With busy days and dark evenings it is sometimes hard to fit in training. But now is the time to get creative and see just what you can do indoors – it’s a great way to build a relationship with your dog and you won’t lose the training momentum you may have had earlier in the year.
And your dog still needs the physical and mental stimulation that comes from learning new skills as well as polishing up existing ones – Keep your sessions short and make them fun, and keep a training diary so that neither of you get bored!
To inspire you, here are some great examples of LRT dogs doing some training indoors….
Sit and stay
Chip is just starting his training, so I am very close to him and the time he stays is quite short. But you can build up the distance and time for this exercise. Remember that you want your dog to succeed and gain in confidence so don’t make the exercise too challenging – build up over time.
Once you have established this indoors, need to “proof” your training, by trying it in different locations.
Here is Monty demonstrating his skills outside. Monty is a bit more advanced so I can introduce some movement – Monty learns that he must Stay, irrespective of what I do.
Sit & Wait
I am teaching Chip 2 different commands. I use “Wait” to teach my dog that something is going to happen – in this case a recall. But you can easily do this at feed time by asking your dog to sit and wait. Dylan is a young dog just at the start of his training.
As with everything you do indoors, you need to proof it in different locations – again here is Monty demonstrating “Wait” outdoors.
When you first start training your recall, you may need 2 people – one to you’re your dog, the other to recall. But as you get more advanced you will be able to use the “Wait” command and then recall.
Short retrieves indoors
Dylan is a young dog at the start of his training – Bix is more experienced but now has to learn to work independently.
Chip didn’t really understand how to walk on the lead, so we started off indoors around the kitchen island.
Once he had understood what was required – we went outdoors to practice
Then we came back indoors to learn how to do the same things but without the lead – what I am really doing is encouraging Chip to follow me.
The next step was to introduce some obstacles – this challenges Chip to be spatially aware of the obstacles and his body, without losing concentration on me.
All of this is a great foundation – but how do you train your dog to focus on you in real life when there are other dogs around?
If you think of another dog as a distraction, then you just need to introduce a “distraction” into your training! Here is Monty demonstrating – for Monty, the gundog dummies are a massive distraction and he has to retain his focus on me and resist the temptation to pick up the dummy!
Learning not to pull on the lead
The 1-2-3 game (Control Unleashed) helps with coming away from distractions , but also helps with dogs that pull on the lead. It can also help with dogs that are nervous or reactive to others as it builds confidence and makes being beside you a great and rewarding place to be.
Walk forward counting 1-2-3 and on 3 put a treat on the floor. Practice that.
Walk forward counting 1-2-3 BUT wait until the dog looks at you before putting the treat on the floor. Practice that.
Focus on you
A simple but powerful exercise that really gets your dog engaged and focused on you.
Throw a treat out for your dog, When they orientate back to you, throw another treat out. Repeat in different directions ONLY throwing the treat when the dog has oriented back to you.
Great to practice outdoors and with distractions!
Another great exercise is to teach your dog to focus on your hand – it really engages them.
Hold out your hand and reward your dog when they show any interaction with your hand by placing a treat (kibble from their daily ration) on your hand.
Over time, move your hand around, rewarding your dog each time they touch your hand. Over time, only reward them when they push your hand with their nose.
You can practice this outside – not only is a great way to refocus your dog from other distractions, it is also a great foundation for other exercises in many different disciplines.
As you progress, you can move your dog around as they follow your hand – and even make it fun by teaching them to weave in and out of your legs!
Focus and impulse control
The best use of a ball slinger for focus and impulse control (Absolute Dogs). Probably the worst toy you could get for your dog if used as intended. Why risk injury to your dog and bring up arousal by slinging a ball as far as you can away from you when instead you can bring arousal down, and promote focus and self control.
2 paws up
This is a great exercise to teach your dog – it improves their body awareness and core strength. Start with a solid object and when they are confident try a cushion or a wobble board.
And you can move to a bigger object and get all 4 paws on – very useful when you are trying to get your dog to stand still on the scales at the Vets!
This is a great exercise (Absolute Dogs) for nervous dogs as it helps them to accept noise and movement around them. All that sniffing is very absorbing and very calming.
You’ll need some boxes of different shapes and sizes. Put a treat into each and pile them up in such a way that they will move when your dog touches them.
All of these ideas will help you build a strong relationship with your dog – but don’t forget to set things up for your dog to succeed, be liberal with your praise and above all make it a fun and rewarding experience for your dog!