“What should I be doing next with my dog?” I’m going to give you a list of five things. These are the things I think can help you determine how to go about choosing what you should be working on.
So at the top of my list is your dog’s foundational skills. Stay, come, and heel. If you’ve been reading my articles for any amount of time, you know that your dog’s foundational skills are really where you want to start. That’s why it’s called a foundation.
Your dog should learn how to stay, how it should come, and to heel. Not only in your home and in your neighborhood but also in the world abroad. You just need your dog to practically be able to do those things wherever you go with them. That’s a really important first step. So if you haven’t started with that, that’s what you should decide to do first.
Number 2 on my list, is to figure out your play relationship with your dog. Do you want to play tug? Do you want to play fetch? How about a game of hiding treats for your dog? Are you doing things that are going to make it fun for him to be able to interact with you? I’m a big fetch and tug guy, but I do see the value in also playing those other games. They can be quite fun for the dog. So if you’ve already put your foundation in, start digging deep into the play relationship that you have and see what you can discover there. Lots of times it’s a great source of enjoyment for your dog.
Next up, number 3 on my list is socialization. You need to be socializing your dog. In my opinion, I think your dog should be going out into a lot of social situations. Using their skills of stay, come, and heel while playing with you. This will teach them how to ignore certain things.
If the people and dogs that you are meeting aren’t calm and you and your dog are not either, then you should probably not meet. I think that calm dogs have calm owners. Meet other calm people and calm dogs. This is a good general tip to go about your socialization.
Your Dog’s Genetics
Number 4 is to dig into your dog’s genetics. Some of you are getting purebred dogs and some are getting rescues. Some of us are just finding stray dogs and making them our own. Regardless of where you’re getting your dog from, I think that it’s important to take a look into your dog’s genetics. Before, I hadn’t put much merit into getting a dog DNA test. But this is a good time to consider getting a DNA test for your dog to find out important information. Could there be a breed in there that will help you identify what the dog is actually supposed to be doing? The type of work that it was made to do? Dig into your dog’s genetics because it could yield some nuggets of gold in there.
Find The Answers
The last one is probably my favorite. Number 5 is to practice with attention to find the answers. I’m not talking about the dog’s attention. I’m talking about our attention. A lot of times you can be practicing with a dog and not really pay attention to the feedback that you’re getting from your dog. So practice and look at what the dog is communicating to you nonverbally. I think if you do that, you can find out a lot of things about your dog that were previously hidden to you. Just because it wasn’t there for your eyes to be able to see it.
So, work on your foundational skills, hone your play relationship, socialize, dig into your dog’s genetics and practice with attention to find the answers.