Should you tease your dog?
Are you the type of dog owner that considers any form of teasing bad, or are you someone who will primarily insist teasing a dog is good unless they have been retrained?
Either way, teasing taken to extremes is terrible; however, the appropriate level of teasing can lead to a genuine and fun connection game with your dog.
Create the challenge for your dog
Not teasing looks like making the game far too easy; for example, if I have a toy in my hand and my dog looks at the toy, and I simply drop the toy on the floor, its likely the dog will have little interest in picking it up or running off with the toy.
What to avoid when playing 'rough'
The opposite end of this spectrum is for me to bait and taunt my dog, feigning to throw the toy, using my voice in a high excitable way until the dog is going crazy trying to rest the toy from me, maybe jumping up at me and trying to grab the toy, driving the dog semi-crazy, encouraging rough behaviour and possibly play biting.
Neither of these is good; the first will bore the dog to tears and most likely teach the dog that you are the most boring playmate ever. The second will only make the dog believe he can never win, and over time, he is likely to completely give up and result in the same outcome.
Rethinking enrichment exercises for dogs
There are 2 things I am not fond of. One is the term "enrichment exercises" for dogs. I am sure whoever first coined this phrase would have been referring to animals kept in zoo's or similar, not a dog living in a home with a human family pack.
It is not so much the phrase but rather its interpretation that I struggle with; for example, a piece of kit held up to be an enrichment accessory is the Snuffle mat. Who dreamt this up? And why, isn't this just a glorified bowl with a difference, hardly a challenge to the dog, no more challenging than just throwing their food on the floor!
Back to the first and boring version of teasing, making the game far too easy to really add anything to a dog's life, the dog will soon tire of this accessory (I cannot call it a toy. It is not one).
Enriching a dog's life will take more imagination and time than using a snuffle mat; interestingly, these appeal more to the girl owners than to boys!
True enrichment can come from the right level of teasing.
A happy balance would be to create some positive energy in your dog, attract their interest and motivate them to move to the toy; the next part is to ensure you keep increasing the difficulty of where the toy lands, to start within plain sight progressively making the toy harder to find, by throwing in the undergrowth, long grass or behind obstacles to encourage the dog to use their innate ability to search and find.
The more we tap this element in play, the more joy the dog will take from the game and, at the same time, increase his neural pathways and expand his brain!
Your connection and bond with your dog will deepen through taking the time to learn to tease at the right level of difficulty for your dog's developmental stage.
Do you need help training your dog?
thedogcalmer is delighted to offer training to all ages and levels of dogs, from puppies to advanced levels. We also offer 1-2-1 training.
Call one of our dog training experts today on 07505 277374, we can chat through your training goals and work with you on a plan for a better-behaved dog.