Training should always be fun and easy for both you and your pup. So how do you integrate training sessions into your life and practice these skills? Easy. Every time you do something for your pup that they want, turn it around and have your pup work for what they want! Nothing in life is free! Breakfast and dinner time, have them “Sit” and “Stay” before you place the food bowl down. Also, have your dog “Wait” with a “Release” command before eating with praise “good boy or good girl” after each success. The food is the reward. There can be many “life rewards” if you think about it in terms of a dog’s life: Potty time (outside or inside), going for a car ride, taking a walk, getting a chew toy. These are all examples of “life rewards” that can be used to gain a reliable response from your dog before they get that reward. In the beginning, using treats will capture attention. However, this is only the beginning to teach a consistent response. Once the responses have been learned with the command and hand signal (preferably), you should be able to phase out the food rewards and have “life rewards” take their place. For extra important commands like “Come,” a treat now and then is just an extra tail wag for them.
With the Daylight Savings Time change, there has been a big increase in the use of the Lyons Dog Park. Many are now coming out and enjoying the weather with their pups. This 10-acre fenced-in area is a great place to work with your pup on commands. Building reliable “recalls” are easy by having your dog check in with you while you are in the fenced dog park. If you are consistently excited each and EVERY time your dog comes back to you, this will be the foundation of a reliable “recall.” You can also build on this by offering treats each time you call your dog, and your dog comes to you. So many times we get busy doing human things and forget to acknowledge just how good our pups are being.
When children grow, parents teach them etiquette: which includes how to act and be polite with others, saying thank you, holding the door open for others, not being a bully, waiting for a turn. These are all manners we learn as children. The learning curve for puppies and dogs is the same. In puppy classes, dogs learn bite inhibition with each other, how to play nicely, what friendly play is, and what is not considered friendly. It is amazing how puppies teach each other like parents teach their children. As puppies grow older, they need to socialize to continue with these habits.
The Lyons Dog Park is a great place to practice and use your skills.
When entering, have your dog “sit” and “stay” until you “release” your pup into the dog park. For those that are already in the dog park, call your dog away from the gate to give entering dogs a chance to get acclimated without a dog crowd. In human terms, this is the same as holding a door. Let dogs greet cordially with a puppy or play bow on their own terms. This gives all dogs a fair and equal opportunity concerning greetings. Some dogs are more shy than others, so that it may take them more time to warm up to other dogs. Entering into a crowd of dogs can be very frightening and intimidating for some dogs.
When in the dog park, it is best for dog owners to keep moving. This helps your dog in a positive way to expel energy by running and playing. Join other dog owners with pups and do laps or just move about fostering socialization. This practice will also provide you and your pup more exercise.
While walking in the dog park, every few minutes have your dog check-in with you by practicing a “recall” and also take time to practice “Sit”, “Stay,” “Release” and “Go Play.” Always release your pup to “GO PLAY” after your practice. Remember when you “recall” your dog, have the experience be very exciting for your dog to come to you.
What happens if you do have a dog that is not as polite to others as you would like? As with a child, take charge. Call your pup over to you with a “recall” and walk to another area of the park. Also, you and your dog do not have to remain with dogs that are playing harder than your comfort level. Just like children, some dogs are fine with rough play and some are not comfortable with this type of play. Just know your dog’s preference, have fun, and keep your dog feeling happy and secure with you.
Unfortunately, dogs do not have the ability to clean their environment. They need our help. Therefore, remember to grab some bags as you enter the dog park and keep them with you to do your part to help keep the Lyons Dog Park clean. So, enjoy the Lyons Dog Park, work with commands and, again, please remember to do your part to keep the dog park and Lyons clean.
Spring is a great time to get out and enjoy the weather and have one-on-one time with your favorite pup. PRACTICE and remember that the canine games and contests held on the April 16 will utilize all the above skills. So, mark your calendar and please save the date. More details will be forthcoming in future articles in the Lyons Recorder. However, in the meantime, for further updates and information on the April 16 dog party, please be sure to LIKE the face book page. (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lyons-Dog-Park-plus-the-whole-dog-community-Lyons-Colorado.) Until next week, “Release” and “Go Play.”