When to Play or Lay – Training Tips for the Needy Pet
Brought to you by the AKC GoodDog! Helpline – the AKC’s 7-day-a-week training support service
By Hilarie Erb, AKC GoodDog! Helpline Trainer
Why won’t your dog relax and let you do what you want to do in peace? The big game is on, and you’ve been looking forward to it for months.
Your four-footed buddy isn’t trying to be annoying; just like you, he wants to have fun. For us, that might mean sitting on the couch for hours, watching a bright flickering screen or staring at paper things. Does it make sense to a dog? I doubt it. Why on earth would we waste time staring at figures on a screen or reading when we could be outside running around and smelling things?
If your dog is in the habit of demanding attention when you just want to relax, you can make some changes that will keep you both happy. He does need to learn that it’s not always about him, but there should be time every day that is about him.
Spend at least 10 to 20 minutes each day just playing with him, in addition to regular walks. It is unfair to expect your dog to lie around quietly all the time if she doesn’t get enough exercise and mental stimulation. Don’t forget why it’s fun to have dogs around in the first place! They are great motivators for us to get out and move. If your dog is young and a particularly active breed, she might need at least two hours of vigorous exercise each day. More mellow breeds need less.
“Your dog does need to learn that it’s not always about him, but there should be time every day that is about him. Spend at least 10 to 20 minutes each day just playing with him, in addition to regular walks.”
So, let’s get back to your plans to watch the game. Since it’s important to you, plan ahead and take extra steps to keep Rover occupied. Purchase a special chew treat for him, and, before the game, be sure he’s had a long walk. Some extra play time would be good too. This way he’ll be nice and tired and less likely to demand attention.
Have his crate in a nice cozy spot, and give him that nice new long-lasting chew toy when he goes inside the crate. This should keep him occupied for half of the game. He’ll probably need to get out for a break at half-time and can go back in to finish his treat during the last half. During breaks, start a game of fetch or tug with him. This will break the monotony. Don’t wait for him to start whining to get attention; reward him for good behavior by taking him out to play before he gets bored.
A very useful behavior to teach is “go to your place.” Put a nice bed for your dog in a corner of the room that is out of the way but still allows him to see what’s going on. Follow the instructions here to teach your dog to “go to his place” when you ask him. Don’t forget to occasionally give him a treat or break for a quick game of fetch while he’s hanging out there!