Here is a little trick you can play with your dog on rainy days or if they are not able to move too well. Great for older dogs too! You CAN teach an old dogs new tricks, it just takes patience.
The Game of Touch
Touch is a very simple game that dogs do actually enjoy. Although it may seem mundane to us, any challenge that a dog can pass with your leadership is worthy of your time, energy and patience.
Step 1: Preparation
Get yourself a pile of dog treats (the yummy kind, not the dry kind) a quiet place with no distractions, a small square of paper (4cm x 4cm) and your dog.
Step 2: Begin
Start by positioning the piece of paper very close, but not touching, your dogs nose (around 2 cm away). Say “Touch” in a happy tone. Your dog will naturally go out to sniff it. As soon as they do give the dog a few treats. If they get it really good each time, give them 2 or 3 treats to reinforce the behaviour. Try not to repeat the “Touch” word too many time, and keep to the frequency of around once every 3 – 5 seconds. Over repetitiveness can either over excite the dog, or it won’t touch the paper until you have said it more than once.
Repeat this step 10 – 20 times. After the dog has got the hang of it and you can say “Touch” and each time your dog touches the paper with his snout (10 out of 10 times), start varying the position of the piece of paper. Try a little off to the left and right, top and bottom then start to increase the distance from your dogs nose.
Step 3: Reinforcement
Give your dog a break after this start for a little while. But come back to it again after an hour or so. When you do, start out close again, to remind your dog what you are doing. But you should be able to move out further sooner than before. Don’t over load your dog on this one, I find they get bored and distracted after around 20 minutes of touching. But practise and patience each day will give your dog a handy skill that you can leverage in later skills, such as rolling a ball or playing hide and seek.
Remember to be calm, and patient with your dog when training. Never get frustrated or lose your temper when you dog doesn’t get it. Dogs respect calm, not frustrated people!
And most of all have fun, like all dog training it is a great bonding experience and it brings you and your pooch closer together.
I have added Legacy to the title to help people find tricks that are integral for advanced tricks. Touch for example is an important skill if you want your dog to perform a more advanced trick, like roll a ball.