Are You Your Dog's Favourite?


Does your dog choose you?

Where are you in terms of your dog's favourite things in life? Are you at the very top, middle, or bottom? How can you tell? Behaviours like recall and loose lead walking will give you a good idea. If you let your dog off their lead down at the local park and without thought or feeling they bugger off to the group of dogs on the other side, this would be a clear sign that you are not at the top of their list.

Subsequently, your dog's recall will not be reliable either. So how do we fix this and improve your dog's recall skills and loose lead walking? Here are three things you can try straight away.

Up your engagement

A lot of dogs respond well when you up your energy when you engage with them. Try talking to your dog in a funny, high-pitched voice. Say anything like “Who's a good dog then!” or “You are my scrummy yummy!”. Watch how their eyes light up. My dog Mojo twists his head from side to side when he is listening to me talk like a silly billy.

Find more things to reward your dog for.

Monitor the times you do engage with your dog and divide them into letting them know they have done good or bad. Now if the number of times is higher in the bad column then no doubt you have earned the title of “grumpy old pants” or “miserable mummy” with your dog. If that's the case even I wouldn't want to spend much time around you (no offense).

When your dog is rewarded all those feel-good hormones are released into your dog's brain. Nature's very own antidepressants and painkillers. I have the title the “naughty aunt” with my client's dogs and the way I have done that is by sneaking them a treat for anything positive they do including looking pretty at me.

Especially with young or new to you dogs, look for any reason whatsoever to let them know that they are doing good. You don't always have to give them food treats or their toy. Sometimes it's just enough to tell them they have done well with a chin tickle and “Who's a good boy then”.

Use their favorite rewards.

When you do reward your dog it's important to let your dog decide what they want for payment of a job well done. Why? Because ultimately they will do it in the end. If you insist on using highly processed, low meat content treats, when faced with the choice to chase a duck guess who will win?!

Unless your dog has any allergies be prepared to use food treats like cocktail sausages, string cheese, or kibble that has really high meat content like Carnilove.

Or maybe your dog prefers a toy? It's pointless using one if your dog runs away with it, however a popular game among dogs is tug of war. Try them out with an old sock with a tennis ball at the bottom and wiggle it about on the ground until your dog latches on. Tug for a few seconds stop the game then restart it. Lots of short bursts and before you know it, both of you will have had a cardio workout.

Have a check on your relationship with your dog. If you are not at the top or even close your dog's recall skills will be affected. 

Above are three exercises you can implement straight away to improve your relationship:

• increasing engagement by using a lively and positive tone, 
• reinforcing positive behaviors with rewards, and 
• allowing the dog to choose their preferred reward, whether it be food treats or interactive play with a toy. 

Be patient and consistent then watch your bond strengthen.