view:  full / summary

S.P.R.E.D. The Five Essentials Every Dog Needs

Posted on April 16, 2012 at 12:35 AM Comments comments (2)

Dogs are like us in many ways. They live within families that we call packs. They work together, have rules, and take care of one another. They live within a society, although it's not quite as advanced as ours. Some get along great, while others struggle, just as we do with each other. In this note/article/blog or whatever it is, I'd like to talk briefly about my most recent findings while studying dog behavior. After all, all of us scientist types have to publish our findings one way or another. :)



I've developed a new system of helping dogs during the rehabilitation process. Or, I should say, I've recently organized it into a system. I've been using this system for years, but never really had a name or system for it. I guess that's part of the growth process though. We all eventually find a way to eventually organize our thoughts and opinions. Here are the five necessities I've identified as the key elements each dog needs to maintain happiness and stability. I call it S.P.R.E.D. (Maybe I should tattoo it on my knuckles like the love guru and his D.R.A.M.A method- no? Okay). ;)



1.) Structure - This simply means that dogs require a structured lifestyle. They need a leader and rules. They need to know who's in charge and who's there to love them. Basically, they need a family of some kind. Even stray dogs are known to pack up with each other to survive. Lone wolves are not alone for too long. They eventually find a mate and start a new pack. Structure is important, as even the canine kind need love and support!



2. Purpose - I believe that purpose is the driving force behind all living things. With out purpose, what's the point? Why are we here? Dogs need purpose too. Dogs need to know what they are supposed to do and how to do it. Or in other words, they need a job. Whether it's to love you, comfort you, or keep the mailman away, they need something to do and a good reason to do it. If you do not give your dog a purpose, he/she will find one for him/herself.



3. Routine - Dogs love routine. They thrive and count on it. Dogs need to know when they walk is coming, or when you are coming home for work. They love knowing what to expect and when to expect it. Although dogs can handle surprises well, they prefer to know what's coming. They will even keep you to the routine after it's established. If it's time to walk and you forget, they may reminded you by getting the leash for you. Or if it's time to eat, they may paw at the bowl or bring it to you. Routines can even be loosely based. For instance, my dogs don't eat at certain times during the day. They eat as soon as the humans finish. If we don't immediately feed them after we finish eating, Oreo, their "spokesdog" immediately brings me his bowl as the other two intensely stare at us in wait.



4. Exercise - This doggy necessity is one that you'd think was the most obvious. However, a lot of people neglect to provide their dogs with the exercise they require. All dogs need to be walked every day. Even if they are small dogs that do not require vigorous exercise, they still need to get out and move. Dogs can get "cabin fever" just as people do, which can lead to unhealthy behavior problems. Walking your dog is not only good exercise, it's also a great way to bond with your dog and establish leadership outside of the home. A dog with a lot of energy and no where to direct that energy, means trouble. Dogs will find somewhere to get rid of that excess energy, and that could mean destroyed furniture to you. Ever heard the saying, "A tired dog is a happy dog?" :)



5. Discipline - The least favorite of the five, but definitely one of the most important. Discipline is a necessity that even dogs will enforce one each other, and sometimes on their people. With out discipline there is no order. All living things need discipline to stay on track. This does not mean hitting, spanking, electrocuting, or anything harsh. It simply means that the rules of the pack get enforced. Dogs will bite, nip, or tackle each other. They also muzzle each other, which is where the one giving the discipline will place his mouth over the mouth of the dog receiving the discipline. It's also a way for dogs to remind each other who's in charge.



So there you have it. The SPRED method and what each part means in a nutshell. I could share how to obtain and maintain each of the five elements of this method, but I think I'll save that for my book. ;)



Please let me know what you think, and please click SHARE (Facebook users) to share with your friends who may not know about this page. I'd like to inspire as many people as possible to be better pet parents. Thanks, and may you find patience and peace in your life.


Understanding Energy

Posted on November 9, 2010 at 2:45 AM Comments comments (0)

I have been experimenting with energy relating to dogs for a long time. I have come to the conclusion that there are five different types. In this note I will share with you what I have learned. You can use this information when working with your dog and actually see, in some cases, its effects on your dog.


So what do I mean when I say energy? The energy that I am referring to here is simply the output of your emotions. So when you feel a certain way, you emit energy that other people and animals can feel and read. This energy can be output with words, body language, touch, and in some cases smell. Energy is not some magical and mystical force, it is real and we use it everyday. When you know your spouse is sad, you are feeling his/her energy. When you know your dog is happy, you are feeling his/her energy.


Another persons energy can even make you feel a certain way. Your level of compassion determines this, but lets say that your best friend's parents have been involved in a terrible accident and have passed away. Your best friend is distraught. You know she is distraught because she is crying uncontrollably. You have just read her body language and her energy. Of course she is conveying a very sad energy, and it's probably static (you'll read what static energy is in a minute) but because she is your best friend and you have lots of compassion for her, you feel sad too. You may even begin to cry with her. Her energy is strong enough to make you feel the same way she does.


Even though it is not talked about very often, and some people are never told about it, energy is a very powerful and common force. It connects us to each other and our animals. Our level of compassion increases or decreases it's effects, but nun-the-less, we all use and feel energy. We even learn to use it with out even knowing what it is.


Here are the five types of energy described as best as I can in words. These forms of energy apply to all living things, but this is really geared more towards the human and dog relationship. This is subject to change, as I am still researching this subject. However, these five types seem the most prudent in my line of work.


Static Energy: Think of a ball of electricity. Unstable, sparks flying everywhere, and very unorganized. This is how I picture static energy. I picture it as floating around and shocking whatever is in it's path. It can make you feel mad, upset, frustrated, and angry. Some people may even feel like the Incredible Hulk when conveying this energy. People, and dogs, that convey this type of energy are very unbalanced, have short tempers, generally have little patience, and are often edgy. These are the people, or dogs, that you feel you must "walk on eggshells" around. Static energy is chaos, and only contributes to more chaos. Example: Two dogs get into a fight, to break them up you stomp your feet, scream at the top of your lungs, and panic. You are conveying static energy, and it will only make things worse. 

Free Flowing Energy: I picture this kind of energy as a strong and steady stream. If you get in it's path, it will not hurt you, but it is very persistent and pushes past you. Free Flowing Energy is stable, calm, peaceful, and firm. It is generally easy going and always patient. This strong form of energy is what I teach my clients to gain control of their dogs. It is totally opposite from static energy. Buddhist monks are known for displaying this kind of energy when teaching new students. Jesus conveyed this energy to his disciples. It takes self-discipline to completely master and maintain this form of energy. Free flowing energy dominates other forms energy. It stems from confidence and assertiveness. Example: Your dog barks at you because he is not getting his way. You calmly and firmly use your body to block and correct him until he submits. Once he has submitted, you let it go and walk away. 

Avoidant Energy: This form of energy is conveyed through avoidance. It can be as unstable as static energy, but is never as stable as free flowing energy. Dogs and people who are constantly giving off this form of energy usually have poor social skills and are typically bullied. They are considered easy targets because they usually will not fight back or stand up for themselves. They would rather avoid confrontation all together and are easily offended, but generally keep it to themselves. Prey animals often display this type of energy to predators. When people or dogs who commonly convey this type of energy are forced to react, they usually do so with static energy. They loose control and snap, or go into a fear response. Example: You take your dog to the dog park for the first time, only to discover that she will not interact with the other dogs. She simply follows you around and ignores everything else. She is not aggressive, or fearful, she simply doesn't care to interact. She is weary, but not scared. When another dog begins to mount her and she can't ignore it, she snaps at the other dog and retreats. 

Anxious Energy: This type of energy comes from worry. People, and dogs, who cannot relax because they are worried or even paranoid display this type of energy. Dogs with separation anxiety often display this type of energy just before their owner leaves. After the owner leaves, they display static energy. Anxious energy is very unstable and chaotic. It stems from, fear, worry, and paranoia. 


Passive Energy: I consider this form of energy just as balanced as free flowing energy, but not as firm. This is the energy you should feel from your dog. It conveys submission. Dogs and people that convey this energy are not scared, anxious, weary, or excited. They are calm and easy going. They look for someone to lead them, guide them, and direct them. They may have trouble making decisions for themselves, and almost always look up to someone. When confronted, people and dogs with this kind of energy will simply submit and try to please. People and especially dogs that convey this type of energy are generally very happy. Example: Your dog is laying in your path as you are walking somewhere. When he sees you, he happily gets up and moves out of your way. As you walk by, he gives you that look that seems to happily and gently ask, "Is there anything else I can do for you?" 

Understanding the different forms of energy can help you not only relate better to your dogs, it can help you in life. Or at least, it has for me. It is important to note that no one is locked into any one form of energy. It is changeable. You simply need to practice another form. It's not easy, however, because everything about you will tell you to react with a certain kind of energy, or in a certain way. You consciously have to decide to react with the energy you wish to project. In other words, if you feel as though your main energy output is usually anxious and you like to project free flowing energy, it is totally possible. Although you will have to get over your instinct to be anxious. You must make your self interact with a calm and firm energy. Anxious energy and an avoidant energy will be more difficult  to change than static and passive. But this does not mean you shouldn't try. Rehabilitating dogs is doing just this. Changing the core energy output from static, avoidant, anxious, and even free flowing on occasion to passive. A passive dog, is a happy dog and makes for a happy owner.


Also, you should be aware that it is possible to emit other emotions while within these five different core energy forms. For example, you can be excited and static, or excited and passive, or excited and free flowing, etc. A dog that is excited and static will be bounding off the walls, running around, barking, possibly biting and nipping at others, etc. While a dog that is excited and passive will have a low wagging tail, prancing feet, maybe the occasional half jump, etc. A dog that is excited and free flowing will have a mid to high quick tail wag and will be watching your every move. It is a calmer form of excitement. The dog may be assertive if you ignore his cues to play, dropping the ball in your lap, the occasional bark, pawing at you, etc.


When it comes to this type of energy, it can get quite confusing. Just try to remember the basics.


Free Flowing Energy: Patient, calm, assertive, balanced.


Static Energy: Unbalanced, chaotic, unorganized, emotional.


Avoidant Energy: Unbalanced, stand offish, lame.


Anxious Energy: Nervous, fearful, unbalanced, paranoid.


Passive Energy: Balanced, calm, submissive, happy-go-lucky.


Examples of the five different core energy types are below. I've tried to include an example of different forms of each core energy type as well. As you will see, the core energy types are neither bad or good, but what each of the characters make them. However different each character emits their form of core energy, you'll notice some common denominators:


Free Flowing: Jesus Christ, Buddhist monks, Spock (Star Trek), Gandhi, Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Silence of the Lambs), Fonzie (Happy Days), Shadow (Homeward Bound), President Obama


Static: Han Solo (Star Wars), The Joker (Batman), Chance (Homeward Bound), Mel Gibson


Avoidant: Brick (The Middle), Max (Parenthood), Walt Kowalski (played by Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino), Sassy (Homeward Bound)


Anxious: Judas, Scooby Doo and Shaggy, Jesse Ventura, Dr. Samuel Loomis (Halloween)


Passive: Norman Bates (Psycho) (as himself, not as his mother), Frodo Baggins (Lord of the Rings), Lassie

Oringinal Note


The Difference Your Energy Makes

Posted on October 17, 2010 at 9:03 PM Comments comments (0)

For the last 20 years I've been studying, training, and learning to "talk" to dogs in their own language. Since dogs are not humans, it is not natural to assume that they understand what we are saying all the time. Sure, they do catch a word or two that we say now and then and react to it. But we already know that dogs can learn to associate 165 to 300 words with objects and/or commands. This is no surprise, however fascinating it may be. We also know that dogs have an amazing capacity to learn and be conditioned just as we do. That's how they come to understand that when you say "food" it's time to eat. Or when you say "toy" it's time to play.


But what I mean when I say "talk" to dogs is communicating with them via energy and body language. This is truly their language. Dogs don't know what your talking about when you come home from work and complain about your boss. But they do know how you're feeling at the moment. Dogs today have been bred to work closely with humans, therefore, they are experts at reading our energy and body language. Dogs can read people better than most people can. In fact, because they are predatory animals, their senses help them even further. For example, their eyesight was originally used to spot and track prey movements. They can pinpoint a small twitch of a tail from a great distance. Some breeds are better at this than others, but all dogs are better at this than humans. This incredible sense they have to detect small movements help them to read us. They know who their owner is from a great distance just by the way he or she moves, not to mention that they can also pick up on his/her specific sounds and smell. So in this department, dogs have a huge advantage. 

Your energy is what they pick up on the most though. Dogs are amazing at deciphering the way a person feels. They then interpret what that feeling means for them and act accordingly. But as humans, we aren't nearly as good at this. We tend to act how we feel in the moment. If we feel mad, we act mad. If we feel sad, we act sad. If we feel happy, then... well, you guessed it! We act happy! Dogs are a bit different in this way though. A dog can feel insecure, but project confidence. They are so good at this that it takes a professional to detect that they are really just bluffing.


When I say "patience brings peace" what I mean is, staying calm and patient helps you to conquer bad behavior. When I say "frustration leads to chaos" what I mean is, frustration only makes things worse. The bottom line? How you feel determines your actions. If you are frustrated with your dog's behavior, most likely you will act frustrated. But this only leads to chaos and doesn't solve anything. To truly change your dog's behavior, you must overcome your feelings. You must project a calm and firm image into your dog's mind. They must believe that you are serious and will follow through to the end. When is the end? The end does not come until you are satisfied with the results. Sure, you can project a calm and firm image and not get the results you want. But the only reason this happens is because people do not follow through. Too many people simply give up and say, "Well, Fido just isn't in the mood today." or "Fido doesn't want to go outside right now." (Only to discover a pile of poo on the carpet 10 minutes later). If Fido isn't in the mood, then get him in the mood! Dogs don't have moods per se. Dogs see either a leader or a follower. No in between. If you give in to your dog, you are not the leader, you are the follower. Followers don't set rules, leaders do. So you've just allowed your dog to create a rule... I only go outside when I want to, my human can't make me. If this dog was in a pack of other dogs, he'd enforce this rule by growling, snapping, biting, barking, marking, muzzling, etc. Does your dog do any of this to you?


The energy that you project affects the result that you get. If you get nothing else out of this facebook note, please get this! This is the most important lesson I have to teach! Read it again... The energy you project affects the result that you get! If you project a weak energy, you will get a weak result. If you project an unbalanced energy, you will get an unbalanced result. If you project an anxious energy, you will always get an anxious result. But, if you project a strong energy, you'll get a strong result. If you project a balanced energy, you will get a balanced result. And if you project a confident energy, you will get submission. It's really that easy! The hardest part is teaching yourself to project an energy that you may not feel. You may feel frustrated, but you must overcome that feeling and project a strong and confident energy. 

Energy also affects the way you hold yourself. If you feel a sad energy, for example, you will hold yourself in a sad way. What you need to learn is how to hold yourself in a way that contradicts your negative feelings. Because negative energy brings forth negative behavior. If you can hold yourself in a way that contradicts the way you feel, you can actually change your energy. I'm not going to say that it's easy though, because it isn't. But this is how dogs communicate with each other. There is no magic. Cesar Millan is not a magician that makes dogs lay down and roll over with a magic power. It's all about energy and body language. This is how dogs communicate. They interpret energy and how it will effect them and then act accordingly. Those dogs that lay down for Cesar, they know he will follow through because of the energy he projects. So rather than fight, they simply submit.


Don't be fooled however. Dogs will test you. Especially when you suddenly change your energy and begin to practice what I'm teaching here. It is true that dogs live in the moment, but if they've been living a certain way for a long time, they will challenge change. Some dogs give in quicker than others, but most of them will challenge you. They need to see if you are for real, or if you are going to give up. Do you mean the energy you are projecting, or are you just bluffing? Your dog will ask you these questions with a challenge. So answer them for yourself before you begin. Do you really want change, or are you just bluffing?

Original Note

All Dogs Are Therapists

Posted on September 13, 2010 at 4:39 PM Comments comments (1)

Dogs have always been there for us. Like watchful guardians, looking out for our very well being. They calm us when we get angry, energize us when we are tired, make us laugh when we are sad, and love us when we feel lost. They provide company when we are lonely, and listen to us when we talk. They are the ultimate therapists.

One thing I've learned in the last 20 years working with all kinds of dogs, is that they always have something new to teach us. Even I am still learning from them. Dogs that are out of control teach us to be patient. Dogs that are sluggish and growing obese give us motivation to get them out and moving, which in turn gets us out and moving. Aggressive dogs even teach us to be strong and dominant, yet calm. They teach us to tackle confrontation with courage and patience. 

Dogs teach us to be confident in ourselves. That confidence can lead to risk taking, overcoming bad habits, resisting temptations, and improved social skills. When we as humans feel loved and appreciated, there is no limit to what we can do. Simply by owning dogs, our lives are enriched. No matter how the dogs act, or what their behavior problems might be, we as people learn and grow from it on a personal level. When we learn how to process these lessons faster, we don't have to repeat them as often. This realization is often the time when the dog's behavior changes as well.

Almost as if the dog has realized that our lesson has been learned and it's time to learn a new one. Even if we never learn our lesson, dogs are patient and persistant. They will love us no matter what.

Dogs are children that don't speak a word of our many languages, yet seem to understand every word we say. They listen better than any psychologist, counselor, or friend can. Because they don't condemn us, interrupt us, or give us advice. They simply lay with us to show that no matter what, they still love us. As long as we have dogs, we will always be loved by somebody, furry or not.

The Magic of Dogs

Posted on September 11, 2010 at 6:55 PM Comments comments (0)

  I have written before about what makes dogs so lovable to us humans. But for some reason, I feel like I need to write about it again. So what is it about dogs that keeps us wanting more? Is it because they are just so darn cute? Or possibly because they make even the least confident of us feel important? Maybe it's because no matter what is going on in our lives, they are there for us. They listen to us rant and rave about our day at work. They cuddle up with us and keep us feeling warm and safe. They make us feel like a part of something more in life. Maybe we don't get along with people at work, or with our neighbors, or even our families, but we always get along with our dogs. They keep us laughing when we are depressed, sad, and lonely. They always have our backs, and they will fight to the death to protect us. We have their full attention, unless a squirrel or rabbit happens to run by. They always try to please us, and keep us happy. It is very difficult to find a person like this. Dogs are free, can generally take care of themselves, and have no use for money, laws, or politics. I think we as humans envy that sometimes. Despite those things, they choose to stay with us, obey us, honor us, and protect us.


Dogs are simple creatures, yet their love of us is complex. Dogs have easy rules within their packs. The leader is the strongest and most confident dog. He is not elected to this position, he simply claims it. But he is not a tyrant, socialist, or communist. He simply claims what is rightfully his. The other pack members simply follow his lead, no questions asked. If there is a disagreement, then they fight for it. In the dog world, you have to prove yourself. You have to earn your right to lead. Any dog that is confident enough, skilled enough, and strong enough can lead. It's not like our world. It is totally fair. We have to go to school to learn a trade for many years. Then graduate and start at the bottom of that particular field. Then as life throws crap at us, we have to fight to maintain our positions at work. Sometimes, our economy collapses and we have no choice but to start from scratch. Dogs don't have to deal with any of this, they simply live and adapt to changing times.


I think dogs are magical to us for those reasons, but mostly because of their simplicity. We bred dogs to live in our world so we could teach them to work for us, keep us company, guide us around, and keep us safe. Yet it seems that they are teaching us. Slowly, and steadily, with tons of patience, a new way to look at life. They are teaching us how damaging stress really is, how to have never-ending patience, how to love unconditionally, how to stop and smell the roses (among other things). They also teach us not to take life for granted, to be excited about the little things, and that opening ourselves up to others is not always bad. If you don't take a risk, how will you ever experience new things? How will you learn to trust? How will you meet new loves? How will you ever know if you could have become something more than what you are? A normal, healthy dog does not wait for a safety net to appear before him. He simply leaps and trusts that the net will be there. As should we.


The most magical thing about dogs has to be their resilience. Even if that net doesn't appear and something bad does happen, dogs bounce back. The only reason, in my 20 years experience, that dogs do not get over a negative experience is because people hold on to it for them. People keep the memory, the fear, and the panic with in them. Dogs react to our feelings and emotions. When we learn to let go of it, they let go even faster. In their natural world, they simply learn from a negative experience and move on. How many depressed 3 legged dogs have you seen? How many discouraged blind or deaf dogs do you see? Dogs don't care about their disadvantages, they only care about making you and I happy and exploring their world. They would rather sleep next to you in a dark wet ally than alone in a fancy doggy hotel. They don't care about expensive dog toys, they'd rather play with your old socks. Yet, there are people out there that would abuse them, torture them, fight them, and neglect them.


We bred them to be what they are. We are the ones that decided that Pit Bulls, German Shepherds, and Rottweilers should exist. But what do we do with our creations? Some of us abuse and neglect them. Fight them to the death, and make them aggressive to children. We ban them. We bred these traits into them, and we can breed them out just as easily. Bulldogs nearly went extinct and were fierce dogs back in the bull baiting days, but we brought them back and bred it out of them. Boston Terriers were bred to fight to the death for sport, but we bred it out of them and now they are considered "The American Gentleman" of dogs. The point here is that dogs don't choose what they are, where they are, or even who they are. Yet for the most part, they love us for what we are, where we are, and who we are. This in itself, is the magic that dogs share with us every single day.


"Dogs are not merely dogs to some. They are children with fur that just happen to bark, drink from the toilet, and shred our slippers. But they are also teachers of life, purity, and loyalty to many." ~ The Canine Guru

Original Post

Fun Games to Play With Your Dog!

Posted on September 11, 2010 at 6:38 PM Comments comments (0)

Games are a great way to bond with your dog and build trust. Since dogs learn most all of their behaviors and social skill from play, games are a great way to teach them how to be well mannered and balanced dogs. So if you are looking for some fun games to play, other than fetch, you'll find them below.


Musical Squares: This is a game that I invented for classes. I always start out with this game to see how each pooch parent handles their dogs. It is also a great way to get a feel of the relationship between dog and handler. This game is great for families with multiple dogs, or for doggy play dates, and parties.


                   What You'll Need: Towels, Place Mats, or Bath Rugs work great as the squares, and doggy music is a must. Atomic Dog by George Clinton, Who Let The Dogs Out by Baha Men, and Big Dog by Akon are my personal favorites.


                    How To Play: Each handler should have their furry friend on a 6 foot leash. Designate someone to be the DJ. The DJ starts and stops the music as he/she chooses. When the music starts, the handlers and dogs walk around the squares with their dogs walking nicely beside them. Treats can be used to keep the dogs in line. Once the music stops, each handler quickly moves to a square and has the dog Sit on it. To play for competition, take one square away at the end of each round. Just like musical chairs. I always start with 1 square per person/dog team. That way, everyone is successful at finding a square in the first round. After that, I take one of the squares away and the real competition begins. For doggy pros, you can have them do other things on the squares instead of sit such as; lay down, sit pretty, speak, etc.


                     Benefits: This game teaches focus, how to walk on a loose leash, sit on command, and aids in teaching dogs how to go to a specific place. This game is also great at teaching dogs social skills as they compete for squares. It can also be quite entertaining to watch two dogs competing for one square. Remember, whichever dog sits on the square first wins the square!


Hide and Seek: This is a great game to play indoors or out. The object here is to have your dog find you in your hiding spot. K-9 units use this game to teach and build Search & Rescue skills.


                     What You'll Need: Treats, hiding places (trees, bushes, furniture, etc).


                      How To Play: This game is very simple. You can have your dog sit/stay while you hide, or have someone hold him/her while you hide. If playing indoors, go to a different room to hide. Once hidden, call your dog to you. When your dog finds you, praise heavily and give him or her a treat. Then simply start all over again. If you have multiple family members, have them all hide. Just make sure that someone is designated to keep the dog still while the others hide each round. Playing outside in a yard is great too, because it provides extra distractions for your dog to learn to ignore while looking for you. If you don't have a yard and your dog is a runner, you can use a long line staked in the ground. Just make sure you hide within the range of the long line (the longer the long line the better). After a while, your dog should catch on to the game, and you may not have to call him/her anymore.


                       Benefits: This game teaches a reliable recall as well as strengthening their finding skills. Dogs love to look for and find things, and all dogs love this game (unless they are too fearful to play). These skills could come in handy some day as well. You never know, maybe your dog will find a lost person during a disaster someday?!


Recall Race: A great game for a family with multiple dogs or for play dates. It's a race between dogs to see who has the fastest recall!


                        What You'll Need: Cones are helpful, but not necessary. You can just draw lines, or set up boudries. Your dogs will need to know sit/stay if no one is available to help keep them at the starting line.


                         How To Play: Each handler lines their dog up at the starting line. Dogs can be lined up and compete in twos, or more. More than five dogs lined up to race is pushing it, but can be quite entertaining if accomplished. Once the dogs are all lined up, the handlers tell their dogs to sit and stay. Then each handler backs away from their dog. 10 feet for beginners, 20 feet for advanced, and 30 feet (or more) for experts. When all of the handlers have reached the finish line, they begin calling their dogs frantically. The winner is the dog that reaches their handler and sits in front of them first. To increase difficulty, you can add distractions like treats and toys between the starting and finish line. It also helps to appoint someone as a ref to manage fairness. The ref would tell the handlers when they can begin calling their dogs.


                          Benefits: This game teaches a relaible recall and sit/stay. Beginners may find it challenging to get their dogs to sit and stay while backing away simultaneously. The process of setting up the dogs can take some time for beginners. But once managed, people and dogs alike have a great time.


Reverse Recall Race: This is the exact same game as the Recall Race, but backwards. Instead of the dogs coming to the handlers, the handlers race to their dogs.


                           What You'll Need: Same as Recall Race.


                            How To Play: Handlers place their dogs in a sit, or down stay at the FINISH LINE. They then back up to the starting line. When the designated ref is satisfied that everything is fair, he begins the race by saying "Return to your dogs!" The handlers then race to their dogs. Handlers can run or simply walk fast (should be decided by group before race). If the dog moves from his/her stay, the handler must get the dog to return to the sit or down stay before they can win. The first dog/handler team to be in formation (handler standing up straight with leash in hand, dog sitting or laying at handlers side) wins. Distance remains the same as in the Recall Race. This game is best played outside, but can be played indoors if there is enough room to prevent injury.


                              Benefits: This game is great for reinforcing stay. Normally dogs learn to stay while we leave them. But this game teaches them to stay even as their handler is running towards them. Dogs tend to get really excited as they see their handlers running towards them, so this game can offer up some funny scenarios.


                               Variation: Instead of finishing the race once the handlers get to their dogs, the handlers must put a leash on their dogs while the dogs remain in the sit position. If the dog gets up, the handler must ask the dog to go back into the sit position before he or she can attach the leash. Once the leash is on, the handler/dog team race back to the starting line. The first handler/dog team to make it back wins. In this variation, the dog learns to stay while the handler leaves and approaches, sit while the leash is attached, and walk quickly with the handler.


So there you have it. Four games you can play with your dogs besides fetch. I encourage you to try these games with your dogs and experiment with them. You can practice any of these games alone with your dog, or play them with multiple dogs and handlers. Remember, have fun! That's what spending time with your dog is supposed to be all about.


If you have questions about these games, games you'd like to share, or variations of these games please leave a comment and let me know!



Original Note