With many of us spending so much time at home and only being allowed to walk our dogs once a day it means we have to find other ways to exercise our clever dogs minds. Now is the time to tighten up on those skills that you have may have gotten a bit relaxed with. For example loose leash walking, recall, retrieve, stay's and steadiness if you have a working dog.
Being forced to practice at home means that our dogs have less distractions making it easier for them to focus on you and their task. We can bring in distractions slowly as our dogs get better at their tasks.
Firstly though Try to keep to your routine as much as possible. If you generally go out to work and are now working from home then work in another room and let your dog have it's own space and time away from you. If you are furloughed then take again move to another room with a good book or a game to give your dog some space. This will reduce the chances of your dog struggling when you do go back to work.
2. Loose leash walking.
So many owners struggle with this but at the moment with dogs not being allowed off lead to reduce the chances of the cross contamination, we need to keep them under close control.
So learn how to hold the lead and how to use the equipment you have be it a collar or harness. Get some food rewards and practice around the house and garden and on the pavement out side your house. If your dog pulls forwards don't pull them around use that food reward and lure them back beside you and try again. don't forget start small with low distractions and build up slowly.
Does your dog settle when you take it out? Now could be the time to teach this skill so you can have a nice relaxed dog that you can take to the pub or cafe or to your friends BBQ when things go back to normal.
Bristol Dog School offer the Good Dog online training course for dogs of all ages for a one off payment you get lifetime access to the course and you can learn and practice at your own pace.
5. Training games.
Games like the cup game, mousey mousey, find it. All utilise your dogs strong sense of smell great eyesight for movement as well as teaching self control while rewarding them you can play them in your home or garden.
Some of you were lucky enough to get pups before the lock down and have been at a loss for what to do with socialisation and training.
Don't think you have to wait until lock down is over to get started on this at home. Training is a great way for you and your puppy to bond and so many great puppy schools have online classes you can sign up too and some are doing Zoom puppy classes with a social group class on offer after lockdown is over, where you can meet other owners and have some socialisation fun on confidence courses. These trainers not only help with training but help get you through all your toilet training, puppy nipping, and jumping issues too.
It's more than just letting your puppy play with other dogs, this is about letting them have life experiences too so taking them on short walks and in the car when you go shopping is important, they will get to see other dogs and people when out. You or a family member can also play dress up to give your puppy the experience of seeing different outfits such as sunglasses, high viz coats, hats and hoods. carry them if you have too.
As cute as your puppy is, you have to leave them sometime, to go shopping or when you go back to work. Start building up that alone time now.
Give puppy a safe space a crate a puppy pen or a room with a nice bed and lots of rewarding things in it, snuffle mats, stuffed Kong toy's, boxes with toilet roll tubes in them or ball pits that they can get in a find food rewards or other toys in. They have fun and forget you were even there and learn to keep themselves occupied.
You can keep an eye on them with a camera that you can view on a mobile device so you know if you've gotten it right start off slowly by leaving the room for a few seconds build up to making a coffee and sitting out side or in your car with a good book.
If you think you have a problem or need more help then find a trainer local to you.
Training should never be a chore but if you practice you'll have fun with your dog and you'll be improving your bond, creating new habits for you and your dog that are highly reinforcing for you both.
Clair Litster-Huckle has a BSc (Hons) in Animal Behaviour and Welfare and has studied Canine psychology and Canine diet and nutrition.