There are many ways to engage your dog. I am talking more about the motivational training methods more related to the following trainers:
- Building engagement takes time. You really need enthusiasm and patience.
- The games can be very physical for the dog owner
- The games must have rules, and you must have goals.
- Dogs don't always want to end the game or may pester you at an inconvenient time. That has to have a plan to be dealt with.
- Many of these games comes with a chance of teeth meeting flesh. Teaching your dog to target correctly is part of the work, especially when training with toys.
- Bumps and bruises come along with play training, especially tug training.
- Some toys need to be put away and kept separate frim anything that is allowed access to all day.
- The handler has less control over responses than more traditional training. Knowing your dog much better and being able to anticipate their responses is very helpful.
- Timing and handling are really important.
- The progression of progress you want is in the paws of your dog, and how well the owner is able to work with their dog.
Why, given the above list, do I find this method helpful?
- While the dog is distracted by a fun game, it builds confidence and can reduce stress in environments that previously were perceived stressful to the dog.
- Dogs are both mentally and physically challenged by the games.
- I am physically and mentally challenged doing this.
- I can be loose and have fun with my dog.
- When you get going, you can extend your training sessions and get a lot done.
- It is fun to start using this in ways where your dog can do helpful tasks with you. This personally makes some chores more fun for me.
Engagement, real engagement as I see it, is not easy to do. The rewards of earning the attention and focus of your dog are well worth it, however. If you are interested, start simple with fetch play. Just make sure you keep your dog wanting more (do not tire them out), and save those balls as special for training only. Focus on the goal of getting your dog to return the ball. A long line is an useful tool for this. We have a blog about play fetch.