Building on a Puppy’s Natural Drive and Instinct

It all starts the day you and your puppy meet.

How you recognize and build upon your puppy’s natural drive and enthusiasm for life is critical to his future training. How many agility handlers wish that their adult dogs had half the enthusiasm for agility as they routinely display for chasing squirrels? What if that amount of enthusiasm could be directed toward the agility course?

To encourage your puppy to feel that you, the handler, are part of the fun it is necessary to work truly hard at one thing that is not considered work at all: Playing with your puppy! For some dogs the handler is not part of the hunt, but is often viewed as somebody who ends the game. Unfortunately, for these dogs it may be too late for the handler to become part of the emotional high that hunting for prey provides. Playing for an extended time is not required. In fact quite the opposite is true. Frequent short, physically demanding play periods of extreme fun can help to bring forth that connection you desire for future training. Discover the art of frivolity and immerse yourself in playing with your puppy so he can freely express his drive while in your company.


Following are some tips for encouraging play and enhancing fun:

• To enhance his fun, it is good to play restrained-recall games where you have a friend or family member hold your puppy gently while you run away to call him with great enthusiasm. When he reaches you, praise him joyfully and reward with a fun game or tasty treats.

• In the evening and the morning when the pup is feeling full of energy, encourage him to play for short periods with various toys. The two-toy game, where the handler uses two identical toys and throws one behind her as the pup brings one back is fun, engaging, and keeps you as the centre of the game.

•  I encourage my pups to chase a water hose or sprinkler. If they are not keen on this at first, I allow them to watch the adult dogs having a good time with this game. Very soon most pups join in.

• Never underestimate the power of role modeling. Puppies copy adults and peers so give them the opportunity to see friendly, well-adjusted adult dogs happily engaging with you and having fun with their toys.

by Clean Run

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