Learning to Drive Your Dog

Thank you to iiscute.com

Let me first say this is not like “Driving Miss Daisy” I am sure you are capable of giving your dog a fun means of transportation in your vehicle!

I remember being 14 like it was yesterday and itching to get my drivers permit.

I lived in WY and 15 was the age that most of us made the trip to the DMV took our test and began terrifying our parents.

But at 14 I was intensely studying driving laws and pay attention to each time my parents missed using their turn signals or changed lanes in an intersection.

Each yellow light was duly noted and intensely watched and all of my parents’ infractions were mentally cataloged.

Thank goodness for my parents I lived in WY, where one of the biggest parental concerns of driving is grazing a deer since deer and antelope far outnumber the amount of people.

It was my father’s job to teach me to drive.

I think mothers are strong enough to give birth to their children, but I have noted that few are brave enough to then teach them to drive.

Ironically, I remember my shins hurting like crazy as I learned to work the clutch.  I am grateful that they taught me to drive on a standard so that I could drive anything (I still enjoy shifting and driving my little car).

And, I remember it took lots of hours both during the day and at night to be able to qualify to take the test for my license.

My parents also made me take driver’s education so their insurance didn’t skyrocket anymore that it needed to!

So Why Is It That We Think “Driving” or Working or Training our Dogs Should be so Easy?

Thanks to the snapper for the photo

Thanks to the snapper for the photo

A car is mechanical and usually it is pretty standard from one car to another (unless you get to drive a Lamborghini in which case it is a whole different world and I highly recommend it).

And, I must admit if you make a drastic mistake in a car, you could kill yourself or others.

But in some ways isn’t it the same with your dog?  (Unless your dog isn’t big enough)

We get a dog or a puppy, we bring it home, we are all excited… but we don’t study or learn to “Drive” it.

We actually, or most people, expect our dogs to “Drive” themselves.

They should come straight out of the womb trained, right?

They should know automatically whether we want them on the furniture, they should recognize when we are dressed in our finest and they should know how to treat old people and children…

If you think about it, it’s kind of silly, the expectation we have for them.

We spend all this time learning to drive a car, and so little time learning to work with our best friends!

Understanding the Intricacies

Unlike cars or trucks, each dog is different!

You must learn to drive them individually.

What works for one dog, does not necessarily work for another!

I have 3 dogs and they all have different motivators or “drivers”… well, I am the “driver” but they all have different things that drive them to do what I want.

For more on Building Your Dog’s Drive click here.


Ball Drive...

Ball Drive…

My long haired Dutch Shepherd, Fury, would kill for a chuck it and tennis ball.  Don’t worry, she is pretty petite and I am not worried that she will choke on the ball, if she was bigger I would get a bigger ball.

More on why tennis balls can be dangerous click here.   

She also has a strange affinity for fruit and once tried to pluck a pear from the lips of my agility instructor… I don’t really understand either!   But I do know if I don’t leash walk her during peach and fig season she will gain a large amount of weight 😉


Jovi, my gigantic Belgian Malinois has a love for tug toys.  Balls on a string are good too, but a big tug that he can bite and thrash then run around and buck like a tiny stallion is his favorite.

He likes food, but he would rather play with a tug toy any day!

And sometimes pairing food with toys and games can risk the safety of my fingers, he is so wrapped up wanting to play he doesn’t realize he might be drawing blood or swallowing a finger.  For more on why extreme excitement can lead to a bite click here.


thanks Leerburg for the photo

thanks Leerburg for the photo

Pharaoh is my newest addition and he is just 7 months old.  He has had a few bad bouts with pano (for more on panosteitis click here

So, because he has been painful, he has just kind of been hanging out and being a wild puppy.

I haven’t wanted to do obedience while he is painful (manners yes but structured obedience no) so he has been chilling on the sofa a lot.

But, his motivator is anything that moves fast…  He is in the teasing phase of teaching him games and obedience.

Ball, tug, squeaky toy, flirt pole… he loves them all!  As he develops I will allow him to choose what his favorite thing is or I will pick something special for him that we will use mostly for training.

Know Your Dog

The key is to spend enough time with your dog to know him, to build his drive for toys by teasing him a little bit (for more on that click here) and then you can use his motivator to “Drive” him to do whatever you want.

It doesn’t matter whether it is simple obedience; Sit when I ask you and I will throw your toy.

Or it doesn’t matter if it is complex obedience you desire; run in the direction I point you as fast as you can and drop or down when I tell you and I will play with you.  Or turn off the lights for me when I ask you; or find the remote (I love this one), get me a beer…  the options are limitless!

His toys, his food, and his joy for training become his “drivers”.

My dogs listen because I know how to “Drive” them and work effectively with them.

I Studied

I spend time not just working and training with them, but PLAYING with them!!!

Playing with them really comes first figuring out what they like, how to tease them effectively, how and when to reward them, then play develops into “sneaky” training.   For more on that click this article “Dog Training the Conspiracy Theory”

I studied, I played, I learned about each of my dogs and I suppose the competitions I compete in lately are like my driver’s test for my “license”.

So far I think both Fury and Jovi have passed… Pharaoh and I are still working on and studying together… but isn’t that the most fun part?

We will have our glory days someday very soon!

Get out there and learn to drive your own dog!

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  1. Ashley says:


    I have two dogs, a 8 yr old cocker spaniel/miniature american eskimo named Daisy, and a 3 month old german shepherd/lab mix named Rebel. I was wondering if you had any advice on Daisy. I got her 3 years ago, and she has never really played in that time. I have tried to get her playing, but she just doesn’t want to, or doesn’t understand. She seems to be a working dog, so I was wondering if you had any advice on getting her exercised. I do ride a bike with her running beside me, but it is too hot to do that now, and we get a lot of loose dogs around here, and I don’t want to have a dog fight on my hands. So any advice would be very helpful. Thank you.



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