Traveling around with your furry friend means that they need to be reliable, trustworthy, and obedient. That’s why it is extremely important to build engagement with your dog. Not only will it keep them on their best behavior, but it will strengthen that bond that the two of you will have for life.
What is engagement and how can it build a strong relationship?
Engagement isn’t just about having a well behaved pup. It is about the process of teaching our dogs to realize that paying attention to us can be fun and rewarding. The more they know that they can rely on you and trust you, the more that they will listen and obey. Soon it won’t take any treats at all to grab their attention!
How can you build this engagement?
Dog’s need to be trained from a young age in order for discipline to stick with them for life. It can be tough when they are a puppy as there is a lot of energy to maintain, but the longer you leave it, the harder it will be to train them as they won’t be used to the rules and regulations you start setting.
According to the dog experts at Original Calming Bed, a dog who has practiced engagement from a young age is much easier to train, has a stronger bond, and can deal with distractions much more trouble free. Committing to daily practice will make the process shorter, and will train your dog to start obeying you much quicker. If your dog doesn’t listen to you inside the house then they definitely won’t listen to you outside of the house. You don’t want to take them hiking and they want to run off at the first chance they get!
In fact, there are many ways you can build this engagement. Here are just a few.
Hand feeding teaches your dog to be more focused on you as a person. You can extend the amount of time they pay attention to you by giving them quicker rewards straight from your hand.
Teaching them tricks
Teaching tricks gives you the opportunity to teach your dog about learning by using more communication skills and getting them to focus on commands and rules. Tricks can be fun to show off to other people, but it also keeps your dog engaged and obedient.
Eye contact is extremely important in maintaining a dominant relationship with your dog. A dog that is watching you is 100% engaged and is awaiting your next command. It gives them more of an understanding of what you are asking from them, and means that they are fully committed.
Hide and Seek
Hide and seek is a fun way to build engagement for you and your dog. Try to hide out of their eye line with some treats on you, and call for your dog to come and find you. The more that your dog is aware of where you are and wants to seek you out, the more likely they are to look out for you when you go for hikes or long walks.
Tethering is a good way to give your dog their freedom while also knowing that they can’t run off too far. Doing this to a new pup means that they can run off all their energy with a bit more freedom. Attaching them to a long rope means they can explore their surroundings freely, but there is always something there to pull them back if you need to.
Creating free time
Creating free time for building this engagement is extremely important. You have to be motivated and give your dog your full focus, as they are heavily reliant on you as an owner. After all, you are the teacher and they are your student. Practice makes perfect, and although it may be daunting starting out, you will definitely see the benefits after a couple of weeks.
Be persistent with your training. Try and get into some sort of routine, whether that’s just putting aside ten minutes of your day. The more you practice these rules, the more used your dog will get. Soon it won’t even be routine, they will just see it as a habit.
A dog who is engaged is a dog who is more aware. They will know that praise and treats come directly from their handler and therefore will be more motivated to work with you.
Remember, you are the one who is responsible for your dog's actions and behavior. Making sure that they are obedient and well engaged with you isn’t just a benefit for yourselves, but for other people around you. You don’t want to be that person who has to go and drag their dog away from a group of people, or tell them off for running away.
Being patient, motivated, and enjoying the process, will have your dog’s engagement built in no time and you can enjoy endless stress free trips away together. Just keep calm, remember to reward your dog, and think of the end goal in sight!