As a dog trainer, it is my job to help you have the best relationship you can with your dog. In class, we only have an hour each week to teach you the tools you need to accomplish whatever you wish to achieve. I can teach you all sorts of things about how to modify unwanted behavior, how to teach your dog to do tricks, how to have a good recall, etc.
But I can share with you some stories and ideas to get the creative juices flowing so you and your dog (or cat, or ferret, or bunny!) can simply have a darn good time.
My dearly departed and best pal of almost 15 years, Harley, had all kinds of fun things she liked to do. Of course, it evolved as she got older but some of her favorite things were – but not limited to – being chased, tug-of-war, chasing chipmunks and/or squirrels (she never caught one but not from lack of trying, I assure you), digging in the mud, lying in the grass soaking up the sun, riding in the car, and walks in the rain if the rain wasn’t coming down too hard.
When I was growing up, we had Doberman Pinchers who loved to run and take flying leaps into our pond over and over again. No one could believe they would do it until they saw it because when you think of Dobermans you don’t exactly think water dog. It was incredibly humorous to watch and when we got home at the end of the day to let them outside, they would immediately go potty and run to the pond.
When I lived in a very rural area of Pennsylvania, I had a cat named Zam that loved to go for a walk in the woods with us and enjoyed riding in the Jeep with me to town. She would just look out the window (closed, of course) as we drove, and hang out all cool-like in the Jeep like it was no big deal. “Yeah, I’m a cat hanging out in a Jeep, so what? It’s my thing.” They were having fun! I assume so anyway because none of this was forced on them or taught. They just did it. Well, okay, I took Harley with me for walks in the gentle rain because I liked it but she didn’t hesitate one bit when I leashed her up and we ventured out in the rain.
You can also use their favored activities in training as a reward. We talk about this a lot in class, and I’m pretty sure you’ve already heard this before, but keep those activities in your repertoire along with treats for rewards.
Explore with your companion some new and exciting things and see if you can incorporate more fun into your lives. I happened to find out Zam liked riding in the car by taking her to vet, if you can believe it. She just looked out the window so interested in everything as the countryside rolled by. So I started inviting her to ride with me and she eagerly hopped in.
Training is an incredibly important part of having a great relationship with your companion but so is fun! So, put the clicker down for a little while, relax, loosen up, take a break and do whatever makes you and your companion happy.