This is kind of part 2 to the Covid Summer blog, except summer is over and 2020 is over, but now we're inside because it's always dark outside and yes Covid is still here. With that in mind, I thought I would put together some ideas on what to do with your dog inside your house that you never leave. Even though this post stands on its own, if you missed part 1, you'll want to check that out for some ideas on enrichment for your dog.
One of my favorite things to do with my dogs is to shape fun little tricks. It's pretty low commitment and doesn't require daily work to achieve results. So many tricks can be trained in just one session. I just do 3 or 4 minutes when I feel like it. I know 3 or 4 minutes doesn't sound like it would do much for your dog, but trust me it does! Not only will this brief time break up the day for your dog, relieving boredom, but it will also strengthen your relationship with your dog. You will learn so much about how your dog thinks and your dog will learn TO think and to try things.
Some tricks I teach by luring and others by shaping. It just depends on the trick and what makes the most sense. To avoid writing an entire blog on shaping, which can get really in-depth and I would probably end up going down too many rabbit holes for days, I included a link on shaping above and I'm going to list a variety of tricks and you can choose the ones that make sense to you.
This one is super easy. I start with me standing up and my dog near me, I toss a treat and my dog should get the treat, then come back to me for more. If your dog doesn't come back, you'll need to work on that first by calling your dog back and rewarding from your hand, then tossing another treat. Once your dog knows to return to you, you'll toss a treat, then quickly put the mat down on the ground in front of you. Your dog should get the treat you tossed, then come back to you. As soon as the front feet hit the mat I use my clicker and click (or say yes). By the time the click or yes actually happens, all 4 feet will probably be on the mat. Then I toss another treat away and repeat. Once you have them coming back and stopping, pause for a moment, there is a good chance your dog will lay down on his or her own. If not you can lure the down with your treat hand.
Below is an old video I found of my dog View when he was a fuzzy little puppy. His default position was just naturally a down, so I feel like a cheated a bit.
Baby View learning to go to his mat
I could have been a bit more concerned with precision and only rewarded when he was completely on the mat and if I had flattened the mat out better, that would have made it easier for him to be in the middle. But I personally don't mind if he's just on the corner.
I usually do this with the dog elevated. One of the easiest places for me is to have my dog on my bed and I just sit next to the bed with my treats and clicker. With me being lower than my dog and holding treats, it's just natural for the chin to end up touching the bed. Click, then treat! So easy. Once they have that down, I can move myself a bit, maybe switch to a kneel, move a few feet away from the bed, then stand.
The next session I'll do a couple on the bed, then move to a new location. I can either use a thick dog bed, an elevated platform, and do the same thing. After a quick break, I can usually do one on the platform, then move to the ground. Once on the ground, I start out sitting in front of my dog, who is in a down. Once I'm pretty certain my dog is going to put his head down, I'll add my verbal cue. I use sad - actually I say 'are you sad?' That's pretty much it. I know that seems quick and not very detailed. But there isn't much to it.
That's it for today! I might add a regular trick blog that focuses on one trick from start to finish.
P.S. The cute puppy in the video and photos is my (now grown-up dog) View. Yes, View, because he is so easy on the eyes. Full name is RR's Mr. Brightside which matches his personality and goes with my music theme.