Games we can play!
1. Get a basket, trash can, traffic cone, laundry basket, jump wing, etc.
Stand right next to an object and mark “yes” for your dog going around either direction. Try to not use too much luring or help. We like if they can try to figure out what to do to get the reward. Do this until you don’t have to help and they are going side to side around the object. Always mark “yes” and reward/praise and celebrate!!
2. Step back about 1 foot and line up the dog on your side in an informal ‘heel’. Step toward the object, use the dog-side hand and ‘bowl’ them toward the side to go around the object.
*dog on left – step with left foot, use left hand, go around from left to right or clockwise.
*dog on right – step right foot, use right hand, go around from right to left or counter-clockwise
3. Step back another foot and continue with same as step 2. You can start dropping the treat on the floor as the dog circles to encourage them to race (or chase) back. I use a toy and toss or roll it behind me after they circle. Encourages fun and drive.
Remember: Mark, Reward, Celebrate
4. Continue moving away and adding distance. Always step once, if you need to make a ‘bigger’ step or multiple steps because they won’t circle, go back to step 2. In other words, you progressed too fast for your dog.
5. Add a second circle around the object.
Move back up to the object, send your dog around and as they complete, send them around again with a hand gesture. (usually the same gesture as sending the first time)
On the second time around, back up to encourage speed and chasing you. Use your dog’s natural instinct of chasing to encourage excitement and play. Practice both directions.
6. Back up 1 step and ask for two circles. Practice both sides and CELEBRATE with your dog! Continue adding distance and play.
7. Movement from you in opposite direction.
As your dog is circling, you begin to walk backwards while sending them to the object. Your movement away shouldn’t change the game for your dog. Start with moving at the end of the circle, one step at a time. As they get better, you move sooner and sooner. If you can’t get them to circle, then back up, you missed a step in your game and they need more practice.
Sometimes we get stuck on the idea of the finished product. Don’t focus on getting to the last step, instead focus on what your dog understands. Take all the time you need at each step before moving on so there aren’t in ‘holes’ in their learning. If you find you aren’t getting what you want 10 out of 10 tries (1 practice session), then you moved too fast and they are missing a piece of the game. Start back at the beginning. If your dog isn’t having fun, getting excited and getting faster each time you play, then change your approach mentally. Maybe you are the one not making it fun J MARK, REWARD, CELEBRATE