by Katie Scott-Dyer // July 2017

Injecting fun into walks

Learning is much easier when it is fun, I am sure you would agree. We all had that teacher at school who had the knack of teaching without seeming to, but you learned loads because it was fun. Sadly, most my teachers at school and coaches at various places of employment used more punitive methods and styles of teaching, so I did not reach my full potential in most subjects.

The same applies to our dogs too, make it fun and positive and they learn better.

Yes, you can teach your dog some important skills by playing fun games with them! Even a seemingly boring lead walk around the block can be turned into a jolly good jaunt, which will not only make your dog happy, but you too! With the bonus of mentally tiring your dog.

Here's a few ideas...

Treasure Hunt

Plan the route ahead of time, noting interesting locations for hiding treats or toys. Then go out without your dog, armed with bags of yummy treats and toys then hide a bag of the treats in a tree trunk or on a branch or a convenient gap in a wall and the same with the toys. Then return with your dog and as you approach the stashed goodies, make a big deal of looking for them and finding them, dogs love a good show! Play with the toy, do a few tricks or practice your obedience exercises or simply share a box with scented items inside it together and your dog will think you are the best thing ever!

Training walks, scent work

You can easily fit some skill training into a lead walk! Practice loose lead or some scent work to brighten up any on lead activity.

Stop, Look, Listen

Pre-train a release cue for your dog, this will help train focus and self-control. It can be anything you like, but must mean nothing else to your dog other than ‘you’re free to move now’. I use “break” with my dogs, but it can be whatever you fancy. If your dog isn’t too sore from recent surgery or age related issues, then practicing some sit -stays can be fun too. When you approach a kerb or pedestrian crossing, ask your dog to sit (and stay if you do that too), and wait until you can give a safe release cue then off you go.

Parkour

If your dog is physically fit and has finished growing, then parkour can be a great way for your dog to expend some extra energy without you doing much. Using what you find on a walk such as concrete bollards to weave through, low walls to walk along, static bins to jump on, ‘paws up’ on rocks, steps or tree stumps to practice stationing or stay, fallen logs or natural tunnels, hills to roll down, benches to leap over…the world is your playground!

Go, have fun with your dog and if you want to come to train with us to learn how teach your dog some skills, then come to our classes in Bristol! Email us bristoldogschool@dogstrust.org.uk or give us a call on the dog and bone 07393 140 406 / 07393 141746