12 Days of Christmas Challenge!
At the beginning of the month I challenged you to spend some time with your furry therapist this season to help you beat some holiday stress! I was sitting here today, wondering how many of you had taken me up on my recommendation.
I probably should have dared you to comply! I am sure there are more people out there like me, who have trouble committing unless dared to do something. This got me into a little bit of trouble in high school, and even though I am barely (wink, wink) into adulthood I still suffer from the need to take a decently proposed dare.
I also noticed today that there are 12 days till Christmas. So here it goes, I Double Dog Dare you to complete each day of training posts while you and your dog work your way towards the Christmas Holiday.
Hide & Seek
To get the 12 days of Christmas started out right and on a completely fun paw, I want you and your family to play hide and seek with your dog tonight. This is my favorite game, because it teaches your dog to find you, and to come when called, which is crucial.
If your dog already knows this game, teach him to find family members by name or just indulge him in his favorite game.
- Some good high value treats (Chicken, liver, cheese) peas sized or smaller
- A clicker if you are clicker training (and I hope you are)
- Your children and/or your spouse or roommate
- A desire to have some serious fun
- Your dog
Don’t go and get your dog, in fact, wait until he is not paying any attention to you ; call his name and praise him repeatedly as he comes to you. When he arrives, click and treat.
If you are playing solo (just you and your dog) wander off and wait until your dog is again seemingly disinterested in you. Call his name, as soon as he looks at you praise him over and over again, click and treat when he gets to you.
Get use to praising him constantly as he looks up, rises and begins to come toward you. If you don’t continually praise him, he might get bored and decide not to come.
- Scenario 1: “Pooky, Come!.....................COME………….” versus,
- Scenario 2: “Pooky, Come! Good boy, Good boy, Come! Yeah, Good boy!” with some clapping and excitement.
Which scenario do you think he would prefer and would be most motivating? You must get animated and convince him how sincerely fun this game is!
If you have family to help you engage in training, make sure everyone fills their pockets with treats. Have one person lightly hold the collar of the dog while the other personal almost teasingly gets down in front of the dog, claps and then dashes off to a hiding spot.
NOTE: You're going to also want to avoid making any of these 5 critical coming when called training mistakes as you train your dog this fun game.
Your dog will be almost over stimulated and beyond excitement when the person calls his name and gives the Come command. Remember even though you can’t see the dog looking for you when you are hidden, you must assume he is…so continue calling and praising. Good Boy!!
When he reaches his destination, give him a click, a treat and praise. Then this person holds the collar while the first person, excites and dashes off to hide. Continue playing until everyone is getting a little tired.
At first hide in simple spots, perhaps just from one room to another, then as your dog gets more proficient, you can begin hiding in more elaborate places; in the bathtub, under the bed, and my favorite: in his crate (wait till you see the look on his face).
- You must hide somewhere where he can reach you
- You MUST continually praise him, even if you can’t see him looking
- You must have fun!
You will see as you continue to play this game, that your dog actually has a sense of humor and enjoys nothing more than spending good quality time with you. This game is fundamental if your dog ever gets lost, or you need him to come to you when there are distractions around. Hopefully it will become his favorite game and he will learn leave everything else and come to you quickly the moment he is called.
You are also teaching him to use his other senses to locate you. He learns to use his ears and his nose to locate you. Some dogs panic when they are lost and their basic senses shut down, but you are teaching him to hone his many senses and to look for you in all kinds of silly places.
This game can also be played outside (and should be played outside occasionally), so if the weather is good; take it outside and have fun!
Don't forget NEVER, EVER, EVER yell at your dog when he comes to you, or do something distasteful when he comes. Don't call him when he is in trouble, or all your hard work will be ruined!
Keep loading that clicker, more clicker training games to come!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.