Blog - Dog Training Fads

Posted Friday, 4 October 2019

Training with games

Don't get me wrong, training your dog through play is a great way of training as they are attentive. Anything we enjoy, we tend to repeat. 

However, just recently I have come across rather a lot of dogs who have seen trainers who have effectively used games and excessive "enrichment" to stop the dog from misbehaving. In other words, they are distracting the dog. This does not mean that the dog is learning how to behave appropriately.

Furthermore, with all these games and activities, these dogs are not getting enough sleep. This makes them cranky, irritable, more demanding, bitey, easily frustrated, forgetful, clumsy... the list is almost endless.

Dogs need a lot of sleep. Puppies need around 18 hours in 24 hours with adult dogs requiring around 14-16 hours. 

Why do dogs need sleep?

When they sleep, memories are being stored and filed. So, what they learn during the day is consolidated when they sleep moving these experiences into long term memory.

When they sleep, excess cortisol (stress steroid hormones) are being mopped up. So the stresses of the day can be cleared away.

When they sleep, dopamine is produced (a feel good neurotransmitter).

When they sleep, they grow. Particularly important for puppies.

When they sleep, tissues are repairing, particularly important for active dogs.

When they sleep, their immune system is being boosted.

They need sleep, just like we do!

Let dogs just be dogs

Let them just be.......dogs. Yes, play with them from time to time, give them some enrichment (snuffle mat, scent work, stuffed food activity toy etc). Let them use their brains to find food, which is what dogs always did before they were domesticated.

Let them amble, mooch, sniff, pee, settle, watch the world go by, watch birds, planes etc (calmly). 

Do a little training (maybe ten minutes a day). By all means use games to train, but in moderation. 

Pay attention to their calm and settled behaviour, then they will do it more.

Let them be dogs. Don't be a pushy parent who wants their dog to be the quickest, cleverest, you will not get the results you are looking for. Less is more............