The Dogs Choice

Every morning this little lady chooses to heel next to me while the other dogs play. She heels quietly until I release her. No heel command is ever given, she just comes to me waiting for that release.

The release is the word “OK” and means she can do what ever she wants. It must give her a happy feeling as she skips off every time. That feeling beats toys, food and even physical attention sometimes.

She comes to me to ask for an endorphin hit and to have fun. I’ve never taught her the heel. She came as a rescue with that knowledge but it is her safe place, she’ll return to the heel when worried.

Many people ask me “how do I reward my dog if its not food or toy motivated”. The answer is, with what ever makes your dog feel happy. For Zara its the action of release. It makes her so happy.

She’s suspected to have been on a chain in a yard, so it would fit with being forced to be confined. She likes food, and toys and affection. But she loves to do what she wants, so she asks for it.

She never takes, she never steals, she’s never pushy. How many dog owners can say their dog never takes what they have for granted? How many of you can say your dog asks for things. The usual example is “my dog asks to go to the loo”, that’s great but it’s for your benefit as much as theirs. But when do they ask you to go play, or to go run or to go be free. The answer is usually never.

I know that’s true because so many people see me for dogs not listening. Be that in the home, on walks, on lead, in the garden. Where every it is, your dog is just taking the piss. We need to reassess your relationship and find out where its all going wrong.

I adore my dogs and they can have anything in the world, but they always ask. They always check in, and they always focus. The world is exciting, and I take them on new adventures as I’m confident in the knowledge they’ll check in with me at every turn.

This all boils down to them understanding when they can, and when they can’t. When they can communicate asking, then I can tell them yes. It is teaching you an understanding of what your dog actually likes in life. We can think its food, but often the dogs just working because the foods bribing the behaviour. Toys can send dogs into such a frenzied state their their performing but really enjoying it any more, its just a high energy routine. Not every dog understands a release command, or they just aren’t interested. What it boils down to is what your dog wants to work and ask for. Its an understanding of your dog.

Kathryn Jones

Clever Fox Canine Training and Behaviour

A Clever Approach to Dog Training and Behaviour

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