Want to feel like a kid again? Then act like one! No, I don’t mean go to the office and start scribbling in crayon on important papers, or point to your spouse when others are around and say “he did it!” I mean, play with your dog.
The other night, Prophet was bugging us for attention. I was low on energy and just wanted to fall asleep in the ol’ Lazy Boy. But that wet nose and hope filled eyes kept right in my face. I don’t know much in the way of dog games, so I played an old kids’ game — hide ‘n’ seek.
If you want to play this with your dog, Poochie needs to be able to stay for the time it takes for you to hide. If she doesn’t know this, guess what? Your “game” is to train her in the Stay skill.
When Proph and I were working on this, I developed both a verbal “stay” and accompanying hand signal — a stop sign in front of his face. Amazing to me how dogs don’t take offense to gestures you and I might consider rude. Dogs are very sensitive to movement of any kind, and seem to learn hand signals faster than verbals. I use both mostly because I can hardly talk without using my hands anyway, so now my hands have a purpose when I speak to my dog at least.
The next step is to decide what might be the most comfortable anchor position for your dog. It will be a sit position or a down position, but you want him/her to be able to be attentive, so don’t lay them on their side for this. The anchor position will help the dog stay because it’s easier for your dog to put energy into staying than exerting the force to get up and follow the action. But don’t count on this inert state to anchor your dog for long. Spot is going to want to be where the action is, so take this slow. When he is in the down or sit position, hand signal and verbalize “stay.” Keep eye contact for quick corrections with an “unh-unh” if they move. Start with 5 second stays and move up to longer periods. Then go on to stay commands as you move back. Eventually have King stay while you walk out-of-sight and come back.
Now you’re ready for hide and seek. Let your imagination go wild. Put your dog in the stay position, run, hide and give one quick call of his or her name. One. Believe me, they’ll find you. I’ve hidden behind furniture, curtains and doors. I’ve hidden in closets, bathtubs and even Prophet’s dog kennel. When he finds me, he gets a small training treat, but I think he has as much fun hearing me laugh, and getting his neck rubbed. It takes Prophet usually less than 30 seconds to find me, but occasionally it will be longer, as my Liesa smells are all over the house, and that can be confusing. Great!
The wild thing about hide ‘n’ seek is that no matter your age, that doggone game is just plain fun. Twenty minutes into it, I had one happy dog, hadn’t missed my Lazy Boy time and felt happier than I had all day.
What games do you play with your dog?