Niki French is a dog trainer, the founder, and owner of Pup Talk and Twickenham Dog Services, using force-free training methods only.
In her guess blog, Niki is sharing with us few steps on how you can ease your pup out of lockdown.
Niki wants to inspire people to be their dog’s best trainer – together they can reshape our dogs’ brains to get real-life results. On her Instagram & Facebook group, she also shares her journey with our Battersea rescue pup – Bodie, a handsome loving handful of Collie Lurcher cross. He was 8 months old when she got him, he’s currently an over-enthusiastic, but good-natured teenager!
Ease Your Pup Out of Lockdown.
Did you get a new dog or puppy in lockdown? Are you feeling daunted about how they’ll cope as we get used to life coming out of lockdown? Or do you have a dog that’s changed its behaviours in lockdown?
There’s a whole world of fun, exciting, and potentially scary experiences out there. And most of our dogs (and us for that matter!) haven’t had much exposure to them in the last year. Here are a few steps you can take to help your pup cope with life after lockdown.
The ‘Reward Nothing’ Game.
Being able to switch off and do nothing is a great skill for any dog to have. And not one they all find easy. Especially after not going out much recently! But you can grow this skill.
When our dogs are naturally doing nothing, that’s when we tend to ignore them. Reward them with calm praise when they’re sat being quiet near you. Or drop treats (or daily food) into their crate or on their bed when they’re nicely settled, or even asleep. Your dog will want to do more of these lovely behaviours.
Start playing this game at home throughout the day. Then you can take it out and about. If you have some of their food around your home, wherever you are, it will be easier to pop that food down straight away, rather than disturb them as you get food from the kitchen! Don’t worry if they wake up a little when you pop the food in front of their nose. Try it a few times a day for at least the next couple of weeks. They’ll learn that being calm is the way to get the rewards.
Whining & Barking in the Car? – Play Ride to Nowhere!
If the only time your dog has been in the car recently has been to go to the park, they might well have started whining or barking every time they get in the car. That’s probably not fun for you.
They’ve built up excitement and anticipation associated with being in the car. Here’s a game to help:
- Just get in the car with them, sit there for a few minutes (catch up on some emails or social media) and then head inside again.
- Or pop their harness / collar / lead on as if you were going for a walk. Then just walk around the car a few times. Perhaps play a game around or near the car. And yep – head back in!
- Try giving them their long-lasting chew or a lick mat in the car, while you sit and make a call or do some weeding.
- Go for a drive somewhere that doesn’t involve getting out at the park. Take them with you on errands if it’s safe to do that.
This might feel like a bit of an effort but if you want to break the association of excitement with the car, this will absolutely help.
Crazy Lady Game
Does your dog get over-excited when you greet someone? Then this game is for you!
With your dog settled at home just say quite loudly to someone (or no one) ‘Hello!’ ‘Hi, how’s it going?’. You can calmly feed them the odd piece of food as you do this to reward any calm behaviour.
You can say anything you like, you’re just helping to make the sound of greeting someone less of an event that could cause them excitement. To step it up a level you can put your hands up or outstretched.
You can start playing this when you’re out. You don’t need to have anyone in earshot as we get them ready to not overreact when you greet people in person again.
For tips like these, from Pup Talk, you can download the free PDF ‘Ease Your Pup Out of Lockdown’ here https://puptalk.co.uk/ease-your-pup-out-of-lockdown-pdf/
For more help, join Pup Talk with Niki French – the friendliest FREE Facebook group of dog-lovers supporting each other and providing training tips and games https://www.facebook.com/groups/puptalk/
For 121 online training, please email firstname.lastname@example.org