Building Drive, Excitement and Speed into Your Dog Training

This is What I Want to See When I Call My Dog to Come! Thanks farm4 for the photo

I am all about building speed and drive to learn to control my pets and my working dogs!

Although this takes some time and work and effort and quick movements and a little wildness in the beginning I believe in channeling that excitement to build vigor for obedience or doggy obedience and other sports.

Plus it is good exercise!

So I make my dogs a little crazy in the beginning , especially when they are puppies.   For more on that and how it can occasionally bite you in the butt if you are not good; click here.

And although I do not recommend this for EVERYDOG as every dog doesn’t need it; especially to the extreme I take it to; I do believe that in the end it makes your obedience better and if you have a dog that likes to run away and not listen or even a dog that already seems a little crazy you can learn to harness that to your advantage.

The key is to build the most excitement I can into his toys, by playing games like keep away and chase and making the toys seem unachievable.

Has anyone ever told you, you CAN’T have something or you don’t DESERVE something… for most of us it builds our drive and desire for what we were told we can’t have and you do all you can to prove that person wrong and reach your achievements.

The younger I was the more drive I had if someone told me I couldn’t do or have something.  I think with maturity you grow out of that a little, but if you use this same psychology on your dog it builds his excitement and drive for the toy!

If toys are abundant and you play with your dog often there is no reason to get excited about toys and games.

So if you want to go down this road; make sure you play some keep away, make your dog work for the item and then keep the item put away until it is time to play again.  Your dog should not be the one who is in charge of what he plays with and when he plays.  I keep my dog’s favorite toys for training and let him play with mundane things.

Excitement builds speed!

Speed and Excitement are Good in Dog Training!  Thanks for the photo

Speed and Excitement are Good in Dog Training! Thanks for the photo

And, it may sound like you don’t want speed but let me tell you why it is important!

Why Speed is Important Even to Pet Owners and Dogs

Excitement is fun and as I mentioned excitement builds speed.

We get excited when we come home from work, and our dogs get excited when we take them for walks but rarely do we build appropriate excitement and speed for when we need it.  Speed means your dog doesn’t even have a thought about not listening to your command, it is his default to do what you ask, and quickly!

Often our obedience is lack luster and our dogs rarely if ever respond with excitement and speed to our commands.

This is terrible for competition dogs (since speed and excitement is considered crucial)

But speed and excitement brings our dogs back to us and helps them listen.

It also helps them to ignore other things in their environment.

Picture This

Your dog accidentally gets off leash, but your obedience is lack luster at best and your dog is bored by the rigors of obedience.  Some dogs actually HATE obedience!

Other dogs ignore obedience commands because you have never enforced them so they mean NOTHING.

What are the chances this dog is coming back to you when you call him?

WHY???  Why would he leave the exciting thing he is doing to come back to you (especially if you sound stressed or mad)?

Now Imagine the Same Scenario Where You Have Built His Drive

These Dogs are Chasing and Building Excitement and Drive.  Thanks 123rf for the photo

These Dogs are Chasing and Building Excitement and Drive. Thanks 123rf for the photo

He gets off leash, but he is so used to playing with you and his toys that when you call him; by default his reaction is to come back to you and play, after all you have his favorite toy right?

You become THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN HIS LIFE because you control what he wants most!

He would do anything to be with you and play with you; and this is what keeps him listening.

It Takes Time!!!

You can’t just take a toy out and squeak it and have results.

Building drive and fun for toys and playing some keep away takes time and effort.

It’s not easy.

You Also Have to Work on Obedience!

You Also Have to Work on Obedience!

If it were easy you would see people all over the country in “building drive classes” but it’s not.

It also takes timing and lots of reward and playing before you ever get on to obedience.  My puppy is insane right now, but I am spending time building his drive for his toys, the obedience will come later.

As a matter of fact I have a couple of crazies that bit me while I was playing (not on purpose of course but in an attempt to grab the toy) and I even have a few scars from each of my dogs.

Now, my dogs are above average in the crazy psycho drive department, but it is a risk you take when you are flinging toys around chompers that you might get bitten.

If this is not something you are willing to risk, then you can play a little less fast and reward a little more quickly.  Not everyone needs battle scars to brag to their friends.

If You Are Having Problems Getting Your Dog to Listen you Have to Find a Way

You have to find a way to be more exciting and build that drive and excitement to play with you!

For more on the basics of that and teasing read this article.

You also have to work on obedience.

If you never play with your dog, if you never train your dog or if you do neither together as an activity; you are going to have a hard time getting your dog to listen to you, that is pretty simple to understand if you think about it!

Once you have built his drive you need to learn how to drive your dog, and for that click here.

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  1. Gayle says:

    I am having problems engaging my dog at our dog club. It is my fault, l have to teach a class and he has to sit either in his crate or the car and wait for his turn, by the time l get to him he is feed up and doesn’t want to play or take treats. His recall is ordinary he clears out at the first chance that he gets but is better elsewhere. l need to reorganise my training at the club and l am not sure how to go about it. Ideally what l need is to work him before the class.
    He needs to be able to work at the club because this is where a lot of trials are held. Our classes start at 9.30am and goes through till about 11.30.
    l need to find a way to reengage him at our grounds any suggestions would be gratefully received.


    Minette Reply:

    Actually I think you need to change your thought process.

    I think he needs to be more hungry so that he is food motivated so skip breakfast and I think you need to crate him at home for a few hours prior to training so that you are mirroring what will happen at trial.

    I ALWAYS (well almost always) crate my dogs at home before training so that their crate and that situation signifies training.

    This way he’ll get use to it at home and it will be the same wherever you go, then it is important to train in as many new places as you can.

    This is a problem with him not your schedule! Read this for building his drive


  2. Michael Persadsingh says:

    I want to learn more!
    /s/ Michael


  3. Eileen says:

    My dog does not like to play, only sniff.


    Monica Henderson Reply:

    Eileen, I don’t know how old your dog is or breed, but I think all dogs like to play. When my late husband & I adopted Rusty (golden retriever & border collie mix) from the animal rescue shelter, I taught Rusty how to play. I bought one of those kong treat balls. He didn’t know what to do with it, even with some yummy treats inside. he would just sniff at it. Now mind you I am 65 years old, I went on my hands & knees and pushed the ball with my nose towards him and happily called out to him “Rusty, get rolly polly (that’s the name I gave this toy, I name all his toys)in about 15 minutes he got the ides and has happily rolled his rolly polly around ever since ( that is now about 2 years ago.) In the house we play hide & seek, I would hide and call “where is Rusty? or Rusty find mommy” He would find me with his tail & butt wiggling. when he found me I would give him a tiny bit of cheese. We had 1 acre of fenced property when my husband was alive,so he lots of room to run. Now Rusty & I live in a condo with a grassy lawn in front of our doorway. The main street is right off the lawn, so naturally he is always on a leash. When we go out to play, he is on a 20ft leash in front of the house attached to me, there we play “get Doodoo” a rubber goose that when squeesed sounds like a goose. I will run around like a little child, squeaking the toy, calling the toys name, throw it up and catch it and soon Rusty would start in. (I am sure my neighbors think they live next to a crazy woman) When my knees start giving out, I just sit on the grass, then Rusty comes and sits on my lap all the while he is throwing “doodoo” up catching it , chewing it. The point, Eileen, I’m trying to make is that whatever you do with your furry family member, make it fun for both of you. try different things, be excited to play and have patience. Soon you will have your dog asking to play with 🙂


  4. Jim says:

    Same with mine – she is a 5 yr. old rescued rottweiler whom I’ve had for 3 yrs. She loves to chase everything, but sniffing is here favorite. She gets bored playing after a few seconds and returns to sniffing. She is good with boundaries and comes when called, but takes her time, sniffing all the way.


  5. Rosanna says:

    Dear Minette: loved the blog. I have a 5 year old Catahoula who was born with an incredible play drive. I got her at 8 weeks. She is the love of my life. I have never had a dog that is as smart as she is & what a nose.
    She is very obedient, still has the same energy as when she was a puppy. I have always wanted to do more with her like agility. I was interested in what you are doing with your dogs how do I find out more about where I can learn this kind of training. Thanks


    Minette Reply:

    I do agility and dock diving with my dogs as well as tracking for the nose. I’m sure you can find someone who teaches agility in your area


  6. bb says:

    Our Blue Heeler/Australian Shepard mix is IMPOSSIBLE in the car….he barks like mad at large trucks and people walking….charges the windshield and jumps all over….we have tried a muzzle, harness, pinch collar…nothing stops his wild rampages….we can hardly take him anywhere but woild much perfer being able to have him accompany us on errands, short drives, etc. Any ideas?


    Minette Reply:

    Yes, he is overstimulated and needs to be taught a down stay while riding in the car. If he can’t see it; he wont be over stimulated by it.

    Read this


  7. Bruce Conrad says:

    My collie will not stop snatching things from counters, table tops, furniture, etc. I cannot trust her to be in a room alone. Any ideas?



    Minette Reply:

    Dogs like this need lots of exercise first and formost… if you are too tired you don’t want to steal.

    They also need lots of obedience so they have something else to do rather than steal. Plus when you say leave it or give a command your dog will listen.

    And sometimes you need to put them on a leash and keep them with you and teach them what is appropriate and what is not.

    Dogs don’t come with hard wiring that tells them what to do and what not to do; they have to be taught read this

    and check out our store if you need more help with training


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