Those of us who own a dog are very lucky to have them with us during quarantine and now is the perfect time to work on strengthening the bond between you and your four-legged friend.
All dogs desire a lifetime bond with their pack leaders built on two aspects of pack leadership. One being ‘trust’ and the second being ‘respect’. For humans to earn trust and respect from our dogs, we must try our best to emulate a canine pack leader through active appeasement and resource control. The trainers at Leader of the Pack have listed some helpful tips and fun activities that are sure make your quarantine much more enjoyable for both you and your pet!
Take your dog on a daily, structured ‘Pack Walk’. This structured ‘Pack Walk’ should always be done on leash, with minimal tension around your dogs neck. We call this the ‘loose leash walk’, meaning your dog is always placed and walking slightly behind you with their chest beside your knee. The benefits of a loose leash pack walk are extraordinary for both you and your dog. Your dog will benefit from the physical exercise as well as the mental stimulation they are receiving by staying chest by knee, not pulling, sitting at street corners, and by utilizing other commands that your dog might know. Some useful redirection commands to keep your dog more focused on their walks include ‘watch me’, ‘leave it’ and of course, ‘heel’. Another benefit of the structured pack walk is that a “natural hierarchy” will be established as your dog see’s you are leading them and they are not leading you. Every dog has a migration instinct that needs to be fulfilled, taking your dog on a structured pack walk does exactly that and establishes in your dogs mind that you are their trusty Pack Leader. Lastly, taking your dog on a structured pack walk allows you to get some fresh air and exercise all at the same time!
When the weather isn’t conducive for outdoor activities you can practice training commands indoors! Spending just 20 minutes a day practicing commands is a great way to teach your dog new tricks or sharpen the commands they already know. Dog’s are very intelligent animals but can loose their focus rather quickly, that’s why we recommend splitting these 20 minutes a day into multiple 3-5 minute sessions at a time. Be creative with teaching your pet new tricks and raise the bar with levels of distractions once your pet starts to excel. You and your dog can have a lot of fun practicing the ‘stay’ command, out of site and reliable recalls, redirection commands like ‘watch me’ and ‘leave it.’ If your pet is having trouble grasping a particular command, don’t get frustrated, as your dog will read your unbalanced energy as weakness. Instead of getting frustrated, practice a different command and always end the training sessions on a positive note!
Play outdoor games with your pet like fetch, frisbee, and hide and seek. You can even purchase inexpensive outdoor agility equipment or build your own for your back yard and make a fun agility or obstacle course for your dog!
After a day full of physical exertion and mental stimulation, don’t forget to have snuggle time with your dog! Let them know they pleased you and enjoy how tired they will be now that you fulfilled their needs.
This special time shared with your pet, can help lower your blood pressure, diminish depression and worry, and help calm you in these trying times. They truly are amazing animals!