There are many different times that changing a routine or training program may become important for both the owner and the dog. Lots of breeds, especially those breeds that are naturally very intelligent, somewhat dominant or even very headstrong need to frequent changes in routine to prevent them from becoming bored, non-compliant or simply disobedient. Usually these behaviors are a result of the dogs not being mentally challenged and showing their frustration to their owners. Breeds that typically use these types of behaviors can include Jack Russell Terriers, Poodles, Corgis, Schnauzers, Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, Akitas and other breeds that are known for high intelligence. These breeds love a challenge and if they aren't finding ways to use their mental energy productively, they will find ways to use it destructively.
Training routines, even the most complex training programs, can become repetitive over time. Dogs, like people, can easily learn how to simply go through the basic routines without actually having to think about what they are doing. Once the dog is just "going through the motions" without actually engaging their brain the exercise is just physical, which does provide exercise but not intellectual stimulation.
There are a few simple techniques too that owners can use to put a new spin on an old training routine without a lot of effort or additional expense. Since most owners will also get bored with the same old patterns, a change in routine is fun and beneficial for both. Once you change up the training routine you will find your dog is more obedient and attentive as well as calmer, more relaxed and typically better behaved when training is over.
Find a new place to train
Sometimes all that is required to make training a new and interesting routine to simply change the scenery and the environment. An adult dog or a puppy will become bored of the same scents, smells and places, so even just changing the area of the park that you walk through, going to the beach or out into the country or finding a new street or neighborhood to walk through can add interest and excitement. As with any training area it is important to check for traffic and other safety issues and to keep the dog on the leash or lead if there is any chance the dog may not respond to the return command or may chase or dart away.
A new place to train can also mean changing the environment in a familiar place. Adding a few obstacles such as some flexible poles, a simple A-frame or even a few small jumps to the back yard and turn your garden or yard into an agility or obedience training area. Simple obstacles can be made easily from items that may already be in the house or garage. If you are using equipment that you already have be sure it is safe, secure and will not pose any hazard or danger to the dog should he or she slip or miss a jump or obstacle. Remember the size of the obstacles are not the most important aspect, the most important point of the change is to get the dog thinking while going through the training routines.
You can teach an old dog new tricks
There are endless tricks and routines that dogs can learn, no matter how old or young they may be. Advanced types of dog tricks and routines are available on websites, in dog training books and through advanced dog obedience training programs. Agility, hunting and herding training can also be considered if you want to advance your dog in these areas. Some tricks can be simple such as playing dead, learning to roll over, speak, count or even learn to answer the phone or pick out a particular toy or item. These tricks don't require any particular equipment or supplies other than a few treats and lots of patience.
New tricks don't need to be taught in isolation, or even learning how to combine existing tricks into new routines is a good way to keep your dog mentally challenged. Consider bringing a ball or toy with you when you are walking and using it to add some fetching, some carrying and even some "hide and seek" type games while out on a walk. Use the toy or ball to add some game type training activities to the walk, even if the ball or toy is just tossed a short distance while the dog is still on the leash.
Another practical command that can be used on a walk is to add sit and stay component to the walk. If the dog is not fully trained in this command, consider using a long, retractable leash or lead that will allow the owner to stay in full control of the dog to prevent any possible safety issues. If the dog is not trained in sit and stay at least a sit at corners and intersections can be used to help keep the dog focused on what is going on around them.
Although it may seem simple even changing the time of day that you work through training routines may be all that is needed to make it new and exciting for the dog. For example, maybe try adding and extra walk or spending a few minutes in the middle of the day one a training routine is all that is needed to add a boost to the routine.
Whatever new tricks or routines you are working with the dog on, be sure to keep reinforcing and practicing the commands the dog has already mastered. Giving the dog a command for something they already know will help them feel confident plus will make training very positive. Always end the routine with something you know the dog can do so that they leave the training activity with a positive experience. Old dogs, just like puppies, need to feel that they are doing a good job in training routines. Ensuring that dogs are trained positively and with lots of rewards and praise will keep them interested in learning throughout their lives.
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