HOME SCHOOLING YOUR DOG

Here in New Jersey the Coronavirus has us facing shut-downs (everything!), curfews (currently 8 PM) and self-quarantines. Kids are being taught at home because all schools are closed. And that includes our dog school.

Mutts will now feature articles on HOME SCHOOLING YOUR DOG. Hopefully this it will keep you up to date with the dog obedience lessons that you would normally learn. And if your dog isn’t attending obedience school, it could give your kids a fun stay-at-home project.

Essential school supplies

Like all classes, you need supplies before you begin.

Treats. Good ones and lots of them. Think of something special for training like leftover meat or pieces of cheese. Nobody works for free. Well, maybe you home school teachers do, but not your pup. 99.9% of dogs love food and will work for it.

Isn’t that bribery? 

Of course it is. But your dog will learn your commands and love learning them.  

Will your dog get fat?

 No. We’re talking about a few small or partial treats for training. You’ll be able to fade them out once your dog has learned the command.

And for the few dogs that are not food motivated, find a favorite toy. Or reward with lots of excited “Good Boys” and scratching behind the ears.

And now…

LESSON ONE. THE NAME GAME.

Of course your dog know his name. But in this exercise he has to look at you in the eye when he hears his name. This is important for two reasons.

  1. His name will precede whatever command you give him or her. Like Penelope, sit. Penelope, come. And so on.
  2. Looking you in the eye is hard for dogs. When animals look at each other in the eye it’s often confrontational. You dog should learn that looking you in the eye means good things.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Hold a treat between your eyes and call the dog’s name. When he looks at you say “Good Dog” and give him the treat. Do this until he becomes successful.
  2. When your dog has step one down, put a treat in each hand, hold out your arms and call his name. He may beg, pray, or bark at your hands. But no treat until he looks you in the eye. Then immediately say “Good boy” and give him a treat.
  3. When you’re successful with this exercise, hide the treat in your back pocket and call you dog’s name. When he looks you in the eye, reward him with the treat from the “hidden spot”.
Your dog has to look you in the eye when he hears his name.

RememberOnly call your dog’s name once. And no other cues like clicking or kissing. You want him to look at you the first time he hears his name.

FIND IT.

Now you’re ready to expand this exercise into a game. Toss a treat and tell your dog “Find it.” He’ll chase after it. When he turns and looks you in the eye, toss another treat. If he doesn’t turn, call his name. This is also a good game for keeping your dog’s attention from potential mischief and to release energy while being cooped up indoors.

“I found it.”

HOMEWORK

Practice THE NAME GAME and FIND IT a few minutes in the morning and evening, until your dog gets it right every time.

See you in a few days for LESSON TWO. SIT.