Training might not seem like a “fun” activity, but it’s a great way to bond with your dog and can be made fun for both of you. Use plenty of positive reinforcement training—or rewarding your dog when he or she performs the desired behavior—to get the ball rolling.
“It kind of helps us communicate [to] our dogs what we want. It’s just a really fun and engaging activity,” says Dr. Kelly C. Ballantyne, a board-certified veterinary behaviorist at the University of Illinois.
To start off, Ballantyne suggests teaching your dog to shake or to touch his nose to your hand. You can reward your dog with treats or a good belly rub (if he likes that). Be careful to only parcel out food when your dog has performed good behavior, Ballantyne says, otherwise, treats lose their meaning.
Don’t think training doesn’t has to be time consuming either.
“Five or 10 minutes at a time, that’s a huge deal in their life,” says Dr. Amy Pike, a certified veterinary behaviorist at the Manassas, Virginia-based Veterinary Referral Center of Northern Virginia.