How to multi-task while training your dog

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It seems that everyone today wants or needs to multi-task. I try to take that into consideration when I am doing a training plan for my clients. The best way to get compliance from the people, is to show progress with the dog.

One of the first things I try to do in every household is teach the “auto sit.” This is where the dog approaches and automatically sits in front of any person regardless of age, and regardless if the person is sitting or standing. To do this I position myself in front of the dog (or he positions himself in front of me) and I offer a small treat about waist high (a little lower for smaller dogs). I usually don’t have to say a word. When the dog sits, he gets the treat. This is simply saying “I like what you did.” He will continue to offer that behavior as long as it works for him – he keeps getting treats.

Then I get the whole family involved. We each take a position around the room – armed with treats – and take turns calling the dogs’ name and “come.” At each person, he automatically sits, gets rewarded. This is a fast easy way to multi-task your training. Your dog is learning his name, the come command, and auto sit all in one practice session. There are some other, more subtle things he’s learning. Impulse control for any dog is important, but more so for a young energetic dog. By learning that he must sit and wait for you to treat him, he learns that he can curb that impulse to jump or run from person to person without being invited to (come command). He is also learning to focus on you, as the person who is giving direction – even with the distraction of the other people participating. When he really starts to understand what is expected of him, you can begin to offer the treats every other time, or use a different reward (affection, toy) so it isn’t so treat-dependent.

This is a great exercise to include children in, and you can do it indoors or out. You can make it more fun for the kids, if they can hide behind a chair or bush before they call the dog. Aside from the obvious of teaching your dog good manners, the best thing about it is that you get a really tired dog when it’s over and we all know that a tired dog is a good dog

Terry Meeks is a dog trainer, APDT Member an CGC Evaluator in Pinellas County, Florida.  Find Four on the Floor Dog Training at FourontheFloor-Dogtraining.com and on Facebook.

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