Having fun with your pup is essential to proper dog training, as well as bonding with your new friend. Play time can be so much more than just fun and something to occupy or tire out your dog. The very same moves, and toys, that you use playing with them can be implemented in their training. There are some specific play methods that also develop your relationship deeper and build focus in your pup. These are even good ways for correcting dog behavior. In these free dog training tips the entire team will be involved in showing you examples.
Tug is more than Play
I shall never forget when I first brought Mia home. That hard, round head with those awkward ears, tiny, pink toes, contrasted with her three-tone gray (or in the dog world, “blue”) was just such a delight!
From the first day I brought her home I started playing tug with her. As she was only a couple months old, this “game” worked wonders in helping her bond with me. Playing tug also builds trust–between dogs, and between dogs and humans. Later on, as she grew, not only was tug something she’d look forward to, but that tug rope was used to begin her training. There was one special rope we used for that. As soon as she’d see it, I had her full attention!
Toys are more than Cute
Ever notice that dogs become very possessive over particular toys? No rhyme or reason (at least in our minds), but there are always those special toy favored over others. Mia has a few of those and she would move them to her crate (or under my bed) whenever we had company. Sure, some she left out about the house. But those few were always hidden if someone came around. Whether those toys brought her some form of comfort, or maybe were her prized possessions, I can only speculate. Still, if she did not know (or did not like) a person, one by one, she always hid them away.
When Jamie and I met, he started visiting fairly regularly. Usually, a new person had to practically live with us before Mia would bring out her prized treasures. In fact, my sister did live with us for almost a year and Mia still kept those treasures hidden! But something must have been different about Jamie. She was her usual pleasant self even that first night he came over. Throughout the evening as we chatted, Mia intervened here and there and Jamie obliged, showering her with attention. It became obvious she was a little jealous here and there when he kissed me. However, later in the evening, one by one, Mia began to bring her treasured toys to the doorway of the living room–in clear view from where we sat on the couch. She’d plop another down, look at him and stand there, wagging. I could have sworn she was smiling 😉
Point is, this act was her way of showing Jamie trust. She could not say, “Hey! I like you. Let’s play!” So she did the next best thing: She shared her treasures!
On the other Hand
An entirely different example is when Mia’s perfect, little world was invaded by the monster I brought home. Hanani 🙂
If you read the About Us post, you know a little bit of Hanani’s background. She was separated from her litter mates at very young, isolated for imprinting in protection work, and so on. So a naturally high-drive pup, with no social skills (with people or other dogs), wound up and set loose…in Mia’s world. I could not have been more proud (and thankful!) of my Mia. She was so calm and patient, no matter what Hanani did. That over-sized pup took everything, bullied the Pit Bull and shared not a thing from the moment she came home with us. In fact, it took us (Mia and me) over 4 hours the very first night just to help Hanani understand how to play. It took another month just to get her to play tug compatibly with Mia (with constant supervision). Still, even now, almost a year later, she gets a little streak of the nasties and needs corrected.
But playing tug was one of the primary means to get Hanani acclimated. Jamie, my son (Felip) or I would play tug with her for a bit. While in full throttle, if Mia would even appear as if she wanted in Hanani would tear after her, teeth bared. Providing gentle, at times stern, encouragement and corrections, Hanani now will choose to play tug with Mia–even over puppy rough-housing play–most times.
I’ll never forget the first time, just last summer (2017), when Hanani carried a large stick over to Mia and offered a tug engagement. Jamie and I held our breaths!
Hanani is still a stinker about sharing selectively, but is so much farther along than I thought she would be. She, too, has her treasured toys–usually anything Mia wants 😉 –but just leaves them all over the house most often!
#1: Toys and play are optimal training opportunities. Don’t waste them!
#2: Watch closely how your dog relates to people and other dogs. Does she share her treasures? Will she play tug?
#3: Playing, especially tug, with your pup from very young builds trust, bonds, and is a major help in proper training.
#4: And have FUN!
Try these out as well: