Ask the Trainer: Playing with your dog

By Nadine Steele

Dog guruThis week I would like to share one of my favourite games to teach children to enjoy with their dogs. Hide and seek is a great safe option which two and four legged participants enjoy as much as each other.

Encouraging a game of hide and seek in your home will strengthen the bond between your child and dog while also reinforcing recall training with your dog.

To get the game started:

Assist your child by loading their pockets with treats for your dog.

Help your child get your dog's attention by starting the game with a sit and treat reward, then ask your dog to wait beside you as your child hides in another room.

Have your child call your dog and encourage your dog to follow their voice and "seek" them out.

Once the child has been "found" have them ask your dog for a sit and reward your dog with a treat.

Start with having your child go into another room and call your dog. Build on the game once the two have mastered the basic version by making the hiding spots more difficult and moving into the back yard for variety.

Once this game has been established at home it can also be used to add variety to your family walks and outings.

Next time you are enjoying the Redwoods with your family have the kids pop ahead and find a spot behind a tree.

You may like to use a long line to allow your dog to move ahead of you when they are called but still have control to guide your dog in the right direction if needed. Remember to have your child treat your dog every time they are found to keep the game rewarding and interesting for your dog as well as increasing your child's confidence in asking for basic manners such as sitting.

This game is not suitable for any dog that exhibits food aggression and this is an issue that help should be asked for when children also share the dogs' space to avoid dangerous conflict.

Children will also need to be taught how to give the treat with confidence by an adult to avoid them pulling the treat away from your dog causing it to snap at the treat in frustration.

The greatest skill we can teach our dogs is a solid recall. Knowing your dog will come back when you call is a must for every dog owner. So don't forget to also play a game or two of hide and seek to strengthen your recall skills and have some fun as well.


Paw point of the week

Reinforcing commands by including them in play keeps training fun for both you and your dog. Always supervise play between your dog and children to ensure it is calm and controlled so all parties remain safe.


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- Rotorua Daily Post

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