Seems too soon to be December 4th and left with less than one month to take care of the resolutions from last year! If one of your resolutions was to up your training game with your dogs, I have a secret to share! There is still time!
In one month you can accomplish quite a bit of behavior change in your dog with just 15 minutes a day of action that works toward the direction you want to go. We all know by now that a great day starts with a good breakfast. Right? Well this is a perfect place to start for your dog as well! Use the highly anticipated morning kibble as your opportunity to begin the day the way you want with your dog. Sit in a chair holding the dog food dish in your lap with a serving of dry kibble. Now begin to feed your dog by hand. Yes! By hand!
Ask for a “Sit” and give one nibble of kibble. If your dog lunges toward the kibble, raise your eyebrows in surprise and turn your head slightly away. When the dog settles give the kibble and say “yes” or “nice” . Dispense one piece at a time at a slow but reasonable pace with an irregular rhythm. Use this exercise to incorporate the following commands, starting with eye-contact: “Look at Me” and “Wait.” Move on to ask for “Down” and alternate “Sit – Down” combinations. Move on to placing the kibble on your knee and asking for “Wait” then “OK” to let him take it. If your dog can’t resist the kibble on your knee, start by covering it with your hand: Reveal the morsel, cover the kibble if there is an unauthorized attempt to take it, patiently wait for eye-contact, say “yes” and uncover the morsel and allow the take with “nice job!”
Hand Feeding is a very powerful tool that will rapidly put you in the Calm Leader position. It is a game that can advance with your dog’s skills such as making the “Wait” longer and transitioning to “Stay” while you get up and refill your coffee! Try doing this with half the breakfast for 10 or 15 minutes every morning! If having a little more control of your dog was one of your resolutions last year, there is still plenty of time! If giving this time to your dog at breakfast is not an option for you, there is always dinner…..