By now, most of us are tired of Winter. Although snow is fun for a little while, we have gotten quite a bit of our share this year. Many of our dogs are not getting the exercise and outdoor play time which they need both physically and mentally.
To stimulate your dog’s mind and tire his body, try teaching a new trick. An easy trick to teach is a behavior your dog already does naturally. Remember how you taught him to sit as a puppy? The same principles apply. Give the behavior/trick a name and a hand signal and reward him for doing this behavior. Use a favorite snack or treat to make it especially rewarding. Gradually, with practice, the name of the act is connected with the behavior.
Turn a natural behavior into a trick. For example, teach him to crawl across the floor. I place my dog in a “down” position and lead him with a favorite treat to slink across the room in the direction of the treat. Does your dog stand on two legs and hop or turn around? You may call this trick, “dance” or “twirl”. Circle the treat above his nose to encourage him. Some dogs “beg” by putting their two front paws together and waving them up and down with great excitement. Many intelligent dogs recognize each of their toys by name. Ask him to bring you a particular toy or to put it back. Be creative. You and your dog can have a lot of fun. At the end of your session, you’re both rewarded. He is worn out and you get some peace.
Here are a couple of links where you can learn more about teaching tricks to your dog:
Mia Frezzo, DVM