One of the mistakes dog owners make is they assume they are the most important thing in their dog’s life. Well, that is not a privilege that is given. It is something you have to earn.
You can feed your puppy, let him sleep on the couch, or let him sleep with you in the bed. And that is all great and your dog will love you for it.
But what happens when you are outside? There are hundreds or thousands of more interesting things to do, sniff, see, walk to, and interact with. This is where most dog owners fail.
They let their dog do everything outside without them being part of the fun. Well, what happens in your dog’s mind is the following. I get to play and do all the fun things, and then I have to come to my boring owner. Why should he come back to you?
You see, when you are not part of the fun, you become this boring owner. Think about some boring person in your friends’ group or at the office. Do you want to hang out with them? Well, the same is with your dog.
What should you do?
Today, we will talk about how you can be part of the dog party. When you let your dog play on its own, you create the biggest distraction to dog training. You are not part of the fun. And that makes training boring and frankly, an exhausting experience.
So you have to be part of the sniffing, playing, and everything else outside. How to do that? Well, it is the little things that make a difference.
For example, when you walk past other dogs, have your dog sit, and you greet the other person and then let your dog sniff the dog. You see, you are now part of the interaction. Sniffing other dogs might be the single most fun thing for your puppy.
And your reward your puppy and his good and calm behavior by letting him sniff the other dog. Now sniffing becomes the reward, not the privilege.
This neat trick can make your puppy sit instantly and even better than before. Why? Because he now has a real reward for sitting.
Another trick you can use is to call your dog every few minutes or every few yards. Again, once you call your dog, give him a reward. Make his coming back to you rewarding. You can either play with him with a tug toy when he comes, give him a treat, or reward him by releasing him to sniff freely. Again, it depends on the breed.
For example, hound breeds like beagles love sniffing. Some dogs are attention-driven. For these dogs, when they come back, they love to get cuddles and pets. And then there are dogs that are food-motivated or toy-motivated.
Make the dog park a positive experience
Raise your hand if you have gone to the dog park when you had a little puppy and you let it play freely. Well, what you have done is completely wrong. The dog park can be either a great experience or an awful experience for your dog.
It all depends on what you do and how you behave there. There are two types of owners in the dog park. Those who engage their pup and interact with them, and those who just chat with other dog owners while the dogs are playing freely.
Which one are you? Spoiler warning: the first group is the one with much happier dogs. Here are some tips.
Find your dog’s comfort level
But some other dogs might not feel as comfortable in the park. To get to know your dog’s comfort level, start with shorter visits to the park. Every time you visit the park, socialize your puppy with the environment and other puppies.
Learn the canine body language
This should be a given, but we have to repeat it. Familiarize yourself with canine body language. Yawning doesn’t always mean your puppy is tired. Growling doesn’t always mean your puppy is showing aggressive behavior. And wagging tail is not always a sign of a happy puppy.
Learn more about the dog’s body language. This will help you understand whether your puppy wants to be part of the dog park or not.
Socialize your puppy
We now get to the third and most important step of the dog park experience. Socialize your puppy with other dogs and the environment. Create positive association. How do you do that? With treats of course.
Be part of your dog’s fun
Let’s finish off with the thing we stressed at the beginning of the article. When you go into a dog park, do not be the type of owner that leaves his dog unattended and just chats with other owners. Engage with your puppy. Interact with your dog. Every now and then, call your puppy, pet him, have him sit, give him a treat, and then let him go play again.
Go play is a great reward for your puppy coming back to you. Use it wisely.