One of my favorite things about dog training is teaching kids how to effectively communicate with their dogs. As I've mentioned before, I grew up in the 4-H dog project and was a club trainer and leader after graduating the program. Today, Luna and I returned as guest presenters to the Doggone Crazy 4-H club to share some training tips with the club members.
While I did most of the talking (ok, all of the talking), Luna enjoyed the attention from the club members. After speaking with the members about the different learning styles in dogs and different forms of motivation, it was time for Luna to demonstrate her skills. The highlight was her dumbbell retrieval. I explained to the members that Luna naturally has no interest in the dumbbell. To get her to retrieve, I broke the task down into baby steps and made it a fun game. Now, when the dumbbell comes out, she is all excitement for our game.
The kids had a lot of good questions about how to motivate the dog and how to correct the dog when they do the wrong behavior. I plan to return later in the year to demonstrate some silly dog tricks to the club members. I want them to think of training as a fun experience for both dog and handler and silly tricks (play dead, roll over, shake, etc.) are great ways to do that.