Monday, March 28, 2022

Self Regulation Games



Games to teach your dog to control their impulses.

The Pick One Game
This is a basic game of hiding a treat in one hand and letting the dog pick which hand you open for them.  Here are the full instructions for teaching the game.

Instead of always having to call my dog to come back to me when they are on following their nose, I build in value for this game so that they want to come find me and keep an eye on me.

Here are the basic instructions to train the game. One person stays with the pup, keeping him in a certain room while another person hides. The hiding person calls out the dog's name prompting the dog's helper to release the pup to start the hunt. When the pup finds the person, they get a reward of treats, toys or praise to help teach them that they did a good job. In the beginning, the hiding person should pick simple spots like on the couch, sitting in the middle of a room, etc.

As your pup gains experience, you can gradually pick harder hiding spots such as in the shower, behind the shower curtain, upstairs or downstairs.

Have some fun with it and your dog will too!

Hurry Up and Wait Game
This is a basic tug game that I like to play.  First, my dog will be wearing a harness and longline or leash.  While holding the leash with my dog close, I will toss the toy out a few feet away from us.  I will begin by only holding the dog back for 1 second before releasing them to chase the toy.  Over time, you can build up that time longer and longer.  When I release the the dog to get the toy, I will often run towards the toy in a race.  Then the moment they pick up the toy, I'll switch and run the other way which often encourages the dog to run toward me with toy so we can play tug.  Once the dog starts to understand the game, you can add the cues "wait" when you first toss the toy and "get it" to release them to chase the toy.

Look At That or Engage/Disengage Game
This is a common game to play around distractions! 

Level 1:  Start at a safe distance away from the trigger, where your dog is not reacting. Be quiet and still so your dog notices the trigger on their own. At the same time as your dog looks at the trigger, mark or click, offering a reward. Repeat, dog looks at trigger, mark, reward. If your dog doesn’t look back at you for a treat after you mark, you may need to mover farther away.

Level 2:  Let your dog notice the trigger again, but now wait for 1-5 seconds to see if they will turn away from the trigger on their own. If they don’t, move back further and repeat Level 1.  At the instant your dog looks away from the trigger turning to you, mark and reward.

There are many other games you can play to help your dog learn to control themselves and their behaviors, but hopefully these will get you started!

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