dog

This is the first in a series called Tricks & Techniques that focuses on our training methods for topics from basic obedience to dealing with aggressive dogs. Pet U is a local dog training facility in Milwaukee Wi. Here at Pet U in Milwaukee, many of our clients are surprised when they begin training with Dennis, because his methods are so straightforward and easy; it can be hard to understand why you didn't think of it yourself!

What happens when your dog’s attention isn't on you?
Photo by TJ Lambert
He’s getting into trouble. He might be digging in your yard, chasing after a rabbit, or peeing on your living room carpet. However by playing a game that we call focus work, you can direct your pups attention off of his bad habits and back onto you in just a few minutes!

So...what is focus work?
Focus work is a game we play here at PetU to promote bonding. It is a fundamental training technique to lifelong exciting and reliable training. Focus work gives your pup a mental outlet to expend their energy, and amps up their excitement to be with you and train with you. Most importantly, the game teaches your dog to constantly look for you, rather than the other way around. Through this exercise your pup will learn that listening to you will be more rewarding than ANYTHING else they could possibly be doing!

How does it work?
The first step is to determine what motivates your dog. Is it food? A tennis ball? Love and praise? Many of our client’s dogs are food-motivated, while the GSD protection dogs we work with are extremely ball-motivated. You will have to do a little experimenting to figure out what works best for your pup.

The next step is to work with your dog in a contained area, like your living room or fenced-in backyard. Keep moving, and ask your pup to follow you. Use lots of energy and movement and a high-pitched voice to keep him excited. Every time your pup looks at you, sits by your feet, or comes when you call, reward him with a treat. It only takes a few minutes for your dog to realize that focusing on you = rewards. The key to making this successful is using lots of excitement and praise! Your dog won’t be having fun if you’re not having fun!

Now what?
So now that your dog isn’t chewing on your shoes or digging in the yard, what is he doing instead? He is calm and keeping an eye on you. You finally have the steps to achieve that relaxed, obedient companion you’ve been dreaming about. By doing this focus exercise for just a few minutes a day, you and your pup will grow closer and his desire to please you will strengthen. 
So good luck, and make sure to comment below with any questions or success stories!

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