I find many people separate training and play time. It is important to include them together. Your dog will not only work for food but will also work for toys.
There are a few benefits for training your dog during play. One is that it teaches your dog to control impulses (biting and jumping). Asking your dog to perform a command during a play session allows your dog to create a pause in play. Pauses create a time for your dog to relax and decrease arousal ( For those of you that are familiar with calming signals. Pauses are also a calming signal.). Also when your dog is playing, he is in the primitive / reactive part of the brain. When you are asking your dog to perform a command, you are switching him from his reactive part of the brain to his cortex / thinking part of the brain. The faster your dog can make these shifts during play the easier it is to manage overall arousal in your dogs life 🙂
So what does play and obedience trianing look like together? Here is an example with a game of fetch.
- Ask your dog to down.
- Click when your dog downs. Then immediately throw the ball for your dog to fetch it.
- When your dog brings the ball to you, ask him to drop it. When he does ask him to target.
- Click when your dog targets (touches your hand on command). Then immediately throw the ball.
- Repeat the above process with any command: leave it, watch, come, sit, stay etc. Use different commands rather than the same one every time.
You can also do the same process with any type of play such as tug-o-war, hide and seek, go find it with a treat, chasing a lazer light razer on the wall etc. Object play is best to manage arousal and decrease bites in play.
Create play to be fun and a learning experience for the both of you!
Johanna Teresi, Professional Owner and Trainer for Four Legged Scholars LLC