Here's a questions for you
(I know I won't be able to hear your answer but just play along anyway)
What keeps you and your dog together?
All of the above?
Yep all of the above can help you keep your much more focused on you and not that bird, squirrel, dog or empty pizza box that he wants to explore.
A park (or wherever) can present many distractions for dogs and I’m sure I’m not the only one to have seen a dog owner struggling to keep their dogs away from certain things be they people, other dogs or certain areas they shouldn’t be in where it seems that everything is more interesting to the dog than its owner. It doesn’t have to be this way.
I learned with my puppy that I should keep him guessing as to what reward he may get. So if practising a recall he never knows what reward he may get when he returns. It could be e.g. a pat on the head, a piece of chicken or a game of tuggy.
I found this to be really good advice and is something that I practise and preach now too. On one of his courses that I attended I remember John Rogerson asking his famous question ‘Name ten things your dog has to look forward to when he wakes up in the morning?’ this stuck with me as at the time my dogs probably didn’t have that much to look forward to. Or certainly not much that involves me.
I try to keep this in mind all the time and it is this thought along with some service dog and scent work exercises I have learned from David Davies that have led me to do the type of stuff I currently do with my dog and also with the dogs that we walk on a daily basis, but more on that in another blog.
My cocker Sid and I love a trip to the park and we love it so much because we are at a point where I can use any or all of the items I carry with me as well as any obstacles or landmarks that I come across on my walk as a point of interaction (or connection) with my Sid. Why do we do this? Many of you will already know the answer and it’s simply to make him more interested in me and because it’s fun.
I want my dog to want to be with me above all else so I try and use anything and everything I can to do that. So for us a tree is not just something to wee on but something to ‘go round’ as well, a park bench becomes an agility obstacle, my wallet and keys become ‘find it’ items and Sid’s lead makes a great tuggy toy, Poo bags (empty ones!) are great for retrieving and we can also practise any silly heelwork and other tricks we have been working on at home.
If I can offer my dog all this interaction why would he possibly want to spend time away from me bothering someone else or another dog?
These exercises do take a little bit of time to master but all are relatively easy activities that most pet dog owners can manage and all give your dog a ‘job’ to do when you are out and about with him.
Even though he is from working lines I don’t really have the inclination to do field work with my cocker but it’s still important for me to give him some kind of job to do, as it is for any working dog. I have used a clicker to help me get Sid used to picking up different items and started of luring him round a cone with his toy, most of the tricks have been lured because I am lazy and like to do things quickly but in a short time we have progressed to the point where I feel Sid would find and retrieve just about anything I want or jump over any obstacle it is safe for him to do so.
All of this is done for fun and to help keep him interested and connected with me. This means we have a great time together and we almost never have to endure a so called boring walk to the park!
How do you stay connected to your dog?
To learn more about how you can stay better connected to your dog then download a FREE chapter of my best selling dog training book 'How to Be Your Dog's Superhero' and you will also get my free and famous Shaggy Dog Story daily emails too just click below
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Dom has run Pack Leader Dog Adventures, a very popular dog walking/adventure business based in Sunderland since November 2011. He loves working in the great outdoors and loves it even more if there are dogs involved! The Pack Leader Dog Adventures store is the latest extension to the business. Always keen to try new products to help with the adventure business Dom thought he was in an ideal position to sell and promote the things his dogs love the most. Dom can be contacted at email@example.com and positively welcomes feedback.
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