We’re taking the lead of some great “Dlogs” we know, and putting some themes into our days here on AgilityPap.
So Wednesdays are going to be all about the kinds of workouts you can do to keep you and puppy fit. Our workouts will take no longer than 10 minutes, and be a great addition to your training or fun. They will be both physical and mental, and should have you and pup feeling great after each session.
Set aside 10 minutes in the morning or the evening – preferably before meal time. Do the session before you put puppy’s food down, and you’re guaranteed 100% attention from your furry mate.
If your dog is food motivated, it’s OK to reduce the amount of food you feed them & use treats for the training session. Other motivators like toys and tugs are great too.
Today’s workout is all about teaming.
To get the best out of your mate, working together is an essential part of the relationship. Working together takes attention, and where better to start than a simple exercise to bond through eye contact.
We also call this “Watch me” or you can use any key word you like, as long as it’s achieving the connection you want – eye connection.
This one works great with treats – start with a few in your pocket.
Have your dog sit in front of you and wait until they look at your eyes. Mark the behaviour with your treat word, or clicker: either a big excited “yes” and treat, or click and treat.
If your pup won’t look at your eyes, try taking the treat up to your eye level so they make eye contact and then mark and treat.
Wait patiently for your pup to make eye contact and repeat the reward (“yes” and treat or click and treat).
Do this a few times until your pup gets the idea that the value of the treat is in connecting with your eyes.
A note here: you want to treat immediately so that the pup makes the connection to the correct behaviour. Staring into your puppy’s eyes for a long time is threatening, and can expose aggression, so make it quick and fun.
Once your pup has made the connection, it’s time to put a marker action to the behaviour. Simply pointing to your eye is a good one. It’s not absolutely necessary to have an action, but I find it extremely handy in obedience class when lots going on around us and I want Jaxon to keep attention on me.
Repeat the exercise again, marking & treating whenever your pup gets it right.
Finally add the word to the behaviour. I like to use “Watch” or “Watching me”. It’s the same exercise all over again, marking and treating each time your pup gets it right.
Now, you might find you can fit all this in 10 minutes, but it’s better to break it up over a few sessions across the week. Keeping the sessions short allows your pup to think about what they’ve learnt, and you’ll find when they come back to it you’ll keep progressing smoothly.
Remember to keep it fun & quick, and reinforce the exercise as you progress. Try it in different locations, both quiet and with lots of distractions to really build the reliability of the behaviour.