Monday, May 29, 2017

Head Games

Training tricks is a great way to provide mental exercise and enrichment for our dogs.  In the rainy spring season, it can be hard to get outside as much as we (and our dogs) would like, so doing short training sessions on a new trick can be an outlet for some of your dog’s excess energy.  But maybe you’ve already hit the classics – shake, roll over, speak – and need something new to work your dog’s brain.  

Capturing different head movements can be the source of several new tricks.  For your dog, turning his head left or right, moving it up or down or lowering it to the floor can all be put on different cues.  It’s also an interesting challenge for you as the trainer.  If you want to improve your timing of marking your dog (Yes! Good dog! Click!), watching for the initial tiny movements of your dog’s head can help.  And of course, improving your timing and observation skills will help with any other training you’re doing with your dog - plus you can get some adorable tricks on cue to impress your friends!  Check out Australian Shepherd Payton and Husky Mix Finley working on some head tricks!

If you would be interested in a class to learn to train some of these fun skills, let us know! We'd love to set something up to offer some fun ideas to help you and your pup have more fun together. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Teacher's Pet - Parkour for Dogs

Parkour for dogs? Yes, it’s a thing! 

In human parkour, athletes run, climb, jump, swing and roll, using the features of the environment to get from point A to point B quickly and efficiently. While parkour for dogs is not exactly the same, it shares the idea of looking at the things in your environment differently and having your dog interact with them in new ways.

There are several organizations that offer guidelines and titles in this new dog sport, such as the International Dog Parkour Association and All Dogs Parkour . You can find lists of different ways you can train your dog to interact with obstacles (and obstacles can be anything you can find in the space you’re working in), as well as safety guidelines. For example, dogs must be wearing a harness with leash attached when performing skills where they could potentially fall off an obstacle. There are also modifications to many exercises for senior dogs or dogs with physical challenges, so any dog can participate.

Parkour can be a great way to make walks and hikes more interesting for you and your dog, and it can also help build confidence. If your dog is nervous about certain things, teaching your dog to interact with things in the environment can help them associate possibly scary things with a chance to earn some yummy treats instead.

And even when you can’t get outside, working on parkour skills indoors with household items is a great place to start. You can work on teaching your dog fundamental skills, like put two paws up on something. Practice this inside on chairs, footstools, etc. Then when better weather hits, take it outside and ask for two paws up on a tree stump, a bench or a fire hydrant. Here are some examples of Level 1 All Dogs Parkour entries:

Pepper, showing off her skills!

Payton's turn! 

If this interests you, visit the websites of the organizations previously listed, or contact us for tips on how to train fun tricks such as these! We're always happy to hear from you. Happy training!