Rhodie is a 5-month-old Airedale Terrier. He is a typical high-energy puppy with all the usual goofy, floppy, silly behavior present and accounted for.
Too Many Things to See and Smell
Rhodie’s owner was concerned about his high-level of energy and lack of focus. One of her main reasons for calling Zen Dog Training was that “he’s a little crazy and all over the place on walks.” Rhodie was also sniffing the ground and always trying to eat gross stuff off the floor, (Yuck!), which was becoming a big problem and making it hard to walk him.
Getting a puppy’s attention is the foundation of teaching a dog to be obedient. We helped his owner encourage Rhodie to check in and pay attention to her with a game we call Name Game. The idea is to reward your dog for looking and focusing on you during walks.
The Name Game
Name Game is a fun and simple way to start getting your dog to listen to you instead of always sniffing the ground, building it up will improve the chance that your dog will come when called. Bottom line, when you are out on a walk ALWAYS bring your treats — if you can reliably reward your dog for listening to you, it is easier to keep them out of trouble!
How to Play
1. SAY your dogs name in a cheerful, upbeat voice, i.e. “Rhodie!”
2. The INSTANT your dog looks at you, acknowledge the good behavior by saying “YES!”
3. NOW a few seconds later, give your dog a treat. *
*Later the “reward” can be petting, affection or a game of Tug! Right now the important thing is recognize and reward your dog’s good behavior and to create a habit of listening to their name.
Rewarding, NOT Bribing
The big mistake people make with these kinds of games is bribing their dog with treats. We recommend you keep the tastiest treats broken up and hidden away in a plastic bag or even wear a treat pouch so your dog doesn’t realize you have treats!
Once you have said YES! the few seconds it takes you to get the treat will help build up the idea that the word Yes! predicts a reward. This way you will later be able to train without treats since your dog knows the word Yes! means they are doing a great job and you are pleased with them.
Ultimately, the goal is to get your dog to come when called. Once they reliably come to you, the options that can springboard from this easy and fun game are positively endless.
Rhodie’s mom quickly learned how to ask, acknowledge and reward her puppy when he was being good. The happy “YES!” sounds were bouncing off the walls…and the good news was…Rhodie wasn’t!
To learn more about Name Game, and other puppy training games check out Zen Dog Training Online.